Sunday, February 23, 2014

9 Do's And Don'ts

Do you need to hire an electrician for a renovation project? If so, there are some definite do's and don'ts in the hiring process. If you pick the wrong one, you may end up in a financially disastrous or even perilous situation.
1) Check Credentials. The very first crucial thing you need to do is ask if the electrician is bonded, licensed, and insured. If he or she has employees, make sure workers' compensation and liability are offered for their safety and for your protection.
2) Experience. Ask for former client references in order to determine if they can do the job. You'll be able to ask these clients if they think this person is honest and reputable as well as qualified to do the work. You can also check with your local Better Business Bureau for a critique of their work.
3) Multiple bids. These are only necessary for big jobs. But for small jobs around your home, it's a waste of time. Typically, electricians charge about $100 per hour, and it's unnecessary for them to come to your house just to give you a free estimate on a small job. Normally, a good contractor will try to give you a good deal the first time they service you in order to make you a repeat customer.
4) Simple Rules. A great electrician will look the part. Are they neatly dressed and organized? Pride in one's outward appearance is a good indicator of pride in one's work. Do they answer your calls for help quickly and explain what the work involves? They'll also give you an upfront estimate of how much it will cost.
5) Cutting Corners. They will never cut corners on their work or do unsafe work. They will, however, be cost conscious and work within your budget.
6) Materials. A good contractor will always use up-to-date materials and tools on each job.
7) Get It In Writing. When you've finally decided you need to call a contractor and the estimate is in, make sure you get it in writing no matter how big or small the job is. This estimate should also include a start and finish date for the project.
8) You Get What You Pay For. As in all of life, "you get what you pay for" still is quite true. Don't allow the cost of the job to be the deciding factor if you hire a particular contractor or not.
9) Evaluation. If you need to hire a contractor for a larger job, you'll need to evaluate what the work will involve. Are you simply renovating an existing room or adding a new one? Whatever project is in your future, you will need expert help.
One final note is to review all specifications and needs with the electrician. By talking it over with an expert, you'll be assured nothing will be missed in support of your renovation.

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Thursday, February 20, 2014

The History of Electricity

The Beginning of Electricity in America
Benjamin Franklin began experimenting with electricity in America and documented the experiments.  He was able to finance his extensive work by selling off his belongings.  He is known for flying a kite in a storm that had a wet string and a key tied to the end of it.  When he observed sparks leaping from the key to his hand he understood that lightning was a natural form of electricity.
Alessandro Volta of Italy invented the electric cell in 1800, making it easier for scientists to study electricity and its various applications.  When the electric cells are connected together a battery is created.
Alexander Graham Bell is known to have invented the telephone.  Bell's worked as a teacher for deaf students professionally which explains his fascination with different ways to transmit sounds.  During his experiments with sound transmission he began to use electricity, which eventually led to his success with the telephone.
Thomas Doolittle, a mill worker from Connecticut created the method that was used to create the first hand drawn copper wire that strong enough to use as a telegraph wire.  A man by the name of Michael Faraday discovered that electricity was created when a magnet was passed through ordinary copper wire.  This is the application that is used in America's power plant to generate electricity that is delivered to customers across the country.  Both the electric generator and are built on this principle.  A generator takes mechanical energy and converts it to electricity.  On the other hand, motors convert electrical energy to mechanical energy.
While Thomas Edison experimented with electricity he was able to invent the electrical light bulb in addition to many other gadgets.  His biggest challenge when creating the light bulb was to find the right material to use for the filament.  He settled on carbon soaked cotton thread.  The carbon was used to prevent the cotton thread from burning.  The thread glowed as the electricity traveled through it.  As soon as the popularity of the light bulb caught on he turned his attention to the development of power plants that would be run the light bulbs.  The first power plant that he built began operating in 1882 and served 85 New York city customers.
A major turning point occurred in 1895.  The power plant that was built by Edison was only capable of transporting power a short distance since it used direct current of DC.  The power was transmitted approximately just one square mile surrounding the power plant.  With the development of alternating current or AC in 1895 the plant was able to transport power over 200 miles from the newly built power plant in Niagara Falls.
Electricity was rather slow to catch on in America.  Many people were excited by the new inventions, but some were afraid of the electrical current and hesitated to have it installed in their houses.  Some people were unable to afford the price of the service.  Electricity was blamed for causing the end of simple living.  Many people felt that electric lights were less romantic than the gas light they were used to.
Many expos and fairs often featured exhibits that displayed the recent inventions that used electricity as their power source.  The 1893 Columbian Exposition that was held in Chicago displayed 5,000 arc lights and 90,000 incandescent lamps.  People that visited the expo had the opportunity to view or ride the different electrified exhibits which included three cranes, several water fountains, a moving sidewalk, elevators and a street car system that was created by General Electric.
The Pan-American Exposition that was held in Buffalo, NY in 1901 used electricity as the theme.  An electric tower that was 400 feet in height, displaying 40,000 lights was featured in addition to the Electricity Building which was home to a huge exhibit of electrical appliances.
Power became accessible by more people as small electrical companies started to spring up around the country.  A number of the smaller companies started to merge together and form large conglomerates, the largest ones being General Electric and Westinghouse.  These two companies started building power plants that were equipped with generators that used fossil fuel combustion and steam to produce electricity.  Other plants were being built that used kinetic power to generate power like water or wind.  Once nuclear power was developed, the power that was released as nuclear reactions occurred was used to create electricity.
The demand for electricity grew by 12% each year for the first thirty years of the twentieth century.  In order to keep up with today's demand for electricity, renewable resources are being implemented to supply the much needed power.  Many people are using solar power, hydropower and wind power are being put to use in order to meet the demands of consumers and to protect the environment.

