How to Child-Proof Your Home Electrical System

With COVID-19 keeping kids and parents at home this month, you may be spending a lot more time behind your walls than you?re used to. However, even though this is a challenging and frustrating time for many of us, it?s also a great opportunity to take a good look at your home and make improvements you might not have noticed or had time to address. And since your kids are at home with you, why not kill two birds with one stone and childproof your system from electrical mishaps? Below are some top safety tips from our Holly Springs Electrician.

Look at Your Home from Your Child?s Perspective

Most electrical accidents involving children occur when the parents are at home, and oftentimes even the same room. They happen because children have a literally different point of view than their parents, and outlets and cords which may be invisible to us are very prominent to a child. It is sometimes useful to actually crawl rather than walk through your home to identify potential dangers you might not otherwise see.

Maintain Your Electrical System

Most home electrical injuries result from appliances which are outdated or broken. Make sure that all cords on lamps and appliances are not frayed, chewed, or torn, and repair damaged cords immediately. In addition, check all wall outlets on a regular basis to make sure there are no cracks or signs of breakage.?Smoke, discoloration, rust, and a hot temperature are all signs that a circuit panel is in need of repair.

Cover all Outlets

All outlets which are not being used should be outfitted with childproof outlet covers. In addition, make sure that Ground Fault Circuit Interrupters (GFCIs) are installed for every outlet in your home. These devices measure the amount of electricity flowing from an open source, and interrupts the flow if it detects an electrical surge or water. GFCIs are very sensitive and will shut down electrical flow when even minor problems occur. If your house does not have them in the necessary places, that means it is not up to code standards, and is not only safe, but legally uncompliant.

Test Appliances after Storms ?

Studies estimate that more than half of all parents who use GFCIs do not test them regularly. Be sure to test all electrical appliances and CFGIs once every six months, and immediately following an electrical storm. Make sure that all lights work properly and that appliances perform as intended.

Need a Holly Springs Electrician?

Professional electricians can help you audit your home for potential issues, and make repairs and upgrades that will keep your family safe. Click here to schedule an electrical safety inspection in Holly Springs. Please note that, due to COVID-19 safety regulations, we are offering free video chat services which will help us identify many electrical issues remotely.

COVID-19 Safety & Prevention Notice from Alternate Current Solutions

In light of recent developments related to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, please be aware that?our Holly Springs electricians are taking all necessary precautions to keep our clients and our employees safe.

Our team members are thoroughly disinfecting their hands and tools before and after entering each job site. We are also carefully monitoring the latest developments surrounding COVID-19, and are prepared to take quick action in the event of a more localized outbreak. If we determine that on-site work is hazardous to our employees? and clients? health, we will pause work until the threat has lifted.

Do Not Attempt DIY Electric Repair?

Please note that, in spite of these stressful circumstances, it is important not to allow anxieties over the coronavirus compromise your safety in other ways. Do not attempt electrical repair or installation yourself unless you have prior electrical training and experience. If you have any concerns about a component of your electrical system, please call us for a consultation prior to taking action (or inaction).

If you are not comfortable with having a technician visit your home or facility in person, we are offering free video chat consultations which will enable us to troubleshoot many electrical issues remotely.

Below are some additional safety tips which you can use to help protect yourself, your family, and members of our community who may have compromised immune systems.

Disease Prevention Safety Tips

  • Refrain from shaking hands with, hugging, or touching others
  • Refrain from attending large public gatherings
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth
  • Clean and disinfect frequently-touched objects, such as phones
  • Wash your hands often with soap and hot water for at least 20 seconds
  • If soap and water are not readily available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol

To see a complete list of recommendations from the Center for Disease Control (CDC), please click here.

Please be aware that you and your families are our top priority, and we are doing everything possible to keep us all safe.

Thank you,

Alternate Current Solutions Leadership

Should I Should Add Another Circuit for Holiday Lights? Ask Our Holly Springs Electrician

Christmas lights are so small and beautiful, it?s hard to think of them as hazardous. However, you may be surprised to learn that the majority electrical fires and injuries happen around this season, all because of Christmas lighting. In fact, the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) estimates that an average of 150 homes are burned, 8 people are killed, and 14 people are injured every year due to faulty holiday light installation. And we?re betting that many, many more are forced to pay for costly repairs to their electrical systems. In order to stay safe this holiday, here are some extra precautions to take before setting up your lights?from adding extra circuits, to scheduling an electrical safety inspection.?

