Three Tips for Avoiding Electrical Emergencies at Thanksgiving

November 20, 2019

Everyone looks forward to spending time with loved ones and enjoying delicious food at Thanksgiving. But having so many dishes cooking at once can turn into a major problem. Thanksgiving is the peak day for home cooking fires, many of which are due to electric malfunctions. As you get ready for the holidays, follow these three tips to avoid major electrical disruptions during your event. 1. Check Your Appliances Before the Big Day A few days before the holiday, pull out all the appliances you plan to use. Plug them in to see if they work, and check the cords for any fraying or other damage. This should include everything from cooking implements to electric carving knives, television sets and holiday lights. On Thanksgiving itself, you might be too busy to notice a broken cord or sparking appliance that could set off a huge fire. 2. Never Overload Your Outlets We know it can be tough having limited kitchen space and needing to run a stove, crockpot, mixer, dishwasher, coffee machine and food processor all at once, but, never grab a power strip and start plugging in all these items simultaneously. Kitchen appliances use a lot of power which can...

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Chirping Smoke Detector? Low Batters, Broken Detector, or Sign of an Electrical Problem?

November 9, 2019

GVEC Home® has provided electrical expertise and services in Gonzales and throughout South Central Texas since 1938! Something you may not think about calling an electrician for is a chirping smoke detector. While this issue may often be a simple fix, sometimes it could be signaling an electrical issue. Low Battery Chirping indicates an error with the smoke detector. The most common error is a low battery, so this is the first possibility you should consider. Swap the battery. Note that some smoke detectors will continue to chirp after a fresh battery has been installed. In this case, you will need to clear the error in the processor. Luckily, most units have a reset button that you press to do this. Resetting can also overcome chirping due to a power outage or surge. Other Battery-Related Troubles If that does not work, inspect the battery area closely. Ensure that the battery sits flush and the terminal is not obstructed in any way. Make certain that the battery door is closed and effectively securing the battery. In Need of Cleaning At this point, it is time to consider cleaning the sensing chamber. Clean the outside of the unit with a damp cloth....

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Circuit Breaker Won’t Reset? Here’s What You Need to Do

October 20, 2019

The sudden loss of electricity in a portion of your home naturally sends you to the circuit breaker box. A loose switch will indicate which breaker tripped. Normally, the circuit can be reset by clicking it completely into the off position and then switching it to the on position. As long as you disconnected whatever overloaded the circuit—a power tool you don’t normally use on that circuit, for instance—the electricity should be restored. A circuit that won’t reset, however, calls for a deeper investigation. The problem could be serious and require electrical repair. Sources of Electrical System Damage The following could all lead to a circuit that won’t reset: An Open Ground Rodent Damage to Wiring Bad Outlet or Switch Connection Failing Light Fixture Overheating Appliance How to Find the Problem You will need to check all electrical connections on the circuit and identify the problem through the process of elimination. Once you know which outlets, switches, appliances and light fixtures are on the problem circuit, shut down and unplug everything. Put the breaker in the on position and check each connection one by one. The outlet, appliance or fixture that trips the circuit is the issue. Ask an Electrician...

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Why Loose Electrical Outlets Are Dangerous and How to Fix Them

October 10, 2019

Over time, the electrical outlets in your home can get loose. You may notice this as the box wobbles or the plug slips out of the socket. These issues can be annoying and potentially dangerous, too. If you have a loose socket, you need to get it fixed as soon as possible. Loose Sockets Loose sockets cannot be repaired. The whole socket must be replaced. These plugs can loosen up after frequent use. At GVEC Home, we suggest hiring a licensed electrician to replace the socket for you. Wobbly Box A loose outlet is often caused by a box recessed too deeply in the wall. This isn’t an issue with the outlet but a problem with the installation of the box. If your outlet box is wobbling, you are in danger of loosening up the wires. In turn, loose wires have the potential to cause a fire. Can I Fix the a Wobbly Box Myself? Technically, it’s possible to fix a wobbly box on your own, but the job is fairly involved, difficult or even dangerous for the inexperienced. As with all home electrical work, GVEC Home recommends against do-it-yourself-style repairs. If you’re seriously considering doing it yourself, though, we...

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The National Electric Code and Why It Matters

September 26, 2019

While most of us are unaware of the protections in place under the National Electrical Code (NEC), it’s a good idea to understand how it could affect you. The NEC—also known as NFPA 70—is a standard for safely installing electrical wiring. It was created and developed by the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) as part of its National Fire Code series. Although the NEC is not written by lawmakers, it has become deeply influential around the country in allowing states, regions, and cities to standardize safe electrical practices. To address the latest technology and ensure that people remain safe, the NFPA revises the NEC every three years. Here are two of the most important NEC revisions over the last 20 years. Tamper Resistant Receptacles An estimated seven children are taken to the emergency room every day to receive treatment after inserting small objects into electrical outlets. Parents can protect their children from this risk with tamper-resistant receptacles. This type of device looks like a regular outlet, but it features an interior shutter mechanism that can only be accessed when you apply pressure to both sides as you automatically do when inserting a plug. The NEC has required that these devices...

