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Longo Electric Blog

October 27, 2010

Electrical wiring a concern with fixers, flips | Washington Examiner


Electrical wiring a concern with fixers, flips | Washington Examiner.

This link is to a story about why “DIY” electrical installations and repairs are not a good investment in ones time and money. Please insist on having your electrical work completed by a company that is:  LICENSED & INSURED!

August 28, 2010

11 Questions to Ask Yourself about Your Home Electrical System


The 11 questions below are from a form that was designed to aide homeowners in proactively identifying symptoms of electrical problems within their electrical systems. While the questions pertain to residential systems, it is equally important to apply them to your place of work or business. Our goal at Longo Electric is to make sure that you are safe from the the inherent and often hidden hazards of your electrical systems. We will interject a few of our own comments in italics. Please let us know if you have any questions or concerns after reading the following:

Do circuit breakers in your home trip often or do fuses keep blowing?
A home electrical system has these built-in safeguards to prevent electrical overload.
Too much current causes the breakers to open automatically or the fuses to melt.
When a circuit shuts down repeatedly, it’s a warning that should not be ignored.

It can be dangerous to repeatedly reset a tripped circuit breaker, especially if there is a short circuit. When you reset a shorted circuit you are really creating a short in your hands when you close the breaker, and you may be causing further damage to your home or electrical system. When in doubt, call us.

Is there rust on the main electrical service panel?

Even permanent fixtures wear out or suffer the ravages of time. When rust appears on the metal service panel it often indicates a moisture problem or that deterioration has reached an advanced stage.

Rust indicates the presence of moisture, and we all know that water and electricity don’t play well together! Of great concern with water damage is that the mechanical parts of circuit breakers may fail to operate in an overload or short circuit situation.

Are extension cords needed to reach the outlets in any room?
Electrical outlets, especially in older homes, are often spaced too far apart for modern living. This not only creates too much demand on too few outlets, it also poses a hazard when the extension cords are run under rugs and furniture.

Please don’t run extension cords or lamp cords under rugs, you are just asking for trouble. We can put additional outlets just about anywhere that you need them in your home (as long as the location is NEC compliant). And while we are at it why not consider upgrading your existing two wire receptacles to modern 3 prong (grounding) receptacles that are type “TR.” (Read more about TR receptacles below).

Are GFCI outlets installed where required?
The National Electrical Code now requires extra protection for outlets in specific areas of the home, such as kitchens, baths, utility rooms, garages and outdoors. Ground-fault circuit interrupters (GFCIs)— which are identifiable by their TEST and RESET buttons—are generally required in proximity to wet locations. If your wiring has not been upgraded with GFCIs you’re not protected.

GFCI’s or GFI’s have a proven track record of saving lives and making all electrical systems safer. There is no mystery that GFI’s can make a precarious electrical situation much safer; even OSHA requires ALL of our power tools to be protected by GFI’s on ALL work sites. Please note that some systems utilize GFCI type circuit breakers in lieu of GFCI receptacles, which is perfectly acceptable and just as safe. Longo Electric often opts to install GFI protection in the from of the GFI receptacle, however, so that when the GFI trips while you are drying your hair you don’t have to run out to the garage or outside to your electrical panel to reset the GFI breaker.

Are Tamper Resistant (TR) receptacles installed where required?

Tamper resistant receptacles contain a mechanical shutter that helps to keep curious children from poking things into outlets. The 2008 cycle of the National Electrical Code (NEC) requires TR receptacles to be installed in all dwelling units (houses) and in day care facilities.

Nearly 2000 children are shocked, burned, or worse from the effects of poking objects into electrical outlets every year. Our goal, however is to do our part to reduce this number to 0! We are more than happy to come to your home and show you samples and demonstrate how TR receptacles work. Lets all work together and make our homes safer for our children!

Do the lights dim when appliances turn on?
High-demand appliances such as air conditioners, clothes dryers, refrigerators and furnaces need extra power when they start up. This temporary current draw can be more than just a nuisance; it can damage sensitive equipment.

A common culprit for dimming lights is poor connections at the utility point of attachment and undersized utility transformers. We can work with your local electrical utility to minimize your dimming lights.

Do electrical switches or outlets feel warm or tingly?
Loose or deteriorating electrical connections, such as the wiring junctions in switches and outlets, impede current flow and create resistance. This may create a dangerous condition that can result in shock or fire.

It is perfectly normal for dimmer switches to feel warm to the touch. But if you are uncomfortable with the way a part of your electrical system seems, please call us and we will evaluate the cause and work with you on a solution. If, however one of your outlets is warm to the touch, call us right away!

Do your electrical outlets need accessory plug-strips?
Too many things plugged in at one location can create more current demand than a single outlet or electrical line can safely handle. Adding multiple plug-in strips won’t solve the problem. What you need are additional outlets, and possibly new wiring runs to service them.

Do your outlets not accept three-prong plugs?
The third, or grounding, prong on a typical appliance plug provides an extra measure of safety against electrical shock. Older two-prong receptacle outlets, installed in homes before this innovation, may not be adequately grounded and should be upgraded.

This set up is very common in our area. It is not acceptable to simply replace the two prong receptacles with three prong receptacles. The equipment grounding conductor is the most important wire in any wiring system. If the cabling is of the two conductor Armored Cable (AC aka. BX) type, then it may be permissible to use the outer metallic sheath of the cable as the ground. In this case a bonding jumper must be installed between the metal box and the receptacle yoke to create an effective ground path. If we do upgrade your receptacles to three prong, they will by the TR type. More often than not, the cabling is of the non-metallic type and new cabling must be installed to upgrade to three prong receptacles.

