Safety Warnings

Cullen Eletric

Electricity

Electricity is so common we almost take it for granted in our daily lives We don't realize it is there most of the time. That is (Photo Credit Wikipedia) where the danger comes in.

Electricity is invisible, tasteless, colorless and weightless. It travels at the speed of light and has no conscious and shows no mercy to living or inanimate beings. It is one of the most powerful forces in the natural world (via lightning) and in our man-made world. It can kill a sentient being in a millisecond. There are many ways electricity can kill or maim a person. In order to understand it's potential we must understand its nature.

Electricity is made very simply. We spin magnets at 60 revolutions per second in a copper coil and the resulting charge is turned into current. The current then travels through the conductors to our homes or businesses. The voltage is regulated between the power house and our homes via transformers in the power grid. When it gets to us it is flowing at 125 / 250 V.

A circuit is made when electrons flow from the source (the generation plant) through a load (like a light) and then back to ground. Electricity from the time it is generated is constantly looking for a path to ground. The “term” ground is literal and figurative both. For your electrical system to be safe it needs to have many components.

Fire Potential

This picture was taken from a local home that had an engulfed structure fire caused by an improperly installed wiring system to an air conditioning unit. A homeowner had improperly factored the wire size for the task. The wires were undersized for the actual load so as the current flowed it created tremendous heat that resulted in a full blown structure fire. Working with things that can kill you, your family, or destroy your home should not be an option exercised after watching a video on You Tube. Leave the dangerous work to the professionals.

Electricity can arc at up to 20,000 F. Those are temperatures that can melt steel or boil the skin off anything that lives. The owner of Cullen Electric's grandfather was killed while working on lines in Hamilton, Ohio while employed by Hamilton Gas and Electric in the mid 20th Century. We have first hand knowledge of the danger electricity can pose. Heat, fire and electrocution are all real hazards when electricity is present. Respecting that power and understanding it allows us to safely perform our work so you do not have to fear that power.

Grounding

The primary line of defense is a solid grounding system; both in your individual circuits as well as your main service. This is the third conductor that will take fault current and return it to ground in your panel causing the breaker to open (or trip) in the event that you have a short to ground.

Imagine a wire coming loose on the inside of your toaster and then touches the metal exterior cabinet. If the grounding conductor is missing on your circuit, then the shell of the toaster becomes energized and when you touch it YOU are the path to ground. This will result in a shock that could lead from a jolt to a cardiac arrest. Electricity is unforgiving and you can not predict where it will leave your body to ground. If the current crosses your heart you could end up in a full blown cardiac arrest. If you grab an energized component with your hand the current can cause your muscles to contract, closing your hand on the live wire. Most people that are caught in a circuit burn to death. It is a horrific and painful way to leave this earth. You can be killed by current as small as 12V. It is imperative that your systems are grounded to the Standards of NEC 2014 ART 250 to insure the ability of your system to respond to ground faults.

Overloads

The primary line of defense is a solid grounding system; both in your individual circuits as well as your main service. This is the third conductor that will take fault current and return it to ground in your panel causing the breaker to open (or trip) in the event that you have a short to ground.

Overload Conditions: this condition occurs when to much current is flowing for the installed wiring to handle. There were many fires in the early 20th Century due to this condition because of fuses. Many homeowners would replace fuses with larger rated fuses or even pennies if their fuses get blowing from to much current flow. They would get frustrated and install the higher rated fuse to eliminate the need to travel every two minutes to keep the electric on. The problem with that is evident in the picture to the left. To much current on a wire to small to carry it will result in tremendous heat, then fire. If you still have fuses NEVER replace them with pennies or fuses rated at a higher trip number then the one you are replacing. It is a real good idea to get rid of them and installing a breaker style panel and service.

Aluminum Wiring

If your existing Aluminum wiring looks like this, you need to contact a certified electrical contractor to do an inspection. In the industry this is what's known as a “tinderbox”.

Lighting fixture wiring connected with Copper wires and AL branch circuit wires. Notice the pitting in these wires (the grooves in the shiny metal part of the wire). This is a serious condition especially if the wire has become “brittle”. Call Cullen Electric today if you need this inspected in your home! We have been updating AL wiring systems for 30 years.

Notice the pitting on the shiny part of the white wire? The deep grooves in it? That's what happens over time as Aluminum wire breaks down in a process known as “oxidation”. As the metal oxidizes it becomes “pitted” and gaps form, at the termination points, between the wire and the screw. This “gap” causes resistance as the electrons try to “jump” across those gaps. That resistance causes heat which in turn causes fires. This is a SERIOUS condition and should be looked at by a professional.

This condition occurs when untrained personnel work on AL wiring systems. They attach Copper wires with Aluminum wires without the proper connecting devices. The subsequent chemical reaction between the two leads to “pitting” between the metals. The electrons “jump” across the barrier, creating resistance. This resistance causes heat which will burn your home down. The wires under the black wire nut “melted” the wirenut. This homeowner was lucky the breaker opened before the had a full fledge fire.

If you have AL wiring and someone who does not have the expertise to work on it…has….call a Pro IMMEDIATELY.

Call today for a full home electrical inspection! (513) 227-4112

Ground Fault Protection

Ground Fault Protection: Many electricians and engineers would agree that this is by far and away the greatest life safety invention in the history of electrical engineering. This device is similar to the air bag in a car. It stops the impact of electrical shock before it hits you much like an air bag in a car stops the occupant from feeling the impact from an accident.

It works rather simply. There are electronics internally in the unit that measures current flow from the line side of the circuit across the grounded current carrying conductor (neutral conductor) as the current flows from the breaker back to the panel. If electrons start to divert their flow off of the neutral wire to ground, (such as the condition that would happen if you threw a hair dryer in your shower) the electronics in the outlet would open the hot side of the circuit causing the current flow on the circuit to be arrested. This happens in milliseconds. The lives this technology has saved could be measured in the tens of thousands. This technology is also available via circuit breakers as well.

Many articles in the NEC, including ART 210 and ART 680 require the electrician to install ground fault outlets or breakers in wet locations. These locations would include swimming pool areas, or equipment feeding pools, bathrooms, basements, resistance heaters, kitchen counter tops, sheds, garages and exterior outlets to name a few. If you do not have these devices installed in these areas call us for a free evaluation. One ground fault outlet can protect many devices “down current” so you would not have to install one outlet for every device normally.

Home Inspectors in Cincinnati will always write up these if they are missing in your home prior to a sale.