Category Archives: Electrical

Don’t get shocked! Install GFCIs

GFCI-4For a long time now, ground fault circuit interrupters, or GFCI’s, have saved thousands of lives and have significantly reduced the number of home electrocutions by nearly fifty percent. Many homes and business in the Puget Sound Area do not have proper electrical protection in restrooms or outdoor locations. With the unpredictable Northwest weather, you need to make sure that you are guarded from the hazard of a shock both in and outside of your home.

GFCIs are electrical safety devices that trip electrical circuits when they detect ground faults or current leakage. A person who becomes part of a path for leakage current will be severely shocked or electrocuted.   This could cause serious injury or death.  GFCI outlets prevent shock by quickly shutting off power to the circuit, similar to a circuit breaker in a house panel.   This occurs if the electricity flowing into the circuit differs by even a slight amount from that returning, usually caused by a short circuit or circuit overload.

A GFCI should be used in any indoor or outdoor area where water may come into contact with electrical products like landscaping, a bathroom or around a kitchen sink.  National Electrical Code currently requires that GFCIs be used in all kitchens, bathrooms, garages, and outdoors. GFCI’s should be tested once a month to confirm that they are working properly.

How to Test Your GFCI:

GFCIs should be tested often to make sure they are working properly. To test your GFCI:

  1. Push the “reset” button on the GFCI to prepare the outlet for testing.
  2. Plug in an ordinary light or plug tester (from Home Depot) into the GFCI and turn it ON. The light should now be on.
  3. Push the “test” button of the GFCI. The light should go OFF.
  4. Push the “reset” button again. The light should now come ON again.

If the light does not turn off when the test button is pushed, then the GFCI may have been incorrectly wired or damaged and it no longer offers shock the protection for which it was designed.  B&G Property Maintenance and Electrical Contracting can give you a free estimate to install or upgrade GFCI outlets around your house to increase electrical safety and make your home electrically protected.

Do-It-Yourself Home Electrical

Do Not Attempt To Solve an Electrical Issue Without Proper Knowledge

For most electrical issues in the home, including adding light switches or outlets, seek the services of a licensed professional electrician.  Attempting to repair an electrical issue without the proper knowledge or training can lead to more expensive issues down the road. The U.S. Fire Administration data reveals that 26,100 home fires are caused by electrical problems, which lead to over $1 billion in property losses. However, it doesn’t mean you can’t solve some of the common electrical issues here in the Puget Sound Region. We can take a look at three common residential electrical issues and how to solve them.

 If The Outlet Doesn’t Work

The first thing to do is check the status of other outlets. Are they working properly? If the other outlets aren’t working as they should, it is an indication that the power in that circuit or the entire house is out. However, if only one outlet isn’t working it might be because a GFCI or circuit breaker might have been tripped. Locate the electrical panel in your home and ensure it isn’t in the ‘off’ position.  Stand to the side of the panel and flip the breaker to the ‘on’ position if it is off.  It is important to stand to the side just in case there is any arcing from re-energizing.  If the issue is not resolved, you should get professional assistance as voltage from a house panel can be very dangerous.

Continuous tripping of the circuit breaker

If a circuit breaker gets overloaded or overheated, it will trip.  A circuit breaker is protection for your home’s circuits, and essential for the safety of the electrical system. If the circuit breaker isn’t functioning properly, appliances and components plugged into that circuit could be damaged and wires could overheat which could cause a fire.  Circuit overloads could also be caused by too many things plugged into an outlet.   Make sure surge protectors are installed and counter top appliances are unplugged when not in use.

If Your Lights Flicker When Turned On

This could be a result of using a bulb of wrong type or wattage or if it isn’t connected properly. Using a bulb of wrong wattage or installed loosely or improperly, can potentially lead to overheating and fire. If the bulb is new and correct, the other possibility is faulty wiring either in the switch or the fixture itself.  Homeowners should definitely seek professional electrical contractors for these types of wiring issues.

Electrical Vehicle Charging At Home

What to know before purchasing your new EV

One of the most important aspects of owning an electric car or plug-in hybrid, might not be how they drive or how far you’ll go on a charge.   The most important thing to think about however, is how you’ll actually charge it in the first place.   With many potential EV owners excited for a public charging network thereby possibly bringing electric vehicles such as Tesla down in cost, they can be sure they’ll have somewhere to recharge before heading out each day.

Level 1: 120-Volt

There are three main levels of charging.  The most basic, level 1, will be the typical 120-volt home system that does not necessarily require any special hardware or professional installation.  In essence, your EV can be plugged straight into a normal three-prong, circuit protected wall outlet using a special charging cord.   These can be found with a simple internet search or at the Home Depot.   Most every home will have access to such an outlet in their garage, and it most likely will not need any special installation.  Basically you can hook up your EV and go.   Level 1 charging does not offer a particularly fast charge.  The typical estimate for a car like the Nissan Leaf is around 8 to 12 hours, which can give you a 100% recharge overnight.  Level 1 charging may not be sufficient for more frequent journeys, unless you’re using your EV exclusively as a second car and only going on short trips.  If this is the case, a car like the range-extended Chevy Volt will be less compromised by the slower charge times.

