Author Archives: Linda

Standby Generator

Standby Generator

2015-08-08 09.46.

The installation of a standby generator is on everyone’s wish list after last week’s devastating wind storm. The resulting lengthy power outage left many homeowners in the dark. Power outages can happen at any time of year. According to BC Hydro, extreme weather from October to February usually doubles the number of power outages compared to the rest of the year. These outages can last for several hours or even days. A standby generator provides power for important essential loads, such as sump & water pumps, refrigerators and freezers, as well as heat and medical equipment.

It is important to install a correctly sized standby generator to provide power during a power outage. A load calculation, provided by our electrician, will determine the size of generator required. The standby generator must be connected to a proper CSA approved automatic transfer switch to safely provide power to the selected electrical circuits in the home. The electrician will pull the necessary electrical permit and make sure everything is done according to the most recent Canadian Electrical Code. According to BC Hydro, generators that are improperly connected can feed electricity back into the BC Hydro electrical grid. This could result in possible injury or even electrocution to anyone who comes in contact with the cables, including your neighbor or a BC Hydro lineman working on restoring your power.

A standby generator must be located a safe distance from the building entrance, windows that can be opened and vents to avoid exhaust from entering your home. It is also wise to have a working battery-operated CO detector in your home when using a generator.

As with any piece of equipment, standby generators need to be properly maintained. Depending on the usage, oil and air filters will need to be changed regularly. For optimum performance, some manufacturers have incorporated a test cycle into the standby generator. A programmed test cycle runs the machine for 20 – 30 minutes on a weekly basis to keep the motor in peak working condition. Although a standby generator may not always be possible in every situation, a portable generator may be more suitable in some instances. In this case, a manual transfer switch safely powers a few selected essential circuits in the home. For more information about power outage safety and generator safety precautions visit https://www.bchydro.com/safety-outages/power-outages/prepare-for-outages/prepare-your-home.html

To report a power outage, call the BC Hydro Trouble Line at 1-800-224-9376.

If you are considering getting a standby generator, a Blue Crest electrician would be happy to supply and install it for you.

Power Outages

Power Outages Can Happen Any Time

Stormy Night Sky

Power outages can happen any time throughout the year. According to BC Hydro, the stormy weather that BC gets from October to February brings a higher risk of damage. The high winds and rain we experience throughout our province usually doubles the number of calls to BC Hydro about power outages compared to the rest of the year. The following are some things to keep in mind during power outages.

  • Turn off all the light switches except for 1 indoors and 1 outdoors. This way you and the BC Hydro crews working outside will know when the power has been restored. For updated information on local area outages, refer to the following BC Hydro site map.
  • Keep your refrigerator and freezer doors closed as much as possible to maintain the temperature. A refrigerator can keep your food cold for about 4 hours, a full freezer can keep food frozen for about 48 hours and a half full freezer can keep food frozen for about 24 hours.
  • Unplug major electronics like your computer and television and turn the thermostats for your home’s heating system down to low to prevent damage from a power surge when the power is restored.
  • For cooking and heating purposes, never use charcoal or gas barbeques, fuel burning camping equipment or portable generators indoors as they produce a deadly carbon monoxide gas.
  • Make sure your home has a working carbon monoxide detector with battery back-up.
  • During power outages, you may be without running water if you rely on a well pump. For this reason, keep an emergency supply on hand and replenish as needed.
  • If you only have a cordless phone, you will be left without phone service. Having a corded phone handy and making sure your cell phone is fully charged is a good idea.
  • To keep yourself informed about the power outages, have a battery powered radio on hand.
  • Report any fallen trees or downed power lines to BC Hydro at 1-888-769-3766.
  • If there are downed power lines, stay at least 10 metres (33 feet) away from them.

Power outages can cause damage to your electrical system. Being prepared ahead of time could save you a big headache later. Having your appliances and electronics surge protected could help save them from damage.

 

Christmas Light Safety

Christmas Light Safety

 

Christmas light safety is important while decorating for the holidays. Here are some Christmas light safety tips to keep in mind when using electricity for holiday decorating.