Why Can Extra Christmas Lights Cause Fires??

When you install multiple strings of lights and light displays around your house and yard, you are subjecting your electrical system to a demand it isn?t accustomed to?and might not be equipped to handle in the first place. The average receptacle circuit in your home can handle between 15-20 amps, and most household wires can only handle 15. That means that if you try to run, for instance, 16 through over a wire that can only handle 15, the wires and the breaker may start to overheat and cause a fire.?

How to Calculate Your Electricity Demand

Given what we said above, it is important to calculate how many amps your holiday lights (and any new electrical appliances you may receive for Christmas) will draw through the wiring. You can do this by dividing the wattage number by your voltage. For example, say you plug a 1000-watt slow cooker into a 120-volt outlet. If you can only handle 15 amps, you?re getting close to the limit already. If you add anything else for a big light show, you?re very likely to overburden them.?

Other Holiday Energy Costs to Consider

So far, we?ve discussed the excess power consumed outside your home during the holidays. But what many people forget is that the power use inside the home can spike, too, especially if you are expecting guests. More friends and family members staying for the holidays mean more lamps, TVs, laptop chargers, phone chargers, hair dryers, and everything else plugged in and drawing power from the system. And the appliances you already use will likely be used more often and for longer stretches of time (for instance, more people using the oven, toaster, fridge, etc.)?

All this is why, even if you?re not planning a holiday light show that?s particularly ambitious, it?s still a good idea to schedule an electrical safety inspection before the season gets into full swing. Your Holly Springs electrician can investigate your wires and outlets and let you know if you?ll be able to safely handle the increased demand. If your system is old, in need of repair, or only ever built to handle the needs of a 1980s family, we can install an additional circuit and upgrade your electrical panel so that your utility bills stay low and you aren?t at risk for a fire or short circuit. (All this goes double for those expecting Santa to deliver a brand new stove or fridge this year!)?

Need an Electrician in Holly Springs NC? Call Alternate Current Solutions!

Our Holly Springs electricians are here to make your holiday safe, stress-free, and successful as possible. Instead of wrestling with lights, wires, circuits, and switches, just let us do it?it?s our job, after all! (We?re not saying we?ll help put up your Christmas tree…but we might be able to be talked into it.) To request an? electrical inspection in Holly Springs, click here to fill out our contact form for a free estimate!?

How to Safely Put Out an Electrical Fire from Our Holly Springs Electrician

Now that winter?s almost here, most of us will be spending more time indoors and relying on electricity to provide heat, power, and entertainment during the cold winter months. In light of this fact (no pun intended), we?ve put together a quick guide on what to do if an electric fire breaks out in your home.

Disconnect the Electricity

First, disconnect the electricity to eliminate the source of the flames. If the fire is caused by a faulty appliance, unplug it as quickly as it possible (provided it is safe to do so.) If you are unable to unplug an appliance, go to your electric panel and turn off the power. Once you have killed the electricity, you will no longer be at risk of electrocution, and the source of the fire will be cut off.

Call 911 First and Foremost

If, for some reason, you are not able to disconnect the electricity, call 911 to ensure you will have some backup on its way if you cannot put out the fire yourself. Be sure to tell the dispatcher that it?s an electrical fire. Remember, it?s better to be safe and a tad embarrassed than sorry.

Ensure You Can Evacuate Safety ?

Before continuing, make sure you can see two clear pathways to safety. Once one of those two pathways becomes blocked or unsafe to approach, evacuate immediately. Electric fires can quickly become deadly, and no home is worth risking your life.

Smother the Fire with Baking Soda, NOT FLOUR

Baking soda contains the chemical compound sodium bicarbonate, which is also in Class C fire extinguishers. If the fire began in an appliance or an overloaded cord, unplug it and toss baking soda onto the flames. DO NOT USE FLOUR. Flour is combustible and can cause an explosion. You can also put out the fire by smothering it with a blanket or towel.

Never Use Water While the Power Is On

Although it may be your first impulse, never use water on any size electrical fire if your power is still on. Water conducts electricity, so if you toss water onto the flames, you are at risk of being badly shocked. Water may also conduct electricity throughout the room, potentially igniting flammable materials and causing the fire to spread.

