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Archive for the 'General Interest' Category

Working Fire Alarms Save Lives

December 4, 2014

Fire Alarm

Fire alarm systems are electronic devices used in commercial businesses and in some residences. These systems are designed to help minimize the number of lives lost to fire and smoke emergencies, and also to help protect property and buildings from fire damage. Fire alarms come in a variety of designs, and are installed based on the requirements of an individual building.

Regulation

The need for fire alarm systems is determined by local building codes. In most residences and small commercial buildings, a system of smoke detectors is usually adequate for fire protection. For larger commercial structures, a fire alarm system is virtually always required, yet the design and scope of the system varies from region to region. During the project design phase, the project architect or mechanical engineer will review local building codes to determine compliance. If they determine that a fire alarm system is required, a system will be designed in agreement with the Standards of the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA). NFPA Standard 72 covers fire alarm design and installation in the US, and has been adjusted with only minimal alterations by most municipal governments.

Components

A fire alarm system consists of a number of different components. The core of the system is the control panel, which contains monitoring and control devices that affect all other alarm components. The panel is powered by a dedicated power supply, and then supported by a backup battery power source in case of emergency. The system is triggered when a manual alarm pull is used, or when smoke or heat detectors detect signs of a fire. On activation, a system of alerts is put in motion to alert occupants of the fire. These may include strobe lights, horns, buzzers, or verbal evacuation signals.

Types of Systems

Fire alarm systems may also be manual or automatic. Manual systems are operated through the use of pull handles, which may be installed behind a sheet of protective glass to prevent tampering. Most manual systems can also be triggered manually by means of a switch or button on the panel. Automatic systems use technology to sense fire danger. They will often feature heat, smoke, or fire detectors placed on ceilings or walls. Certain detectors can even sense non-fire related emergencies, such as toxic gases or chemicals. NFPA 72 ordains how many of these detectors must be used, and where they should be placed.

Types of Alert Devices

By tradition, audio alerts were the customary type of notification device used with fire alarm systems. They featured a buzzing or ringing sound that alerted occupants to fire danger. When the American With Disabilities Act was established in 1990, fire alarm standards were changed to include both visual and audio notification. This was implemented to accommodate the nearly ten percent of Americans who are hearing impaired. Visual signals may include a red or white flashing light, and are ordinarily built into the same device as the audio speaker. Meanwhile, NFPA has discovered that typical audio alerts are becoming ineffectual. Instead of buzzers or bells, NFPA 72 now requires that voice evacuation systems are used. These devices are far more efficient for fast evacuations, and can clear a building much quicker by combining exit instructions with the conventional fire warnings.

Auxiliary Devices

When a fire alarm is triggered, the foremost response is an attempt to evacuate the building. Contingent on the location of fire, though, this is not always possible. To help protect lives and property, auxiliary devices are automatically set into action as fire alarm alerts are taking place. Initially, any smoke or fire doors that are being held open by magnetic holds are electronically released. This prompts the doors to automatically close and latch, preventing the spread of smoke or fire past these openings. After that, the alarm system motions air duct controls to the presence of smoke. When this transpires, duct dampers will shut and fans will cease operation, helping to stop the spread of smoke to occupied spaces.

Fire Alarm Inspection

Fire Alarm Systems are required by law to have a yearly inspection and testing performed (NFPA 72).

For further information, or to schedule an inspection or consultation, please contact McCurdy Electrical Services. Ph. 781-595-7074 | Em. info@mccurdyelectric.com | www.mccurdyelectric.com

 

Protect your Home from Ice and Snow Damage

October 15, 2014

Ice Dam

Past winters, heavy snow and ice buildup have caused an eruption of roofs to collapse throughout the homes in the Northeast. After a fresh snowfall roofs are snow-capped and look beautiful, and quite charming. However, don’t be fooled by the beauty. Snow contains a great amount of weight, and the weight rises enormously when rain, ice and sleet are added to the mix. Approximately two feet of snow on an average sized roof can be the equivalent of 19 tons according to experts. Consequently, all of this weight places a enormous amount of stress on your roof and weakens its structures. Furthermore, the melting of the mass of snow can cause water leakage, then can decay roofs, destroy insulation, flood attics, ruin gutters and damage the interior of your home.

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.

Another destructive winter hazard to consider is ice dams. With another frigid New England winter ahead of us, homeowners should be aware that icicles hanging from the gutters can mean trouble. This could be a sign of serious damage occurring due to ice dams.

An ice dam is a wall of ice that forms at the edge of the roof, usually at the gutters or soffit.  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 good news is there is a safe solution to ice dams, roof snow, as well as frozen pipes, icy driveways, and walkways. A line of self-regulating and mineral insulated freeze protection products provides freeze protection for metal or plastic pipes, roof and gutter de-icing, and slab de-icing for commercial and residential applications.

