What Happens During an Electrical Inspection?

electrical home inspectionWhen most people think of an electrical inspection, they tend to think only of a home that is on the market or a home that has existing electrical issues. The truth is, though, that even a healthy electrical system should be periodically inspected.

Just as a mechanic would inspect your car for functionality and safety measures, an electrician can do the same for your home’s electrical system. Having a good idea of the age and condition of your home’s electrical system can help save a lot of time and money down the road. Part of making sure the electrical needs of your home are being met is scheduling regular electrical inspections.

What is an Electrical Inspection?

It goes without saying that the electrical system is one of the most critical elements of any home. It’s also one of the most dangerous systems of the home, particularly if there are defects that go uncorrected.

The job of an electrician during an electrical home inspection is primarily to find and note any electrical system defects. An electrical home inspection provides a thorough examination of your entire electrical system, ensuring that all electrical wires, components, and systems meet legal safety standards.

What is Included in an Electrical Inspection?

During your home’s electrical inspection, the electrician will inspect components both inside and outside the home. White’s Electrical offers a basic 15-point home electrical inspection for only $79. Some of the things an electrical home inspection from White’s Electrical may cover are the following:

  1. Remove panel cover
  2. Check termination on all wires in panel
  3. Check buss bar for damage, discoloration, or burn marks
  4. Check grounding system (two points of ground)
  5. Check wires in panel
  6. Check breakers to wire sizing
  7. Check random electrical outlets using plug tester
  8. Remove two outlets randomly to check for wiring method
  9. Check GFIs using plug tester
  10. Check for GFIs in all code required places (garage, unfinished basements, bathroom, kitchen, etc)
  11. Check all switches manually
  12. Check smoke detector operation
  13. Check smoke detectors locations to meet code (every bedroom, hallway outside of bedrooms, every floor)
  14. Check grounding on dryer, range
  15. Answer any questions or concerns you may have

Upon completion of your electrical home inspection with White’s Electrical, your electrician will provide a detailed, prioritized checklist including areas in need of immediate attention, recommendations for improvements, and upgrade possibilities. If the home is being inspected as part of a sale, a White’s Electrical electrician will be available to meet with both the buyers and sellers to review their findings and suggest improvements.

When is an Electrical Inspection Needed?

Just as the saying goes, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure, the same goes for an electrical inspection. The Electrical Safety Foundation recommends electrical home inspections:

• Upon buying a home.
• When a home is older than 40 years.
• When adding a major appliance.
• After a home has undergone a major renovation.

An electrical home inspection is important for the safety of your home and can give you peace of mind. Whether you are buying or selling a home, or just need confirmation that your home’s electrical system is functioning properly, talk to a licensed electrician at White’s Electrical today.

GFCIs vs Circuit Breakers

You probably have two types of outlets in your home: one type with only holes or slots, and one type with holes and buttons. Those with no buttons are regular outlets and those with buttons are GFCIs. Both types can shut off the electricity flowing through them, but in different ways and for different reasons. Knowing which type you have and which type you need can help keep you and your home safe. Here’s what you need to know when it comes to comparing GFCIs vs circuit breakers.

What is a circuit breaker?

Most people are familiar with a tripped circuit in their circuit breaker box. A circuit breaker is designed to stop the flow of electricity (break an electrical current) when there is a current overload. Regular outlets (those without a button) are connected to the breaker box.

An overloaded circuit means that too many power-consuming devices are being run at the same time on the same circuit. For example, if you have a 15-amp circuit with 20 amps worth of electricity running through it, the circuit breaker will trip to prevent overheating. When a circuit trips, a switch in the breaker box is “flipped,” and needs to be manually switched back to its previous position to turn it back on.

A circuit breaker is a way to prevent too much electricity from flowing through one circuit. Thus, it is able to prevent overheating the circuit and prevent fire hazards.

What is a GFCI?

Simply put, a ground-fault circuit interrupter (GFCI) is a way to protect people from electrical shock. The GFCI will turn off (interrupt) the circuit when there is a current leak (as opposed to a current overload like a circuit breaker).

If you look at a normal 120-volt outlet in the United States, you’ll see two vertical slots with a round hole centered below them. The right slot is slightly smaller than the left. The right slot is called “hot,” the left slot is called “neutral,” and the hole below them is called “ground.”

If an appliance is working properly, all electricity used by that appliance will flow from hot to neutral.  A GFCI monitors the amount of current flowing from hot to neutral, and if there is any imbalance, it trips the circuit. If the GFCI senses that there is a mismatch of power even as small as four or five milliamps, it can react as quickly as one-thirtieth of a second. So, if power is flowing through anything other than the circuit (say, a human body), the circuit is tripped almost immediately.

Do I need a GFCI or a regular outlet?

Besides the fact that you are required by law to install GFCI outlets in certain areas, they are generally considered to be safer and a better investment. They can help prevent electrical-related injuries, electrical fires, and appliance damage. Additionally, circuit breaker GFCIs are often used as replacements for standard circuit breakers and provide GFCI protection for all outlets on that circuit.

