Sunday, November 24, 2013

Questions to Ask an Electrician



If you need to consult a professional electrician or electrical contractor, ask the following questions to learn whether the individuals you're considering
are fully qualified and likely to do reliable work at a reasonable price.

Are you licensed in this municipality?
Not all states, counties or towns regulate or require licenses for electricians, but it's prudent to check first with your local building department.
Also ask if electrical work in your municipality must adhere to standards established by the National Electrical Code.

Will my electrical panel need replacement?
The current National Electrical Code recommends a minimum 100-amp incoming electrical service. If your service panel provides less,
it should be upgraded to this level or better to meet today's home requirements. Most new homes are wired with 200-amp service.

Will I have to apply for a permit?
If a permit is required, the electrician often will make the application for the homeowner.
 Some municipalities allow homeowners to do minor electrical repairs and installations if they first secure a permit and have the work inspected when complete.

Is my home's electrical system adequately grounded?
Ground-wiring protects a home and its occupants in case of an electrical fault, such as a short-circuit.
 But grounding also protects expensive electronic equipment like computers and many appliances. An electrician can quickly check and add grounding capacity if needed.

Are there any hidden costs for the work?
The electrician should do a thorough preliminary inspection and provide you with a firm,
accurate estimate of the work involved, along with the cost of fixtures or wiring that will be installed. If additional work is necessary,
it can be negotiated and billed separately.

Will you use all-copper wiring for any new installation?
Solid copper wiring is the material of choice for new homes or renovations. Although 14-gage wire is allowed for many circuits,
 it's smart to install heavier 12-gage wiring, which costs a little more but can handle more electrical current, making it safer and more energy-efficient.

If my service needs upgrading, will the entire house have to be rewired?
Unless you live in a very old home with antiquated wiring, you probably won't have to replace your existing electrical lines.
 However, if you require more electrical capacity in certain rooms, new wiring runs and additional outlets are likely to be needed.

Can you provide references from other homeowners?
Every tradesperson or electrician is only as good as their reputation. If you have never contracted with the electrician who answered your call,
 it's fair to ask for the names of other homeowners who have and to give them a call to check the contractor's work.

Friday, November 8, 2013

Life Safety- Carbon Monoxide

What is Carbon Monoxide (CO)?

Carbon monoxide is a colorless, odorless, extremely poisonous and explosive gas that causes 1,500 accidental deaths and more than 10,000 injuries each year. CO is slightly lighter than air and mixes throughout the atmosphere. It is a by-product of incomplete combustion, produced when fuels such as natural gas, propane, heating oil, kerosene, coal, charcoal, gasoline or wood are burned with insufficient air.
Effects of CO Poisoning

When a person breathes in carbon monoxide, it is absorbed by hemoglobin, the oxygen-carrying protein in the blood. "Carboxy hemoglobin" is then formed, replacing oxygen, preventing its release in the body and eventually causing suffocation.

  • Mild Exposure: Flu-like symptoms including slight headache, nausea, vomiting and fatigue.
  • Medium Exposure: Severe headache, drowsiness, confusion and a fast heart rate. Prolonged exposure to medium levels of CO can result in death.
  • Extreme Exposure: Loss of consciousness, convulsions, heart and lung failure, possible brain damage and death.
While everyone is at risk for CO poisoning, unborn babies, infants and young children, senior citizens and people with heart and lung problems are at a higher risk due to their greater oxygen needs.
Possible Sources of CO
  • Gas stoves
  • Hot water heaters
  • Fireplaces
  • Lawnmowers
  • Pilot lights
  • Gas or oil furnaces
  • Car exhaust fumes
  • Wood-burning stoves
  • Charcoal
  • Gas space heaters
  • Tobacco smoke
How to Prevent CO Poisoning
  • Inspect flues and chimneys for cracks, corrosion, holes, debris or blockages.
  • Buy fuel-powered heaters with automatic shut-off features.
  • Fuel heaters in well-ventilated areas.
  • Service heaters before the first use of winter season
  • Open windows periodically to air out your house. Homes with energy-efficient insulation can trap CO-polluted air inside.
  • Use a gas stove for cooking purposes only.
  • Operate gas-burning appliances in a well-ventilated room.
  • Never leave a car running in a garage.
  • Use charcoal grills outdoors, never indoors.
  • Install and maintain carbon monoxide detectors.

