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It can be all too easy to forget about the wiring in your home. After all, your brain happily focuses on more visible issues like paint chips and broken kitchen appliances. However, your home’s wiring is a vital part of your day to day life and your safety. Electrical fires cause around 300 deaths and over 1,100 injuries every year, and over a billion is lost per year to property damage resulting from electrical fires. In fact, bad electricals result in around 51,000 fires every single year. You don’t want this to happen to your or your family but it easily can if you neglect your home. But how do you know when you need to rewire? Here, in no particular order, are the top ten signs which indicate that it’s time for you to rewire your home:

Burning Smell

If you can often smell burning and the scent doesn’t seem to go away, you may be having serious wiring issues. You should always turn off the power at the circuit and get in touch with an electrician immediately if you suspect that there’s a burning smell caused by an electrical issue in your home.

Electrical Shocks

If you often get an electric shock when you plug something into outlets in your home, this could be a sign that your wiring is faulty. This can easily happen over time or as a result of a bad original job, and it should be corrected by a professional rewiring.

Outlet Sparks

Similarly, if your outlets often spark when you plug something in or out of them, you need to beware. Don’t ignore this sign that something is wrong with your rewiring. Consult an electrician if you notice continual sparking from your outlets.

Dim or Flickering Lights

If the lights in your home are continually dim or flickering, there could be something wrong with your wiring. One dim or flickering light is usually nothing to worry about. However, multiple imperfect lights is a sign that you need to rewire.

Sizzling Sounds

Does your house sound like you’re grilling in the backyard, even when everything should be quiet? Then you’ve probably got an issue with your wiring. Sizzling sounds can be a sign of electrical faults, so start thinking about rewiring your home if you keep hearing them.

Tripped Circuit Breaker

Your circuit breaker will trip if your electrical system can’t handle the amount of power running in your home. There are a few other reasons why your circuit breaker might trip but it is often a sign that you need to rewire, so consider calling an electrician if this keeps happening.

Blown Fuses

Equally, if the fuses in your appliances keep blowing, you might have a problem. One blown fuse could be a fault with the product or a coincidence. Continually blown fuses are a cause for concern. Your house may need rewiring if your appliances keep blowing, so don’t ignore this important sign.

Discoloration on Outlets and Switches

Your switches and electrical outlets will often end up discolored as a result of old or bad wiring. Tiny sparks and fires can cause a charred appearance which will become noticeable over time. If you start noticing this discoloration, contact an expert about getting your home rewired.

Loose Outlets

Your home may need to be rewired if your outlets are hanging loosely from the wall. Even if they’re just a few millimeters off the wall, they could easily cause electrical fires.

An Old Home

Sometimes, it’s simply the most obvious problem. If you’ve got an old home and you haven’t rewired it in a long time (or ever!), then it may be time for a rewiring. An expert, like the ones at Piper Electric, can help you figure out if it’s time to rewire your home.

Here at Piper Electric, we’re always happy to assist you with your electric needs. If you’re thinking about rewiring your home, get in touch with us to find out about your options. With over thirty-five years of experience in electrical contracting, we’re always ready to help you get the best service possible.

Summer is coming, is your backyard ready? If you’ve already freshened up the patio furniture and cleaned out the grill, it’s time to update your outdoor lighting. This task is often overlooked, but it could help make your summer nights both magical and enjoyable. Here’s how to get your backyard ready for summer.

Below are a few ways that lighting is used in backyards:

  •   For illumination, safety and functionality — You need lights to see when it’s dark outside, so it makes sense to design outdoor lighting with this basic function in mind.
  •   Security — Outdoor lighting also helps improve security outdoors by discouraging potential intruders.
  •   Aesthetics — Backyard lighting sets a certain mood, helping to make being outdoors more welcoming and intimate.

Lighting for Illumination, Safety and Functionality in the Backyard

The first order of business is to ensure all walkways, stairs, entrances, patio doors, and functional areas (such as the barbecue and outdoor cooking areas) are adequately lit. Likewise, if you plan on eating outdoors, adding built-in lighting to your patio cover could provide the perfect amount of light you and your guests need to enjoy the meal.

If you have a pool or spa, these areas will need to be illuminated sufficiently. An electrician can help design a lighting scheme that lights up these areas both functionally and aesthetically.

While you may not necessarily want to draw attention to your side yard, you might want to consider adding motion-activated lights here to provide illumination when accessing trash cans or a side gate.

