Friday, September 20, 2013


Let's talk how about the safety of your electrical panel. 

Many houses built from the 1950's to the 1980's were built with a 60 amp electrical panel.  Some of these houses were built with fuses and knob and tube wiring.  These 60 amp panels and the like worked well with the electronics that were available then.  Today, homes should have at least 150 amps.  With the upgrading of the National Electrical Code laws houses with a fuse box and/or knob and tube wiring cannot be sold unless they are upgraded to circuit breakers.  Home owners who still have this type of wiring are playing Russian roulette with their home and family.
The basics of the circuit breakers inside your electrical panel are designed to guard your home's electrical system against circuit overload, short circuits and outside power surges coming into the panel.  When an overload occurs, a breaker protects you by tripping, thus shutting down the power to the circuit.  However, if a breaker is defective or not operating properly, the risk of fire to the panel and consequently to your home becomes imminent.

During the 1950's to the 1980's many homes were  installed with two potentially dangerous electrical panels and breakers.  These two electrical panels have major manufacturing and design flaws that put homeowners and their families at risk.  They are Federal Pacific and Zinsco Electrical Panels.  These panels were known to overheat and cause fires.  One of the earlier Federal Pacific panel designs was called the Stab-lok residential circuit breakers and panels. There are millions of people today who have panels that are more than 40 years old.  These outdated panels may no longer protect their homes from over-currents and short circuits.

This video is real, from Channel 4
I-Team: Faulty Circuit Breakers in Thousands of Homes Could Cause Fire

If you think you may have a Federal Pacific Electric, Zinsco, or an outdated circuit breaker panel (including knob & tube or fuses) in your home you u owe it to yourself and your family to contact Sylvia Electrical Contracting for a free estimate to upgrade your electrical service.

Here are a few of the warning signs that your electrical panel needs to be updated:

One of the most important warning signs of an unsafe electrical panel is overheating. This usually occurs at the electrical panel,
breaker, switch or outlet. If you open the door to your electrical panel and feel heat, there is a problem. The same applies for switches and outlets.
  •  If you have breakers that seem to trip off more that occasionally or if there are burn marks you should call Sylvia Electrical as soon as possible. This could mean there is too much power being used on that circuit. This also applies to a GFCI in an outlet keeps tripping.
  • Damage caused by rodents. Rodents have been known to chew through wire insulation in electrical panels (and other areas), creating an unsafe condition. Rodents have been electrocuted this way, leaving an unsightly mess inside the panel.
  • Evidence of water inside the electrical panel. Moisture can corrode circuit breakers so that they won't trip, make connections less reliable, and make the equipment unsafe to touch. 
So if you own a home between 25 and 60 years old go and check your electrical panel.  A Federal Pacific panel generally has its name or logo on the front cover. If you look inside you will find the name Stab-Lok printed near the center or side of the panel. The intact breakers will have the signature red strip that runs across the front.  If you find you do have a Federal Pacific panel or Stab-Lok breakers, Zinsco Panel, a fuse box or knob & tube wiring, call Sylvia Electrical Contracting a 978-535-6661.

Be safe, call today.

Here are some pictures of the panels to look for:

 Federal Pacific
 Fuse Box
knob & tube wiring

Thursday, August 1, 2013

Top 5 Home Repairs You Should Never Do Yourself

This is a great article by Emilie Sennebogen 

Start the Countdown
Hidden Home Dangers Image Gallery
Vincent Ricardel/Photodisc/­Getty Images
­"How hard can it be?" is the first question a daring do-it-yourselfer may ask when approaching a perceivable easy home repair. And many have found out the answer to this question the hard way. The DIY craze has been in full swing in the United States for a while now. With the Internet as our guide, it seems as though no job is too large for our capable hands. Virtually every kind of repair or renovation is explained in full online, many times with step-by-step video to go along with it. And in a time when every penny counts, paying a professional could mean dipping into your staycation fund.

There are many home repairs and renovation jobs that someone with modest experience can try to tackle. So how do you know when you're being penny-wise versus pound foolish?

­Ask any DIY enthusiast about the fun of a self-styled home renovation, and you'll likely be peppered with horror stories of cracked walls and wobbling flo­orboards. But walls that aren't plumb and floors that aren't level are far different than leaking ceilings or sparking outlets. Attempting certain repairs can be dangerous to your house and harmful to yourself.

We'll walk you through five jobs that you'd be better off to leave to a professional.


One thing can be said about water -- if there's a way out, water will find it. The very smallest leak can lead to thousands of dollars worth of damage if it's not caught in time. If you're a capable do-it-yourselfer and there's existing plumbing in place, you can probably manage some minor repairs like changing a shower head or replacing a faucet. Even installing a new toilet is within the realm of a capable DIY-er (just make sure you have a tight seal). Where you can get into trouble is if you try to modify your plumbing system -- extending hot water lines or re-routing your sewer pipes. Working with hot water means copper pipes, and that requires a blow torch. Unless you have some serious welding experience, it's best to leave the torch jobs to the professionals. While this isn't as dangerous as electric work, plumbing problems can get out of hand fast and lead to an expensive and wet future.