  • For Christmas light safety, use only Christmas lights that are approved for use in Canada. The BC Safety Authority website has a bulletin that lists the testing and approval agencies that are accepted in BC for all electrical equipment and products. Knock-off products are making their way into some stores, so purchase carefully.
  • Cords may become frayed or cracked and using damaged cords is a fire hazard. For Christmas light safety, always inspect for frayed wires, broken sockets or loose connections. Discard damaged light sets as they can cause shocks or start a fire.
  • Make sure to replace burned out light bulbs with the correct wattage for the light cord. Incorrect bulbs can create overheating and cause a fire.
  • You may have several decorations that require electricity. Be sure you are not overloading the outlets or extension cords as this may cause overheating. When using extension cords, plan the placement of the cords to avoid tripping hazards. Make sure the cords are not pinched in doors, windows or under furniture.
  • When decorating outdoors, make sure to use only outdoor-rated extension cords. These cords are designed for wet winter conditions. Always make sure to plug them into a GFCI-protected outlet.
  • Avoid the use of nails, tacks or metal staples for hanging your lights as these may cause damage to the cords. Using plastic or insulated holders will protect the cords from damage.
  • Connecting the cords to a digital timer would be a great way to control the lights. This way they can be programmed to turn on and off at various times during the day and week.
  • To save on energy consumption, consider replacing your old-style light strings with energy efficient LED lights.
  • Be sure to turn off all Christmas lights before leaving the home or retiring for the night.
  • Never pull on a string of lights as this can result in stressed or frayed wires. Always remove the strings carefully and store them loosely coiled.

Being mindful of Christmas light safety means you can have the pleasure of doing it all again next year.

 

 

 

Reduce Winter Energy Costs

Reduce winter energy costs

Winter is on its way which means that the colder weather is just around the corner. We tend to use more electricity in the winter months to keep our homes warm and comfortable. Here are some things you can do to reduce winter energy costs.

  • Turning down the thermostat during the day when you aren’t home as well as at night will help reduce winter energy costs. There is no point in heating an empty house or heating the whole house at night when you are under warm covers. Using programmable thermostats allow you to set temperatures at pre-set times. BC Hydro claims that lowering your thermostat by 2 degrees will save you 5% on your heating bill. Lowering it 5 degrees could save 10%.
  • Only heat the rooms you use by closing the vents in the rooms that are not in use. Rooms, such as a guest room, which may be rarely used may not need constant heat.
  • We often get sunny days during the winter months, so opening the blinds during the day when the sun is shining allows the heat in. Closing the blinds when the sun goes down acts to insulate the room and keeps the heat from escaping.
  • Instead of turning up the heat, put on a cozy sweater, warm socks and keep throw blankets on your couch for easy access and comfort. Keeping the temperature a few degrees cooler will help reduce winter energy costs.
  • Use weather-stripping or caulking to seal air leaks around doors and windows. Cracks or gaps allow the heat to escape and the cold air to come into your home. This will help reduce winter energy costs.
  • Turn off un-necessary lighting. A motion sensor switch could be a good option to avoid forgetting to turn the lights off in closets and pantries.
  • Changing the direction of your ceiling fan to clockwise will force the warmer air at the ceiling down to where you can benefit from it, rather than turning up the thermostat.
  • 90% of power used to energize an incandescent light bulb is wasted in the heat it produces. That means that only 10% of the power is used to produce light. Replacing incandescent bulbs with the correct LED bulbs will make a difference on your electrical bill.

Even choosing to implement a few of the above points will help reduce winter energy costs and provide savings on your utility bill.

Fall Maintenance

Fall Electrical Maintenance

Raking Fall Leaves

A fall electrical maintenance routine is important to prepare your electrical system for the coming winter months. The following is a checklist of some fall electrical maintenance tasks that every homeowner should be aware of.

  • With leaves now falling from the trees, homeowners may be using leaf blowers to clear their yards. If an extension cord is needed for any fall cleanup equipment, make sure to use only an outdoor rated cord with the appropriate wire gauge size.
  • If you have trees in your yard, make sure to cut back all branches from around overhead cables. It is better to do it now, before the stormy weather starts to prevent possible damage caused by falling branches. BC Hydro states that branches need to be 3 meters or 10 feet from the cables.
  • Visually check overhead connection points where your service enters your home to ensure that the cables appear tight and the attachment point is undamaged. If you have any concerns, contact our electricians to check for any safety issues and make the required repairs.
  • Check all exterior vents for any electrical appliances to make sure that they are clear of  debris and that no critters have taken up residence.
  • Check all exterior lighting and change burned out light bulbs. Reset timers if needed.
  • Check that all outdoor receptacles are GFCI protected. All outdoor receptacles should be protected with a Code required weatherproof in-use cover. This will prevent water from damaging the sensitive GFCI electronics, even when the receptacle is in use.
  • Make sure septic, water or sump pumps are tested and working properly. A battery backup for your pump would be strongly advised for when power outages occur. Here is more information on Sump Pump Safety.
  • Your electrical panel should always remain clean and dry. If you notice any rust or corrosion, call our electricians who are able to provide an Electrical Panel Safety check.
  • If you have a generator, it should be serviced now to make sure it’s in good working order and ready to go for the next power outage.
  • Using space heaters is common this time of year. Never use an extension cord to power a space heater as this may cause the cord to overheat and result in a fire.
  • Gently dust or vacuum your smoke alarms. Dust can build up on the sensor causing it to be less effective.
  • Vacuum your bathroom exhaust fan grill to keep it clear of dust. This will help extend the life of the fan motor.

