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Tuesday, 24 January 2017 13:29

The ABC's of Electric – Transfer Switch

Backup generators are become more popular in the Chicagoland area as homeowners look to keep the power running during prolonged outages. If you are considering installing a whole house standby generator or even using a portable generator, you'll want to make sure that you have an automatic transfer switch (ATS) installed. A transfer switch is an important safety device that links the generator to the home's service panel. It works by switching electrical load between the generator and the utility source. The switch works automatically and is triggered when it senses one of the sources has lost or gained power.

Without a transfer switch dangerous current could be sent back to the generator to appliances in the home and even endanger utility workers. It is recommended that a qualified electrician install the transfer switch.

Have questions about transfer switches or other electrical systems in your home? Call ABC Plumbing, Heating, Cooling and Electric. We can help answer all your questions.
Published in Electric
Wednesday, 21 December 2016 12:57

Fire Safety Tips, Holiday Edition

Did you know that U.S. fire departments responded to an annual average of 860 home fires that began with holiday decorations from 2009-2013? That’s the last thing you need when you’re preparing your home for guests this week. Find out how you can keep your home, your decorations and your family fire-free this holiday season:
  • Heat and holiday decorations don’t mix. Keep them at least three feet away from the fireplace, candles, air vents and all other sources of heat.
  • Carefully inspect all electrical cords and wires. Look for fraying or any other sort of damage to the wires as well as electrical outlets and remember to never string together multiple extension cords.
  • Be sure to water your Christmas tree daily. Dry trees are much more likely to go up in flames.
  • Check all smoke alarms and carbon monoxide detectors to make sure they’re working properly. Now is also a great time to change the batteries if you haven’t done so in a while.
  • Never leave cooking equipment unattended especially while cooking on a gas stove. If you must leave the room, even if it’s just for a quick second, ask somebody to keep an eye on the food.
We hope you have a safe and happy holiday and remember, when you need expert heating service in Arlington Heights or the surrounding neighborhoods you can always count on the experts at ABC!
Published in Electric
Tuesday, 13 December 2016 15:34

Outdoor Holiday Decoration Safety

Is there anything better than taking a walk down the block with your family, a hot cocoa in hand, gazing at all of the festive holiday decorations? If you ask us, the answer is no. Well, there may be something a little bit better and it’s making sure this holiday season is a safe one.

If you’ve spent hours hanging lights, strategically placing decorations and making sure everything is working properly to check the list below to make sure you followed a few basic safety rules. And if you haven’t decorated yet, don’t worry you still have time.
  1. Never use interior lights on the outside of your home. They’re not meant to deal with things like wind, rain or snow and can catch fire or cause electrical shock if they’re used improperly.
  2. Avoid stapling or nailing strands of lights to the house. You’ll run the risk of piercing the wires which could lead to a number of problems. We recommend using hooks instead.
  3. If you’re using spotlights to illuminate decorations, make sure they’re well-ventilated and are a safe distance away from flammable items.
  4. Do not pinch electrical cords in windows, doors or underneath furniture.
  5. Be sure to turn off and unplug all decorations before leaving the house or going to sleep. Not only is this a safety measure, it can help you keep energy bills to a minimum this season.
From our family to yours, ABC is wishing you all a very happy and healthy holiday season. And remember, when you need plumbing, heating or electrical service this winter, you know you can count on us!
Published in Electric
Monday, 05 December 2016 14:47

Strike Out Fires This Holiday Season

The winter holiday season is supposed to be a relaxing time spent with close friends and family members, eating, laughing and sharing love. But that can easily change if something inside your home catches fire. It’s vital to follow the simple tips below to ensure a happy and safe holiday season:

