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How to Keep Outside Wiring Safe

Tuesday, August 15th, 2017

Electrical safety outside is just as important as it is inside the home. Working with power tools, trimming hedges and cooking on electric barbecues all pose risks, so before you use outdoor electrical products, run through this outside wiring safety checklist.

Outdoor Outlets

Only outlets that fit three-pronged electrical plugs are safe for outdoor use, so don’t remove the third prong from a plug to make it fit an outdoor outlet. Older, two-pronged outlets should be replaced. Outdoor outlets should be covered with a weatherproof shield to prevent rainwater from seeping inside.

Circuit breakers can prevent many outdoor electrical accidents. Circuit breakers alone may not be enough protection. Ask an electrician to fit a Ground Fault Circuit Interrupter (GFCI) or an Arc Fault Circuit Interrupter (AFCI) to each outdoor outlet around your home.

Extension Cords

If you need an extension cord to connect a power tool with an outlet, be sure that the cord you use has been approved by a known testing authority such as UL, Intertek or CSA. You also want to check the amperage rating on the cord. It should be able to handle more electricity than the product requires. Use only outdoor extension cords outside the home, use them as a temporary measure and don’t overburden them.

It’s also important not to attach one extension cord to another. When you’ve finished using the cord, unplug it and store it indoors so it doesn’t get damaged by the elements.

Electrical Equipment

Using electrical equipment outside that isn’t for outdoor use or that’s damaged can lead to accidents.

  • Check that the tool is labeled for outdoor use and that the wiring and plug aren’t frayed or damaged.
  • Don’t use electrical tools outdoors when it’s raining.
  • If the cord overheats while you’re using the equipment, turn off the tool and unplug it.
  • Store tools for outdoor use indoors.
  • Don’t use power tools near gasoline or a source of flammable fumes, where a spark could ignite a fire.
  • If you have a hot tub, a swimming pool or spa, have them inspected annually to be sure the electrical systems work properly.
  • Before digging, call your power company to make sure you stay clear of power lines.

To avoid accidents, electrical shocks or fires, ask a qualified electrician to check your outdoor outlets and upgrade them if needed. Contact Ragsdale to speak to an expert advisor.

Fixing Your Electrical System? Leave it to the Pros.

Tuesday, May 2nd, 2017

Whether you hire a contractor or try to perform home improvements by yourself, it’s important to make sure they’re done correctly. When it comes to your home’s electrical system, it’s best to have a licensed electrician assess and repair electrical issues. Here are seven reasons why calling in the pros is a wise decision:

1) They are Licensed Professionals

If an accident occurs while you or an unlicensed contractor is working on your electrical panel, there’s a good chance your homeowners policy may deny the claim. A licensed contractor carries their own insurance and should have a surety bond in place. This is a protective measure to ensure the job is done safely and correctly.

2) You Need a Technology-Savvy Electrician

While you may have done electrical wiring in the past, building codes and technological improvements often affect electrical requirements. A licensed electrician is educated and well-versed in the latest electrical issues and smart-home technology.

3) They Have Safety Expertise

Safety is the main component of every electrician’s philosophy. Rushing a job on your own and not inspecting every aspect of a potential hazard can have serious consequences. Choosing a licensed electrician ensures that the job is done safely and effectively.

4) You’ll Save Money in the Long Run

If you’re repairing electrical wires or installing a new GFCI outlet, you could cost yourself a lot of money. If the outlet is installed improperly, it could short-circuit new appliances or damage your electrical panel. Ask a qualified electrician to perform small electrical upgrades, which can save you from costly appliance replacement.

5) They Understand Permit Requirements

The pros at Ragsdale know the laws and will ensure that the proper permits are in place before starting a job. Only a licensed electrical contractor is legally permitted to work on a residential property.

6) Licensed Electricians are Highly Trained

At Ragsdale, our electricians are highly trained in troubleshooting electrical systems. Trust our experienced electricians to inspect your electrical system and provide practical solutions.

7) Work is Done With the Best Equipment

Our electricians bring all of their tools and equipment with them to a job. Parts can be quickly ordered to finish up an urgent project immediately.

