Electrical

Cold-weather power outages: what to do before, during and after

Most cold-season power failures happen when winter storms bring freezing rain, sleet, and high winds, damaging power lines and equipment. Without a steady supply of heat, not only are you impacted, but your home can suffer from dampness, damaging walls, floors and plumbing.

Plan ahead before the cold comes

  • Put together an emergency survival kit and an evacuation plan.
  • Stock your pantry with non-perishable food and bottled water. Don’t forget your pet’s food.
  • Take time for some pre-winter home maintenance.
  • If someone in your home relies on electric medical equipment, register with your local power company and community emergency program.
  • Have a secondary non-electric heater installed, like a fireplace, wood stove or generator. Have it maintained regularly, and store fuel safely. For oil or gas stoves, make sure shut-off valves are installed by a qualified service expert.

During a winter power outage

  • Before you take action, make sure the outage goes beyond your home. Check your breakers or fuses and the power lines to your house. If the lines are damaged or down, stay back and call your electric company.

  • Stay warm… On top of dressing in layers and huddling under extra blankets, hang your darker ones on the windows to draw in heat. Keep doors and windows closed, and use towels to block drafts around them. If necessary, move to your basement, which may be more insulated by the ground.
  • …but keep your food cold. Food can stay frozen 24 to 36 hours if the refrigerator/freezer door stays closed. Add snow and ice from outside if it starts to thaw. Always have a bag of ice cubes in the freezer in case you have to evacuate or when you’re out of town; if the cubes melt and refreeze while you’re away, the food in the freezer will probably be spoiled.
  • Avoid carbon monoxide poisoning. Have your fireplace and chimney cleaned before using. Never use gas generators, camping stoves or barbeques indoors; keep them in well ventilated areas and don’t use them for heating your home. Be aware of using space heaters.

  • Listen for updates. Listen to the news on a battery-powered or hand-cranked device. If you’re using a cellphone, choose texting over calling to keep phone lines free, or use your landline. Save 911 for emergencies.
  • Prevent additional damage. Unplug appliances and electronics to avoid a surge when the power comes back on; leave one lamp on so you know when the power comes back. If you have electric heat, keep all taps on a slow drip to prevent pipes from freezing and bursting.

If you have to evacuate

  • Turn off the main breaker, circuit breaker panel or power supply box.
  • Turn off the water main and drain water from the system; open all taps, flush several times, open the drain valve in basement, and drain the hot water tank into the floor drain. If you have a gas heater, turn out the pilot light.
  • Unhook the washing machine hoses and drain.
  • Add a small amount of antifreeze to water left in toilet bowls and sink/tub traps.
  • Clear valuables off the basement floor.

When the power comes back

  • If a burst pipe has flooded your basement, don’t go in until you’re sure the power is off. If equipment is flooded, don’t use it until it’s been checked by a qualified service expert.
  • If you turned off the main power switch, make sure appliances and electronics are unplugged before you turn it back on to prevent power surge damage. Wait for the electrical system to stabilize before reconnecting; start with the heating system, then appliances.
  • Turn the water supply back on. Keep the taps on the lowest level of your home closed to allow air out from the upper taps.
  • Fill the hot water heater before you turn it on.
  • Help the house dry by warming it slightly above normal temperature for a few hours.
  • Check your food supplies for spoilage. If the power has been out for two or three days, your freezer may still be frozen depending on the outside temperature. If it’s been a lot longer, don’t open your fridge or freezer; you may have to dispose of the whole thing.
  • Replace the items you used from your emergency survival kits.

Give us a call at Lion Home Service and we are happy to do a FREE Home Safety Inspection! We serve Electrical service needs in Fort Collins, Loveland, Greeley, Longmont, Boulder, Windsor, Wellington, and surrounding areas

 

Electrical

12 Bad Habits That Could Burn Down Your House

It only takes 30 seconds for a small flame to turn into a full-blown life-threatening fire.  House fires are more common than you may realize, with potential fire starters like light bulbs, laptops, and lint traps hiding in plain sight throughout your home, disguised as harmless, everyday necessities. Are you guilty of one of these bad habits that could burn your house down? These careless mistakes can lead to dire consequences. Read on to find out.

Lingering Dryer Lint

We all know that emptying the lint screen increases your dryer’s efficiency, but did you know that lint is also flammable?  Mixing excessive heat with lint buildup is a recipe for disaster. Clean the dryer vent and exhaust duct regularly, as well as the interior of the dryer frame, to clear away lint and clogs, and reduce the risk of fire.