Keep these tips in mind while decorating:
  • Keep your Christmas tree at least 3 feet away from all sources of heat. This includes the fireplace, radiators and heat vents.
  • Choose ones that are flame resistant and that don’t produce lots of heat. Stick to LEDs when it comes to lights.
  • Be careful with candles. Keep them away from decorations and other things that can easily catch fire such as window treatments, carpets and loose clothing.
  • Never use outdoor lights indoors and vice versa. They are rated for use inside or out for specific reasons so be sure to purchase the right ones for the job.
  • Avoid using nails or staples to hang lights. Clips are a safer alternative because there’s less of a chance of damaging the cords.
Keep these tips in mind while entertaining:
  • Be sure to test smoke alarms before your guests arrive.
  • Keep children and pets away from lit candles.
  • Never leave the kitchen while cooking on the stove. If you must step away, have somebody keep an eye on whatever it is you’re cooking until you return.
  • Ask smokers to do so outside - away from decorations.
Need a professional plumber or HVAC technician this winter? One call makes it simple because it’s as easy as ABC! We’ve been serving the entire Chicagoland area for over 60 years, so you know you can count on us.
Published in Electric
Thursday, 24 November 2016 16:32

Try this Tip To Reduce Drafts in Your Home

When tracking down air drafts in the home we often focus on the most obvious sources of air leaks, mainly windows and doors. However, there's another place air could be creeping in – through electrical outlets and switches.

When outlets and switches are installed there is often a gap around the box and the drywall that is not air tight. Because interior walls are usually not insulated, air can flow through them easily. Even insulated exterior walls can have open spaces that allow airflow.

A simple and inexpensive way to stop drafts from outlets and switches is to remove the cover and install pre-cut foam insulation pads. The pads fit snugly between the outlet box and the cover plate to seal the air gap. The insulation pads are available at most hardware and home stores and come in different sizes to fit most outlets and switches.
Published in Electric
Thursday, 03 November 2016 17:14

The Importance of Electrical Outlet Maintenance

One of the primary causes of electrical fires and electrocutions in the home are faulty outlets. Outlets can present a danger for a number of reasons, including:
  1. Old, Ungrounded Outlets. In older homes it's not uncommon to still find ungrounded outlets, or outlets that have old wiring with connections. Old outlets should be replaced with new, grounded outlets to reduce the risk of fire and electrocution.
  2. Worn Out Outlets. Over time outlets can become worn out from use, especially if cords are not unplugged properly (always unplug from the grip at the end of the plug, never yank on the cord). When inserting a plug into an outlet it should feel snug, not overly tight or loose.
  3. Improperly Installed or Damaged Outlets. Improperly wired receptacles can be dangerous and are a common cause of home electrical fires. Wiring should always be performed by a licensed electrician. If an outlet cover is cracked or feels warm to the touch, have the receptacle inspected by an electrician.
  4. Outlets That Are Not Childproof. If there are young children in the home, don't rely on plastic outlet covers, they can easily be removed by a curious toddler. Have tamper resistant receptacles (TRR) installed. They will deactivate the outlet when a foreign object is inserted.
  5. Outlets in wet locations that do not have GFCIs. Outlets in kitchens, bathrooms, laundry rooms and outdoors should be equipped with a ground fault interrupter (GFI) to prevent electrical shock if exposed to water. Test the GFI by pressing the "test" button located on the outlet, it should deactivate the outlet immediately.
By inspecting your outlets for any of the conditions above you can protect your home and family from the risk of accidental electrocution or fire. If you need help, ABC is here to answer all your electrical questions.
Published in Electric
The lifespan of a smoke detectors or carbon monoxide alarms will differ based on several factors, including type, model and where they are installed. Check your owner's manual for specific information on when to replace a unit.

Smoke detectors typically have a lifespan of 10 years and a carbon monoxide alarms 5 years. If the device indicates an end-of-life condition, it should be replaced immediately.

Smoke detectors come in two different types: photoelectric or ionization sensor. Photoelectric smoke detectors are more sensitive to particles generated by fires that smolder, like a cigarette in a bed or on upholstery. Ionization smoke detectors tend to be more sensitive to particles generated by flaming fires, such as burning paper or grease. Most smoke detectors use one or the other type of sensor, although some use both.

If the smoke detector also works as a carbon monoxide alarm, it will only have one type of smoke sensor. For protection against both types of fires, install ionization and photoelectric smoke detectors or detectors that use both types of sensor.

