Wednesday, December 30, 2009

How to Clean Up After a CFL Bulb Break

A guest blog post by Marcy Tate

CFL (compact fluorescent light) bulbs are becoming more popular as more homeowners realize their great energy and money-saving benefits. Many homeowners do not know that CFL bulbs contain small amounts of mercury. The mercury is sealed within the glass tubing within the bulb. The mercury only poses a threat to humans if a break occurs. If a bulb breaks, it is potentially hazardous if not cleaned up and disposed of properly. Improper cleaning and disposal leads to the release of mercury vapors in the air. Excessive mercury exposure could injure your kidneys or, in extreme cases, produce severe brain damage and cause serious respiratory system disorders. Read below to learn how to properly clean up after a CFL break.

According to the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA):

If a CFL bulb breaks, the following steps should be taken:

1. Have everyone leave the room. Take caution to avoid stepping in the glass and powder.

2. Open a window and leave the room for 15 minutes.

3. Turn off your forced air furnace or a/c system.

For Hard Surfaces:

*Do not use a broom or vacuum cleaner*

1. Scoop up the glass and powder with a piece of cardboard. Place the glass and powder in a tightly sealed glass jar or sealed plastic bag. Place the cardboard is a sealed plastic bag.

2. Use a strong piece of tape (such as duct tape) to pick up any remaining glass or powder.

3. Wipe the area with a damp paper towel or rag that you don’t mind throwing away. Place in a sealed glass jar or sealed plastic bag.

For Carpets or Rugs:

1. Cautiously pick up the glass and place it in a sealed glass jar or sealed plastic bag.

2. Use a strong piece of tape (such as duct tape) to pick up any remaining glass or powder.

3. Vacuum if necessary. Remove the vacuum bag, or wipe the canister of a bagless vacuum (with damp paper towels or rags). Place the bag or paper towels in a sealed plastic bag.

Clothing and Shoes:

1. If clothing or bedding comes in direct contact with the broken bulb, the clothing or bedding should be thrown away. Do not wash such clothing or bedding because mercury fragments on the clothing or bedding could contaminate your washing machine and pollute sewage.

2. You may wash other clothing (such as the clothing you wore when cleaning up the break), as long as that clothing has not come into direct contact with the glass or powder.

3. Shoes should be wiped off with damp paper towels. Place the paper towels in a glass jar or plastic bag.


*Some states require broken and unbroken mercury-containing bulbs to be taken to a local recycling center and not be placed in a regular trash bin. Make sure to verify the requirements in your area.*

1. Immediately place all the clean-up materials in the trash. Take the trash outdoors.

2. After disposal is completed, make sure to wash your hands thoroughly.

About the Author:
Marcy Tate is a home improvement blogger at

Thursday, December 17, 2009

What are fuses and circuit breakers??

Fuses and Circuit Breakers

Author: Jim Johnson

These days most newer homes a circuit breaker panel. Many older homes may still have the old style fuse panels. In either case, fuses and circuit breakers have the same job of protecting branch circuits from sustained short circuits and overloading. The most common circuit breaker and fuse sizes you're likely to have are 15 amp, 20 amp, 30 amp, and 40 amp. The circuits which supply lights and receptacles in your home are generally protected by 15 amp or 20 amp fuses or circuit breakers. Your stove or range would be protected by a 40 amp breaker while your clothes dryer would have a 30 amp breaker.

In older homes you will find a multitude of outlets all running off of one circuit which results in frequent blown fuses or tripped circuit breakers. Some homeowners think that if they install a larger fuse or circuit breaker their problems will be solved. While this may prevent blown fuses it creates a dangerous overload on the branch circuit wiring. Cables and conductors are rated by how many amps they can safely carry continuously. A #14 cable is rated at 15 amps and a #12 cable is rated 20 amps. If you were put in a 30 amp fuse or circuit breaker you will exceed the safe limits of the cable.