If you’re experiencing any electrical system issues, don’t try to fix it yourself. If you need a comprehensive electrical inspection, call the professionals at Ragsdale today.

What Combo Outlets Can Do For Your Home

Tuesday, May 2nd, 2017

If you’re looking for ways to improve technology and innovation in your home, one place to start is your electrical system. Are your plugs and fixtures outdated or not working properly? If you’re considering electrical system upgrades, you might want to have combo outlets installed by a Ragsdale pro. Here are a few ways that combo outlets can transform your home into a safe and efficient household for you and your family.

Fewer outlets in each room

Combo switches combine two different types of switches within one outlet. This allows you to have multiple uses from just one outlet. The alternative is struggling with several extension cords to accommodate several electronic devices or light fixtures. When your electrician arrives to assess the types of switches you have, ask about combo outlets. The end result will be fewer outlets, but more practical and accessible outlets in each room.

Better access and usability

Some homes have outlets with multiple power strips to help power lamps and several other devices. While this is a cheap way of powering items in your home, it is unsafe and unsightly. Overloading one outlet with several devices in a power strip can lead to circuit overload and become a fire hazard. The pros at Ragsdale can install combo outlets of various types to improve usability.

Some popular combos include:

  • 15 amp outlet with single-pole combo switch
  • 15 or 20 amp outlets with rocker switch
  • 15 amp 125-volt self test, guide light and tamper –resistant GFCI
  • USB Charger duo 15 amp combination

Ask your electrician about available outlet options that meet your budget and household needs.

Energy efficient

Having combination outlets installed throughout your home helps conserve energy. When paired with smart technology, you can program switches to turn on and off when they are not in use. Most updated outlets are also more energy efficient than older models. This helps conserve electricity and provides less wear on your electronic devices, including appliances and televisions.

Proper amperage

With new combo outlets installed in your home, you won’t have to worry about plugging in large appliances to each outlet and overloading the circuit breaker. Each switch is designed to deliver the right amount of amperage to the receptacle, making it less likely that you’ll overload a circuit or blow a fuse in your home. This protects you and your family and gives you peace of mind.

Ask your Ragsdale electrician about how combo outlets and switches can work for your home. Enjoy smart technology and reward yourself with a safer home and savings in your wallet.

Planning a Home Theater? Call an Electrician First

Tuesday, May 2nd, 2017

Contemplating a new entertainment system or home theater project? Think about calling up an expert before buying that new TV: Here’s why an electrician will be able to help when it comes to planning and safety!

Wiring Speakers

While wireless speakers are available, many home entertainment systems still use wired speakers for their surround sound setups. There are advantages to sticking with wires, but to position surround sound speakers correctly you may have to string out those cables a long way around the room. One of the solutions for this is running cables through the wall or under the crawlspace. However, this means navigating other electrical work, so your speaker wiring may be best left to a professional electrician.

Old Wiring and Outlets

Older homes may have wiring and outlets that are not designed for today’s TVs, consoles, receivers and other devices. If you live in an older home, then it’s a good idea to call up an electrical technician and ask, “I’m thinking about setting up a home theater, and this is how old my wiring is. Will my wiring be able to handle it?”

Electrical Load for the Room

If you are installing an entertainment system in a room that hasn’t had this kind of setup before, you should consider the new electrical load. You don’t want a breaker to flip every time you turn on your system! An experienced electrician can offer advice about how the electrical load requirements will impact your new system, your lights, and if you need special wiring done to prepare for your installation.

Preventing Power Surge Issues

Storms or electrical grid issues can create a power surge that may damage sensitive electrical devices. If you are hooking up multiple devices in your home theater, you need the proper protection. It’s a good idea to ask an electrician for advice on what kind of surge protector to use and how to use it properly when setting up.

Mounting Home Theater Components

In some cases you may need to mount TVs or speakers as part of the project. If you are mounting on wall studs, this should not be a large concern. However, if you plan more extensive mounting and renovation, consider asking an electrician if you need to watch out for any internal wiring.

