How to Safely Dispose Broken LED Bulbs

How to safely dispose led bulbs white's electrical mooresville indianapolis greenwood indiana

LED bulbs are on track to replace CFLs as the lighting method of choice. They’re more energy efficient than CFLs, they last longer, and they don’t contain mercury — a poisonous heavy metal used to create CFL lightbulbs. However, although LEDs don’t contain mercury, they do contain other toxic substances, of which consumers are largely unaware. Because LEDs so have toxic substances, it’s important to know how to safely dispose of LED bulbs.

LEDs are a Good, Energy-Efficient Choice for Lighting

First, it’s important to note that LEDs are excellent choices for lighting. They’re 90 percent more efficient than incandescent light bulbs. That efficiency means homeowners who replace incandescent lights with LED bulbs will save on average $4 per year per bulb per year, which over the lifespan of a LED bulb amounts to $163 saved. And that’s with an estimated LED bulb price of $8.

But LEDs are much less expensive than they were even in recent years. 60-watt equivalent bulbs currently average between $1.50 and $2.50 per bulb on Amazon, making them very affordable.

How to safely dispose led bulbs white's electrical mooresville indianapolis greenwood indiana

LEDs also outshine their CFL cousins, literally. CFL bulbs, though still much more efficient than incandescent bulbs, consume more energy than LEDs. And they’re notorious for not shining at full brightness for several seconds after being switch on. Plus, homeowners cannot control these bulbs with dimmer switches, something they can do with LED lights.

Besides all this, although LEDs do contain toxins, aren’t by considered toxic by law, which means you can dispose of them at the landfill (although we encourage recycling).

LED bulbs are simply the best choice on the market for residential and commercial lighting needs, and no home- or business owner should shy away from installing them. Quite the opposite — they should be looking to retrofit their residence if they haven’t already.

Toxins in LED Lights

How to safely dispose led bulbs white's electrical mooresville indianapolis greenwood indiana

Going with LED lights for their benefits doesn’t mean ignoring safety. It’s well known that LEDs contain lead, arsenic, and other potentially harmful substances. A study published in 2010 in Environmental Science and Technology specifically identified low-intensity, red LEDs as most often containing the highest amount of toxic materials. The study identified white LEDs as having the last amount of lead but still containing nickel, another heavy metal.

Disposing of Broken LEDs

How to safely dispose led bulbs white's electrical mooresville indianapolis greenwood indiana

The study therefore suggests that people treat broken LEDs as hazardous materials. If an LED lightbulb breaks in your home or workplace:

  • Put on protective gloves and sweep up the LED pieces into a plastic bag using a stiff piece of cardboard (if you use a broom, consider disposing of the broom after using it).
  • Next, use sticky tape to pick up any small fragments left over. Put the tape with the fragments into the plastic bag.
  • When all the pieces are picked up, place the bag in a sealable container.

Because LEDs aren’t considered toxic by law, you can dispose of the fragments with other landfill materials. If you want to dispose of them in a more environmentally manner, contact your local municipal agency for instructions.

Municipal agencies in central Indiana include:

If your LED bulb has simply dimmed out (LEDs don’t burn out; they emit less light over time), you can either throw it away or recycle it at a local recycling center, via an online recycler, or with a local retailer who accepts LEDs.

If you’re looking to retrofit your business or otherwise want LED lighting, contact White’s Electrical to learn how we can meet your needs.

Electrical Mistakes in Indianapolis

Cable_closet White's Electrical Indianapolis Mooresville Indiana

Let’s be honest: contractors sometimes do shoddy work around Indianapolis. And homeowners in Johnson and Marion counties can’t always perform repairs well by themselves, no matter how many YouTube videos they watch. A lot of their poor work goes unnoticed until a home inspection reveals the mistakes… and dangers.

There’s a reason why fire and building codes are in place in Indiana and why people who purchase homes hire professional building inspectors. Electrical safety is important! Poor work can result in electrocution, fires, frustration, and power outages, among other problems.

There seems to be a trend to the types of mistakes (and plain bad work) that people in central Indiana make when working with a home electrical system. We’ve identified a number of electrical blunder trends and now present them to you.

