Wednesday, 14 November 2012

your phone system and you

Phone technology has changed a lot in the past decade or two. The rise in popularity of cellular phones has made communication a near constant possibility, no matter where you are. Home phones, too, are more complex than ever before, and homeowners have several options for home phone service that simply weren't around in past years. Though repairs to a telephone itself are much more complicated than they were in the past, many homeowners will find that modern phone system repair is not as different from phone system repair in the past as they might imagine.
Phone System Repair Basics
When your home phone is on the fritz, your service professional will need to know where the equipment is, be able to gain access to it, and may require additional information such as the ID for the bad circuits, whether or not anyone has recently moved, added, changed, or reconfigured your telephone equipment, and a timetable of symptoms leading up to the failure.
In resolving phone failures, usually a person assigned to administer the PBX will be able to examine logs and other indicators to determine what the failure is. Both the cause, and scope of the failure must be determined.
Outside or Inside Wiring
The most basic question is simply whether the problem exists with the outside wiring (the telephone company's responsibility) or with the inside wiring (the homeowner's responsibility). When you experience problems with your home phone, the first thing to do is to try plugging your phone into a jack in a different area of the house. If all of the jacks in your house are malfunctioning, it is likely that the wiring leading to your house is the problem. If only one phone jack is giving you trouble, then the issue is inside the house. It is also a good idea to try a different phone in the offending jack, to make sure that the problem doesn't stem from the phone itself malfunctioning.
If the problem is with the outside wiring, this requires calling the phone company that owns the circuit, and identifying the circuit by an ID provided when the circuit was installed. It's an excellent idea to have the circuit ID written down and easily accessible. The phone company doesn't keep records of circuit IDs. But it can't identify the circuit without the ID. If the number can't be easily found, tracking it down becomes a very difficult, lengthy, and expensive task.
Hire a Handyman for Phone System Repair
If the problem is inside, you may want to contact a handyman service to identify and fix the issue. Since phone wiring inside the house is your responsibility, it makes sense for simple indoor phone system repair to be bundled with other small jobs such as fixing leaky faucets or squeaky doors. Let the handyman service know the tasks you have in mind when you contact them to make sure that the service professional they send can bring all the proper equipment for their visit. This will save you money and time by reducing unscheduled trips to the hardware store.
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bang for your buck electrical upgrade!

With the large amount of electrical equipment found in the modern home, it's no wonder that electrical upgrades are becoming more common. Handling the electrical needs of today's homeowner is no small task, and to keep everything running smoothly, new electrical wiring is often a necessity, especially in homes built many decades ago. If you are considering an electrical upgrade for your home, there are a few things you should be aware of; an electrical wiring project is no small task, and the more you know about what's available, the better you'll be able to communicate to your contractor what you expect from the job.
Planning an Electrical Wiring Project
A large electrical wiring project adds a considerable load to your main electrical service. In about 25 percent of all homes, some type of service upgrade is needed before new wiring can be installed. For example, many homeowners will need to replace an older 60-amp electrical service with a new service rated for 100 amps or more. A licensed electrician is needed for a job like this.
Careful planning of a wiring project ensures that you will have plenty of power for present and future needs. Whether you are adding circuits in a room addition, wiring a remodeled kitchen, or adding an outdoor circuit, consider all possible ways the space might be used, and plan for enough electrical service to meet peak needs. One of the worst things you can do as a homeowner is to spring for an electrical upgrade that doesn't upgrade enough. With technology getting bigger and better, it's important to make sure that your electrical wiring isn't simply good enough for now, but good enough for whatever may come in the future.
Electrical Upgrades for Your Circuit Breaker
Electrical wiring is not a job for most homeowners to tackle themselves, but it is a good idea to know a little about what will be required to bring your house up to speed when talking with your contractor.
One way to plan a new wiring project is to look in your main circuit breaker. Though some homeowners might be intimidated by their circuit breaker, most should easily be able to find the size of the service, and read the amp rating printed on it. In most cases, 100-amp service provides enough power to handle most loads. A service rated for 60-amps or less may need to be upgraded.
Look for open circuit breaker slots in the main circuit breaker panel. You will need one open slot for each 120-volt circuit that you may plan to install, and two slots for each 240-volt circuit. If your main circuit-breaker panel has no open breaker slots, you will need to have a sub panel installed.
Electrical Inspectors
Remember, all electrical wiring work requires review by your local electrical inspector to make sure the changes conform to local electrical and building codes. Failure to have proper permits and inspections can cause problems that can cost far more time and money than some homeowners (or unscrupulous contractors) may think they can save by doing work "under the table." You could have trouble reselling your home in the future, or worse, your homeowners insurance could refuse to cover your loss in a house fire because the house was altered illegally
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safety in the walls of your home