Lighting for Security in the Backyard

Many families leave their windows and patio doors open on summer nights, helping to cool their homes. Unfortunately, burglary rates increase by about 11 percent in the summer thanks in part to open windows and doors, empty homes while families are on vacation, and valuables left outdoors at night.

Adding flood lights, motion-activated lights, and general outdoor lighting can help make your home less attractive to potential burglars.

Lighting for Aesthetics in the Backyard

Outdoor lighting can play an important role in the aesthetics of your backyard at night. Not only can outdoor lighting, make your home feel more welcoming in the dark. Meanwhile, fairy lights, umbrella lights, rope lights, and other backyard lights can transform your backyard into a nighttime wonderland. Whether you’re enjoying time alone with your family or hosting a backyard party, set the mood with outdoor lighting.  

Off-the-shelf string lights and solar lights are good DIY lighting projects that can add sparkle and personality to your backyard. For pool and spa and larger outdoor lighting projects, you’ll want to enlist the services of a reliable electrician to ensure that your project is wired properly and according to all applicable safety and local building codes.

Piper Electric provides professional residential electrical services in the Denver area and can help transform your backyard into a nighttime wonderland. Contact us today for a free estimate.

Power strip vs. Extension cords

Everyone uses power strips and extension cords in homes and workplaces, yet many don’t know that the two most common plugin options are different. In fact, there are a couple of differences between them. Although both of them are designed to plug in multiple electronic devices at a time and can help prevent power spikes, they are not the same.

In simple words, power strips plug into the power outlet on the wall and allow you to connect multiple appliances and devices at a time. They have a one-length cable that has a three-pin plug on one end and sockets enclosed in a box on the other end.

Following are key points to remember about power strips:

  • Power strips can handle multiple small loads at a time.
  • Power strips come with a range of voltage ratings.
  • Power strips lack longevity or stability for extended use.
  • Power strips are called a Temporary Power Tap (TPT) and come with six outlets with overcurrent protection.

Extension cords, on the other hand, have a similar design but are longer compared to power strips. They are also less stable and come with only two or three plugs. However, less stability doesn’t mean extension cords are not useful. What it means is that they are for short-term uses of one-hour duration, as opposed to power strips, which you can use for a few days.

Power strip safety tips you should know about

Never connect two power strips with each other

Connecting two power strips with each other is known as “daisy chaining.” Doing so is dangerous. One of the power strips may overload and cause a fire. Instead of connecting power strips for more length, it’s better to buy a longer one than triggering any hazard.

Avoid space heaters

Space heaters consume large amounts of electricity. Most of the power strips cannot handle so much load. You should ensure that your powers strip is rated for heavy appliances to correct the energy absorption or else you might face a meltdown.

Avoid using frayed cables

Make sure the casing around your cable is in proper condition so that you don’t damage your devices. Cables that are frayed can be extremely dangerous. They may cause an electric shock. So, in case you see any damage in the casing, take it to a service center immediately.

Plug only one device at a time

Avoid overloading your power strip by connecting multiple heavy appliances. For example, if you plug-in your computer to one, make sure you don’t plug-in your television to the same one. It may overload and blow a fuse, potentially damaging all the connected devices.

Discard promptly

Lastly, you shouldn’t use power strips beyond their intended period of use as they are only for short-term use. You should discard your power strip once you exceed the specified usage period.

If it gets hit quickly, it’s best to discontinue using it.

 

Do I Need to Label My Electrical Panel?

As important as it is regarding the safety of your home, most homeowners do not make it a practice to label their electrical panels. They either don’t understand just how crucial it is or they are not entirely sure about the process. Now, before we provide you with some simple, but practical steps any homeowner can take, let’s talk about why you would want to label your electrical panel in the first place.

An electrical panel, also known as a “fuse panel,” “fuse box” or a “circuit breaker panel,” is a piece of equipment that safely distributes electricity throughout your home and also helps to prevent electrical issues. Most homeowners install it in the garage or basement.

Electrical codes require homeowners to label the electrical layout of their homes before selling them. It guarantees a level of safety to future homeowners, technicians or any other individual who might have to touch the electrical panel. Even if you don’t plan on selling your home any time soon, it’s still a good safety practice.

Also, labeling your electrical panels proves useful while installing new devices and appliances. Should you face any flooding or fire, it can also help an electrical technician to do his/her work more effectively, as it will show the circuit breaker that’s defective.

How to label your electric panel?