If you are 100% certain that the power is off, water is now an option, and you can douse the flames with a bucket or the spray nozzle from your sink.

Prevent Electric Fires: Get an Electrical Inspection in Holly Springs NC

While it?s always good to have a working knowledge of best practices should a fire occur, the best way to prevent them from happening is to schedule a yearly safety inspection with a licensed electrician. Our Holly Springs electricians can make any necessary repairs and upgrades, and make sure that every wire, outlet, and switch is working as it should. If you?d like to request an electrical inspection with Alternate Current Solutions, fill out our contact form today!

Learn How to Prevent an Electrical Fire From Our Holly Springs Electric Contractor

Because we use electricity so frequently, we often forget how dangerous it can be. However, many residential fires originate from an electrical source, and they are usually much more dangerous and destructive than other types of fires. The best way to protect yourself and your family from an electrical fire is scheduling a regular inspection from a licensed electrician, and following the tips below.

Use the Correct Lightbulbs

Always use lightbulbs that match the recommended wattage for the fixture or lamp they are used with. Using a lightbulb with a wattage that is too high may cause the light fixture to overheat, melting the socket and causing a fire.

Do Not Overload Outlets

As electricians with decades of experience on our hands, we have seen it all, and one thing we see quite often is the use of ?power adapters? when what the home really needs is a larger or newer circuit breaker, more wires, and more outlets. If you are running an extension cord into a room because all its outlets are taken up or dead, it?s time to get the electrical upgrade you need!

Look for Warning Signs

Many of our calls are to homes which have had flickering lights or smoking outlets for a long time, which went unaddressed. While we understand that life can get hectic, electrical issues can become quite dangerous if left unchecked! If you notice flickering lights, buzzing sounds, smoky or otherwise unpleasant smells, outlet discoloration, or frayed wires, make sure to schedule an electrical inspection as soon as possible. Note, also, that circuit breakers which trip often are a sign of an electrical problem.

Practice Essential Fire Safety Habits

It?s often the little things that cause the biggest electric fires! Make sure that you and your entire family knows, and implements, the following safety tips:

  • Do not leave portable space heaters unattended
  • Do not leave portable space heaters on overnight
  • Make sure that your smoke detectors are tested regularly
  • Develop an evacuation plan, and establish a rendezvous point
  • Make sure that all family members know where to access, and how to use, fire extinguishers

Schedule An Appointment to See Our Electrician in Holly Springs

The best way to prevent an electrical fire from starting is scheduling an electrical safety inspection. Our Holly Springs electrical contractor can ensure your home meets NEC safety provisions, and install AFCI devices that recognize and stop electrical hazards. Finally, we can provide necessary upgrades that will help your system meet the demands of your current family size and technology use. To request a free estimate, click here!

Why Are My Lights Flickering? Ask Our Local Electrician in Holly Springs

If your lights start randomly flickering, it might be because of a goblin or ghost?but it?s much more likely to be due to one of these four common electric issues. Don?t be afraid of the dark?call your Holly Springs NC electrician for a quick, affordable electric repair today! Note: Unless you have professional electrician training and/or experience, never attempt DIY electric repair yourself.

Loose Lightbulbs

Sometimes the most likely culprits are actually the problem. If your lights are flickering, it may simply be that the lightbulbs aren?t secure. Light bulbs that aren?t fully secured in their sockets are receiving inconsistent power, which results in flickering. Tightening loose bulbs is the easiest way to remedy flickering lights, and can be done without any assistance. Remember to turn the lights off and let them cool down before touching them.

Loose Connections

Electrical connections need to be as tight as possible to avoid creating resistance. Even low resistance can overheat connections or any surrounding wires, which can then start a fire if the problem is located near any flammable materials. It?s important to understand that loose connections don?t just involve wires; they can also involve a loose terminal on an electric device, or a loose connection to the circuit breaker. If you believe you have loose connections, be sure to call an experienced electric company to come evaluate your home for damage. If you let the problem linger, you are placing yourself at risk for an electrical fire!

Voltage Changes?

