All posts by EdW

AFCIs: An Overview

Arc-fault circuit interrupters (AFCIs) serve an important role in building construction by preventing electrical fires. In this, AFCI electronics differ from ground-fault interrupters (GFCI) designed to prevent electrical shocks. This is an important and notable difference because they are two different types of hazards, and AFCIs use a different detection system. While a GFCI is designed to detect a ground fault before engaging, an AFCI instead detects arc faults.

About Arc Faults
Parallel Faults: This fault involves the hot conductor and the return conductor. The root cause is often a screw or a nail that inadvertently pierces your cables, often resulting in damage to both conductors or a partial grounding of the hot wire. Where the AFCI comes in is that it can detect this incorrect electrical pattern and the associated increased heart. This type of fault is often more dangerous than a total short.

Partial Faults: This type of fault involves the misplaced screw or nail piercing your wiring, but the current conductor is not severed. It causes components to overheat, but there is never a current overload, making this type of fault dangerous and hard to detect. An AFCI guards against this particular issue.

Loose Wires: Arc faults can be caused by loose wiring. Connections and wiring must be properly tightened to the correct torque to ensure safety. It is also important to note that wires should not be over-tightened as this can cause damage which leads to permanent electrical issues.

Other Wiring Concerns
In many buildings, the electrical system will use many splices and terminations to effectively power the entire structure. This has the unfortunate side effect of creating several possible points of failure due to loose wiring or wiring that has been over-tightened. Installation of AFCIs addresses this hazard. AFCIs monitor the current waveform of your electrical circuits, looking for signs of an arc fault and cutting the electricity to prevent dangers such as shorts or electrical fires.

AFCI Notes and Tips
AFCIs are available in breaker and receptacle formats just like GFCIs, and provide downstream protection. AFCIs, when installed, allow any downstream protection against arc faults. While this does allow for proper monitoring, it does not protect the wiring, and the wiring itself must be properly and safely installed. AFCIs also come equipped with reset and test buttons which allow for proper configuration. AFCIs are not sensitive to low voltage; however, they can be prone to false alarms during situations such as electrical storms, so it is essential to carefully monitor your devices.

The Parts of Your Furnace

Furnaces offer forced-air heating which is a common way of keeping warm during the colder parts of the year. If you live in an area that has all four seasons, you are likely familiar with furnaces and other heating systems. A broken furnace is not something you want in the middle of winter as it’s not only an annoyance, it can also be very dangerous. Regular maintenance and repairs keep your furnace running at its best and help you keep warm when you need it. The parts of a furnace system include the following.

The Parts of a Furnace System

The Pilot Light: Found in older furnaces, a pilot light ignites the gas to start the heating process when the furnace is turned on.
Thermocouple: The thermocouple works with the pilot light and when it senses the pilot light is lit it signals the gas valve to open.
Hot Subsurface Igniter: If you have a newer furnace, this part replaced the pilot light. This type of igniter is electric-powered, and it raises the internal furnace temperature to ignite the gas.
Flame Sensor: This part works alongside the hot surface igniter. A safety device, the flame sensor detects heat and when no heat is detected it shuts off the gas supply.
Gas Valve: This part serves two important roles. First, it controls the gas sent to the furnace, and second, it adjusts the pressure of the gas coming into your home, so it is suitable for use in the furnace.
Burners: Burners work by mixing air and gas to make a flame which in turn generates heat to warm your home.
Heat Exchanger: When fuel is burned, toxic gases are created. The heat exchanger holds these toxic gases, so they can be safely vented away from your home. The exchanger also gives off the heat these gases produce, warming the air.
Draft Inducer Motor: This motor turns on before the gas is pumped into your furnace. Its role is to help push toxic fumes out of your home via the vent pipe. The inducer motor creates a vacuum to help do this.
Pressure Switch: This part works with the inducer motor. This switch is activated by the vacuum the draft inducer motor creates. Once activated, this switch allows gas to flow into your furnace.
The Blower Motor: This is the part of your furnace that pushes warm air into the duct system and throughout your home.
Blower Motor Capacitor: This is the part that helps start and regulate the blower motor’s speed to ensure it runs constantly.
Limit Switch: This switch detects the temperature in the furnace itself. If your furnace runs too hot, the limit switch shuts off the gas to prevent any safety hazards.
Knowing what parts make up a furnace can help you take better care of it and know when professional help is needed.

What Is the Average Lifespan of a Breaker Panel?

The breaker panel is like the headquarters, command center, and motherboard (of sorts) of your home’s electrical system. Yes, that means it is an important aspect of your home’s efficiency, performance, and safety.

Perform an Annual Test of Your Electrical System
There are many reasons to have a licensed and insured electrician resource:

An average of 46,700 home fires each year are caused by electrical malfunction or failure.
Electrical failures and the second leading cause of home fires
These are only a few reasons why it is important to perform an annual test of your electrical system. In addition to safety, ensuring your home’s electrical system is sound will also ensure performance when you need and want it.

The moral of the story is to check your breaker panel regularly and have it inspected by a professional electrician. In addition to providing the security and safety you expect, and the performance you need for your electric devices, you will also get the most out of your breaker panel.

What Is the Life Expectancy of a Breaker Panel?
When you plug in that appliance or that extension cord to your outlet, you expect it to deliver the power you need. You don’t want to worry about electrical problems, and taking care of your breaker panel means you can relax and plug in.

