Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Electrical service burnt out

 Here is a part of the cable that caught fire because the cable rotted away.

This meter socket is made out of Aluminium. This type of meter was stopped being made in the 1970s. That makes it 40 years old. It needs to be updated.

The breaker box is no longer in good condition. It looks to be 40 years old as well.

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Home inspection

The home has three metered electrical service. There are many problems with this service. It is over loaded and installed in an unprofessional manner. All of which would be corrected with an electrical service upgrade. All the boxes here can be combined into one meter and panel. The intended use of the home will be as a single family. Setting up the service to match the usage will correct these problems. 

There were many points in the basement where junctions were not installed correctly. These wires should be re-junctioned and boxes covered. The wiring is a hazardous to be left this way. The corrections needed to repair this wiring are minor

There was a sub-panel on the second floor that is over loaded and rusting. This panel should be replaced with a newer larger sub-panel. Electrical panels should be replaced every 30 to 40 years. This panel is about that age. The wiring in the panel is modern wire with grounds. It looks to be in good condition.

All the outlets that we were able to test were correct. There was on outlet on the first floor by the bathroom that was missing a ground wire. There was also this box on the second floor that we were not able to access. Everything in the house was working at the time of testing. The only issue is that there were long areas of walls that had no electrical outlet. 

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Friday, December 9, 2011

How to install recessed lights in a living room

Living room lighting with recessed lights.

Wiring recessed lights

Here we are cutting the hole that are needed to add the lighting can into the plaster ceiling. There are hole made at every floor joist in order to run the wires across the living room ceiling. We try to keep the hole small so that they patch easily.

Fishing wires

Thursday, December 8, 2011

PECO's power line going bad

No Power in the house because of Service Cable.

This is a video of a house that lost power. The cable outside that attached to the PECO power lines has rotted away. The outside cable looks to be about 40 to 50 years old. The outer jacket of the cable is is no longer intact. The sun and weather has washed away the jacket exposing the the wires on the inside of the cable. There are three parts to this cable. A Black wire, A Red wire and a bunch of Aluminum that wrap around the the cable.

The RED&Black wires delivers 120volts to ground or 240 volt between each other. The Aluminum wires warping the cable is the ground. After the jacket of the cable weathered away the Aluminum ground became exposed to the elements. The ground wire is the return path for your power. When that dissolved in the weather the cable started to smoke and power was lost to this house.

On the inside we can see the fuse panel that is attached to the cable that failed. This electrical system should have been updated years ago. Letting your electrical equipment get this old is like driving a car on bald tires. Your car will run fine until the tire pops. Most of the time you will get lucky and have no real problem just a flat. Occasionally you could find yourself stranded. On rare occasion this lack of maintenance end in a tragic accident.

This client was just left stranded. They did not plan on this unexpected expense when they lost their power. They were very inconvenience and has had no power for several day. I think that they were lucky. This problem could have cause a house fire. They could of ended up with no electricity and no house.
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Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Trouble shooting an AFCI outlet circuit

The power stopped work on this bedroom circuit. This is how I trouble shot the circuit.

The first step was to open up a wall box and take a look at the wiring. This outlet had a loose ground. This made me believe that the electrician who wired these outlet was only a helper and not highly skilled. Lose ground connections are too common and can cause problem with your electronics.

To find the circuit that has lost power I tied the neutral and ground wire together. This should never be left this way. This is only done as a test. Tying this neutral and the ground together will create a continuity in the circuit back at the panel. In a normal circuit the ground and neutral would not touch.

Back at the panel, I know that the circuit is one of two AFCI circuits because the loss of power occurred in a bedroom. Starting in 1999 Arc Fault Circuit Interrupter (AFCI) breaker have been required for all bedroom circuits. AFCI are designed to turn circuits off by detecting non-intended arcs. Arc faults in a home are one of the leading causes for household fires.
To test which circuit is connected to the outlets that are not working. All I needed to is see if there was continuity between the neutral and the ground. The circuit with continuity is the circuit that I put the ground and neutral together.

Now, that I know what circuit breaker is controlling the outlets that stopped working. I note everything in the house that is working. Then I turn off the circuit breaker that is controlling the bad circuit. With the circuit breaker off I then look to see if any of the outlets that were “on” turned “off “ when the breaker is off.
This time one did. Opening the outlet I found a bad connection in the back of the outlet. Power was getting too this outlet but not leaving it.

The stab-locks on the back of outlets fail too often for my liking. They are used in new construction because they are the fastest way to install outlet. They can also be installed by unskilled helpers. They are not the best way to install outlet. I do not let my technicians use the stab lock. We install outlet by using the screws on the side and making pig tail connections. These types of connections are much better. Connecting your outlets this way will improve the overall condition of you power.

The best way to wire an Outlet

This is the outlet with the pigtail connection. The wires are connected to the outlet on the screw terminals. The wires that go "IN" then "OUT" are connected at the pigtail. This outlet can be change without affecting the power anywhere else in the house.
If the first contractor wire the outlets this way they would have never failed
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Monday, November 21, 2011

A dryer plug makes a better mouse trap

Electrocuted mouse

This is sweet revenge for an electrician. Mice normally are  eating your wires. It is nice to see the homes wiring fighting back.
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Thursday, November 3, 2011

What is behind the wall is what counts!!!

Knob and Tube wiring is quickly moving from outdated to dangerous!!!

Knob and tube wiring was common in the 1910's to the 1940's. This makes some of the wiring installations over 100 years old. The switches, outlets and cover plates can be changed to make your home look more attractive. Newer devices and a newer electrical service don’t improve your homes wiring. 