White’s Electrical is a team of local licensed electricians who are up to speed on building codes. This not only keeps us safe, but it keeps our customers safe as well. If you need a new outlet installed, GFCI or otherwise, give us a call.

Why Choosing a Licensed Electrical Contractor Matters

licensed electrical contractor

The Electrical Safety Foundation International (ESFI) has named May as National Electrical Safety Month. While we take electrical safety seriously every day, now is a good time to remind ourselves and our clients why being safe – especially in this industry – is so important.

Whether for commercial or residential work, choosing a licensed electrical contractor who is adamant about following all safety protocol is extremely important. For many people who understand how dangerous improper electrical work can be, these reasons are common sense. But still, we come across situations every day that are just a disaster waiting to happen. Most of these problems could have been avoided by hiring a licensed electrician from the get-go.

We understand the dangerous nature of our work and can’t stress enough the importance of choosing a trained professional for electrical work. Before looking up those DIY YouTube videos or hiring an unlicensed electrician for the job, here are some things to consider.

1. Liability and Financial Responsibility

We hate to say it, but not everyone has the common sense to play it safe with electricity. Hiring your college buddy’s nephew to rewire your shed might not be the best idea. By hiring an unlicensed, uninsured handyman for something as dangerous as electrical work, you’re accepting a pretty big liability, even if you’re getting a good “deal.” Fashion designer Aldo Gucci expressed it well: “The bitterness of poor quality is remembered long after the sweetness of low price has faded from memory.” Is saving a few bucks worth the risk of putting yourself and others in danger? Probably not.

2. Quality of Work

Just because the lights turn on, doesn’t mean that the electrical work behind the scenes is right. A licensed electrical contractor who follows safety procedures will get the job done right (read: safely). Faulty electrical work can pose a serious fire hazard. We come across situations every day where an unlicensed handyman or DIY homeowner wired something themselves, and in doing so, created a major hazard. Luckily, we are able to remedy these situations and save homeowners some grief.

3. Keeping Themselves and Others Safe

In new home construction or remodels, several contractors may be working in the same area. If one contractor doesn’t hold up his end of the “safety bargain,” he could easily be putting other contractors in danger. Likewise, an electrician who isn’t following safety standards can be putting himself at risk of electrical shock. A licensed electrician will come to the job prepared with proper safety equipment, as well as knowledge of building codes and safety standards.

Finding good electricians can be hard. Trust us, we know! Luckily, we have done the hard work for you. Our team is composed of some of the most highly-skilled, trained, and knowledgeable electricians in Indianapolis. So, please! Play it safe with electricity – just call us!

How Much Does It Cost to Replace Old Electrical Wiring?

cost to replace old electrical wiring

Individuals tend not to think about the cost to replace old electrical wiring running through their building. They tend not to think about the wiring at all. Every time they flip a switch or turn on an appliance, they’re thinking about their job, not electricity. But it’s good to consider the building’s electrical system from time to time because if it’s old or is damage, it can cause problems. Electrical fires, for instance, are a consequence of degraded wiring, and they occur too often.

Recently, vacant house in Lebanon, Indiana, caught fire because of bad electrical wiring. Although firefighters extinguished the blaze within 20 minutes, the flames did an estimated $30,000 in property damage.

Replacing wiring can be an expensive investment, but it’s important that you be able to identify old and damaged electrical wiring before serious damage or harm comes to your building.

Signs of Bad Electrical Wiring

Frayed Wires

Wires become frayed from age, wear and tear, heat, and corrosion. Damaged wire casing (the plastic covering) exposes the wires, which, when live, can ignite fires and puts people at risk of shock or electrocution.

Bad Outlets

Every year, 4,000 people are treated for electrical injuries. Bad outlets are one such cause. According to the National Fire Protection Association, discolored outlets (which turn colors when poorly wired circuitry heats up) — conduct electricity, meaning they can carry an electric current. If you notice an outlet turning colors, immediately call an electrician.

There are other indicators of an electrical problem with an outlet. Sizzling noises, popping sounds, and the smell burnt plastic all indicate that you should contact an electrician.

Tripped Circuit Breakers

Circuit breakers are the main distribution source of electrical circuits in a building. They provide power to all appliances and protect wiring from a becoming overloaded. When the breaker “trips” — when it shuts off the power — it’s protecting the circuit from overheating and causing damage.

If you must constantly reset your circuit breaker, it’s a sign circuits are overloaded and that a professional should asses them.

Costs of Upgrading Electrical Wiring

If you have electrical wiring that is isn’t functioning well or is damaged, it’s time to consider replacing it. Costs for upgrading electrical wiring  depend on a number of factors:

  • The price of the electrical wires
  • The cost of other materials including panels
  • The price of your electrician’s hourly rate

According to Home Advisor, new wires typically range from $6 to $8 per foot. Breaker boxes (also called electrical panels), if required, are priced separately. These appliances vary in price depending on what your budget and building necessitate. The average cost of breaker boxes by amperage are:

  • 100 amp: $800 to $2,500
  • 200 amp: $1,300 to $3,000
  • 400 amp: $2,000 to $4,000

Home Advisor also lists average labor costs for electrical jobs. In Indianapolis, Indiana, the average labor cost for basic home wiring ranges from $3,330.87 to $4,037.42. The supplies for such a job average between $1,322.31 to $1,504.22. Prices will vary depending on location and exact job parameters, of course. Ultimately, you will have to ask a licensed electrician for a quote to learn the cost.

