Wiring: A Gnawing Problem

https://www.flickr.com/photos/rothwerx/2641452698. By Jeremiah Roth. Mice rats chewed wire. Electrical Electrician Indianapolis Indiana.

Photo by Jeremiah Roth

It’s a well-known fact that rodents incessantly gnaw. They have to because their front teeth never stop growing, and they need to wear the teeth down. Because of their instinct to chew and gnaw, rodents — namely rats and mice — wreak havoc in electrical systems when they expose wires after chewing off the coatings. Once wires are exposed, the wires can short or cause fires.

Another reason rats and mice gnaw on cables is because the cables obstruct their path. Rodents and other animals tend to move very efficiently when they travel. So, when a cable obstructs their route, they will try to remove it by gnawing and biting at it so they can travel easier.

A third reason (or theory) why these animals gnaw cables is that they’ve learned food is often stored in plastic containers. So, they’ll chew through plastic in hopes of finding a meal.

Whatever the reason, the fact remains that vermin are here to stay and will continue to get into electrical systems. Here are five ways to prevent rats and mice from destroying your wiring:

No 1. Deter Rats and Mice

The best way to prevent chewed cables and wiring is to deter the rats and mice that cause the damage. There are a number of ways of doing this.

Clean Up

First, make sure the areas around the wires are free of clutter and debris. Rats and mice are constantly looking for places to nest. So, the cleaner an area is, the less chances are that they’ll take up residence.

Seal Holes

Mice can enter buildings through cracks as small as ¼”. So, to keep rodents out, you’ll need to identify and block all the entry points into your building. Weakened areas and rotting wood are also possible points of entry for rodents, as they’ll gnaw their way into the structure.

Limit Access to the Roof

There’s no reason to make it easier for rats and mice to get into your building. Trim back limbs and plants that are hanging over your roof or growing right beside the building.

Take Out the Trash

Store biodegradable trash (food) outside in containers vermin can’t get into. Nothing invites rats and mice more than the smell of free food.

Use Repellents

Commercial repellents can deter rodents from entering an area. Some spray repellents mimic predator like coyotes and bobcats. Others come in pouches or bags and smell pleasant (peppermint, eucalyptus, etc.).

No. 2 Protect the Wires

Some locations like college campuses and stadiums will always invite rats and mice. If it’s impossible or simply difficult to keep rodents out of your facilities, your best bet is to protect your wires.

One way to protect your wires is to lay them in concrete. Rodents won’t chew through concrete. Even a thin layer will protect wires.

A second option is to run the wire through steel trunking or covers. Like concrete, rats and mice can’t chew through it, so wires inside of these housings will remain safe.

A similar idea is to run wires through plastic tubing. It, too, will protect wires from gnawing and chewing. With either steel or plastic, however, you’ll have to make sure there are no gaps or entryways into the conduit, as the tight space will make a nice nesting area for rodents. The rodents will gnaw the wires if they can get in, which is what you’re trying to prevent.

No. 3 Stick to the Route

One of the reasons rats and mice chew cables is because they’re trying to clear a path so they can travel efficiently. Thus, if a cable goes through a hole or joist, rodents may gnaw at it so their path is clear. But if a cable lies flat or goes over the top of a joist, the rodents will most likely ignore it.

No. 4 Check Out the Material

Producers are being pushed to develop biodegradable products. That being the case, some now make wiring with coatings derived from soy. Apparently, rodents find the coating particularly attractive. Environmentally friendly indeed.

No. 5 Roadblocks

Since the eighteenth century, cones have been used to stop rats and mice from traveling along cables. Modern adaptations, such as ConeStop, do the same. Rats and mice run along conduits because they provide a nice roadway for them through buildings. But if you block their road, the animals will go elsewhere, where they can move more freely.

Apparently, the method works, and it keeps rats and mice off cables.

If you’ve experienced trouble with shortages or fires because of chewed and damaged cables, call a pest control expert to deal with the animals. Call White’s Electrical to repair your wiring.

Electrical System Maintenance

Maintenance Program Electrical System White's Electrical Indianapolis

When the budget is tight, business owners are forced to decide where to cut costs. Oftentimes, they plan for only what’s pressing their attention at the moment: employee pay, utility bills, material costs — the bare essentials. What they sometimes forget or, when forced to trim expenditures, neglect is preventative maintenance on their electrical systems, the very systems which power about everything needed for them to run their business.