The primary challenge in labeling electrical panels is to identify which fixtures and outlets connect to a specific circuit breaker. Don’t worry; you are not the only homeowner facing this issue. If you are clueless about labeling your electric panel, here are a few steps to follow:

Turn off all circuit breakers

The first step you should take while labeling your electrical panel is turning off all circuit breakers. Then, see which appliance or fixture turns on when you turn on the breakers one by one. You can also check the power outlets by plugging in an alarm clock or lamp or using a voltage tester. Now, the entire process may take some time; however, it would be worth the effort for the safety of your home.

Label your appliances

Heavy and large electrical appliances like air conditioners, washing machines, refrigerators, and dryers tend to consume a lot of electricity. For this reason, it is recommended to provide them with electrical panels of their own. Some even give them two fuse box slots. You can label each appliance according to the circuit breaker it connects to or the amperage rating, making it easy to identify defects when something disrupts electricity to these appliances.

Label your breaker box

It is recommended to label your breaker box as well. Even though there are no specific guidelines in the electrical codes, you can do it with the help of already-numbered slots. You can make a diagram of your own if you want a detailed map of the entire electrical layout.

Approach a professional

Lastly, if you are facing any trouble while labeling your electrical panel, you should consider taking the help of a professional. Electrical panel labeling is not easy. There are many safety issues involved in it. Hence, approaching a professional, who can simplify the process for you, would be the smart move here.

 

Around 51,000 home fires and 500 deaths are caused annually due to electrical faults. While all new buildings have to meet certain electrical safety regulations, it is older buildings that pose a great concern. Many buildings that are over twenty years old are not equipped to deal with the present electrical load and pose a high risk of electrical fires.

Electrical safety concerns in older buildings

  1.     Outdated regulations: Buildings that were built in the 70s, 80s, and 90s met a certain standard of electrical safety but, those standards are completely outdated now. Every three years, the National Electric Code (NEC) makes revisions to its safety laws to reflect changes in technologies that make buildings safer.
  2.     Increase in load: Over the past few years, the concentration of buildings using electricity in each area has grown. The electrical consumption in each household has increased with the influx of new gadgets and appliances. The considerable increase in load on the electric supply has also increased the probability of electrical fires in homes with outdated electrical installations. In fact, electrical fires are responsible for $7 Million worth of property damage every year.
  3.     Age:  Overtime it is not uncommon for the wiring in buildings to wither and crack, exposing loose wires that are essentially leaking electrical charges that can easily catch fire.
  4.     Home improvements: DIY home improvements over the years could have damaged the electrical installations in a home. Adjustments in electrical sockets, lighting fixtures, or remodeling a room by an unqualified person could damage the integrity of the electrical setup in a house.
  5.     Other problems: A number of other problems have been observed in older homes that give rise to concerns of electrical safety; overloaded circuits get overheated, improper or no earthing for sockets, no residual current devices in bathrooms, etc. All these and more have a high risk of an electrical accident.

What can be done?

Older homes need to be inspected regularly and up to date fire safety regulations need to be put in place. Installation of working smoke detectors and fire alarms, AFCIs, Ground-Fault Circuit Interrupters (GFCIs), and Tamper Resistant Receptacles (TRRs), could all help reduce the number of fires caused by electrical faults.

Because of the fast growth in the number of residences in cities and towns over the last few years, there has been an additional load on the electrical supply. Many older homes were not equipped to handle this load and now are at risk of electrical accidents. A proper system when put in place to evaluate these risks and take the necessary measures, will help combat the problem.

  

 

Skyrocketing energy bills daunt millions of homeowners these days. No matter how much they skimp on the time they spend running electronics and home appliances, the number never seems to reduce. Instead, it goes beyond the budgeted limit, thus pushing homeowners to switch to cheaper, more energy-efficient options. If you are interested in such devices, perhaps you should read on to know about a few of them:

Smart thermostat

The biggest energy drain in every home is its heating and cooling systems. But a smart thermostat can perhaps block this energy outflow and push down your utility bills drastically. These devices are so smart that they can store your preferences and process your and your family’s comfort settings for creating a comfortable indoor space. These devices are supported by a mobile app, which allows you to control settings from anywhere, anytime. You are sure to save whopping sums of money every month after installing a smart thermostat.

Smart outlets and plugs

Standard outlets can consume a lot of energy owing to their manual control settings. But smart outlets are a gust of fresh air among the standard ones because they come with a wide range of features. You can operate these outlets using a smart application, which allows you to schedule the on/off times and also increase the efficiency of humidifiers, fans, lamps, water heaters, coffee makers and many more. You should also consider smart plugs, which plug into your existing outlets without requiring a major rewiring project.