Have a more specific electrical question to ask? A Ragsdale professional can help, so give us a call!

Photo Source: BigStock

Baby-Proofing Your Home for Electrical Safety

Monday, March 13th, 2017

Babies go from birth to crawling and toddling in the blink of an eye, which means the best time for baby-proofing your home is before your baby is born. Before you know it, tiny fingers could be exploring outlets, and unsteady feet might trip over an electrical cord. Electrical appliances can also pose a risk, especially when you use them around water.

Outlet Safety

Small fingers fit easily into open sockets, and it takes only a moment of inattention for a baby or toddler to receive a nasty shock. Since 2008, it’s been mandatory that all new and renovated outlets are tamper-resistant, which means that the electricity flows only when both prongs of a plug are inserted. A poke from a single finger shouldn’t trigger the current in a tamper-resistant outlet; nevertheless, leaving your outlets uncovered isn’t worth the risk.

You can use safety plugs, covers or plates to make your outlets safe for exploring babies and toddlers.

  • Outlet plugs are simple plastic devices that remain in the outlet when it isn’t being used. Though these safety plugs do block the holes, some toddlers are curious enough to remove them. The open outlet is then ready for investigation, and the plug becomes a choking hazard.
  • Outlet covers encase the entire outlet, allowing only electrical leads to poke out. Covers are effective but best for using with appliances that are permanently plugged in, like computers and lamps.
  • Outlet plates have sliding doors that can be pulled back to plug in or unplug cords temporarily. The outlet’s only exposed when it’s being used. As soon as the plug is pulled out, the cover springs closed.

Cord Safety

Electrical cords are tripping and fire hazards, and when they’re old and frayed, they can give electrical shocks. Here are some ideas on how to protect your baby from dangerous electrical cords:

  • Don’t allow cords to trail across doorways or the floor where your baby or other family members might trip.
  • Don’t run cords under rugs, where they can overheat and start a fire.
  • Avoid using extension cords by asking an electrician to fit more outlets where you need them.
  • Unplug electrical devices when they aren’t being used and wind up the cords.
  • Replace old, damaged, frayed and worn electrical cords.

Electrical Appliance Safety

Electrical appliances make the hard work of raising a baby easier, but they can also be dangerous. Take special care when using an electrical device with a baby in the room.

  • Don’t give your baby toys that must be plugged into an outlet.
  • Unplug any electrical items within your baby’s reach.
  • Don’t use electrical items near water.
  • Check that ground fault circuit interrupters are installed in your bathroom, kitchen and any other water sources.
  • Make sure all your appliances have Underwriters’ Laboratories (UL) approval, either on the appliance or the box.

A qualified electrician can upgrade your outlets to make them tamper-resistant and install new outlets so that you don’t have to use extension cords. Baby-proofing your home also involves developing safe habits when using electrical appliances. With a little planning, you can keep the smartest, most curious baby safe.

For answers to your questions about baby-proofing your home for electrical safety, contact Ragsdale.

Home Maintenance: How Do I Know if I Need New Wiring?

Thursday, March 9th, 2017

For most people, electrical wiring stays hidden away in their walls, out of sight – at least, until something goes wrong. So how do you know when the electrical wires and cables in your home are getting worn out and may need to be replaced? Here are several signs that you may need to check your electrical work for replacement.

Flickering and dimming lights

This is one of the most common signs that something is wrong with a house’s electrical components. Look for lights that flicker, dim and hum regularly, especially in the same location. If changing the bulb doesn’t make any difference, that’s an indication to look further and see which components need to be replaced.

Weird outlet behavior

Generally, anything wrong with your outlets is cause for concern. If outlets are humming on their own, or have char marks around the outlet sockets, then it’s time to think about an inspection. Outlet problems can be a sign of dangerous, faulty wiring inside the walls that can cause electrical fires if ignored.

Frequent tripping circuit breaker

Sometimes breakers trip naturally, especially if a lot of appliances are running at the same time. However, if a breaker isn’t overloaded but it’s still frequently shutting down, something else may be wrong – the electrical system in that area of the house may be damaged, or the breaker itself could be malfunctioning.