Their choice is understandable. Recurring maintenance isn’t cheap. But by calling upon electricians for minimum maintenance or only for emergencies is a mistake. Not only do managers put employees at risk for accidents and the business at risk for lost productivity, but they risk spending more money than they would if they were to invest in properly maintaining their electrical systems.

Professionals Advocate Maintenance Programs for Electrical Systems

The National Fire Protection Association has for decades advocated businesses to maintain their electrical equipment. According to the NFPA:

“A well-administered Electrical Preventive Maintenance program reduces accidents, saves lives and minimizes costly breakdowns and unplanned outages. Impending troubles can be identified, and solutions applied, before they become major problems requiring more expensive, time-consuming solutions.” (NFPA 70B – 2013, Section 4.2.1)

An unmaintained electrical system is a liability managers cannot ignore. The NFPA isn’t the only organization to suggest this. In Maintenance Excellence, Optimizing Equipment Life Cycle Decisions, John Campbell shows that it costs three times as much for the same number of hours worked responding to electrical emergencies as it does maintaining electrical systems.

After study, he devised this formula for how much electrical work costs:

Planned electrical work = $1.00
Unplanned electrical work = $1.50
Emergency electrical work = $3.00

This means that every three hours of preventative work is equal to the cost for one hour of emergency work.

Maintaining Electrical Systems Saves Money

Spending more on maintenance rather than responding to problems on the backend results in money saved. For this reason, it really is best for businesses to hire electricians who can maintain systems full-time or to purchase a maintenance program from a local electrical company.

So, if you’re still unsure whether such a program will result in savings, consider conducting your own study. Gather financial records for the past five to ten years and compare costs for past electrical repairs without a program to the cost of a maintenance program. You can get a quote for a maintenance program by contacting an electrician in your area.

Motion Sensor Lights for Your Home

motion sensor lights

Motion sensor lights can help calm your nerves by lighting up a dark garage, sidewalk, or any other area of your yard. Whether you want to install motion sensor lights for added home security, or to help you see when you’re coming home at night, you’ll feel safer when nearby motion activates your motion sensor lighting and they turn on automatically.

How Motion Sensor Lights Work

Motion sensor lights work by using small electronic “eyes” to detect infrared waves, or heat waves that radiate from moving objects. When the detector senses moving objects in its range of “vision” it automatically turns on the lights. The lights typically stay on for up to 20 minutes, depending on how the timer is set. They automatically shut off the light at this time unless they continue to sense movement.

Choosing Motion Sensor Lights

Most people choose to install motion sensor lighting for either added security or added safety. Although motion sensor lights aren’t actually advertised for the sole purpose of security or safety, it gives the homeowner a starting point for choosing what will meet their needs. Security-based lights are designed to deter criminals from the property, while safety-based lights are designed to light up darkened areas.

When choosing the right motion sensor light, it’s important to decide how easily you want the light to be triggered. Broadly speaking, there are two types of motion sensors used in lights: active-motion and passive-motion. Active-motion sensor lights send out signals that then return to the motion sensor. When an object has moved in front of the sensor, the signal returns to the sensor quickly, which triggers the light. Active-motion sensors can be triggered by any moving object, including people, animals, or blowing leaves. Passive-motion sensor lights only receive signals, and scan the area for heat. Only objects that emit heat (a human body) trigger the sensor to turn on the light.

Installing Motion Sensor Lights

For your motion sensor lighting to be most effective, position the lights to cover walkways to your door and driveway. If safety is a concern, place lights to cover areas such as decks, patios, and pools. If security is a priority, position lights to cover all entrances to your house, and any darker areas of your yard.

Motion sensor lights are typically easy to install, but each brand is different, so be sure to read the instructions before you begin. And remember – safety first! If you aren’t completely sure of your electrical knowledge, call a local licensed electrician for help.

Motion sensor lights can help ease your mind in the dark, and White’s Electrical can help. From choosing the right lights, to finding the best locations and completing the installation, the licensed electricians at White’s Electrical are happy to help. Give us a call today!

Outdoor Lighting for the Perfect Patio

outdoor lighting

Summer is nearly here, which means we’re firing up the grill and spending more time outdoors. Just like we put a lot of effort into curating the perfect décor inside our homes, many of us pay special attention to the details of creating just the right outdoor living space. Yet, what often seems to go overlooked when designing our ideal outdoor space is how to keep it cool during those hot summer days, and well-lit during the beautiful starry nights. At White’s Electrical, we can help make the outdoor lighting choices to make your backyard living and dining area perfect.

