What dangers should I know about during the holiday season?
People often reuse holiday lights for years. Whenever you take your holiday lights out of storage, check for frayed electrical cords. Inspect the holiday light cords for:
- bare spots
- insulation gaps
- broke or cracked sockets
- excessive kinking or wear
Additionally, many consumers check on the light manufacturer when they buy their holiday lights. However, it is also essential to find out which testing agency examined your lights. If you do not see an approved testing laboratory on the box, do NOT buy the decorations. Follow standard safety protocols with holiday lights.
- Do NOT overload electrical outlets.
- Do NOT leave holiday lights alone.
- Do NOT link three or more light strands, unless the directions say it is safe.
- Test the wires to make sure they are not warm to the touch.
What is a GFI?
The abbreviation GFI is more commonly known as the Ground Fault Interrupter. GFIs are specially designed outlets consumers can use around moisture.
Often kitchens, baths, and laundry rooms use GFI outlets to protect consumers from electrical shock.
GFI outlets measures “positive” and “negative” resistance loads. If the two loads do NOT have the same amount of resistance, then the GFI trips. The built-in circuit breaker resets when loads re-establish equilibrium.
How do I reset a ‘tripped’ circuit breaker?
Everyone trips a circuit breaker at some time or another. When you do, simply reset the switch on your main electrical panel.
Often the main electrical panel is in the garage or carport opposite your electric meter. In apartments, you usually find the panel in a closet or storage room.
With any luck, the panel is well-labeled with the various circuit breakers. Find the room where the circuit tripped. The tripped breaker switch will be somewhere between the off and on position. Sometimes you can even see the small red portion showing the break in the circuit.
Reset the circuit breaker by pulling the switch to the “off” position and then back “on.” You should feel the resistance when you turned it on as well as a loud click?
If the same circuit keeps tripping, it indicates your electrical system cannot handle all your power needs. Unplug unnecessary appliances from the room or area and turn off the lights in empty rooms. If the problem persists, then contact Mister Sparky® for an evaluation.
Is there a safety issue if you use the round fuses instead of circuit breakers?
The quick answer is that both round fuses and circuit breakers are safe. The detailed answer depends on the fuse boxes. Make sure you don’t have a dented or failing fuse box. Fuses are more sensitive than circuit breakers. However, their added sensitivity makes them safer than circuit breakers. The reason many homes do not use fuses because:
- Unlike a circuit breaker, you cannot reset an overloaded fuse. You need to replace your fuse every time a break happens.
- Many insurance companies require you replace a fuse box with a circuit breaker.
- Depending on your local electrical codes, you may not be able to install fuse boxes.
How do I lower my electric bill?
While there are a few ways to reduce your electric bill, here are a few strategies we found helpful over the years.
- Do a bi-annual checkup on your HVAC and water heater. Most of the electricity you use in your home goes towards the HVAC and water heater. The checkups optimize your HVAC and water heater, so you save money on your electric bill.
- Invest in energy-efficient appliances. You spend more up front, but less over the long-run.
- Buy a programmable thermostat to manage your cooling and heating needs. Some smart thermostats measure your usage for additional savings.
- Check for bad or loose breakers. Your breaker box controls the distribution of electricity to your home. A wobbly connection reduces the energy flow through your home.
- Be diligent about energy conservation. For example, cut down on long showers. Since your water heater is one of the prime contributors to your electric bill, you should consider cutting back.
- Clean your air ducts and outdoor equipment. The dirt and debris increase the amount of energy you need to power your appliances.
What should I do when my lights go out?
The good thing is that most utility companies closely track outages in their system, so they can quickly to repair the outage before they are deluged with phone calls from angry consumers.
However, if you discover everyone in your neighborhood except you has power, here are a few things you can do.
- Call our 24-hour emergency electrical repair service.
- Use a flashlight, not candles.
- Keep fresh batteries for your battery-operated radio.
- Turn off all electrical equipment and lights that were on when the power went out to reduce your risk of electrical surges. Keep one light on, so you know when the power comes back.
- Avoid opening your fridge or freezer.
- Never use a portable generator in your home or garage. They often have odorless gases that are lethal in enclosed spaces.