ACI Northwest Blog : Posts Tagged ‘Electrical’

Check Your Electrical System Before Plugging in Holiday Lights!

Monday, December 9th, 2019

holiday-lights-cozy-settingIt’s the most wonderful time of the year!

Goodwill is in the chilly air, gifts are being purchased, and evenings are being spent in comfort by the fire (or simply enjoying the modern marvel of central heating). If you are like us, chances are you are already in the process of decorating your home for the holidays. Multiple strings of lights and decorations will bedeck your home inside and out.

Before you dive in too deep on plugging in all those light, we want to give you a quick warning that you may want to check your electrical panel. The reason why we are offering this word of caution is that the wrong string of lights could overload your electrical panel and cause a decent amount of trouble.

If you aren’t in the mood to deal with electrical trouble this holiday season, our advice to be to find out what you need to be cautious of and what you can do to keep this month free of unwanted sparks.

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5 Easy Ways to Save Electricity Around the Home

Monday, November 2nd, 2015

Looking for ways to save money on your energy bills without sacrificing your home comfort? Follow these 5 simply tips that can help you to cut down your bills. Contact our friendly helpful technicians for more information!

  • Replace your lightbulbs with energy efficient compact fluorescent (CFL) bulbs. Check the labels at the store and make sure you’ve chosen efficient CFL bulbs that are the right size for the fixture you are using. They may be more costly than other bulbs at first, but they can last decades and will use much less electricity over the years.
  • Wash with cold water. Cold water can get your laundry and dishes clean just as well as hot water, and you can save money on your water heating bills—up to 40 cents per load of laundry.
  • Use a power strip. Plug in your electronics to a power strip, and shut off the power button on the power strip when you are done using them.
  • Learn to use your programmable thermostat. Many homeowners are unsure of how to use their homes’ programmable thermostats for maximum energy savings. Locate the manual for your thermostat (try searching online!), or call a technician for help understanding the settings. In the summer, find the warmest temperature that is the most comfortable for everyone in your family—experts recommend 78° F—and keep it at this setting most of the time. Program the thermostat 10° higher for when you are away or asleep. Keep it at 68° F in the winter.
  • Change or clean your air filter. The air filter in your heating and air conditioning system helps to keep your air clean and stops debris from interfering with system operation. When it’s too dirty, air may be unable to flow into the system, which means it will have to use a lot of energy in an attempt to cool or heat your home. Change or clean the filter (if it is reusable) once a month for better efficiency.

ACI Northwest is here to help with your home comfort needs or concerns. Please do not hesitate to contact us for helpful advice or service in Coeur d’Alene and the surrounding areas.

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How to Reset Your Electrical Panel

Monday, September 28th, 2015

When there is a power outage in your neighborhood, the only way to restore power to your home is to have a generator installed as a backup. But when the power goes out in your home only or in a specific part of your home, there is usually an easy fix. Resetting the electrical panel or a specific breaker therein allows you to resume daily tasks as usual.

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Electrical Considerations for a New Security System

Friday, May 30th, 2014

Homeowners have a natural desire to keep their family and possessions safe. A reliable security system is an excellent way of doing so. Here in Spokane, electrical services can help you plan for and install a new security system. Because so many security systems rely on electricity to work, you should consult with an expert before deciding which system is right for you. Here are some electrical considerations for a new security system that you should keep in mind.

Security systems typically rely on sensors to work. Contacts on your doors and windows will alert you if someone tries to break in, while motion detectors in key areas of the homes (usually centralized rooms and “choke points” such as stairways or halls). Depending upon your home, you may want to have motion-activated security lights installed as well, to activate in the event of movement in your yard.