Ceiling Fan Installation

If you have a sunroom, screened-in porch, or even a covered porch, having a ceiling fan installed is a great way to increase air flow and help keep your covered space a comfortable temperature. Make sure to put your fan in reverse for a downward airflow to effectively cool your outdoor living space during the warmer months. Having ways to cool your covered outdoor living area can make all the difference in the comfort and amount of time you can spend there. The licensed electricians at White’s Electrical can help you choose and install the fan that would best meet your needs.

Patio and Yard Lighting

Choosing the right lighting for your outdoor living space can extend the amount of time you are able to be outside, and make that time more enjoyable. With so many different styles, sizes, colors, and placements, lighting fixtures can have a dramatic impact on your outdoor living space.

Lamp Posts and Sconces

Some of the most popular outdoor lighting options include more traditional options such as lamp posts and lanterns or sconces attached to the home. These can not only be useful during the summer months when you’re spending time outside, but can be used year-round to light walkways and other outdoor areas.

outdoor lighting

String Lights

Simple string lights are an option that is gaining in popularity that is not only easy to install, but can help create an intimate, romantic ambiance. They can easily be strung from beam to beam on the patio or around the edge of doorways, just like you would hang Christmas lights. Be sure you’re using string lights safely, though, and only use extension cords approved for outdoor use. If temporary lighting such as string lights are your choice, you may want to have a GFCI outlet installed on your patio. This can help prevent circuit overload and lower the risk of electrical hazards.

Outdoor Lights on a Dimmer Switch

Depending on the mood you’re looking to create, choosing to have outdoor lighting installed that can be dimmed with a dimmer switch may be a good option. Being able to control the amount of light put out by just one fixture gives you the ability to easily change how brightly or dimly a light is shining on your dinner party.

No matter what mood you want to create in your outdoor living space, White’s Electrical can help you make the right choices on outdoor lighting to fit your needs. From lamp posts, GFCI circuits for outdoor lighting, or outdoor lighting on dimmer switches, White’s Electrical can do it all.

Should I Upgrade the Electrical System in my Older Home?

Many of us find appeal in owning an older home – the charm and character are unbeatable to say the least. The stately exterior and ornate fixtures have been able to withstand the test of time. However, under that beautiful craftsmanship, a dangerous secret may be hiding: aging electrical wires that pose a fire hazard.

Outdated electrical systems can have an impact on the safety and energy consumption of an older home. Indianapolis is known for some of the most beautiful historic housing districts in the Midwest. If your home is older than 50 years old, here are a few things to keep in mind when considering the condition of your home’s electrical system.

Outdated Breaker Boxes and Modern Appliances

Most of us like to live with our modern conveniences, such as microwaves and refrigerators. Modern homes require the use of more electricity than in the past. Today, most homes require 150-200 amps of electrical service. If you are using new, large appliances or other gadgets that require a lot of electricity, it may be time to upgrade your electrical system. Talk to a licensed electrician about how much electricity your home needs and whether your current breaker box can support that, or if you should upgrade.

Outdated Wiring

Most electrical systems post-1960s are safe (although they may not supply enough amps to power the entire home), homes with unsafe, outdated wiring still dot the landscape all over Indiana. Prior to the 1900s, builders installed knob-and-tube wiring where wires are run through ceramic knobs and tubes to keep the wires from electrifying the wood. Also commonly used wire insulators of the past were asbestos and cloth.

If you are at all unsure on the condition of your home’s electrical system, have a licensed electrician perform a full inspection to determine the quality of the wiring in your home, and see whether or not you need to upgrade the electrical system. While rewiring your home will require cutting and drilling into your home, it is certainly a worth-while investment. Not only will this increase the value of your home, but it will greatly reduce the chance of a fire due to faulty wiring.

Ungrounded Electrical Devices

During an inspection by a licensed electrician, remember to ask to have your lights, switches, and outlets checked. Outdated electrical device that are ungrounded can be dangerous. Ask your electrician to check them to see if they meet safety guidelines.

Need to Upgrade the Electrical System in Your Older Home?

Call for an inspection today from White’s Electrical. We can’t stress enough the importance of having your older home inspected by a licensed electrician. Take control of the electrical system in your older home – call White’s Electrical today!