Manchan/Digital Vision/­Getty Images

­Wires can be incredibly dangerous if you don't know what you're doing.Any projects involving electricity should be approached with extreme caution. Like plumbing, you may be able to pull off minor repairs like changing a light switch or installing a ceiling fan -- as long as you make sure that your power is turned off before you start. You can test the switch against the breaker so you're positive that there isn't a current, or you can just turn off your master switch to be super sure. You should also invest in a decent volt meter so you can test wires for power. But if the repair goes beyond a simple fixture, it's best to call a professional electrician. In some instances, you have to have a permit to get the work done, and a professional will be your only option. Extending or replacing circuits is dangerous business if you don't know what you're doing. One wrong move could burn your house down, and a shock could result in injury or death. There are also building codes that are mandated for safety purposes; not being up to code may not affect you now, but it will if you ever try to sell your home.


Asbestos is a naturally occurring mineral and has been used for years in older homes and businesses for its insulating properties. It's resistant to heat and electricity and is a good acoustic barrier as well. Unfortunately, asbestos was found to be toxic, and most of its uses were banned in the United States in 1989 by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). The ban was overturned in 1991, allowing trace amounts of asbestos in certain products, but the days of using it in large amounts as an insulator were over. While this stopped the mass use of asbestos, there were no provisions for the homes and businesses that already contained it.

Asbestos abatement teams are typically hired to rid commercial properties of the toxic insulation. While it's possible to perform a DIY asbestos removal, it's not recommended. Aside from the inherent dangers of toxicity, there are many laws that govern the removal of asbestos because it can pose a danger to those in close proximity -- like your neighbors. So what's a homeowner to do? Hire a professional.


John Foxx/Stockbyte/­Getty Images

It would be incredibly easy to fall off a roof this steep.R­epairing a roof isn't recommended for a do-it-yourselfer for one reason -- it's easy to fall off of. Repairing a roof shingle or two isn't the toughest job in the world, but it's getting up and down and carrying your tools with you that pose the risk of injury or death. It's also very tiring work, and when you're tired, you're more prone to make a mistake. Just a quick slip is all it takes to send you over the edge of a second-story roof.

If you live in a one-story ranch and your slope is less than 20 degrees, you can probably get away with gutter work and minor shingle repair. Your roof may even be low enough to do it from the ladder. But these minor fixes still can be dangerous, and you should never attempt any of them when you're home alone. At the very least, you should have a spotter in place to hold the ladder and be there in case of an accident. Aside from the danger involved, roofing work also requires experience to get it right. If you bite off more than you can chew, you may end up with a leaky roof and expensive water damage.


A typical home may have several different appliances that run on gas. Your clothes dryer, oven and hot water heater are a few. It isn't always a repair that leads people down the path of danger when dealing with gas. Sometimes, it may just be necessary to move the stove because of a floor tiling project or to move a dryer away from a wall that needs painting. Some homeowners feel like a hot water heater replacement is within the realm of their capabilities, and this is when accidents happen.

Like water, gas will always find a leak. So while you may have done a good job in cutting off the gas supply line and moving the stove, you may not have been as careful when hooking it back up. The end result of what you thought was a simple fix could lead to accidental carbon monoxide poisoning -- something that kills more than 400 people per year in the United States alone [source:].
("Top 5 Home Repairs You Should Never Do Yourself"  30 March 2009.


The dog days of summer are upon us and it's not too late to finish those summer projects.  We are experts on pool installations, landscape lighting, ceiling fan installations, and back up generator installations.  We will expertly mount that large screen TV you may have recently purchased. 

An electrical project isn't something you want to leave to amateurs.  After all, the safety of your family, business and home may be at risk.  Improper wiring can be very dangerous and can lead to fires, putting everyone at risk.  The professional electricians at Sylvia Electrical will see to it that your electrical job is done properly, on time and up-to-code

An electrician is someone who specializes in the wiring and repair of electrical mechanisms. When you need an electrician be sure to choose the right one. Licensed electricians are needed to re-wire or repair existing systems. They are also needed for
construction, including additions and new remodels, to place the electrical outlets, electric panels, and accent lighting.

An electrical contractor company designs, installs, maintains and repairs residential, commercial and industrial electrical systems and electrical projects.  This covers upgrading and doing electric repairs on electrical panels, control panels, electrical boxes and electric motors;  servicing of street lights, parking lot lighting, landscaping lighting, commercial lights and security lighting and the provision of all the required electrical parts and supplies for such projects.

A licensed electrician or electrical contractor can manage all electrical work indoors and outdoors within the property boundary lines of their industrial, commercial or residential customer.  This includes
troubleshooting electric meters, circuit breakers, junction boxes, fuse boxes and fuses, switches, electric wires,  recessed lighting, hot tubs and spashome theater and water heaters. If your house was built before 1950 chances are you have knob and tube in your home.  Having this type of wiring is not safe or insurable.

