How To Protect Your Home From Electrical Fires

Home Electrical Fires

Fire departments across the country respond to almost 48,000 fires caused by electrical failure or malfunction every year. These fires are often caused by simple fixes overlooked by homeowners.

Not all electrical fires can be prevented, of course, but there are a few basic steps homeowners can take to make their homes a little safer.

Step One: No Frayed Wires

Frayed wires happen throughout the home. Small appliances, Christmas lights, and lamps are all prone to broken and frayed wires.

While it’s easy to think a little electrical tape will keep you safe, it’s not a long term solution. You should discard and replace any frayed wires you find as quickly as possible in order to prevent potential electrical fires.

Appliance wire can be found at any hardware store, and replacing a few wires on a small appliance is an easy fix for most people. If you’re not big on DIY, though, replace the appliance rather than risk using frayed wires.

Step Two: Don’t Overload the Circuits

The easiest thing you can do to protect your home is to avoid overloading the circuits.

The circuits in your home are only designed to deliver so much energy. Using too much energy in a given outlet can cause wires to spark or break down.

Avoid power strips whenever possible, limiting plug use to the available two outlets. If you have an older home, consider rewiring your whole home to update your energy supply.

Step Three: Make Sure All Electrical Products Are Safe

This is also an easy fix. All electrical products–batteries, night lights, extension cords, and surge protectors–should have a label from Underwriters Laboratories.

Underwriters Laboratories is the global electrical safety standards organization. If they haven’t approved a product, it may not be safe for use.

Step Four: Replace Any Old Wiring

Finally, you can also protect your family from fires by replacing any old wires in your home.

Electrical wiring is only meant to last 30-40 years. Homes older than that were also not made to handle the amount of electricity we use in the 21st century. Too much stress on the system deteriorates the wires and puts you at risk.

If your home is older than 30 years, you almost certainly need new wiring.

Contact us at Schaffhouser Electric, and we’ll be happy to assess all of your wiring needs.

How To Prevent Lightning Damage To Your Home

Lightning may seem like a completely random act of God that is either going to strike you dead or spare you, but fortunately, you have a lot more control over the situation than you think. By following some simple advice on how to protect your home, you can spare yourself from joining the thousands of houses that are damaged by lightning storms every year in the United States. Extremely expensive damage in the form of blown off shingles, fried electronic apparatuses, and burnt rake boards, corner boards and window trimmings can wrack up quite a bill when it’s time for repairs. An efficient lightning protection system can avoid such a snafu entirely. But keep reading, because the answer to how to best protect yourself is not as simple as you may think.

lightning polesLightning poles are a common sight on top of many American homes today, and have been for the past century. Conventional wisdom holds that the poles attract the lightning by virtue of being the highest relative point, and that the lightning goes from the pole to the ground without damaging the house or anything else valuable along the way. Things are not quite that simple, though. The pole in fact neither attracts nor repels lightning, but rather channels it if lightning happens to strike it. Therefore, on the off chance that your pole happens to be the target of the lightning, then your home is safe. Otherwise, having it there is more for your own peace of mind than for any real protection. Not to fret, though; an equally convenient but far more secure system for lightning protection exists and can be installed by most home repair companies.

An efficient lightning protection system is like a network of roads that safely direct lightning to the ground, regardless of its initial orientation. A combination of copper and aluminum rods, cables, and connectors make sure that the lightning avoids not only your power lines, but your neighbor’s as well. And along that line of thinking, it is best to get arrestors on all of your incoming lines in case the neighbors themselves are struck without a protection system, and you’re exposed to the risk they chose to take. An uninterrupted circuitry to several grounding points is the ideal model of lightning protection systems, and high standards of quality exist to ensure that any system you purchase has been certified and approved. If you take the chance of buying one without certification, you might be no better off than if you pulled a Ben Franklin and stuck a kite up in a storm.

How Electricity Works

Electricity is a major part of your life, so you might as well be one of the few people who understand the system of currents and charges to which we are so indebted. First of all, electricity exists in nature regardless of humanity´s ability to harness it. Lighting is the most well-known instance of naturally occurring electricity; its voltage adds the danger to its otherwise fantastic aesthetic. The powerful current of a lightning bolt carries 30,000 amps, and is so hot that it turns the air molecules it comes into contact with from gas into plasma. That material change is what makes the sound we know as thunder.

Neutrons And ProtonsStatic electricity is another form that we experience in everyday life without analyzing it or even acknowledging it. When a balloon at a party pulls your hair out of its normal style into random spikes that is static electricity. The negatively charged hairs are all repelling each other and creating space around them in the process. Same goes for the walk across your living room carpet that leaves you with a shock when you reach for the door knob. Your body has a net positive charge, but as you walk across the carpet and gather electrons via the friction of your feet, your body’s charge becomes net negative. Upon reaching out to touch the door knob, electrons jump from your negatively charged body to the neutral knob in an attempt to restore balance, and the resulting sensation is a shock.

