Use caution with weekend electrical honey-dos: danger lurks

DENVER, CO, January 26, 2010 — When troubleshooting electrical problems in your home, the most cost-effective and sometimes life-saving decision you can make is to call on a professional. Systems that were installed or previously repaired by a weekend warrior—a homeowner without training who jury rigs a electrical outlet, fixture or built-in appliances—are often the cause of in-home electrical accidents or deaths.

According to the US Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC), there are as many as 760 electrocutions in and around the home each year in the United States, with as many as 310 of them involving the use of electronic consumer products, such as appliances. Moreover, the CPSC estimates that 46,000 fires are started each year involving the home electrical distribution system each year, resulting in 440 deaths, 1,420 injuries and $434 million in property loses.

Most of these issues are preventable, said Gary Stone, a veteran licensed electrician with more than 30 years of experience and founder of Denver-based Allstar Electrical Service LLC.

“Electricity is dangerous. You can’t see it. You can’t hear it,” said Stone. “People don’t treat it with enough respect, and the consequences could be life and death.”

Stone recommends that homeowners, particularly those with homes where the electrical system hasn’t been updated in several years, retain a licensed electrician to ensure all systems are operating properly and that the electrical infrastructure in the home is up to the demands the family places on it. The CPCS estimates that many homes that are 40 to 100 years old have never been inspected since they were built.

“The demands on modern electrical systems change rapidly, and every home should undergo an inspection,” noted Stone. “The national standards for electrical systems, for both homes and commercial applications, are set by the National Electrical Code, and are updated every three years. The 2008 NEC standards contained the most changes in the history of the NEC.”

In addition to NEC standards, most major cities and locales in the United States have strict code requirements when it comes to electrical repair or installation – but they only apply when a change is being made. The City and County of Denver, has strict electrical codes, as do many of the state’s municipalities, including: Arvada, Aurora, Boulder, Colorado Springs, Ft. Collins, Jefferson County, Lakewood, Pueblo, Westminster, and Grand Junction.

“People should think about their own homes,” advised Stone. “Just in the time they’ve lived there, they have probably added numerous new electrical appliances and devices – new ovens, flat-screen TVs, computers, space heaters, ceiling fans – without considering whether the wiring in the home can handle the load. Electrical systems deteriorate over time with use, just like a car, and require maintenance to insure proper, and safe, operation.”

Typically, the kinds of issues that require trouble-shooting in a residence are:

  • Electrical outlets not working
  • Outdated/undersized circuit breaker panels
  • Circuit breaker tripping
  • Lights that blink strangely
  • Dead receptacles caused by a tripping Ground Fault Circuit Interrupter (GFCI) that won't reset (GFCIs are special electrical outlets containing their own breaker system, and are required by code in bathrooms, kitchens, unfinished basements, crawl spaces, outdoor lighting, and garage wall outlets).

In addition, replacing ceiling lights, exterior lighting, bathroom fixtures and under-cabinet lights are among the frequent fixes Allstar Electrical is called to perform, said Stone, and many of these jobs come on the heels of the homeowner first attempting the job without professional help. Each spring, he added, there’s a rush on installing ceiling fans and each fall, as the days get shorter, homeowners tend to notice if their exterior perimeter lighting needs replacing or updating.

One of the highest demands these days is exterior lighting, Stone noted, because it has proven to be an effective crime deterrent. Perimeter lightening, lighting that points upward to illuminate a home, and motion detector light fixtures, not only add ambiance to a home, but give home owners an added blanket of security during the nighttime hours. And, Stone adds, exterior lighting options can be accomplished in a very energy efficient manner.

Allstar Electrical Service serves the entire Metro Denver area. The company’s licensed and bonded electricians are completely up-to-date on all of the latest local codes and national NEC standards, and perform everything from electrical inspections and minor electrical repairs, to full house rewiring, remodeling, exterior lighting systems, and installation of major appliances. The firm also specializes in all electrical service and repair needs for commercial properties large and small.

For more information contact Gary Stone and Allstar Electrical at (303) 399-7420 and visit www.allstarelectrical.com.