Category Archives: Articles

Why You Should Leave Electrical Work to the Professionals

When you’re having electrical issues, you may be tempted to work on the problem yourself. Maybe you’re handy in other areas around the house and you think you can figure out the issue and fix it? In the case of electrical, it might be smart to skip the DIY. Not only can you damage the equipment, you could severely injure yourself!

It’s almost always best to call a professional electrician in Alexandria, VA to handle any electrical work in your home or property. Keep reading to find out more about common electrical issues and why each one is best left to a professional.

  • Outlet malfunctions: Your outlet may be buzzing or burnt, or maybe it’s too loose to hold a plug. This may be due to the age of the wiring system, and faulty wiring systems can be extremely dangerous to handle if you don’t know what you’re doing. A professional electrician in Alexandria, VA can also help install more outlets, as well as turn 2-pronged outlets into 3-pronged grounded outlets, and fix tripping breakers.
  • Dimming/flickering lights: Lights that dim or flicker are a bigger issue than the nuisance they cause for your eyes. Dimming or flickering lights can be a sign that the connection is loose or there’s a short in the circuit. You’ll need a professional to detect the source of the problem and prevent possible damage or even fires.
  • Outdated wiring: Outdated or improperly installed wiring can be extremely dangerous. Older homes may have outdated knob-and-tube wiring or unsafely installed aluminum wiring. If you haven’t had a home inspection on your wiring in the past few decades, it’s time to contact a professional electrician in Alexandria, VA to check on your electrical system.
  • Breaker trips: Repeated breaker trips may be able to be solved by redistributing or reducing the circuit load, but if that doesn’t solve the issue, your short circuit may be a result of exposed or touching wires, broken wires, a ground fault or a loose connection. Any of the above can be very dangerous, and definitely requires an electrician to handle.
  • Humming breakers: Humming or buzzing breakers also indicate a faulty breaker. It is possible that it is overloaded and cannot trip. You’ll want to flip it off manually to prevent further damage or fire, then contact an electrician to work on your breaker.
  • Water issues: Any problems you’re having in moist or wet areas are extremely dangerous to tackle on your own. This includes areas near plumbing. A professional electrician in Alexandria, VA will know how to handle your particular situation.
  • Insufficient power supply: Older homes may not have the wiring system to support today’s appliances. Many houses even a few decades all run on 60-amp services, which is not sufficient for most modern lifestyles. A professional can get you upgraded safely.

Walsh Electric has provided electrical services to our residential and commercial customers in Northern Virginia, DC and Maryland for over 30 years. We deliver exceptional customer service, including emergency service and a fast response to service calls. Our experienced team of master electricians and technicians are trained and ready for any project. Give us a call today!

Why You Should Leave Electrical Work to the Professionals

Considering rewiring your home? You may be wondering if it’s smart to hire a residential electrical contractor in Alexandria, VA. If your home is older, especially older than 50 years, it almost certainly needs rewiring if it hasn’t had it done already. A call to a professional is the most responsible decision you can make.

Bad wiring can be extremely dangerous. In fact, 39 percent of home electrical fires involve outlets, interior house wiring and other electrical wiring. The good news is, you can prevent many home fires by scheduling a residential electrical contractor in Alexandria to look at your electrical wiring. Look for these other signs that indicate it’s time to rewire your home.

  • Flickering lights: If your lights are flickering or dimming, this is a sign there is an issue with your wiring, and it could be a dangerous problem. Flickering lights are also a common sign your electrical wiring is outdated—in which case, it should be rewired as soon as possible.
  • Loose or sparking outlets: If your outlets are too loose to hold a plug, or they are hot to the touch or sparking when plugging in or taking out an electrical cord, you need to call a residential electrical contractor in Alexandria, VA as soon as possible. They’ll be able to diagnose the problem and fix it before it causes more damage or a fire.
  • Shocks: If you feel a shock when you plug something in an outlet or take it out, you have a major issue that should be looked it. Under well-operating wiring and systems, you should never receive a shock from your appliances, cords or electronics.
  • Blown or tripping circuits: Blowing or tripping circuits is something that can occasionally happen even if your wiring is fine. However, frequently blowing circuits indicates there is a major problem with your wiring. Wires could be touching or creating other dangerous conditions that need to be checked out by a professional.
  • Aluminum wiring: Aluminum wiring is common in homes over 40 years old. You’ll be able to tell if your wiring is aluminum if the letters “AL” are written on the wiring jacket. Failing aluminum wiring connections can cause overheating and lead to a fire. You’ll want to have your home rewired if aluminum wiring is present.
  • Discolored or charred switches: If you see discoloration on your switches or outlets, that means that there was a short caused by a loose connection or faulty wiring near the outlet or switch. This connection caused arcing and sparking that caused a small fire, which then charred the surface of the outlet or switch.