All freeze protection products can be controlled using a variety of thermostats, controllers, sensors, and control panels.

For installation, or for further information about all freeze protection products, please contact McCurdy Electrical Services today. phone: 781-595-7074 * email: info@mccurdyelectric.com

 

Consider Attic Fan for Year-Round Savings

July 10, 2014

Attic Fan One

Want to keep your home cool in the hot, summer months without having to go broke in the process? Attic fans are a great, inexpensive way to make your air conditioner more efficient and considerably lower your utility bills. Attics can reach 150 degrees or more in the summer, especially in hot locations like Arizona or Florida. To lessen the heat you can install an attic fan, which will pull in the outside air and force out the hot attic air, lowering your air conditioning bill by 20% or more.

The Cost

The cost of an electrical fan and installation is comparatively inexpensive, and once installed requires almost no maintenance. Furthermore, over time, an attic fan will keep you from having to spend money on roof maintenance, as heat can damage your shingles. You may see asphalt shingles with curled-up corners or bulges, both signs of a too-hot attic.

An electrical fan kit can cost between $80 and $450, depending on the size, number of blades, quality, and noise level. On the other hand, if you’re looking to save on operation costs and prefer green energy, solar-powered fans are also available, and generally cost between $350 and $800. Hiring an electrician to install your attic fan is recommended.

It’s also recommended to choose a fan with a thermostat, a standard feature on most fans today, which you can set to go on and off at certain temperatures so that your fan will only run when needed.

Depending on the style of your roof, you may need to hire a professional roofer to install a ledge or mounting surface on which to place the fan. Otherwise, a hole may need to be made in your roof within which the fan is placed, and this needs to be appropriately insulated.

Cooling Tips

Proper insulation and ventilation is an important factor in keeping your home as cool as possible. Without proper insulation a great amount of cool air will escape and be lost, and hot air will seep into the rest of your home. In the winter the reverse effect will occur, raising your heating bills.

Ventilation is also important, for both warm and cold seasons. During cold months inadequate venting can lead to moisture buildup, which, if not able to escape, can rot the entire roof. In the summer months, the stagnant, hot air will have no place to escape and will dry out roof supports. You can increase ventilation by installing gable, soffit and other roof vents.

 

Avoiding the Dangers of Faulty Electrical Wiring

June 24, 2014

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.

New AFCI Requirements for 2014’s National Electrical Code

April 3, 2014

House with Plug

Keeping electrical wiring up to date is a crucial part of home upkeep, but one that is often overlooked as much of a home’s electrical system are hidden in the walls. The National Fire Protection Agency (NFPA) approximates that nearly 13% of home fires are electrical in derivation and about half have occurred from an electrical arc in the home’s wiring.

AFCI’s (Arc-Fault Circuit-Interrupters) are devised to detect an electrical arc inside the wall and de-energize the circuit if it sees the fault striking repeatedly. Arc faults are different from other electrical surges, with a low current that doesn't trip the breaker, resulting in recurring arcs that melt the wire insulation and can cause fire. Installation of AFCI’s is especially important in older homes. As wiring ages, it’s more apt to have an arc.

AFCI’s are not new. They were first required in 1999 but were limited only to the wall outlets in bedrooms. NEC expanded in 2002 to include lights and switches in bedrooms. In 2008 the NEC expanded once again, requiring AFCIs in most rooms except the kitchen, bathroom, garage, laundry and exterior where GFCI’s (Ground-Fault Circuit-Interrupters) were more common.

The 2014 requirements extend into the kitchen and laundry and more notably, require all AFCI outlets or circuit breakers to be “readily accessible.” This signifies that outlets hidden behind the refrigerator are no longer acceptable.

Homeowners should be knowledgeable of the new requirements as they will influence any modification in preparation for sale or remodel.  Any changes to branch circuit wiring will be subject to the new rules, even if you are simply adding one outlet or moving a can-light.

Regardless of the cost of upgrades, having AFCI’s in your home is like having an electrical inspector on-site at all times. AFCI’s detect bizarre electrical glitches that are undetectable by regular breakers and shut off that circuit. Last but not least the peace of mind that comes with safe wiring is immeasurable. 

4 Benefits of Being Our Customer

February 8, 2011

At McCurdy Electric, our number one goal is customer satisfaction.  You might even call this article a “mission statement.”  The following four points outline what we’re about and what you get for being a McCurdy Electric customer.

Relationships are everything.  We don’t just appreciate your business, we value it.  It is vitally important that you hire a company who you know will always be there, as well as one you can trust to come into your home or business.  We will do our best to always send the same service technician to you, so you’ll always know who to expect.  That way, your technician will know the ins and outs of your system.  In a nutshell, we strive for excellent customer service, and aim to provide nothing but the best from people you trust.