Your electrical box is the spot where electricity from the grid connects to your home. From here your breaker box divides up the electrical source to different rooms and different areas of your home. This is just the basics of your home electricity. While many people know how to turn a breaker back on when one has flipped, not very many homeowners understand the importance of the age of the wiring in their homes, current regulations, and scary potential of losing your home to fire because of an old fuse box.
If Your Home Is More Than 15 Years Old
Older homes are in more danger of fire hazards than new ones, simply because of the electrical. Insurance companies will not insure homes that have solid evidence as having the old porcelain knob circuitry and old fault wiring in general. This is basically gasoline and matches behind your walls, and it won't take too much load to cause a fire.
The problem for insurance companies is that your home inspector is not allowed to dig into your walls for any reason, not for termites, leaks, or checking the viability of a certain material. As such, a home inspector cannot say for certain that a particular home has a particular grade of wiring. The existence of 2-pronged outlets rather than 3-pronged is a definitive sign that the wiring is very old.
However, new regulations have made it so that a home electrical box has to be attached outside the home. This regulation was imposed in part by the fire department, which has proven that it is advantageous to have the electrical panel on the exterior of the home so that when fire fighters arrive at a home that is aflame, they can quickly shut off all the electricity to the house. This was imposed all over the country 15 years ago, and as a result of how long it takes new regulations to take effect, homes that are 12-15 years old and younger have exterior breakers.
What This Means for You
The average age of home across the country is 44 years old. This means that the majority of homes need an electrical upgrade to carry the average load in this technologically dependant time.

No matter if your electrical box is inside or outside, what you need to realize is that the wiring and electrical panel in older homes was designed for very low loads. If you go 20 years back, the typical home had a fridge, a TV, washer/dryer, water heater, HVAC unit, a microwave, and dishwasher. If you go 35 years back, there were no microwaves. The amount of load that the typical home's fuse box could carry was enough to manage, even with the addition of more televisions and a microwave.
Jump forward to today. If your home was built 50 years ago, it not only might be struggling to handle the addition of a TV and a microwave, but your home is also struggling to handle multiple TVs, CD players, DVD/VHS players, computers, and printers, not to mention coffee makers, coffee grinders, game systems, blenders, food processors, paper shredders, and the list goes on.
Upgrading Your Electrical
It cannot be stressed enough how important it is for older homes to upgrade their electrical boxes. If you have a fuse box, then this is a must. This is not the kind of home improvement that you will get to show off to your friends. But increasing the load to your electrical panel will allow you to show off your home for a long time, because if you don't update your breaker box, all it takes is a little bad luck to start a big fire.
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Sunday, 22 July 2012

Electrical code for the home

Electrical codes are in place to protect you, the homeowner. These general guidelines apply to new installations and will give you the basics of what electrical inspectors are looking for. Be sure to check with your local electrical inspector because local codes may vary from the list provided. In the case of existing housing, the codes will apply if you are updating a home, and it requires an electrical update. It is also suggested that you update if the wiring in your home is unsafe and a danger to your family.