If your lights only flicker or dim when you turn on a large electrical appliance, like a washing machine, the problem is most likely an overloaded circuit. In other words, the appliance pulls more electrical current than the circuit can handle, causing the voltage to drop.

Most electricians know that large appliances should not be installed on the same fuse or circuit breaker as the lights. That?s because, if the fuse blows due to the appliance, you?ll be left in the dark. ?However, minor flickering can happen even with houses which have large loads on their own circuits. If the flickering is infrequent, minor, and only happens briefly right when the appliance comes on, it may not be a concern. If the flickering is severe or happens consistently, however, there is most likely a problem, either with the circuit or the appliance itself.

You Have Fluorescent Lights

Fluorescent lights often employ the use of an inductive ballast to control to amount of current passing through the bulb. A disruption of power running through the bulb can cause it to flicker. Replacing your fluorescent bulb with an incandescent or LED light may fix the problem.

Stay on the Safe Side?Call an Holly Springs NC Electrician!

If your lights are flickering, it could be a minor issue, or a sign of a serious electrical problem. Home electrical fires can cost you your home as well as your life, so be sure to call a professional electric company in Holly Springs to evaluate your system. To schedule an appointment and free estimate, click here!

Can I Save Money With An Electric Space Heater? Our Electrician in Holly Springs Discusses the Pros and Cons

Shoppers and nature-lovers first know that it?s fall when the leaves start to change and pumpkin spice products start lining the shelves. But here at Alternate Current Solutions, we know it?s fall when we start to hear questions about electricity conservation during the cold winter months. The most popular question by far is on the subject of electric heaters. Is it possible to save money by turning off your HVAC and plugging in a box heater? The short answer is, no. For the long answer, keep reading.

When an Electric Space Heater Makes Sense

Many electric space heater brands advertise themselves as money-savers. However, this is only true under certain circumstances. An electric space heater can save you money, if you lower the central air, and use it in one small room only. However, can an electric space heater keep your house as warm as central heating does, for less money? In most cases, no. You will only reduce your expenses by reducing your level of warmth. In other words, you could realize the same savings and the same comfort level by simply cranking down the thermostat.

How Much Does It Cost to Heat a Room with a Space Heater?

If you?re still not convinced, let?s crunch the numbers. To figure out how much you?ll spend using one 1,500-watt space heater, use this formula:

  1. Multiply 1500W by X hours of use = A.
  2. Multiply A by your electricity rate per kilowatt hour = B.
  3. Divide B by 1000.

Most electric?space heaters use 1,500 watts at full power, so that is what we use in the formula above. If your heater uses more or less power, you will want to change it to that number. Since you should never use a space heater while sleeping, we?ll calculate the cost of running a 1500-watt heater at 16 hours a day.

Based on the national average electricity rate, it would cost $2.82 a day to use a space heater for 16 hours a day. Multiply that by the meteorological length of winter, 90 days, and you have $253.8 for 3 months? worth of heat. If your monthly heating bill is less than $84, this might be a money-saver. However, remember that this is to heat just one room with one heater. Plug-in electric heaters of this wattage will generally be ineffective at heating an entire house.

Get Winter-Ready with Our Holly Springs NC Electrician

If you need to cozy up a cold bathroom or office, electric space heaters are wonderful little devices. However, if you want to realize significant cost savings on your electric bills, there are many more effective steps you can take by calling our Holly Springs electrical contractor! We can help you swap out your lighting for energy-efficient bulbs; install energy-efficient appliances, and conduct an energy audit to determine where your system is struggling to draw power. To schedule an appointment, click here!

Why You Should Never DIY Electrical Work, According to Our Holly Springs Electrician

When the lights start to flicker or an outlet won?t work, it can be tempting to forgo calling an electrician in favor of tackling the issue alone. But before you break out the toolbox, think twice. Few home improvement jobs are as fraught with danger as ?Do-It-Yourself? electrical repair, and the results can be dangerous or even deadly. Here are some reasons why you shouldn?t DIY with electrical work?ever.

You Could Get Electrocuted

Electrical shock can be deadly at?nearly?any voltage level, and this is especially true when you are working with higher voltages. In most residential homes, the average voltage for lighting and power outlets is around 110 volts, enough to give you a painful jolt. The voltage levels for certain appliances, such as ovens and dryers, can reach 240 volts ? a deadly amount of current.?Sure, you can always turn off the power at the breaker box, but all too often DIY-ers either forget this step entirely, or switch off the incorrect breaker. Professional electricians undergo years of training to learn how to safely work around electricity?so call us instead!