A dangerous situation may occur if a cable carries more current than it's rated for. Large cables, with less resistance, can carry more current than smaller cables, which have more resistance. It's like a garden hose, the larger the diameter the more water it can carry. The smaller the diameter the less water it can carry. When a circuit is overloaded the conductors will start to produce heat which in turn can melt the insulation covering and cause an electrical fire. Rather than installing larger fuses and circuit breakers, do it the right way by breaking up reducing the number of outlets on overloaded circuits.

These days houses are wired much differently with circuit breaker panels housing 32 to 40 branch circuits. The big advantage of circuit breakers is that they can be reset where fuses have only one life. To reset a circuit breaker first turn it all the way off and then you can switch it back to the on position. When a fuse blows you have to replace it. It's a good idea if your home has a fusebox to keep 1 or 2 spares of each size fuse right beside the fuse panel so that you can find them easily when needed. It is highly recommended that you replace your old fuse panel with a circuit breaker panel. A qualified electrician and an electrical permit will be required for this.

When prospective home buyers are interested in your home, or if they hire a home inspector, one of the important areas of concern is the electrical system. An old fuse panel that is overloaded will create a red flag. If you replace your old fuse panel with a circuit breaker panel it will be a big plus when you do decide it's time to sell your home.

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Article Source: - Fuses and Circuit Breakers

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Electrical Questions Answered


I am installing under cabinet linear lighting under my kitchen cabinets (power supply is 150W and I am using 12, 10W bulbs. The issue is the low voltage wire is not supposed to go in the walls. My cabinets split at a window and I would like to avoid seeing the wire going around the window on the outside. I bought connectors which change high voltage to the low voltage wire. The store where I bought the product refused to go into specifics about how to install (probably shouldn't have bought it there, but it sounded easy enough). I planned on putting the transformer in the basement and running three high voltage wires to the three areas under the cabinets and using the high to low voltage connectors under the cabinet. I opened the transformer and found two terminals, one for the power in and one for the low voltage wire out. Do I use regularromex to connect to the low voltage side (power out) so I can run it through the floor and through the walls then convert to low voltage wire at the cabinet? Also, the low voltage wire says 10AWG does this mean that I need to use 10 gauge wire and a 30AMP fuse? That seems like overkill. Any help is appreciated.

Thank you Jim


In this situation I would run 12-2 from each cabinet section down to the transformer. If you like you could install a 12v in line fuse with this set up but it is not necessary. When the 12-2 come out of the wall you need a under the cabinet terminal splice kit. This is simply an aluminum block of metal that has two set screws connection points. The terminals we use are finished in white plastic. The 12-2 goes in the terminal at the wall the low voltage wire comes out the other side. It all gets finished with a white cover. You should be able to find something like this at a home center or an electrical supply house.

Electrical question answered


I have a 110V recessed ceilng light that is getting current to the lamp socket (according to a continuity tester, but the bulb will not illuminate when screwed in (and I've tried several, all of which work in other lamp sockets}. I've also screwed in an adapter (with a pull chain and plug sockets) that also gets power (so power must be flowing throuhgh the orignal lamp socket), but fails to light a bulb.


Thanks - Peter

Hi Peter,

It sounds to me like you are not reading the current with your tester but the voltage. You light is most likely missing its neutral connection. What you are reading is the Hot 120 volt wire. To make a light bulb work you need both the hot wire and the neutral wire. The Hot connection is the small tab at the bottom of the socket. The neutral is the screw or threaded part of the socket. This sounds like a problem that should be addressed by an electrician

Monday, December 14, 2009

Happy Generation 3 Electric Customers - Part 3

I was super pleased to go to the mailbox today and receive this postcard.
This was an entire house rewire we were doing on a house that had recently been given to our client from her grandmother. The electric in this home hadn't been upgraded since she was a little girl and a lot has changed electrically since then. We had scheduled the job for eight days which is pretty standard but since you never know what kinds of things you may run into while doing this type of job we had to add a few more days onto the project. It was really nice to receive this postcard back from the customer to see that she was so pleased with the work done even though it took us a few more days. Happy customers always make us smile!