Mistake No. 1: If only I had another plug …

extension cord nightmare Indianapolis Mooresville Indiana White's ElectricalExtension cords shouldn’t be used other than the way they’re intended. In other words, don’t use 3, 4, 5 … 10 cords to try and power all your blow dryers, trimmers, extra lighting, phone charger, etc. If you need more places to plug in, have a qualified electrician install some more outlets. Or charge up your phone in the other room.

Also, don’t use extension cords in place of permanent wiring. That means you don’t plug in a cord, run it through the wall, and plug in your lamp in the other room.

Mistake No. 2: Let’s break it down …

bad wiring fuse box Indianapolis Mooresville Indiana White's ElectricalElectrical breaker boxes and control panels tend to be another place where homeowners and less-than-reputable electricians in the Indianapolis area make electrical flubs. For one, electrical boxes aren’t toolboxes, nor are they cabinets. You should not store toxic chemicals or canned food next to your breakers. If you need extra storage space, install a cabinet.

Breaker boxes also tend to be locations for wiring nightmares: Uninsulated wires, unattached breaker switches, multiple splices per wire, lack of grounding – the list goes on. For some reason, poor electrical work tends to culminate around these boxes. Again, contact a good electrician to help you here. You don’t want to get electrocuted when the lights go out and you’re flipping breakers in the dark.

Breaker boxes also tend to attract mice and rats. The boxes provide a cozy nesting area. And because of the electricity flowing through it, it can be nice and warm. It’s not uncommon, therefore, for inspectors (or horrified homeowners) to find live or electrocuted vermin trapped in these boxes. Just make sure the panels are well sealed and that the back is flush against the wall. Remember, mice can get in cracks as small as ¼ inch.

Mistake No. 3: Electricity doesn’t travel through water … or does it?

bad wiring plumbing White's Electrical Mooresville Indianapolis IndianaCentral Indiana might not have any large lakes, but yes, electricity does travel through water. Although this fact is fairly well known in our region, certain Hoosiers tend to ignore it when installing electric cables, junction boxes, and breaker boxes. Why? Perhaps a pipe is in the way, or the pipe seems like it would make a good mount. Whatever the reasoning, it’s never a good idea to secure your breaker box to a water inlet pipe, nor should you hang your breaker box over the sump pit. You might also want to avoid resting a junction box on top of a cold water pipe.

Oh, and you might want to have an experienced electrician relocate that breaker box from above the sink in your bathroom.

And don’t ever put an electrical disconnect box under a working faucet.

Mistake No. 4: Ah, ah, ah, ah, stayin’ alive!

exposed cable Indianapolis Mooresville Indiana White's ElectricalWiring, in general, tends to get messy when a homeowner or bad electrician does the work. It’s not uncommon that they’ll run bare wires that they’ve stripped for one reason or another. These wires post a significant risk for electrocution and might cause fires.

Mistake No. 5: Thinking outside the box

Burned junction box Indianapolis Mooresville Indiana White's ElectricalJunction boxes are yet another place where local, do-it-yourself electricians fumble. They will sometimes replace junction boxes with cardboard (yes, cardboard). You should not do this. Some Hoosiers in central Indiana sometimes also replace the proper boxes with ammunition boxes. Yes, ammunition boxes are common in Indiana, but they aren’t meant for electrical applications. Nor should you use old, plastic oil cans. Those cans are meant for one purpose, and your electrical system certainly isn’t it.

Only use proper electrical equipment when working on your electrical system because the equipment is designed to function safely. (And – we’re surprised we even have to say it – it won’t get soggy, or burn.)

Junction boxes also tend to become rat’s nests of bad connections. No one should splice, say, five or six connections in one box. Doing so increases the risk of fire, and it creates an inefficient system as well.

Mistake No. 6: Call the … cable guy?

cables not run correctly Indianapolis Mooresville Indiana White's ElectricalLast, people who prefer doing it themselves will often incorrectly place cables. Perhaps “place” isn’t the proper word. They incorrectly route cables. Ventilation pipes, for example, are not the proper place to run cables. If the cable is too short, purchase a longer one. Don’t drill a shortcut through the ventilation shaft.

If you do, you might end up with more shorts than just your chord.

Sure, some of these blunders seem funny, but they do happen! And when they do, they can cause so very-not-so-funny incidents. White’s Electrical can help with any home or light commercial project you have and will help keep you safe from the flubs listed above. Call or contact us today with questions or to request a quote.

Leaves & Electrical Hazards

Dry Leaves Electrical Hazard Indianapolis White's Electrical

 

Autumn doesn’t official begin for another few weeks, but leaves are already turning here in central Indiana. Soon, the fall foliage will make its way to the ground, where – despite its beauty – could actually pose a hazard when it collects around electrical equipment.

After falling, leaves tend to dry out and collect in piles around the bases of homes, in gardens, and lawn furniture. While not only unsightly and attractive to insects and other pests, these piles pose a fire hazard if they collect around electrical equipment.

Cords, lights, and outlets sometimes give off a significant amount of heat energy. When dry leaves trap this heat, the heat can actually ignite the leaves, creating a fire that can quickly spread to your home or building.

Prevent Electrical Fires

To prevent fires, make sure to keep leaves away from electrical equipment. Rake dry leaves out of your yard, and remove leaves that collect around the base of your house or buildings. Also, do not run cords and cables through leaves. Make sure your cords and cables are free from obstructions.

More importantly, make sure to inspect the cords you’re using. Frayed or otherwise damaged cords are both a fire and shock risk. They can also be less efficient to use if they’re damaged and giving off lots of heat.

Other Sources of Electrical Fires

De-icing cables are another source that can ignite dry leaves. If your de-icing cables are activated and leaves are packed around them, the cables can potentially light the leaves on fire, which could quickly spread across your roof. If your home or business has de-icing cables, make sure to inspect them regularly and contact an electrician if they’re damaged or if you’re otherwise concerned.

Pine needles, sometimes called “Pine Straw” is sometimes used purposefully for landscaping, but can also pose a fire hazard. Fires have been linked to pine needles when they’re used for landscaping around the base of buildings. Pine needles ignite much more easily than hardwood mulch and burn faster, shooting up flames high enough to light siding on fire.

If you use pine needles for landscaping, never run cables or lights across it. Make sure your cables only run over nonflammable materials.

Schedule an Inspection

No matter how many leaves you’re battling this season, scheduling an electrical inspection is always a good idea. An Indianapolis licensed electrician can ensure your electrical system is ready for winter, and can make suggestions for proper maintenance. To schedule your inspection, call White’s Electrical today.

Childproofing Your Home’s Electrical System

Childproof Electrical
childproof electrical
One of the biggest joys of parenting is being there for all of the “firsts.” The first word, the first day of school, the first date. Certainly one of these exciting firsts comes when children first learn to crawl and become mobile. As with every other aspect of parenting, this change comes with a set of responsibilities: it’s time to childproof your home.

Electricity is an important part of any modern household, however it can pose a number of dangers to children. Electrical appliances and devices were created for the convenience of the adult using them, not for the safety of the children. We all want to protect our children in every way we can, so while you’re childproofing your home, be sure to childproof your home’s electrical system.

Electrical Outlets

According to the National Fire Prevention Association (NFPA), approximately 2,400 children suffer electrical shock or burns when they stick items into the slots of an electrical outlet. Making sure that all electrical outlets are covered is a great first step to childproofing your home’s electrical system. There are a few ways to do this.

Outlet Covers

The cheapest option to keep children out of electrical outlets is to place a plastic cap over the outlets. You can buy outlet covers in any store that carries baby safety items. Outlet covers are small plastic pieces with two prongs (just like an electrical cord) that slide into the electrical outlet. This keeps children from being able to put other things into the outlets. Outlet covers are easy for adults to install and remove, but babies and young children don’t have the dexterity to get beneath them.

Sliding Plate Covers

A better solution to keep electrical outlets covered is to use horizontal sliding plate covers. Sliding plate covers keep the slots of the electrical outlet covered until ready for use. To use the outlet, just slide the cover over to reveal the slots, and then plug in the device. Keep in mind that this type of outlet cover is only for use with outlets that aren’t constantly in use.