Choosing Safety: OSHA Workplace Standards

Electricity mobilizes almost all aspects of modern life, both at home and on the job. Of course we’re familiar with it – comfortable even. However, it can post serious hazard in the workplace, especially for engineers, electricians, and power line works who work directly with it. Direct contact with electricity can result in shock, electrocution, and burns. And when electricity escapes its circuitry, it can cause fires and explosions.

It’s because of these dangers that the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA)  was established in the ’60s to ensure and safe working conditions in the workplace. OSHA sets safety regulations and provides training, outreach, education, and assistance so workers can enforce its standards to protect themselves and their surroundings.

OSHA workplace standards

Health and Safety Standards

Under the Occupational Safety and Health Act, OSHA controls health and safety regulations. These regulations limit hazardous chemical exposure and employee access to classified information. They require the use of protective equipment and cautionary measures in case of accidents around dangerous machinery as well.

In order to guide employers and employees in avoiding hazards and developing effective plans, OSHA publishes “Safety and Health Program Management Guidelines”. The guidelines identify several crucial elements needed for a successful safety system:

  • Management leadership
  • Employee involvement
  • Worksite Analysis
  • Hazard prevention and control
  • Safety and health training

The main goal of the guidelines is to provide employers, workers, and representatives with a flexible safety format which employers can adapt to any workspace. The adaptability allows companies of all sizes to use the programs to make changes where they’re needed.

The guidelines detail a proactive, inclusive plan to prevent hazardous conditions. Employers collect information about the known hazards beforehand, periodically inspect the workplace, and investigate all accidents, injuries, illnesses, and fatalities. OSHA pushes companies — employees and employers alike — to communicate trends or problems seen in order to prevent injuries.

Specifically, OSHA suggests employers take the following steps to create a safe environment:

  • Create a list of hazards in order from most to least important
  • Assign a trustworthy individual to implement controls on specific machines which require a steady hand
  • Establish a goal end date to have all new regulations and tasks completed
  • Track their company’s progress via charts, regular inspections, and employee reports

Responsibilities Under OSHA

OSHA regulations of course also list things every employer must do to ensure their workers remain safe, however. For example, employers must:

  • Provide safety training to workers in cohesive languages
  • Perform tests in the workplace, such as air sampling
  • Display the official OSHA Job Safety and Health Law poster
  • Provide personal protective equipment
  • Notify OSHA within eight hours of a workplace fatality

Why OSHA Standards are Important to Our Relationship with Clients

When you choose White’s Electrical as your electrician, you’re choosing a professional company who is proud to adhere to OSHA standards. We take safety very seriously, and are constantly reassessing our own safety practices to ensure the safety of both our employees and clients. Our licensed electricians are highly trained, skilled, and ready to take on any job – safely. 

Understanding Your Breaker Box

Understanding Your Breaker Box Whites Electrical Indianapolis Indiana Electrician

An electrical circuit breaker panel is the main distribution of electrical circuits in your home. The system receives and distributes electricity through your home, and without the proper knowledge, you could end up in a dangerous situation if you tried to work on it.

How Does a Breaker Box Work?

The breaker panel is essentially a big switch filled with other smaller switches. The smaller switchers — breakers — control the power in all aspects of the building. They’re similar to the switches inside a living room. Flip with the switch on the wall, and you’ve got power and vice versa. As an added feature, these breakers perform a variety of safety services. They protect the wiring from overload, your home, and its occupants from fire and electrical shock.

Explaining the Aspects of a Breaker Box

Circuit Breakers

Each circuit within your home has a corresponding breaker. The corresponding breaker in the box not only controls whether electricity is on or off but, if there is an overload on a circuit, the connected breaker automatically shuts off to stop the flow of electricity to that circuit. An overload of electricity can occur from too many appliances running at once or a short circuit.

There are two main types of standard breakers:

  • Single Pole – These are single switches which supply 120 volts of power to all circuits within the home. Devices controlled by these breakers are light fixtures and ordinary plug-in outlets.
  • Double Pole – Double pole switches supply around 240 volts of power within a household. This supply of power controls heavy appliances such as clothes dryers and whole-house central air conditioning.

Other types of breakers, such as Arc Fault Circuit Interrupters (AFCI) and Ground Fault Circuit Interrupters (GFCI), provide special purposes like additional safety protection from fire and electrocution.

Service Disconnect

In case of an emergency, the breaker box allows you to shut off the electricity to your entire home by flipping the service disconnect. The service disconnect is the biggest breaker in the box and is sometimes referred to as the “electrical main.” This is where the power from the electric company flows into the box, starting from the main circuit before flowing through the rest.

