Home Improvement | 4 January 2016Know Your Home: Electrical Supply Share article facebook twitter google pinterest Do you know what this is? The BLACK+DECKER Home Planner & Logbook can tell you. Source – BLACK+DECKER Home Planner & Logbook How well do you know your house? Yes, you live in it, but do you really understand how it works? Most homeowners have only a rudimentary understanding of how their house “works.” Mostly that’s fine. Houses usually don’t need a great deal of attention to keep plugging along. But, every once in a while you will hear someone say, “I wish I had known…” Well, you don’t have to be that person, because the Black+Decker Home Planner & Logbook has all the information you need to become a knowledgeable homeowner. One of the most important systems in your home, and potentially the most dangerous, is the electrical system. Here are some excerpts from the logbook to give you a handle on where and how this most necessary system enters your home: A mast is typical on single story homes. On larger homes the weather head is connected directly to the side of the home. Source – BLACK+DECKER Home Planner & Logbook Unless your electricity is supplied through underground wires, it will come in via wires strung from overhead poles to a “weather head,” a pole with a rounded top cap and rubber gasket through which the main power lines to the house run. The weather head connects to your electrical meter through a pipe called a “mast.” Both the weather head and the mast protect power lines from the elements—most importantly, from water. The weather head, wiring, and mast are the homeowner’s responsibility. Although you should regularly inspect the weather head and mast, never touch either one or the power lines. Any problems require a licensed and insured professional electrician. Electric meters come in various forms. All give usage measurements in kilowatthours (kWh). Source – BLACK+DECKER Home Planner & Logbook The service wires will then run to an electrical meter, usually mounted outside the home or in a garage. In older models, the electrical meter is an analog model with rotating dials, which for billing purposes is “read” by a utility employee who visits your home; but newer electrical meters are digital, and may be read by transponders that send signals wirelessly. This breaker box has plenty of open slots to add new circuits. Additional breaker boxes are sometimes added for large appliances like air conditioners. Source – BLACK+DECKER Home Planner & Logbook A breaker box—or fuse box in older homes (see top photo)—routes electricity from the main service wires coming into the house to different household circuits. Each circuit serves a different part of the house, powering fixtures, outlets, appliances, and mechanical systems, like the furnace and air conditioner. Breakers control and send power to the circuits (or a fuse, in the case of a fuse box), and protect the circuit wires and fixtures. When a circuit overloads or surges, the breaker “trips” or the fuse blows, thereby preventing them from melting and potentially causing fires. The breaker box is often located with the main power shut-off, although it is sometimes outside, near the meter. Breaker boxes in newer houses have between 20 and 40 circuits. Older fuse boxes may have as few as 6. More is usually better. Newer, larger (2,000-square-feet or more) houses may have 200-amp service, while 150-amp service is common. Older and smaller homes may have 100-amp service or even less. Note the amperage if not already listed on the box—this will be crucial for any electrician working on the system. You also need a map of your circuits, so that you can shut down parts of the system as need be. If your circuit panel or fuse box doesn’t have an attached map, create one BE SAFE! THE ELECTRICAL SAFETY CHECK The best rule of thumb is to always call a licensed electrician to inspect or handle any aspect of your home wiring system. If you chose to do any of this yourself, before locating and inspecting parts of your home’s electrical system, make sure you’re clear about proper safety procedures, and don’t do it at all if you are uncertain about these practices. The rules below should be followed any time you deal with an electrical appliance, equipment, an outlet, or a fixture. Here are some of the rules electricians use when inspecting a wiring system: Remove metal jewelry and make sure your hands are dry. Also make sure that floors and walls are free of moisture— sometimes an issue in basements. Wear rubber-soled shoes or boots. The insulating quality of rubber will prevent them from transmitting electrical current. Treat all circuits, fixtures, and electrical equipment as if they are live. Electricians always test circuits and verify they have been turned off before doing any work. Use tools with non-conductive handles (i.e., rubber coated). Never modify the plug on an electrical cord or extension cord. Do not overload a single extension cord with several appliances. Do not use tools, appliances, or other devices that exceed the ratings of the outlets they are plugged into or the circuits feeding those outlets. Light bulbs should not exceed the wattage ratings of the light fixtures that hold them. Use the appropriate extension cord length for the purpose, and make sure it is of sufficient “gauge” to handle the load. The packaging on extension cords will indicate the purposes for which they are suited. Discard and replace frayed or damaged electrical cords or extension cords. Do not run electrical or extension cords across door thresholds or under rugs or radiators. If you need to change a fuse or flip a breaker, do so with one hand (put the other hand in your back pocket). This ensures that you don’t complete a circuit across the panel. Never stand near water or moisture when working on an electrical appliance, fixture, outlet, or electrical box. Any equipment, appliance, or light fixture that produces a zap or tingle when touched should immediately be disconnected and repaired or replaced. Do not store flammable liquids, such as paints, paint solvents, kerosene, or other fuels, near the circuit breaker box or anywhere close to electrical equipment or fixtures. If an outlet or switch feels warm to the touch, or you frequently blow the fuse on a given circuit and the lights on that circuit regularly flicker, call a licensed and insured electrician. Easily keep track of the work you’ve put into your home–or figure out what it needs–with help from this convenient planner! When was the last time you changed your furnace filter? What was the exact shade of the paint you used in the guest bedroom? Is your oven still under warranty? Every homeowner should know the answer to these questions, and many more, but keeping up with every little thing can be a challenge. It helps if you have a system! That’s where the BLACK+DECKER Home Planner & Logbook comes in. This book tells you what you need to know, how to get the information, and gives you lots of room to keep records about: – House History – Financial Information and Warranties – Scheduled Maintenance Log – Appliances – Heating & Cooling – Repair Projects – Decorative Log including Paint & Floor Coverings – Outdoor Areas & Home Exterior Why not just use a blank notebook? Because the Black & Decker Home Planner & Logbook is full of photos, illustrations, and tips to help you decode every system in your house, such as how to read a water meter or estimate the shelf life of paint. Two large pockets attached to the back cover help you securely store receipts, warranties, manuals, and other documents, so you won’t have to scramble to find your plumber’s phone number during an emergency! Buy from an Online Retailer US: UK: Share article facebook twitter google pinterest If you have any comments on this article please contact us or get in touch via social media.