Now that fall has arrived and the weather is getting colder, homeowners have turned off circulating fans and AC units and may be looking for supplementary electric heating options. When your home’s primary heating source is not adequate, or you are looking for additional heat in a specific area, supplementary electric heat may be the answer. Remember to ensure safe clearances of at least 3 feet from flammable materials such as curtains and bedding whenever using any kind of supplementary electric heating appliances.
Options for Supplementary Electric Heating
Baseboard Heaters – Heats only the room you need according to its own thermostat. Requires a dedicated, properly sized circuit. Should be installed by a certified licensed electrician. They are a good source of heat for a single room and a great way to supplement your heat.
Portable Heaters – Works as a supplementary heat source for a small area. Must be plugged directly into the outlet, never use an extension cord or power bar as this may cause overheating. Make sure you don’t plug any other electrical device into the same outlet. A 1500-watt heater should be on a dedicated circuit, this will prevent the overloading of circuits. Portable heaters should always be placed on a level, flat surface to prevent tipping. Never leave supplementary electric heating appliances unattended.
Electric Fireplace – Heats a small room. Must be plugged directly into the outlet, never use an extension cord or power bar. Should be on a dedicated circuit. There are many different designs, free standing or attach to the wall, and sizes available. Creates ambiance. An electric fireplace can be placed almost anywhere along a wall. A good way to supplement your heat in a smaller space.
Best Way to Reduce the Cost of Supplementary Electric Heating
Turning down the thermostat during the day when you aren’t home as well as at night will help reduce energy costs. There is no point in heating an unoccupied house or heating the whole house at night when you are under warm covers. Using programmable thermostats allow you to set temperatures at preset 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%. For other ways to reduce your electric bill, click here.
Contact Blue Crest Electric and one of our technicians would be happy to install a programmable thermostat to help with heating your home.
Owners and perspective buyers of older homes often face insurance concerns with aluminum wiring. New policy applications, or the renewal of existing policies, may require an electrical inspection to confirm the presence of aluminum wiring in the home. Insurance companies consider aluminum wiring in the home to be a greater risk than copper wiring. Aluminum wiring was used extensively in homes built between 1965 and 1980. As electrical concerns arose from the use of aluminum wiring, industry changes were made. Copper wiring is now the most commonly used wiring for branch circuits.
Insurance Concerns with Aluminum Wiring In The Home
Higher risk of fire. Sources claim homes with aluminum wiring are 55 times more likely to have a fire hazard condition.
Higher electrical resistance resulting in damaged wiring and devices due to overheating.
Oxidation on aluminum wiring when exposed to oxygen, resulting in failure of connections.
BC homeowners have three ESA approved options for addressing the concerns of aluminum wiring in the home: CO/ALR or AL/CU Devices, Copper Pigtails, or a Complete Home Rewire using copper wiring. For more information on these options, click here.
Only a trained and certified electrical contractor should complete any of these methods and ensure that proper installation procedures are strictly followed. Depending on the circumstances, a Blue Crest Electric technician may recommend one or a combination of Code approved options.
Symptoms That May Indicate Aluminum Wiring Problems
Flickering lights that cannot be traced to a failing bulb or other external cause
Plugs that do not work, even with the circuit energized
Unusual static on the radio, TV or computer
Switch plates and receptacle covers that are warped, discolored or warm to the touch
Circuit breakers or fuses that trip for no apparent reason
Strange odor similar to that of burning plastic around switches and receptacles
Smoke or sparking around electrical devices
If you notice any of these problems, it is important to have a certified, electrical contractor check the electrical system as soon as possible. If your insurance provider has never requested an electrical inspection, it is very likely that this will happen sooner rather than later. Like you, your insurance provider wants the assurance that your home is safe.
Our Blue Crest Electric technicians would be happy to address all your aluminum wiring needs.
A recent incident in BC had one woman receive a jolt from an electrical current after lightning hit a power pole near her home during a thunderstorm. At the time, she was holding her cell phone which was plugged into a charger.
