Arc-fault Circuit Interrupters (AFCI), Electrical Safety Every Home Needs

AFCI Outlet

AFCI Outlet

There is a relatively new electrical safety device on the market and it can save your life! What is this wonderful device you ask?  It is the Arc-Fault Circuit Interrupter, commonly referred to as an AFCI.  It was introduced in 1999 and has been slowly incorporated into the National Electrical Code over the years.   Read more

Safe Usage of Electric Space Heaters

space-heaterSafety 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:

Calling a Licensed Professional Electrician like Belco Electric is an important step in protecting your home and family.  Items that your electrician will assure include:

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.

Electric Baseboard Heater

Electric Baseboard Heater

Belco Electric can assist you in proper sizing of electric heaters as well as assuring that your heater is safe and safely installed. Contact us.

Read More:
What You Should Know about Space Heaters

How to Troubleshoot a GFCI Receptacle

GFCI stands for Ground Fault Circuit Interrupter.  The GFCI is a device designed to provide protection to users from electric shock.  This special receptacle works by constantly monitoring the flow of electricity in a circuit.  If a loss is detected, the GFCI will trip and stop the flow of electricity to the circuit preventing injury from electrocution. It is much more sensitive and will respond much swifter to a problem than a fuse or circuit breaker.  Since their introduction in 1971, it is estimated that GFCI’s have reduced the occurrence of electrocution in homes by over two-thirds. Read more

10 Electrical Safety Tips for the Holiday Season

As the holidays approach, many of us will be using lights and other electrical devices to decorate our homes.  As we do this, we need to be mindful of the dangers that are always present when electricity is being used.

According to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC), each year hospital emergency rooms treat about 12,000 people for injuries related to holiday lights, decorations, and Christmas trees.  In addition, dried out Christmas trees are involved in hundreds of fires annually. Read more