Category archive - Electric

A Blender Blunder

A Blender Blunder

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Seeing as big companies make them, appliances can often seem as much more complicated as devices than they really are to Westchester homeowners. This is as true of blenders as any other appliance, and fixing a busted blender is surprisingly an easier task than you would expect.

There is three typical causes for blender malfunction: motors that become burnt-out, blades that get clogged, or an interruption has occurred in your electrical connection. The first two causes are easy to diagnose and fix, but in the case of diagnosing an electrical interruption, you will need a voltmeter and a contact sprat solvent, which are handy tools to have in your Westchester home regardless.

To test the blender’s electrical, disconnect the electrical cord and turn the blender switch on. Set the voltmeter on the RX1 scale and carefully place the meter’s two probes onto the two metal prongs of the plug. While watching the meter’s readings, test out each of the blender’s switches, one at a time and note the markings.

Low readings indicate a normal switch that is functioning perfectly. What you want to look out for is an infinity reading on the meter, which is indicative of an electrical defect. To investigate further, you will need to expose the screws that hold the switch housing cover in place. While the device is still unplugged, remove the plastic faceplate that covers the housing and, subsequently, the screws that attach the plate to the housing.

Now that the mechanism is exposed, use the contact spray solvent to clean the contacts, openings and terminals at the rear of the switch block. After you have cleaned out the mechanism, plug it back in and test the switches again. This usually fixes the mechanism, but if the blender continues to not work, unplug it again and find the fuse, which is usually located at the end of a wire lead coming from a terminal connected to the power cord.

With your voltmeter still set to RX1, clip the probes ends to the two lead wires or terminals. If the reading is high again, disconnect the probes and look on the metal cap of the fuse to find the size and write it down, as it will need to be replaced. This will almost certainly fix a purely electrical issue but if the issue is with the blades, that’s another story. While the machine is still unplugged, carefully try turning the blade shaft. Debris will usually be very easy to see and easy enough to dispose of but in rare cases, you may have to replace the coupling.

If none of this works, you more than likely have a burnt-out motor, which will require you replacement, but considering the cost, you will likely just want to buy a new blender for your Westchester home. Otherwise, replace all screws and plates, and get some ice, tequila and margarita mix, and whip yourself up a congratulatory drink.


Examining Your Electrical System In New Homes

Examining Your Electrical System In New Homes

A home inspector’s work is never done. Whenever a new home is being prepared for purchase, an inspector will likely be scheduled to inspect the house and perform a number of check-ups: outstanding code violations and safety issues are their bread and butter. As laborers, however, they are human and can miss certain problems, and electrical issues are their most prominent blunder. Studies made in the last few years have suggested that 20% of U.S. homes have a wiring problem of some sort. Some of these problems can come with a serious price tag, so it’s good to know what to look for, as a double check for busy home inspectors.

When it comes to old homes, undersized electrical services are the norm. When they were built, there was one television in the home, usually, and no one knew what an internet was. So, make sure the electrical panel is capable of supporting your electrical needs, whenever dealing with an older home, by making sure the amps on the electrical panel are 200 or more. If you are a technology lover, you may even need an upgrade from 200. And in these older homes, it’s not uncommon to find the entire home wired with fiberglass-insulated wires. These fiber-insulated wires are famous for fraying and can bring on rodent infestation in certain cases. If you find any wires in your basement that go through joists, inspect them for any sign of damage, including fraying.

If you are planning on keeping some of the seller’s appliances, smart move but do your homework. Find out when the appliances were purchased and if they have ever been serviced. This will ensure that this gesture isn’t just to raise the price a bit or cut down on moving costs. Some appliances require dedicated circuits straight from the electrical panel, so it’s important to check that your panel has dedicated wiring to the stove, fridge,  microwave and dishwasher. One should also be sure to buy or borrow a voltage tester to ensure each electrical outlet in the home is grounded and working popularly; plug-in testers are best for these scenarios. Check the electrical outlets to make sure each one has a ground prong and then use a plug-in voltage tester to make sure they are grounded. Most homes now require a three-prong outlet and, in areas that are prone to moisture (bathrooms, kitchens, exteriors etc.), GFCI outlets must be installed. This will also gauge whether the polarity is wrong and if you have lost neutral or feed.

To quickly check your lights, install new light bulbs in all of the permanently installed fixtures in the home. Do the bulbs dim or blink when you put them in? This will check for voltage drops or loose connections in those particular circuits. And whenever dealing with a junction box, take a look inside but do NOT touch the wires inside. Do not touch the wiring, just look at it to see if the connections look good. If a connection looks faulty or loose to you, call an electrician in to check or, after turning off the breaker, carefully inspect the connections yourself. This is also an opportune time to check that the home has an adequate amount of smoke detectors (one on each floor, outside bedrooms, smaller rooms and/or kitchens) and a carbon monoxide detector. To check if they work, simply install a new battery (usually a 9-volt) and run a test.