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Center City Proprietors Association

Generation 3 Electric just joint the PPCA. We attended two event so far and have been impressed with the level of leadership this organization brings to Philadelphia.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Miranda likes quotes.

"Gratitude is a quality similar to electricity:  it must be produced and discharged and used up in order to exist at all."  --William Faulkner

"Invention, my dear friends, is 93% perspiration, 6% electricity, 4% evaporation and 2% butterscotch ripple."  --Willy Wonka

GlaxoSmithKline Employee Special

Generation 4 training video

Over the Thanksgiving holiday my family got together at my Baby sister's house. I noticed the her new HD TV's picture was being affected by the poor quality of her electrical system. Since I was on holiday I recruited my niece and nephews for this repair. This video shoe how to add a proper TV outlet with surge protection.

Monday, December 7, 2009


Grounding; Knowledge For Your Home Or Business

Author: MiNeeds

Author: Max Hager

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Tags: grounding , licensed , electric , electrician , MA , surge , protection , safety , GFI , GFCI , lighting , shock , fire

Grounding; Knowledge for your Home or Business

When speaking about proper grounding in the home or business we are referring to the capability of your system to carry a fault current back to the electrical panel where a fuse or breaker would trip, shutting off the power to that area. There is also the grounding from the main electrical panel to the cold water pipe and a ground rod that is driven outside of the home or business. Both of the above would require a site visit to assure they are done up to code, correct sizing of the wire is a must to assure proper grounding. Not having the proper grounding in your home or business could leave the site without protection from electric shock or fire. Damage to equipment, your home/business, or your person is much greater when proper grounding is not present.

A few common things to look for to assure you’re properly protected with a grounding system in the home or business is the following…

3-prong outlets: Although a test should still be done to assure the grounding wire is connected and working properly; the presence of 3-prong outlets usually means the outlets are grounded. Any 2-prong outlet should be considered suspect. Never use a 2-prong to 3-prong adapter as this bypasses the necessary ground on the equipment. Any appliance or equipment with a 3-prong cord requires a proper ground to assure correct operation.

GFI/GFCI outlets: The presence of a ground fault circuit interrupter outlet is required in the following areas bathrooms, kitchens, garages and outdoor locations. Mainly any damp location requires a GFI/GFCI outlet not a standard outlet. The GFCI outlet has a small test and reset button located on the front of it. The GFCI outlet has an internal circuit that will shut off if it senses any current leakage or unequal incoming and outgoing currents. If you don’t see any outlets like this in the areas discussed it is highly recommended to update the system to include them. Electricity and water is a dangerous combination and without protection is a hazard waiting to happen.

GFCI breakers: The ground fault circuit interrupter breaker is essentially a GFI for an entire wiring circuit. The GFCI breaker is installed in the electrical panel. It monitors the amount of electric current going to and from the circuit itself. It will trip and shut off power to the entire circuit if any problem voltage/current is sensed. The presence of this style of breaker is normally a confirmation that the circuit is being properly grounded.

Surge Protectors are not grounding your equipment: Many people mistake the use of a surge protector as the grounding for your equipment. I have even seen surge protector strips being used in conjunction with a 2-prong to 3-prong adapter to plug it in. Although a point of use Surge Protector is a great thing to have you must still have the proper grounding on that line to properly protect the equipment. If using a point of use surge protector please verify the outlet it’s being plugged into is properly grounded. You can also get a whole house surge protector that would be installed directly at your electrical panel. We highly recommend these products but having one does not assure the grounding in the home is up to code.

The simplest way to verify the condition of your current grounding system is to have a licensed, qualified electrician that is up to date with the local and state codes do an evaluation. Caron Electric provides this service as a free estimate to any consumer in our coverage area. Wiring in the home or business can always be updated to assure you have a proper working grounding system. You can contact us anytime at #800.440.9940 or

Visit our website to read more about Caron Electric Inc.

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Grounding; Knowledge For Your Home Or Business

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Article Source: - Grounding; Knowledge For Your Home Or Business