Letting Your DEVICE Overheat

If you own a mobile phone, laptop or tablet, you know how hot it can get. When you leave your device on your bed, couch, rug, or other soft, flammable surface, you run the risk of restricting airflow through the cooling vents, which can cause your laptop to overheat and possibly catch fire. To prevent fires, keep your device on a desk or table instead.

 

Choosing the Wrong Wattage

If you’ve ever thought to yourself, “It’s probably OK to use this 60-watt bulb in a 40-watt socket,” you’re not alone. You are, however, putting your home at risk. Installing a light bulb with a wattage that is too high for a lamp or light fixture is a leading cause of electrical fires. Always check the light fixture’s maximum wattage, and never go over the recommended rating.

 

Using Too Many Extension Cords

Extension cords are meant to be a temporary response to a lack of electrical outlets, not a permanent solution. This is why: Connecting a large number of cords for a significant amount of time can cause an overload that leads to a short circuit—which could ignite a fire. If you need additional outlets, hire a qualified electrician to install them, and you’ll avoid this problem altogether. 

Performing DIYs You’re Not Qualified to Do

Americans will spend about $200 billion this year fixing up their homes, and nearly a fifth of this expense will go toward DIY projects. But jobs involving electrical wiring, plumbing, and HVAC units should never be completed without a qualified professional, because gas leaks and electrical sparks resulting from improper installation are a common cause of house fires. Don’t put your home and your family at risk by attempting these dangerous DIYs on your own—hire a licensed professional instead. 

Disregarding Dust

Believe it or not, built-up dust can be a fire hazard if it collects in and around electronics, electrical sockets, and even floor heaters. By vacuuming on a regular basis, especially behind your electronics, you’ll significantly reduce the likelihood that particles of dust will catch fire due to prolonged exposure to heat sources.

Ignoring Uninvited Guests

Mice and other rodents like to gnaw on electrical wires to control the length of their teeth. Over time, they can remove the sheathing, leaving the wires exposed. Unfortunately, the electric current that travels through the wire generates heat, and in the absence of sheathing this could lead to sparks caused by short circuits, which in turn could ignite the surrounding surfaces. If you suspect a rodent infestation, call a professional exterminator immediately.

Arranging Furniture Unwisely

If your furniture is too close to your wood stove or fireplace, it could spontaneously ignite. Pyrolysis, a chemical decomposition of a combustible item, occurs when an object (say, a sofa) is continually exposed to a heat source (a wood stove) and eventually dries out. This leading yet seldom-considered cause of structural fires does not require a direct flame; all it takes is heat and time for ignition to occur.

LEAVING CANDLES UNATTENDED

Candles add ambiance and aroma to any interior, but their soft glow can grow into a blaze far bigger than you planned for if left to burn unsupervised. While you’re away, Fido could knock the votive over, or a draft could cause the flame to flare up and ignite nearby flammable items. Always keep lit candles in sight and out of reach of pets, children, or flammables like drapes. Before leaving the room, use a snuffer to completely extinguish candles.

Smoking Indoors

Cigarettes, pipes, and other smoking materials sparked around 17,200 home fires a year; careless smoking practices indoors are all too often to blame. The embers of an improperly extinguished cigarette can interact with newspapers or other nearby flammable items and start a fire. While smoking in bed can cause nearby bedding to go up in flames, especially if the smoker accidentally dozes off while puffing. To avoid a visit from the fire department, only smoke outside, and be sure to pour water on cigarette ashes and butts before tossing them in the trash.

Ignoring Loose-Fitting Plugs

If no plug seems to stay put in one of your electrical outlets, it’s likely because the metal contact points in the receptacle have deteriorated and no longer allow for a secure connection. Continue plugging into the shoddy outlet and the missed connection could ignite a spark and cause a house fire as the current moves across air gaps, a phenomenon known as “arcing.” For peace of mind when plugging in, call an electrician to replace the at-risk receptacle right away.

Not Giving Space Heaters Space

The same space heaters that keep you toasty when the duvet alone doesn’t cut it are the culprit in 43 percent of home heating fires and 85 percent of home heating fatalities. When placed too close to other combustible items, those items can get too hot to handle—so hot in fact, that they can catch fire. Only use heaters that automatically shut off when knocked over, and park them no less than three feet from any item that can burn, be it clothing or bedding.

