Home Repairs? Renovations? Beware!

Does your home need to be repaired or renovated? Think SAFETY FIRST.

Hire a professional electrician to make any improvements or additions to the electrical system. Even tasks that appear simple, such as the installation of a baseboard heater or additional electrical outlets, can be more difficult than they appear.

If your are constantly blowing fuses or popping circuit breakers, it is time for you to contact your electrician. These are signs of electrical problems that could cause a fire. Do not take risks.

During your renovations, remember that you can avoid risks by scrupulously respecting the following tips offered by Hydro-Québec:

  • Do you need to hammer nails or cut an opening in a wall? Shut down the electric circuits that serve the room where you are working.
  • Before repairing an electric device, disconnect it!
  • The circuits of your power distribution panel should be clearly marked to show the rooms and items serviced by each circuit.
  • Do you need to work in rooms containing water – like the kitchen or bathroom? Because water is an excellent conductor of electricity, you should take the required precautions: ensure that all surfaces are clean and dry, ensure that your feet are dry, connect your electric tool to an outlet equipped with a differential circuit breaker, and ensure that electric cords and extension cords do not make contact with any pool of water.
  • Do you need to replace a fuse? Before replacing a blown fuse, be sure that you have a replacement fuse of the same rating, place the master switch in the OFF position, and, before restoring current, reduce the load by disconnecting a few electrical devices. If a circuit breaker pops, this same technique must be used, and the short circuit must be found. – http://www.newscanada.com

Saskpower has the following additional safety tips for Saskatoon residents:

Electricity is an essential part of our daily lives, and perhaps especially so during our dark, cold winters. While we depend on electricity to help make our homes comfortable and livable, but we must treat it with respect. Here are some basic electrical safety precautions to keep in mind around your home.

Cord safety

Decorating for the holidays often involves extra lights and extension cords. Ensure light strings and extension cords are in good condition – not frayed or cracked – and remember that extension cords are meant to be temporary wiring.

  • never staple or nail extension cords to the wall or another object and place them where no one will trip over them;
  • do not put furniture or carpets over extension cords;
  • use cords with safety closures – they are designed to help prevent children from shock hazards and mouth burn injuries;
  • use indoor extension cords indoors and outdoor cords outdoors, and ensure the cord can handle the power demands you are placing on it;
  • make sure outdoor trees hung with lights do not touch power lines;
  • keep outdoor electrical connections above ground and out of puddles and snow;
  • ensure outdoor lights are screwed in securely, and point the sockets downward to avoid moisture build-up;
  • replace any damaged light strings with cool-burning, low-voltage miniature lights; and
  • unplug light strings before replacing burnt-out bulbs.

Plug and outlet safety

Outlets with loose-fitting plugs can overheat and cause a fire. Replace any missing or broken wall plates and put childproof safety covers on all unused outlets.

  • never remove the ground pin (the round third prong) to make a three-prong plug fit a two-conductor outlet;
  • never force a plug into an outlet if it doesn’t fit; and
  • don’t overload outlets with too many appliances.

Power and water don’t mix

Never leave plugged-in appliances where they might come in contact with water. If a plugged-in appliance falls into water, never reach in to pull it out, even if it is turned off. Turn off the power source at the fuse box or breaker panel and then unplug the appliance. Have a qualified repair person check any appliance that has been wet.

Use a ground fault circuit interrupter (GFCI) wherever water and electricity may come into contact with each other. When a GFCI senses current leakage in an electrical circuit it assumes a ground fault has occurred and interrupts the power, helping to prevent serious injury from electrical shock. Follow the manufacturer’s test instructions to ensure GFCIs are working properly.

Bulbs and lamps

Follow the manufacturer’s recommendations regarding the maximum wattage for all bulbs in light fixtures. The recommended maximum is usually shown in the base of the light fixture. Since halogen lamps operate at much higher temperatures than standard bulbs, they require extra care:

  • do not replace any bulbs with a higher than recommended wattage;
  • ensure bulbs are tightened securely to avoid overheating;
  • place halogen floor lamps at a distance from draperies, clothing or other combustible materials; and
  • turn halogen lamps off whenever you leave the room for an extended period of time.

Other home safety tips

  • check entertainment equipment and computers for damage to wiring, plugs or connectors, and use a certified surge protector to protect this equipment from damaging voltage surges;
  • keep space heaters at least three feet away from combustible materials such as bedding, clothing, draperies, furniture and rugs;
  • turn space heaters off when not in use, and do not use heaters where children are unsupervised;
  • turn off an electric blanket and unplug it when it is not in use – never tuck an electric blanket into the edge of the bed;
  • unplug any appliance that repeatedly blows fuses, trips a circuit breaker or has given you a shock – have it repaired or replaced; and
  • always replace a fuse with one of the same capacity – if you don’t know the circuit’s correct capacity, have an electrician identify and label it.
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