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Electrical Safety In Your Home

The NEC is the National Electrical Code. It is the minimum safety standard for all electrical installations and repairs. The NEC’s mission is to provide practical safeguards from the hazards that arise from using electricity. It is the most widely adopted safety code in the United States and the world, and it is the benchmark for safe electrical installations. The NEC is an evolving document, developed through an open consensus process. A new edition is issued every three years.
MS_Circuit

Circuit Breakers

Standard circuit breakers monitor the flow of electricity as it enters your home and makes its way through your electrical wiring system to outlets, light fixtures, appliances and electronics. As long as the electrical current operates within levels determined by the breaker’s ratings, the flow of electricity continues unhindered. However, in the event of an overload or short circuit; caused when a hot wire touches a neutral wire, ground wire or another hot wire; the breaker trips and breaks the current to prevent wires from overheating and diminish the potential for electrical fires. Circuit breakers can go bad due to age, illegal installations, and too many trips. Before replacing circuit breakers it is a good idea to consult with a licensed electrician. Installing the breaker incorrectly could cause harm or could result in additional repairs. It is also important to install the correct breaker for the application.

Load capacity — In order to add a new circuit and new circuit breaker you must determine the amp size of the circuit breaker you need to install based on the total circuit load. Most appliances have the amp rating listed on them. Permanently installed large appliances such as A/C units, washing machines and ovens, require their own dedicated circuit. Consult an electrician if you are unsure of your total circuit load.

Compatibility — Always install the correct brand of breakers in your breaker panel. While some breakers are interchangeable, many are not, even if they look the same. Replacing one brand of breaker with another can be dangerous. It also may void your breaker or panel warranty and may cause you to fail an electrical inspection. Look on your breaker panel door for information about which breakers are compatible with your panel.

ARC fault breakers that do more than just detect an overload or short. It will actually detect any small arcing that could lead to a fire. Homes built before 2005 may not have these installed. They were not required but have since been required due to the increase of safety. Always consult with a qualified licensed electrician on what your home would require to be the safest possible home.

Never make a repair if you are unsure how to make the repair safely. Consult a licensed electrician.

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Ground fault circuit interrupter (GFCI) protection

Ground fault circuit interrupter (GFCI) circuit breakers/outlets cut power to the circuit when they are tripped by an overload of current or when a short circuit or a line-to-ground fault occurs. This happens when an unwanted path forms between an electrical current and a grounded element. All GFCI breakers have test buttons on the front. They function in the same way as GFCI receptacles, but protect an entire circuit. This eliminates the need for GFCI receptacles on that circuit. Both GFCI circuits and receptacles should be installed as recommended by the National Electrical Code (NEC).

NEC GFCI requirements (and effective date):

  • Underwater pool lighting (since 1968)
  • Receptacles:
  • Outdoors (since 1973)
  • Bathrooms (since 1975)
  • Garages (since 1978)
  • Kitchens (since 1987)
  • Crawl spaces and unfinished basements (since 1990)
  • Wet bar sinks (since 1993)
  • Laundry and utility sinks (since 2005)

How Do They Work?

A GFCI constantly monitors current flowing through a circuit. If the current flowing into the circuit differs by a very small amount (as little as 0.006 amperes) from the returning current, the GFCI interrupts power faster than a blink of an eye to prevent a lethal dose of electricity. GFCIs are designed to operate before the electricity can affect your heartbeat.

Here’s an example: A bare wire inside an appliance touches its metal case. The case is then charged with electricity. If you touch the appliance with one hand while another part of your body is touching a grounded metal object, such as a water faucet, you will get shocked. If the appliance is plugged into an outlet protected by a GFCI, the power will be shut off before a fatal shock can occur.

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Smoke Alarms

Smoke Alarms Save Lives.

65% of home fire deaths happen in homes with no installed smoke alarms or with no working smoke alarms. When there is a fire, smoke spreads fast and you need smoke alarms to give you time to get out.

Smoke alarms that are properly installed and maintained play a vital role in reducing fire deaths and injuries. Having a working smoke alarm cuts the chances of dying in a reported fire in half. Smoke alarms save lives. Almost two-thirds of home fire deaths resulted from fires in homes with no smoke alarms or no working smoke alarms. When there is a fire, smoke spreads fast and you need smoke alarms to give you time to get out.

Smoke alarms are the single most important item to help you survive a fire. While fire doesn’t always happen, when it does, early warning is imperative for escape

Smoke alarms are a key part of a home fire escape plan. When there is a fire, smoke spreads fast. Working smoke alarms give you early warning so you can get outside quickly.

Safety tips

  • Install smoke alarms inside and outside each bedroom and sleeping area. Install alarms on every level of the home.
  • Large homes may need extra smoke alarms.
  • It is best to use interconnected smoke alarms. When one smoke alarm sounds they all sound.
  • Test all smoke alarms at least once a month.
  • There are two kinds of alarms.
  1. Ionization smoke alarms are quicker to warn about flaming fires.
  2. Photoelectric alarms are quicker to warn about smoldering fires.

It is best to use both lionization and photoelectric types of alarms in the home.
It is important to have the smoke detectors maintenance performed at least once per year. This includes replacing the batteries, cleaning and testing the alarm. Pushing the button only ensures that it makes a noise however to ensure the sensors work you must have them tested by simulating a fire with synthetic smoke. This is the only safe way to test them safely.

Replace all smoke alarms when they are 10 years old.

Smoke alarms are an important part of a home fire escape plan

Grounding

The electrical grounding system is vital to providing power to your home safely. There are several ways to install grounding systems depending on your home. You should always consult a licensed electrician to verify if your grounding system is current to today’s minimum safety standards. Wiring in the home, known as branch circuits, should have its own ground located in the cable or conduit. However, depending on when your home was built, it may or may not have a ground wire. The lack of a grounding wire may have met the minimum safety standards when your home was built but it may not meet today’s current safety standards. For this reason; it is always a good idea to have a complete electrical inspection if your home is over 30 years old.

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Where To Find Us

Counties We Service –   Broward – Charlotte –  Collier – Hillsborough –  Lee – Manatee – Sarasota

Main Office – 6301 Porter Road, Suite 10, Sarasota, FL 34240, USA. (941) 960-7878

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