June is National Homeownership Month… Make it a Safe One!

National Homeownership Month in June shines a spotlight on supporting the American Dream of homeownership. For homeowners in Bel Air, Aberdeen and the surrounding counties, it’s the perfect time to think about making safe and smart decisions when it comes to your home’s electrical system.

All too often disaster strikes in your home’s electrical system via power surges. These can come from a variety of sources… including a lightning strike. The damage from a power surge can include loss of expensive electronics in the home, such as computers or home entertainment systems, including that large-screen TV.

While a power surge may not seem like something that happens often enough to be top of mind, most households will experience one eventually, and so you don’t want to take them lightly.

What Is a Power Surge?

A power surge can be caused by an overloaded outlet or circuit, damaged wiring, lightning strikes, or plugging in a high-powered electrical device that can cause an energy spike.

In any of these cases, short but powerful surges of electrical voltage can travel throughout the home and affect any room or any appliance that’s plugged into an outlet.

Protecting your Home from a Power Surge

So, how do you protect yourself from a power surge? Typically, the larger your appliance, the stronger the surge protector needs to be. Overall, the minimal expense of buying a surge protector pales in comparison to that of replacing an electronic appliance or device that is damaged by a surge.

Whole House Power Surge Protection

For those who want to protect their entire homes, call the pros at Mister Sparky and learn about the benefits of installing whole house surge protectors that will safeguard everything in your home that’s plugged into any outlet. We can explain the best option for your home based on what you are seeking to protect.

So this June, stay safe in your home and protect your family and your belongings.

Consider an electric generator this spring

April showers bring May flowers. Of course, too often they also bring flooding, wind, and power outages. But what will you do when your power goes out? Call the electric company like everyone else and wait?

Why not just continue to live like you do when the power is on!

You can with a whole-house generator from Mister Sparky.

Storms can bring some pretty nasty winds and weather and leave you and your family with no heat, no air conditioning, and no power to keep your refrigerator cold or food in your freezer frozen.

Not to mention, spring storms can bring heavy rains, and unless you have a battery powered backup sump pump, your regular sump pump will have no electricity to pump out all of that excess water. Needless to say, power outages can be very uncomfortable and possibly very costly.

Why Should I Install a Standby Generator in My Home?

  • Comfort: You will be able to stay cool in the summer or warm in the winter when a power outage stops your furnace or AC. Your standby generator will automatically kick on when it senses a break in the power.
  • Convenience: Today’s generators sense when the power goes off and will start up and shut off automatically, leaving you one less thing to worry about during a nasty storm.
  • Choice: You can power all or just a portion of your home during an outage. A home backup generator delivers power directly to your home’s electrical system, backing up your entire home or just the essential items like your furnace, AC, refrigerators, freezers, medical equipment, etc.
  • Protection from Flooded Basements: It will also eliminate the threat of storm water getting into your home because your sump pump stopped working.
  • Protection from Power Surges: When electricity is interrupted, it can surge back on suddenly, causing damage to electronics in your home including computers, TVs, and more. These may not be covered by insurance.
  • Peace of Mind with Medically Dependent: If you have someone in your home who depends on electrically powered medical equipment, like oxygen tanks or ventilators, a standby generator can be a literal life saver.
  • Rental Property: If you own a home that is not always occupied, a standby generator can prevent the temperature from dropping and causing frozen pipes in the winter. It can also keep food from spoiling in your refrigerator or freezer.

Ask your Mister Sparky experts about the ideal generator for your home. And put the power back in your own hands! Make your appointment today!

Protecting your new 80” TV from an electrical surge

So you did it! You outfitted your man cave or living room with that new smart, large-screen television. Congratulations!

Now, all you have to do is sit back and enjoy…

Until your home experiences a power surge, potentially putting your new addition to your entertainment lineup on the sidelines.

What can you do to protect your investment?

What is a Power Surge?

A power surge may last for only a few millionths of a second, but at its worst, it carries tens of thousands of volts, enough to fry circuit boards, crash hard drives, and ruin DVD and home-entertainment systems. Lightning-induced surges are the most powerful and most feared: A 200,000-amp jolt crashing through a power line will burn standard 20-amp wiring like a lightbulb filament. But a lightning strike has to be less than a mile from the house to cause harm, and in fact most surge-related damage is not caused by lightning.

Far more common, if not as dramatic, are surges caused by downed power lines, sudden changes in electricity use by a nearby factory, or even the cycling on and off of laser printers, electric dryers, air conditioners, refrigerators, and other energy-sucking devices in the home. The damage inflicted by these minor power fluctuations can be instantaneous — or may not show up for some time.