Older wiring was not meant to handle the electrical load of modern homes with today’s appliances and electronics. Since the wiring on older homes is likely to be deteriorating and not properly insulated, the heat of overloading the system causes surrounding materials to catch fire.

If you’re in need of rewiring and looking for a residential electrical contractor in Alexandria, VA, contact Walsh Electric. We have a team of experienced master electricians ready to rewire your home. Call us today!

Surge Protection for Homes and Businesses

A power surge is a short burst of energy caused by a quick change in the conditions of an electrical circuit. Power surges are inevitable, which is why it’s so important for properties’ electrical systems to be protected against them, as a lack of surge protection could lead to massive losses in equipment and the need for an appointment with commercial electrical contractors in Alexandria, VA who can provide the required repairs.

About 60 to 80 percent of power surges are caused by problems that arise within the facility that houses the electrical equipment. The rest are caused by external events that may affect the internal electrical system through various power cords, cable lines, telephone lines and more. Examples of events that can cause power surges include:

  • •Problems with the local power system: Low-quality power is one of the primary causes of downtime. The most common source for this issue is the local electric company. Some of the points of failure in the system could be faulty wiring, downed power lines, breakdowns of equipment, capacitors switching or grid shifting. In addition, large users on the same power line can create power surges, as can heavy electrical equipment that frequently turns on and off.
  • •Lightning: While it is rare for direct lightning strikes to cause power surges, it can happen, as this accounts for about 2 percent of damage caused by power surges. When this happens, the power surges produced can be devastating. In addition, the electromagnetic fields created by lightning can induce their own power surges that affect radio frequencies, telecommunications and power.
  • •Facility events: Switching between high-powered electrical devices is one of the most common causes of surges generated within a specific facility. Other common causes include ignition and interruption of electrical arcs used for welding, tripping of circuit breakers and fuses and more.

With all this in mind, it is important for homeowners and facility operators to address the risks associated with power surges and take whatever steps are needed to prevent them from causing serious issues in their electrical systems. Properties should have surge protection installed to guard against external sources at any point where external power is supplied to the property. All electrical systems should have a common “ground” and should enter the building within just a few feet of each other to make it easier to provide this protection. In addition, communications and low voltage lines should be kept away from power cables within the property, and should cross at right angles whenever possible.

If your facility is an industrial facility that features large motors, welders or other such equipment, make sure to include surge protection at distribution panels throughout the facility. There should also be surge protection in place for other specific individual pieces of equipment. Finally, all electrical and telecommunications systems should be designed and installed in a manner that minimizes power disruptions as much as possible.

For more information about surge protection in your home or business and the specific steps you should take, contact an experienced commercial electrical contractor in Alexandria, VA at Walsh Electric today.

Grid-Tied Solar Power Systems

Alternative energy solutions continue to become more popular throughout the United States for their ability to protect the environment and deliver more energy-efficient solutions to homes and businesses. A grid-tied system (also referred to as an on-grid, grid intertie or grid backfeeding system) is a type of solar system that gets connected to the utility power grid, and such systems have been exploding in popularity in North America in recent years.

Here’s an overview from our team of residential electrical contractors in Alexandria, VA about what you should know about this sort of system.

The benefits of grid-tied systems

One of the biggest advantages associated with grid-tied solar systems is that they allow you to save a significant amount of money. They provide much better efficiency rates, include net metering and have lower costs of equipment and installation than other solar alternatives.

