What’s Wrong with Aluminum Wiring?

aluminum wiring

When you bought your home, what was on your shopping list? Three bedrooms, two baths, large kitchen, and a nice neighborhood? It’s not likely that the type of wiring was important to you as long as the lights worked. However, if you’re considering buying a home with aluminum wiring, you might think again.

Aluminum wiring has been around for over a hundred years, but it wasn’t until recently that it because a cause for concern. So, what’s the big deal with aluminum wiring? Let’s take a look.

What is aluminum wiring?

Although copper has always been the wiring material of choice, aluminum has traditionally been considered a safe and effective alternative. In the 1960s and 70s especially, the price of copper became so high that it simply wasn’t an option for many new homes and offices built during that time. Instead, aluminum wiring was used.

What’s wrong with aluminum wiring?

Aluminum wiring works in the same way copper wiring does, with one major (and problematic!) difference. When electricity passes through the connections in aluminum wiring, the connections expand almost three times as that of copper connections. In other words, it has a much higher rate of thermal expansion. When the electricity is turned off, the wires cool down and contract back to their original size.

Now, this may not seem like a big deal. After all, pretty much everything undergoes expansion and contraction, right? Well, not exactly. Over time, all of this expanding and contracting will eventually open up a gap (kind of like a crack in the sidewalk) and expose the wire to air. The air causes the aluminum to oxidize, which makes the connections even hotter. This leads to dangerous loose connections and fire hazards.

Aluminum Wiring Warning Signs to Look Out For

If you live in a home with aluminum wiring, should you be worried? The short answer is that you don’t need to worry, but you do need to watch out for a few warning signs. Aluminum wiring warning signs to look out for:

• Unexplained static on the TV or radio
• Flickering lights
• Noticeable plastic odor from your outlets when you plug something in to them
• Sparking outlet
• Buzzing sound from an outlet
• Unusually warm outlets or faceplates
• Frequently tripped breakers

If you live in a home with aluminum wiring, knowing what to watch for can make a big difference. Electrical problems are not on the list of home maintenance issues to ignore. If you notice any of the warning signs above, call an electrician immediately. These could indicate a fire hazard and that’s just not a chance you want to take.

Even if you aren’t seeing any of these warning signs, it is worth mentioning that a home with aluminum wiring might have different insurance needs than a home with copper wiring. If you are considering buying a home with aluminum wiring, you might want to check with your insurance company to see if there are any specific requirements in regard to wiring type. Some insurance companies are unable to insure your home unless the whole home is required, while others will just want to verify that proper connections have been used and the home has been inspected by a licensed electrician. Other companies may agree to insure the home, but with a higher premium.

What should I do if I have a problem with aluminum wiring in my home?

The first step in diagnosing problems with aluminum wiring is to call a licensed electrician for an inspection. In many cases, aluminum wiring can be safe as long as the proper connections have been made. An electrician will be able to tell if you just need to retrofit a few suspicious wires with a copper-aluminum connection, or if the problem requires rewiring.

As with most things, regular inspections and maintenance will help keep your wiring operating safely. The licensed electricians at White’s Electrical will be able to diagnose, fix, and maintain your home’s electrical system for your peace of mind. If you notice any of the warning signs mentioned above, or just want verification that your home’s electrical system is in good health, give us a call today.

Electrical Wiring for an Outdoor Kitchen

electrical wiring for an outdoor kitchen

Outdoor kitchens are becoming more and more popular, and what’s not to love? Whether you like to entertain, enjoy grilling a meal for your family, or want to increase property value, an outdoor kitchen has a lot to offer. Being sure that your outdoor kitchen is planned properly can help you enjoy it for years to come. In this blog, we’ll discuss electrical wiring for an outdoor kitchen.

Electrical Outlets

While planning electrical wiring for an outdoor kitchen, it’s important to consider the location and type of electrical outlets you will use. Are you going to install a mini-fridge near your grill? Do you use a blender or food processor often? How about just having the ability to plug in a small fan near the grill? Planning enough electrical outlets in the right locations can make the use of your outdoor kitchen easier, more efficient, and more enjoyable.

While you’re planning where to put the outlets, be sure to consider the type of outlets you want to install. It’s a good idea to put the outdoor kitchen on its own GFCI circuit board inside your house. If you need to reset the system, it will be far simpler to reset it from indoors than to crawl behind an undercounter appliance to reach a buried outlet. An experienced electrician will know the codes inside and out and can help you make sure your kitchen will be both safe and comfortable.

Lighting

Having enough lighting is another important consideration when planning the electrical wiring for an outdoor kitchen. Of course, if you plan to use your grill after dark, you will need lighting at your island or bar. Your kitchen probably includes seating, so having enough lighting in your seating area is also important. Dimmable lighting is useful, because you can adjust the lighting to meet your needs, while still being able to enjoy the stars.

Ceiling Fans

If your kitchen includes a covered seating or cooking area, you may want to consider a ceiling fan. Of course, standing over a grill can get hot. Couple that with the humid Indiana summers, and you’re bound to need a way to cool off. An electrician can help you plan for, wire, and install a ceiling fan that can be used for lighting as well if desired.

Electrical Wiring for Outdoor Kitchens from White’s Electrical

No matter the size or needs of your outdoor kitchen, White’s Electrical has got you covered. From the practical planning stage, to custom design, to installation and maintenance, there is no job too big or too small for our licensed electricians.