Is the wiring in your outlet boxes old and crumbling?
If you look at the wiring to your home’s light switches or outlets, do you find wires wrapped in cloth sheathing or bits of black rubber in the electrical box? Very old homes often have antiquated wiring that should be upgraded to ensure your safety.

There are not too many options here, a re-wire is usually in order. While some contractors may gamble on adding to or modifying a cabling system of questionable integrity, Longo Electric is not willing to take safety risks for you or for ourselves. There is only one way to install electrical systems; the safe way!

Have you never upgraded your electrical service?
If your home is over 25 years old, you could have an inadequate and possibly hazardous electrical system—and not even know it. To be safe, call in an electrician for a thorough inspection, and if necessary bring your home up to today’s electrical code standards.

New technologies in overcurrent protection (breakers and fusees) design have provided us with panels of much greater safety and integrity over the panels of the past. Longo Electric uses panels with Copper buss bars only as an added safety measure. Additionally the advent of GFCI breakers and AFCI breakers have made our homes and occupants safer and have reduced the electrical shock and fire hazards significantly. AFCI (Arc Fault Circuit Interrupters) are a bit different than GFCI’s. GFCI’s monitor the amount of current flowing out on one conductor and then compare it to the amount of current returning to the device. If the amount of current differs by more than 5 milliamps the device opens the circuit, because it assumes that it is traveling somewhere that it should not be, such as through a person. AfCI’s, however, monitor the shape of the sine wave as current flows through a circuit. When arcing occurs in an electrical circuit it forms a characteristic anomalous pattern to a standard sign wave. when an AFCI sees a sign wave that indicates there is downstream arcing in the circuit it de-energizes or opens the circuit. In the 2008 NEC AFCI breakers are required for nearly every circuit in your house. Tennessee, however, has amended the 2008 NEC to only require AFCI breaker protection for bedroom circuits.

Circuit breakers are mechanical devices and are actually supposed to be exercised on a monthly basis. One reason that we recommend changing panels after 25 years is that most breakers are never exercised and when they are called upon to do their job, they may not operate properly; think of the Tin Man in the Wizard of Oz!

When considering a panel change or service upgrade let us show you the options available. Longo Electric offers panels that are back up generator ready, solar ready and surge protection capable. We can perform a load calculation to determine if you should have a service of larger capacity and we will work with you to find the best solution for your electrical needs.

August 8, 2010

Grounding & Bonding CEU Class


We just attended  another CEU class and this time the subject was Grounding and Boding. The class was led by IAEI East Tennessee chapter member and TN electrical inspector. We always love these classes, because the lecturers share photo’s and commentary about real life “horror stories” from our own back yard. Of course, we wish no one any harm, but it is important to remember that faulty and poor electrical installations exist all around us. Below are a few highlights of the refresher than the Longo Electric LLC team brushed up on.

Article 250 of the NEC is the longest and most extensive article and it covers Grounding and Boding. The ground in an electrical system is of paramount importance. While the grounding electrode conductor, equipment bonding jumpers, main bonding jumper and equipment grounding conductor are often taken for granted they are the most important component in any electrical system. The purpose of the ground is to bring any stray currents and voltage transients to a zero potential, to  facilitate the operation of overcurrent protective devices (OCPD), and to provide a low impedance return path for objectionable or fault current to travel upon.

Proper Grounding and Boding not only protects humans and livestock from the perils of electric shock, but also aids in preventing fire due to ground fault conditions by operating the associated overcurrent protection device (fuses, circuit breakers, GFCI’s). The most common wiring error that we see other electricians making, and that we have to correct, is not bonding metal boxes as pet article 250. Generally this is due to lack of proper education, apathy, laziness, and installers cutting corners to save money. Unfortunately, though, cutting corners is the main reason that perilous situations arise in the operation of electrical systems. A simple Google search on electrocution will show that most electrical accidents related to shock or electrocution are caused in part by lack of, improper, or faulty Grounding and Boding.
Another common wiring error that we see and correct is the intentional interconnection of the grounded and grounding conductors in a sub panel. The grounded conductor (neutral) of an electrical system shall only be bonded to the grounding (ground) conductor at the first disconnecting means of a service or separately derived system. If you draw a simple three line diagram of the grounding, grounded, and current carrying conductors of a given system the reason for isolating the neutral and ground at any location downstream of the main is obvious. The idea is that when a ground fault occurs that the fault current travel upon the grounding conductor in order to operate the OCPD in a timely manner. If, however, multiple return current paths exist, then current may unsafely travel on the neutral or  other normally un-energized surfaces and the OCPD may never operate. Furthermore, if a person finds themselves in the path of travel of fault current, injury and possibly fatality usually  result.

We could go on and on about Grounding and Boding, but we’ll wrap it up here and pick up with some related topics in the near future. Remember, wiring is no hobby, please call a licensed electrical contractor.



April 28, 2010

Is your panel labeled?


Is your electrical panel labeled? You would be surprised at how many panels we work in that are not labeled. Besides being a National Electrical Code (NEC) requirement: Article 110.22 (A) Identifying of Disconnecting Means “Each disconnecting means shall be legibly marked to indicate its purpose…,”it just makes good common sense.

Longo Electric has the electronic circuit identification tools to locate, panels, breakers, wires and cable both buried and exposed in commercial and residential settings. We are pleased to offer our panel labeling service which is non invasive and we don’t flip breakers on and off and yell across your house. An unlabeled panel will show up on any decent home inspection report, but we can make that go away for you, just give us a call to find out more.