Life Safety- Fire Extinguisher

 A fire extinguisher is an important fire protection device to have around the house.
The recommended extinguisher for the home is a 2-1/2 pound Class ABC multi-purpose dry chemical extinguisher. Extinguishers are classified depending on the type of combustible material they are suited to extinguish in a fire. Type A is suited for wood, paper, plastics and other non-metallic solids.
Type B is intended for use on burning liquids such as cooking oil, brake fluid, etc. The extinguishing agent used in Type C models does not conduct electricity and therefore is safe to use on electrically charged appliances or outlets. So, a Class ABC extinguisher can be used in any of the above-mentioned scenarios.
Fire extinguishers should be placed within in the kitchen on the exit side of the room, but not within 6 feet of the stove. Having one in the garage that is easily accessible also is recommended.
Fire extinguishers can save property and lives when used correctly. But do not delay calling the fire department first while trying to use the extinguisher.
For an extinguisher to be useful the following factors must be addressed:
  • The extinguisher must be maintained in good working order and serviced when necessary.
  • It must be accessible (located in a conspicuous or labeled area).
  • The user must be able to deploy the agent properly.
Rules for using a portable extinguisher:
  • If you have any doubts concerning how to use the fire extinguisher or whether you should try to fight the fire, DO NOT fight the fire. Get out of the room and close the door.
  • Be sure everyone else is out, or in the process of getting out, of the house before you begin fighting the fire.
  • Extinguishers should only be used when the fire has not extended beyond the initial fuel that was ignited.
  • Do not try to fight a large fire. Call the fire department immediately.
  • Always have an escape route planned prior to using an extinguisher.
  • Apply the extinguisher agent from several feet away.
  • Remember PASS
P - Pull the pinA - Aim at the base of the fireS - Squeeze the handle and maintain the pressureS - Sweep from side-to-side and from front to rear

Life Safety- Heaters


- Have a professional inspect and service your central heating unit each year.
- Keep the area around the central heating units clear and clean filters regularly.
"- Space heaters need space." Heaters should be at least three feet away from anything that can burn, including the walls, curtains, and bedding.

- Never leave space heaters operating when you are not in the room or when you go to sleep.
- Electrical and kerosene heaters should be equipped with a cutoff device that will automatically shut off if the unit is tipped over or overheats.
- Make sure electric or kerosene heaters have the "UL" approval seal.
- Check electric space heaters for frayed or splitting wires. Have all problems repaired by a professional before operating.

- Kerosene and natural gas heaters should not be used in an enclosed area unless the area is vented or a window is partially opened to let fresh air in. This prevents the possible buildup of carbon monoxide. If you choose to install carbon monoxide detectors, choose models that are UL-listed, with a digital readout. Follow manufacturer's directions for proper placement.
- Keep children and pets away from space heaters.
- Never use heater/AC or water heater closets for storage.

Life Safety- Electrical


The following suggestions can help prevent fires and avoid serious injury or death.

Always use a License Electrician. There are intensive and continual training involved. 


- Be sure to unplug all heat-producing appliances like coffee makers, broilers, toasters, irons and heaters when not in use to eliminate a potential fire hazard.
- Heating pads and electric blankets can cause fires. Never roll an electric blanket and never leave a heating pad on for more than 30 minutes.
- Make sure all appliances have the Underwriters Laboratory (UL) listing.
- Operating or touching electrical appliances while standing or sitting in water can cause electrocution.
- Avoid using blow dryers, curling irons, radios, televisions or electric razors around sinks or while in bathtubs.
- After washing a car, do not use electric vacuum cleaners or buffers while in the wet area. Move the vehicle to a dry location before using any electrical appliances, to avoid a shock hazard.
- Never stick metal objects or tools into an appliance unless it is unplugged.
- Place all lamps on level surfaces, away from things that can burn and use bulbs that match the lamp's recommended wattage.
- The bulbs of halogen torchiere floor lamps reach temperatures of 1,100 degrees Fahrenheit. This is heat that is intense enough to ignite wood, plastic or cloth on contact. Monitor the use of these products closely, don't exceed wattage recommendations, and keep them clear of combustible materials. --Even with a protective guard or grill placed over the bulb, these lamps pose a risk.

Extension Cords

- Extension cords are designed for temporary use only. If you must use an extension cord, do not overload them with several appliances or use too many cords in one socket. Do not string multiple extension cords together.
- Make sure you use the proper gauge extension cord for the equipment it is operating, especially with power tools and high-wattage appliances.
- Avoid running extension cords under carpeting, rugs, through doorways or across walkways. To avoid tripping or electrical shorting hazards, protect cords routed across walkways with the proper shield.
- Don’t staple to walls or ceilings, which can damage the insulation.
- Electrical cords should be free of knots and kinks. Have damaged plugs and frayed or worn cords repaired immediately.
- When using outdoor appliances, use only approved exterior extension cords, not the household type normally used indoors.