It can save serious money.
  Time is money.  The less time spent on your job, the more money you save.  If a different company is used each time a problem arises, they will charge you for the time it takes to learn your systems and equipment and to find out where everything is.  When you stick with the same company, they already know your equipment and systems, and where everything is located.

Added value.  At McCurdy Electric, we offer a free site condition and equipment report, and we store that information in our database.  It will include data such as equipment manufacturers, model numbers, and even safety concerns that we might find.  That way, when something goes wrong in the future, we can have a head-start on the issue and even have parts ready in-hand before we send a technician your way.  Instead of you paying a technician for his time running to get a particular part, we can already have that part on the truck!  We also keep track of warranty information, so if something goes wrong with a product you just had installed, you won’t be spending money needlessly for a new part.

You’ll always know where to find us.  We answer all phone calls personally during normal business hours.  That means that if you call us, you’ll talk to a live person directly in our office – no “answering service” or an impersonal voicemail!  Not to speak poorly about the one-man show contractor, but you might have a hard time tracking them down sometimes.  You’ll always know where to find us -- and it’s our pleasure to serve you.

          What Is Your Backup Plan?

          August 19, 2010

          As the saying goes, “If you don’t like the weather in New England, just wait a minute.” Or, as Mark Twain put it, “…one of the brightest gems in the New England weather is the dazzling uncertainty of it.”

          I think you get my point.

          We New Englanders should always be prepared for whatever Mother Nature may throw at us. I hope that you weren’t one of over a half-million people who were without power back in that ice storm in 2008. This “unprecedented” event left more than half of New Hampshire residents without power for well over a week!

          At the time of writing this we’re in the “dog days of summer” – but there’s no better time to prepare yourself. We don’t need a massive ice storm to lose power!

          McCurdy Electric is excited to announce our official dealer status with GE Generator Systems. We are now certified to install and service your backup generator so it will always be ready when you need it.

          Finally, there is a new generation of smart, automatic home backup power systems. More compact, more energy efficient and more intelligent. The new Standby Generators by GE are also more affordable because they feature patented controls that efficiently manage the energy demands of your entire home.

          A Smarter Backup Power Solution!

          Power More For Less

          Advanced Symphony power controls allow for a more compact, energy efficient and affordable whole house solution (10-45kW).

          Maximum Fuel Economy

          Intelligent management of your home’s appliances results in up to 33% less fuel consumption than the leading competitor.

          Space-Saving Design

          The most compact design in the industry (10kW) allows for a low profile that blends in with your home and landscape.

          Whole House Power Management

          Finally there is an affordable whole house backup power solution from a brand you know and trust.

          Don’t Let Its Size Fool You!

          The compact 10kW offers an affordable whole house solution for 73% of all homes in the US!

          Please let us know if you have any questions whatsoever about these great new generators! We’ll be glad to come on by and give you a completely free estimate for a custom installation that’s right for you and your home.

          7 Common Electrical Hazards

          July 26, 2010

          Many electrical hazards exist, both at home and in the workplace. There are a few easy steps that you can take to significantly decrease your risk of an electrical fire or other hazardous occurrence. Check for these common electrical hazards, and correct them as soon as possible:

          1) Check for electrical cords that are pinched behind furniture, such as couches, bureaus, or chairs.

          2) Check for overloaded outlets (for example, if there is more than one appliance plugged into an outlet). Be especially careful when plugging in larger-sized appliances, such as hair dryers, space heaters, air conditioners, dehumidifiers, and other similar items. You can’t always just plug it in and expect there to be enough power available on that circuit.

          3) Check for overloaded power strips. These are only designed to be used for a few low-power items. Also, never plug one power strip into another power strip.

          4) Check for lamps and light fixtures that may have bulbs with a higher wattage than recommended. Most lamps and fixtures are designed to use a 60 Watt bulb at most. Bulbs of a higher wattage than what the fixture is designed for using is a leading cause of electrical fires.

          5) Check for electrical cords underneath rugs, carpets, and furniture. Relocate the cords if necessary so they are not continually stepped on and worn down, compromising their insulation. Electrical cords should always be protected from physical damage.

          6) Check for electrical cords that have frayed wires or cracked insulation. Dispose of them and replace them with a quality cord that bears a certification label of an independent testing laboratory (such as UL).

          7) Check the size of your extension cords. Make sure that they are designed to handle the amount power that they are being used for. A tell-tale sign of an under-sized and over-used cord is if the cord is warm to the touch. Never use an extension cord for larger appliances such as your hair dryer, air conditioner, or space heater.

          If you have any questions or concerns about any of the items listed above, please do not hesitate to contact us. We are here for you 24/7 and electrical hazards should not wait to be addressed fixed. We will be glad to answer any questions you have.

          What are some common electrical hazards that you have seen? We welcome your comments!