If you need help with an electrical repair or an electrical safety inspection, We serve For Collins and the surrounding areas. Contact us today to schedule an appointment with an expert electrician you can trust. 970-399-9940

 

 

 

Electrical

Why Electrical Work Is Never a DIY Job

Whether a wall socket is shorting out or you think your whole house is in need of rewiring, correcting the situation isn’t a task you should take on by yourself. In fact, even asking your usually competent friends or relatives to help is a bad idea. It’s best to call up an electrician to schedule an appointment so that the work will be handled in a safe and efficient manner.

Serious Dangers

In order to avoid a potential injury or fatality, hiring a professional is a necessity. Working with electricity is quite dangerous. Even if you think you have shut off the electrical flow to a particular fixture or area, you might be mistaken. By turning to the pros at Lion Home Service, you can trust that the work will be performed properly with the necessary safety precautions.

Faulty Fixes

Even if you do manage to perform the task at hand without sustaining any personal harm, you might complete the job incorrectly. A faulty electrical job doesn’t just mean that your kitchen light will fail to function. Improper electrical work could lead to devastating consequences such as a fire in your home. Professional electricians can complete the job in a manner that ensures accuracy and efficiency. Furthermore, electrical work must comply with your local building code. You probably don’t know what the current code in your vicinity requires or how to meet its standards.

Time and Money

You might think that attempting the work on your own will save you time and money, but you can actually waste more of both in the long term. If you waste time doing the job incorrectly or money buying components that are unnecessary or inadequate, you will still have to call in a professional to complete the job properly. The more effective solution is to simply hire a professional electrician from the start.

Lion Home Service in Fort Collins is available to help you with your full range of electrical issues and needs. You can also rely on us for heating and cooling installation, repair or maintenance, duct cleaning and sealing, hot water heater replacement, blown insulation, radon testing and drain repairs. Call us today to discuss your needs.

Electrical

What Is Recessed Lighting?

Recessed lighting is a term you often hear on home improvement or real estate shows. It’s any type of light installed directly in a surface. We usually see recessed lighting in ceilings, but they can also be in walls or the underside of cabinets.

The Components

There are three main parts of a recessed lighting system. First, there’s the housing. This is the main part of the fixture that contains all of the wiring elements. Second, there’s the trim. This part is visible, so there are design considerations to take into account. Finally, there’s the bulb.

Your Options

There are many different types of recessed lighting, and you’ll need to find ones that work well given your space. If you could use some help, the electricians at Lion Home Service in Fort Collins would be happy to offer our recommendations after checking out your layout, learning about your style preferences, and discussing the potential budget.

In terms of housing, you’ll need to use something appropriate and safe. For example, when insulation is present, you have to install a certain type of light so that overheating isn’t a concern. Also, outdoor lights need to be rated for wet locations. The positioning and thickness of housing are other important factors.

There are a variety of trims available. Baffles can soften things up and reduce glare, reflectors can direct light downward, and wall wash trims can send light to one side. If you think you’ll be making changes to the light’s direction, go for adjustable trims. Finally, lensed trims have covers that can protect interior components from moisture; these would be ideal for bathrooms or outdoor patios.

For bulbs, the new trend is to use LEDs because of their efficiency and brightness. At Lion Home Service, we can install these for you or present you with other options.

A Reputable Business

At Lion Home Service in Fort Collins, we’ve built our company from the ground up. We’re focused on keeping our customers satisfied and proud to offer discounts for seniors, veterans, and people with disabilities. In addition to working with heating and cooling systems, we offer services related to electrical systems, radon mitigators, and water heaters. Give us a call today to schedule a service.

Electrical

3 Causes of Furnace Electrical Problems

Your furnace is a highly important piece of equipment. You rely on your home to keep you protected from the outside elements, and your furnace makes sure that everyone stays warm when temperatures dip low. The best time to get ahead of problems is before they become serious.

Electrical problems aren’t always as scary as they sound, especially when addressed early. There are three common reasons behind your furnace electrical problems. By identifying your problem, you can determine what action needs to be taken.

1. Clogged Filter

We understand. It can be scary to confront furnace problems. After all, the cost can range significantly depending on the problem. That’s why it’s best to start with the common, inexpensive options first.

