Fall is a busy time for homeowners. The calendar is full of school activities, fall sports are in high gear, and pre-winter yardwork looms on the schedule. While it may be tempting to rush through your fall chores, haste can not only make waste, it can be downright dangerous, especially when working around electricity.
Here are some tips to keep your fall to-do tasks safe.
Look Up and Live
That’s the slogan your power company uses to remind you that danger lurks overhead when working around your home and yard. Always take note of overhead power lines when performing fall chores like cleaning gutters or trimming trees.
Contact with overhead power lines can result in injury or even death. When working with ladders or other tools and equipment, carry them horizontally and stay at least ten feet from power lines to avoid accidental contact.
Call Before You Dig
This is another mantra of power companies, and for good reason.
Fall is the best time to plant many trees and is a favorite time for landscaping since the summer heat is past. But up to a quarter of emergency calls to power and other utility companies are due to underground lines being cut or broken by hitting them while digging.
Most utilities offer underground line location and marking for free. Just call 8-1-1 a few days before you dig to schedule it. And be aware that power and gas lines that were installed by private contractors and homeowners may not be located, so be on the lookout for them, too.
Electrical problems cause over 47,000 house fires every year resulting in more than 2,000 deaths and serious injuries and $1.4 billion in property damage. We rely on indoor lights and appliances more in the fall and winter and with old fixtures, fuses, and breakers straining under the added load of new devices and seasonal demands, you need to be aware of the warning signs of trouble to come. They include:
- Lights that flicker, dim or blink
- Warm or discolored wall plates
- A burning odor emanating from switches or outlets
- Circuit breakers tripping often or regularly blown fuses
- Receptacles that crackle, sizzle or buzz
- Any mild shock or from appliances, receptacles or switches
If you experience any of these warning signs, call a licensed electrician to diagnose and solve the problem before disaster strikes.
And be sure to test the batteries in your smoke alarms and change the them when they wear down. Most alarms emit an intermittent chirp to warn you of weak batteries, but not all do, so perform a manual test monthly. Even AC-powered alarms have backup batteries in case of power failure, so check them too.
Guard Against the Silent Killer
While not strictly an electrical issue, carbon monoxide (CO) is generated by open flames, gas-fired appliances, gasoline-powered vehicles and many other things. Most gas appliances now use electronic ignition instead of standing pilot lights, so be sure they’re working properly and not letting unignited gas flow. Blocked chimneys and vents and closed garages can let this lethal gas seep into your home, so have your furnace, chimneys, and vents inspected every year before the heating season and don’t run your car or other gas-powered items in a closed garage or other space.
Install carbon monoxide detectors along with smoke detectors as recommended and maintain them per the devices’ instructions. That includes keeping their batteries fresh.
Taking a few simple precautions can help you enjoy our beautiful fall weather safely. And if you have any problems or concerns about your electrical service, the pros at Allstar Electrical Services are ready to solve them for you. Our Residential Safety Blanket is a low-cost annual service plan that includes a thorough assessment of electrical issues before they cause problems along with preferred pricing and guaranteed same-day emergency service.
Call Allstar Electrical at 303.399.7420 for more information or visit our website. Then use our handy on-line forms to request a free estimate or set up an appointment. We’ve served the Front Range for over 15 years and are top-rated by the BBB and Angie’s List.