|Posted on March 3, 2013 at 4:05 PM||comments (0)|
Fire clean up and restoration is not an easy process. Even what seemed to be a containable oil fire on my kitchen stove ended up turning into hours of repair work. The hood vent for the stove melted. Oil from the pan splattered and destroyed a large section of floor tile. The oily smoke covered the kitchen and dining room, even working its way along the kitchen ceiling. All of the spices and the timer near the stove also turned in to an unrecognizable mess.
The first step in the clean up was removing all of the damaged items, except for the floor tile. The tile was left for last, to be completed after painting. I removed the remains of the hood and capped off the electric.
I had just repainted the house in September, except for the kitchen. The kitchen has an old and ugly drop ceiling, with 4’ fluorescent tube lights, that needed to be replaced. I was waiting until I could afford a new light fixture. Afford it or not, it was time to gut the kitchen.
After the removal of all damaged items, came some serious scrubbing work. Because the walls were textured, there was no way that all of the smoke could be cleaned. I tried several different cleaning techniques, liquid Joy dish soap, baking soda, TSP - free, and spray solutions. The dish soap did work the best but everything required two scrubbing sessions. I used old rags; even bleaching them afterwards did not remove the oily black stains.
The wall behind the hood required some repair work where the paint itself had burned.
I purchased a new Braun hood for around $40 through Amazon. It arrived quickly. I did have to move the electrical wiring to fit the hood correctly. I also found that while the vent opening on my house was the correct size, the interior was not. The inside reduced to 7 inches in length 1 inch up. I had to modify the flap inside the hood to allow it to open and close.
I removed the old drop ceiling and the old light fixtures. I repaired the holes left behind with mud and then began the process of priming and painting. I found a new light fixture at Home Depot for under $40, installing it was the easiest part of the project.
Next came the removal of the damage floor tile. I had a carton left over from the original installation so I did not have to purchase any new tile. I did decide to buy some floor levelling compound. Some of the floor areas were just not even.
Repainting the dining room was the second stage of the repair work. The living room ceiling only required minimal scrubbing and some touch up paint. Costs did run close to $150 for the hood, light fixture, paint and replacement of the timer, spice rack and spices.
I decided to repaint the cabinets after this picture was taken so the entire kitchen has a fresh, new look.
Warning: The last pictures show burn damage to my hand. No flame or oil made contact, just the intense heat from moving the pan from the burner.
Two days after fire
As it began to heal
|Posted on July 4, 2012 at 1:05 PM||comments (2)|
Common sense can go a long way when it comes to power failures and general survival. One more time residents in the Midwest and East coast of the U.S. are facing massive power outages. The “inland hurricane” that caused severe damage several years ago left hundreds without power for over a week. The difference between that storm and the current “derecho” was the time of year. The storm that occurred in the fall did not leave people in unbearable weather. Unfortunately, this time people without power are also facing a heat wave.
Do not plant trees under power lines:
This may seem like common sense. It should be common sense. If you look at the pictures included in this blog, you will realize that common sense is not common. The power lines were in place for at least 30 years before the trees were planted. There were planted to provide a lovely privacy barrier for a neighbor’s backyard. I do not know exactly what type of tree they are, but they are very fast growing. What is worse is that they grow very tall, very fast, without lower supporting branch limbs.
Why is that a problem? The problem is with the fact that the only way to trim the top of these trees will be to bring in a bucket lift or truck. Professional tree trimmers often climb trees to remove branches. When it comes to a tree with no support in the trunk or lower branches, there is nothing to climb.
I have watched these trees nearly bend in half from strong winds. I wonder just how much longer it will be before they are big enough and heavy enough to come down on the power lines. I wonder how much longer it will be before ice on the branches in winter will take out half of the power in my neighborhood.
If you want beautiful trees that provide privacy, you do not need a tree that will grow to 20 to 30 feet tall. Pick something that you can keep trimmed below and away from power lines. When you are thinking about planting one or more trees, consider everything about the location. How high will the tree grow? How far will the branches spread? How strong will the tree be? What utilities are under the tree? Yes, you also need common sense with underground utilities. Tree roots love to clog sewer lines.
Common sense notes:
I keep my own trees trimmed back. I keep them trimmed well before they get to a height I cannot handle. When it came to the old pine tree that had grown into the power line to my house, I sucked it up and paid a professional to remove it. I used to work as an electrician; I do not want to go there.
|Posted on June 9, 2012 at 9:20 PM||comments (1)|
You may already be aware of the energy savings that Compact Flourescent Light (CFL) bulbs provide. These bulbs have other benefits that can make the simple change even more appealing.
On average, one Energy Star CFL bulb can save $6 a year in electrical costs. Over the life of the bulb this can equal about $40. While the initial cost of a CFL bulb is usually higher than an incandescent, they will last up to four times longer. Many stores, including Home Depot, will offers sales that make the cost no more than regular bulbs. Some utility companies also have programs for reducing the purchase price.
You can calculate your savings at Environmental Working Group Org.
Less power drawn on circuits:
A 15 amp lighting circuit does not actually provide 15 amps. Useage on a circuit should be 20% less than the rating. This means that a 15 amp circuit should run no more than 12 amps total. A 60 watt bulb on a 120 volt circuit draws 0.5 amps. Theoretically you can run 24 60 watt bulbs on a 15 amp (12 amp) circuit without a fear of overload.
A CFL bulb that produces the equivalent light of a 60 watt incandescent bilb uses 13 watts. You could run four times as many bulbs, 96 total, and only draw 10.4 amps. For more information see: How much electricity does it use? and Electrical formulas and power consumption.
CFL bulbs produce less heat than regular bulbs, about 75% less. This may not make a great deal of difference in your summer cooling bills but there are other benefits. Less heat makes CFL bulbs safer for use. This can make a difference in ceiling light fixtures that can become very hot with the use of regular bulbs. The reduction in heat can also reduce the possibilty of damage to lamp shades.
UV light emission:
Almost all light sources produce some ultraviolet light. Studies show that the UV radiation level for CFL bulbs ranges from 50 to 140 microwatts/lumen. Regular incandescent bulbs can emit up to, or over 100 microwatts/lumen. These amounts are not considered to be hazardous unless an individual has a heightened sensitivity. The amounts are also considerably less than normal daylight.
|Posted on May 8, 2012 at 8:30 PM||comments (0)|
While you can calculate the amount of electricity that appliances use, it is easier to use general estimates. If you do need exact figures there are devices available that can be plugged into the outlet to give you rates.
To begin understanding the amount of power consumed, consider a 60 watt light bulb. It uses 60 watts per hour to operate. This bulb can be operated for 16 1/2 hours for just under one kilowatt of power. You can then determine your cost per kilowatt from your electrical supplier. Estimates are listed as the amout of watts used in one hour of operation. To determine partial hour usage see the end of the list.
A CFL light bulb (60-watt equivalent) uses 18 Watts Per Hour.
The average night light bulb uses 5 watts.
An LED night light uses 0.5 watts.
Desktop Computer & 17" CRT monitor uses between 150 to 300 watts per hour.
In sleep mode this set will use about 20 watts per hour.
17" CRT monitor uses 90 watts
17" LCD monitor uses 40 watts, less than half of the CRT model.
20" LCD monitor uses between 50 and 70.
Laptop computer, depending on size uses 15 to 45 watts.
A 4 slot toaster uses 1440 watts per hour, all four slots in use. Using only two will take about 800 watts.
The average stove burner uses 800 watts at medium heating.
An oven, on bake setting, uses 3000 watts per hour. On broil setting, it uses 3500 watts. Using the self-cleaning cycle consumes 10,000 watts per hour, and about how long the cycle takes.
A clock radio uses 4 to 10 watts.
Coffeemakers use from 900 to 1200 per hour, including the "keep warm" setting.
16 cubic foot refrigerator uses about 700 watts. The majority of the usage occurs when the cooling cycle is running.
A top opening chest freezer uses about 300 watts. Upright freezers use more due to the door size.
A washing machine will use between 350 to 500 watts.
A dryer uses 1800 watts for light drying to 5000 ofr high heat heavy duty drying.
A dishwasher uses 1200 with air drying and up to 2400 using heat drying.
An iron will use 1000 to 1800 watts per hour. Usage depends on heat setting.
The average size dehumidifier uses 785 watts.
Hair dryers use 1200 to 1800 watts per hour, depending on heat setting.
Single uses 60 watts
Double - full uses 100 watts
A vacuum cleaner uses 1000 to 1400 watts per hour. Usage depends on the size of the motor.
Ceiling fans use between 65 to 175, varies by size and speed watts.
Window fans use 55 to 250, again these vary by size and speed watts.
Furnace fan uses 750 watts.
Whole house fan uses 240 to 750 watts.
Jig Saw uses 300 watts
Band Saw uses 1200 watts
3/8 inch drill uses 500 watts
1/2 inch drill uses 750 watts
7 1/4 inch circular saw uses 1200 watts
Sander uses 1200 watts
Air compressor - 1 hp - uses 2000 watts. This is based on compressor cycling and a full hour of useage.
Partial hour usages:
A hair dryer that uses 1200 watts per hour will use 20 watts per minute. Take the hourly number and divide by 60. Again, this is a rough figure. The hair dryer will use slightly more power until it reaches the selected heat setting. If you use the dryer for 10 minutes per day it will consume 200 watts per day.
For a truly indepth guide to energy usage see Michael Bluejay's complete electricity site.
|Posted on May 1, 2012 at 8:20 PM||comments (0)|
Reducing energy costs is beneficial, especially in difficult economic times. The problem many individuals face is not understanding the basic electrical formulas for power. In order to understand how much power is required for devices, some simple calculations are required.
The common volotage for homes in the United States is 110 - 120 volts. You may see equipment rated at 120 V. Some appliances, dryers or air conditioners use 220 - 240 volts. The first thing to understand is that 120 V is not exact, if you measure your home's voltage you may find it averages 117 V.
Voltage is potential difference or electromotive force. In formulas, voltage is symbolized as E.
Current is the rate of flow, measured in amps (amperage). Your electrical panel will have circuit breakers, commonly rated at 10, 15 or 20 amps. Heavy appliances require higher ratings. Current or amperage is symbolized as I.
Ohms are the unit of resistance - one ohm is the resistance of one amp to one volt. Ohm is symbolized by R.
Wattage is the measurement of energy or power. One watt is produced with one amp and one volt. Wattage is symbolized by W or P.
There are numerous formulas that can be used to calculate power and voltage. However, you can calculate most of what you need with just a few.
Now think PIE:
Power or wattage P = E x I
P = R x I (squared)
P = E (squared) divided by R
I = E divided by R (also: I = W/E)
R = E divided by I
E = R x I
You know that a 100 watt light bulb uses 100 watts per hour. It uses 1 kiliowatt in 10 hours. Power costs are usually charged in kilowatt hours. That works well, but what about your 8 amp curling iron?
Power = E x I
120 volts times 8 amps = 960 watts. If your curling iron is left on for one hour it will use nearly 1 kilowatt. This is an example only but it shows the ease of calculating power usage. Most appliances will have an amperage rating listed. Multiply this by the voltage of the circuit, 120 or 240 volts. This will give you a basic idea of what your devices cost per hour of use.
Calculations for horsepower provide additional information and will be covered in a subsequent blog.
An additional article will provide the average power requirements for common household items.
|Posted on March 12, 2012 at 5:15 PM||comments (1)|
If you are installing or have installed a PEX plumbing system you need to ensure that you still have a solid ground for your electrical system. This is very important with regards to electrical safety. You should check your local electrical code requirements for specifics to your area. If in doubt, check with your local city or town building department.
All electrical systems should have a main copper ground attached to the electrical panel that runs to a ground rod on the outside of the home. These ground rods are normally required to be 8' long vertically into the ground. Newer homes and upgraded installations should also have a secondary grounding system that uses a copper line attached into the plumbing system. Usual requirements are for this connection to be made within 6 feet of where the plumbing enters the home. This secondary grounding can also be required for Jacuzzi and whirlpool tub installations.
Many older homes did not employ the use of this unbroken panel to plumbing connection. If you have installed a PEX plumbing system you most likely have now broken the secondary grounding system. If you are in a much older residence, without an upgraded electrical system, you may not have any grounding system at all because many older systems did not employ the use of a main ground rod. Case in point: My home, built in 1954, with an upgraded electrical panel in 1996, did not have either. My outside ground rod was a short piece of re-bar with a copper line to the panel. My plumbing ground was a series of connections from the water main through various galvanized connections to the panel. This was not a good ground system.
A plumbing grounding system works by using the galvanized or copper lines in the home to conduct back to ground through the main water line into your home. By installing a non-metallic plumbing system this "conductor" has been broken. The quickest fix for this is to have an "unbroken" copper ground line, of the required size, attached to the metal plumbing line right where it enters your home, before your water meter, going directly to your electrical panel. Again, this is required in the code for most new applications.
You should also have a ground rod installed outside of your home if it does not already exist. Please note that two grounds rods are mandatory in most areas if your incoming water lines are non-metallic. This may be found in many newer well systems.
The point of this guide is not to teach you about electricity or plumbing but to give you a "heads up" for awareness of the interaction of your plumbing and electrical grounding system. I have a 750 page National Electrical Code book and can not even begin to explain all the various rules and exceptions listed. Your best and safest course of action is to check with an electrician and/or your local building department to be sure your electrical system is still safe and up to code when installing a PEX plumbing system.