Our electricians would be happy to assist you with all your fall electrical maintenance repairs. Regular service and maintenance of your electrical system may identify minor concerns before they become expensive repairs.

Exterior lighting

5 Ways to Control Your Home’s Lighting

Exterior lighting

With the days getting shorter and many of us leaving or returning from work in the dark, homeowners may be looking for the best option to control lighting and possibly save on energy costs. Here are 5 lighting options to consider, along with some pros and cons, to help you make the right decision for your specific situation.

Manually Controlled Switch

This is a basic on/off switch, just like any other switch in your home.

Pros – It’s easy! You can turn the lights on or off whenever you want. No programming required. A good option for upper floor balconies. Some manufacturers provide switches with a soft glow feature which makes it easy to find in the dark.

Cons – You must physically be at home to activate the lighting. Lights can sometimes be left on unnecessarily, defeating the purpose of energy efficiency.

Motion Sensor

This technology that will automatically turn the lights on when a sensor detects movement within a preset range.

Pros – these  lights can be placed almost anywhere. A good lighting option for areas where constant light is unnecessary, such as stairways & pathways. This technology can also be installed inside a closet, pantry or crawl space, eliminating the possibility of leaving a light on after exiting the space.

Cons – can sometimes be triggered by swaying foliage or tree branches, vehicle or pedestrian traffic passing by. The lights don’t always stay on long enough, but most manufacturers provide the ability to adjust the duration.

Photocell

This is a  sensor that detects the light levels & will automatically turn on the lights at dusk and turn them off at dawn.

Pros  – it will automatically adjust to seasonal light changes and is unaffected by Daylight-Saving Time. A good lighting option where constant light is needed at night.

Cons – The photocell must be positioned to avoid picking up reflected light, so it may need to be positioned in a different location from the fixture.

Digital Timer

This is a hard-wired wall switch with programmable settings.

Pros  – can be set to turn on/off at specific times, including multiple times during day and/or week. Most models provide the ability to adjust for Daylight Saving Time. A good lighting option for anyone on a regular schedule or does not want lights to remain on all night. This is also a great way to control Christmas lights.

Cons – manual programming required. Settings are usually lost after a 4 hour power outage, requiring re-programming of settings.

Programmable (Astronomical)

This device is programmed by entering its geographical coordinates, which allows it to calculate the sun’s daily rise and set times at any time of year.

Pros  – has a back-up battery and will self-adjust to Daylight Savings Time. Can be preset to multiple on/off times per day, but also different settings for various days of the week. There is also a ‘random mode’ to turn the lights on/off at no specific times, giving the impression the home is occupied during your absence.

Cons  – The programming can be a little more involved than other technology.

Knowing what type of lighting you want and in what areas you want it can help to determine which option will best suit your needs.

Mobile Home Re-certification

Mobile Home Re-certification

Mobile Home Re-certification

Mobile home living is providing new and affordable opportunities for home ownership in BC. With the high cost of real estate throughout the Lower Mainland, home buyers have discovered that a mobile/manufactured home can offer very affordable options. Some mobile or manufactured home parks offer seniors only, or family oriented communities, complete with club house, community swimming pool and tennis courts or play ground. These are attractive features for anyone looking for affordable housing.

Mobile Home Re-certification Required

Everyone deserves to live in a safe home and a safe electrical system is the focus of the Silver Label requirement. If the manufacturer’s CSA label can not be found on the unit itself, the re-certification application begins with an electrical inspection by a licensed electrical contractor. Please note that the CSA number recorded on documentation only is not sufficient as the label must be physically attached to the unit. The electrical inspection includes testing of the electrical circuits and reporting the test results as required by Technical Safety BC. If there are any electrical repairs needed, or Code violations to be corrected, these are addressed at this time before the home can transfer ownership. Therefore, mobile home re-certification is the responsibility of the seller.

Mobile Home Re-certification Provides Peace Of Mind

New homeowners have the peace of mind in knowing that a licensed professional electrician has already inspected the home, tested the electrical system and corrected any existing Electrical Code violations. A local Technical Safety BC Electrical Inspector has also inspected the home and applied the required Silver Label to the electrical panel. This Silver label is specific to this particular home and is not transferable as if references a Silver Label electrical permit as well as the specifications of the home.