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Is an Electrician Career Right for You?

September 10, 2019

To be an electrician is to be part of a profession that helps keep homes and businesses running. Trained electricians will always be in demand, and new specialties in the electrical field keep popping up as technology advances. If you are considering a career as an electrician, there are several things you should know. Training to be an Electrician Takes Time An electrician is responsible for the electrical well-being of homes and businesses. Poorly installed wiring or a slight mistake in doing an electrical repair can mean power surges or fires. While the requirements for becoming an electrician vary from state to state, nearly every state mandates that electricians go through a learning and apprenticeship process that takes several years. In Texas, you must have 8,000 supervised hours of electrical experience before you can get a basic Journeyman Electrician’s license. This usually takes about four years. To become a Master Electrician, you need another 4,000 hours of experience. Training to be an Electrician Is Hard Work Anywhere wires go, electricians must go. People with electrical training do jobs both indoors and outdoors. They may have to snake through crawl crawlspaces, climb onto roofs and descend into cobwebbed basements. Professional Electricians...

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How Often Should I Replace My Appliances for Maximum Efficiency and Safety?

August 15, 2019

While you can maximize an appliance’s life span with proper maintenance and careful usage, there will eventually come a time when you have to replace it, no matter hard you work to take care of it. Let’s look at how often you should replace home appliances, along with the fundamental problems associated with not replacing these important machines often enough. Even If It Ain’t Broke…It Might Be Broke In talking about how often to consider replacing home appliances, it’s helpful to keep in mind the old saying, “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.” There’s one big problem with this saying in regard to home appliances: Older home appliances that seem to do their jobs adequately may have reached a point of inefficiency that, for practical purposes, renders them “broke.” Ask yourself, for instance: How often does your old washing machine go out of balance or spin-off track during a cycle? Do you find yourself putting it back on track with every load? Does food in your old refrigerator spoil more quickly than you would expect—or more quickly than it used to when you first bought the fridge? Do you find you need to turn the temperature dial to maximum...

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The Latest New Electrical and Electricians Tech and Why They Matter

August 1, 2019

At GVEC Home, we understand that many consumers want to bring their homes up to date with the latest efficiency standards. The good news is that many efficiency upgrades are relatively easy for homeowners to do themselves. Here are a few do-it-yourself upgrades you should consider making around your house. Add LEDs for Greater Energy Efficiency For generations, incandescent lighting was the standard. Many of you probably still remember a time when, after changing a lightbulb and shaking the old bulb, you’d hear the jiggling noise of broken filaments, confirming the bulb was dead. Today, LED lighting is making that dead-filament dance a thing of the past. LED technology can help you achieve significant savings on lighting your home. For one, LEDs lasts much longer than incandescents. Plus, LED brightness has greatly improved over time and is now comparable to that of incandescent bulbs. Certainly, the up-front cost of LED bulbs is slightly higher; however, it’s important to remember that these bulbs outlast incandescents by many years while using far less energy and saving money on your electric bill. In fact, LEDs use less energy per lumen than any lighting type! These factors make LED lighting the clear winner against...

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What’s the Difference Between a Circuit Breaker and a GFCI?

July 16, 2019

GFCIs and Circuit Breakers Do Different Jobs If you’ve ever had electrical work done on your home, you may have heard the electrician talk about circuit breakers and/or GFCIs. It’s not uncommon for people to get confused about how these two devices differ. Although both can alter the flow of electricity in your home, each performs different jobs. Here are some differences and similarities between these two important electrical components, along with an explanation of how they protect a home’s electrical system from damage and home dwellers from dangerous electrical shocks. What Is a GFCI? A ground fault circuit interrupter (GFCI) is a specialized outlet with a built-in breaker. These devices are designed to prevent shock in the event an electrical device comes in contact with water. You typically find these outlets in kitchens and bathrooms, but also near pools and anywhere else where electricity is used near water. If you’re using an appliance in your kitchen or a hairdryer in the bathroom and its flow of electricity surges because the user comes in contact with water, the breaker inside the GFCI will trip, automatically switching off the current. When a GFCI shuts off the power this way, there’s a...

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Breaker Box Basics: Avoiding Nasty or Life-Threatening Electrical Shocks

July 6, 2019

If you plan to remodel your house, change electrical wiring or alter your outlets or lighting, it’s important to know the basics of electrical safety. Otherwise, you could end up encountering a shock that’s painful at best and life-threatening at worst. Knowing how breaker boxes work is key to avoiding dangerous shocks. Understanding How the Breaker Box Works The breaker box is usually a rectangular panel that opens to reveal an array of switches. Most homes include a single breaker panel, and these can be found at various locations around a home; however, they’re often found in a garage, storage area, basement or hallway. Keep in mind, though, that a breaker box can be located almost anywhere. If you have trouble locating yours, try looking outside. The big switch at the top controls all power in the home. The smaller switches control various electrical circuits. These smaller switches should be labeled, but if not, you can do “flip tests” to see what each switch controls. When Should You Flip the Main Breaker? Flipping the main breaker can help keep you safe if you need to quickly shut off all power in the house. Do this if there’s a flooding event,...

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