Finally, if you find any scorch marks on any outlet or if it smells like something burnt, then that circuit has gone through a dead short. Ask whether the circuit was repaired and if the plate or outlet was replaced, and if the seller is dodgy, ask a professional electrician to double check. Some of these things will, in fact, be checked by more attentive inspectors but when buying a new home, its best to check for issues early, before you get a slew of extra electrician bills tagged onto the original price.


New Appliances Need Expertise

New Appliances Need Expertise

Buying a new appliance can be a very satisfying experience: getting rid of a creaky washing machine, an out of date fridge or an ancient stove and replacing it with a shiny new one is a great feeling! However, many homeowners are wary of the cost of purchasing and installing new appliances. For many people in Westchester, appliance installation is seen as an unnecessary expense; why spend money on professional installation if you can easily do it yourself? The answer to this question is that appliance installation is not as easy as it seems!

Although you may think that appliance installation can be accomplished quickly and with minimal hassle, there are lots of things that can go wrong as the result of even minor mistakes. Appliances that use water, such as dishwashers, washing machines and some refrigerators, can cause severe water damage if they are not properly installed. Even minor leaks can cause major damage before they are finally detected. Professionals are trained to be attentive to the little details that homeowners might not notice, even if they are being extra careful.

Appliances that use gas, such as stoves and gas dryers, can be particularly dangerous if not installed correctly. An ill-fitting or improperly placed gas line has the potential to leak, leading not only to expensive energy loss, but also to potential fires and explosions.

For optimal safety, function and long-term cost savings, it’s a much smarter option to have your appliances professionally installed. Compared to the potential hassle and expense of dealing with an improperly installed appliance, paying an expert to give your appliance a proper installation will make you happier in the long run. After all, the whole point of buying a brand new appliance is to have something that works perfectly and predictably – not something that will cause you more headaches! Do yourself a favor, and have your appliances professionally installed.


Light Fixtures to Light Up Your Life

Light Fixtures to Light Up Your Life

Being a rather huge movie buff, the importance of lighting has always been something I’ve taken an interest in, especially in homes. The type of light fixtures you put in each of your rooms is integral to the mood of that room and the overall personality (and style) of your home. Whether it happens to be recessed, chandelier, wall sconces, pendant, or soffit, it says something about what use you want to get out of the room and what atmosphere you want it to capture. And, like most things, both of these facets can change rather quickly, so if you’re looking to get more ambitious with your DIY home repairs, it’s a good starting place for electrical work.

For tools, you merely need the new light fixture, wire cutters, a flathead screwdriver and something to stand on (depending on where they are placed and/or your height). Get to your power supply and shut down power to that part of the house, as to ensure no one gets zapped or worse. If there are decorative glass covers surrounding the light bulbs, remove them along with the light bulbs and only then unscrew the old fixture – there should be easy-to-spot screws holding it to the wall and the electrical box. In some cases – it’s more common in older fixtures – you will also have to unscrew mounting brackets that are helping to hold the fixture in place.

Take special care to notice how the wires are connected to your old fixture: they will like be either connected with the screws on the existing fixture or there will be wires coming out of the fixture that are directly connected to the wires in the electrical box. Have a pen and paper handy to write things like this down and when you disconnect the wires, also note color or size of the wires so you can easily attach the new fixture.

Once you have the information down and your old fixture has been set aside (or has found its new home in the garbage can), it’s time to connect the new fixture. If it connects with the screw, the black screw should go with the brass screw while the white screw should be connected to the silver screw; the ground wire (green or copper) will connect to final screw, which is usually colored green. As for direct wire connections, use the wire nuts provided with your fixture and just connect colors correspondingly (black to black etc.). Screws will be provided with the fixture to mount the new fixture in the designated spot and then all you have to do is flip on the power to test.

If there’s a problem, or if electrical work is (understandably) the one area of home improvement you’d rather leave to the professionals, it’s best to find a trusted electrician to check it out/do the work. Otherwise, this should make it easier if you ever want to change the lighting in your living/entertainment room in time for movie night.


Fixing Those Pesky Flickers

Fixing Those Pesky Flickers

The first thing most people do (rightly) when they see a bulb flickering is try to replace it, or just chalk it up to bad weather or a momentary dim from a momentary glitch. Most of the time, this is all a flicker denotes but some flickers (think a three-to-four-second flicker) can become annoyances and represent a fault that requires either immediate or forthcoming repair.  Now, to be sure, we’re not talking about the expected dims that can come from CFL bulbs (the twirly, spiral energy-saving ones) connected to dimmer switches, but rather repetitive flickers that usually coincide with other electrical usage.