Mobile Home Re-certification Can Be Lost

If subsequent regulated electrical changes are made in the home by the new homeowner (without an electrical permit), the existing mobile home re-certification will be compromised and the Silver Label will become void. The homeowner will then be required to re-apply for mobile home re-certification before selling the home again. Depending on the situation, this can be a costly, but completely avoidable, oversight. The solution is to hire an electrical contractor to complete any regulated work under an electrical permit. This ensures that the electrical work is done by a trained and knowledgeable electrician who is following current Electrical Code rules when completing any work.

The intent of the Silver Label mobile home re-certification is to ensure that the buyer is purchasing an electrically safe home.

Electrical permits are important to verify electrical work.

Electrical Permits are Important

Fire destroys home

Electrical permits are important to everyone and not just your insurance company. A recent conversation with a local electrical inspector has reaffirmed what our electricians have been explaining to homeowners for years. If regulated electrical work is completed without an electrical permit in place, your homeowner’s insurance policy will be compromised. An insurance claim will likely be denied in the event of a disaster. The inspector stated that this has been a hard lesson for some homeowners in recent incidents in the Lower Mainland.

I know Electrical Permits are Important, but can’t this just be my little secret?

Nope. Electrical permits are important, to the extent that they fall under the public Freedom of Information Act. So your secret is out there for the world to see. This means that anyone, from insurance providers, realtors and potential home buyers to your next door neighbor, can search your property’s electrical permit history by just contacting the regulating authority in your area and providing your street address.

Depending on the age of your home, the first electrical permit may be from when the home was built and subsequent permits will follow in chronological order. Permits will state the scope of electrical work covered by the permit, in addition to the name and qualifications of the person responsible for the electrical work.

The absence of an electrical permit for regulated electrical changes also speaks volumes. It sends a very clear message to an investigator implying that electrical work was likely done by an unlicensed, amateur installer and therefore safety and quality of workmanship are suspect. This gives insurance companies all the reason they need to refuse claim coverage.

Potential home buyers will usually shy away from a home that holds electrical secrets. In addition to your asking price, buyers will imagine a long list of possible expensive repairs to deal with, not to mention the fear of moving into a house with obvious unauthorized electrical changes.

Homeowners need to understand that electrical permits are important and the risks in avoiding the electrical permit to save a few dollars is just not worth it.

BBB Torch Awards for 2018

BBB People's Pick 2018

 

 

 

 

 

 

On June 7, 2018, the Lower Mainland BC Better Business Bureau hosted the ceremonies for the BBB Torch Awards for 2018.
The BBB Torch Awards are the BBB’s highest honor. These awards bring attention to a very select number of local businesses whose daily practices strive to provide a high level of trust among their customers, employees and their communities. These businesses have worked hard at promoting honesty and integrity in their daily business practices. They strive for the highest standards in leadership, character and ethical business practices. Their goal is to be the best of the best. Although this may sound like a lofty goal, they believe that a company that continues to reach for excellence in business is destined for success in business.

Award Winning Company with BBB Torch Awards

Blue Crest Electric Ltd. has been an Accredited Business with an A+ Rating with the Lower Mainland BC Better Business Bureau since 1998. This affiliation has always been of great importance to Blue Crest Electric and the clients who use our services. Hiring a company whose business standards and practices have been scrutinized and vetted by the BBB provides our clients with a measure of security and peace of mind. Blue Crest Electric Ltd has received the BBB Torch Award in Marketplace Excellence in 2011, 2014 & 2016, and was short listed for the award in 2013 and 2018. Being measured for this prestigious award alongside so many other very deserving businesses is a humbling experience.

BBB Torch Awards for 2018 – People’s Pick Award

The People’s Pick Award is a new category for the BBB Torch Awards for 2018. It focuses on the public’s opinion and allows individuals to cast an online vote for their favorite company. We were so pleased to bring home this award in 2018. Having the support and endorsement of our clients is incredibly encouraging, and the best reward we could ask for.

Electrical Danger Warning Signs

Electrical Danger Warning Signs

Universally Recognized Electrical Warning Signs

These Electrical Danger warning signs are universally recognized symbols for electrical danger. This means that Canadians will recognize these signs during holiday travels or business trips to other countries. Implementing this visual universal language for electrical danger means everyone will understand the warning message that the signage conveys.

Where will you see Electrical Danger warning signs?

Signage can be found on almost anything that carries an electrical current, from common household appliances to large utility equipment. Electrical Danger warning signs should also be posted in public locations such as on electrical room doors and high voltage cabinets to alert people of the presence of electrical hazard and the potential risk of electrical shock, burns or electrocution.
Never take these warning signs lightly. Your life may depend on it.