Expansion Slots

Many breaker boxes have empty slots for additional circuits to be added as needed by a licensed electrician. New circuits run electricity to new appliances in your home or a room such as the garage or basement if required.

The Lifespan of a Circuit Breaker

The Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) estimates the life expectancy of a circuit breaker to be around 30 to 40 years, and it’s the same for the GFCI, AFCI, and standard breakers. Because a breaker is a mechanical device, humid conditions or corrosive atmospheres will shorten the life span. On the other hand, a dry, indoor location with moderate temperatures will extend its lifespan. Another way to extend the lifespan of a breaker box is to “exercise” it once a year by flipping each breaker on and off three times.

Breaker boxes provide power for your comfort and convenience. Maintenance and constant attention ensures the breaker box runs efficiently. At Whites Electrical, we are a team of highly trained electricians who can answer any questions and service all residential or commercial project. Contact us today to set up an appointment to have your home powered efficiently today.

Prevent Electrical Fires from Space Heaters

Space heater safety, electrical fires, whites electrical indianapolis Indiana, electrician

Space heaters are known for being a low-cost way to heat a space. However, they pose a risk of electrical fires if homeowners use them incorrectly.

Space heaters account for 25,000 residential fires every year and one-third of all winter house fires. In the past year, space heaters have caused over 300 deaths and over 6,000 hospital visits due to burns.

Recently, in March 2017, a space heater fire claimed the lives of a 91-year-old developer and his 87-year-old father-in-law. The space heater ignited an electrical fire because of an overloaded power strip. This is only one case out of hundreds of space heater fatalities.

House fires have different causes. However, when one is started by a space heater, it is due to the fact the unit is old, cheaply made, or not properly maintained or used. Homeowners should therefor prioritize researching space heaters because of the numerous types, sizes, and brands available.

If you are thinking of buying a space heater, first ask these questions: “Do I need it?” “Are there other alternatives?” “Am I trying to heat a small area or a room?” and “Is there a safe area to use it in the house?”

What to Look for When Buying a Space Heater

Purchasing a space heater may seem simple, but not knowing the important features and the correct types of heaters can be detrimental. When buying a space heater, look for the following:

  • Safety features such as: a protective grill, automatic thermostats with an automatic shutdown function if it over heats or turns over, and the UL (Underwriter Laboratory) Certified Mark.
  • Unvented should never be used inside the house, intended for a barn or in an open area
  • Vented are meant to be used in a house
  • Convection: heats entire room
  • Radiant: heats small surrounding area
  • Energy efficiency

Prices of space heaters range from $15 to hundreds of dollars. $15 heaters are tempting because they are inexpensive.  However, they will cost your family more if they cause a fire. An expensive heater can be deadly, too, if not properly maintained or misused.

Space Heater Safety Tips

  • Keep your space heater three feet away from any flammable material, including furniture, curtains, clothes, and rugs
  • Do not use extension cords to power your space heater
  • Keep the space heater on a flat solid surface
  • Shut off the heater if not in use
  • Do not use if power cord or wall heater feel hot to the touch
  • Don’t use if there are damaged power cords or exposed wires
  • Do not use around water
  • Frequently clean to remove dust

Before purchasing a space heater, call Whites Electrical to check or install smoke detectors. Whites Electrical is a full-residential and commercial electric-service company that offers outlet and switch replacement as well as frayed wire repair and more.

Surge Protectors: Protect Electronics from Voltage Spikes

Surge Protector - Voltage Spike - White's Electrical - Indianapolis, Indiana

Christmas is now past, and as the new year rolls in, it’s good to think about practical matters, such as protecting all the electronic equipment you just purchased. The reality is that every electronic device is at risk of damage through the very thing that powers it — electricity. Surge protectors can save your expensive electronics and appliances from electrical surges that will outright destroy the device or decrease its lifespan.

What is a Power Surge?

Voltage Spike - Surge Protector - White's Electrical - Indianapolis, IndianaA surge means that the electrical voltage (the pressure behind the electrons) suddenly increases in the circuit. Think of it like plumbing: the electrons are the water molecules, the voltage is the pressure behind the water, and the circuit is the plumbing system as a whole.

In a plumbing system, the more pressure there is behind the water, the faster the water moves through the pipes and out your faucet. Likewise, the more voltage there is in an electric circuit, the “faster” (or more violently) the electrons move; the electrons have more force.

During a power surge, the voltage spikes for a short time — thousandths or millionths of a second. The surge can carry tens of thousands of volts. That high voltage (“pressure”) will damage electronics.

A large voltage spike will fry circuit boards, crash hard drives, and ruin electrical equipment of any size. A spike can even damage equipment when the equipment is not powered on but just plugged in. Smaller spikes do permanent, sometimes invisible damage to electronics by degrading performance and shortening their lifespan.

What Causes Voltage Spikes

Voltage Spike - Lightning - Surge Protector - White's Electrical - Indianapolis, IndianaVoltage spikes occur when power suddenly drops and spikes. These drops and spikes occur for many reasons, both inside and outside the house.

Power outages are one source for voltage spikes. The spikes occur as electricity cuts out and then suddenly returns. 58 percent of blackouts occur due to nature, with 27 percent from severe weather, 20 percent from fallen trees, and 11 percent from animals.