The good news is your breaker panel will last for a long time, on average more than two decades. In fact, the average life expectancy of a breaker panel is approximately 25 years. Even with regular checkups and inspections, there is a point when it will be advisable and safest to replace that panel.

How old is your home? Was the breaker panel already installed when you moved in? Do you know when your home’s current breaker panel was installed? Over time, like any circuit and control system from your vehicle to your breaker panel, age, wear, use, and many other factors can create issues.

Contact Walsh Electric for All Your Electrical Needs
If you need a professional inspection of your home’s electrical system or have electricity problems, then the friendly, professional and experienced team at Walsh Electric can help. Electricity is an amazing and trusted power source, but also a dangerous one. If you notice an electrical issue, don’t wait. Contact us if you have any questions or need to schedule an electrician today.

What Is a Heat Pump?

If you are thinking about a heat pump for your home or office, you probably have some questions. Perhaps you have heard about the benefits of heat pumps, like heat pumps do not burn fossil fuel and are more cost-effective than traditional systems.

The good news is all of that is true, and there are many more benefits and reasons to consider heat pump options, but what is a heat pump? The two basic systems of heat pumps are air-source and ground-source. Ground source heat pumps (aka geothermal heat pumps) are the most efficient and affordable to operate, although they come with higher installation costs.

Air source heat pumps, which are most common for residential use, offer comparable benefits and cost less to install. Colder temperatures are the major concern for air source heat pumps, but options such as electric heat strips and dual fuel systems are viable solutions.

The Heat Pump
Although the name suggests the manufacture of heat or some type of air, heat pumps actually do not create heat or cold. The primary job of the heat pump is to act as an air transfer system. Essentially, that means hot air in and cold air out or vice versa.

Heat pumps use an outdoor and indoor unit with a coil and fan to handle the air transfer. The aforementioned ground source heat pumps and air source units function similarly except for their air sources.

Heat pumps also include refrigerant and compressor components. The heat pump uses refrigerant to absorb or negate heat during circulation. The compressor is responsible for pressurizing the refrigerant, enabling circulation through the vent system.

The expansion and reversing valves control and meter the airflow through the system and control the flow of refrigerant depending on heating or cooling settings. These are the fundamental parts of a heat pump system.

Together, these parts of the heat pump are powered by electricity and work to transfer heat and use refrigerant, providing year-round comfort. If you are considering a heat pump or need services, you should contact a service contractor for help.

Contact Walsh Electric for Your Repair and Service Needs

Welcome to Walsh Electric. Since 1985, we have been providing exceptional electrical services to the greater DC area. We specialize in electrical repairs, upgrades, maintenance, and everything in between.

Additionally, we are NFPA and NETA certified and have an outstanding relationship with the Better Business Bureau. If you have questions or need heat pump service, contact us at Walsh Electric today.

What Is The Best Lighting For My Business?

Current ergonomic studies have revealed that lighting significantly impacts your mood and productivity. Ergonomists study how people are efficient in their workplaces. You might have noticed that you will feel more relaxed and energetic whenever you walk under the noontime sunlight. Well, this is not just your imagination but a proven fact. Most employees report that good office lighting is critical to their work. Therefore, striving to find quality lighting for your office should be your utmost priority.

How Will Lighting Affect Your Mood and Productivity
The source of your office light could be artificial or natural, dim or bright, blue or yellow. The light your employees work under will affect their mood, daily pace, physical well-being, productivity, and resourcefulness differently. You cannot work at all without any light. However, when the light is dim, it becomes difficult for employees to work since continuous eye strain causes drowsiness and tiredness.

On the other hand, when the light is too bright, it is harsh on their eyes, affects their sleep patterns, and induces constant migraines. Poor lighting will cause your brain to strain to function, leading to fatigue and reducing your productivity and creativity.

Which Is the Best Office Lighting?
Finding the best light source that is the right balance between dim and too bright can be a daunting task. It is especially so due to the variety of office light fixtures and shades available in the market. The following tips will help you choose the best office lighting that will boost your employees’ efficiency, inspiration, and general health.

Fluorescent or LED Office Light Source
Fluorescent lights consume more energy than LED lights due to their infrared radiation. Many office managers now prefer LED lights over fluorescent since they last longer and are eventually cost-effective despite their initial high costs. LED lights are also advantageous because they boost employees’ health and productivity.

Fluorescent lights have been associated with migraines and poor sleep patterns. Unlike fluorescent, you can adjust the brightness of LED lights to match the employees’ needs according to the time and season.

Office Natural Light Source
Recent research findings have linked exposure to natural light in the office to less blurred vision, migraines, and eye strain among employees. Working under natural light helps employees maintain healthy sleep patterns and productivity during the day. This is because natural lights regulate your hormones and help to balance diurnal rhythm. Windows are a great way of letting natural light into your office spaces. Skylights will also help natural light flow into your office if you do not have enough windows.

Office Lighting Color and Temperature
The shade and warmth of the lighting should depend on how you use the office. The proper amount of illumination and the health effects of various spectrums and light intensity are essential and should be considered in the office design. Warmer yellow or orange lighting is typically preferable for unwinding, while cooler blue and white lighting are excellent for working, waking up, and focusing. The lighting tone and temperature should be adjustable to the time of day.

The Power of Right Light
The right amount of light suitable to your office function, the time of day, and the season will go a long way in boosting your employees’ mood, inspiration, productivity, and overall well-being. You should consider the light source that will produce the right light intensity and temperature for your employees round the working clock.