Sparking A Conversation About Electrical Outlet Safety

Whether you’re a homeowner or a renter, seeing sparks come out of an electrical outlet is never welcome. You begin to wonder if there are smoldering materials in the wall and if it’s safe to go to sleep. Sometimes sparking is due to a very normal condition and is not a concern, but it is a hint to ensure you don’t take risks with electricity. It’s too easy to get careless, which can lead to danger.

Brief Sparks When You Plug Something In

Sometimes, if you look at an electrical outlet as you plug in an item, you get a little spark inside the outlet. This is actually normal, though there are some safety precautions to take. When you plug in an appliance that constantly draws some amount of electricity, such as a laptop charger, there’s a brief moment of electrical connection going on — not just the physical connection of the prongs with the outlet, but also the electrical flow. Once that electrical flow connection is established, the sparks shouldn’t happen.

Do be aware that an errant spark can start fires, though. The type of sparks you see when you plug in an appliance should be small and contained within the outlet, but there is always the risk of one getting out. For this reason, even if your electrical wiring is in top shape, keep the area immediately around the outlet clean. Dust it regularly and move all papers and other potential combustible material a few inches away. Don’t place furniture so close to the outlet that plugs have to be compressed and crushed to fit into the space.

Don’t Ignore Flying Sparks

If you do see sparks fly out, immediately unplug the appliance and move things further away from the outlet. This is a situation where you should call your electrical service provider and double-check what they want you to do because that spark can smolder even though it looks like it’s disappeared. Obviously, if you see anything start to smoke, extinguish it and call the fire department instead.

Monitor the area for the next few hours; that might sound like overkill, but you really can’t relax too much. For example, in December 1996, an apartment building went up in flames because of one ember from a previous fire that had lodged in a trash chute earlier in the day. Obviously, a spark flying out of an outlet is not necessarily going to be as big as an ember from a fire, but if the spark lands on something before the spark has burned out, you could set a fire in motion.

If you want more information on preventing electrical fires, contact both your local fire department — call their non-emergency or community outreach lines — and local electrical contractors, such as Manchester Electric LLC. They are all dedicated to keeping you safe and preventing electrical fires, and they’ll be thrilled at how proactive you’re being.

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Putting A Stop To Pool Filter Housing Leaks

If you have kids splashing around in your pool every day, you do all that you can to keep as much of the pool water inside the pool in other ways. If the pool filter housing is leaking, you are losing valuable water and possibly experiencing reduced performance of the filtration system. Here, you will learn how to repair the leak in your filter housing quickly and easily.

Find the Leaks

While the filtration system is running, inspect the filter housing and hoses for leaks. Use a permanent marker to put a small mark on the areas that are leaking. If you are having a difficult time finding the leaks, you can use a small amount of washable craft paint to coat the housing box. As the leak continues the craft paint will wash away and show you exactly where the water is coming from.

Make the Repairs

Before you make the repairs, you want to get the filter housing box as clean and dry as possible. Use a little bit of rubbing alcohol to wipe the outside of the filter housing with a clean rag. If you find areas that will not come clean, you may need to use a little bit of mineral spirits on a clean rag to clean it.

Once the filter housing is clean and dry, you can begin making the repairs. Use fine grit sandpaper to scour the area where the crack is. This will help the sealant you will be using to adhere to the plastic. Give the housing box a quick wipe to remove any dust from the sanding before continuing.

Now, you are ready to seal the cracks. Load a caulking gun with a tube of silicone caulk. Pull the trigger and begin the flow of silicone on an old rag or piece of paper. Apply the silicone with the caulking gun. Use your finger or a putty knife to smooth the caulk over the crack. You want coverage about an inch around the crack on every side. This will ensure that the crack is fully sealed and that it will not be losing any more water.

Note: Another option for silicone caulking is plastic epoxy. The epoxy will dry to a harder finish than the silicone and may help seal the crack for a longer period of time.

Do not expect this fix to last forever. This should be used as a temporary fix until you can purchase a new filter housing for your pool. Talk to your local pool experts (like Shawnee Pools) about having it replaced soon.

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3 Ways To Brighten Up A Gloomy Room

Unless you own a very well designed house, there are probably areas of your home that are gloomier than you like them to be. Outside of selling your house and moving to a sunnier and airier home, there are a few things you can do to brighten your living space, from the interior closets to the small dark bedroom at the back of the house. Here are a few ideas to get you started.   

Lighting

If you have a dark windowless room where installing windows is not an option, choosing the correct illumination techniques can make a huge difference. Instead of relying solely on harsh overhead lights, consider spreading the light across the ceiling and from dark corners via recessed lighting, allowing the light to softly illuminate a wider area of the room. In addition, choose clear shades to place over any lamps or sheltered lights to avoiding dimming the light source.   