When your filter gets clogged, dust and debris can ultimately end up in your blower motor, and this can lead to your fuse burning out. If your filter has gotten this dirty, it’s best to have a professional do the following:

  • Change the filter
  • Change the fuse
  • Clean the system

2. Issues with the Transformer

Larger homes or offices often have a furnace system that uses more than 120 volts. In this case, a transformer is needed to convert the voltage to run the necessary systems and to keep everything working properly. When things go wrong, this can cause the furnace to short circuit.

Here at Lion Home Service, our staff is skilled in professional furnace maintenance, and we’re here to apply the repairs needed to put your transformer issues behind you for the long-term.

3. Faulty Thermostat Control Wire

To protect your furnace from overheating, there’s a special fuse on your control board. If you have recently worked on yours, there’s a chance you could have accidentally caused a short that damaged this fuse.

Here for All Your Heating Needs

Whatever you’re facing in Fort Collins, the team at Lion Home Service is here to help. We specialize in:

  • Furnace repair
  • Heat pump repair
  • Heating repair
  • Heating system services

Now’s the best time to get on top furnace issues. Call to schedule today.

Electrical

When Should You Replace Your Smoke Detectors?

Most of us know that we need to replace the batteries in our smoke detectors when they run out of power. In fact, your home’s system likely won’t let you get out of this step since many of these systems are set up to go off when just one device’s battery starts running out of juice. But, did you know that you need to replace all of your smoke detector devices every 10 years? The reason for this is that the sensors start to wear down. Here are other reasons to shell out money for new detectors and stay safe.

Insurance Purposes

When you have a homeowner’s insurance policy or a rental policy in Fort Collins, Colorado, there’s likely a section that requires you to have operational, nonexpired smoke detectors installed in your home. Even if you have a policy that doesn’t feature this requirement, notify your insurance agent once you update your detectors. Doing so may result in you qualifying for a lower rate. It can also make the insurance process easier if you should experience a fire.

Abiding by Regulations

If you own a property that you’re renting out, then it’s likely a requirement that the house features working, nonexpired detectors. Check when the current ones were installed to make sure that you’re not inadvertently violating this regulation.

General Peace of Mind

Knowing that your home has working smoke detectors that will alert you if a fire should break out will give you peace of mind. You’ll feel better knowing that you and your family will be alerted promptly if this dangerous situation should occur. Confirm that there are detectors on every level of your house. You’ll also want one close to your bedroom. Often, fires start when people are asleep in their homes. Consider getting a system that’s interlinked. That way, if one is activated, the rest will go off, ensuring that you’re receiving an alert as soon as possible.

Staying Safe

Even fancy smoke detecting systems require device replacement every 10 years. Keep your home and family safe by following the 10-year guideline. For other tips about keeping your house safe, contact Lion Home Service today. We serve Fort Collins, CO, and the surrounding areas.

Electrical

How Your Home Can Benefit From An Electrical Safety Inspection

One of the main services offered at Lion Home Service is an electrical safety inspection, which is designed to provide a comprehensive examination of the entire electrical system in your Fort Collins home. An electrical inspection of your home ensures that your electrical components are working properly and that any safety or fire hazards are caught before they become a real problem.

What Is An Electric Safety Inspection?

An electrical safety inspection checks the whole of the electrical system throughout your home to make sure that it’s working as it should. Every wire and component that the electrical system consists of is inspected thoroughly to ensure that safety standards are met. Once the inspection has been completed, you’ll be given an extensive checklist that details everything that our service experts did while also advising you on how to best improve your electrical system. While these inspections cover anything pertaining to your electrical system, the main areas of focus include:

  • Testing any carbon monoxide or smoke detectors
  • Testing your electrical panel
  • Checking security and safety lighting
  • Checking the wall outlets and switch operation around your home

How Often Should I Have Electrical Safety Inspections?

When it comes to having electrical safety inspections done, there are several factors that determine when you should schedule one of these inspections. Whenever you purchase a home, it’s essential that a safety inspection is performed for your electrical system. Any home that’s at least 40 years old should also undergo regular electrical safety inspections at least once every year.

New Appliances and Renovations May Warrant an Inspection

If you’ve recently installed a new appliance in your home, an inspection will be able to help you determine if the wiring is correct and up to safety standards. In the event that you’re planning a major renovation for your home, it’s likely that this renovation is going to lead to large amounts of rewiring and appliance installations, which is why you should always schedule an inspection following the completion of a renovation.

Contact Lion Home Service today to schedule an electrical safety inspection for your home.