What does a Garden Gnome do when she is not gardening, in the kitchen or doing genealogy? Well the answer might just surprise you so read the entries to find out more. This blog focuses on everything we do to make our house a home. There will be a strong emphasis on home energy efficiency and do-it-yourself (DIY) projects. At the same time there will also be crafts, knitting and crocheting projects along with any other little tips we do to create that down to earth, I want to be here home. Please enjoy your visit :)

Monday, July 23, 2007

Electrical Problems

Hydro One Workers
July 17, 2007

The saga of our electrical problems continued...

In a previous entry I detailed how we tested an marked all the electrical receptacles for problems. Since most were on the rather old side we decided to replace all receptacles and switches. We had hoped that this would solve our brownouts and to some degree replacing the kitchen receptacles and switches helped but did not eliminate the brownouts nor did it help with the power surge followed by a brownout then back to normal whenever the dryer was started. The dryer is a gas Whirlpool Duet less than a year old that I talked about in a previous entry. Electricity is need for the electronic control of the dryer so we knew it should not create this type of problem.

Part of being a good DIYer is knowing when to hire professionals. There is a lot of household repairs my husband and myself can do many gained by renovating a turn of the century home several years back. One of the first things we learned with that project is sometimes it is better to hire a professional. It is certainly false frugality to attempt a repair yourself that is beyond your abilities and has the potential to put your family or property at risk. The brownouts and power surges were a concern so we called our electrician. He has worked with us for almost 20 years and did portions of the rewiring in the house previously mentioned. Whenever we run into an electrical problem beyond our abilities we call him. I showed him the problems and he said he needed to look outside.

Brownouts indicate a decrease in the voltage through the electrical lines while power surges indicate an increase in the voltage of electricity through the wires. Both can originate from outside the home. Power surges can enter through telephone, power or cable lines and can damage computer equipment, household appliances as well as heating and cooling units. Brownouts can be damaging to electrical motors such as your HAVC fan. In our case the power surge was of more concern than the brownouts since our HAVC fan wasn't being used but the brownouts could have damaged our refrigerator, freezers and microwave oven.

He was outside for a couple of minutes. When he came back in he asked for a hydro bill and immediately called Hydro One, Ontario's electricity provider. He explained what he found outside and what was happening. Workers from Hydro One arrived within 15 minutes! They had to access our roof from the neighbour's yard but that wasn't a problem. Apparently we had purple connectors on the main into the house that sparked as soon as the wire was touched. The workers said that we were very lucky the house hadn't caught on fire. Our electricity was off for about a half hour while they made the necessary repairs. We no longer have the brownouts or power surges and have eliminated a potential fire hazard.

Another problem our electician found and one that we would have found was a few burnt wires in the panel box. The simple solution was to trim these wires and reconnect them properly and install a new breaker. Our electrician did this repair while checking for other problems in the panel box. The burnt wires were likely due to an overloaded circuit and faulty breaker. This was another potential fire hazard.

Remember when working with electricity safety is first and if in doubt always call in a professional! Your life, your family's lives and your home depend on this.

As far as the rest of our electrical concerns, most are DIY projects that I will be posting on later.

Garden Gnome
© 2007


Robert Mandrake said...

Thank you for the information.

Garden Gnome said...

You are welcome :)

jayedee said...

thank goodness for hydro one! (and the fact that it wasn't a costly repair for you!)
what a tragedy it could have been!

Jeremy said...

Many people do not understand that electrical systems need maintenance just like air conditioners and autos.

Electric components such as outlets, switches, breakers, wiring, and fixtures all undergo changes in temperature during use and many times wires need to be retightened at breakers.

Early signs of problems can be switches that make noise or pops, breakers that are hot to the touch (panel cover on please)outlets that do not maintain a ground or that plugs feel loose in, fixtures that smell hot, or as you experienced, brownouts.

Great post and I enjoy your site.