Electrical currents from a lightning strike will travel through overhead cables, wires and cords using the path of least resistance until it reaches the ground. In this case, the BC woman created part of that path for the electrical current to reach ground.
According to Environment Canada, each year lightning kills approximately 10 Canadians and injures approximately 100 to 150 others. For information on the different ways lightning injuries occur, click here.
What To Do During A Thunderstorm
Unplug your cell phone or devices when using them during a thunderstorm
Stay away from electrical appliances or anything that will conduct electricity during a thunderstorm.
If possible, turn off and unplug appliances and electronics.
Avoid using a telephone connected to a land line. Use only battery operated or cordless devices.
Stay away from doors and windows.
Avoid washing your hands, showering or washing dishes. Lightning can travel through metal plumbing lines.
A lightning strike up to two kilometers away can cause irreparable damage to your home’s sensitive electronic equipment. Many people believe that their point-of-use surge strips or power bars will provide all the necessary protection. The surge bars should only be used as a secondary line of defense, as many have a one-time use only. After the first strike is absorbed by the surge strip, it becomes nothing more than an extension cord. The best way to protect your home from all types of power surges is a full panel surge protector installed directly on the main electrical panel. A high quality surge protector may sacrifice itself during a thunderstorm, but should protect all your sensitive electronic equipment. For more information on power surges and surge protection, click here.
For your safety and peace of mind, our certified electricians would be happy to install a full panel surge protector in your home.
With home ownership comes the responsibility to maintain everything in the home. This includes the electrical. The following are some electrical safety tips for new homeowners to keep in mind.
Electrical Safety Tips For Indoors
Warm outlets could be a sign of a bad connection
Never overload the circuits
Replace damaged electrical cords or plugs
Keep electrical cords and appliances away from water
Always unplug an appliance by the plug head rather than pulling on the cord
Never run electrical cords under doorways or carpets
Test C/O & smoke alarms monthly. Replace batteries if required. For more information on C/O & smoke alarms, click here.
Outlets near water should be GFCI protected. Be sure to test monthly
Install tamper resistant outlets to protect young children
Extension cords should not be used as a permanent source of power
Electrical Safety Tips For Outdoors
All exterior outlets must be GFCI protected
To protect the sensitive components inside GFCI outlets, an in-use cover should be used
Test exterior GFCI outlets monthly to make sure it’s working correctly
Only use electrical cords that are rated for outdoor use and correctly sized for the task
Do not fly a kite near power lines
Keep tree branches clear of any power lines
Watch out for power lines when using a ladder or other outdoor equipment
When a generator is used, make sure it’s not plugged directly into the outlet without a transfer switch
Never hang string lights over a pool or hot tub
Common Electrical Safety Problems In Older Homes
Undersized service for what homeowners required
Outlet count is inadequate
Outdated two-prong outlets
Frequent blown fuses or circuit trips
Our electricians would be happy to assist you with all your electrical maintenance repairs. Regular maintenance of your electrical system may identify minor concerns before they become expensive repairs.
With summer fast approaching, many homeowners are already spending time out on the water. Keep in mind that GFCI protection when in the water is very important. Whether swimming in a lake, near a dock or boat, in a pool or just relaxing in a hot tub, GFCI protection when in the water can save lives. Electrical wiring around swimming pools, hot tubs, boats and docks should be inspected annually for safety.
Everyone knows that electricity and water is a dangerous combination. The risk of personal injury or electrocution is a real possibility when electricity escapes from an unprotected circuit. The electrical term for this is a ‘fault’. Some examples of a fault are when a wire is damaged during renovations or wires are chewed by rodents. Using damaged appliances or electrical cords can also cause a fault. The electrical current now has a means by which to leave the circuit and it will immediately seek the easiest and most direct route to the earth. If this route happens to be through a person in contact with any part of the circuit, the potential for serious personal injury is obvious. Missing or damaged GFCI devices, corrosion and deteriorated bonding and grounding connections can expose swimmers to shock and electrocution hazards. For more information on GFCI Protection click Here
Important Reason For GFCI Protection When In The Water
Most people don’t think about the possibility of electric shock drowning. This can easily happen when electrical currents enter the water and electrify it. If a swimmer enters the water, the electricity can paralyze their muscles, causing possible drowning. An electrical current passing through water is completely invisible. Depending on the level of the electrical current, the swimmer may sense tingling or lose control of all muscles. Correctly installed Ground Fault Protection will sense a fault and cut off the power to prevent injury.
