Top 10 Holiday Electrical Hazards

By NWA Electrician,

Mister Sparky advises homeowners of the top holiday electrical hazards to watch out for this season!Home electrical safety may not be the most festive topic, but it’s an important consideration before pulling out the holiday decorations. Knowing what holiday electrical hazards are most common during the season, you can prevent unnecessary problems and help to keep your family safe. Here are the top 10 causes of electrical shock, fires, and other issues during the holidays:

1.) Using the wrong type of lights

Indoor holiday lights are not always waterproof or safe to use outside. Outdoor lights sometimes burn hot, causing fire risk to your Christmas tree. Always check the box of any lights and decorations you plan to use.

2.) Using counterfeit or unsafe products

Your decorations should be marked with a certification such as the Underwriters Association (UL). Be wary of foreign-made decorations that do not bear compliance marks.

3.) Using damaged extension cords

Before plugging in any holiday electronics, be sure to check that your extension cords are in good repair. Visible wiring or frayed casing can lead to electrical hazards.

4.) Overloading outlets

When you have multiple decorations or devices plugged into a single outlet, you risk a chance of overloading the outlet. This can lead to fire, electrical outage and other problems. Try to space out your decorations so that they draw power from multiple different outlets in the home, and only use power strips that are new and in good repair.

5.) Leaving lights on all the time

It’s a good idea to run your lights only when someone is home and awake to monitor them. That way, if any problems happen, they can be dealt with swiftly before fire has a chance to spread. Never sleep with your Christmas tree lit.

6.) Using old or damaged decorations

It’s best to save non-electrical ornaments for family heirlooms. Be prepared to replace your Christmas lights every 4-6 years. Also be sure to inspect your decorations thoroughly before use. Throw out any with exposed wiring or other signs of visible damage.

7.) Using out-of-date lighting technology

Even if your older lights are still in good working order, they may be inefficient and more susceptible to causing electrical issues. Most older lights use incandescent bulbs, which burn hot and can cause a fire when clustered on a dry tree or near drapes, wrapped gifts and other flammable objects. LED bulbs are cool to the touch, have a longer lifespan and are less likely to start a fire.

8.) Connecting too many cords

You should avoid stringing more than three strands of lights together end-to-end. Otherwise, you run the risk of sending too much current through the wire, leading to potential fire hazards and blown fuses.

9.) Allowing cords to get damaged

If you have pets or children, keeping all electrical cords and plugs away from curious fingers and mouths is important. It’s also important that your cords not be pinched by furniture, closed windows or other possible hazards.

10.) Damaging strings of lights when mounting

For safety, the insulation of your cords and light strings needs to remain intact. Avoid using thumbtacks or staples if they will pierce the cord. Instead, drape lights over hooks or place staples across, rather than through, the cord.

If you need help with assessing your home’s holiday electrical hazards or would like to consult with an expert about keeping your family safe, contact Mister Sparky today for more information!

Mister Sparky Electrician NWA, America’s On-Time Electrician in Bella Vista, Bentonville, Rogers, Springdale and Fayetteville services the Northwest Arkansas area with a team of licensed electricians. In addition to flickering lights, some of the electrician services provided by the company include electrical outlet/switch repair, ceiling fan installation, lighting installation, aluminum wiring repair, landscape lighting installation and home electrical inspections.

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Electrical Inspection for the Holidays

By NWA Electrician,

Get your home inspected for the holidays by Mister Sparky

Keep Your Home Safe with an Electrical Inspection

The holidays are looming around the corner and that means a lot of time spent in the kitchen and a great time for an electrical inspection. It’s easy to get distracted by the stresses of stuffing the turkey and housing the in-laws and before you know it, you have used twice as much energy than usual in your home. Don’t let those distractions get overshadowed by the importance of inspecting your house’s electrical work to keep you and your family safe.

Did you know, kitchens are responsible for starting almost half of all accidental house fires? According to government statistics, the heavy use of electrical appliances in the kitchen is the leading cause of accidental electrical fires in homes, especially during the holidays. With the mixture of heat from appliances, electrical wiring and moisture from cooking, it’s a good idea to have an electrical inspection done if you think you will be using the kitchen over the holiday season. Here are some great safety tips that you can do to ensure that your home stays festive this holiday season without a visit from the fire department!

Keep Cords Away from Hot Surfaces

hot surfaces can cause electrical fires and can be discovered through electrical inspections Like most kitchens during the holidays, counter space can get pretty scarce. With so much going on, it’s not uncommon to accidentally drag an appliance cord or two over a hot stove top. After a few minutes of being unattended however, the stove could melt the protective layer off of the electrical wiring and start an electrical fire. Avoid these accidents with an electrical inspection from Mister Sparky NWA. Our techs are trained to identify potential hazards around homes that could be overlooked like loose cords. Be sure to keep long cords tied up and tucked away from any hot surfaces.

Keep Water Away from Outlets

It’s no secret that water and electricity are a bad combination. Make sure to keep liquid far away from outlets in the kitchen and always use dry hands to unplug cords from the socket. If you suspect that there could be water damage in your outlets, call Mister Sparky immediately and do not use the affected outlet(s). Our team will come out and do a full electrical inspection of your system to make sure your home is safe and ready for your guests. With so many spills from sinks, pots, bowls and everything else in the kitchen, outlet coverings could be a good idea to ensure no water gets into the electrical work as well.

Keep the Kitchen Clean

Mister Sparky provide an electrical inspection to ensure your home is up to date

Years of kitchen use leave crumbs and lint lingering behind appliances like ovens and fridges that can often go unnoticed until it’s too late. All of this left over food residue and dust in small spaces can clog vents and outlets until they heat up so much they catch fire. A thorough electrical inspection by a tech will be able to clear out any sediment that may be collecting beneath or behind your appliances. Not only is this a fire hazard, it also impedes efficient energy usage in your home when it has to work harder against the debris compared to when it is clear.

Here are a few more simple tips to do every day to keep your kitchen safe:
  1. Check that appliance cords are in good shape and not ripped, if there are rips dispose of it accordingly
  2. Never try to repair an appliance when it is still plugged into the outlet
  3. Never try to get toast that is stuck out of a toaster while it is plugged in, especially with a metal knife or fork as there are often live parts inside the toaster
  4. Make sure you thoroughly clean your oven and stove to avoid a build-up of fat and grease that can ignite
  5. Don’t overload your electrical sockets with too many electrical appliances as this can lead to overheating or a power surge
  6. Avoid storing objects on top of appliances like the microwave to keep its ventilation clear
  7. Defrost your fridge and freezer at least once a year to ensure they are running properly
  8. Check your smoke detectors once a month, every month, around your home

Mister Sparky’s top priority is safety and we want to make sure all of our customers have a safe and happy holiday season. If you are going to be hosting over the holidays, get an electrical inspection from one of our highly trained techs. We can ensure your home is running efficiently and the electrical wiring is safe to help give you peace of mind.

Mister Sparky Electrician NWA, America’s On-Time Electrician in Bella Vista, Bentonville, Rogers, Springdale and Fayetteville services the Northwest Arkansas area with a team of licensed electricians. In addition to flickering lights, some of the electrician services provided by the company include electrical outlet/switch repair, ceiling fan installation, lighting installation, aluminum wiring repair, landscape lighting installation and home electrical inspections.

 

 

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Two Prong Electrical Outlet Safety

By NWA Electrician,

two prong and three prong

Three Prong vs. Two Prong Electrical Outlet

We’ve all noticed the obvious difference between a two prong electrical outlet and a three prong electrical outlet.  But many have never stopped to consider why they’re different and what the difference might mean for your home.  The answer is quite a bit.

The main difference between a two prong electrical outlet and a three prong electrical outlet is that a three prong outlet has a ground wire, while a two prong outlet doesn’t.A two prong electrical outlet should be replaced with a three prong electrical outlet

What Is A Ground Wire?

Every outlet has a hot and neutral slot. Your hot slot delivers electricity to the outlet, and the neutral slot sends electricity back to the main electrical panel. However, both wires are designed to only handle a certain amount of volts (usually 120 volts). A ground wire is basically a safety wire that directs any surges of excess electricity to the ground to protect your electrical work from getting fried.

The ground wire aids the hot and neutral wires in case they receive more electricity than they’re designed to handle (i.e. from plugging in too many appliances.) Without a ground wire, they can deliver an electrical shock, heat up and cause a fire or damage the plugged in appliances.

Appliance cords and extension cords with three prong plugs provide a ground for the cord and often serve as the grounding path for the appliance itself. You may notice that some appliances and power tools only have two prong cords. This is usually because the appliance is designed to be adequately insulated (often called “double insulated“). In newer equipment, double insulated cords are designed to remove the chance of being shocked by the tool if it were to short. That being said, if the appliance or tool is old, it may not be double insulated even though it has a two prong cord.

What About Adaptors?

Three prong adaptor for a two prong electrical outlet are unsafeA popular solution to limited plug-in space is to use an adaptor on an outlet, but they aren’t as safe as you might think. If you are using a three prong adapter over top of an older two prong electrical outlet, it is not grounded and could shock you or cause a surge in your electrical work. Some of these adaptors come equipped with a little metal tab that is meant to be screwed into the outlet cover as a form of grounding, but hardly ever work properly because a plastic box interferes with the pathway of electricity. At the end of the day, you’re ultimately better off converting the outlets to three prong ones!

Now, if you have a three prong adaptor over top of three prong outlet that typically is ok as long as you don’t put too many volts in the outlet.

Do It Yourself?

If your home was built before 1962, there is a good chance you have two-prong outlets. You can change them to three prongs to make them grounded, but the process is a little complicated and involves multiple steps. If you are trying to DIY your outlets, make sure you understand how to:

  1. Turn off the power to the outlets
  2. Use a circuit tester
  3. Disconnect the old outlet
  4. Add extension “pigtail” wires
  5. Measure amperage (15 amp = 14 gauge, etc.)
  6. Identify line terminals

A Simpler Option

Even after all that, if your home is grounded, but some of your outlets are not, a trained, licensed electrician is still recommended to ensure the safest modifications.

Call Mister Sparky to set up your appointment to convert your two prong electrical outlet to three prong today.

Mister Sparky Electrician NWA, America’s On-Time Electrician in Bella Vista, Bentonville, Rogers, Springdale and Fayetteville services the Northwest Arkansas area with a team of licensed electricians. In addition to flickering lights, some of the electrician services provided by the company include electrical outlet/switch repair, ceiling fan installation, lighting installation, aluminum wiring repair, landscape lighting installation and home electrical inspections.

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