The rule of thumb for your smoke detectors is to change the batteries in them when you set your clocks back in the fall and ahead in the spring. It's not just changing the batteries, however, that you need to be mindful of. A fresh battery isn't going to be helpful if the unit itself is damaged. There should be a test button on your smoke detector – simply press it and wait for the alarm to sound.
Smoke alarms have an expected lifespan of about 10 years. If you've never changed the alarms in your home, and you've lived there for more than ten years, it might be time to replace them entirely. Remove the detectors and check the backside. Usually, you'll be able to tell how old they are, but if you're unsure, take them to your local hardware store or fire department.
Some homes have smoke detectors that are hard-wired into the whole home's electrical system. These, too, have the same life expectancy as other smoke detectors and should be replaced regularly. If you aren't confident in your DIY skills replacing these, your local Greenville electrician can take care of this, quickly and easily.
Your ground-fault circuit-interrupter (GFCI) outlets protect you from getting an electrical shock when you plug something in. While they can work reliably for years, they do fail. Luckily, testing them is fairly simple and can be done in a matter of minutes. The face of your GFCI outlets look like so: between the two sets of slots are two rectangular buttons, labeled "TEST" and "RESET." Press the "test" button and listen for a snapping sound that shuts off the power to the outlets. To make sure that the power did, in fact, shut off, test the outlet with something that doesn't draw a lot of power, such as a radio or a lamp. If the item doesn't turn on, then the outlet is still working.
This test should ideally be done once per month. If the outlet isn't functioning properly, simply call your local electrician to fix it.
Arc fault circuit interrupters (AFCIs) are another protection layer between you plugging in your appliances or electronics and the electrical current in your home. The AFCI is plugged directly into outlets and receptacles or installed in the electrical panel and protects you from faulty, worn-out, or damaged electrical wires. They're important to maintain, as poor wiring can cause a house fire fast.
To test these, leave everything that is plugged in, plugged in. Then, on your circuit panel, locate the AFCI Test button. Press it. If the circuit breaker trips, then your AFCI is working. If the breaker doesn't trip – and you should see this click over on the electrical panel - then you'll need to replace it. Again, this should be a simple job for a Greenville electrician like Upstate Electrical Solutions.
If you have a unit that provides both the air conditioning and heat for your home, it's a good idea to change the filter monthly. Although some filters claim that they have a lifetime of up to three months, during the winter, keeping a fresh filter in will help reduce the stress on your HVAC unit's fan. The more clogged with dust and lint that your filter is, the harder it is for your fan to get suction. That can make the fan wear out quickly, leading to a costly repair, and you don't want to be without heat this winter!
In addition, during the colder months, your windows are open less. If your filter is dirty, then that dust and dirt end up being recycled throughout your home, which can make you cough or have respiratory problems. Changing your filter is a simple DIY task, though. Simply pop out the old one and replace it with a new one.
As your fluorescent and incandescent bulbs burn out, slowly replace them with LED counterparts. The LED lighting is more energy-efficient and has a longer lifespan, which helps offset the slightly higher price tag. Over time, as you replace all the bulbs, you'll see a slight reduction in your power bill and save in the long run on buying new bulbs.
Your stove, fridge, clothes dryer, and other appliances can slowly come slightly unplugged. A loose plug can lead to damage to the unit, which can cause a fire or cause the appliance to become inoperable. Because these plugs are out of sight, they may become loose and you won't notice. The loose connection can cause outlets to melt. Make it a habit to check your large appliances monthly, when you replace your HVAC filter.
You can easily manage the effects of electrical surges and storms with whole-home surge protection. Upstate Electrical Solutions offers installation of whole home surge protection. Instead of independent surge protector outlets or AFCIs and GFCI outlets, the whole house surge protection will protect your electronics, appliances, and even the plugs for electric cars, if you own one. The system is installed by a licensed, properly trained electrician and offers a $75,000 warranty in case of failure.
As the nights get longer, consider outdoor safety lighting. Motion-activated floodlights can help protect you and your family from intruders, activating with a bright LED light when detected. The elderly and those with small children may especially like this peace of mind. Floodlights can be very affordable and the work of just a couple of hours to install by a friendly Greenville electrician.
Many of these things you can do yourself over a weekend or as part of your daily chores. However, if you're concerned about safety or don't know where to get started, choose the services of Upstate Electrical Solutions. We're licensed, certified, and well-trained residential electricians, ready to help you find solutions to all your electrical needs!