All of these things require wiring to function as they should. That means you need to chart a path from their location to the central security box and/or the circuit breaker box in your home. The electrician will need to run wiring to all those locations, which may involve moving around plumbing, other electrical wires and even load-bearing woodwork depending on the specifics of your home. (Alternately, you could just run the wiring along the outside of the walls, but that can ruin the aesthetics of your home as well as leaving the wires vulnerable to damage.) The electrician also needs to calculate the load for each component and ensure that the new wiring can handle it without triggering the circuit breakers. It’s not usually a problem – security systems don’t require much electricity to work – but professional evaluation can ensure that no issues arise.

Any electrical considerations for a new security system need to take your safety in mind. The system needs to work at all times, or else it may as well not be working at all.

If you live in Spokane, WA or Coeur d’Alene, ID, electrical services like those at ACI Northwest can make that process a lot easier. Give us a call today and we’ll help you set your system up right!

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Not Just Lightning: The Causes of Power Surges

Friday, May 23rd, 2014

When people think of power surges and trying to protect their home’s appliances from them, the first image that comes to mind is something catastrophic like a lightning strike or power lines downed during a storm. Although those are definitely cause for concern and reason to find ways to keep your electrical system safe, there are more frequent reasons for power surges that can go on continually and add up to tremendous damage.

Power strips along the outlets are a layer of protection that works when it comes to power surges. However, they do not do well against most of the more insidious and frequent causes for surges. In addition to those power strips, you need to have a whole-house surge protector. Installation requires the work of professional electricians. For the necessary electrical services that will install a whole-house surge protector, contact the expert electricians at ACI Northwest today.

Causes of Power Surges

  • Lightning: Yes, this is a serious problem even if it isn’t as common as the others. A lightning strike on power lines can result in a massive surge that no home’s electrical system can bear. The power that comes through the lines is enough to ruin systems such as computers and home entertainment centers. A power strip is some defense against this, but not always. In any case involving expensive equipment, you need the best protection possible, and a whole-house surge protector offers a level above power strips.
  • High-Powered Appliances: This is the reason for most surges in a home: whenever an appliance comes on that demands large amount of power—such as the compressors of air conditioners and refrigerators—it put strain on system that can unbalance the flow of voltage. This may not necessarily cause a power outage, but the low-level will start to gradually damage other components connected to the system. Flickering lights are a common warning sign that this is happening and you should have a whole-house surge protector. Power strips do not help with this.
  • Bad Wiring: If you live in an older home, aging wiring can lead to uneven voltage that will cause similar damage to when powerful appliances turn on. For pre-1970 homes, you should have an electrician not only install whole-house surge protection, but also investigate if the wiring needs replacement.
  • Utility company problems: Surges can sometimes come from the power company itself if they experience equipment malfunction. These surges can range from small to “power line downed” level, so make sure you electrical system is prepared for anything.

Whole-house surge protectors are an easy installation for professional electricians: they connect them at the electrical control panel and test to make sure they work properly. To arrange for the work, call ACI Northwest today. We provide many types of electrical service in Spokane, WA.

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What Are GFCI Outlets and Why Should I Have Them Installed?

Tuesday, May 6th, 2014

Electrical outlets continue to improve with each decade. Old two-prong outlets gave way to grounded three-prong outlets. And now GFCI outlets are overtaking the standard three-prong model.

You have already encounter GFCI outlets before, although you perhaps did not know that is what they are called or what they do. GFCI outlets have two buttons, usually color-coded red and yellow, between their two sockets. A small difference, but an important one.

If your home still has standard three-prong outlets (or archaic two-prong ones), you should make installation of new GFCI outlets a priority. ACI Northwest specializes in this installation work. We have served Couer d’Alene with electrical services for many years. Call us today to schedule an appointment to improve your home’s electrical safety.

GFCI outlets: protecting people from electrical shocks

GFCI stands for ground-fault circuit interrupter. It performs a function similar to a fuse. But where a fuse is designed to protect your electrical system from an overload and prevent fires, a ground-fault circuit interrupter is designed to protect you from a direct electrical shock.