Choose paint colors carefully

You have probably always heard that a dark room should be painted white. But contrary to popular thought, white walls are not always the best option when trying to brighten a room. White paint in a dark room can accentuate shadows, making the space dreary and giving the walls a gray appearance. Instead, consider painting your dark, sunless room with bright colors. Brighter colors absorb shadows, which in turn tones down the hue. Likewise, bright colors can turn a dreary space into a striking room. Adding a few bright accessories or wall hangings in your living space can also liven up your room.

French doors

Does your living space need more than a fresh coat of bright paint or strategically placed lighting? Maybe it is time to consider opening up your home to natural lighting. Replacing your solid front door with French doors will open your home to a flood of natural light, brightening up your living space and making your room feel bigger. French doors can also be used in the interior of your home, allowing enclosed rooms to feel more airy and light. Consider replacing solid interior doors with French doors, including doors at the ends of hallways or doorways leading into dark interior rooms. Gulf Coast Builders Inc is a local company that offers French doors.

While a fresh coat of paint may not solve all of your lighting problems, there are many ways you can bring a little more light and ambiance into your home without breaking the bank. And it doesn’t have to involve putting your house on the real-estate market.

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3 Questions To Ask Before Building Outdoor Living Spaces

Outdoor living spaces can add a great deal of curb appeal and equity to any home. Whether the outdoor living space will only be used seasonally, such as in a climate with cold winters, or whether it will be used year round in warm climates, it is important to have a very clear idea of what you want even before you start looking for contractors. A contractor may be a great source of inspiration and ideas, but you first need to know how to fit the outdoor room in with what you need. Here are some questions to ask before starting construction.

How Will The Room Be Used?

First, determine if you plan on using the room for private family enjoyment, entertainment, or as an addition to your garden or pool. Determine the actual purpose of the room. This will help you consider the sizing, what type of flooring or building materials to use and the overall architecture.

For example, if you plan on using the room primarily for private family enjoyment and you have small children, you need to plan on building a safe outdoor living space with slip free flooring or softer materials. If this isn’t an issue, you may opt to go with tile flooring or rough-hewn stone corner-pieces.

Will You Use It Year Round?

If you live in a climate that has cold winters, you need to determine if you want your outdoor room to be shut down for the season, or if you want to be able to winterize it for continued use in the cold weather.

Winterizing an outdoor room could consist of installing a fireplace or featuring removable glass or plastic walls that can be put on in the cold months. 

Always consider the climate to help you plan on adapting and using your outdoor room all year round or shutting it down seasonally.

Will It Be Functional Or Decorative?

Will you use your grill and cook up steaks in your outdoor room? If so, you may wish to add counter space, a sink, or other functional items that will allow you to cook, wash up and actually use the outdoor space for a function.

However, if you simply wish for a beautiful place to lounge, you can go with a more simplistic and cozy design.

Be sure to ask yourself these three questions before hiring a contractor, like Land Concepts Inc, for your outdoor living space and you can be sure to get a customized room that will be perfect for your needs. 

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Four Types Of HVAC Systems That Will Not Cost You A Dime To Heat Your Home

If you want to be able to heat your home with free energy, there are several types of systems that you can use. These can be systems that use thermal storage to store heat, or systems that use solar energy to provide your home with the heating that is needed. You can also use systems like biomass boilers, which will provide you with heating from organic waste. If you want a system that costs almost nothing to operate, here are four types of systems you may want to consider for your home:

1. Biomass Boilers For Home Heating

Biomass boilers can come in many different forms. These can include outdoor boilers of different sizes, which can burn firewood and organic materials as fuel. If you have a large property with excess organic materials that you have to dispose of, these materials can be used as fuel. This can be trees, and other materials from cleaning farm and forestland. These are great heating solutions for homes with readily accessible organic trash materials.

2. Geothermal Heat Exchangers For Heating And Cooling

Geothermal systems can also provide you with affordable heating and cooling. These systems have the advantage of not only providing you with heating, but also can help to make air conditioning more efficient during the hotter summer months. They work much like conventional HVAC systems, which make them ideal for almost any type of home in rural or urban environments. The downside is the investment that you will have to make in having the geothermal loop installed, which is what provides the system with geothermal energy.

3. Thermal Storage For Energy Efficient HVAC Systems

Thermal storage systems are systems that work a lot like a geothermal system. They can take heat from things like solar collectors, AC and other heat sources and store it when it is not being used. This heat can then be used when your home needs thermal energy for heating. These systems have the benefit of being versatile and efficient, but it can be a costly investment to have the system installed in your home.

4. Passive And Active Solar Heating Systems

Solar heating can come in several different forms, which can include passive and active solar heating. If you just want to have a system to complement your central HVAC, passive solar heating can provide your home with warm air with a solar collector. A more complete system will use active solar heating, which is a solar collector that heats a liquid that can be used for heating in different types of home heating systems. Any type of solar heating system will also require a backup heating source for when solar energy is not available for heating such as on a cloudy day or on long cold nights.