For your solar system to be fully functional when used off the grid, you’ll need a variety of batteries and other standalone equipment that don’t just increase your costs of installation, but also increase the amount of maintenance you have to perform. This makes grid-tied systems cheaper and easier. In addition, you should keep in mind that solar panels you place on your property will generate more electricity than what you’re capable of consuming. With the net metering of grid-tied systems, you can put the excess electricity you don’t use back into the grid rather than storing it yourself, passing on some of the benefits to your community.

The utility grid used in this system acts as a sort of virtual battery. You’ll need to spend the energy in real time, but you can temporarily store it as other forms of energy, such as the chemical energy you’d find in a battery. Energy storage can come with some major losses, but with this electric power grid, you get better efficiency rates. You’d lose much more electricity through a standard, conventional battery system than with a grid-tied system.

Getting your equipment

So, what exactly do you need for a grid-tied system beyond your solar panels? Not as much as you’d need for an off-grid system:

  • •Grid-tie inverter (GTI): The inverter regulates the voltage and current you get from your solar panels. Direct current from the panels gets converted into alternating current, the kind of current used for most appliances.
  • •Micro-inverters: These smaller inverters are placed on the back of every solar panel you install on your property. This setup exists rather than having a single central inverter that manages the whole solar array. While micro-inverters come with a higher initial expense, they are also significantly more efficient.
  • •Power meter: You will likely need to replace the power meter you already have at your home with one that will be compatible with net metering. The meter should be capable of measuring power that goes in both directions.

For more information about grid-tied solar power systems and their advantages, contact Walsh Electric to speak with our residential electrical contractors in Alexandria, VA.

The Differences in LED Color Temperatures

If you’re interested in purchasing LED lighting for your home, one of the factors you’re going to have to consider is color temperature. When we talk about temperature, we’re not referring to the temperature of the light itself—light, of course, does not have a temperature in the traditional sense. Instead, we are referring to the warmth or coolness of the color.

Think, for example, of how a piece of metal can change colors depending on how much it’s heated up. At first it starts to glow red, then orange, yellow, white and eventually gets closer to blue. The higher the temperature of the metal, the “cooler” the color temperature gets, which can be confusing for people who are used to referring to colors like blue, green and purple as “cool.” But that’s what we’re talking about when looking at LED color temperatures.

Here’s some information about this from a team specializing in electrical lighting installation in Alexandria, VA.

What to know about LED color temperatures

Your standard incandescent lightbulb generally gives off a yellowish light with a temperature of around 2,700K. A normal halogen bulb is slightly cooler or whiter in color, at about 3,000K. Most of the Western world uses incandescent or halogen lighting in their homes, so these colors have a sort of comfort level that we are used to, along with their warmer color tones.

Generally, industrial settings have higher intensity lightings and higher color temperatures, especially for high bay lighting and other similar types of applications. In many cases, you’ll find color temperatures in the range of 4,500 to 5,000K, where the light is just starting to have a bluish tint to it.

In the commercial world, there is also quite a wide range of LED color uses. In jewelry cases or other types of display cases, for example, you’ll often see bluish lights in the 6,500K range or higher, which can help to bring out the shine, clarity and sparkle of silver, diamonds and jewels.

The more intense the light becomes, the more the perception of the temperature of that color changes. On an extremely bright day, the light’s color temperature could be 8,000 to 10,000K, but our eyes do not perceive that as being a blue light, even though that is the case. This might be a confusing concept, because you may say “but the sky is blue!” The sky is not blue because of the temperature of the light, though—it’s blue because of the way the light scatters in the atmosphere, with the shorter blue wavelengths getting absorbed and radiated by gas molecules to produce a blue color across the sky.

Ultimately, the temperature of light you choose comes down to personal preference and the way you’ll be using your light. But our team of electricians is happy to provide you with some LED color temperature advice when you’re looking for electrical lighting installation in Alexandria, VA. Contact Walsh Electric today to learn more about color temperature or schedule a service appointment!