Sensor switches

Sensor switches are becoming a part of smart home designs owing to their energy efficiency. These switches are equipped with advanced sensors that know you and your family are leaving or entering the room. They do so from several feet away, without you having to turn on or off the lights manually. Some sensor switches also have natural light-detecting capabilities, which save an incredible amount of energy and money. It’s truly a great installation if you still fumble for the light switch after entering a dark room.

Surge protectors

Some home appliances and gadgets suck out outrageous amounts of energy. But you can tackle this problem by installing smart surge protectors. It’s very simple to use: connect your device and create a charging station for your mobile device for protecting your expensive appliances against power surges. You can control everything through an app or an automatic scheduler, both of which can hack down your energy consumption and expenses substantially.

Smart blinds

High summer temperatures mean high usage of air conditioners. But air conditioners are not only expensive but also harm the environment. But, smart blinds come as a blessing in such a situation. These blinds can open and close themselves automatically after reaching a predetermined temperature. These are simply a great alternative to expensive HVAC systems that suck out energy and money.

Energy-efficiency is something no homeowner can achieve within a day. It takes time. But they have to install energy-efficient, smart devices at home that create a win-win for both homeowners and the environment.

 

It’s going to be a long time before we will have some natural warmth in Colorado. Blistery days and bitter nights mean we will be turning up our heat until the winter thaws. So, until then, we will be spending a fair bit of money on energy bills. But, the good news is that it doesn’t have to be that way.

There are a few clever solutions to help you reduce your heating costs and boost the natural warmth in your house. Basically, what we are saying is that you can reduce your dependence on heating. So, let’s take a look.

Use film to cover patio doors and windows

Experts say that around 25% of the heat inside your home escapes through your windows and doors. You can combat this by simply covering those areas with plastic film. This simple trick can save you up to almost 14% on your heating bills. Working as an insulator, the plastic film keeps the heat in and the cold out. Plus it’s very affordable. You can buy a 62×84 sheet for just about $6. It’s also very easy to apply and remove.

Turn it down a notch

This is probably the simplest solution of all – just turn down your thermostat by a notch or two. You see, most people tend to keep their homes warmer than necessary. Turning down the thermostat by a few notches isn’t going to cause the temperature inside to drop drastically. In other words, you won’t freeze to death because the temperature drops a degree or two. However, it will have a fairly significant impact on your energy bill.

The best time to do this is when you’re going to bed because that’s when you’re least likely to notice the drop, especially when you’re already cuddled up under a blanket.

Switch on the fan

This might sound counterintuitive, but switching on your fan can actually improve the heating inside your home. However, the trick is to make it run in a clockwise direction. Typically, fans are “programmed” to run in a counter-clockwise direction. This is how they circulate cool air.

However, when you run it in the clockwise direction, the fan “sucks” up the room air and brings down the warm air. You see, hot air rises, so the air going up is always warm and the fan, when moving in a clockwise direction, brings the same warm air down.

For best effect, use a low-speed setting.

Get an energy audit done

If you follow the above-mentioned tips and still can’t seem to reduce your heating,  it is time to get an energy audit done. Performing an audit will help you identify where your home is wasting energy. Once you know where the problem lies, you can make the necessary adjustments to boost efficiency. Call Piper Electric for an audit today!

Share energy saving tips

With every new year comes a list of new year’s resolutions. While most people have the best intentions of keeping their (often lofty) resolutions, many do not. So instead of resolving to go to the gym more or eat healthier, think about making small changes that make your life easier. One of the most life-altering resolutions everyone should make is to take control of their finances, and one of the easiest ways to do so is by re-evaluating your utility bill. Here are 5 easy and affordable fixes you can make to your home right now to cut your utility bill dramatically.

Lower Your Thermostat

Want to save money on your heating bill?  When you are away from home be sure to lower your thermostat by 8-15 degrees Fahrenheit. After all, why pay for heat that no one is using? In fact, for every one-degree drop, you can reduce your energy bill costs by 1-3 percent!

Set Your Water Heater to 120 Degrees Fahrenheit

Your water heater uses more energy than any other appliance in your home, which is why changing the temperature has a huge effect on your utility bill! Thankfully, changing the setting of your water heater is incredibly easy to do, and only needs to be done once.