You Could Cause an Electrical Fire

Electrical fires are, in their own way, much more dangerous than electric shocks. Although a shock is certainly more instantaneous, and the consequences can be more severe, DIY-ers are more aware of the risk and more likely to prepare for them. But an electrical fire is a ?sleeping danger? that usually takes homeowners by surprise. If you place even a single wire in the wrong place, you might not be able tell that something is wrong. Then the hazard will remain dormant for months, leading you into a false sense of security before ultimately causing a fire.

In order to avoid this situation, you should always hire an experienced electrician when there are problems with the electrical system.

Your Home Might not Pass an Electrical Inspection

When it?s time to sell your house, you might be surprised to learn that you have not installed the right outlets and circuit breakers, or that you have installed them in the wrong places. Then you will have to pay for new outlet installation or other repairs all over again. You might even be fined, as well. A professional electrician will install everything correctly the first time, so you only have to pay for it all once. Knowing what is required to bring a house up to code is part of our job, and we are more likely to make repairs that meet the criteria to pass inspection.?As an added bonus, you and your family will be in less danger?those codes exist for a reason!

?Need an electrician in Apex, Garner, or Holly Springs?

DIY electrical repairs might save you a few bucks in the short term, but that?s small change compared to the hospital bills if you get shocked, repair bills if you perform it incorrectly, or the cost of a new home if yours burns down! Get better peace of mind and ensure your safety with Alternate Current Solutions. If you need electrical services in Apex, Garner, or Holly Springs, schedule an appointment with us today!

Electrical Safety Tips for Summer Storms From Alternate Current Solutions

Summer means summer lightning storms, which can damage your electrical system and ruin your appliances. Below are a few summer electrical safety tips to help you enjoy the season to the fullest. If you are worried about how your home?s wiring will stand up to the harsh weather, call Alternate Current Solutions for an electrical inspection and quote!

Install a Whole-House Surge Protector

Lightning usually hits trees and other tall objects, but it can occasionally hit homes, causing severe damage to the wiring and all plugged-in appliances. In order to protect your wiring and devices, you might want to invest in a surge protector. We recommend using a two-component device, one of which is installed at the circuit breaker, and one of which can be plugged into outlets near televisions, computers, and other expensive devices.

Consider Installing a Lightning Rod

A lightning rod is just one component of a lightning-proof system, which is a network of air terminals, bonding conductors, and ground electrodes designed to provide a low-impendence path to the ground. This directs the bolt to the ground outside, rather than through the internal wiring. You might also use a ground surge protector to disrupt the current as it moves towards the house.

Unplug Electronics During Storms

As we have mentioned, if a lightning strike hits your house, it can fry your electronics. This is why many experts recommend that you unplug your electronics and appliances during heavy storms. It?s also a good idea to keep data on your wireless devices backed up. If a storm is very severe, you could even turn off your circuit breaker.

Never Touch a Power Line

Never touch a power line with any part of your body, a stick, or any other object whatsoever. If you see a power line on the ground, assume that it is live and dangerous, and report it to your local utility company immediately. If you live with children, make sure that they understand the danger of a live power line.

Don?t Use Appliances After Flooding

If your home is flooded, do not use electrical appliances that have been wet, as water can damage the motors in appliances and cause them to become a fire or electrical hazard. If any of your devices have been wet, a qualified electrician can assess the damage and determine whether or not the item can be safely reconditioned.

Don?t Connect Portable Generators to Household Wiring

Portable electric generators can provide a good source of backup power, but can become dangerous and even deadly if installed improperly. Never connect a generator directly to household wiring. The power from the generator can back-feed along power lines and electrocute anyone coming in contact with them, including line workers making repairs. A qualified, licensed electrician should install your generator to ensure that it meets local electrical codes.

Need an Electrician in Apex NC?

Never undertake any home do-it-yourself project that involves your electrical system without first calling a professional electrician such as those at Alternate Current Solutions. Even seemingly simple jobs like installing a new light fixture or outlet can be dangerous if done incorrectly. To schedule a free inspection and quote, click here.