Bathrooms use a lot of power and may need more than one circuit. Mainly, because you may have a curling iron, razor, hairdryer, and the combination light, fan, and heater all running at the same time. The combination fan, light, and heater should have its own 20-amp circuit. Likewise, the outlet should have its own 20-amp circuit. All outlets in bathrooms should be GFCI's. Light fixtures should be covered with lenses or globes and moisture resistant if placed in a shower or tub area.

A kitchen should have a separate circuit for each appliance with a motor. The microwave, refrigerator, garbage disposal, and dishwasher would be the major appliances included. Generally, the code requires that you install a minimum of two receptacle circuits in the area above the counter top. An electric range, cook top, or oven must be wired to a dedicated 240-volt circuit.

Living Room, Dining Room, and Bed Rooms
These rooms require that a wall switch be placed beside the entry door of the room so that you can light the room before entering it. It can either control a ceiling light, a wall light, or an outlet connected to a desk lamp. The ceiling fixture must be controlled by a wall switch and not a pull chain type light. Wall receptacles should be placed no farther than 12 feet apart. Dining rooms usually require a separate 20-amp circuit for one outlet used for a microwave, entertainment center, or window air conditioner.

Special care is needed in stairways to ensure all of the steps are lighted properly. Three-way switches are required at the top and bottom of the stairs. If the stairs turn, you may need to add additional lighting to accommodate the area to be lit.

These areas can be long and need adequate lighting. Be sure to place enough lighting so shadows are not cast when walking. Remember, hallways are often escape routes in the event of inclement weather and emergencies. A hallway over 10 feet long is required to have an outlet for general purpose. Three-way switches are required for the two ends of the hallway. If there are more doors throughout the hallway, say a bedroom or two, then you may want to add addition four-way switches to the circuit outside the door of each room.

Closets must have one globe covered fixture controlled by a wall switch. Exposed bulb fixtures, like pull-chain fixtures, get hot and come in contact with clothing or other combustible materials stored in closets. Although your existing home may have these fixtures, it is recommended that you change them for safety reasons.

Laundry Room
The washer and dryer should have its own 20-amp receptacle. In the case of an electric dryer, a separate 240-volt circuit should be installed.

Attached Garage
Inside the garage there should be at least one switch controlling the lighting. It is recommended that three-way switches be installed for convenience between the doors. This lighting should be in addition to any garage door lighting that you may have. Garages need a separate circuit for at least one outlet. This is generally required to be a GFCI outlet. You should check your local code to be sure. When in doubt, make it a GFCI. Any outside outlets connected must be either a GFCI outlet or an outlet connected to a GFCI breaker.

Remember that the electrical codes are in place for your safety. Although you may believe that they are overkill at times, these practices save lives everyday. When it comes to electric safety, don't become a statistic! Follow the rules of the codes and be sure to have your local electrical inspector give you the green light for the safety of your family's sake.
Does your home meet the electrical code requirements?

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how to size your window air conditioner

If it's time for a new window air conditioner, but you don't know what size you need, this chart will be helpful. Air conditioners are rated by BTUs and their cooling capacity is directly related to the number attached to this BTU symbol. The larger the BTUs, the greater the cooling capacity.
Another factor is physical size. The size of the window air conditioner is directly related to the number of BTUs, let me explain. You see, small window air conditioners have smaller BTU ratings. The larger the BTU cooling capacity, the larger the window air conditioner.

The next thing to consider when sizing a window air conditioner is the power availability near the window that you're going to install the unit. Window air conditioners come in both 120- and 240-volt models. Each requires a different electrical outlet, so be sure to check that out in advance of purchasing the unit or you may need to rewire and outlet for the unit.

Also consider the actual window opening that the unit will be placed in. To do this, open the bottom window and measure the height and width of the window opening. This is the maximum opening that the window air conditioner can fit.

The table below lists the square footage of the room and the required BTUs needed to sufficiently cool the room. This gives an indication of the size unit that will run the most efficiently, without overworking the air conditioner on those hot days.

Air Conditioner Sizes

BTU's Required / Approximate Square Feet of Cooling
5,000Less Than 150
29,000Less Than 1,

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Air conditioning time!