Wash Clothes In Cold Water

Did you know that 90 percent of the energy used to operate the washing machine is to heat the water? By washing your clothes in cold water, you can save nearly $60 a year on energy costs alone!

Install Dimmers

While most people choose to install dimmers on their light switches for aesthetic reasons, dimmers actually can prolong the life of your light bulbs. Because dimmers limit the amount of energy that is distributed out to the bulbs, light bulbs do not burn out as quickly.

Use LED Light Bulbs

Unlike incandescent light bulbs, LED lights are much more efficient.  Not only do LED light bulbs last 50 times longer than incandescent bulbs, but they use at least 75 percent less energy than traditional bulbs.

Looking for other ways to reduce your energy bill? Let the experts at Piper Electric upgrade your home. We offer a wide range of electrical upgrades that are designed to make your home more energy efficient. Call today for a free estimate.

‘Tis the season to be jolly—and cover your house with holiday lights, of course. If you’re getting ready to show off your holiday spirit with a well-lit property, make sure you go about it the right way for best results. That means choosing the right decorations while staying safe as you put them up. You can get started by checking out our holiday lighting tips.

Highlight Your Home’s Best Features

If you want the best look for your house this holiday season, make your property stand out by wrapping lights around the features you want to show off. If you have any arches, a chimney or a beautiful front door, put lights around them. And if you have a nice water fountain, some stunning shrubs or a tall tree, draw attention to them with some holiday lights. Any walkways on your property should also get some lights, or perhaps a few lighted candy canes along the sides.

Make Sure Your Supplies Are Meant for Outdoor Use

Pay attention to the labels on your lights. They should state if they’re meant for indoor and outdoor use or indoor only. Do the same for any extension cords you use for your holiday lights. This detail is important because indoor lights and cords are not meant to withstand extreme weather or get wet, so if it rains or your sprinklers come on, the lights could break, damage your property or hurt anyone who is nearby.

Complement Your Lights with Other Décor

You don’t have to stick to lighting when decorating your house for the holidays this year. In fact, the best displays usually have more than just lights. Once you put lights on your house and around your yard, consider adding a few inflatable characters—such as snowmen, the Grinch or Santa Claus. Then add a wreath to your front door and wrap garlands around any railings or columns on your property.

Stay Safe

Above everything else, keep safety in mind as you decorate the exterior of your house. Inspect every strand of lights to ensure the cords are not cracked and the wires are not frayed. Replace any missing bulbs before you put up the lights. If you have to use a ladder, make sure it’s on a stable, flat surface, and consider having someone else there to keep it steady and hand you your lights. Finally, don’t overload your extension cord by putting more than a few strings of lights together.

If you have any electrical concerns, contact Piper Electric.

Remodeling a kitchen or bathroom can be daunting.  Do I do it myself or do I get help from the professionals?  These are important questions to ask yourself because if you don’t know exactly what you’re doing a remodel job can become an exercise in frustration costing more time and money than you originally planned.

There are many things to think about:

  • Will it be a full remodel (ground up) or a partial (replacing some lights, painting, etc.)?
  • What is your budget?
  • How much time and effort do you want to put into it?
  • Will you do it yourself or hire a professional?

If the remodel is being professionally done then consider:

  • Always get more than one estimate.
  • If you use a designer choose one that is reputable, provides a background check and does not ask for the payment up front.
  • Never pay up front.
  • The subcontractors they use should be licensed, background checked and insured.
  • Ask for proof of insurance.
  • You retain full “say” in everything that is done.
  • Read the contract fully and very carefully.
  • If there is anything like asbestos removal or mold remediation it is covered in the contract.

If you’re doing the remodel yourself consider:

  • Be sure you get a permit to do your work.
  • Research the items you are planning to do carefully.
  • Know how to do all aspects of the job safely.
  • Make your plan with consideration to the extra time it will take to do it yourself and the inconvenience of living with the remodel taking place.
  • If you need professional assistance on some items, hire professionals that are licensed and background checked.
  • Electrical work should always be done by a licensed, professional electrician.

Piper Electric Co., Inc.’s Arvada electricians are not only licensed and back-ground checked but they are experienced planners/designers when it comes to electrical needs for bathroom and kitchen remodel.  They are willing to assist with decisions that make you feel good about your decision to remodel.

Piper Electric Co., Inc. has been in business for over 32 years and is known for getting the job done right, on time and on budget the first time, every time.  Call Front Range electrical contractor, Piper Electric Co., Inc. for the best professional electrical assistance when remodeling.

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