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Archive for February 2020

Avoiding the Dangers of Faulty Electrical Wiring

February 24, 2020


Most home fires are the result of faulty electrical wiring. We acknowledge five possible causes of electricity-related home fires and give tips on what you, the homeowner, can do to avoid the dangers of faulty electrical wiring.

 US Fire Administration statistics show that each year, close to 500 Americans die and about 2,300 more are injured in home fires. These fires are due directly or indirectly to bad electrical wiring, and they have caused the loss of millions of dollars’ worth of property. It's important for homeowners to make certain that their home's electrical wiring is properly maintained in order to avoid tragic losses and other major property damages. You can start by checking the following, as they have been exposed as possible causes of electricity-related fires:

Worn-Out Electrical Plugs and Sockets

Even the most resilient electrical plugs and sockets can only last for so long and once they go beyond their lifespan, they can quickly turn into a fire hazard. You should check all your electrical plugs and sockets at home and immediately replace those that are worn out.

DIY Wiring Projects

Many homeowners today readily embark upon their own home repairs and renovations instead of hiring professionals to do the job. While this is advantageous in some ways, some Do It Yourself projects can be relatively risky, mainly those involving electrical connections. The job may seem easy enough, but untrained individuals may not even be aware of certain electrical requirements and procedures. So if you choose to do your own electric connections at home, you may think you're saving money; however, what you may really be doing is running the risk of putting your family in danger.

Non-compliance with Installation Codes

Non-compliance with current installation code is another example of faulty wiring. NFPA and NEC Codes have been adopted in all 50 states. The NEC is the standard for safe electrical design, installation, and inspection to protect people and property from electrical hazards. It is updated and revised regularly. Manufacturers will often include detailed installation instructions, for example, with an electronic dimmer produced for dimmable compact fluorescents or LED bulbs. It is easy to miss wire these controls if you follow the outdated dimmer installation instructions.

Outdated Circuit Breakers

Outdated circuit breakers are no longer capable of handling the high voltage most new appliances require. When you use these old circuit breakers with new appliances, it's likely you will cause electrical overloads that can sooner or later lead to wiring problems and even house fires.

Outdated Fuse Boxes

If the fuse box in your home was installed ten years ago or earlier, consider switching to a more contemporary design. Old fuse boxes are simply not built to handle the multitude of high-voltage appliances commonly used in homes these days. For the average household that uses appliances such as home entertainment systems, DVD players, computers, fax machines, and even electric cars, an old and outdated fuse box simply won't be sufficient.

Octopus Connections

This is something many homeowners do without realizing they're putting themselves in serious danger. An octopus connection involves using extension cords to increase the number of electrical outlets in the house without increasing the number of circuits. Unfortunately, this also increases the risks of fires and other electricity-related accidents. In an ideal world, a house should have 10 or more professionally installed circuits. If your house has less than 10 installed circuits, have the matter resolved without delay.

Ice Dams and De-Icing Roof Cables

February 11, 2020

Living in New England is, in itself, a unique experience dealing with the four distinct seasons.  Summer can bring very hot and humid weather, while winter brings a 180° turn to frigid and article like conditions.  New Englanders are no strangers to snow. After a fresh snowfall roofs are snow-capped and look beautiful, and quite charming. But with that beauty, snow contains a great amount of weight, and the weight rises enormously when rain, ice and sleet are added to the mix.

Experts tells us that approximately two feet of snow on an average sized roof can be the equivalent of 19 tons.  At 2,000 pounds per ton, that’s a lot of weight and this weight places an enormous amount of stress on a roof and weakens its structures. Furthermore, the melting of the mass of snow can cause water leakage that can decay roofs, destroy insulation, flood attics, ruin gutters and damage the interior of a home.  With the constant melting and freezing of snow on the roof and in the gutters, there is a great chance of an Ice Dam forming.

ICE DAM  (Photo Courtesy of This Old House)

An Ice Dam forms when the roof over the attic gets warm enough to melt the underside of the layer of snow on the roof.  When it forms, the water backs behind the ice dam and creates a pool.  This pool of water can leak into your home and cause damage to walls, ceilings, insulation, and other areas.   The water freezes, gradually growing into a mound of ice forming icicles.  The flatter the pitch of the roof, the easier it is for an ice dam to get a grip. Gutters at the eaves can also trap snow and ice. If snow and ice build up high enough in the gutter, it can provide a foundation for an ice dam. 

 Those icicles hanging from the gutters, as enchanting as they may look, can mean trouble. This could be a sign of serious damage occurring due to ice dams.

 NOTE:  Before trying to remove snow from your roof, consider that clearing a roof can be a hazardous chore. Think before you decide to go on the roof with a shovel in hand to attempt doing it yourself.  Most experts don’t support the idea of people climbing onto their roofs to remove the buildup, as the weight of a person may be just enough to trigger the roof to collapse. Additionally, taking the wrong step can easily send you sliding down your roof, putting your life in danger.

 DE-ICING CABLES  (Photo Courtesy of Easy Heat, Inc.)

The best way to handle an Ice Dam is to prevent it before it occurs by using De-Icing Cables. De-Icing Cables heat the roof edge and keep it free of ice.    Installation of the cables should be done prior to winter.  De-Icing Cables are attached to the edge of the roof where ice tends to build up.  Since the cables need an exterior outlet for electricity, we recommend using a license electrician to, not only do the installation, but to suggest the best product for the application.

The only downsides are 1) the cost of electricity (which is small for a standard cable used intermittently), and 2) the routing of draining water away so it doesn't freeze and build up at the end of the downspout.  All freeze protection products can be controlled using a variety of thermostats, controllers, sensors, and control panels.

 For more information regarding ice dams, roof snow, as well as frozen pipes, icy driveways, and walkways, contact:

McCurdy Electrical Services at 781-595-7074

or email: