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Top Dallas Electrician | Avoid Christmas Light Wiring Problems with these Tips

Editor’s Note: This article has been edited and updated from its original content with permission from National News Today. To view the original article please visit www.nationalnewstoday.com

Christmas is upon us again and more than any other time of year, it’s the time of year where people put strain on their electrical system.  The lights on your house and the beautiful decorations you’ve been storing in your attic finally are brought out and plugged in for your friends and neighbors to view and appreciate.  And, of course, the vast majority of homes you visit have at least one Christmas tree.  Since most of these things are electrical, it’s probably not a surprise to you that, as a top Dallas electrician, I start getting a lot of calls this time of year.  Though it’s always nice to have the business with Christmas so close, I thought it’d be great to share with ways to avoid wiring problems with your Christmas decorations this year:

  • Avoid a ho-ho-hoverload! When wiring Christmas lights, the natural thing to do is to plug all of them in, one after the other.  We don’t stop to think about how much power the circuit can actually handle.  A standard 20-amp home circuit runs at 120 volts, which means it can handle up to 2400W.  How many strings of lights is this?  It really depends on the type of lights you’re using; LED lights tend to use less power than incandescent lights.  Always check the package the lights come in; the packaging is required to tell you how much power the lights use.  Add up the wattage on all the lights you’re planning to plug into the outlet, and you’ll get an idea of how close you are to the overload point on the circuit, and whether you can add more lights to the circuit you have or need to find another circuit.  But that’s not the only thing to think about, either.  Many people plug their Christmas lights and decorations into the external outlet near their front doors;  often, though, these outlets are on the same circuit as the outlets in your garage, meaning anything that draws power in your garage counts just as much as your lighting.  If your home is old enough, that external outlet may even be on the same circuit as your bathrooms!  I’ve answered more than one call from a customer who was getting ready to attend a Christmas party only to suddenly have the breaker trip, shutting off all the power in the bathroom!  “But it’s never done that before!” they tell me.  Of course not, you don’t normally have thousands of watts of lights plugged in at the same time as a hair dryer!
  • Beware of rain and ice storms! December is in the middle of winter in Texas, and while we don’t get a lot of snow, we do generally get quite a bit of rain.  Those yard lights with the big glass globes may be pretty, but they do tend to hold rain water pretty well. If they try to turn on, whether they’re on a timer or not, they’ll short out the circuit every time.  When the weather gets colder, we sometimes get freezing rain;  this just means that instead of holding the water, it’s holding it as ice, which still conducts current well enough to short circuit your lighting.  Be sure to inspect your lighting after your home gets rain of any kind to make sure your light fixtures are dry and ready to be used safely.
  • Older doesn’t always mean wiser! I get a lot of calls from homeowners this time of year complaining that the lights they’ve been using for years suddenly don’t work anymore.  They assume the problem must be with the electrical system, since the lights haven’t ever had a problem before.  But this really isn’t the case. Llighting and decorations degrade over time.  Even when they aren’t in use, the lights are still adding wear and tear.  Think about what those lights are doing the other eleven months out of the year. Some people leave external lights on their homes all the time, leaving them to fall prey to the elements.  Even lighting that’s put in storage have to deal with radically shifting temperatures, especially the summer heat that tends to make your attic boiling hot.  It’s not surprising that lighting breaks down under those circumstances.  Be prepared every year to replace older, worn-out strings of lights.

             In general, there are a few important tips that can help you avoid wiring problems.  If your lights look frayed or dangerous, they should always be replaced or repaired before using them, frayed wiring are hazardous.  You should take care that your electrical source is safe before you even begin the installation process.  To avoid the potential for overloads, you should have dedicated circuits installed for your holiday decorations.

Most importantly, you should never try to supply power for your lights without contacting a top Dallas electrician to help you install the necessary equipment and make the necessary safety precautions.  Short cuts are potentially dangerous. I can remember one example where a customer had supplied power to their lights by splicing an extension cord directly into their circuit breaker box!  Even worse, they’d shut the breaker box door, pinching the cabling!  Left unchecked, even if this hadn’t started a fire, damage from a power surge or overload could have easily destroyed their whole breaker, meaning they’d have to spend thousands to repair the damage at the absolute worst time of year!

For more information and other tips Electric Man to the rescue. We’re available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, so don’t ever hesitate to give us a call! Visit our website to learn more or connect with our online community on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest and Google Plus.

 

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Top Richardson Electrician | Learn How to Handle Power Overloads and Electrical Troubleshooting

Editor’s Note: This article has been edited and updated from its original content with permission from National News Today. To view the original article please visit www.nationalnewstoday.com

In my last few articles, I’ve been talking about the importance of safety, and how best to keep your home safe.  But I know you don’t typically call an electrician just to make sure that your home electrical system is safe (although it’s an EXCELLENT reason to do so). Generally, you call an electrician because something’s going wrong with your electrical system. With that in mind, I wanted to share with you some of the electrical troubleshooting that my electricians and I do on a daily basis, to help you avoid some of the most common problems we see on the job.

I’ve found throughout my years in this industry that a lot of the most common problems are caused by something that’s easily avoidable with a little planning and forethought, power overloads. A power overload is exactly what it sounds like, when an outlet or wire fails because there are too many devices being used at one time. Think of it like adding more and more weight to the end of a tree branch; there’s only so much weight (load) it can handle before it breaks.

Although ultimately one overloaded circuit is more or less the same as another, overloads have a number of different causes, and can even have different symptoms depending on where in your home they occur.  No matter how or where they happen, though, overloads are serious fire hazards. Overloaded wires melt, causing electrical shorts and conducting heat to potentially flammable materials like the wood in your walls.  Repairing the damage from these overloads often requires the electrician making the repair to simply pull the wires out and rewire the circuit, which can be expensive.  It’s in your best interest to know how to avoid overloading your electrical system in the first place but also be aware that an overload has occurred.

The most common sign of an overload I run across tends to go something like this, half of the room will be getting no power, while the other half is receiving power as normal. Even more out of the ordinary, the breakers that connect the room to the electrical panel haven’t been tripped.  So, what’s causing the issue?  If this happens in your living or media room, it’s surprisingly easy to diagnose:  60 to 70% of the time, the problem is the outlet behind your entertainment center melting down (in some cases, literally melting down) from being overloaded.  When your entertainment center was installed, you might not have even considered that you were in danger of overloading the outlet. The combination of your TV, DVD player, video game systems, stereo system, huge speakers, and cable or satellite receivers can quickly overwhelm any outlet, and they add up quickly.  This is why a top Richardson electrician will always suggest that your entertainment center be set up on a dedicated circuit with a separate power source from the rest of the room; it’s the best way to ensure you’re not overloading your circuit.

Other overloads occur because of the changing weather. I’ve seen plenty of people who’ve overloaded a wall outlet just by plugging a window air conditioning unit into it. These window AC units draw a ton of power; in fact, they can typically max out the circuit just by themselves, meaning anything else you have plugged into that circuit is overloading it!  Similarly, most space heaters require 1800 watts to operate. This is exactly how much power a typical 15A electrical circuit breaker should allow.  Even plugging in something as simple as a light bulb alongside it overloads the circuit.  Window air conditioners and space heaters should always be placed on dedicated circuits to avoid this problem.

Another all-too-common overload occurs quite often in older homes.  A family getting ready for the day suddenly discovers that they no longer have any power in any of the bathrooms in the house!  This is the result of an overload, too, even worse, it’s a hard overload to detect unless you know a bit about how homes used to be wired.  You see, years ago when homes were being wired up, they tended to wire all the receptacles in all the bathrooms on the same circuit. This means that they’re all typically running on the same 15A electrical circuit.  This leads to one of the most notorious causes of overloads.  Remember how I mentioned that a space heater typically needs 1800 watts to run?  Well, most hair dryers typically require 1850 watts, meaning that if your wife or daughter are drying their hair at the same time as someone else is using power in the other bathroom, the circuit is overloaded.  And if your wife and daughter are BOTH using their hair dryers at the same time, it won’t take long for the whole circuit to fail or shut off.  Thankfully, electricians wiring newer homes always put multiple bathrooms on separate circuits to help minimize this problem.

Again, I want to stress that events like these are completely avoidable, as long as you take the time to think about how much you’re plugging into one circuit.  With a little thought, and the helping hand of a caring electrician if you’re unsure, you can save yourself a lot of pain in the long run.

For more information and other tips Electric Man to the rescue.  We’re available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, so don’t ever hesitate to give us a call! Visit our website to learn more or connect with our online community on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest and Google Plus.

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