Sylvia Electrical Contracting can also handle low-voltage power installations and work on solar energy, wind energy, power monitoring, emergency electrical and lighting systems for auxiliary
power generators; climate control systems which include fire alarms, smoke detectors, carbon monoxide detectors and exhaust fans, telecommunications systems including closed circuit television, fiber optics, wireless networks and security systems.

Call Sylvia Electrical today for a free estimate.  Our electricians are licensed and insured.  Call us today at 877-535-6661

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Spring Safety Tips


The most recent data from the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission shows that on average, there are over 400 electrocutions in the United States each year. Of these, ladders contacting power lines caused nine percent of electrocutions; in another five percent of  deaths, victims contacted high voltage power lines.

Don’t become a statistic--use these safety tips when working with or around electricity outdoors.  And be sure to call the new national call-before-you-dig number - 811 - before you plant or install outdoor equipment.

Warmer weather brings an increase in outdoor work in many
parts of the country, both on the job and at home.

Increasing electrical safety awareness can help ensure those
activities do not result in injuries and deaths, according to the
Electrical Safety Foundation International (ESFI). ESFI notes
that following safety rules can reduce electrical deaths and

  • Ladders—even those made of wood—that contact a power line can prove fatal.

  • Unplug outdoor tools and appliances when not in use.

  • Inspect power tools and appliances for frayed cords, broken plugs and cracked or broken housing and repair or replace damaged items.

  • Water does not mix with electricity. Avoid damp conditions — including wet grass — when using electricity.

  • Wherever possible, use a portable ground fault circuit interrupter (GFCI) or purchase tools with built-in GFCI technology. 


The Electrical Safety Foundation International (ESFI) reminds
consumers that taking steps to eliminate the top electrical
safety threats around the home and workplace can prevent
thousands of injuries and hundreds of deaths that needlessly
occur each year.

According to data, top electrical safety hazards include:

·       Electrical fires caused by aging wiring;
·       Misuse of surge suppressors and extension cords; and
Electrocutions from power lines, wiring systems and large appliances.
U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC ) research indicates that each year we can expect more than 140,000 electrical fires, which result in hundreds of injuries and deaths. Electrocutions associated with wiring and consumer products cost hundreds of lives annually. In the workplace, over 300 workplace fatalities and approximately 4,000 injuries occur each year due to electrical hazards, according to a study published by the National Safety Council. ESFI has issued electrical safety tips to help avoid tragic and costly injuries:

  • Replace damaged electrical equipment or have it repaired at an authorized repair center.

  • Use appliances and equipment according to the manufacturer's instructions .

  • Make sure power strips, cords and surge suppressors are designed to handle the loads for their intended use. Avoid overloading circuits by plugging too many items into the same outlet.

  • Use ground fault circuit interrupter (GFCI) protection when working where water is near electricity to protect against electric shock.

  • Make certain that all products and equipment are approved by an independent testing laboratory, such as Underwriters Laboratories (UL), Canadian Standards Association (CSA), or ETL-SEMKO (ETL).

  • Add protection by installing a new electrical safety device—an arc fault circuit interrupter (AFCI)—to detect and stop electrical arcs that can cause fires. Arcs are not detected by most breakers and fuses.

Installing a Ground Fault Circuit Interrupter (GFCI) in every
home and workplace could prevent nearly 70 percent of the
approximately 400 electrocutions that occur each year. GFCIs
are especially useful for cord-connected appliances and
equipment used outdoors or near water.

·       GFCIs are electrical safety devices that trip electrical circuits when they detect ground faults or leakage currents. A GFCI can be an electrical receptacle, circuit breaker, or portable device. A person who becomes part of a path for leakage current will be severely shocked or electrocuted.

·       An Electrical Safety Foundation International (ESFI) survey found that nearly one-half of U.S. families never test the GFCIs in their homes. More that 25 percent do not know that GFCIs can help prevent electrocution. Even among those who routinely tested their GFCIs, none said that they tested their units as recommended — at least once a month and after storms. 

  • GFCIs are subject to wear and possible damage from power surges during an electrical storm. Industry studies suggest that as many as 10 percent of GFCIs in use may be damaged. ESFI   recommends performing a simple monthly test to determine if GFCIs are functioning properly.

  • Among the estimated millions of GFCIs installed nationwide, many are the standard wall or receptacle-type GFCIs. To test your GFCIs, follow this simple procedure:

  •  Push the "Reset" button of the GFCI receptacle to prepare the unit for testing.
  • Plug a light into the GFCI and turn it on. The light should now be ON.

  • Push the "Test" button of the GFCI. The light should go OFF.

  • Push the "Reset" button again. The light should again turn ON.

  • The light should go out when the test button is pushed. If the light does not go out, then the GFCI is not working or has been installed incorrectly. 
  • If the "Reset" button pops out during the test but the light does not go out, the GFCI may have been improperly wired. In this case, the GFCI may have been damaged and does not offer shock protection. Contact Sylvia Electrical Contracting to check the GFCI and correct the problem.

CALL 811
is the new national number you should
call before you begin any digging project.
For more information, go to

Article from: