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Seven Reasons to Upgrade Your Electrical Panel

The electrical panel is one of the most important appliances and components of your home. It is the central nervous system for all of your wiring and electrical features, and provides power to the entire home. At a certain point, though, the panel will become outdated, at which time you’ll need to consider whether it’s time for you to make an upgrade.

Here are just a few of the reasons why people tend to hire residential electrical contractors in Alexandria, VA to upgrade their electrical panels:

  • Old homes: Old homes tend to mean old wiring and fixtures. While retro décor and aesthetics can be popular, you should not stick to retro wiring. Some older homes might have obsolete wiring and electrical panels. If, for example, you still have a 60-amp panel, it is important to upgrade to 200 amps so you can use modern electrical equipment safely.
  • New appliances: Outdated electrical panels can have a hard time standing up to the energy loads needed to power all of the new appliances you have in your home. If you install a new air conditioner, refrigerator, washer and dryer, water heater or other type of new appliance and find you start having power issues, this is probably a sign that it’s time for you to upgrade your electrical panel.
  • You’re still using a fuse box: Fuse boxes have long been outdated, as circuit breakers are much more reliable and efficient, and will not trip off due to overloads. Replacing your electrical panel makes sense if you have a fuse box you need to replace with a breaker panel.
  • Your homeowners insurance is expensive: It costs more money to insure a home that has outdated electrical features, like old wiring and old electrical panels. Replacing a fuse box with a breaker panel or an outdated electrical panel with a new one will allow you to get some discounts on your homeowners insurance premium, which can add up over time to some good savings.
  • Greater efficiency: Newer electrical panels operate much more efficiently than older ones. This means you’ll be able to use less energy to power your home, which is both better for the environment and better for your bank account.
  • Increased home value: Buyers are less likely to want to purchase a home if they know they’re going to have to make some major upgrades to its electrical systems. Therefore, an upgrade to your electrical panel can help you increase the value of your home and make it more attractive to potential buyers if you know you’re going to be putting it on the market anytime soon.
  • Greater safety: Working with updated electrical panels ensures greater safety in the form of a lower fire risk and a lower risk of power surges.

If you believe the time has come for you to replace your home’s electrical panel, make sure you reach out to the team of highly skilled and capable residential electrical contractors in Alexandria, VA at Walsh Electric with any questions you have.

2020 Energy Saving Tips

We all want to save money and protect the environment, and the easiest way to do that is to conserve energy, starting at home. You’d be amazed at how simple changes can yield drastic results, whether it’s switching out your old lightbulbs for LEDs or investing in energy-efficient appliances. You can even ask an electrical contractor in Alexandria, VA to perform an energy audit on your home to discover any potential problems with your wiring. You’ll love the power savings, and the planet will thank you.

Here are some of the best ways to save energy all year long:

  • Energy-efficient appliances: If your appliances are more than 10 years old, chances are they’re sucking up a lot more money than they should be. Today’s energy-efficient offerings harness advances in technology to reduce your power usage.
  • Turn down your water heater: How much hot water do you need? Your water heater might be working overtime. If replacing your water heater with an energy-efficient model isn’t currently in the cards, be sure to turn down the thermostat and insulate the outside.
  • Replace your lightbulbs: Incandescent bulbs might provide a warm glow, but they use a lot more power than necessary. Today’s LED bulbs emulate the look of their incandescent predecessors, but can make for significant savings.
  • Switch out your power strips: The “phantom load,” or the way electronics use power even when they’re not in use, can cost you hundreds of dollars per year. New “smart strips” are able to detect when your electronics are in use, and shut them down when they’re not.
  • Seal and protect your home: From insulation to energy-efficient windows, making sure your home is weatherproof can keep warm air from escaping (or infiltrating) your home. This helps save money by reducing the amount of time and energy your HVAC system needs to cool or heat your house.
  • Install a smart thermostat: Speaking of your HVAC system, smart or programmable thermostats will automatically reduce your energy usage by turning your heat or air conditioning down when you’re asleep or not at home.
  • Adjust your energy habits: Finally, don’t underestimate the power of changing your daily habits. Turn off lights when you’re not in the room and unplug electronics when they’re not in use. Adjust your thermostat so it’s a few degrees warmer in the summer and cooler in the winter. Finally, you can hang your clothes out to dry instead of using a dryer, or hand wash your dishes. Every little bit counts!