Physical signs of damage and fraying

Not everyone gets a chance to look at their electrical wiring, but it’s often visible during renovation and repair projects. If the wires can be seen, take a closer look: Watch for any signs of damage, age, cracking, and fraying. These signs point straight toward a replacement.

Old materials and installation

Electrical wires that are a few decades old may need to be replaced, not only to keep up with local codes but also to improve safety. Even older aluminum wiring is a sign that electrical components are severely outdated (or may have been damaged by pests). Like everything else, wiring ages.

Electrical wiring is important to the home – but it can also be a fire hazard. If you think something may be wrong, contact Ragsdale and let us known what’s happening. We can provide inspections and find out just what the problem is — and what solution will fix it.

Photo Source: Flickr

When Household Electrical Cords Rip: Repair or Replace?

Tuesday, March 7th, 2017

Have you noticed a tear or damage to an electrical cord? If cords rip and wires can be seen, then that cord is a fire hazard (and may soon stop working). It’s time for cord repair or replacement – but which one, and where to begin? Let’s talk about whether to repair or replace a damaged cord, and what’s best to know before starting.

Repair or replace?

  • Phone charger cords: Phone charger cords frequently tear and come apart. But since they are so affordable, it’s usually a good idea to replace them entirely, especially with versions that are more durable.
  • Extension cords: Extension cords need to do tough work in often dangerous environments. You can replace the plugs if they fail, but if the cord itself is damaged, you should probably get a new, tougher cord.
  • Lamp cords: Lamp cords are tricky because they can’t easily be replaced without some delicate wire splicing. Reinforce and repair if you can.
  • Large appliance cords: These cords have heavy-duty jobs to do, and you probably won’t be able to keep track of them if they start to break down. Replace them when possible, especially if the cord is a separate accessory that can be easily detached. Large appliance cords such as those found on dryers and stoves should be replaced by a qualified eletrician.

Replacing cords

When your electrical cords rip, first look for replacement parts or full replacement cords. Always go to the manufacturer for this. This is no guarantee that any other product is up to specifications or quality, so stick with the manufacturer of the device every time. If the manufacturer doesn’t make a cord replacement, then ask an electrician or related expert what sort of cord to look for. You can always take the cord into a store to ask about finding a match.

Do you have more questions about when your electrical cords rip, or what to do when something goes wrong with an appliance? Contact Ragsdale today with your questions and how we can help out!

Photo Source: Flickr

Electrical Smells: Fire, or Something Else?

Tuesday, February 21st, 2017

Electrical smells are a sign that something may have gone wrong in your systems – but what? Here are some of the most common smells you are likely to notice and what they usually mean in the home.

A smoky or spicy smell

Sometimes you simply smell smoke – and it’s a good idea to find out what the source is. Unless you have a traditional wood fireplace, your home shouldn’t smell of smoke. Once you have cleared up the basics like kitchen overcooking, these smoky/spicy electrical smells are often caused by dust in your filters and heating elements. This can happen to nearly any type of heating device, where dust that has settled inside heats up and starts smelling (it even happens to computers). This smell usually fades, especially if you haven’t used the device in a while. However, in some cases, parts of your fan or motor could be burning because of overheating.

A bitter, metallic smell

This type of smell typically occurs in furnaces and means that your furnace components are getting a little too hot. When coatings wear off or components get too close to flame or hot air, they tend to start burning. It’s a sign that you need to shut down the furnace and see what the problem is. Consider calling in a technician for a more accurate look at what’s wrong. This smell primarily happens with older furnaces.

An acrid, burning smell

These are some of the most dangerous electrical smells to notice inside your house. It means that plastic is burning and requires immediate action. There are two common causes:

  1. Plastic near a heating element or motor has started to melt. Sometimes this happens to odd devices, including dyers and dishwashers, which have heating elements. The element or motor may need to be replaced.
  2. Wires are burning. This happens in old, frayed electrical wiring. It’s very dangerous because it can happen at sockets and outlets as well as in your walls. If the source is hidden, it could start burning. Determine the source and call the fire department if necessary. It’s worth noting that depending on coatings and composition, the burning plastic may also have a “fishy” odor.

