DIY Home Improvement Projects to Improve Electrical Safety and Efficiency This Summer

DIY Home Improvement Projects to Improve Electrical Safety and Efficiency This Summer

The combination of warm weather and extended daylight often inspires a very ambitious list of summer home improvement projects. While the completion rate for these projects will depend on the amount of summer rain, spontaneous shore excursions, unexpected work pressures, and the variance in motivation from list writing to list doing, we applaud every successful home project effort.

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This summer, we’d like to suggest some slightly more subtle DIY projects for your home that may not make a huge impact on curb appeal, but will certainly improve safety, efficiency, and your peace of mind.

Are Your GFCI Outlets Operating Correctly? The Answer May Shock You!

Have you ever wondered why the outlets near your kitchen and bathroom sinks have little buttons in the middle of the plate?

These receptacles are known as ground fault current interrupting outlets, or GFCI outlets.

We all know that water and electricity can make for some pretty dangerous situations. Water is an electricity conductor, which makes the act of running anything electric near water seem pretty risky. Thank goodness for the brilliant electrical engineer, Charles Dalziel, who invented a sensing circuit to interrupt the current if too much electricity passes from an appliance to the ground. Today, GFCI outlets are required near any source of water in a household, preventing countless electric shock incidents.

Don’t allow the mere existence of a GFCI outlet to lull you into a false sense of security. The sensors in these receptacles can wear out, so it’s important to test them periodically. There are two easy ways to check your GFCI outlets:

  • Press the “Test” button and listen for a click. Plug in a lamp or small appliance and turn it on to verify that there is no power. Unplug the item, press the “Reset” button, plug in the item, and verify that there is power.
  • Purchase an outlet tester from your local hardware store and follow the packaging instructions to test each outlet.

If these tests show that the GFCI outlet is not working properly, then the outlet should be replaced. While this is a DIY electrical project, it can be a bit tricky and you may want to contact us to have one of our technicians replace these outlets quickly and safely.

Replace Batteries and Filters on a Schedule

Just like you set aside time to swap warm and cold weather clothes, change passwords, and replace toothbrushes, the batteries and filters need to be checked throughout your home and appliances on a regular basis.

Setting some of these tasks to notable calendar dates may help you remember to do them every year. Some folks change their smoke detector batteries with Daylight Savings, but you could just as easily plan to change them on the first day of summer and the first day of winter.

HVAC filters and attic exhaust fans are often forgotten sources of energy waste, which can lead to a higher electrical bill. For better efficiency of air flow throughout your home, and cleaner air in general, check these filters the first day of each season to make sure they are clean and functional.

A few other small but energy-saving projects for the summer checklist are:

  • Swap incandescent lights for more efficient LED lightbulbs, especially outdoor lights that may have been put off during colder weather.
  • Check outlets around the house to make sure they aren’t overloaded. Also, consider switching to smart outlets for better energy control.
  • Make a commitment to outdoor grilling or no-cook dinners at least twice a week to prevent the oven or stove from competing with air conditioning units.
  • Replace old blinds with shades that offer better light and temperature control.

Can We Do Pool Maintenance During Pool Season?

Of course, it’s best to have your pool worked on during the off season. It’s very disappointing to lose precious pool time if a problem is discovered that makes it unusable for several days or weeks.

If life got in the way during the offseason, and you just never got around to making sure your pool is operating optimally, it’s best to do it as soon as you remember.

Check the pool’s electrical system for corrosion, rust, disintegrating wire coverings, and any signs of serious damage. If you see anything that looks unsafe or like it may be on its last leg, reach out to a professional electrician to help resolve the issue.

Remember to Relax and Enjoy Your Home!

We’ve been through a most bizarre and stressful spring. While having a list of DIY home improvement projects may keep you distracted and fill you with a sense of purpose, remember to get plenty of rest this summer.

By making time for small projects that reduce electric bills and improve safety, you’ll feel a sense of accomplishment without all the energy and cost of major projects.

Remember, if you run into any hiccups that look like serious electrical issues, get an experienced electrician to take a look at it for you.

Kevin Hawke

Kevin Hawke has been a licensed, master electrician serving the Philadelphia suburbs for 25 years. He specializes in home electrical installations & repairs and generator installation. He owns and operates Hawke Electrical, and works with a fleet of talented electricians serving the greater Philadelphia area.