Friday, May 27, 2011

Track light stopped working.

Track light stopped working.This is a close up photo of a mono-rail track light that stopped working. The light fixture was originally installed be a handyman. The reason the light stopped working is the connections were never tight enough.

Mono-rail track lighting take a special set of skills to install correctly the first time. We have some recommendations for home owner who want to attempt a project like this.

First take you time. There lots of little pieces that are easily over looked. One missing set screw on a power feed can cause the whole light to malfunction.

Second plan on tightening and testing your work 2 or 3 months after you install the mono-rail. This type of lighting can produce heat along the rails when on. The heating an cooling will loosen over time. We have found that most first time installer need there connections re-tightened to prevent the track from getting damaged.

Third make sure you have more supports then minimal requires. The rail of mono-rail will deform over time. The fewer supports you have the more likely there will be too much stress on the power connections. Also place your supports close to any connections or junctions. The week spot in any mono-rail system is normally the connection of two rails.

Mono-rail lighting system are a great way to add interest and lighting to difficult spaces. They have a modern feel and can make dole spaces interesting. They do present a challenge for new installer.

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Thursday, May 26, 2011

How to wire three way switches.

Sometimes you just don't have the wires in the wall to have a 3-way installed. Here is a demo of how to program smart switches. These switches work either through your homes the power lines or wireless. Now, instead of running new wires you can add a pair of these switches. Once they are installed you tel them what you want them to work.
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Monday, May 16, 2011

Crazy wires

Installing a new ceiling light should be easy. That is until you see some old wires like these. Here are some old knob and tube wires mixed with some BX and tape. In situations like this please give us a call to help.
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Upgrade to a video intercom

StairsImage via Wikipedia

The JK-1HD is the sub monitor for the JK series
PanTilt & Zoom video entry security system.  This
system will support 1 video door station and 2 inside
color monitor stations.
The JK series offers a 170° camera view and gives the
user the ability PanTilt and Zoom the camera to a
desired area for a better view of the visitor.
The JK series offers a backlight/night sensitivity
adjustment.  In low light (night time) and heavy
background light (sunny day) situations, the user can
press the ADJUST button to improve the image quality
to aid them in identifying the visitor.

Hands free audio communication
Door release
Call between inside monitors
PanTilt & Zoom control for camera
Simple 2-conductor wiring
Surface mounts to wall on 1-gang box or ring
ABS plastic construction

A picture is worth a 1000 words. For a video intercom that picture could be worth a flight of stairs.
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Thursday, May 5, 2011

Commercial concept

We are looking at making a TV spot and would like your feedback. What would you like to see in a commercial for an electrician?

Fishing a wire for a ceiling fan

Here is how we fished a new switch leg in to an old 1930's knob and tube switch box. This home was in the Overbrook section of Philadelphia (19131). Getting rid of 80 year old wiring is a must for a safe home.

knob and tube wire

First we cut a hole at the top of the plaster and lath wall. The we dropped a piece of jack chain. Jack chain work much better then a fish. This wall is plaster on the inside and stone on the exterior. Either of which would make it difficult to use a tape fish. The weight of the jack chain make it fall right down.

fishing a wire

We use a fish to find the jack chain under the switch box that was directly below the hole. With the jack chain at the wall box we pulled the new 14-3 ceiling fan wire into the old box. The new wire can then be fished from the space under the box into one of the wire holes in the back of the box.
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Monday, May 2, 2011

Upgraded recessed light

This is a trim that will fit into any old 6 inch recessed light and make it look like a more new 4 inch recessed light.

What are these wires?

Here is an example of what can happens when you have a moon lighting commercial electrician to install a residential electrical service. The old circuits were spliced in the commercial splice boxes above the panel. This is not a reall problem just odd.

The problem was the electrician did not have the covers for these junction boxes. Customer service is not big in the commercial field. Repeat business is not too important for someone who is just doing side work. So the home owner was asked to find them on her own. No Big deal all the "REAL WORK" was done.