Specific sources for spikes include:

  • Short circuits
  • Tripped circuit breakers
  • An appliance (such as dryers, air conditioners, etc.) turning on/off
  • Lightning storms (within a mile)
  • Damaged power lines
  • Winds that cause power lines to touch
  • Branches or animals that conduct energy between power lines
  • Rolling blackouts
  • A nearby factory suddenly increasing/decreasing power consumption

Surge Protectors vs. Power Strips vs. Circuit Breakers

Circuit Breaker - White's Electrical - Indianapolis, Indiana

Circuit Breaker

Before going further, you should understand that surge protectors should not be confused with power strips. Power strips simply extend an outlet to provide additional plug ins for devices. They do not protect devices from voltage spikes.

You also should not confuse surge protectors with circuit breakers. Circuit breakers stop the flow of electricity through your home’s circuits when the amperage — not the voltage — increases. Amperage refers to the electrical current flowing through a wire. (If voltage is the pressure in a plumbing system, amperage is the flow of water.) Problems that cause the amperage to increase typically include overloaded circuits (too many appliances pulling electricity in one circuit), short circuits, and ground faults.

True surge protectors work by keeping voltage spikes from reaching the electronics they protect. When a spike reaches a surge protector, the device redirects electricity to the ground wire, which then directs the electricity to the ground, away from the circuit.

Types of Surge Protectors

Whole-House Surge Protector - Voltage Spike - Surge Protector - White's Electrical - Indianapolis, Indiana

Whole-House Surge Protector

There are several kinds of surge protectors. Each protects your home at different levels and offers different levels of protection. Whole-home surge protectors are the first type. They’re located between the power grid and your home. They protect your home from voltage spikes originating outside your house.

The second type is a surge protector that provides whole house protection but which is located between your meter box and breaker box. It likewise protects your home from outside spikes.

The third type of surge protector is a point-of-use protector. These protectors are the kind you’re most likely familiar with. They are located between wall outlets and your devices, and they offer protection from voltage originating both inside and outside your home.

When choosing specific surge protectors, know that not all surge protectors are created equal. Different models deliver different levels of protection. You can learn how well a specific model will protect your electrical systems by looking at its rating, measured in Joules (a unit of energy). A quality point-of-use surge protector will provide at least 1,200 Joules of protection. To protect higher-end devices, we recommend you look for a surge protector that’s rated for at least 2,000 Joules.

Besides the Joules rating, also look at a unit’s voltage clamping. Voltage clamping refers to the voltage at which the surge protector begins directing electricity to the ground wire. We suggest looking for a device with voltage clamping of 400 volts or less.

Also worth considering is a UPS. UPS stands for universal power source. A UPS surge protector provides a battery backup if the power goes out. The battery allows for safe shutdown and data backup. This type of protector is useful for computers and equipment that requires a shutdown procedure in the workplace.

Replacing Surge Protectors

Surge Protector - Voltage Spike - Surge Protector - White's Electrical - Indianapolis, IndianaBecause surge protectors take the brunt of voltage spikes, they will not last forever. Whether a voltage spike damages a surge protector depends on how intense the spike is. The higher a surge protector’s Joule rating, the less likely a spike will damage it. But even small spikes will damage surge protectors over time.

Quality surge protectors have diagnostic lights that will let you know whether the surge protector can still offer protection or not. Depending on the model, a surge protector with diagnostic lights will tell you specific problems the unit encounters. Some protectors will also emit an audible sound when their components have been compromised.

If you own a surge protector without lights and which doesn’t emit a sound, you will want to replace it after a few voltage spikes to make sure the unit provides adequate protection.

It’s important to note, too, that your surge protector is as only as good as its grounding. Surge protectors work by shedding electricity. So, if your house does not have ground wiring, surge protectors cannot work. This is one among other reasons we suggest upgrading two-prong outlets in your home.

Surge Protector Cost

TV not working - Surge Protector - Voltage Spike - Surge Protector - White's Electrical - Indianapolis, IndianaIn 2016, insurers paid $825 million in lightning claims alone. Each of these claims averaged more than $7,500. Many of the claims, unfortunately, could have been avoided had the home or business owner installed adequate surge protectors.

These statistics highlight the cost of not protecting your electronics and appliances. Consider: a high-end surge protector costs less than $100 and can last years. A new Ultra HD TV costs hundreds, if not thousands, of dollars.

Also consider whole-house surge protectors. These units typically cost less than $300. Appliances they protect easily cost twice that, if not more.

If you want whole-house protection against voltage spikes that can cause thousands of dollars in damage, White’s Electrical can help. Our team of qualified, highly trained electricians can handle anything with electricity running through it, including your house. We’ll help keep your electronics safe. Contact us today with any of your electrical concerns.

2017 Recap: Electrical Device Recalls

Hoverboard - 2017 Recalls Electric Devices - White's Electrical - Indianapolis Indiana

During the past two decades, recalls of electronics and electric devices have steadily increased. 2017 was no different. Stricter regulations and easier reporting have forced manufacturers to stop on top of product safety.