Never have a pool located under or near overhead electrical wiring.
Never hang string lights over a pool even if they are plugged into a GFCI receptacle.
Electrical safety should always be a priority when in or around water. Contact Blue Crest Electric for any concerns about GFCI protection.
Having a spring electrical maintenance routine is important after a cold, stormy winter. The following is a checklist of some spring electrical maintenance tasks that every homeowner should be aware of.
Interior Spring Electrical Maintenance
Change your ceiling fan rotation back to a counter-clockwise direction. This will help keep the room as cool as possible during warmer weather.
Test all smoke/CO detectors to make sure they are working. Check all backup batteries. Lightly vacuum the unit surface several times a year to prevent dust from accumulating on the sensors.
Vacuum fan grills to remove surface dust to prolong the life of the motor.
Inspect and vacuum the back of your refrigerator/stand up freezer for debris and dust which can reduce the energy efficiency and create a fire hazard.
Interior & Exterior Spring Electrical Maintenance
Extension cords are for temporary use only. Check the cords for frays or plug damage. A damaged cord should never be used. Replace it with a properly rated cord with the appropriate wire gauge size. For information on how to choose the right extension cord click HERE.
Test interior GFCI receptacles monthly. Test exterior GFCI receptacles before each use.
Exterior Spring Electrical Maintenance
Check yard maintenance and gardening power tools for frayed cords or broken plugs. Repair the damaged cord or replace the entire tool.
Check all exterior lighting and replace burned out light bulbs. A good option would be changing to more energy efficient LED bulbs, if this has not been done already.
Reset lighting timers to accommodate longer daylight hours. Consider installing Astronomical timers which automatically adjust to seasonal changes and daylight savings time.
Check exterior lighting fixtures throughout the spring as birds like to use them as supports for building their nests. Nests can damage your lighting fixture and cause it to overheat and become a fire hazard.
If not already done, take down exterior Christmas lights. Most seasonal light strings are not rated for year-round use. Exposure to UV light from the sun will cause the cords to become brittle.
If you have an overhead service bringing power to your home, visually check connection points to ensure that the cables appear tight and free of obstructions. If you have any concerns, contact our electricians to check for any safety issues and make the required repairs.
Take advantage of the beautiful weather to cut back all branches from around overhead cables to prevent possible damage caused by falling branches. BC Hydro states that branches need to be 3 meters or 10 feet from the cables. Call a professional arborist if this task is beyond your abilities. For more information about safely clearing branches click HERE.
Check all exterior exhaust vents to make sure that they are clear of any debris.
All exterior water features require grounding. Ensure that the grounding is functioning correctly.
A generator should be serviced annually. Some units may need an additional service if used heavily during winter months.
Our electricians would be happy to assist you with all your spring electrical maintenance repairs. Regular maintenance of your electrical system may identify minor concerns before they become expensive repairs.
The bathroom is one of the most important rooms in the house when it comes to adding value to your home. Bathroom renovations can be as simple as changing the paint color on the walls to gutting the entire room. Here are some “must haves” to keep in mind when planning bathroom renovations.
Extra receptacles for the ability to plug in more than one or two appliances. All receptacles within 1.5 meters of a sink, tub or shower must be GFCI protected to meet current Code requirements. For information on the importance of GFCI protection, click HERE.
A bath fan correctly sized for the use and square footage of the room. A 2-piece powder room will likely only need a small fan to keep the air fresh. A bathroom with a tub and/or shower requires a larger fan to remove odor and humidity. This will eliminate the possibility of mold and mildew in this humid environment. For more details regarding ventilation click HERE.
