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Electrical Tips & Advice

Electrical Tips & Advice (6)

Many older homes in the Greater Roanoke area have older style fuse boxes rather than newer circuit breaker panels. In some cases homes with fuse boxes also have outdated wiring and insulation. If you have a fuse box you may be wondering what the advantages are of upgrading to a breaker panel.

Roanoke Electrical Upgrades

Switching from a fuse box to circuit breakers will provide the safety and convenience of resetting tripped circuits rather than replacing fuses. If you've ever needed to replace a blown fuse only to discover that you have no replacement fuses... and the hardware store is closed, you'll appreciate the simplicity of flipping a switch to restore the power.

The Power to Handle Increasing Electrical Demands

Today's homes are placing ever-increasing demand for electricity, and old service panels can quickly become overwhelmed.  Simply installing larger fuses that are too big for the wiring can keep fuses from blowing, but it also creates a fire hazard. Over time, as fuse boxes are updated, it's not unusual to find a single fuse lug with more than one wire. This is referred to as double tapping or double lugging. If your fuses are overloaded, they should be rewired to have only one wire per fuse that's rated to handle the load.

If your home has a typical 60 amp fuse box, you're missing the flexibility to handle electrical loads for multiple appliances running at the same time. For example, when remodeling a kitchen your electrician will likely recommend having separate circuits for the dishwasher, the disposal, for outlets, for the lights, and yet another for the microwave and refrigerator. For larger appliances, 220v circuits are usually required.  This adds up to at least six separate circuits in your electric panel. If your home only has an 60 amp panel with has six spaces available for the entire house, it makes sense to upgrade to a circuit breaker panel.

Upgrading to a Circuit Breaker

Replacing a fuse box with a circuit breaker panel is a job for a licensed electrician. The first step is to diagram the electrical panel and note of breaker sizes. The wire gauges will be checked to confirm the amperage. Next, your electrician will determine if the wiring needs to be upgraded or replaced. For example, if the home has aluminum wiring or knob-and-tube wiring.  When upgrading to a circuit panel, it's also a good idea to consider making electrical upgrades. New outlets, switches and lighting will add convenience and safety and ensure that you have sufficient power today and down the road.

Have questions about upgrading from a fuse box to a new circuit breaker panel? Give Ostrom a call.. It's Your Home, Trust Ostrom.
Roanoke Electrical Upgrades
If you're planning on remodeling your kitchen or bathroom, or adding a new addition to your home it's important to have an electrician check your existing service to ensure it's ready to handle any additional demands for power.
Here are a few points to consider:

1. Is your electrical service up to date? Many older homes still operate with outdated 60-amp electrical service, and sometimes with just a few fuses or circuit breakers to protect the entire system. Newer homes often have 100-amp service panels, but even this minimum requirement set by many current codes may fall short of your present or future needs. Consider upgrading service to 200 amps.

Other potential problems to look out for include older knob and tube wiring and aluminum wiring. Both are a safety hazard and should be upgraded to meet current electrical codes.

2. Is your service sized for extra demand? If you're installing a large electrical appliance, like an electric oven, a refrigerator or tankless water heater, each will require a 220v outlet. Dedicated circuits are usually the safest option for large appliances.

Many electricians will run 14-AWG wiring during renovations, which is adequate for most home uses. But heavier 12-AWG copper wire is a better choice because it's more energy-efficient and you won't have to upgrade all over again if you install appliances or fixtures with greater electrical loads. The cost difference for upgrading to 12-AWG copper wire is minimal. If you're adding a room extension or building a new home, it's a good idea to install 12-AWG wire (or larger, depending on the needs of each circuit).

3. Consider special electrical needs. Different rooms in a home serve different purposes—an important consideration when you're planning improvements, especially where electrical work is involved. Family rooms, home offices and home theaters generally need more circuits, more outlets. Upgrading to whole home power-surge protection can prevent damage to sensitive electronics. Outlets in kitchens, baths, garages and outdoor areas require ground-fault circuit interrupters, or GFCIs. Have small children in the home? Tamper resistant outlets are s must have upgrade.

