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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Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Aluminum Wiring Problems

Aluminum wiring cause outlet to spark

We were called out to this home because the outlet started to spark. This is a scary situation for any homeowner. This home was built in the 1960. I was wired with Aluminum wires. 

The owner removed the outlet and smartly called us (Electricians) into to look at the situation. This is a picture of the electrical box when we arrived at the home. Aluminum wires look like modern wires accept the metal is silver instead of gold. The wires are slightly thicker then copper wire and much lighter. Aluminum is a much softener wire then copper. If it is handled incorrectly the wire can fatigue and break. It also corrodes differently than copper. This is a problem when attaching AL wire to electrical equipment that was designed for CU. 

Aluminum wiring was only use for a short time in the 1960 during a copper shortage. At that time it was a cost effective solution for new houses. Now some 50 years later we recommend that this wire be removed. The wire becomes more dangerous as it ages.  Al corrodes and weeks much faster than CU.  A 50 year old piece of Al wire can be broken by hand without any tools. 

You can see here in this picture where the Aluminum wire started to spark and almost caught fire. The outlet was never designed to work with AL wiring.  The screw terminal is a CU post.    Outlets that you purchase at your local home centers are normally stamped with the type of wire they work with on their yokes (Frames). Not correctly matching the devices to the wire  is just another of the many problem that home with Aluminum wires face. 
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Wednesday, September 14, 2011


-5 light chandelier -Roslyn collection -Flemish bronze finish -Creme parchment glass -Uses five medium A-line 100w max bulbs (not included) -Supplied with 144'' of wire & 120" chain -cUL listed for dry locations -Height with chain: 146.75" -Diameter of glass: 4.312" -Diameter of fitter: 2.25" -Overall dimensions: 25" H x 23" Dia Specifications

SNEAK PEEK: Gordon Ramsay's FOR THE HOME, A Kmart Exclusive

How to ground two pron or slot outlets

Grounding ungrounded outlets

Most 2 prong outlet cannot be grounded. There was a time in the late 1950 and early 1960 where outlet boxes were grounded but the outlets were not. In this those situations it is possible to pigtail a wire from inside the box and add a grounded outlet.

Older wiring type can only be grounded by running new wires. If your outlets are from before the 1950's you really should plan on having them rewired. I would not trust the safety of 60 year old wiring and I certainly would trust it less and less as the wiring turned 70&80&90& so on.
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Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Lighting Showroom in Philadelphia

Bulb Lighting Showroom


Philadelphia has some great lighting showrooms. This is Bulb Lighting located just south of Rittenhouse Square. Here is you can find both lighting design services and some of the most up to date lighting styles. Kazan the store owner is helpful and can works with both home owners and Architects to find lights for your home or business.

This is definitely a store to check out if you want something that is above "Builder Grade". The store is not over whelming in size. There are plenty of different lighting examples. The trick here is to spend some time with the owner and learn from his years of experience doing lighting design. 

Bulb is a full service lighting showroom that offers the following services:

·        Evaluate existing homes and make recommendations to improve current lighting scheme
·        Review proposed plans, evaluate lighting needs and select appropriate fixtures.
·        Produce reflected ceiling plans and lighting schedules.
·        Provide project management and coordination services with electricians and architectural firms as needed.

Bulb Lighting Showroom
Kazan Spratt
2056 Locust St
Philadelphia, PA 19103
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Monday, September 12, 2011

How to replace a GFCI outlet

Type B (NEMA 5–15) GFCI receptacleImage via Wikipedia

Replacing a GFCI outlet

This video shows how a GFCI outlet is replaced. This GFCI outlet is a general purpose outlet install in a West Philadelphia dog run. It was a great location to shoot this video because the day light. The wiring for this GFCI is the simplest situation that you will find in an outlet box. Only one feed wire. This is the lowest amount of wires needed to make a GFCI outlet work.
Minimum wires needed to power an outlet:
1: Hot wire. This provides the 120 volts to the circuit. Black wire
2: Neutral wire. This is the return path to the electric company. White wire
3: Ground wire. This is used to make sure electricity does not energize metal parts that should have 0 voltages . Bare wire.

Other GFCI outlets could have additional wires. This video is only meant as an example and you should consult a qualified electrician if you are not comfortable with this type of project.
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Friday, September 9, 2011

Flush Mount Black Porch Light

This porch light is a match for a light on an existing client's porch. The older porch light light is starting to look tired. At the client's request we were asked to find a match for their old light. This is a service that we can do for  our customers.

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

iphone JK-MEB

A look at a video intercom

Friday, September 2, 2011

Wireless smoke detectors

Diagram of where to put smoke alarms. The top ...Image via Wikipedia

Your family is more at risk from a house fire then another earth quake or hurricane!

Fires are the most destructive disaster a families face. Adding interconnected smoke detectors to older homes use to be costly. Not to mention damaging to your home. For that reason my homeowner choose to live without protection.

We have homes in Philadelphia with cloth covered Knob and Tube wires from the 1930's. This type of wiring is an added fire risk. Yet, these home that are also missing smoke detectors.

Now with some of the new wireless battery backup device we can help you protect your families at a fraction of the cost add new wires. When you lower your risk of fire you may even be able to save on homeowners insurance.

STEP 1 - Determine the type of smoke alarms currently installed in your house.

Battery Powered
No wires; runs only on batteries.

Runs on your home's electricity and may have battery backup. Only one alarm sounds when test button is pressed.

Runs on your home's electricity and may have battery backup. All alarms sound when one test button is pressed.

STEP 2 - Decide how many alarms you need in your home.

The NFPA recommends at least one smoke alarm on every level of the home and in every sleeping area.

STEP 3 - Based on your home's current alarm set-up, decide whch Kidde Wireless alarms to purchase.

a. If your home has only battery powered alarms:
Purchase enough Kidde Wireless Battery Powered Smoke Alarms to replace all of your current smoke alarms. You will also have the ability to add Kidde Wireless Battery Powered Alarms in additional rooms for expanded coverage.

b. If your home has only hardwired smoke alarms:
Purchase enough Kidde Wireless AC Powered Smoke Alarms to replace all of your current smoke alarms. You will also have the ability to add Kidde Wireless Battery Powered Alarms in additional rooms for expanded coverage.

c. If your home has interconnected smoke alarms:
Purchase one Kidde Wireless AC Powered Smoke Alarms to replace one current smoke alarm. Kidde Wireless Battery Powered Alarms can then be installed in additional rooms .

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