Protecting Your Whole House

Guarding against surges requires a two-pronged approach: a whole-house suppressor to tame the big, dangerous power spikes and an individual circuit (or “plug-in”) surge suppressor for vulnerable appliances and electronic devices. Both types essentially act like pressure-relief valves. Normally they just sit there, allowing electric current to flow through them. But with higher-than-normal voltage, the devices instantly divert excess voltage to the ground wire. (The best ones react in less than a nanosecond.) As soon as voltage levels return to normal, the flow of electricity is restored, unless the surge was big enough to melt the fuse built into some units.

Typically, whole-house suppressors are hard-wired to the service panel, a process that requires a licensed electrician. Whole-house systems should be rated to stop a 40,000-amp surge, at minimum. Features to look for include thermal fuses, and lights or alarms that indicate when a device has taken a hit.

Protect Your New TV

To make sure your new investment is always ready when you need it, call the pros at Mister Sparky and ask us about whole house surge protection. Or book an appointment here

Tips to Protect Your Family and Home during a Winter Storm

With the severe weather of winter comes the threat of electrical hazards caused by downed power lines, power outages, and possible flooding and can cause injuries and deaths even after a snow or ice storm has ended. Further, danger can also arise from the use of supplemental heating sources such as space heaters.

Here are a few electrical safety precautions that you can take during winter storm:

Downed Power Lines

  • Always assume fallen power lines are energized. Stay at least 10 feet away from a downed power line and any nearby objects it may be touching, such as a fence or a tree limb.
  • Contact your utility company immediately to report downed power lines outside your home.
  • Never touch a person or object that is in direct or indirect contact with a downed power line. Instead, call 911 immediately.
  • Never attempt to move a downed power line – leave it to the professionals.

Portable Generators

  • Do not operate a portable generator in your home, basement, or garage. Generators can very quickly produce high levels of carbon monoxide, which can be deadly.
  • Be sure that the generator is used with a ground fault circuit interrupter (GFCI) to help prevent electrocutions and electrical shock injuries.
  • Do not connect generators directly to the household wiring without an appropriate transfer switch installed. Power from generators connected directly to household wiring can backfeed along power lines and electrocute anyone coming in contact with them, including utility lineworkers making repairs.
  • Make sure that there is at least one working carbon monoxide detector in your home. Test the batteries at least twice a year, at the same time smoke detector batteries are tested.

Space Heaters

  • Make sure your space heater has the label showing that it is listed by a recognized testing laboratory.
  • Before using any space heater, read the manufacturer’s instructions and warning labels carefully.
  • Inspect heaters for cracked or broken plugs or loose connections before each use. If frayed, worn or damaged, do not use the heater.
  • Never leave a space heater unattended. Turn it off when you’re leaving a room or going to sleep, and don’t let pets or children play too close to a space heater.
  • Space heaters are only meant to provide supplemental heat and should never be used to warm bedding, cook food, dry clothing or thaw pipes.
  • Proper placement of space heaters is critical. Heaters must be kept at least three feet away from anything that can burn, including papers, clothing and rugs.
  • Locate space heaters out of high traffic areas and doorways where they may pose a tripping hazard.
  • Plug space heaters directly into a wall outlet. Do not use an extension cord or power strip, which could overheat and result in a fire. Do not plug any other electrical devices into the same outlet as the heater.
  • Place space heaters on level, flat surfaces. Never place heaters on cabinets, tables, furniture, or carpet, which can overheat and start a fire.
  • Always unplug and safely store the heater when it is not in use.

Of course, should you have any questions or need assistance with electrical issues in your home, you can always count on the experts at Mister Sparky. Call us today or make an appointment for a home safety inspection. It just might save a life!

So your neighbor fried his new 60 inch flat screen TV

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A lightning storm struck our area not too long ago and the next day my neighbor told me lightning had hit his house and destroyed a bunch of his electronics, including his brand new 60″ flat screen television.

Did you know that it is far more common that you might think? And far more expensive now that our homes are filled with computers and other devices that are expensive to replace.  In fact, a recent analysis by the New York-based Insurance Information Institute reported that in the US the average insurance claim relating to a lightning strike was $7,947 last year, compared with $7,400 in 2014, even though the number of claims fell 0.4 per cent between the two years. For comparison, in 2010, the average cost per claim was only $4,846.

This didn’t need to happen!

With a whole house surge protector you can avoid the cost and inconvenience of appliances and valuable electronics ruined by a powerful bolt of lightning. But keep in mind that not all surge protectors are alike.

Surge protectors offer protection in amounts called joules. Think of this like a reservoir of protection. If a product has 1,000 joules of protection, that means it can take ten 100 joule hits, or one 1,000 joule hit. Generally, the more joules the better.

But you need not worry about it if you consult a professional. With a whole house surge protector from Mister Sparky, you can have peace of mind knowing that your valuables are protected from the wrath of Mother Nature’s lightning bolts. Ask us for details.