Bath fan timers are a great addition for homeowners who may forget to turn the fan off. The timer will automatically turn off the fan at a pre-set time. Blue Crest recommends running the fan for “an hour per shower”.
Vanity fixtures that are located on the ceiling or high on the wall will create shadows on the face. Lighting fixtures that are located at eye level and illuminate both sides of the face provide the best lighting for applying makeup and personal grooming.
In shower and tub lighting that is correctly rated for a wet environment.
Some bathroom renovations require a larger budget, but the end result is well worth the investment.
Luxury Items For Bathroom Renovations
A heated towel rack so homeowners will always have a warm towel after a shower. Depending on the power requirements, a wall mounted towel rack will likely require a dedicated electrical circuit. A Blue Crest electrician can assist with this task. A freestanding towel rack usually plugs into a standard receptacle. Some models may also have a fan to heat up the bathroom.
Convection heater to help keep your bathroom warm on cold winter days.
In floor heat feels wonderful on your feet first thing on a chilly winter morning. It will also help warm up the rest of the room.
A heated soaking tub will keep the water warm for long relaxing or therapeutic baths.
Audio speakers and/or tv connection for entertainment when using the room for relaxation purposes.
A chandelier over the bath tub to add some glamour to the room. A lighting fixture that is not rated for wet locations must be installed high enough so you are unable to reach it while standing in the bath tub. Logic dictates that it would be unwise for a person to touch anything electrical while also in contact with water.
Blue Crest Electric technicians will ensure a safe, Code compliant installation for all bathroom renovations.
When homeowners think about kitchen renovations, they don’t always think about electricity. Kitchen renovations are not just about picking a new paint color, back splash or style of cabinets. Electrical appliances, lighting and devices will play an important role in the overall success of this project. Here are some things to consider when planning electrical needs for kitchen renovations.
According to the current Canadian Electrical Code, an island is required to have at least 1 receptacle.
Countertop receptacles within 1.5 meters from the edge of a sink must be GFCI protected. For information on the importance of GFCI protection, click Here.
Large appliances such as dishwashers, refrigerators, ovens and microwaves will require specific wiring circuitry to be Code compliant.
Consider receptacle placement for optimal usage, e.g. where the toaster or coffee maker will be plugged in. Some receptacles may need to be added or moved in order to meet Code requirements or to better suit the homeowners needs.
Lighting For Kitchen Renovations
One of the must-haves in a kitchen is proper lighting. To achieve the best light coverage, careful consideration must be given for fixture type and placement. Recessed lights give excellent overall lighting, under cabinet lights are great for task lighting to illuminate the work area and hanging fixtures are dual purpose. Lighting can also be used inside cabinets, such as under the sink or in a display cabinet.
There are 3 primary types of color temperature for lighting which are measured in Kelvin. The higher the degrees Kelvin, the whiter or cooler the color temperature. Westinghouse Lighting provides a clear understanding of the benefits of the various light levels. Having different types of lighting in the kitchen will allow for more flexibility with how bright you may want it and the mood you are wanting to set. Using dimmer switches for these lights will also allow homeowners to easily adjust light levels.
Luxury For Every Kitchen
As with any home renovation, there are items that would be considered luxury items for some homeowners. Kitchen renovations are no different. The following are some of the popular luxury items that homeowners are considering for their kitchen renovations.
Heated floors will add warmth to the room and feel good on your feet on a chilly day.
A wine fridge keeps wine at the perfect temperature for serving.
Beverage bar where everything you need is easily accessible to make your favorite hot or cold drink.
Baking center to store all baking ingredients and necessary appliances in one convenient place.
Breakfast station, complete with blender, toaster and coffee machine.
Dual appliances such as dishwashers, ovens, ranges and refrigerators to accommodate large households or homeowners who entertain often.
Special food preparation areas such a Spice Kitchen complete with duplicate or additional appliances such as a steam oven or wok.
As in all areas of kitchen renovations, careful consideration must be made for specific electrical power requirements for specialty appliances and task needs. Blue Crest Electric technicians will ensure a safe, Code compliant installation for all kitchen renovations.
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 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.