These are some of the systems that you can have installed in your home to get heating for almost nothing. If you need help, deciding what system will be the best for your home, contact HVAC service contractors and ask them about some of these green HVAC systems.

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7 Qualities Of Energy Efficient Furnaces

If you are looking to save energy costs by selecting an energy efficient furnace, you will need to know the qualities to look for. Energy-efficient furnaces save money because they are built to minimize unnecessary energy expenditures. This reduced energy expenditure will save you money in your energy bills. Here are seven qualities of energy efficient furnaces.

Insulation Blankets

Energy efficient furnaces have a layer of insulation that coats the inside of their cabinets. This layer of insulation reduces the amount of heat that is lost from the furnace’s cabinets.

Electric Ignition

Did you know that the steady burning pilot lights of most furnaces is an energy waster? If this pilot light is burning at all times, even when the furnace is not in use, it is a useless waste of energy. An electric ignition saves energy because it does not have a pilot light that burns 24/7.

Escaping Drafts

An energy-efficient furnace will include an induced draft blower that pulls hot gases from a heat exchanger at a controlled pace. This will eliminate the wasteful escape of warmed air that usually escapes through the roof via your homes vents.

Silent Combustion Technology

This type of combustion technology uses a smaller input of BTU its burners. It also has a quieter operation and start up. Additionally, it provides your home with uniform heat distribution.

Modulating Heat

Modulating heat is energy efficient because it reduces the temperature swings that could occur in your home. Because the temperature swings are reduced, you will be a greater comfort while in your home. The two-stage functionality of a modulating furnace is one of the advantages that presents over the traditional single-stage furnace.

Random Speed Motor

This type of feature makes your furnace energy-efficient because it switches speeds of its airflow when the furnace first starts running. It adjusts humidity levels. It makes for a more comfortable heating experience, since the temperature will be uniform in your home. This type of motor provides the added plus of a quieter operation.

ENERGY STAR Rating

One quick and easy way to check to see if the furnace is energy-efficient is to look for the energy Star label. This will automatically tell you that this furnace has qualified for the U. S. government’s energy Star program.

The preceding seven energy-efficient features will help you identify for an energy-efficient furnace. Use it as a checklist. Remember that you may not find all of these energy efficient features in one furnace. Your best bet may be a furnace that contains as many of the features as you can find. Energy-efficient furnaces will save you money in energy costs. Contact a company like Anytime Plumbing Services for additional information.

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Is Your Pool Leaking? Here’s How To Narrow Down The Cause

One of the most common swimming pool repairs you’ll face is a water leak. A leak can be caused by several different things. Some are easy and inexpensive to fix, while others may be big undertakings. The first step is to figure out where the leak is located. You may need to call a pool contractor to find the leak, but here are a few things you can try first.

Examine Plumbing

The plumbing attached to your pool can develop problems that cause your pool to leak when the pump is on or off. Examine the pipes and external parts of your pool equipment for signs of drips and water puddles. Also, listen for sounds of air being sucked into the lines. If one of the pipe fittings is leaking, you may be able to seal it yourself with a product you buy from a pool supply store. If you can’t find the leak in the plumbing system, you can call a contractor to perform a pressure test. This will locate the source of the problem, or it will rule out the pipes and plumbing, so you can search for the leak elsewhere.

Try The Bucket Test

If you have a slow leak inside your pool, it may be difficult to notice. Your pool loses water every day due to evaporation. Plus, if you swim and play in the pool, water is lost due to splashing. One way you can tell if your pool is losing more water than would normally be lost through evaporation is to do the bucket test. Fill a bucket with water and mark the water line with a grease pencil. Set the bucket by the pool or in the pool on the steps. Also mark the water line on the side of your pool. Wait a day, then mark the two water lines again. If water drops more in the pool that it does in the bucket, you should suspect a leak that needs further investigation.

Use A Dye Kit

You can buy a dye test kit to find the leak in your pool. This is a syringe filled with dye that you slowly inject into various places in the water. Start with underwater lights and the area around the skimmer, since these are prone to leaking. Be sure to turn the pump off first so the water is very still. Then inject a little dye and watch where it goes. If you release the dye near a leak, it will slowly creep to the leak, and you will find the source of your problem. If your pool is leaking from a tiny crack on the floor or low on the side of the pool, a dye kit may not be much help.

If you try these tricks and still can’t find out why or where your pool is losing water, then it’s time to call a contractor from a place like Bellar Pools Inc. He or she can use sensitive equipment to detect a water leak, even it is on the bottom of your pool. Don’t put off finding the leak and having it repaired. The leak may get worse if you ignore it. While it’s leaking, you’re wasting water and driving up the cost of your water bill.

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