Friday, January 28, 2011

Why do lights flicker?

It's a common question we hear:  "My lights sometimes dim or flicker, is that dangerous?" 
Usually not, but it can be a sign of a problem. 
Basically, light brightness is a function of your house voltage -120 volts.  If the voltage drops, the lights will dim a little.  That's not a problem if it's due to a big appliance starting (refrigerator, a/c, iron, hair dryer, etc.)  Think of it as it taking extra work to get the refrigerator going so the voltage strains a little. 
However if the lights get brighter than normal, that's a sign of a bad connection in the wiring.  It's causing the voltage to drop and jump, also called a surge.  A higher voltage can damage the electronics in your house: TV, DVR, etc.  That's not good.  And since these things do not fix themselves and will only get worse, you should call us sooner rather than later.  
Flickering lights are also an indication of a bad connection that has gotten worse. One cause is tiny sparks in a connection, causing heat in the connection, and the heating and cooling of the connection makes things get worse.
I hope this explanation helps 'enlighten' everyone.
(More info about surges and surge protection, click here.)

Sunday, January 23, 2011

People can be funny.

A little humor: A customer once said "I'd do it myself but I don't know how and I don't have the time." At least I didn't laugh out loud when he said it

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Water and electrical panels

With ice and rain in the weather forecast, sometimes people find water dripping from their electrical panel.
Don’t panic.
Usually, it’s not an immediate hazard but it does need to be checked out.  (If you hear ‘sizzling’, etc. in the panel, or your lights started flickering, it’s more serious.)
Over time, it can cause corrosion in the panel that can become a safety issue.  It’s better to address it before it becomes serious.

When caught early, it may simply be stopping the water from entering.  If it’s been going on for a while, the panel and main wiring may need to be replaced.

Our web site's Helpful Hints page also has this same information (click on

Friday, January 14, 2011

Temporary fix

A simple tip for when an electrical problem affects an important appliance (Refrigerator, washer, etc.): Use an extension cord temporarily.  Your 'emergency' isn't so critical and you'll be less stressed as you call for help.

Monday, January 10, 2011

Smoke detectors - who needs them to work properly?

I was thinking the other day about how people don't seem to take the issue of reliable smoke detectors seriously.  The manufacturers recommend that all detectors be replaced ever 10 years.  (Research shows that 30% are defective by that time.)  But that doesn't seem to make much of an impression on people.  But I guess it's hard to appreciate the problem when the detector looks the same as it always has. 

An analogy of seatbelts came to mind.  How often do you need them?  If your car had a recall on seatbelts because 30% were defective, that would get your attention.  You don't often need them, but they need to work 100%  when the time comes.  The same is true for smoke detectors.  They're there, working quietly day after day, month after month and year after year.  But after 10 years, although they look the same, they are no longer as reliable as they once were.  We all know how important they are.  Replacing them every 10 years doesn't seem too bad for the protection it gives you, your family and your house.

(You can read detailed information about smoke detectors in the Helpful Hints section of our web site:  Click here.)