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Archive for the 'Safety Tips' Category

Winter Brings Increased Fire Dangers -- Does Your Home Pass the Fire Safety Test?

December 8, 2014

Fire House Fire

During the upcoming winter months accidental house fires remain a serious safety threat to homeowners and their families, but the main causes of home fires are clear and so are the ways to prevent them. The best way to avoid them is to first acknowledge their roots.


Cooking and Hot Oil


According to the National Fire Protection Association, unattended cooking causes 40 percent of house fires and 36 percent of fire-related injuries.


When a pot or pan overheats or splatters greases, it can take only seconds to cause a fire. It is a good idea to mount a fire extinguisher where everyone can find it in the event of a cooking fire. Never try to extinguish oil fires with water, as this will only spread the fire over walls and counter tops.


Stay in the kitchen when cooking. Even if you leave the kitchen for a short period of time, turn the stove off. Keep combustibles like oven mitts, dishtowels and paper towels away from heat sources.


Electrical and Appliances


Lighting related electrical fires can be prevented by not exceeding the maximum light bulb wattage for your lamps. Exceeding the maximum wattage may cause the light to generate too much heat, igniting the lampshade. Never place anything over a lamp, such as cloth or paper, because these can heat up and start a fire.


Frayed wires can cause fires. Replace all worn, old or damaged appliance cords and do not run cords under rugs or furniture. Extension cords are meant for temporary use only. If you find that you are permanently using an extension cord, have an electrician install another outlet.


If an appliance has a three-prong plug, use it only in a three-slot outlet. Never force it to fit into a two-slot outlet or extension cord. Immediately shut off, then professionally replace, light switches that are hot to the touch and lights that flicker.


Fireplaces and Wood stoves


Inspect and clean wood stove pipes and chimneys often to check for damage or obstructions. Never burn trash, paper or green wood. Use a fireplace screen heavy enough to stop rolling logs and big enough to cover the entire opening of the fireplace to catch flying sparks. Make sure the fire is completely out before leaving the house or going to bed.


Portable Space Heaters


These types of heaters are very dangerous because of their small size and the fact that they can be easily knocked over, or moved too close to walls, furniture or fabrics.


Keep combustible objects at least three feet away from portable heating devices. Check to make sure the portable heater has a thermostat control mechanism, and will switch off automatically if the heater falls over. Don’t use your heaters to dry shoes or clothes.


Most homeowners take the basic steps to protect against fires, but there are flammable sources in homes that are commonly overlooked. By identifying and removing these fire hazards you can effectively take steps to protect your family and property.


Smoke Alarms


Be sure the smoke alarm has the label of a recognized testing laboratory.


Test alarms at least monthly by pushing the test button.


Install smoke alarms following manufacturer’s instructions high on a wall or on a ceiling. Save manufacturer’s instructions for testing and maintenance.


Replace batteries in all smoke alarms at least once a year. If an alarm “chirps”, warning the battery is low, replace the battery right away.


Replace all smoke alarms, including alarms that use 10-year batteries and hard-wired alarms, when they are 10 year old or sooner if they do not respond properly.


Alarms that are hard-wired (and include battery backup) must be installed by a qualified electrician.

Preventative Maintenance & Thermal Imaging - An Electrical Safety Tip From McCurdy Electric

July 2, 2010

The MA State Fire Marshal recommends that you have your electrical system inspected every 10 years. The following is taken directly from a press release from earlier this year:

“Electrical wiring, like all other systems, needs maintenance and inspection. Homeowners should have a qualified electrician examine their electrical system every ten years. A licensed electrician who obtains a permit when required should do all electrical work. The permit process protects the homeowner by requiring that an inspector check that work is done correctly.”

The last part of the statement above is very important too. When getting work done of any kind at your home or business, always be sure that the contractor pulls a permit. This is to make sure that the contractor you’re hiring is licensed and has the proper types of insurance. It is really for your protection.

It is proven that when a preventative maintenance program (referred to as a PM program) is in place, it will save you money in the long run. This is true for both homeowners and business owners alike. Basically, when a piece of equipment breaks down because of neglect, it is more costly to fix the problem at that point than it would have been to prevent the problem in the first place. One way of checking for problems is by utilizing a technology known as Thermal Imaging.

A Thermal Image of a Receptacle Outlet

Using Thermal Imaging tools, we can check for problems on a piece of equipment just by “looking” at it. When looking at an electrical panel, If a spot is unusually hot, there’s an excellent chance of either a loose connection or an overloaded circuit. Connections become loose over time, and that is just one of the reasons preventative maintenance is needed (especially on electrical panels).

The thermal image camera is also a useful tool for energy conservationists to check out cold spots in a home and see where you might need some more insulation. Check out this video from Fluke, a leading manufacturer in the Thermal Imaging industry to learn more.

As added value to you our customer, McCurdy Electric offers a free visual safety inspection with a written report with every service call. We are dedicated to safety!

I welcome any comments or questions you have.

 

It Is Air Conditioner Season! An Electrical Safety Tip from McCurdy Electric

June 25, 2010

Air Conditioner season is upon us once again! Here is a summer safety tip to keep us all staying cool this summer.

 

An issue that I see frequently, in both homeowners and small business owners, is that they use extension cords for “permanent” or “fixed” installations. That is, an extension cord is plugged in to an outlet, ran behind some furniture or even underneath a rug, and then used to provide power to an electrical appliance such as an air conditioner.

 

Not to scare anyone, but this is a bad idea on a couple of levels:

 

1) Did you know that extension cords are only designed for temporary use? That’s right. An extension cord should never be used for a “fixed” installation. The National Electrical Code states that the manufacturer’s installation instructions must be followed – I guarantee you that it tells you in the instruction booklet of your new air conditioner to not use an extension cord with it.

 

2) The extension cord that you use may be undersized. That is, the physical size of the wire inside the cord may not be large enough to handle the large amount of power that an appliance like an air conditioner needs. If this is the case, the cord may become warm. So warm in fact that there is a very real risk for fire.

 

3) The cord is more than likely subject to physical damage. If the extension cord is run behind furniture, underneath a rug, or even just lying on the floor, it is subject to physical damage. For obvious reasons this is a potentially dangerous thing. Even a heavy-duty cord will become frayed and worn if subjected to enough abuse over time. A frayed or damaged cord should always be destroyed and disposed of, so that no one is able to use it in the future. No amount of electrical tape can satisfactorily repair an extension cord. A good rule of thumb is that if the cord doesn’t look like it originally did from the factory, it’s probably not good anymore.

 

4) It’s always best to have a dedicated circuit for large appliances such as your air conditioner. If you don’t have a receptacle outlet near your window-mounted air conditioner, or if the circuit breaker keeps tripping when you turn your AC on, you may want to have one installed.

 

McCurdy Electric offers a free visual safety inspection, with a written report, on every service call that we do. If you have any immediate questions about safety, please don’t hesitate to contact us.

 

Please offer your comments below, and stay cool!