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Thursday, February 4, 2016


10 Dumb Things Smart People Do When Working With Electricity. (Source: Grainger

Anyone who makes their living by working with electricity quickly develops a healthy respect for anything with even a remote chance of being “live.” Yet the pressures of getting a job done on time or getting a mission-critical piece of equipment back on line can sometimes result in carelessness and uncharacteristic mistakes by even the most seasoned electrician.

The list below was developed as a quick reminder of what not  to do when taking electrical measurements.

1. Replace the original fuse with a cheaper one.

If your digital multimeter (DMM) meets today’s safety standards, the fuse is a special safety sand fuse designed to pop before an overload hits your hand. When you change your DMM fuse, be sure to replace it with a recommended fuse.

2. Use a bit of wire or metal to get around the fuse all together.

This may seem like a quick fix if you’re caught without an extra fuse, but the fuse could be all that ends up between you and a spike headed your way.

3. Use the wrong test tool for the job.

It’s important to match your DMM to the work ahead. Make sure your test tool holds the correct CAT rating for each job you do, even if it means switching DMMs throughout the day.

4. Grab the cheapest DMM on the shelf.

You can upgrade later, right? Maybe not, if you end up a victim of a safety accident because that cheap test tool didn’t actually contain the safety features it advertised. Look for independent laboratory testing such as UL or CSA.

5. Leave your safety glasses in your shirt pocket.

Take them out. Put them on. It’s important. Ditto insulated gloves and flame-resistant clothing.

6. Work on a live circuit, even if there is a way to shut it off.

De-energize the circuit whenever possible. If the situation requires you to work on a live circuit, use properly insulated tools, wear safety glasses or a face shield and insulated gloves, removepatches or other jewelry, stand on an insulated mat and wear flame-resistant clothing, not regular work clothes.

7. Fail to follow proper lockout/ tagout procedures.

Follow your company's lockout/tagout procedures.

8. Keep both hands on the test.

Don’t! When working with live circuits, remember the oldelectrician’s trick - keep one hand in your pocket. This helps decrease the chance of a closed circuit traveling across your chest and through your heart. Hang or rest the meter if possible. Try to avoid holding it with your hands to help minimize personal exposure to the effects of transients.

9. Neglect your leads.

Test leads are an important component of DMM safety. Make sure your leads match the CAT level of your job as well. Look for test leads with double insulation, shrouded input connectors, finger guards and a non-slip surface.

10. Hang onto your old test tool forever.

Today’s test tools contain safety features unheard of even a few years ago; features that are worth the cost of an equipment upgrade and a lot less expensive than an emergency room visit.

 

Monday, November 30, 2015

Furnace Maintenance Habits That Every Homeowner Can Perform Today

Now that Thanksgiving is over we are clearly headed into some of the most frigid weather of the year - especially in Chicagoland! Now more than ever, it is critical to maintain your furnace. There are several things that you can do to assure that your furnace is in optimal working condition. There are at least three simple maintenance habits that you can perform as a home owner:

  • Change your furnace filter on a regular basis. 30-40 days ideally. Among many benefits, a clean filter provides optimal air flow across your heat exchanger and prolongs the life of your blower motor.
  • Be sure to change the Pad (Filter) in your humidifier. Seasonal (early Fall) changing of your humidifier pad assures proper water flow across the pad and prevents hard water build up that could cause damaging leakage.
  • Call your local HVAC company and set up an annual Maintenance and Safety Check of your furnace. Changing furnace and humidifier filters is something that you can do. However, there are testing procedures and specific cleaning techniques that only a professional and certified technician should perform.




Friday, June 26, 2015

What is Superheat and Why is Superheat important to Your Air Conditioning System?

SUPERHEAT assures that the refrigerant leavingthe evaporator (coil inside your home) is indeed in a vaporized state. Ideal superheat should be 8 to12 degrees Fahrenheit - the difference between suction line temperature and theboiling point temperature of the evaporator. Superheat assures that the compressor will not receive a "slug" of liquid refrigerant (liquid refrigerant can damage your compressor - the heart of your AC system and expensive to repair!). Thecompressor receives vaporized refrigerant and compresses it into a highpressure high temperature state. Once the refrigerant leaves the compressor(traveling through the discharge gas line) it moves to the condenser.Refrigerant within the condenser rejects heat (typically accelerated by a fan).Within the condenser the refrigerant condenses (changes state from high pressurehigh temperature vapor to high pressure high temperature liquid). Movingthrough the liquid line the high pressure high temperature liquid should bemeasured by checking for SUBCOOLING. More talk about subcooling in an upcoming post!

Thursday, June 11, 2015

Mice Aren't Nice to Your Outside Air Conditioning Unit (Condenser)

Mice and other critters like to nest inside of your outdoor Air Conditioning unit (Condenser). Mice like condenser units because they offer dry and warm compartments that provide protection from wind, rain, snow and predators. However, mice aren't nice to your condenser unit. Why? Well, mice like to chew things - like wires! In the picture below you can see the nest (bottom of picture) our professional service technician removed from the condenser compartment that houses all the electrical AC components. This critter chewed away insulation from the 240V power source - causing the homeowner a relatively expensive repair - yet an avoidable one. Purchasing an annual maintenance plan will reduce the chances of mice, chipmunks and the like from becoming too comfortable housing in your AC unit. When you purchase an annual maintenance plan - you can count on your AC unit being opened, inspected and tested at least once a year.
Mice Cause Expensive Damage