Level 2: 240-Volt

If you want a quicker charge–and many potential EV owners probably come under this category–then a level 2 charger will likely fit your needs.  An example would be the Blink HQ.  Level 2 runs at 240 volts and around 30 amps, cutting the charge time in half as a result.   A 4-6 hour charge time becomes suitable for a great many more applications, including commercial as well as personal residential use.   For home usage, you’ll have to get a charging system installed by a professional, and the installation will then need to be tested for electrical safety by your local authority.   B&G Electrical Contracting will complete the process from permit request, home electrical evaluation, installation and final inspection.  Residential level 2 chargers will be wall-mounted inside your garage or car port.  This requires a more intensive installation process.   Some of the installation costs may be offset by available energy grants from state agencies.   These vary state by state.

Level 3: High voltage

The quickest charge available at the moment is through a level 3 fast charger.   These will largely be used in locations where a quick charge time is important, such as gas stations, rest stops and malls, and do not necessarily apply to the residential market.   A fast charger running on 50 to 500 Volt DC current at over 100 Amperes can provide 80 percent charge in as little as 15-30 minutes.  B&G can easily install this system in any shopping mall parking lot, commercial office park or covered lot in an office building.

Which one is right for your application?

Everyone has access to a level 1 charger, but we suspect that it might only be suitable for consumers who drive a few miles every day, maybe to work and back with a few stops in between.  Short, infrequent trips won’t be hindered by the long charge times.   Most EV buyers are more likely going to upgrade to level 2, which proves a cost-effective compromise.   The 4-6 hour charge time is easily quick enough for an overnight charge leaving you with 100% at the start of every day.  If your workplace has these installed, you’ll find your battery at 100% by the end of the working day, as well.

B&G Electrical Contracting is excited to offer the installation of these chargers and will provide free estimates on all of your projects!

Fall Storms and Power Outages

Commercial Electrical Services Kirkland

Contact your electric utility if your power goes out.

Always stay safe during a power outage and when in doubt contact your electric utility.    If you live in the Seattle are, contact Seattle Public Utilities.   If you live outside of Seattle, contact Puget Sound Energy or your regional utility department.  Maintain electrical safety by turning the main power off in case of an outage.  This switch can be found in your homes electrical panel, usually located in the garage or a storage closet.  Be aware, If you have to stand in water or wet surface to access the switch, call the utility company and have them turn it off.  If you see a downed power line, stay away from it and don’t drive over it or try to move it out of the way.  Report the issue to your utility company and they will take the appropriate steps to repair the condition.

Safety measures during an Outage

As soon as there is an outage, ensure electrical safety by turning off all major electrical appliances and unplug expensive electronics. When power is restored, it can come back in surges which can damage your expensive gadgets and appliances. If the appliances are still plugged in, it can result in an overload of your home’s circuits. You can leave a light bulb on for indication of power restoration and to check the presence of surges. If all’s well after the power is restored, then you can turn on your appliances one by one. Try and avoid candles when there’s a blackout; flashlights are a safer option and should always have fresh batteries installed.  Make sure to never go near electrical equipment when the area is flooded.  More information can be found on your utility companies’ website.

LED Options Can Save Energy And Cut Costs

There are many simple upgrades available these days from local hardware stores like Home Depot and Lowes, that can save plenty of energy as well as hundreds each year on utilities.    Though the initial cost of LED lighting upgrades can be a bit higher than standard incandescent or compact fluorescent, the cost savings and longevity of LED’s more than makes up for it.   In fact there is 85% more energy savings compared to incandescent and they can last up to 25% longer.

Installing LED track or recessed can lighting is both cost-effective and energy-efficient.  They are ideal for brightening rooms and improving decor.   LED quality and diversity has changed in recent years.   When they were first introduced, LED light was bright white and unnatural.  These days LED bulbs come in ranges from 2700k or soft white, all the way up to 5000k or bright white.  The K stands for degree of Kelvin that is output by the light.   Make sure your home is energy responsible by upgrading to LED lighting today!

Problems With Do-It-Yourself Electrical

There are a lot of electrical projects in your home or business that look deceptively easy to complete yourself.   This lies in the fact that some DIY programs on cable use time lapse footage and shorten steps like drying time, proper prep, code and permit filing, along with final touch up, that will make a complicated project seem easy.  All the while there could be serious safety issues within your homes electrical system that need professional attention.

Even though you may have taken care of structural, cosmetic, sub-floor and roof issues, the electrical wiring can be a major concern.   As a homeowner in the Puget Sound Region, you should be aware that what was the height of code specification adherence last year may very well be considered a serious code violation today.