Electrical contractor in Alexandria, VA

Walsh Electric has been the greater D.C. area’s top electrical contractor for over three decades. Our skilled technicians are on hand 24 hours a day to provide electrical repairs, upgrades, maintenance and installation for commercial buildings and residences. If your power bills have been out of control lately, call us. We’ll be happy to inspect your home, find the source of the problem and help you make a plan to fix it. Get in touch with us today to schedule a consultation.

The Benefits of Owning a Backup Generator for Your Home

If you’ve ever experienced a power blackout, you know how frustrating and inconvenient they can be. Not only do they interrupt your day, but not knowing when power will be restored is anxiety-provoking. Will your food go bad? Will you suffer for long periods without heat or air conditioning? If you are or live with the elderly, blackouts can be hazardous to your health.

When you can’t call a 24-hour emergency electrician in Alexandria, VA, a residential backup generator is invaluable. You’ll still have power for your appliances, lights, air conditioners and heaters so that your daily activities won’t come to a screeching halt.

Do I need a backup generator?

Backup generators can be an investment, so whether you want to spend the money will depend on your personal situation. You may own it for years and never use it, and then eventually need it three or four times during a particularly nasty winter.

If you’re relying on electricity to power medical equipment or live with people who can’t go for extended periods of time without heat, air conditioning or electrically-powered equipment, having a backup generator is a smart choice. Living in an area with frequent storms and outages also helps make the case for buying. Bonus: Having a generator protects your home from voltage fluctuations when the power eventually turns back on.

The biggest benefit that comes with a backup generator, though, is peace of mind. Backup generators are designed to operate safely in a variety of different situations. Even if there’s a disaster, you’ll be prepared—and your loved ones will appreciate that, too. Plus, if your 24-hour emergency electrician in Alexandria, VA has a backlog of clients ahead of you, this won’t be as big an inconvenience.

Natural gas vs. propane

If your home is hooked up to a city grid, you probably have access to natural gas lines—so when choosing a backup generator, you would usually opt for that power source. If you live in a rural area, or are unable to extend the gas lines to your home, propane is a cost-effective alternative.

Both natural gas and propane are tasteless and colorless, but have a unique added odor to alert you to any leaks. Both sources of fuel are affordable and abundant, and won’t go bad over time. This means you can safely store propane tanks on your property for use in longer power outages.

Whether you choose natural gas or propane for your backup generator, you’re assured safe and clean operation. Purchasing a backup generator might be an investment, but it’s one that will help keep your household running smoothly, and it may even add value to your home.

24-hour emergency electrician in Alexandria, VA

Since 1985, Walsh Electric has been providing highly-skilled electrical services to the greater D.C. area. We specialize in electrical repairs, upgrades, maintenance and more for both commercial buildings and residences. Our technicians are standing by 24/7 to assist you. When the power goes out, we’re ready. Call us today to find out more about our wide variety of services. We look forward to serving you soon!

How to Avoid the Most Common Winter Electrical Problems

Winter weather puts a strain on many home electrical systems. It’s not just that you could accidentally find yourself without power on one of the coldest days of the year—some electrical problems can cause fire hazards, especially if you’re overloading your circuits with holiday décor, space heaters and electric blankets. Avoid having to call for an emergency electrician in Alexandria, VA by following these tips to keep your home and office safe.

Inadequate electrical system

Your electrical system works overtime in the winter, from your heating system to the holiday decorations. Have your lights been flickering, or have you been tripping your breakers more than usual? You might be overloading your electrical system.

There are two solutions to address this problem. First, you can evaluate your appliances and decide if it’s time to replace them with energy-efficient models. If your appliances (like the washer, dryer and refrigerator) are more than 10 years old, they’re probably using a lot more power than they have to (and more than you realize).