Of all the electrical items recalled in 2017, the lithium-ion battery led the charts. The problems these batteries pose is consistent among manufacturers and products: the batteries overheat, catch fire, and (in some cases) explode. Eleven hoverboard manufacturers had to issue recalls because of these batteries; three computer manufacturers issued recalls; and one electric window covering manufacturer and electric skateboard manufacturer had to issue recalls.

Why all these lithium-ion batteries have failed is not because they’re a new technology. Lithium-ion batteries have been around for decades. Their failure has more to do with poor quality control, poorly designed circuitry, and manufacturers failing to cool the batteries, which are known to degrade in high temperatures. Recalls for lithium-ion batteries came scattered through the year.

The award for Impeccable Timing of a Recall goes to Nantucket Distributing. Nantucket issued a recall of its pre-lit, artificial Christmas tree on January 12. Conveniently, the recall came right after the 2016 holiday and post-Christmas discount shopping season ended.

We’ve put together a list of all electrical devices recalled in 2017. We’ve only included residential equipment in this list, so you will not find recalls for vehicles or medical devices here. We have also only included electrical products that have been recalled due to failure of their electrical system. Thus, we haven’t listed recalls such as Southwire’s Globe and Snow Globe stake lights. (The globes on these items refracted light, which could single or melt items in close proximity. Obviously, this posed a fire hazard.)

For a full list of items recalled in the United States of America, visit the website for the United States Product Safety Commission.

2017 Recalls for Electric Equipment

Cleaning Equipment

2017 Recalls Electric Devices - White's Electrical - Indianapolis Indiana

Dirt Devil Pet Vacuum

 

  • Vacuum Cleaners — Royal Appliance recalled 149,000 Dirt Devil Pet vacuums because the prongs in the electrical cord can detach and remain the outlet.

Electrical / Lighting

LectroFan Sound Machines - 2017 Recalls Electric Devices - White's Electrical - Indianapolis Indiana

LectroFan Sound Machine

  • Adaptors — Barns & Noble has recalled the casing on the power adaptor for its NOOK Tablet 7. The casing can crack when the adaptor is plugged in, which puts consumers at risk for electric shock. Power adaptors sold with LectroFan Sound Machines have also been recalled. ASTI issued the recall the adaptors’ casing can break when plugged in, exposing the prongs and posing an electrical shock hazard. In December, Netgear issued a recall for the power adaptors to its outdoor Arlo cameras. Water can leak into the “waterproof” connector and cause a short circuit, fire, melting, and overheating.
  • Batteries — Springs Window Fashions LLC recalled Zeus lithium batteries in some of the company’s motorized window coverings. The batteries overheat, leak, and discharge, posing fire and burn hazards.
2017 Recalls Electric Devices - White's Electrical - Indianapolis Indiana

Moonlight Soothers Nightlight

  • Nightlights — Skip Hop recalled its Moonlight & Melodies The problem is that the nightlights’ power adaptors can break, which poses the risk of shock. AM Conservation Group likewise recalled its Model 2017-G nightlights because they can overheat. In February, Walt Disney Parks and Resorts recalled its Happy Holidays! Mickey Mouse Nightlights. Liquid from the nightlight can leak from the nightlight and into the electrical outlet, which poses a fire hazard.
  • Outlet Converters — Ningbo Litesun Electric recalled its outlet converters, sold through Home Depot, because they reverse electrical polarity, which creates a risk of shock and fire.
  • Portable Generators — MWE Investments recalled its Westinghouse Portable Generators, as the generators can overheat, posing a fire hazard to consumers.

Electronics

  • Cellphone Batteries — Replacement batteries that FedEx Supply Chain used to refurbish Samsung Galaxy Note 4s can overheat. Apparently, some of the batteries FedEx used were counterfeit.
  • Clamp Meters — Digital clamp meters produced by Extech were recalled because they fail to provide accurate voltage readings.
2017 Recalls Electric Devices - White's Electrical - Indianapolis Indiana

Panasonic Lithium-Ion Battery for Sony Laptops

  • Laptop Batteries — Sony has continued its recall for Panasonic batteries used in Sony laptops because the lithium-ion batteries can overheat. In January, HP expanded a recall for lithium-ion batteries in HP and Compaq Notebook computers because the batteries overheat. Toshiba did the same earlier in the month for lithium-ion batteries used in laptops for the same reason.
  • Science Kits — Little Passports recalled Science Expeditions Northern Lights Kits. The battery packs overheat, posing a burn hazard.
  • Solar Panels — Bosch Solar Services recalled 28,000 roof-mounted solar panels because the panels overheat. SolarWorld recalled its Amphenol PV cable connectors, which it sold with solar panels. The connectors can develop cracks, which let moisture in and therefore threaten electrical shock.

Decorative

  • Christmas Trees — Nantucket Distributing issued a recall of its prelit, artificial Christmas tree because the fuse can overheat and blow, which poses a fire hazard.

