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For most cottage owners, saying hello to fall means saying goodbye to weekend retreats up north. Time for cottage owners to start thinking about closing up their summer cottage, or readying their winter getaway for extreme cold. We at AC Electrical want to ensure you are ready to prepare your cottage for colder months and fewer stays in the Great North.

When getting your cottage ready for the winter, we want you to keep the following things in mind:

  1. Turn off your water: Don’t let your pipes damage because of water remaining inside and left to expand and freeze
  2. Turn down your furnace: Avoid rot and mildew by keeping your furnace on and in a low setting, rather than off completely
  3. Protect your valuables:A sitting cottage is a prime target for thieving, draw the blinds, hide valuables and check in from time to time!

Want to be extra safe? Here are our favourite tips!

Install exterior lighting

When it comes to exterior lighting, keep it bright enough to see, but not so bright that you disturb the peace of nature. There are many ways to ensure that your lights only go on when needed. Take into consideration light switches which are remotely controlled from inside your car, or even light switches controlled via wifi and a smartphone such as the ones from the Lutron Caseta line!

When choosing your exterior lights, keep these general guidelines in mind:

  • Use down-lighting to avoid light pollution and to avoid disturbing nature and wildlife. Use a low wattage that will not contribute to “light-trespassing” into your neighbour’s yard
  • Choose plastic or resin light fixtures to avoid corrosion or the need for too much maintenance.

There are some areas you should always consider adding lighting to:

  • Your address sign: Whatever shows the location must be well-lit. This can make a big difference in case of an emergency.
  • Paths and steps: Avoid the risk of a twisted ankle or unexpected bumps. Install low-wattage LED landscape lighting along the path and stairs to the deck.
  • Task areas: Wherever you’ll be working after it’s dark, you’ll need some easy access lighting. We recommend motion-sensitive switches so the moment you enter a space, you are greeted with hands-free light!
Animal-proof your cottage

With so much beautiful nature up north, small animals getting into your cottage are an obvious concern. To keep these critters away, make sure any food has been taken home. Small holes or cracks should also be fixed to avoid any small animal from creeping in. This also means covering the chimney.

Make winter arrangements

With the amount of snowfall we Canadians get up north, you’ll want to ensure the roof is stable to hold it up and not cause leaks. There are a few ways to keep your cottage from getting damaged from the snow. Our personal favourite is installing snow melting cables to the roof and gutter! This helps automatically melt the snow to ease the effect of freeze-thaw cycles on your roof. Also consider adding similar heat cables traced along your water pipes to keep them from freezing! Alternatively, you should be prepared for a few trips over the winter to remove the snow or hire a company to do that, and plowing, for you!

Are you planning to make a few trips up this winter? Tell us what your favourite activities are!

07.2015

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Summer is in full gear and families around the city are making the most of the long warm days and the cool relaxing nights. With so many people in the city having access to shared patios in condos, private backyard decks and balconies, we want to make sure your quality time outdoors is enjoyable and safe!

We at AC Electrical are all for enjoying a fun-filled evening with friends, which is why we want to share some tips to get the most of your summer:

1. Always have some great snacks on hand. Everyone wants to have a relaxing time once they hit up the patio or deck so keep some drinks in a cooler nearby and easy-to-grab snacks like pretzels, baked goodies, candies and nuts on hand for when your friends pop in. They’ll love to relax and have a good time once they know their stomachs will be full!

2. Create a fun space outside with a relaxing vibe. Have comfortable patio furniture, an umbrella for entertaining in the daytime and some lights for entertaining during the evening. Make sure you always use outdoor rated lighting. There are many options you can go for including installed sensor lights, hanging lanterns or fun string lights. Speak with #YourHomeElectricians about installing lights to your patio or using a plug in option.

Be cautious of your surroundings. With everyone so close to neighbors within the city, you want to be sure you are not bothering your friends next door by blasting a radio or having a loud group of friends over past midnight on a weeknight. If you know your friends get loud, invite your neighbors over or give them a heads up so they know you care about their peace of mind. If you are using a plug-in radio outside, or have plug in decor like string lights, make sure your outdoor receptacles have bubble covers to protect the receptacle and keep anything plugged into it safe and untouched by rain or other natural elements.

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Lastly, have fun! Summer is here now and will be gone before you know it. Taking caution ahead of time will save you a head ache later and will only make your summer more enjoyable!

What are your favourite summer past times? We’d love to know! Share with us on Twitter /write on our Facebook page if you have any questions about installations or types of lights to use.

We’d also love to see what you’ve done with your outdoor space, share with uson our Facebook or Twitter!

04.2015

There are two main types of surge protection: point of use or whole house surge protection. Both of them help regulate the voltage supplied to an electric device by blocking or shorting dangerously high voltage levels.

A point of use device protects important electronics and appliances at their individual electric source. These surge suppressors typically plug straight into the wall and can manage up to 6,000-volt surges.

A whole house surge protection device, which is installed at the main electrical panel itself, protects the entire home against passing surges coming through the home’s main electricity supply.

01.2015

Surge protection is a key element in protecting your investments. Just think: a power surge can impair and even destroy appliances, racking up your electrical repair bill with costs that you could have avoided. Investing in a surge protector is the surest way to prevent a power surge—and the associated damage and expense—from occurring.

Just what is a power surge? Essentially, it’s what happens when the line voltage goes higher than it’s rated for and stays there longer than 10 milliseconds. And it happens a lot more than you might guess. Every day, appliances are hit with an average of 20 power surges—power fluctuations that only your appliances will ever even register. The end result of these daily surges can shorten an appliance’s lifespan by anywhere up to 30 percent. And no one wants to invest in a quality appliance only to find it doesn’t last as long as it should from an everyday occurrence that’s entirely avoidable.

11.2014

When the power goes out, your number one solution for maintaining your home’s electricity flow is a trusty generator. A generator restores the normal electricity supply to your home when the supply is interrupted, whether by the Toronto electrical utility company or because of weather. A reliable, high functioning generator is key to a homeowner’s peace of mind.

It will allow you to keep essential appliances running, including your refrigerator, computers, and all-important heating and cooling systems. How does it work? It’s like a miniature version of the utility company itself, in that it converts mechanical energy into electric energy on its own. The generator engine powers a spinning shaft to produce a magnetic field through a coil—that creates electromotive force.

08.2014

While yourmain electrical panelis the superpower in your electrical system, the sub panel is its best sidekick. This additional panel is located apart from the main one, and its primary function is to allow you to add circuits if you run out of room in the main electrical panel.

The reason this matters is that every time you add new appliances and circuits to your home, you increase the demand on your main electrical panel. Depending on how old your electrical system is, and how much energy you use, this can overtax your main electrical panel to the point that it either falters or simply fails.

Structurally, it’s essentially a mini electrical panel that feeds off the main electrical panel. The main feeder wire leads into the bus bars and circuit breakers, while branch wire circuits then lead off the circuit breakers into specific areas of the home. As far as power capacity, you can typically expect a sub panel to have about 30 amperage and 240 volts.

05.2014

Good lighting can make any house or apartment feel like a home. It can transform a space from plain and cold to warm, open, and richly textured. What’s more, a good, strong lighting plan provides an important layer of safety to your home, helping prevent crime and providing you with peace of mind.

Here’s what you need to know about the various forms of lighting used inside and outside homes around Toronto.

  • Accent lighting:Enriching your design, this type of lighting helps highlight smaller details in and around the home, from artwork to plants to a display shelf.
  • CFL:Compact fluorescent light bulbs require less energy than incandescent bulbs to produce the same amount of light. The tubing contains phosphors, each which emit one color. Those colors combine to create a bright, rich light.
  • Fluorescent:Typically in the form of long tubes, fluorescent lights use electricity to excite mercury vapor, which in turn produce an ultraviolet light that causes phosphors to fluoresce, aka, produce visible light. These types of lights last longer and use less energy than incandescent, but are bulkier and more expensive. You’ll typically see them in larger areas like garages, rec rooms, and kitchens.
  • General lighting:The core source of lighting inside and out, this includes the ceiling light in any room, security lighting outside, and floor or table lamps.
  • Incandescent lighting:These types of bulbs provide light thanks to heat-driven light emissions, aka, incandescence. That thin filament inside is the channel for the electricity, and is protected from oxidation by the glass bulb around it.
  • Task lighting:Functionality comes first in this concentrated form of lighting, used for project-related jobs, from a workshop area to a desktop.

02.2014

You probably know where the main electrical panel in your home is. But do you actually know what it does? If not, read on for a brief introduction to this critical piece of equipment.

In a way, your home’s electrical system operates a little like the human body. Each part plays its own essential role, some more prominent than others. And the main electrical panel is the part that makes the whole system function: the heart. All the power flowing through your home from the utility company enters through and is moderated by this panel, which includes circuit breakers—not unlike the heart’s chambers—to prevent electricity overloads.

Also like the heart, the main electrical panel controls distribution for all the electric circuits in your home. While wires and circuits are the words we use, they’re pretty comparable to the veins and arteries that help the heart pump life-giving force through your body. When the power comes in from the utility company, it goes through service wire lugs—highly dangerous points that should never be touched—into the panel, which then sends it out through exit wires/branch circuits that split off to service the entire home.

Those branch circuits are controlled by circuit breakers on the main electrical panel—and that’s the part you probably already know. These allow you to shut down electricity in a certain area for safety purposes.

The anatomy of a main electrical panel includes the housing unit, the panel doors, circuit breakers, hot bus bars, a neutral bar, and a ground wire and ground bar.

Due to the highly sensitive nature of these parts, particularly the service wire lugs, which represent the entirety of the energy coming into your home, changing or upgrading the main electrical panel must be handled by a certified electrician.

10.2013

From the 1880s to the 1930s, knob and tube wiring was the standard electrical wiring system used in most North American buildings. Designed as an open-air system, the single-insulated copper conductors ran through walls or ceilings and were supported by ceramic knob insulators, which served to separate wires from combustible framing.

Today, however, knob and tube wiring is woefully outdated. And for good reason.

The Dangerous Problems Associated With Outdated Knob and Tube Wiring

When it comes to knob and tube wiring, there are several big problems homeowners need to understand.

For starters, homes with knob and tube wiring may not have the electrical capacity to meet today’s needs. This can lead to frustration—and much more: big appliances will fail more frequently, circuits will blow more often, and an overload in the wiring may even lead to electrical fire.

There are also financial consequences of sticking with knob and tube wiring. When it comes to selling or renovating your home, the law prohibits knob and tube wiring to remain in place if any outlets or circuits are added. With that in mind, insurance companies are increasingly canceling or refusing home insurance policies until old circuits and wiring are replaced.

But most importantly, knob and tube wiring can be downright dangerous. Old, fragile wires are a major fire hazard, because they can too easily be damaged by rodents or simple oversights. Moreover, knob and tube wiring wasn’t installed with a grounding conductor—which is now legally required by today’s safety standards. That means if anything goes awry with the current, the electricity has no recourse and can cause fatal electric shock.

Fortunately, there have been plenty of important updates in the way we handle circuits and wiring—and we are adept in them all.

04.2013

Every wiring home system is unique and sensitive to change. The Consumer Product Safety Commission estimates that 50 people die every year from accidental electrocutions involving residential circuits and wiring, panel boards, and outlets. What’s more, the CPSC estimates another 40 electrocutions occur each year due to household appliances that are connected to home wiring.

Therefore, proper installation or rewiring is critical for your home’s safety. AC Electrical’s certified electricians have the experience it takes to install and provide maintenance plans for your home wiring system with the least amount of intrusion.

Isn’t it time to ensure your circuits and wiring are operating as safely as possible?The Toronto electrical professionals at AC Electrical are ready to assist

01.2013

You probably know that circuits and wiring run throughout your house, both seen and unseen. But how much do you know about your wiring home system?

Here’s what you need to know about circuits and wiring, the network of electrical wires that run from the main electrical panel throughout your home:

  • They connect each outlet and switch to the power source, thereby providing power to every appliance in your home.
  • That energy flow is a complete circle, which runs from the main electrical panel, through the outlet, to the appliance, and back through all the way back to the main electrical panel.
  • Wiring home standards and policies are governed by the Ontario Electrical Code, which the courteous and highly skilled Toronto electrical contractors at AC Electrical follow to a tee.
  • The standard electrical outlet consists of two three-pronged, polarized receptacles, which each has a 120-volt hot wire, a neutral wire, and a ground. Power flows through both receptacles, but appliances that need higher voltage power (think washing machines and air conditioners) use both hot wires, while less electricity-thirsty appliances just employ one hot wire.

09.2012

It’s impossible to overstate the value of installing and maintaining quality smoke and/or combination smoke/carbon-monoxide alarms. They are the single most important devices when it comes to protecting your home. And yet, all too often, homeowners neglect them. Here’s what you need to know about your smoke and/or combination smoke/carbon-monoxide alarms.

For one thing, you need to know whether you’ve got a hard wired device or simply battery operated “alarm.” The former is wired through the building to other units in the fire alarm system, while the other is a standalone that issues an audible and/or visual alarm from the singular device itself. In either case, they’re usually housed in disk-shaped plastic cases, though shape and size will vary by manufacturer.

Installation points will vary based on where they will do the most good. In Canada, federal mandate requires at least one working alarm be placed on every level of any structure. In new construction, smoke and/or combination smoke/carbon-monoxide alarms must be wired to the main electrical wiring system, using a battery as backup. One of the best reasons for this interconnectivity is that one smoke and/or combination smoke/carbon-monoxide alarms can trigger another elsewhere in the home, alerting occupants who may not be closest to the smoke or the carbon monoxide that something is wrong.