The second solution is to “heavy up,” which is an industry expression for increasing the amperage of your home’s electrical system. If your home is over 20 years old, it may not be wired for the demands of today’s technology and appliances. You can have an electrician come inspect your system to see if you’re at risk for fires or outages.

Outdated heating equipment

Are you still using your old space heaters and electric blankets? If they’re more than five years old, they could be a hazard to your home. Space heaters are great for warming up the parts of your house that the heater never seems to reach, but they use a lot of electricity in the process. Always plug your heater into a dedicated wall outlet and unplug it when not in use. If your space heater’s or electric blanket’s cords are frayed or worn, it’s time to replace them.

Electrical fire hazards

Holiday décor and dry winter weather can create electrical fire and shock hazards. Always keep your Christmas tree away from heat sources, and inspect all of your holiday lights for damage and wear. If they’re older than five years, consider replacing them.

Extension cords can also be a source of problems—they don’t reliably trip circuit breakers, which can cause fires. That means that you should only use them temporarily, and unplug them when not in use.

Finally, avoid electrical shocks from dry winter weather by using a humidifier in your home.

Emergency electrician in Alexandria, VA

Since 1985, Walsh Electric has served the Alexandria area with skilled electrical contractors who can handle your toughest problems. We offer services for residential, commercial and government clients and have electricians on call and ready to help 24/7. Whatever the size and scope of your electrical problem, our technicians can help you get back to normal, upgrade your electric system or perform routine inspection and maintenance to avoid future problems. Call us today to find out how we can help you.

Common Electrical Problems in the Winter

Winter brings a host of issues, including the possibility of electrical problems. With cold and inclement weather in full swing, holiday decorations overloading the system and other major issues, you could find yourself unexpectedly without power. The best way to prevent problems is to catch them before they start, so you’re not calling an electrician in Alexandria, VA when you could be doing something more fun.

Here’s a list of what to watch out for when the temperature drops:

  • Overloading your breakers: If you’ve been tripping breakers more regularly than usual, you’re not alone. The holiday season is beautiful thanks in part to Christmas trees, lights, and other decorations—but it’s also very easy for these temporary additions to overload your electrical system. One solution for this is to upgrade your home’s electrical system with the help of a licensed electrician. That goes double if you live in an older home where using a hairdryer at the same time as your coffee maker seems to cause serious issues.
  • Space heaters: Space heaters are a potential fire hazard when used incorrectly. They also consume a significant amount of energy with limited results, making them an inefficient way to heat your home. If you do use them, be sure to plug them into a dedicated plug, unplug them when not in use and always keep them away from drapery, upholstery and other hazards.
  • Static electricity: When the air is dry, static electricity can become a real problem. If you have a damaged electrical circuit or fire hazard nearby, static electricity can result in severe electric shocks. If you suspect that your electrical system is outdated, call an electrician. Otherwise, using a humidifier in your home can help cut down on the risk.
  • Outdated heating systems: In addition to space heaters, any type of heating element you use—including electric blankets and throws—need to be checked regularly for any problems. This is because outdated equipment is often incompatible with modern electrical systems, and can present a fire hazard. If your electric throw is more than five years old, it may need to be replaced. Always unplug heating elements when not in use.
  • Inclement weather and power outages: Finally, winter storms can knock out power at the least convenient time, which is why you should strive to make sure your electrical system is protected, running safely and has a backup generator for the worst storms. Call an electrician for routine maintenance before the season starts, or as soon as you notice any problems like lights flickering, breakers tripping or unusual outages.

    Winter can wreak havoc on your electrical system, but with preventative maintenance, you’ll stay warm all season long.

Hire an electrician in Alexandria, VA

The electricians at Walsh Electric have been offering skilled electrical contracting and repair services since 1985. Whether you’re a residential, commercial or government client, we have the knowledge and experience to handle whatever challenges you’re facing, 24/7. Call us today—we can help get your home or business back to normal in no time.