Voice notification on carbon monoxide alarms and combination units lets you program the location of the device from preset selections. When the alarm sounds, the voice warning indicates the location and, for combination units, the type of threat detected.

Newer CO and smoke detectors can be integrated with home automation systems and smart phones to receive alerts when the alarm activates as well as battery level and device lifespan remaining. Audible status alerts, such as low-battery and end-of-life, let you know when the device needs attention.
Published in Electric
Tuesday, 13 September 2016 12:35

Standby Generator Maintenance

If you have a standby whole house generator, it's important to keep it properly maintained so it's ready to turn on and operate reliably at a moment's notice when the power to your home goes out. Here are some simple maintenance steps to perform this fall.

Important: Before performing any maintenance on your home generator always read the owner's manual and ensure that you follow all safety instructions.

  • Clean and tighten battery terminals. Have the voltage tested to ensure the battery is able to hold a sufficient charge.
  • Clean the unit. Use a vacuum to clean the intake and exhaust louvers on the enclosure. Clear any vegetation or debris near the unit.
  • Inspect the generator components for corrosion. Rust can be prevented by keeping your generator clear of moisture from downspouts, sprinklers, etc. If you find excessive corrosion, have ABC inspect the unit.
  • Check the oil level to make sure it is full. If it needs to be refilled, refer to your manual for the correct type of oil. Keep a spare bottle of oil ready, in case of extended outages.
Have questions about maintaining your standby generator? Call ABC Plumbing, Heating, Cooling and Electric. We can help with all your home electrical needs.
Published in Electric
Wednesday, 07 September 2016 18:29

Weathering the Storm With a Whole House Generator

It’s hot. It’s humid. There’s a severe thunder storm rolling into town and you’re going to lose power. Don’t you wish you had a standby generator?

Lots of late summer storms come through without much notice and we all know how devastating they can be. Wiping out power for hours or even days and knocking down trees and just about anything else in its path - it’s a situation nobody wants to be in. But you can stand out from your neighbors with a whole house generator. While they’re sitting in the dark, you’ll be glad you still have power.

Still not convinced? Here are just a few of the benefits of whole house generators:
  • Charge mobile devices to stay in touch with family members.
  • Keep the air conditioner running on hot, humid days.
  • You can cook on electric appliances - no more searching for a restaurant that still has power.
  • You won’t be left in the dark. Keep lights on wherever you need them.
  • Don’t have to worry about food spoiling in the freezer or refrigerator.
  • Watch TV to stay up-to-date on the storm’s path.
  • Don’t need to rely on flashlights or candles while the power is out.
With a reliable whole house generator installed by ABC Plumbing, Heating, Cooling & Electric the next time a power outage hits your neighborhood, it’ll be life as usual around your home. Give us a call  to learn more about whole house generators for Chicago and the surrounding communities.
Published in Electric
Monday, 01 August 2016 17:29

Save BIG With Smart Lighting Options

What’s the first thing you notice when you enter a room? Is it the television? The furniture? How about the lighting? Well, without light the answer would be none of the above, but with beautiful fixtures and dimmer switches lighting can really make a statement in any room of the house.

What are dimmer switches and why do they matter? This type of light switch controls the brightness of a lighting fixture by adjusting the amount of voltage received by the fixture. Whether you’re looking to set the mood with a dimly lit room, or need maximum brightness for reading or performing certain tasks, a dimmer switch makes it all possible.

But there’s more to it than simply being able to adjust the brightness of a light. Dimmer switches save energy. By dimming a light, you can save nearly 98% of its energy and upwards of 10% on energy bills. Nice, right?

In addition to saving on energy bills, dimmer switches also help to extend the longevity of your light bulbs. Instead of a bulb burning out after 5 - 6 months, dimmers can help them last 3 - 4 years or longer depending on the type of bulb.

So, what are you waiting for? Hop aboard the smart lighting train and start saving today! Contact the experts at ABC to find out how we can help and don’t forget to connect with us on Facebook!
Published in Electric
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ABC Plumbing, Heating, Cooling & Electric • 220 W Campus Dr, Arlington Heights, IL • 60004 • 888-903-4070 • State of Illinois Plumbing License Number 055-013536

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