Consistent flickers are usually due to a poor connection in your wiring, affecting a singular part of your circuit. If an entire circuit is affected, the source of the problem will likely be in the breaker or, less frequently, the panel; the panel is a regular source for flickers on an entire circuit. But we’re talking about consecutive flickers coming from a single source. For an example, let’s say an overhead light is flickering every time you turn it on at night. The source of the problem will almost always be spotty connections coming from the light fixture, the switch box or the outlet. To help diagnose which one it is, one should mark when the flickering occurs and for how long. For instance, if it starts immediately as you flip the switch, the likely culprit is the switch box. It’ll make for an easier project, whether you’re trying to fix it yourself or you’re hiring a professional.

Though this seems like a minor issue, these problems almost always cause arcing, which can heat up connections or wires and lead to further problems either with the single fixture or the overall circuit if it goes unchecked. Smaller, fickle outages will likely be unable to be diagnosed until they erupt in an outright open. In any case, the rule of thumb here is to trust a professional electrician with these problems though, if you do go DIY, be sure to shut off electricity to the entire circuit if you’re attempting to replace or repair the wiring or connection.


Let’s Change the Light Fixture!

Let’s Change the Light Fixture!

The act of installing a light fixture is, at the end of the day, a relatively easy task to do by one’s self in the home improvement arena. By learning a few basic truths about electrical work, the job can be done with little more than wire cutters, a flat-head screwdriver and something sturdy to stand on. Oh! And safety measures, of course. Picking and putting up your new light fixture should be one of the easier electrical jobs an amateur DIYer can come to.

First things first: turn off the current. You can turn off the circuit breaker or, if you’d prefer, take out the fuse that supplies energy to the area you’re working in. It’s really your choice. Remove the glass covers on both your new fixture and any existing fixtures, as well as the light bulbs on the existing fixture. If you are indeed replacing an existing fixture, you must disconnect it from the electrical box. There should be one or more screws on the fixture that are used to mount it on the electrical box, behind the fixture; the mounting brackets must be removed as well.

Now, be sure to take down how the existing fixture has been connected to the electrical box; you’ll need this to connect the new fixture. For instance, the wires might be connected directly with the screws that are on the light fixture, or there may be wires that come out of it which are connected to the wires that are coming from the electrical box found within the ceiling or wall. Either way, you will have to disconnect these wires and remember how they are connected.

Once you’ve disconnected everything, attach the wires to your new light fixture. There should be three kinds of wires — white, black, green. The white is the negative, the black is the positive, and the green is the ground; the ground may also be copper. If connected directly to the light fixture, the black wire goes with the brass screw, the white wire goes with the silver screw and the green goes with the green screw. If the new fixture already has wire connections, you will have to connect these with the wires from the electrical box, which means you’ll be using plastic colored wire nuts in this case. When using this type of connection, nut and wire colors are corresponding (black with black).

After everything is connected, simply mount the new fixture to the electrical box with the screws that came with the fixture; in some cases, a mounting bracket may be needed. Put your covers on, screw in your light bulbs and switch your power supply back on, and you’ll be ready to go.


Too hott to handle

Too hott to handle

There are lots of things in your house that it’s easy to overlook. Whether it’s an out of date appliance moldering in the basement, an un-pruned tree in the back yard or a toilet that’s constantly running, things that need to be fixed around your home can often take a backseat to more urgent concerns. However, there are some things that are very dangerous to ignore. For homeowners in Westchester, outlet malfunction is a real danger that can put you and your family at risk.

For homeowners in Westchester, outlet malfunction can arise for many reasons. Older homes often have outlets that are worn or damaged in some way, leading to a heightened risk of electrocution or electrical fire. Missing or damaged face plates – the plastic covering on the outside of electrical outlets – are particularly dangerous, as the wiring inside the outlet is more exposed. Loose wiring or simple wear and tear can make outlets likelier to start electrical fires and increase the risk of electric shock when plugging in or unplugging appliances.

For homeowners in Westchester, outlet malfunction should be taken seriously. Electrical fires can arise suddenly, spread quickly, and leave your home in ruins. Electrocution resulting from a bad outlet or faulty wiring is a particular risk in households with small children. When it comes to problems arising from faulty electrical outlets, fire and electrocution are two risks you never want to take. If you’re serious about protecting your family, it pays to have old, worn or damaged outlets replaced with new, safer ones.

Although it may seem like an easy DIY task, replacing outlets actually requires specialized knowledge and tools. Professional electricians have the expertise to safely and effectively install new electrical outlets in your home, giving you the peace of mind of knowing you and your family are safe. When it comes to electrical work, you should always rely on a licensed professional.