Air conditioners come in many different sizes, whether they are window air conditioners or central air conditioners. These units should be sized to cool the area of your home you’re trying to cool with the most efficiency. So how do you do that? Well, by measuring the area of the area to be cooled, you’ll have a pretty good idea what size air conditioner is for you.
To calculate this, simply multiply the length times the width of the room or area to be cooled. Then, as a practical number, multiply that total times 25 BTU. This allows ample cooling, whether it is a rainy, moist day or a hot, sunny, humid day. Let’s say the room is 12 feet wide by 15 feet long. That means 12x15=180 square feet. Take the 180 sq. ft. times 25 BTU per square foot and you get the minimum BTU air conditioner you should buy. That means 180x25=4500 BTU cooling capacity is needed.

You may ask if a smaller air conditioner will work or a larger one may be better? Here’s a thought about those questions. Smaller BTU units will continually run, just trying to keep up. This will increase your electric bill and it is unlikely the unit will be able to cool the area effectively.
An air conditioner too large can be overkill. To dispute the rumor that bigger is better, an air conditioner too large will cool more quickly, but that may impede the reason for running the air conditioner in the first place. You see, along with cooling the air, the air conditioner is also extracting moisture from the air (humidity) that makes all of us feel hot and sticky. Although the air may be cooler, if the unit doesn’t run long enough, the moisture cannot be extracted from the air properly. It would be like being outside camping on a cool, clammy, foggy night. You know the feeling when your skin is moist and you get goose bumps when cool air flows over it. Besides, an air conditioner too large will cycle on and off frequently.

Do yourself a favor and measure the area of the home to be cooled, calculate your BTU needs and size the air conditioner properly. Your local appliance store or heating and cooling center can aid you in selecting the proper air conditioner size for your home. Remember, too little is never enough and too much of a good thing can be bad.

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Sunday, 24 June 2012

home automation is available now!

Remember the Jetsons? That cartoon family who lived in a home where the house itself served their every need and desire? We're not quite there yet as a society, but we are getting surprisingly close. Advances in automation for home residences have made it possible to automate everything from brewing your morning coffee to feeding the pets. Once you get it set up, all you've got to do is sit back and let the house take over for you.
Almost Anything Is Possible
Literally the sky is the limit when it comes to what's possible with these units. Of course, your budget might also play a factor, but let's assume it's not an option for the time being. Take a look at what these technological wonders can do.

  • Lighting: Automation of your lighting means you'll have access to different light settings for different activities. Imagine having the perfect lighting for watching television, sitting down to a romantic dinner, or tackling the bills, all at the touch of a single button. Lighting automation also means your hall light can be programmed to turn on when it senses you making a midnight trip to the bathroom, your porch and driveway lighting will turn on when you pull up to the house, and your kitchen lighting will turn itself on in the morning when you venture in for your morning bowl of cereal.
  • Home Audio: Imagine soothing jazz music turning on in your bedroom every night at bedtime. Or how about the morning news kicking on in the kitchen, along with the coffee pot, to get your morning off to the right start? Automation of your audio system can even transfer whatever you're listening to from room to room as you make your way from the kitchen to the bathroom to relaxing on the porch over the course of an afternoon. It's all at your fingertips with a home automation system.

  • Security: Another huge draw of home automation is heightened security. Home security systems can be wired into your home automation system so all their features are at your disposal. You can check wireless feed from security cameras on your television while you're watching the big game. You can program your lights to alternate off and on from room to room while you're away, and they can also be programmed to brightly light up your house and grounds instantly in case of an unwanted intruder. And of course, your home automation system will always be in touch with your security provider, so you can be sure help is on the way in case the unthinkable happens.
  • Everything Else and More: While the above mentioned features might seem impressive, they really only scratch the surface what the automation of your home can entail. You can start your oven cooking dinner from across town, program the system to feed your pets on a set schedule, water your plants, open and close shades at certain times of the day, and even regulate the temperature of your home to save you money when you're not in. The truth is the Jetsons' aren't nearly as far off as we might think.

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