Before starting your nest home remodeling project, give Ostrom a call we can help ensure your project goes smoothly. From electrical upgrades to plumbing, hot water, heating and air conditioning – we're Roanoke's top choice for home remodeling upgrades.
Roughly one-third of the homes in the U.S. are over 50 years old, and older homes are statistically at higher risk of electrical fires. The main reason older homes can be more dangerous is many were built with electrical systems which are no longer safe. Deterioration due to aging, improper installation and modification, a lack of modern safety devices, combined with today's electrical intensive households all combine to increase the risk of electrical fires.

By understanding what outdated wiring looks like, you can learn of your home is at greater risk. Depending on the age of the home, you will find one of three kinds of wiring.

Grounded Electrical Systems

Homes built in the 1940s through the present will have grounded electrical systems. Grounding is a critical safety feature that is designed to reduce the chance of shock or electrocution in the event of a short circuit. Grounding wires are connected directly to the earth through a metal grounding rod or a cold water pipe. Should a short circuit or an overload occur, any extra electricity will find its way along the grounding wire to the earth.

Aluminum Wiring

As the price of copper soared, aluminum wiring became more common in the 1960s and 1970s. Many of the receptacles and switched of the time we not designed to work with aluminum wire, resulting in bad fitting connections and a greater risk of fire. If your home has aluminum wiring that was installed in the 1960s or 70s have Hucker Electric perform a safety inspection to ensure it is safe and up to code.

Knob & Tube Wiring

The earliest type of wiring found in homes built in the 1800s through the 1930s, knob and tube wiring is an open air system that uses ceramic knobs to keep wires away from combustible framing. These suspended wires were directed through ceramic tubes to prevent contact with the wood framing and starting a fire. Knob and tube wiring is a fire hazard because it's not grounded and is more exposed to damage from old and faulty modification.

Have questions about your home's wiring. Give Ostrom a call. It's your home, trust Ostrom.

There are many types of fans designed to improve airflow inside the home. Each plays an important role in maintaining comfort as well as healthy indoor air. The four main types of fans are:

Whole-House Fans

Designed to circulate air throughout a home's ductwork, this type of fan is sometimes confused with an attic ventilator fan (see below), which exhausts hot air from the attic to the outside through an opening in the roof. In some cases, whole house fans can reduce the need for central air conditioning by circulating air on days when it's not too hot or humid, particularly when combined with ceiling fans and other forms of air circulation.

Bathroom Exhaust Fans

A bathroom exhaust fan is designed to remove stale, moisture filled air from bathrooms, laundry rooms and other enclosed spaces. They maintain healthy air quality by reducing the likelihood of mold and mildew growth. When installing an exhaust fan it's important to ensure that the fan is vented to the exterior of the house and not into an attic.

Attic Fans

Also known as an attic ventilator, attic fans regulate the temperature in an attic by removing hot air. They are usually controlled by a thermostat that automatically turns the fan off and on, or sometimes by a manual switch. An attic fan can be gable mounted or roof mounted.

Ceiling Fans

Ceiling fans are a great option for improving airflow in rooms. While ceiling fans do not actually lower the room temperature, they circulates the conditioned air where it's needed and provide evaporative cooling.

Have questions about installing fans in your home? Call Ostrom, we can help with all your home electrical needs.
When designing a living space many homeowners forget about one of the most important components of successful design: lighting. Lighting does more than make it easier to see, it also provides security, comfort and enhances the ambience of a living space.

While overhead lighting is used to provide overall lighting, depending on how the space will be used, additional lighting is often needed to draw attention to architectural details like niches and wall units. In addition, task lighting for dining, cooking or reading should be flexible and adaptable to different needs. For greater control over lighting, consider dimmer switches or app-enabled LED bulbs that provide control over light intensity as well as color temperature.

Outside the home, safety and security are a top consideration. Motion sensors near entryways deter unwanted visitors while providing a safe, welcoming light source for guests. Lighting pathways, stairs and landscape features creates a safe passageway to the home.

Looking for lighting ideas to improve the style and comfort of your home? Call Ostrom Services, we can help.
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