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Monday, February 17, 2014

Bill Nye: The Science Guy - Electricity (Full Episode)

It's time for Bill Nye to shed a little light on electricity. Electricity might seem mysterious, but once you understand the science the light goes on (so to speak). You flip a switch, and the lights turn on. You push the play button, and your personal stereo starts playing music. When you flip the switch or push play, you start a flow of electrons. Electricity is the flow of electrons, and electrons are very tiny charged particles. Electrons are found in atoms, the tiny pieces that all stuff is made from.

We can make electrons flow in two ways. Batteries make electricity by mixing up chemicals — making a chemical reaction that forces electrons to move in a path from the battery to the personal stereo and back to the battery. Electricity that turns on lights in your home is made by power plants. Most power plants use big machines called generators to make electrons by twirling wire in a magnet. The magnet makes electrons in the wire move around, creating electricity. Electrons really know how to go with the flow. Electricity sure gets Bill charged up, so be sure to watch the show!

Friday, February 14, 2014

Keep Danger At Bay - Electrical Repair Services At Your Doorstep

The electrical set up in your residence has a strong control over nearly every single activity in your home. From the television and music system to fans and air conditioners, your electrical mechanism is possibly the most crucial element of your residence. In today's world, almost every single machine or gadget that we use operates on either electricity or gasoline. In fact, it's almost impossible to think of our lives without electrical energy. All over the planet, people would toil hard till sunset, since there would be no light after that. Moreover, absence of trains would leave us with no option other than walking for hours to reach our workplaces. In domestic fields, drawing water out of wells would become extremely difficult. Even computers would shut down and the Internet would stop working. In simple words, electricity lined the way for a smooth progress and development of civilization.
Since our existence is completely dependent on electrical supply, the slightest problem in your power system can bring your life to a standstill. Electricity problems remain invisible unless it starts emitting sparks because of arching; thus, it's extremely essential to allow certified technicians to inspect wire damages from time to time. Instead of being careless and repenting later, it's better you take preventive measures on time. A lot of homeowners think that they're proficient at handling minor issues. But then again, it's important to realize the stark demarcation between minor and major problems. Depending on the seriousness of the issue, homeowners must opt for professional assistance; else, they'll place their family's life at risk. If the problems aren't fixed on time, they'll give rise to major calamities, such as fire accidents. There are several reasons behind power failures in your residence. It may happen due to a sudden circuit breaker, bad meter or faulty electrical set up.
Every home requires electricity repairs at one point of time or the other, but due to the various dangers associated with these repairs, it's advisable to stay away from the DIY process. Nevertheless, with so many electricians around, making the best choice is pretty tricky. A lot of them make lofty claims to offer dexterous services to their clients, but they're mostly empty words. Only a handful of them actually meet up to the expectations of theirs consumers. Keep your eyes open and choose the one that knows his job well. After all, it's your hard-earned money and if you're spending it, make sure that you're doing it for the right purpose.

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Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Upgrading Old House Electrical Systems