Connect with us on Facebook, submit this online contact form, or give us a call today.

Benefits of Landscape Lighting

landscape lighting

When the weather warms up, most of us like to get outside and take advantage of the longer daylight hours. But the appeal of summer doesn’t stop when it gets dark. No matter our reasons for wanting to be outside after dark, having the option to fully illuminate our surroundings can have some big benefits.

Safety

Well-lit paths can help prevent tripping or other accidents. Lighting walkways, stairs, or any other potentially hazardous area can help you navigate safely around the property. In addition, having dark areas illuminated can help give peace of mind for someone who may become easily frightened in the dark.

Security

Unwanted intruders are much less likely to attempt an intrusion into a well-lit area. Use landscape lighting to illuminate the perimeter of your home, especially entry points. Although lights cannot prevent crime, statistics show that a well-lit home is much more likely to deter criminals.
Motion-tripped floodlights are a great way to protect your home and save energy at the same time. They only turn on when they sense motion instead of remaining on all night long.

Ambiance and Entertainment

The right landscape lighting can help set the perfect atmosphere for your party. Illuminate pools, patios, decks, and any space where you guests will be. You might even say that landscape lighting will make your summer parties “lit.”

Functionality

Even if you aren’t entertaining guests, just enjoying your backyard alone is much easier with the right lighting. Landscape lighting can allow you to use your pool or spa, outdoor kitchen or grill, or patio after dark.

Added Value

The right lighting can make your home stand out from the rest. Professionally placed landscape lighting can be used to revel subtle contours, shapes, and textures of your home and property. This can add value to your home and increase its curb appeal. Landscape lighting can be used to accentuate architecture and the charm of your home.

Why should I work with White’s Electrical for my landscape lighting?

White’s Electrical can help you increase the security, safety, ambiance, function, and value of your home by adding landscape lighting. Our design team will walk you through the process and work with you to make your vision come to life. Our licensed electricians can provide the exceptional service and professionalism you have been looking for. Connect with us on Facebook, submit this online contact form, or give us a call to schedule a consultation 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 Hire a Licensed Electrician ‘Near Me’ in Indiana?

Licensed Electrician Near Me - White's Electrical - Indianapolis Indiana

Being a licensed electrician means that a person has fulfilled his or her licensing requirements. It means they’re educated and have completed the required number of training hours. And it means they can complete electrical work safely and to the specifications of your “near me” local, state, and national standards.

Why is it Important to Hire a Licensed Electrician ‘Near Me’?

High Stakes

Licensing is important because of the stakes. Low electrical voltage in homes (120 and 240 volts) can stop hearts, and industrial voltages can reach to ultra-high levels of more than 1000kV. Not only can electricity kill people, but errors within electrical systems can lead to fires and thousands of dollars in equipment failure. Simply put, electrical errors lead to worse consequences than mere inconvenience (which itself may be severe if the electricity goes out, considering how many appliances rely on electricity).

Electricians Need to Complete Training

It’s for these reasons that training to become a licensed electrician is among the longest apprenticeship programs. Electrician apprentices learn how to safely work with electrical systems and how to abide by local and state laws.

In Indianapolis, Indiana, once an apprentice completes his or her training, the apprentice must pass an examination to become a licensed electrician. To do so, they must have at least six years of documented experience as an apprentice. They must also have at least three reference letters from customers they’ve worked for during that time.

Municipalities that offer contractor’s licenses usually require additional training and experience. For example, the licensing board in Lafayette, Indiana, requires that an electrician have ten years of experience, verified by a city engineer, before receiving a contractor’s license. An electrician may, alternatively, have a four-year electrical engineering degree and six years of experience.

Licensing requirements for electricians are similar throughout the state.

Only Electricians can Work on Electrical Systems

It’s also important to hire a licensed electrician because, by law, a person must be licensed to perform electrical work. Indianapolis code Sec. 875-201 “requires an electrical contractor to be licensed if performing work to connect electrical power for onsite construction, to install, alter, replace, service or repair a system distributing electrical power, to service equipment supplying power to factory-constructed dwellings located in a mobile home park, and to install, modernize, replace, service or repair all or any part of an electrical power distribution system.”

Codes such like this are in the books of every municipality throughout Indiana. Local codes vary, however, which is why you want to find an electrician who is “near me.”

How to Verify an Electrician’s License

Depending on the city in Indiana, licensing boards will offer several types of licenses. A residential license allows an electrician to work on one- and two-family structures. A master’s license (also referred to as a commercial/industrial license) allows an electrician to perform unrestricted electrical work. And a contractor’s license requires that an electrician verify an employee’s work. Local municipalities may also divide contractor’s licenses into commercial/industrial and residential licenses.

When you view a license, make sure that a person’s name matches the name on the license.

There are three ways to verify an electrician’s license:

  • Use the electrician’s full name, license number, or the company name to verify the license with your local licensing board. In Indiana, there is no state-wide licensing board, so you will have to look up a license within an individual municipality.
  • Ask for proof of liability insurance. The insurance company can verify the license.
  • Look up the electrician on a digital list of

If you’re looking for a licensed electrician in or near Indianapolis, Indiana, White’s Electrical has you covered. Specializing in residential electrical work, White’s Electrical is licensed, bonded, and insured to ensure your home and family remain safe and that all our work is performed correctly. Call or schedule an appointment with us today.

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!

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!