Food and Water

  • Filtered Water Dispensers — Nestle Waters North America recalled its AccuPure floor standing filtered water dispenser. The units can overheat and smoke.
  • Food Dehydrators — Greenfield World Trade recalled its EZDRY Food Dehydrators because the units overheat.

Heating & Air Conditioning

  • Air Conditioners — Carrier, Bryant, and Fast have recalled certain Packaged Terminal Air Conditioner models because their power cords can overheat, which poses a fire hazard.
  • Air Handlers — Goodman has issued a recall for certain wall- and ceiling-mounting air handling units that are commonly installed in apartment or condominium units. The units’ disconnects may not disable the power, which puts people servicing the unit at risk of shock.
  • Furnaces — Goodman, Amana, and Daikin recalled 80 percent of their gas furnaces due to an electrical shock hazard.
2017 Recalls Electric Devices - White's Electrical - Indianapolis Indiana

Carrier and Greenspeed Heat Pumps

Household Accessories / Lighting

  • Door Chimes — Swann has recalled certain models of its wireless door chimes. The back cover can detach from the units, which exposes electrical parts that can shock users.
2017 Recalls Electric Devices - White's Electrical - Indianapolis Indiana

Curio Design’s Modular Light Kits and Bases

  • Lamps — Michaels has recalled three models of its Rock Salt Lamps because the cover grill can overheat and ignite, putting consumers at risk of electric shock and fire. A few days before Michaels issued their recall, Curio Design recalled about 1,500 modular light kits and bases. The lights can crack during assembly, and the bases have faulty wiring. West Elm recalled its Table Lamps because the wire running through the lamp can cut or fray the adjustable joint, putting consumers at risk of shock. Also, earlier in the year, Williams-Sonoma recalled its Rejuvenation Wall Sconces because the wiring in them can fray, posing a shock hazard.

Infant/Baby

  • Motion Seats — Fisher-Price recalled various models of its Soothing Motion Seats because the motor housing can overheat, posing a fire hazard.

Large Appliances

  • Dishwashers — BSH Home Appliances recalled 469,000 dishwashers because the power cords they produced overheat. The recall affects dishwashers from Bosch®, Gaggenau®, Jenn-Air®, Kenmore®, and Thermador®.
  • Stoves — Arçelik A.S. recalled its Blomberg and Summit electric range stoves. Due to incorrectly installed electrical system, the stove can become energized, which can shock or electrocute people. One death was reported due to this issue.

Outdoor

2017 Recalls - Electric Devices - White's Electrical - Indianapolis Indiana

Outxpro Mosquito Zapper LED

  • Bug Zappers — R & D Products recalled its Outxpro Mosquito Zapper LED light bulbs because the base of the LED bulb can separate from the connector, posing the risk of an electrical shock. The zappers were sold through Amazon.com.
  • Extension Cords — The Canadian Tire Corporation, Ltd., recalled certain of its Mastercraft brand outdoor extension cords. The manufacturer improperly installed the unit’s prongs on these cords, which can cause the female end of the electric outlet to spark.
  • Lawn Mowers — Hongkong Sun Rise Trading recalled its cordless electric lawn mowers because its electrical system can short circuit and catch fire.
  • Swimming Pool Motors — Nidec Motor recalled some of its programmable, variable-speed swimming pool motors because they are not properly grounded. The affected units have “Emerson” or “EcoTech EZ” printed on the control box.

Recreation/Relaxation

  • Adjustable Beds — Customatic Beds recalled its adjustable beds because the bed’s outlets were wired incorrectly. The units pose an electrical shock hazard.
  • E-Cigs — Firewood recalled its Firewood 4 vaporizers because the electrical system is not wired correctly, and an electrical short can occur, posing the risk of fire.
  • Handheld Massagers — HoMedics recalled their handheld massagers due to the fact that the massagers’ cords can break and pose electrical and burn hazards.
  • Lift Chairs — La-Z-Boy issued a recall for the power supply covers on certain lift chair models. The covers can become detached, which poses a risk of electric shock.

Safety Equipment

  • Fire Alarms — Honeywell International recalled its SWIFT® wireless gateway, which it sold with its fire alarm systems. The SWIFT® systems fail to communicate with the fire alarms, which means that the fire alarms might not go off if the system detects a fire.

Toys

  • Battery Chargers — Performance Designed Products recalled its XBOX ONE 2X Smart Chargers battery chargers for XBOX ONE game controllers. The battery chargers can overheat and damage the game controllers or burn consumers.
2017 Recalls Electric Devices - White's Electrical - Indianapolis Indiana

Sonic Smart Wheels Hoverboard

Four ways to Upgrade Two Prong Outlets

Two Prong Outlets - White's Electrical - Indianapolis

Between 1920 and 1960, tens of thousands of houses were built in the United States. Almost all of them had two prong outlets. Many of them still do. While the majority of Indiana’s houses were built in the 1990s, there are more than 8,600 currently for sale built between 1920 and 1960 in the Hoosier state. Many more off the market. If you live in a house with two prong outlets, you might want to consider an upgrade. You are at risk for more than inconvenience when you try and plug in your 21st century TV into one of these outlets.