If you own an older home and are thinking of upgrading your old house's electrical system so that your house can become more energy efficient and save you money in the long run, then you may want to get some ideas from other people who have pursued such projects to see what is the best course of action. Every old house is different and you may need to do some custom work to make your situation work for you. There are many reasons why you may be considering upgrading the old electrical system in your home.
Many old homes have electrical systems that have a smaller power capacity than today's more modern homes require. This can cause many problems in today's electronic and gadget based world. For this reason many people look to expand the capacity of their home's electrical system. Some of the symptoms of your home not having enough power are: 
  • You frequently blow fuses or circuit breakers when you use too many appliances like vacuum cleaners, microwaves or space heaters
  • The lights dim when you turn on an appliance
  • You don't have enough electrical receptacles for the number of appliances you use.
  • You may have many extension cords and adapters to fit more plugs
Think about the new appliances that have become widely available over the last 40 years or so. Vacuum cleaners, space heaters, air conditioners, microwaves, curling irons, hair dryers, big screen televisions, spas, computers etc... Many of these appliances draw significant amounts of electrical power. Some older homes only have 60- 100 amps of power available in their electrical panel. A typical space heater or microwave can draw 15-20 amps alone. Of course you also have to consider the power drawn by the lights, fridge, microwave, etc.
Now you can see why it may be necessary to upgrade your homes electrical system. Upgrading a homes electrical system isn't an easy job and it's not recommended to get involved with a project like this unless you are a professional and you know what you're doing. This is not a job for your handyman, the brand new electrician or your friends brother who "knows how to do electrical work". If you need to upgrade your electrical system, you should contact a licensed Electrical Contractor in your area. You should consult with them about your project and what you're trying to accomplish with the new system in your home.
It is important to check the references of any company you are considering working with. Often reviews that can be found on various places on the internet can give some valuable insight about the local residential electricians you will choose to do the job. The cheapest contractor is not necessarily your best bet, neither is the most expensive, however remember that the old adage "you get what you pay for" is often true.
If you live in San Diego and need to upgrade your service, a quick internet search for "Electricians in San Diego" will give you a number of residential electricians to interview for the job. A qualified electrical contractor who has enough experience upgrading older homes can help you expand the power capacity of that old home so that you will have the capacity to power the more modern devices that require higher voltage draws.
Most people today have modern appliances such as dishwashers, washers, dryers, generators and other types of appliances that require more voltage than what some older types of homes have available. To have your old home support your newer and more modern appliances you will most likely have to consult your local electrician or electrical contractor and talk to them about what they can do to expand your home's capacity. When they come to inspect the home, your local licensed electrician will look at the original electric system that is currently in place. Most of the time these old electrical systems that have been around since the 40s or even earlier are simply do not have the capacity to power the appliances we use everyday in our lives. The licensed electrician will most likely increase the power capacity of your old home by bringing in more power from the street. This is done by replacing your old panel and breaker boxes with a larger electric panel which can handle the requirement of your home. This can be a tricky process so it's advised to have an experienced electrician handle the task for you to ensure that everything is done safely and to proper specifications.
Some things to be sure to ask are, will you be completely removing the old panel? How many circuits do I need for my home? Will you be using the correct size wires and breakers for every circuit? Will you be switching ALL of the power over? Will you be obtaining all the permits?
These are important questions to ask. It will show that you understand what you are talking about and prevent inexperienced or unscrupulous contractors from taking advantage and not providing you with everything you pay for. We have seen many instances where homeowners paid for what they thought was a professional and complete service upgrade, but they later learn (unfortunately) that the old service is buried inside a wall with the new panel put on top but not all the power switched over.
Your electrical contractor should we willing and able to handle all aspects of your electrical service upgrade including obtaining a permit and dealing with the city and the utility company. Once you have your new power system with an increased capacity, you'll never have to worry about the safety of your home from an electrical perspective, blowing circuits or having the power you need for all of your appliances

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Saturday, February 8, 2014

4 Hidden Electrical Dangers That Electricians See

Safety is a top priority for every electrician. Electricity is something many people take for granted. People often forget how dangerous electricity can be. There are four common hidden dangers that you need to be aware of in your home.
Improper Installations
In order to save money, people will often try to do electrical repairs and installations by themselves. However, this could be very dangerous if the installation is not done correctly. Improper installation of wiring can cause an electrical fire. If a generator is not correctly installed and grounded, it can potentially injure someone. If you need help with any electrical repair or installation, it is best to call an experienced electrician.
Lack of Maintenance
An electrical system needs regular care and maintenance to keep it running smoothly. Smoke detectors need to be replaced every ten years. Outlets also need replacing because they are constantly used and the blades become loose and form a bad connection, which creates heat. Many homes may need rewiring because of all the new electrical demands placed on the system. Properly maintaining the components of your electrical system will help ensure the safety of your home. Having an electrician inspect your electrical system for any issues is a good place to start. An electrician can give advice on how to take care of your electrical system. He or she can also tell you how to minimize the cost of repairs.
Lack of Grounding
Grounding prevents electrocution and dangerous electrical shocks. Many older homes have non-grounded outlets. The outlets only accept two pronged plugs. If a loose hot wire touches metal, it can injury someone without a path electrically to ground. If you have non-grounded two pronged outlets, then call an electrician to come and replace them. When replacing a non-grounded outlet, the new outlet must accept three pronged plugs and be connected to the grounding system or else a GFCI outlet can be installed, but the GFCI outlet will still be ungrounded.
Using Bad Quality Equipment
It is always tempting to buy the cheapest electrical equipment in order to save money. However, cheap does not guarantee safety. Many people buy extension cords or surge protectors at deep discounts. They many not realize that the cheap equipment is usually not top quality and damage more easily.
It is important for everyone to learn about the different electrical dangers. You need to know about both hidden and unhidden dangers of electricity. You also need to learn how to best avoid them. Many dangers can be avoided with the help of a qualified electrician.

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Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Hidden Electrical Hazards P.3

A segment from State Farm Insurance's "Fire: The Unforgiving Nature." In this clip, Mark and Jane Walsma discuss the electrical wiring problem they discovered in their Attic - behind a kitchen light.

Copyrighted, State Farm Fire and Casualty Company, 2008, used by permission.

Sunday, February 2, 2014

Hidden Electrical Hazards P.2

A segment from State Farm Insurance's "Fire: The Unforgiving Nature." In this clip, Jennifer and Fletcher Brimer talk about the electrical fire that severely damaged their home in April 2008.

Copyrighted, State Farm Fire and Casualty Company, 2008, used by permission.