Tamper-Resistant (TR) Receptacles

By far, the safest solution to childproofing electrical outlets is installing Tamper-Resistant (TR) Receptacles. If you have a newer home (built in 2008 or later), you may already have TR Receptacles. TR Receptacles have spring-loaded shutters that close off the slots of electrical outlets. The shutters only open when both spring are compressed simultaneously. When a plug is inserted into the receptacle, both springs are compressed at the same time, allowing the shutters to open. But when a child attempts to insert an object into only one slot, the shutters remain closed and there is no contact with electricity. If your home doesn’t already have TR Receptacles, contact a licensed electrician to install them for you.

childproof electrical

Electrical Cords

Being sure that all in-use cords are protected is just as important as keeping the outlets themselves covered. Here are a few ways to protect your little one from electrical hazards when it comes to electrical cords.

Occupied Outlet Covers

For outlets that are constantly in use, such as an outlet with a lamp “plugged in” to it, it is easiest to just place a piece of furniture in front of it to block access to it. If that’s not possible, you can use a plastic box-like cover (such as the LectraLock outlet cover) to allow the outlet to remain in use, but prevent little fingers from unplugging the cords and tampering with the outlet.

Power Strip Cover

If you have your TV, computer, or other devices plugged into a power strip, consider using a power strip cover to protect your child from tampering with it. A power strip cover is a plastic cover with an opening for cords, but that shields the rest of the unit. Keep in mind that with enough work, a little hand may be able to slide into the slot for the cords, so it is not 100% foolproof, but it is a better solution than using nothing at all.

Cord Shorteners

If you have long cords in your house, these are not only a temptation for little ones to pull or chew on, but they can also pose a strangulation hazard. Consider using cord shorteners to shorten the amount of exposed cord. Cord shorteners are usually round cases inside which you can wrap the excess cord.

Use Common Sense

Above all, use common sense. Never leave a child unattended, and be sure that you’re familiar with your surroundings before letting Baby explore.

Electrical Safety Tips for Pool Owners

electrical safety for pools

For most of us here in central Indiana, Memorial Day marks the unofficial beginning of summer. The kids are on summer break, we’re enjoying Indy 500 festivities, and backyard pools are ready for swimming.

Of course, we all know to use caution around pools, especially when children are present. But with all of the excitement of summer and pool season, electrical safety for pools often gets overlooked. Here are a few electrical safety tips to keep in mind this summer if you’re opening or using a backyard pool.

Keep all outdoor outlets covered and dry.

Having outdoor outlets can really come in handy year-round to operate yard equipment, plug in Christmas lights, or to plug in any devices you’re using outside. Just make sure to use outdoor outlets carefully and always keep them covered, especially around pools, hot tubs, or other summer water activities. If your outdoor outlets don’t have covers already on them, have a licensed electrician install some to be sure they are up to code.

Use a ground fault circuit interrupter (GFCI) for electrical devices used outside to help prevent electrocutions or electric shock.

A GFCI shuts off an electric power circuit when it detects that electricity is flowing along an unintended path, such as through water or even through a person. This is especially important for outdoor circuits or outlets that are often near water.

Keep all electrical devices and cords at least 10 feet away from water.

It’s usually common sense not to use electrical devices too close to the water, but take extra care to make sure any devices used outdoors are in an area where they won’t pose a hazard to anyone swimming, especially when children are present. When possible, use battery-operated devices around the pool and hot tub to avoid electrocution or electric shock.

Never swim during a thunderstorm.

Water is a great electrical conductor, but you certainly don’t want it conducting electricity through you! Lightning regularly strikes water, and nearby lightning could injure or kill someone in the water. If you hear or see thunder or lightning, always get everyone out of the water and to a safe place.

To avoid electric shock drowning, have a licensed electrician inspect and upgrade your pool or hot tub in accordance with local codes.

Whether this is your first summer in a new home with a pool, or you’ve been swimming in the same pool for 20 years, have a local Indianapolis electrician inspect your pool or hot tub to make sure its electrical system is up to code. This can help ensure your peace of mind and the safety of those enjoying it this summer.

Happy Memorial Day from White’s Electrical!