How to Recognize Electrical Hazards

Here are some tips to help you recognize where to look for electrical hazards.

  • Exposed electrical parts
  • Inadequate wiring
  • Overhead power-lines
  • Wires with bad insulation can shock you
  • Electrical systems and tools that are not grounded or double-insulated
  • Damaged power tools and equipment
  • Using the wrong tool
  • Some on-side chemicals are harmful
  • Defective ladders and scaffolding
  • Ladders that conduct electricity
  • Overloaded circuits
  • Electrical hazards can be made worse if the worker, location, or equipment is wet.

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Ammonia – 10 Things You Should Know

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  1. Water absorbs ammonia to form ammonium hydroxide and has a high pH (alkaline).  Contain pooled amounts in a safe location so the ammonia solution can evaporate or otherwise be mitigated.
  2. Ammonia reacts violently with chlorine, acids brass, copper, silver, and zinc.  These elements corrode rapidly when mixed with ammonia in the presence of moisture.
  3. Large volumes of water dilute ammonia but form a highly corrosive ammonia hydroxide solution.  Avoid using water unless it’s absolutely necessary to protect live (evacuation or rescue).  Never put water on ammonia liquid, an aerosol steam, or an aerosol-dense gas cloud.
  4. Ammonia is easy to contain by tarping the component that is releasing it, especially for outside releases.  For inside releases, close doors and block openings to the buildings with a tarp.
  5. If an ammonia cloud is spreading toward your home or business and you cannot immediately escape upwind safely, stay indoors (shelter in place), seal the doorways and windows, shut off heating and ventilation systems, and wait until the cloud passes.  If ammonia vapor enters the structure where people are sheltered, consider using a wet washcloth over the nose and mouth to catch the ammonia vapors (rinse or replace the cloth if it becomes saturated with ammonia vapor), take shallow breaths through the nose, and/or move to a bathroom and turn on a shower.
  6. Free-flowing ammonia vapor tends to stay together in a a shape of its own, because in dense amounts it creates a cooler-than-ambient environment.  Ammonia travels downwind in a V-pattern and eventually dissipates upward into the atmosphere.
  7. Stay out of a cloud of ammonia contained inside a room, as it may be flammable and will be very cold.
  8. Allow ammonia vapors to escape to the atmosphere unless the release is causing a serious threat to life safety.  Dry, windy weather dissipates ammonia the fastest.  Humid and foggy weather results in poor dissipation.  Inversion pressures (smoggy day) slow dissipation.  Rain dissipates ammonia releases (contain the runoff until the pH is in the 7-9 range).  Ammonia will follow the wind direction and track along low valleys until is dissipates.
  9. The best overall method of handling a release is to control ventilation and reduce pressure by releasing it to the atmosphere (from containment within a building or under a containment tarp).  Allow ammonia to dissipate to the atmosphere if people downwind are adequately protected or evacuated.
  10. If caught in an ammonia release, escape laterally and move upwind.  When the release direction is difficult to assess, move inside to shelter in place or move toward someone who has proper personal protective equipment.

Source: Ammonia Safety & Training Institute; www.ammonia-safety.com

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What Should I Set My Thermostat To When I’m On Vacation?

In light of my vacation to California coming up at the end of the week, I felt this was the perfect topic.  It also doesn’t hurt that “What should I set my thermostat to when I’m away on vacation or I’m not home?” is a common question we hear from our customers.  During the spring and summer months, people spend a lot of time on vacation. When these people come home, they don’t want to come back to an unbearably hot house.  They especially don’t want to pay for unreasonably high energy bills when they haven’t even been home.

Picking the perfect temperature setting while on vacation depends on what the homeowner normally sets their cooling system temperature at when they are home. When on vacation, the thermostat should be set a maximum of five degrees higher than the normal setting. For example, If it is normally set at 73 when they are home, the thermostat should be set it at 78 while they are away.

This way energy is not wasted and the house won’t be overly toasty and humid when they return. It should be noted that cooling only changes the air 18 to 22 degrees, while heating changes the temperature 20 to 40 degrees.

It is important to NOT completely turn off the air conditioner so humidity is still being removed from the home.  This is because heat and humidity is the ideal breeding ground for mold, mildew, and fungus.

Another option is to have us install a WiFi Thermostat for:

  • Remote access with Cloud connectivity lets you adjust temperature and control energy costs from anywhere, using your smartphone, tablet or laptop.
  • One-Touch Away Mode overrides your regular programming schedule when you’re away and automatically turns down heating or cooling to save energy.
  • Weather-on-Demand with five-day forecast lets you know what to expect outside throughout the day.
  • Alerts and Reminders not only will your iComfort Wi-Fi monitor itself with advanced diagnostics, it can also send you and your dealer alerts and emails if the system needs service or maintenance.
  • The Nuvango™ skin option and matching screensaver allow you to cover and protect the thermostat interface with any design or pattern you prefer. You can also choose a color to blend in with your décor or the thermostat screensaver.
  • Automatic updates connect you to new features as they become available.
  • Simple touchscreen interface with intuitive graphics and bright backlighting makes programming easy.

iComfort Wi-Fi Touchscreen Thermostat

Fight Fires With Safety Facts

Some things are too hot to handle, and home fires are one of them.  They pose a very real threat to homeowners – yet, like many things, fire safety isn’t thought about until it’s too late.  Since statistics show that over 3,500 Americans die each year in fires, that’s a dangerous mentality.

So what can you do to keep your family safe in the event of a home fire?

Have an evacuation plan.  No, this is not a “Hey, let’s just meet somewhere outside in case of a fire” plan.  Have a real plan, where you have contingencies for each room in case of a blocked exit.  Every member of the family should be aware of the plan and know what to do in case of a fire.

Leave the possessions behind.  We know that there are important items in your home that you would want to save, but is that so important that you would sacrifice your life for them?  The number one priority in case of a fire is to get out of the house as safely and as quickly as possible.

Stay low to avoid the smoke.  Also, never open a door that is hot to the touch.  Use your hand to feel the doorknob or gap between the door and door frame.  If it is hot, use your secondary escape route.

Designate a meeting place.  Creating a specific place to meet after your escape is essential to a fire safety plan.  Everyone knows where to go and it will be easier to see who has made it out of the house safely.

Once out, stay out.  Once you have made it to the meeting area, call 911.  As much as you many want to go in and snag your favorite Snuggie, leave it to the professionals.  The firemen are much better equipped to go into the house and save someone/something than you are.

Detectors save lives.  Check your smoke detector at least once a month for dead batteries.  Placing a smoke detector on every floor of your house dramatically increases your chances of survival.

Air Conditioning maintenance: A Quick and Simple Home Investment

Spring is almost here and routine air conditioning tune-ups are among the best home investments you can make.  That’s because tune-ups improve your system’s efficiency and increase its lifespan, saving you operating dollars and keeping you comfortable at the same time.  Not only that, you can avoid problems with mold build-up that can harm your breathing space.

It’s the same principle as routine dental cleaning and annual medical appointments.  Nothing’s wrong, and you want to keep it that way.  But some folks let the “ounce of prevention” opportunity pass right on by, thanks to a misguided impression that it’s just too much trouble.

Yet tune-ups are simple and quick and very much worth a very minor inconvenience that can save you a good bit of time and money in the long run.  Basically, a licensed professional will:

1: Clean evaporator and condenser coils, as needed, and straighten bent fins.

2: Check all the electrical components and controls.

3: Oil motor and shaft bearings.

4: Check the condenser.

5: Examine fan belts and replace if frayed or worn.

6: Calibrate the thermostat.

7: Check to see if the system is properly charged with refrigerant and that there are no leaks.

8: Check filters. (Ask your local HVAC dealer to see how often your filters need replaced)

Oh, and you can keep a watch on this on your own.  While many homeowners choose to shade their condensers with trees and shrubs to improve efficiency, you’ll want to watch to make sure vegetation doesn’t grow around the condenser and restrict the air flow.

Most tune-up tasks are too extensive for the average homeowner – because of the risk of electrical shock and potential for shorting in the electrical components.  But one of your techs can tend to these things in a very short time.  Also, there is additional maintenance that can be advantageous to your system.  When a tech comes to do your maintenance, ask if it would be beneficial to you to get some additional equipment maintenance.

Think of it as a way to save money while avoiding a whole lot more trouble later on.  Equipment failure in the heat of August is never as fun as a preventive measure taken in springtime!

Keeping Your Family Safe from CO2

You might be surprised to find … Carbon Monoxide is the leading cause of poisoning deaths in the U.S. Emergency rooms see about 50,000 visits a year just due to CO poisoning. The danger is especially high in winter due to emissions from home furnaces.

“Retail” grade detectors aren’t always able to give “early warning” signs. That’s why your home needs a professional grade CO detector that can warn you immediately.

Basically, a professional grade CO monitor gives you a way to help keep your family breathing safely.

Why you Should Worry About CO2

All About Carbon Monoxide (CO)

Carbon monoxide, or CO, is a colorless, odorless, and tasteless gas.  It is a by-product of combustion that often comes from common household appliances.  Things that often give off carbon monoxide include…

-Gas or oil furnaces

-Gas refrigerators

-Gas clothes dryers

-Fireplaces

-Charcoal grills

-Woodburning stoves

-Automobiles (be especially cautious if you have an attached garage)

-Gas powered lawn mowers

If you’re overexposed to carbon monoxide it can cause symptoms like headaches, fatigue, nausea, dizzy spells, confusion, irritability, vomiting, loss of consciousness, brain damage, and potentially death.  Since you can’t see, taste, or smell carbon monoxide, it is necessary to take extra precautions to ensure you and your family don’t get carbon monoxide poisoning.  The Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) advises installing at least one carbon monoxide detector per household close to where you sleep. There are many different types of detectors to suit your exact needs.  The more detectors you have, the more protection provided.  We recommend you talk to your local heating contractor today if you don’t have a CO detector in your house.  Some other ways you can protect against carbon monoxide poisoning are…

1) having your gas appliances serviced every year by a qualified service technician

2) adjusting and cleaning stove burners so that CO produced is minimized

3) having proper ventilation to the outside

4) if you make changes that affect the ventilation of fuel-burning appliances, talk to your heating contractor

5) if you replace heating appliances, buy appliances specifically designed to reduce dangers from carbon monoxide

6) installing multiple CO detectors and inspecting them regularly

7) have your chimneys cleaned by someone certified in this line of work

8) have your dryer vents inspected and cleaned if necessary