A GFCI outlet can detect a subtle change between the flow from the “neutral” and the “hot” slots in an outlet. (The hot slot is the smaller of the two slots.) Power flows from the hot slot through an appliance and to the neutral slot during regular operation. The ground-fault circuit interrupter outlet monitors the amount of current moving from hot to neutral, and should it detect a change in the balance—as small as 4 or 5 milliamps—it will immediately trip an internal circuit breaker that cuts off power to the outlet. An imbalance like this means that the power from the hot side is going into something other than the appliance, and that usually means it is going into a person. With a correctly working GFCI outlet, the power will shut off before you can even notice the shock. You can then reset the circuit by pressing the “reset” button on the outlet.

Although modern homes have sturdier electrical systems capable of handling large electrical loads, this doesn’t lessen the danger from electrical shocks due to malfunctioning appliances or from accidents. Installing GFCI outlets will greatly reduce the potential for electrical injury in your home.

Call ACI Northwest for all your Couer d’Alene, WA electrical needs. We can perform fast and effective installation of new outlets that will keep you and your family safe.

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How Does Electricity Work?

Wednesday, August 21st, 2013

When you need any kind of electrical services in Spokane, make sure that you call the professionals electricians at ACI Northwest. We often hear about customers attempting to do it themselves and either injuring themselves or damaging their home’s electrical system. We wanted to explain, very briefly, about how electricity works to that our customers can understand it better and also understand why it is so dangerous to work with. Call our Spokane electrical technicians if you need any kind of services for your home’s electrical system.

What Is Electricity?

Electricity is the flow of electrons. If you remember seeing a picture of an atom in your science classes you may recall that there was a ball at the center comprised of protons and neutrons, and there were a bunch of swirling spheres around the outside: these are electrons.

Different materials easily give up these electrons: these are called conductors. In order to generate a flow of electrons you need a material that easily absorbs and then passes on electrons. Water and various metals like copper and gold are very good conductors. If you had a copper wire and you sent an electron from one end to the other it would get there very quick because copper atoms are very good at giving up electrons.

Obviously, we need more than one electron in order to power things like our computers, our homes and our cars. We need a constant current of electrons. This current of electrons is measured in Amperes. A typical home wall outlet is rated for 15 amps while a 9 volt battery can have .5 amps.  The speed or force at which electrons travel on a current is described by its Voltage.

How is Electricity Generated?

There are a couple different ways to generate electricity. The first is through chemical reactions. The interaction of certain chemicals and metals will generate an electric current which is how car batteries work.

Another way to generate electricity is with magnets and wire. If you pass a magnet by a coil of wire you can induce an electrical current. This is how power plants work. Nuclear power plants use nuclear energy to generate heat which turns water into steam that powers giant generators that contain magnets and wires.

If you have any questions about electricity or if you need any kind of electrical services, just call the Spokane electrical technicians at ACI Northwest.

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Electrical Tip: Why Use an Attic Fan?

Monday, June 3rd, 2013

When the heat of summer really sets in, your home can heat up fast. No matter how hot it may get in your home, though, the rest of the house probably pales in comparison to the heat level in your attic. Heat rises naturally, so it only makes sense that your attic is going to be extremely hot during the summer months. The problem, though, is that this pent up heat in your attic can radiate throughout your home, driving up temperatures in other areas. With an attic fan installation from the electrical pros at ACI Northwest, you can help keep this problem to a minimum.

Attic fans are a great, effective way to reduce energy costs in your home. An attic fan uses a thermostat to monitor the temperature in your attic, and when the temperature exceeds the target temperature your attic fan will vent heat out of your home. This will help to reduce the risk of heat in your attic heating up the rest of your home, which will cause your air conditioning system to work harder in order to keep you cool and comfortable. The harder that your air conditioner has to work, the more energy it will consume and the more money it will cost to operate.

Additionally, an attic fan may actually be able to help prolong the life and protect the condition of your air conditioner. If your AC has to run with increased frequency due to heat radiating from your attic, it is possible that it will lead to increased wear and tear on your system. The more wear and tear that your air conditioner suffers, the more likely damage to your system becomes. This means that an attic fan can help reduce the risk of problems with your air conditioner that will require costly air conditioning repairs.