Our own bodies use electricity to perform every single function they carry out. The reason your body even has a charge, as mentioned above, is because of the aggregate effect of the charged atoms that comprise it. Each atom is comprised of a negatively charged electron, a positively charged proton, and an eponymously neutral neutron. The fluctuation in the net charge of an atom as it attempts to make whatever adjustment is necessary to reach neutrality involves the transfer of electrons from one atom to another. The neutrons and protons are not as easily dislodged. Therefore, the human body’s mass of atoms constantly exchanging electrons is perfectly capable of conducting electricity.

Fortunately, our bodies make good use of the electrical currents running through them. The electrical impulses jumping from cell to cell are not empty of content; rather, they contain vital messages about everything from how fast your heart should be beating to what diameter your pupils should contract to and which finger you want to move to scratch your nose. Without the rapid fire tool of electricity to monitor everything, regulatory systems and empirical actions, our bodies would never be able to survive in the complex, dynamic environments we inhabit, nor operate at the level of multitasking we sustain. Luckily for us, we don’t have to fully understand the workings of the voltage that keeps us going- so long as we know the basics of not flying a kite in a lightning storm.

Schaffhouser Electric Static Electricity

Static ElectricityMost of us are used to calling up the Electric Company for the typical problem of tripped circuits, power outages, rewiring and remodeling, and so on. It is great to know that Schaffhouser Electric is at the ready any time day or night to provide their top-notch electrical commercial or residential services, because peace of mind in regards to electrical safety and convenience cannot be underestimated. You don’t want to miss the big game just because there is a storm on outside, and you don’t want to spend the night without the alarm system working when little ones are sleeping just down the hall. Being able to dial up skilled professionals who are more than happy to tackle these problems for you in no time and at a reasonable price is quite a luxury. Schaffhouser has diffused many a sticky situation, no pun intended, and they do not plan on changing their customer service platform anytime soon. They will be ready and waiting next time you call, same as always. Since you probably will not have occasion to dial up your trusty electrician friends anytime soon, though, you might think there is no cause to bother them with inquiries of any kind. Think again.

For the curiously-minded, electricity is a perennial fascination. For the topically-minded, electricity is currently shocking the heck out of you! If you have spent the past couple winter months constantly sliding across wood or shuffling across carpet, only to have the exact same zap jump from the doorknob to your hand when you reach the other side, then you have experienced the lively greeting of static electricity. This seasonal phenomenon is not one the is easily avoided or readily understood, so why not turn to Schaffhouser for their professional opinion on what in the world is happening to you and how to make it stop? While they do faithfully attend to their 24/7 service line, this is one electricity question that they would be happy to receive at any time.

The mysterious-sounding static electricity is merely, as are most unpleasant things, the result of an imbalance. The electric charges are simply trying to balance themselves out, and your skin happens to be one of the mediums for striking that balance. If you want to spare yourself the job of letting electrons jump around until they’re satisfied, there are a couple easy ways to reduce static electricity in your environment. Making the environment itself more conducive is as easy as opening a window or turning on a humidifier. There are, of course, more extreme measures like anti-static boots, but few of us have occasion to wear them without looking quite dramatic. For more information on the fascinating field of static electricity, call Schaffhouser and quiz them on their science, or better yet, impress them with yours!

Protecting Your Home from Electrical Fires

Whether started by a faulty outlet or a forgotten skillet, cooking accounts for more home fires than any other single cause. Electricians cannot help with the cooking or watch the stove, but they can ensure that GFCI outlets are properly installed and functioning safely. Now required by most municipal codes, GFCI outlets in kitchens and bathrooms are critical to home safety.

Electrical Fires Protection

AFCI circuit breakers may be advisable in older homes; these interrupt unseen arcs of electricity between degraded wires. Aluminum wiring is dangerous everywhere it exists, which is in most houses built between 1965 and ’75. Again, most municipalities require some type of electrical remedy, but homeowners often and regrettably wait until they want to sell it to protect the home.

Besides Watching the Skillet

Light bulbs that have a higher wattage than is recommended are definitely not bright ideas. They compromise not only the fixture but also the wiring around it, simply putting too much load on everything and degrading it all faster. For similar reasons, bringing new major appliances into the home should mean bringing an electrician in with them.

Nearly 50,000 reported house fires in 2010 were attributable to an electrical problem, be it a malfunction or a complete failure. Many more small electrical fires are put out by single-use fire extinguishers that belong in every home. It is great that they saved the home, but the electrician has to come out anyway to repair the damage done.

So much grief can be spared with a thorough inspection of the home’s electrical systems once a year. For the price of a service call, you can regularly put trained eyes on your outlets, wired connections, and circuit breakers. Ensuring the safety of your family from electrical shock and your home from the spark that starts a fire, regular electrical inspections are invaluable.