Tag Archives: electrical safety

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.

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.

 

 

 

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.

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.

Mobile Home – Silver Label Re-certification

Re-certification for Mobile or Manufactured Homes

Mobile Home ElectricalJust like all homes built in Canada, a manufactured home must meet very specific safety standards before it can be sold to the public. An electrical design plan, specific to each manufacturer, series and model, must be registered and approved before production can begin. The manufacturer may not deviate from this plan as the CSA approval is granted for this unaltered design only

Upon completion, a Canadian Standards Association (CSA) certification label is attached to the manufactured home by the manufacturer before it leaves the factory. The label lists a unique CSA number specific to the home, which means the unit has been built according to the registered and accepted plan, has passed inspections, and meets all safety requirements as of the date of completion.

This certification remains valid indefinitely provided the electrical system is never altered in any way OR if all subsequent electrical alterations are completed under a valid electrical permit by a certified licensed electrician. Technical Safety BC IB-EL-2015-02

Owners of manufactured and mobile homes are advised to retain proof of all permits for electrical alterations as these will be required by the realtor or interested buyers when the home is listed for sale.

 HELP, I can’t find my CSA number.

Depending on each manufacturer, the CSA certificate label is usually located on the exterior of the mobile home near the front door, or near the electrical panel.

Occasionally this important information is covered up or removed and unknowingly discarded during home renovations.

If a CSA label is not found on the unit itself, a replacement label cannot be issued. Please note that the CSA number recorded on documentation only is not sufficient. Re-certification of the home is now required. Technical Safety BC requires a qualified licensed electrician to inspect the electrical system in the home to ensure it meets current safety standards, update safety measures if necessary, and initiate an electrical approval label. This label is called a Silver Label and can be used in lieu of a CSA number to allow the mobile or manufactured home to be sold.

I want to sell my Mobile Home.

The sale of a mobile home is contingent on:

  • the presence of the original CSA certification label on the unit itself AND the unaltered electrical system, or proof of all electrical permits to support past electrical alterations.

OR

  • the presence of a Silver Label signifying the home has been inspected and all unregistered electrical alterations have been checked for safety. Also needed is proof that all subsequent electrical changes (completed after the Silver Label was obtained) have been completed under an electrical permit.

What do I need to do to apply for Silver Label re-certification?

Call Blue Crest Electric at any of the telephone numbers below.

We will guide you through the process of attaining the Silver Label recertification for your home.

Our skill and specialized knowledge of the electrical systems in mobile and manufactured homes, and our past experience of recertification of these systems makes us experts in this process.

The age, condition or location of your mobile or manufactured home is irrelevant as the required safety standard applies to every unit in BC, whether sold privately or with the assistance of a real estate agent. Ref:BC Safety Authority Directive D-E3 080606-1

As required under Electrical Safety Regulation ESR 21(d), Blue Crest Electric will:

  1. Complete the required electrical inspection and megger testing to assess the condition of the electrical system as required by Technical Safety BC, and submit the required report on your behalf. On occasion we have even found the original CSA certification label during this inspection.
  2. Provide the required electrical permit to request Silver Label re-certification.
  3. Repair or install electrical wiring or devices, if required, and submit the Contractor Authorization and test report to inform Technical Safety BC that the home meets current electrical standards and qualifies for Silver Label re-certification.

All work is quoted in advance and completed to Code by qualified professional Red Seal electricians and apprentices.

Your Blue Crest Electric electrician will be able to answer all your questions regarding your electrical needs and the re-certification of your mobile or manufactured home.