Presented by San Miguel Power Association. Electrical Safety at Home. Home Power. How does your home use electricity?.
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Presented by San Miguel Power Association Electrical Safetyat Home
Home Power How does your home use electricity? Electricity plays an integral role in how our homes operates. Whether watching TV, turning on the air conditioner, or charging a cell phone, we rely on our home’s electrical system to provide us with power when and where we need it. By understanding the basics of how electricity is distributed around your home, you can help manage the demands placed on your electrical system and keep it in safe working condition.
Home Power How does your home use electricity?
The Basics How does your electrical system work? The electric meter, mounted outside, is where electricity enters your home. It’s used to measure the amount of electricity your home uses. CAUTION: Feel free to take your own readings, but tampering with an electric meter is extremely dangerous – and illegal! The service panel is the central distribution point for delivering electricity to switches and outlets throughout the house. Breakers shut off power to specific circuits or the entire system. The entire electrical system is grounded to the earth with a wire and underground rod. This adds critical protection for anyone working on the system, plugged-in appliances, and the system itself.
The Basics What’s inside your service panel? Service panels are equipped with either FUSES (older systems) or CIRCUIT BREAKERS (modern systems) that protect the wires in each circuit from overheating and causing a fire. Tripped Breaker? It’s probably a result of too many appliances running on one circuit. Unplug the appliances in the room Find the tripped breaker in the service panel: it will have switched to OFF or be somewhere between ON and OFF Switch it fully OFF, then ON. Power will be restored to the room. Blown Fuse? Unscrew the blown fuse and replace it with one of the same amperage rating. Never use a replacement with a higher amperage rating!
The Basics A little inside information… Each circuit breaker contains a permanent metal strip that heats up and Bends when electricity moves through it. If a circuit is overloaded, the strip Bends enough to flip the switch and shut off power! There are two types of circuits… 120-volt circuits use one phase of electrical service to power standard appliances 240-volt circuits use both phases of electrical service to power larger appliances. These outlets are rare, but check for one behind your clothes dryer.
The Basics Arc Fault Circuit Interrupters (AFCIs) “Arc Fault Circuit Interrupter”may be a mouthful, but the new devices replace standard circuit breakers and provide enhanced protection against fire hazards known as arc faults – caused by damaged, overheated, or stressed electrical wiring or devices. Without AFCIs, these hazards may be hidden until it’s too late. Each year, home electrical fires take the lives of 480 people, injure more than 2,000, and destroy more than $868 million in property. The absence of AFCIs in service panels is among the primary residential hazard associated with burns and fire-related injuries. U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development
Home Wiring What kind of wiring system is in my home? About one-third of homes in the U.S. are at least 50 years old, many of which were built with electrical systems that are no longer safe and may be considered fire hazards. It’s important to identify how your home is wired to address hazardous situations before it’s too late…
Home Wiring What kind of wiring system is in my home? Knob and Tubing Wiring: 1800s – 1930s This was designed as an open air system that used ceramic knobs to prevent wires from contacting a home’s wood framing and sparking a fire. CAUTION: This system is considered unsafe by today’s standards. The system is not grounded, and is susceptible to damage from aging and botched renovations.
Home Wiring What kind of wiring system is in my home? Aluminum Wiring: 1960s – 1970s As the price of copper soared in the 1960s, many homes were wired with aluminum instead. CAUTION: Aluminum is highly responsive to temperature fluctuations, and is more likely to become loose over time as a result (a fire hazard). Consider updating your system or other options if yours is one of the two million homes wired with aluminum between 1962 and 1972.
Home Wiring What kind of wiring system is in my home? Grounded Electrical System: 1940s – present In a complete circuit, electricity always seeks to return to its source. This is why there are at least two prongs to a plug: one sends electricity into the appliance, the other sends it back out to complete the circuit. Grounded systems give electricity a third option (a third prong, for appliances). If an appliance short circuits, the current will travel through the ground wire—literally a wire near your service panel that leads to the ground—and not through an unsuspecting person who comes in contact with that shorted appliance . If your home is not grounded, contact an electrician to upgrade your system.
Electrical Outlets Does your home have grounded outlets? Electrical outlets are where you most often interact with your home’s electrical system. Modern outlets have a round hole for the grounding conductor. (Remember grounding?) The circle slot is connected to the ground wire. Do your outlets look like this? They’re grounded – and safe! Do your outlets look like this? They’re not grounded, and pose a potential hazard! Consult an electrician about updating your home.
Electrical Outlets Tamper-Resistant Outlets Every year, 2,400 children are injured from inserting household objects into electrical outlets. Tamper-resistant outlets look like standard outlets, but have an internal, spring-loaded shutter mechanism that only opens when equal pressure is applied simultaneously to both shutters. Household objects most commonly placed in outlets: HAIRPIN 32 percent FINGER 12 percent KEYS 17 percent PAPER CLIP 5 percent Other common items: jewelry, tools, plugs, pins
Electrical Outlets Ground Fault Circuit Interrupters Since the 1970s, ground fault circuit interrupters (GFCIs) have saved thousands of lives and have helped cut the number of electrocutions in half. These outlets: Prevent deadly shock by quickly shutting off power to a circuit if the electricity flowing into the circuit differs by even a slight amount from that returning. Should be used in any indoor or outdoor area where water may come into contact with electrical products (kitchens, bathrooms, garages, outdoors). Should be tested once a month to ensure they’re working properly!
Electrical Outlets How to test your GFCIs Testing your GFCIs is easy! All you need is a nightlight or outlet tester:
Demonstrations San Miguel Power is always happy to provide safety demonstrations for emergency response crews, classrooms, local businesses, and other organizations. We have a high voltage demonstration trailer that allows us to educate the community about power line safety. Our demo illustrates the effects on the human body if it comes in contact with a power line Please contact Tom Loczy, (970) 864-7311 ext. 120 to schedule a demonstration.
QUESTIONS? Contact Terry Daley, (970) 626-5549 ext. 203