Bright & Brilliant

Bright & Brilliant

Recessed lighting is an unobtrusive way to light your home and grounds, for the lights are flush against the surface. Their form reflects their function by keeping as little of the fixture visible as possible, and for homeowners in Westchester, are an invaluable tool for decorating and illumination. They can be installed anywhere from ceilings, to sidewalks, to playful illumination inside fountains using colorful filters. Recessed lights can be installed flush in your roof, rendering them invisible during the day and inconspicuous at night. Indoors, recessed lights give rooms a feeling of spaciousness, unobstructed by lamps or visible fixtures. Highlight a painting or an antique piece of furniture, or create smooth ambient lighting.

For Westchester homeowners, it is vital to hire a professional to install your recessed lights. While homeowners can legally do electrical renovations, unlike most other kinds, without a permit, fires can result if the lights are improperly installed; therefore, a licensed electrician is always recommended. For example, there are devices made to compensate for the lights’ incompatibility with insulation. Keep insulation at least three feet away to prevent it from igniting.

Going through the attic is the easiest way to install the lights in the ceiling of your Westchester home, whether the home is being constructed or already built, and almost any ceiling material can handle them. A cottage industry now exists of lighting specialists who can install recessed lighting in ceilings below another floor quickly and efficiently.

For homeowners in Westchester, recessed lights won’t hurt your budget: they are cost-efficient, ranging between $125 and $170 per fixture, depending upon size and type, when installed by a professional electrician, and they can take compact fluorescent bulbs, which last approximately seven years. If you are looking for an inexpensive way to brighten your Westchester home, recessed lighting may be the right choice for you.


Safety First, Money Second

Safety First, Money Second

Buying a home is an incredibly exciting, and important, experience, particularly for first-time homebuyers. When you look for a new house, you want to make sure that you’re getting exactly what you want – and getting the most for your money! While many prospective homebuyers know exactly what they’re looking for, they may not know exactly what to look for. For prospective homebuyers in Westchester, home inspection is an indispensible part of the purchasing process, and can help you to get the most for your money, avoiding costly and potentially dangerous problems down the road.

For homebuyers in Westchester, home inspection is not a place to skimp! While many people think that simply looking a house up and down is enough to tell them whether or not it’s in good condition, there are many things that a well-qualified home inspector will catch right away that might not be apparent to the untrained eye. When you’re buying a new house, you want to make sure that it’s safe, secure and worth the purchase price. A skilled home inspector can help you to answer these questions and make sure that you and your family will be safe and happy in your new home.

For homebuyers in Westchester, home inspection can help you to insure that you won’t get any unpleasant surprises. Because a house is perhaps the most important purchase you’ll ever make, it’s essential to find a home inspector – or two – who is good at what they do and will help you to make the right decision for you and your family. When it comes to home inspectors, cheaper is not usually better – you really do get what you pay for! When seeking out a home inspector, make sure to pay attention to their qualifications. Certifications and accreditations can help you to insure that your home inspector is properly qualified; reviews and referrals from satisfied clients can also help you to make an informed decision. Having two inspectors is often advisable, as two expert opinions can help you to make an even better choice.


3-way switches: Add comfort and convenience to your home.

3-way switches: Add comfort and convenience to your home.

Electric lighting is an indispensable convenience for the modern homeowner. Whereas our recent ancestors had to make do with lanterns and candles after the sun went down, electric lights allow us to stay alert and productive long after night falls. Electric lights allow you to extend the day, working, cooking, getting chores done and socializing even when sunlight runs out. There’s no doubt about it: electric lights in the home are a great convenience that should not be taken for granted. However, there is a way to increase the convenience afforded by electric lights: by making sure that you can always reach a light switch! For homeowners in Westchester, three-way switch installation is a great way to add convenience and comfort to your home.

If you want to make sure that a light switch is never out of reach in the rooms of your home in Westchester, three-way switch installation is a great way to do so! Three-way switches are wired so that lights can be turned on by multiple switches. Rather than having to rely on a single light switch to illuminate a room, three-way switches allow you the flexibility of turning on lights from more than one location.

For homeowners in Westchester, three-way switch installation can help to improve your comfort and safety. Have you ever had to stumble through a darkened room just to get to the light switch? With three-way switches, you’ll never have to worry about stumbling through the darkness and stubbing your toe or tripping over furniture. Three-way switches can also allow you to turn the lights on when you enter your bedroom and turn them off once you’re ready to go to sleep, so you don’t have to get up from bed to shut off the lights. If you’re ready for the convenience of electric lighting to get even more convenient, a qualified electrician can help you to do so by installing three-way switches in your home!