Above is a picture of that same switch and outlet pictured from behind. Here you can see the cloth and tar covered wires that feed the newer outlet and switch. The wiring has done a good job for many years but time has clearly aged this installation. Knob and tube wiring has been outdated now for over 50 year. Many insurance companies are starting to move it over in to the dangerous category. Either raising premiums or just not covering it.  

The picture above show details of different conditions knob and tube wiring can be in when the walls are opened. The most alarming thing we find is how different contractors have added to or changes how the wires were intended to be used. The electrical systems that were installed in the first half of this century were never intended to power the type of wonderful thing in the modern home.  

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Monday, October 31, 2011

There are No ghost in you wires

Only gremlins!!

Happy halloween

I just left a house today with mysterious electrical problems. The house had rooms that stopped working and lights that flickered. This is a common problem that people have and too often it gets ignored. If some of your electric stops working it needs to be fixed! It is a dangerous idea to just blame that non-working light or outlet on ghosts. The real reason most electric stops work is due to a bad connection. Bad connections can start a fire that will destroy your home.

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Thursday, October 27, 2011

Knob and Tube wiring caught on fire.

Dangerous of old wiring

This is a close up picture of what could have been a real tragedy. There was a 1930's knob and tube outlet cut into this base board. If you look closely you can see the square coroners of where the outlet use to be. The wiring to this outlet failed. The outlet started to short out but not enough to trip the circuit breaker. This started a small smoldering fire.

This fire was starting to work its way up the wall space when the owner found it. Luckily for her she had to come across the fire by accident. By the time all the children were gathered and brought outside there was smoke coming out of the roof of this home. The fire department was able to stop the fire before it spread anywhere else. 

Still the water damage from the fire started by one outlet on a closet wall was extensive. After the fire department left three floors of this house had major water damage from the fire hoses. 


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Peco's Responsibility?

Who's problem is this??

Many home owners are not sure where the electric company stops being responsible for the utility wires. In this picture you can see both Peco's power lines and the power line from this home meeting. Peco's line is the line that is running along the top of the house. The home owner's line is the one running vertical up the side of the home.  PECO's responsibly stops at the point where the two wires meet. 

The home owner's like has become detached from the home. This is the responsibly of the homeowner to have repaired. Meter reader reports report unsafe wiring to PECO.  Sometimes PECO will cut line like this of the power grid without warning because they are dangerous. 

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Modern Dining room Light fixture

The lighting that you choose can make or break your style

This is an interesting dinning room light fixture that I want to share with everyone. It fits well in a modern classical city condo. The clean line of the fixture base are very common in the new high end designs. The crystal around the lights are reminiscent of the a classical chandelier.

We can't wait to see what you pick out for your dinning room Lighting

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Thursday, October 6, 2011

What you need to ground your TV and Phones

How to ground your TV and Phone

As we become more dependent on electronic equipment the importance of having good grounding is becoming more apparent. For this reason the national electrical code has add the need for the addition of an Intersystem Bonding Termination block. Poor grounding can be the cause of your fuzzy TV single or noisy phone line. 

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Friday, September 30, 2011

You Get what you Pay for??

Here is a Job where the client got burnt by a cheep electrical work

TThis is the work of a handyman electrician who was planning to add electric heat in a hug Mount Airy home. Electric heat as your main heating source is generally a bad idea in the Philadelphia area. The handy man took her money and left this useless mess. The client thought that $2,000 was going to get her job done. Now she is left with a hole in her budget, a bunch of useless electrical work. And of course the handyman was paid but now will not respond to her calls.   I felt bad for this client but there was not much that we could do to make the electric heat affordable for this type of home. PLEASE DON'T let handyman do work that is outside their expertise. 
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Energy saving light bulbs.

Flourescent light bulbs are looking better then ever

This is a chandelier in a Penn Presbyterian Medical Center that is on 24/7. The hospital has replaced the bulbs with flourescent  bulbs. The fixtures has 15 bulbs. Normal bulb would run 375 watts. The Compact Fluorescent Lamp is only burning 75 watts.  

This is a great use of flourescent light. In this situation the hospital will see a quick return on the investment. The long hour of usage  and the non-dimming nature work well with Flourescent bulbs. The newer designs look much better then they have in the past.

We still don't recommend them for residential  use unless they are requested by our clients.  The main problem is the light quality doesn't work as well in a home and the lack of dimming. We are hopeful that there will be some LED bulbs coming on to the market soon that will be a better fit for energy savings in the home. 

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Sunday, September 25, 2011

Antique-Vintage Style Push-button 3way Switches Replaced

Three-way Push-button switch on old Knob and Tube Wires replaced

House detail: Light switchImage by litlnemo via Flickr

In this video I show how to replace two 3way light switch. The original switch were the old knob and tube push-button type switches. Ideally this wiring should be replace. The wiring was originally installed before the 1930's. This client was not in a position to update the wiring so were were able to repair the switching problem with new switches. Knob and tube wiring is nearly 100 years old now. It is highly recommend that this type of wiring be replace when it is located.
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Saturday, September 24, 2011

Electric Dry Fire Starter

Your clothing dryer can start fires in many ways

This is a three wire electric dryer plug that has sufferer heat damage.  One of the hot prong at the bottom of plug has started to melt. This could be a sign of a bad cord. In this case the problem was in the 220volt plug.

We knew the problem originated in the outlet because of the charring that we saw coming out from the connection. It looks as if there was a small fire inside the dryer outlet.

Opening the dryer outlet we can see that the connection on the right of the outlet was the start of the fire. I also noted that there was lint build up in the plug and other parts of the dryer.  A loose connection surrounded by highly combustible lint is a dangerous combination.

After noticing all the lint build up the dryer vent was checked. Here you can see a build up of lint around the vent. You van also see where small fires have started in the vent. This home owner was very lucky that there was not a fire started due to this dryer.

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