All posts by B. Isleib

Do I Call The Power Company Or An Electrician?

Do I call the power company or an electrician?

With any glitch in our electricity, our first response is, “What do I do”? This is usually followed by the next question, “Who do I call?” There are a few things to think about when the power to your house is compromised that may answer these questions for you.

In the case of a power outage the first thing you should ask yourself is , “what is going on that could have caused this?” Is there violent weather outside? This is usually the cause and the first thing that will be noticed during a power failure. However, it is not always that obvious. It could be a beautiful day outside, yet a dead branch on the power lines or a car accident miles down the road may affect the power at your house.

The next question you should ask yourself, “Is it just my house or are my neighbors out too?” Call your neighbors if you don’t see the obvious outside first. If it is night time and you can see the street lights or the neighbors, look out the window and see if their lights are on. In a neighborhood, with houses in line of sight, this is almost a no-brainer. When you live in a rural area with good distances between the houses, the phone call to your neighbor would be your next step.

If the answer is determined by either of these two questions, your next call should usually be to the power company. They can dispatch a crew or have an answer for you as to whether or not there is a service affecting issue at your address. If these situations are not answered quite so easily or if the answer to these is a resounding “no” then your next call is to an electrician.

The electrician in most situations will ask you a few questions so they can assess over the phone what you may or may not be looking at. They will ask the aforementioned questions and then a few more such as: “Did you check your main circuit breaker to see if it has tripped?” “Is the overhead line to your house still attached to the house?” “Is the entire house out or just a portion of it?” I mention this as more than once a client has said their entire house is down when it was just the room they are accustomed to being in all of the time.

In most cases, if you can start with the power company, the better off it is for you as there is usually no cost to you, the homeowner. Once you call an electrician, you are calling a service provider to troubleshoot and remedy a situation and that is usually at a cost to the homeowner.

Why We Recommend LED lamps

By now, most of us have heard that LED lamps are a highly efficient alternative for our homes and businesses, surpassing CFLs (Compact Fluorescent Lamps) and incandescent bulbs. But did you know that LEDs offer other great benefits?

  • Because LEDs don’t have filaments that can break from vibration, they are hardier and resist breakage.
  • Unlike fluorescent lamps, LEDs love the cold and perform well even in extremely cold temperatures.
  • LEDs are dimmable, again unlike CFLs, and many can be dimmed using standard dimmers.
  • Unlike halogen, fluorescent and incandescent light, LEDs don’t emit harmful UV rays and therefore won’t cause fading to interior furnishings and artwork.
  • LEDs are not affected by rapid switching. Have you ever heard anyone say: “Don’t flick the switch on and off; you will kill the bulb”? With LEDs, this is not an issue.
  • LEDs contain no toxic materials that require special handling and disposal care. Unlike CFLs, LEDs do not contain mercury.
  • LEDs emit low heat while delivering high efficiency lighting. When alternative bulbs get hot, the heat is wasted energy.

Why We Hate Compact Fluorescent Lamps

Aside from being a horrible form of lighting, there are many reasons we hate this particular form of light. I explain to many people when they are asking me about CFL lamps that there are certain steps one must take when throwing out a lightbulb. Inevitably, they ask, “What do you mean? It’s just a lightbulb.” My standard reply to this is ,”Oh no it’s not. It is now hazardous material and you have to dispose of it like it is just that.”

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has a page on their website on the how to of CFL disposal. I will give you the RLI version of this governmental page so you don’t have to go too far to find out what to do.

Your CFL has just fallen to the floor and shattered. A really weird looking white powder is on the ground now, so what do you do?

  1. Don’t reach for the vacuum right away. Vacuuming can spread mercury powder and mercury vapor.
  2. Remove pets and people from the room and air out the room for 5 to 10 minutes.
  3. Shut off your forced hot air system so it doesn’t spread into the ducting and make this a bigger hassle than it already is.
  4. Collect the following items: cardboard, sticky tape, damp paper towels and a glass jar that you can seal (or a sealable plastic bag)
  5. Pickup all glass and visible powder using the cardboard. Use the sticky tape to pickup the small glass fragments and then place them all in the sealable jar or bag.
  6. Place cleanup materials in a sealable bag or jar.
  7. Store all of the cleanup materials in a protected container.
  8. Check with your local area for disposal requirements. Many areas require the waste material to be recycled. If not, just throw it in your trash.
  9. Lastly, if possible, continue to air the room out and try not to turn on forced air system for several hours.

The Tiki light

One of my favorite fixtures for covering a large patio area with soft lighting is the tiki light. This particular fixture manages to do a couple of things. First and most obviously, it creates a wonderful soft and subtle light when there is not an area that we are able to downlight from. The aged brass of the fixture allows it to not only blend in with the night so as to not be distracting to the night view but allows it to blend in during the daytime. As with most landscape lighting fixtures, a proper lighting designer will look at the background view and place the fixture so it hides in with the vertical lines and organic coloring of the landscape.

The interesting part of the tiki light is the fact that it has a resevoir to hold citronella oil. This comes in very helpful on those summer evenings where you are out enjoying the night and the citronella flame helps repel the insects that love to join us in the outdoor environments. Many times we will install the tiki lighting on a dimmer so you can really take the light level down to extremely soft levels.

The ability to have subtle lighting on your patio at night is what creates the wonderful evening. The tiki light permits us to enjoy the evening without the annoying glare of the backyard spot lights that so many people are stuck having to rely on to create an evening scene.

Kitchen Undercabinet Lighting

Undercabinet lighting fixtures in kitchens provide two services for the homeowner. It provides task lighting which means for the intended use of preparing foods and it provides aesthetic lighting. The aesthetic lighting provided by the undercabinet lighting enhances countertops, decorations, food presentation and decorative backsplashes.

Ideally, the light fixture is not seen by the eye. Only the effect is evident and that is the part that is pleasing. Undercabinet lighting can be hidden by a light rail on the bottom of the cabinet which will minimize unsightly glare.  This is usually built in to the design of the upper cabinets. Proper placement and distribution of the lighting is imperative as it will evenly light the area without shadows, which can give the countertops a “spotty” look.

The task lighting portion of undercabinet lighting eliminates shadows that may be produced by overhead lighting such as recessed lights, chandeliers and pendant fixtures. By removing these shadows, one is less likely to make a mistake with a sharp kitchen utensil.

The undercabinet light can create a sense of ambiance as well. Whether the fixture is set on a lower or “warmer” setting or dimmed down, it creates a romantic setting that is enjoyable. Shining light on a granite countertop or tile backsplash allows the beauty of tile and stone to come alive without “washing” it out. Many people like to keep the undercabinet lighting on throughout the night so it provides a soft “nightlight” feel that can guide you through the kitchen for a late night snack during the dark hours. The undercabinet lights keep you from needing to turn on the overhead lights that can momentarily blind you and wake you up so you cannot easily get back to bed.

During a kitchen remodel or before construction of your kitchen, it is highly recommended to consider this wonderful fixture that meets so many of our daily needs.