There are a few reasons you may need to upgrade your electrical panel in your Fort Collins home. However, in order to understand why, you should know what the panel is. In order to help you make the best decision about your home’s electrical panel, here’s a quick overview and some tips. After all, an informed homeowner saves the most money.
What does the electrical panel do?
Your electrical panel is the main hub of all of the electricity that flows through your home. While your main power line goes through the meter box, your electrical panel is responsible for the distribution of electricity to smaller branch lines. Those branch lines are indicated by the switches on the panel – each going to an area or appliance that needs power. The breaker box houses the panel. Each panel should have labels to where the branches go and how many amps they can carry. This amp limit determines when the breaker switch will trip.
How do I know when to upgrade my electrical panel?
With the median home age in Fort Collins being 26 years, you may be living in a home with an older panel. That’s not automatically a bad thing, but there are things to watch for to know if you need an upgrade.
First, pay attention to how often the circuit breakers trip. If your breakers are tripping often, it may be a sign that your electrical panel is malfunctioning. If this continues for too long, the breaker may eventually stop tripping, which can lead to electrical shock or even an electrical fire.
Next, watch and listen. You should get your panel inspected as soon as possible if you notice the lights flickering and/or hear crackling sounds.
Better safe than sorry!
Any problems with your electricity should be inspected as soon as you notice them. However, you should call an electrician who will properly diagnose your issue and make appropriate recommendations. Chadwick Electric Services will never do unnecessary work just to make money. So call us today for your inspection at 970-457-4099.
Are you noticing an increase in how often your circuit breaker trips? Or maybe you’ve installed a new appliance and it keeps tripping its breaker. If either of those is the case, you may need to install or replace a dedicated circuit for your Fort Collins home.
What is a dedicated circuit?
A dedicated circuit is one with its own breaker for use with a single appliance. It’s separate from the main electrical circuit to prevent large appliances from overloading the circuits to which they’re connected.
The National Electrical Code requires that every critical-use appliance has its own dedicated circuit. However, for the most protection from overload, you should have dedicated circuits for every large appliance. These are generally appliances that use more than 20 amps of electricity.
Which appliances need dedicated circuits?
It’s important that you know how much electricity your appliances are using before you install them. Most larger appliances use at least 20 amps of power and most critical-use appliances will use 30 amps of power (water heaters, furnaces, central air units). Therefore, you should install a dedicated circuit before you have a problem.
These are the appliances that usually need a dedicated circuit:
- Electric ranges
- Garbage disposals
- Water heaters
- Heating and air conditioning units
- Garage door openers
- Sump pumps
- Water pumps
- Whirlpools, Jacuzzis, hot tubs, saunas
Upgrade your circuit breaker
Many older homes need to update their electrical wiring and install more dedicated circuits to handle modern appliances. You’ll know your home doesn’t have enough dedicated circuits if the circuit breaker is constantly tripping. If you don’t update your system, you run the risk of overloading your circuits enough to cause an electrical fire in your home.
Chadwick Services offers free inspections. Take advantage of our professional services to upgrade your system. Call us today 970-457-4099.
With cooler evenings comes the desire to retreat to the hot tub and sink into the warm water. But are you making sure that you remain safe while you relax? We’ve compiled 20 hot tub safety tips to keep in mind while you enjoy your soak.
- Ensure you have proper wiring. You need to make sure that your hot tub’s wiring complies with the National Electrical Code, which includes an emergency shutoff that is accessible, visible, and at least 5 ft. away. You also want to make sure your hot tub is properly installed and plugged in (no extension cords!).
- Beware of electricity. Keep electrical appliances away. Instead, use battery-operated appliances around the hot tub and keep extension cords as far from the water as possible.
- Supervise all children. Don’t turn your back for even a minute while children are in the hot tub. Children are more prone to overheating and need lower temperatures to remain safe. Consult your pediatrician for the right temperature or if you want to bring in a child younger than five.
- Establish rules. Expecting good behavior from all of your guests, including the adults, is always good, but especially when you’re in or near water. Running, jumping, diving, and pushing should be strictly prohibited, as should standing on the hot tub cover.
- Prepare for emergencies. Make sure all guests know where the emergency shutoff switch is before they get in the tub. It’s also a good idea to know CPR and have a first-aid kit on hand.
- Check your water. If your water is cloudy, don’t get in! Cloudy water is an indication that it’s unsanitary and could cause skin infections. Stock up on a good sanitizer and regularly test the bacteria to make sure your water remains safe. Remember: never add water to acid, always add acid to water.
- Safely store cleaning supplies and chemicals. Make sure all of your supplies and chemicals are stored out of reach of children and pets. They should also be in a cool, dry location.