While safety is important, you should also think about getting your electrical systems repaired or replaced when something goes wrong. Contact Ragsdale for fast, effective electrical repair.

Photo source: Flickr

Kitchen Electrical Repair: What to Check While Waiting for the Electrician

Friday, February 10th, 2017

We know it’s frustrating when an appliance stops working and you’re faced with kitchen electrical repair. But before you call up an electrician to come take a look – which is a good idea – check out these steps to help solve simple issues and prepare your kitchen for a professional visit.

Check circuit breakers

Sometimes, if an appliance suddenly stops working entirely, it may be your circuit breakers. If your kitchen breaker flipped, then power may have been shut off to your entire kitchen. It’s often easy to tell (lights go off, too), but just in case, you should check your circuit breakers and make sure your kitchen is still operational. If you reset a breaker and it trips off again leave the breaker off and call an electrician.

When in doubt, always shut off your kitchen breaker while waiting for repairs. This habit is an important safety precaution that can prevent electrical fires if something has gone seriously wrong.

Take a look around the appliance

Examine the appliance for anything strange. Random leaks and strange buzzing noises may indicate the source of problems you didn’t know about. Some appliances will even stop working if they are moved or placed on an uneven surface. Anything you notice is valuable to you and the electrician – and could solve the problem in one simple step.

Check GFCIs

GFCIs are ground-fault circuit interrupters that shut down individual outlets for safety reasons. Outlets in kitchens are frequently GFCI-enabled and tend to be especially sensitive to water. If water splashed on an outlet, the device may have automatically shut down and needs to be turned on again.

If you don’t know what you’re doing, don’t mess around

Obviously, this is a good idea for safety’s sake. But even if you think you can handle basic wiring repairs, it’s smart to wait for an electrician to check the appliance. You can void the warranty on an appliance by messing with the wiring, which is unfortunate if you ultimately need to replace it.

Not sure who to call about a kitchen electrical repair? Contact Ragsdale and we will provide you with an experienced electrician to help figure out what went wrong.

Photo source: Flickr

Bathroom Electrical Repair: What You Should Know

Wednesday, February 1st, 2017

Electrical appliances make your bathroom comfortable and convenient to use, but they can spell danger when something goes wrong. It’s an old but true saying that water and electricity don’t mix. When you need a bathroom electrical repair, take steps to keep yourself and your family safe while waiting for the repairman to arrive.

Basic Steps
It doesn’t matter if it’s a faulty socket, broken heat lamp, or other defective electrical appliance in your bathroom, it makes sense to prevent avoidable accidents. As soon as you notice a problem with a electrical bathroom appliance:

  • Turn off the power supply to the appliance
  • Tell your family and any guests that the appliance is faulty and they mustn’t use it
  • Keep children or pets away
  • Call an electrician about a repair or replacement

Safety Tips
Bathrooms can be dangerous places, but you can help prevent electrical accidents in yours by following some simple safety tips.

  • Dry your hands before using small appliances like hairdryers and electric razors
  • Unplug appliances when not using them
  • Don’t use portable electric heaters in bathrooms
  • Don’t leave an electrical appliance near a sink, shower or bathtub

When an electrician has carried out the bathroom electrical repair, you can take the opportunity to ask him for advice on electrical safety in your bathroom. If you don’t have Ground Fault Circuit Interrupter receptacles (GFCI’s) installed in your bathroom the electrician will probably recommend that you have them installed right away. GFCIs cut the electrical supply when they detect a fault, and they’re a necessary electrical safety device wherever electricity and water could come into contact. If you already have GFCIs in your bathroom, test them monthly.

Your electrician might also suggest covering bare lighting fixtures and replace any light switches or sockets that show signs of wear.

Your bathroom can stay safe for your family even when you need a bathroom electrical repair. Talk to your electrician about electrical safety in your bathroom.

Contact Ragsdale for more information about bathroom appliance repair or replacement.