Risks Associated With Two Prong Outlets

There are two risks associated with two prong outlets: electrocution and power surges. Both of these issues have to do with the fact that the wiring in two prong outlets isn’t grounded. In outlets built since 1962, U.S. electrical code has required all outlets be constructed with a ground wire. This ground wire protects electronics and people from electrical surges and faults by providing a pathway for extra energy to escape the house’s circuitry. When a fault or surge occurs with grounding, the energy travels through the ground wire to the electrical panel. There, it will trip the circuit breaker or blow a fuse, thereby shutting down the circuit before damage (hopefully) occurs. The energy then continues through the ground wire into the earth below the structure, where it dissipates harmlessly.

Without grounding, it’s also impossible to protect your electronics and appliances with surge protectors. Surge protectors work only if they are can connect to a ground wire. Without this wire, they offer no better protection for electronic devices than do multiprong outlets.

Two Prong Outlets are Not Up to Code

GFCI - Two Prong Outlets - White's Electrical - Indianapolis

GFCI Receptacle

Upgrading your home’s electrical system can cost between 5 and 15 percent of your home’s value — a price tag many people cannot afford. With this in mind, regulators determined that homeowners with two prong outlets need not upgrade them. However, that doesn’t mean they’re the safest option.

For more than 50 years, code has required all new construction have grounded, three prong outlets. More recently, U.S. electrical code has required that not only outlets be grounded but that outlets in areas with water present have a GFCI. A GFCI, short for ground-fault circuit interrupter, protects people from electrical shock by cutting off the circuit if a short circuit occurs. (A short circuit is when energy is directed out of the regular circuit pathway through a path with little or no resistance.) If that short circuit occurs because a person is being electrocuted, a GFCI can save their life.

No such protection is available with a two prong outlet.

Two Prong Outlets Suggest Other Problems

Murray fuse box - White's Electrical - Indianapolis, Indiana

Murray fuse box

Two prong outlets also raise flags about other electrical issues that may be present. Homes built before 1965 were built with 30- or 60-amp fuse panels. While 60-amp fuse panels were made with at least one 240-volt wire for larger appliances, 30-amp fuse panels only provide 120-volt wiring, and they are inadequate for modern household electrical needs.

60-amp fuse boxes are problematic because they, too, cannot handle well modern requirements upon electrical systems. In comparison, newly constructed homes today are built with 200-amp circuit breakers (the service panels that replaced fuse boxes).

When there is too much energy running through a wire, the wire heats up, putting the house at risk for fire. Too much energy (electricity) will also blow fuses. You will have to constantly replace if your fuse box’s amperage rating doesn’t meet your needs.

Another problem to be on guard for when two prong outlets are present is the lack of grounding in outlets that have three prongs. If a house has both two and three prong outlets, it means that the three prong outlets were installed for convenience and that they’re not actually grounded. It could also means that only part of your house’s electrical system is grounded.

You will want to test your outlets to find out whether they are grounded or not. If the three prong outlets are not grounded, regulations require that you label them with the words “No Equipment Ground.”

Four Ways to Upgrade 2 Prong Outlets

To upgrade your two prong outlets, you cannot simply add a three prong outlet. While this will solve the convenience issue, it will not solve the safety issue.

If you truly want to address your two prong outlets and make them safer, you have four options.

Option 1: Rewire Your Outlets

Your first, and best, option is to hire an electrician to rewire your house’s outlets and its electrical panel. If the expense is a concern, consider having your electrician rewire select outlets into which you will plug larger or more sensitive electronic devices, such as a computer or game counsel.

Note that this is not a project you can do yourself. Only a certified electrician has the expertise necessary to run a ground wire from the outlet to the service panel and then properly ground it.

Option 2: Ground Three Prong Outlets with the Metal Housing Box

Many two prong outlets were installed in metal boxes. While the circuitry itself wasn’t grounded, these individual boxes oftentimes were. If your house has two prong outlets with metal boxes, it is possible you can ground your outlets without overhauling the wiring.

To find out whether the metal housing is grounded, purchase a circuit tester. Insert one of the tester’s prongs into the hot slot (the shorter slot in the outlet). Put the other prong onto a screw holding the cover plate. If the tester lights up, it means the metal box is grounded.

If the box is grounded, you can install a three prong outlet and ground it by attaching it to the armored, or BX, cable in the back of the box.

Option 3: Install a GFCI at the Outlet

The third option to upgrade a two prong outlet is to replace it with a GFCI. While a GFCI will not protect your electronics from power surges, it will protect you from electrocution and short circuits. If you replace your ungrounded, two prong outlet with a GFCI, you must label it with “No Equipment Ground.”

Option 4: Install a GFCI at the Circuit Breaker

It’s also possible to replace your two prong receptacles with three prong ones and add a GFCI circuit breaker at the service panel. Doing this will likewise protect you from electrocution. If you do this, you will have to label outlets with “GFCI Protected, No Equipment Ground.”

Whatever you decide to do, we recommend having a certified electrician complete your electrical work. Safety is always a concern when working with electricity, and an expert will best take care of your home.