For years, there have been rumors and missed deadlines regarding the phasing out of T-12 fluorescent lamps (the “fat” tubes as some call them). Effective July 2012, the common 4’ T12 lamp is no longer being produced due to a mandate from the U.S. Department of Energy.
Our electrical systems are busy 24 hours a day, 7 days a week providing comfort, security and convenience in our day to day lives. This is also a system that we rarely think about. It’s not something you can hear, see, or smell under normal circumstances, so it’s easy to forget that it’s working for us all of the time. There are a few signals however, that can alert us that something may be wrong with the normal operation of our electrical system. One of the most common of these signals, and the easiest to observe, is flickering lights.
One of the most common problems we find with electrical installations, whether it be a do it yourself renovation, or even new construction, is finding that the ground connection is not properly terminated to light fixtures, switches and outlets. They will work without making that connection, but for devices that include a ground connection, it is very dangerous to leave it disconnected.What does the ground connection look like? It’s the green screw on light switches and receptacles, and it is usually a green or bare wire on light fixtures and ceiling fans.
Why is it important? The ground wire is used to make sure that the metal surfaces a person could come in contact with in an electrical system do not become energized, creating a shock hazard. When properly connected, the ground wire creates a “short circuit” pathway for electrical current to flow in a large enough volume to trip the circuit breaker off in the event that the “hot” wire comes in contact with any metal it is not suppose to. Without this ground pathway, current can’t flow, and the breaker can’t trip. The metal would then become energized, waiting for someone to touch it. When a person touches the energized metal they become the pathway for current to flow, leading to injury and sometimes death.
Spring is one of the most active seasons for lightning strikes and the damage that comes with them. Here in the Southeast United States, we live in the most active region for lightning strikes in North America and one of the top places in the world for frequency of lightning strikes. Lightning is one of the most powerful forces in nature, delivering over 30 million volts of electricity in a single bolt.
Safety Concerns with Space Heaters:
Small space heaters are typically used when the main heating system is inadequate or when central heating is too costly to install or operate. In some cases, small space heaters can be less expensive to use if you only want to heat one room or supplement inadequate heating. They can also boost the temperature of rooms used by individuals who are sensitive to cold, especially elderly persons, without overheating your entire home.
The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) estimates that space heaters are the source of 21,800 home fires every year and that about 300 people die annually as a result of the related fires.
Other concerns with space heaters include natural gas leaks, carbon monoxide poisoning, burns and electric shock. To keep safe and still enjoy the added warmth that a space heater can provide:
- Keep heaters at least three feet from walls, bedding, clothing, pets and people
- Turn the heater off when you leave the room or when you go to sleep for the night
- Don’t leave a portable heater running unattended
- Never dry socks or gloves on the heater
- Don’t use extension cords with electrical space heaters
How to Install a Space Heater:
1. Every electric heater must carry the Underwriters Laboratories (UL) seal of approval to be considered safe for use. Many antique, poorly wired or homemade heaters can cause a fire without warning. The cords of even approved models must be checked regularly for flaws or insulation breaks.
2. Electric space heaters require high wattage and should not be plugged into outlets using multiple plugs. If the circuit breaker does not shut off power due to the overload, an electrical fire is all too likely. Many mobile homes are warmed only by space heaters. Each year, there are cases where entire families have died in fires due to electrical problems caused by overloading.
3. Extension cords, which readily overheat and ignite with excessive wattage, must not be used with a space heater except in an emergency winter situation with an outside generator. In the latter case, cords must be of heavy gauge (more than necessary for the heater wattage’s), not tightly coiled while in use and kept under constant watch.
4. A 3-foot minimum clearance in every direction surrounding any type of space heater is necessary for safety. Placing any combustible item (including drapes) closer than this to the heater can cause a sudden fire.
5. In a finished basement application, electric baseboard heaters are the best choice. These heaters are sold in various sizes, typically in 4’ and 8’ lengths, dependent on square foot of the space.
What You Should Know about Space Heaters
If you own a home that was built prior to the mid 90’s and have had to replace your electric clothes dryer or range, you have most likely run into the dilemma of how to plug a 4-prong cord into an existing 3-prong outlet. Can the cord on the appliance be changed or do you have to replace the outlet in the wall, or worse yet….do you need to add an entirely new circuit from the breaker panel? Let not your heart be troubled! It’s really a very simple fix. Read more
For our blog post this week, we are featuring a guest article from our commercial insurance agent, Wilson Vickers, who will discuss safety concerns regarding metal halide lighting common in many warehouse facilities. Make sure to check out the links at the bottom of this article to find other blog articles on this subject, view a video showing before and after views of a metal halide fixture replacement in Atlanta, and learn how you can qualify for energy saving rebates in Georgia. Read more
I have followed electronics as a hobby since I was about 10 years old. Back then I was more into portable stereos (boom boxes) and home stereo systems. I loved looking at the Crutchfield magazines and reading about the cutting edge stereo technology available. Back in the mid 1980’s, I got a Yamaha DSP1 digital soundfield processor, which was one of the first surround sound systems for home theater use. It wasn’t cheap, and it was somewhat difficult to set up. That is when I got my first lesson in why it’s important not to buy the newest technology immediately when it comes out. Read more
Ceiling fans enhance our indoor lives with a cooling breeze in the Summer and a beneficial circulation of warm air in the Winter. However, the benefits of ceiling fans are not exclusive to indoor environments. Outdoor ceiling fans can make a hot, sticky, mosquito infested outdoor area cool and relatively bug free! So, can one simply take a ceiling fan that they use indoors and install it outdoors? Read more