Information and Tips
Safety Tips for Your Home
Dan Pitcock, Roberts Electric Owner and President
Every day, we use electricity in our homes without much conscious thought. We turn a light on or plug something in and it works. Unless our needs change or something fails, we enjoy the quality of life that dependable power affords us.
What if you treated your electrical system like your car and planned on its regular maintenance? We think you will find many benefits, including peace of mind and long-term value, from paying more attention to electricity in your home.
Here are some of the most important items to consider for an electrical tuneup in your home.
- With aluminum wiring, make sure that an antioxidant compound has been used
- Have your main service panel and subpanel connections tightened every few years
- Install in-use covers on exterior outlets
- Replace loose, worn-out receptacles and old switches
- Install modern, code-required tamperproof receptacles
- Install a whole-house surge suppressor
- Install motion sensor security lighting
- Install vacancy sensors or timer switches on bathroom lighting or fans
- Install ventilation in bathroom, attic, or underfloor areas to control moisture and mildew. Fans now come with internal humidstats
- Tight connections protect against heat buildup. If your main electrical service travels through trees or over a long distance, ask PG&E to check the connections at the pole and at your service entrance head. Connections can get loose and lead to power outages
- Update/check your main service grounding and bonding system. If you have had your plumbing updated or your water heater changed, sometimes these important safety features can become altered or disconnected.
- Replace Federal Pacific panels and eliminate fuses in closets. Updated, properly sized circuit breakers are safer to reset and calibrated for the correct size and load they are connected to.
- Knob and tube wiring should be checked in attics and basements prior to installing insulation.
- Install arc fault protection for your bedrooms. This technology senses low-grade short circuits and trips out to protect against possible combustion while you are sleeping.
- Install ground fault protection at your kitchen counters, bathrooms, laundry rooms, garages and workshops and exterior locations to protect against shock injury.
- Dimmer switches. These devices save 10% of the energy consumption of the lighting they control and are now required by Title 24 regulations.
- Compact and other types of fluorescent lighting. There are now lamps with much improved color rendering and an “instant-on” feature. These are sometimes even available free from PG&E and other government agencies promoting energy efficiency
- Consider upgrading to LED products for the home, including dimming solutions and vacancy sensors. LED lights are now decorative and high quality. An LED bulb costs significantly more than fluorescent or incandescent lights, but its lifespan is dramatically longer. LED can cut lighting energy use by 75%, and you won’t have to change the bulbs for an estimated nine years.
These are just some of the measures you can take to give your home increased electrical safety and reliability. Ask your Roberts Electric technician for more information or request one of the services above.
Learn About California Title 24 Compliance
In an effort to reduce electrical power consumption, California has enacted new requirements for residential lighting. These requirements apply to all projects requiring a building permit for which the permit is submitted on or after October 1, 2005. Please click here for more info. [PDF]
Visit the Electrical Safety Foundation International (ESFI)
The Electrical Safety Foundation International (ESFI) is the leading authority on electrical safety in the home and the workplace. ESFI has a collection of educational tools and resources on their website, including practical information and safety tips on a variety of topics, from holiday safety to protecting our communities from dangerous counterfeit electrical products. Visit ESFI here.
Consumer Products Wiring Hazards Manual [PDF]
The Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) developed this guide to warning signs of potential home wiring hazards and suggestions for mitigating these hazards. The guide is intended to help homeowners locate electrical dangers in their home before these hazards can cause fires or electrical shock. Although it provides guidance for pinpointing problems in the home’s electrical system, it is not an instructional manual for repairing defective electrical systems.
Prepared by U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission
Interested in “Green Electricity”?
Planet Green has an interesting series of tips for how to “go green” with electricity. Visit Planet Green here.