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.
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.
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 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.
The concern regarding flooding and electricity tends to come up most often in springtime. That’s because spring is considered to be Flood Season in most parts of Canada. The reality is that any home can be affected by flooding, and at any time of year. Since flooding and electricity is always a dangerous combination, some basic electrical safety knowledge is helpful.
Whether your home falls victim to the rising waters in a flood prone area, or an over flowing toilet, knowing what to do (or not to do) regarding electrical safety during a flood is important.
Flooding and Electricity Safety Tips
Never touch electrical equipment or appliances if you are wet or standing in water. This could result in an electrical shock or even electrocution.
If it is safe to do so, unplug appliances and electrical devices from the power source receptacle.
If possible, move appliances out of the path of water, whether from external flooding or a burst pipe, water heater, or over flowing tub or toilet.
Do not enter the basement or low lying areas where water and electricity may both be present.
If water is approaching and the area around the electrical panel is still completely dry, turn OFF the main breaker before you evacuate. This helps to prevent fires and protect first responders who may need to enter the building.
If you have advance notice of a flood and have time to prepare, move electrical appliances to a higher level out of the path of approaching water.
If flood water has already entered your building, do not touch any electrical components. Call a licensed electrician for help to safely access the electrical risks.
Watch for damaged or downed power lines while evacuating.
Stay out of standing water as it may be electrically charged by an underground power source or downed power lines.
Homes located in low lying, flood prone areas should have a Flood Evacuation Plan in place so family members/occupants know what to do and where to go, in the event of a flood emergency. For information on how to develop an Emergency Flood Evacuation Plan, Click HERE.
Inspect and service the hot water tank regularly, as this is a very common cause of flooding. Replace an aging hot water tank as recommended by the manufacturer.
Keep gutters and down spouts clear of debris, ice and snow so water can drain away from the house and not pool around the foundation and openings to the home.
Inspect and maintain electric sewer and sump pumps annually. Install battery backup pumps with alarms to alert you when it is running on battery power.
Water damage is a major contributor to high insurance claims resulting in increased annual premiums to a homeowner’s insurance policy. Although flood damage from natural causes is not usually controllable, regular service and maintenance of electrical and plumbing equipment can often identify equipment problems before a flood can occur.
Many Lower Mainland homeowners are still faced with a lot of clean up after an ice storm recently swept though our area. The sound of chainsaws can be heard in almost every neighbourhood as property cleanup continues. But some of the storm’s damage is not visible from the street. Some of the damage has occurred inside many homes.
With electrical power lost to thousands of BC homes (especially Abbotsford and Langley), our electrical crews have been working hard to repair the damage. As power is restored to homes by BC Hydro, an unfortunate electrical surge can occur. An analogy would be of what happens when opening a spray nozzle after water pressure has built up inside a garden hose. That initial burst of water is similar to the burst of electricity that can sometimes occur when the electrical system is re-energized after a power outage. This is called an Electrical Power Surge. The surge darts randomly throughout the home’s electrical system, damaging any unprotected electronic equipment in its’ path.
Electronic equipment, such as computers and entertainment equipment, which were plugged into surge protection strips or bars, appear to have been spared damage. But numerous homeowners have reported damage to unprotected components like the furnace, heat pump and/or large kitchen and laundry appliances.
Is Surge Protection Available to Protect Large Appliances?
Although it is not possible to use a surge bar on these large expensive appliances, surge protection is still available in the form of a panel surge protection device. This specialized surge protector must be installed directly on the main electrical panel by a licensed and certified electrician. It works by immediately redirecting an incoming surge to ground, before it enters the home’s electrical system.
Many homeowners now understand the value of electrical panel surge protection and are asking Blue Crest Electric to supply and install this important safety device as soon as possible.
Call Blue Crest Electric Ltd. today for an appointment to install a high quality whole-home surge protector directly on your electrical panel. Make sure your home is protected, before you are hit with an electrical power surge.
For more information about Surge Protection, click on this link Here
The purpose of an electrical permit is sometimes lost to some property owners. So in case you have also wondered why an electrical permit is so important, allow us to provide some incite.
SAFETY – The Canadian Electrical Code sets the standard for the maintenance and installation of electrical equipment in Canada. This Code is published by the Canadian Standards Association (CSA) and is revised every 3 years. Existing Code rules are reviewed and sometimes updated before each revision. New safety rules are added to address new technology or circumstances. The Code is then passed into Canadian law and adopted by each individual province. An electrical permit requires that all work named on the permit will, at the very least, meet the minimum standard for safety as outlined in the most recent Canadian Electrical Code. For this reason, every job requires a knowledgeable electrician to follow the Code rules on every installation.
ACCOUNTABILITY – An electrical permit means the electrical work may be scrutinized by an electrical inspector. The electrical inspection department is an independent third party that provides a higher level of accountability for the installing electrician and the electrical contractor named on the permit. An electrical inspector will fail an inspection if an installation does not meet the most recent Code standards.
RESPONSIBILITY – The permit assigns all responsibility of the electrical work described on the permit to the electrical contractor named on the permit.
ASSURANCE – The permit gives property owners the assurance that their electrical work must meet, or exceed the current Code standard before the permit can pass an inspection and be completed by the local electrical inspection department.
PEACE OF MIND – Because the majority of the electrical system is hidden behind the walls, home buyers are asking for proof that all past renovations and alterations were made by a qualified electrician. An electrical permit provides proof that an electrical contractor was in charge of the electrical work.
OBLIGATION – By law, an electrical permit is required for ALL regulated electrical work. This includes renovations, additions, upgrades and many repairs. At the very least, property owners should always be provided with the electrical permit number for reference, although a copy of the electrical permit for a personal file is even better. An electrician who is unable to produce an electrical permit, may not be legally qualified to complete the requested electrical work.
If you have any questions about electrical permits, please call the licensed electricians at Blue Crest Electric. We serve clients all throughout Abbotsford, Langley, Chilliwack, Harrison, Mission and Maple Ridge. Contact us today.