- Shower before and after use. This is not only proper etiquette, it can also keep out bacteria that will thrive in your hot tub’s warm environment.
- Don’t wear street clothes. Everything worn in the hot tub should be clean.
- Beware of storms. You should never use your hot tub before, during, or immediately after extreme weather conditions, especially electrical storms.
- Maintain a safe temperature. Many hot tubs come with a factory setting of 104° F, but most users are more comfortable between 102° and 100° F. Children generally need less than 100° F.
- Check for skin infections and open wounds. Because bacteria love warm environments, entering a hot tub with existing infections or open wounds will help spread infection.
- Be aware of any health issues. Before you climb into a hot tub, make sure you know how you will react if you have an illness such as diabetes, high or low blood pressure, or are pregnant.
- Don’t use drugs. Speaking of an illness, check with your doctor to make sure you won’t have a reaction while on medication. Also, be smart about your recreational use.
- Don’t drink alcohol. Another big no-no is drinking while hot tubbing. Alcohol use can increase your chances of having a heart attack or passing out and drowning while you’re in the hot tub.
- Use plastic containers. If you do have food or (non-alcoholic) drinks around, make sure you use plastic instead of glass or anything else that could shatter in the hot tub. It’s better to be safe than cut yourself in the tub while trying to retrieve or avoid shards.
- Check your drain and suction covers. Make sure your hot tub is compliant with the Virginia Graeme Baker Pool and Spa Safety Act with the proper drain cover and suction covers.
- Don’t use a hot tub alone. Accidents and emergencies are easily avoided when you soak with a friend or family member.
- Install handrails and anti-skid devices. Getting out of and into hot tubs safely should be a priority. You can use treads on your steps, mats around the tub, sand paint on your deck, or similar measures.
- Always cover and lock the tub when it’s not in use. Check your cover periodically to make sure it still fits snuggly, all locks and latches are functioning properly, and that you lock the hot tub every time.
Hot tub safety is no joke. Neither is its wiring. If you’re worried about your current hot tub’s wiring or need to install a new spa, call us today. We are the experts you need in Fort Collins and Windsor.
With an average of 34,000 electrical fires being reported annually, it’s important to know what you can do as a homeowner to avert disaster. Here are some tips to ensure that will help you prevent electrical fires in your Northern Colorado home.
Install GFCIs: Install Ground Fault Circuit Interrupters throughout your home to prevent fires because they automatically shut down if a circuit is overloaded or at risk.
Install an AFCI: Arc-fault Circuit Interrupters detect electrical abnormalities and shut down the circuit before it overheats. If you have an older home, it’s a good idea to replace your circuit breaker with an AFCI since arc faults are nearly impossible to catch before there’s a fire.
Update your electrical system: Ideally, electrical systems should be updated every 10 years. Now that so many households are adding more and more technology, it’s a good idea to make sure your current wiring is able to handle the load.
Know when you have faulty wiring: Faulty wiring can be a huge problem for older structures. These are the signs you should be aware of:
- Light switches are hot to the touch
- Outlets spark when you plug something in
- Flickering light bulbs
- Lights dim when you use appliances
- Outlets are buzzing, hissing, or crackling
- Circuit breakers are constantly tripping or shorting
- Wires or fuse boxes are hot to the touch
- Burning smell from an outlet
Check your outlets: Make sure that all of your outlets are tight and fitted to the wall – loose-fitting plugs can be a fire and shock hazard. You should also replace any broken or missing plates to avoid having exposed wiring, and put protective covers on any unused plugs if you have children.
Don’t tamper with plugs: You should NEVER remove the third prong from plugs. It’s better to replace your two-conductor outlet if you need to use a three-pronged plug. You should also avoid bending prongs and follow all manufacturer instructions while installing appliances.
Use surge protectors: If you need to plug in multiple items, you should invest in a surge protector to make sure you don’t overload your outlet.
Replace damaged cords: If you notice fraying or cracking on your cords, you should replace them. Most appliances have the replaceable cords available through the manufacturer.
Know where to run your cords: You create a hazardous environment when you run electrical cords under carpets, furniture, or rugs because you’re not able to tell if the cord becomes damaged or overheated.
Unplug small appliances: It’s a good habit to unplug smaller appliances when they’re not in use anyway, but you can lower the probability of them catching fire if they’re disconnected.
Use correct bulbs: Avoid using bulbs with higher watts than your lighting fixture recommends, or replace your incandescent bulbs with LED bulbs to reduce the heat created when your light is on.
Are you worried about electrical fires in your home? Call us today for an inspection. We also offer 24-hour emergency services!