For 15 years the owner walked by this open junction. They looked for the covers at the local home center. Only to find out these covers are not carried there. This bother this client for years. They never thought to ask to have up provide them covers but during a simple home inspection we were able to help.
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Move electrical panel.

Here is an electrical panel that we moved out of a garage into the basement stair way. This is now officially a sub-panel with the main disconnect in the garage where PECO needs it to be.

We moved over all the individual circuit braked to this new sub-panel. This makes life easier for the home owner. When the main panel was in the garage the home owner needed to go outside, open the garage door before they could find a tripped circuit.

Now, all the circuits are easily accessed at the bottom of the basement stairs.
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What kind of wire is this?

This is what an outlet fed with knob and tube wiring looks like. The wire cover is two different cloth insulators and the core is copper.

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What is a flying splice?

Here is an example of a flying splice. This wire was cut and then extended with another piece of wire. The only protection on this junction is electrical tape.

This is not allowed by modern electrical code. This type of junction needs to be secured in a covered box. The problem and danger here is that there in no cover encase this junction goes bad.

Any connection has a chance to fail. When junctions fail they can start to shoot out sparks. A splice in a junction box will prevent the sparks of a bad junction from causing a fire.
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Old Fuse Box

This is an old fuse box. It probably controlled all the original lighting in this home. Boxes like this would of had 2-4 screw in fuses that were fed off of a 30 amp main electrical service. The fuses would sit in porcelain fuse blocks.

This box looks to have been rewired in the 1980's and had the fuses remover. It still is feeding an old original knob and tube circuit.

The cloth wire looks to be in good shape at this location. The wire may not be in the same condition every where else. Different conditions can decompose cloth faster.

I like to compare the cloth covering these wire to vintage clothing. You can find some fabrics from the 1930's in good shape. I would not expect fabric of that age to last too long. I would also not want to subject vintage fabric to a modern washer machine. Nor would I want to have modern power loads on old wires.

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What Type Of outlet is this??

Here we have a picture of a old residential outlet. This style of outlet was installed before we used the grounding. Grounding was added to electrical systems to improve the safety in the 1950's. This outlet was wired into an old knob and tube system. Knob and Tube wiring does not have any type of ground wire to accept modern plugs.

The best way to handle this type of old electrical system is to re-wire. We can also replace this old type of outlet with special non-grounded outlets. You not want to install an outlet with a ground hole in the face. That would only give you a false sense of security but not a ground.

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Kitchen exhaust fan

Summer time is coming and kitchens can get HOT HOT HOT!!! Adding in a kitchen exhaust fan is a great way to low the heat that summer time cook produces.

A simple kitchen exhaust fan can save you money on you homes air conditioning bill. Used in the spring and fall and you may not have to turn on you AC on. This is a green way to save some money.
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Fishing a wire with a drill.

This is a cool pin hole drill bit. I saw Luke, one of my techs, using this bit. Thought it was a neat tool but had my doubts. I spent some time working with Luke to see how this bit was being used to fish wires.

The floor in this house was over a stone foundation. This adds difficulty when fishing wire up to new outlets. The Stone foundation extends past the floor and needs to be cut back to access the wall on the first floor. To find the correct joist space we used this pin hole drill bit.

To use it we found a joint in the floor boards and drilled the bit down to the basement. We then used the bit as a reference to measure off of. This particular foundation was 4 to 8 inches deep. It also had a irregular shape. Without this drill we normally needed to cut large holes in the foundation to locate a path in to the first floor wall.

I was skeptical about doing this to a nice floor. I would never want to damage the hardwood of a house. So, after we found the correct wall pocket to cut into from below. The pin hole drill bit was removed. I went back to find the drill hole and was not able to locate it. The gap between the floor boards hid the reference hole that the drill made.

With tools like this we are able to minimize damage and up date wiring. Work with a team for great electricians only make us better. I love to learn from my team.

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Gas lighting

Here is an example of a Gas lighting fitting that was updated with Knob and tube wiring. That update from Gass to electric probably took place around the 1930.

The yellow wire in 12/2 NM (non-metallic) wire. Often refereed to as Romex wire.
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