Bay Area Electrical Contractor Specializing in Electrical Panels, Landscape Lighting Design, Residential Home Wiring

Mike Counsil Electric – San Jose Electrician

Electrical Safety in the Home

Electrical Safety in the Home:

Ground Fault Circuit Interrupter's or GFCI for short, this device whether in the form of an outlet or a circuit breaker has saved countless lives.

It detects current that is flowing to ground and turns itself off. What this means is that if YOU are shorting out an energized circuit to ground, YOU are being shocked or electrocuted, and the GFCI will turn OFF, thereby saving your life!

If your Home does not have these GFCI type outlets in the Bathrooms, Kitchen, Garage, and Outside, call us today and we'll get them installed for you. (408-268-5015)

Arc Fault Interrupters

Over 73000 Home Fires each Year in the United States caused by faulty electrical wiring and arcing according to the Electrical Safety Foundation. This device is currently available in circuit breaker form.

It detects the unique characteristics of an electrical arc, the frequency and "bounce" of the Harmonics, and after about 1/10th of a second, it shuts off the power to the entire circuit.

This invaluable device is saving a lot of home owner's lives and property.

If you want more information or would like to have them installed in your home call us at (408-268-5015)

Arc_Fault_Circuit_BReaker
AFCI Circuit Breakers

Extension Cords:

Extension cords should only be used as a temporary circuit "extension" for work or tool use. For example, using an extension cord for a weed eater or power saw.

They are not intended to replace permanent wiring methods and are a serious life safety issue if used improperly. If you use extension cords in your Home or Office, because there are not enough outlets you are risking a lot. That is why the NFPA National Fire Protection Association has published the NEC or National Electrical Code. This Code prohibits the use of cords in place of permanent wiring methods. For good reason, read on.

House_FireCords can and do heat up, generally the wiring in the cord is smaller than the proper Home or Office wiring , and not capable of handling significant current. They can easily overheat and can catch fire.

Let's say you have a #12 AWG (American Wire Gauge) conductor in Your Home, now you use an extension cord of let’s say # 16 AWG, this is smaller wire, and Your Circuit breaker is rated at 20 amps. Well you could put 20 amps on the cord, and it would overheat and possibly start a fire.

Additionally cords are not concealed like proper wiring and are subject to physical damage. We've all thrown out a few extension cords because they get cut or ripped or pinched. This means you are exposing yourself or loved ones to a potential shock or electrocution.

So if you have extension cords instead of proper outlets call us and we'll get it fixed and make it safe for You and Yours. Call us at (408-212-0230)

Aluminum Wiring:

Things you should know about aluminum wiring in houses.

First off, aluminum wiring can be safe if properly utilized. From high voltage transmission lines to the service entrance conductors feeding your home, these conductors are usually aluminum.

So what's the big problem with aluminum wire?

When used as smaller conductors such as awg#10 for a 20 amp circuit or awg#12 for a 15 amp circuit in a home, these conductors can be hazardous if not installed correctly.

Why?

Aluminum is not as conductive as say copper or gold or silver. Because it has a higher resistance, and because of its properties, aluminum expands and contracts under loads significantly more than copper. As the "load" or amperage increases on the conductor, it expands. When the load decreases, the conductor contracts back to its original size. This constant expansion and contraction, combined with oxidation, cause the terminations in wire connectors and on devices such as outlets and switches to become loose. When loose, they will arc. And arcing will eventually lead to a fire.

That is why small aluminum conductors make a poor substitute for copper.

For larger appliances and large "feeders", this does not pose as big a problem.

Why?

The connection methods for the larger wires take this expansion and contraction into account. Additionally, anti-oxidant compounds are required on these connections.

FPE Circuit Breakers:

Federal Pacific electric was a large manufacturer of electrical breaker boxes or load centers and panel boards from the 1960 to 1980 era. Problems arose from these products culminating in lawsuits in the early 1980's and the withdrawal of the product line from the market by its producer. The consumer product safety commission has produced several case studies of the products and their hazards.FPE_Circuit_Breaker

After nearly 30 years in the electrical construction and service industries, I highly recommend if you have FPE (Federal Pacific) breakers, breaker boxes or load centers or panel boards, that you get these replaced immediately. They are well documented fire hazards and have been proven to "lock on" during an overload condition, just the opposite of what a breaker should do.

One of the typical statements I hear from owners of FPE breaker boxes is the following:

"I've never had any problems with it (FPE breaker box) in 20 plus years, never tripped a breaker once."

Burnt_Circuit_BreakerNow, if you lived in a home or office 20 plus years and never had a tripped circuit breaker, well either:

  1. You don't use electricity in your home or office.
  2. You have a serious problem. You see, breakers are meant to trip, to protect the wiring. The fact none have tripped in 20 plus years shows overload conditions in your home or office are going un-protected.

The following links may be of assistance:

http://www.cpsc.gov/cpscpub/prerel/prhtml83/83008.html
http://www.inspect-ny.com/fpe/fpepanel.htm

Sylvania/Zinsco Circuit Breakers and Load Centers:

Zinsco circuit breakers have issues with improper heat dissipation, which can lead to burning of the circuit breaker itself.

Further, Zinsco breaker boxes use an un-anodized or un-plated aluminum bus bar arrangement. In moist climates, this can lead to excessive oxidation, whereby the bus bars actually reduce in size as the oxidation process continues. This can lead to lose connections, which may result in arcing or burning at the bus bar/circuit breaker connection point. I highly recommend, if you have a Zinsco breaker box, that you replace it immediately.

Zinsco_Circuit_Breaker
Sylvania/Zinsco Circuit Breakers and Load Centers