For more information about why you may want to consider an attic fan installation, contact the Spokane Electrical technicians at ACI Northwest. We have the answers you need to decide if an attic fan is right for you. Call now to speak with one of our attic fan technicians.

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Electrical Home Improvement: On the Benefits of an Attic Fan

Tuesday, April 30th, 2013

If you’ve ever had to retrieve an old box from the attic during the peak heat of the summer, then you know how hot it can get in the summer. Up to 160 degrees Fahrenheit in some cases. You may think that this is ok, so long as you don’t have to live up there. Yet, a hot attic space can actually begin to impinge upon your cooling system and home comfort unless you take action. The radiant energy of the sun is powerful, and as your roofing heats up, so does the rest of your home, even with attic insulation. So if you’re looking for a cost-effective way to improve your air conditioning performance and efficiency, then consider an attic fan. In this post, we’d like to review some of the potential benefits. For more information about Spokane, WA electrical services, call ACI Northwest today!

An attic fan works by ventilating the hot air outside and bringing the cooler air inside. They work best in combination with adequate insulation and ventilation. If air can freely move from your home into your attic without having to pass through a thermal barrier, then it may actually be counter-productive.  Speak to your electrician about whether an attic fan works for your home. Let’s review some of their benefits.

  • Reduce heat in the home. Ventilation is an important passive cooling tactic for the entire home, but sometimes it just isn’t enough. A professionally installed attic fan can reduce stifling temperatures in the attic to just over the ambient outdoor temperature. This can be a dramatic temperature reduction, sometimes up to 50 degrees Fahrenheit.
  • Decrease need for cooling. Your air conditioning system works hard during the dog days of summer to keep your home full of crisp, cool air. An attic fan can help to reduce the amount of cooling it needs, and therefore the amount of energy it uses.

To learn more about attic fans and what they can do for your home, speak to a local professional. Call ACI Northwest for excellent electrical services.

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Electrical Tip: Benefits of Whole Home Surge Protection

Monday, April 22nd, 2013

We rely on electricity now more than ever before. We need it to eat fresh food, to listen to music, to watch our favorite movies, to check our email, and to keep ourselves clean. While mostly invisible and hidden within our walls, our electrical system is increasingly important to our well-being and the comfort of our home. It’s no wonder, then, that many homeowners are looking to protect their appliances and electronic equipment with whole home surge protection. While small portable strips come in handy sometimes, they do little to protect the whole home. In this post, we’d like to share with you some benefits of whole home surge protection. For more information, or to schedule Hayden, ID electrical services, call ACI Northwest today!

  • Comprehensiveness. Because the whole home surge protection device is installed at the electrical panel, it protects not just one receptacle, or even one room, but every receptacle and wired appliance in the home. This gives it a comprehensiveness unmatched by any portable unit. While many of us use portable units to protect our computers or expensive stereo equipment from surges causes by storms or circuit imbalances within our home, only comprehensive whole home surge protection covers appliances that are directly wired and do not use standard receptacles, such as central air or a furnace.
  • Improved protection. Small power stripes cannot match the surge protection of a whole home system. Most surge damage comes not from catastrophic lightning damage close to the home, but from the slow deterioration of sensitive electronic equipment by small surges within the circuit of the home. When you use a high-powered appliance in one room, your stereo in another may be at risk of a surge, depending on the layout of your home, and the condition of the electrical system.
  • Convenience. Imagine having to use a portable surge protector on every single electrical receptacle in the home. Not only would it be tedious to ensure that every single one was working properly at all times, but it still would not provide your wired appliances with enough protection. The fact is that whole home surge protection is incredibly convenient. It allows you to feel good about plugging directly into your wall receptacles without having to deal with lots of visible and entangled wiring.

Contact ACI Northwest today to learn more about Hayden, ID electrical services, such as whole home surge protection.

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