Many of us had landscape lights installed outside our home years ago. Over those years, our landscapers have brought in fresh mulch, year after year. It is important to let them know those junction boxes in between the lights need to remain accessible; they should not cover them. Because most lights today are low voltage, underground circuit tracers have a harder time locating those buried boxes. So, when the lights stop working, if those boxes are buried beneath the mulch, it makes the repairs that much harder.
Many times, those boxes are in the ground and fill up with water. After you have turned off the power, check the connections in the box for short circuits where the moisture has caused the problem. If you need assistance, feel free to call us or contact us through the website. Click here for $25 off an electrical repair.
Smoke detectors will sometimes let us know when their battery is running low by beeping randomly. Many homes have 120 volt smoke detectors with a battery backup in case the power goes out and those units will beep as well. 120V devices are interconnected so if you have more than one in your home, when one goes, off, they all go off. This is a safety issue to let you know there is smoke somewhere in your home regardless of where you are.
Both smoke and carbon monoxide detectors do need to be replaced. Underwriter Laboratories [UL] who approve the various detectors give them on average, a 10 year approval duration. That duration is based on the devices’ inside components that detect either smoke or carbon monoxide. They are manufactured to not go off when minute traces of smoke or CO2 are in the air but with years of exposure to dust build up, replacement is necessary to properly protect you and your family.
If your home is older than 10 years old and you haven’t replaced your devices, turn off the power to them and put in new ones so you can rest assured they will work when needed. If you’d prefer to have a certified electrician handle it for you, please give us a call!
Are your lights flickering in a room when you adjust the dimmer? Did changing the bulbs not solve the problem? The issue is probably an outdated dimmer. Many of the dimmers in homes were manufactured before LED bulbs were the mainstream. Older versions of dimmers will cause LED bulbs to blink or flicker leaving frustrated homeowners unaware of the cause. If you have this problem, pick yourself up a new dimmer.
Option 1: DIY
There are a couple of things to check before you take on this project though. First, make sure that before you walk to the register you have checked the new dimmer packaging. It should say that it can be used with LED bulbs. Second, you always need to make sure you turn off the circuit breaker before you start any electrical project.
Option 2: Leave it to the pros
If DIY electrical projects aren’t your thing, then call a certified electrician. Brilliant Home Services can have your dimmer replaced by a certified electrician quickly and safely. Give us a call and we will take the headaches out for you!
It’s spring once again here in Chicago… although that doesn’t mean we start to enjoy warm weather immediately. Warmer weather maybe, but right now isn’t a time when you’ll need to rev up your air conditioner to keep your home cooled down. That will probably start in May.
But wait a minute… May isn’t that far off! Less than a month away. And those warmer temperatures might arrive at the end of April with little warning. Your air conditioning system will start it’s job soon enough, so you can’t afford to let it go without special attention from HVAC professional. And that means it’s time for your AC’s regular spring maintenance inspection and tune-up.
Although Chicago had a far better week of later winter weather than the Northeast, which suffered under the chill and snowfall of Winter Storm Stella, we’re still experiencing temperatures that can dip down into the 20s during the nights and struggle to make it out of the 40s during the day. This isn’t a surprise for March: even though spring starts officially this week, Chicagoland must deal with cold spells through April and sometimes into May.
No matter the weather outside, however, this is the time of the year to consider your heat pump and its annual maintenance. This is both a preparation for the coming summer season and a way to close out the winter.
The idea of a “House of the Future” capable of running itself with minimal input from the homeowner is coming closer to reality. This futuristic vision will likely never come to full realization because people do like to have some sense of control in their houses. But the advances in home automation systems are impressive and allow people today to leave many minor tasks to the system.
But is a home automation system little more than a luxury, a fun gizmo that homeowners can show to their friends when they visit? It’s a good question that arises from confusion about what a home automation system does. No home needs automation, but all homes can benefit from them, and we’re going to take a look at how exactly home automation can offer advantages to your home.
February is ending with a few warm weather surprises here in Chicagoland. Some days have even gotten up into the 60s! But we can’t let this deceive us into believing that it’s already time to shut down our furnaces for the season: March is infamous for the way it can throw harsh cold snaps at us, and even April can turn chilly. Your gas furnace isn’t done with its workload yet—and it’s more important than ever to act fast and call for furnace repairs if you should notice any furnace behavior that doesn’t look right.
And water leaking from the bottom of your furnace? Yeah, that definitely doesn’t look right!
Last week we discussed how the efficiency ratings for furnaces work. The short version: a gas furnace’s efficiency is rated as AFUE (annual fuel utilization efficiency), a percentage that tells you how much of the furnace’s natural gas fuel supply it converts into heat. The current ENERGY STAR requirement for furnaces is 90% AFUE or above.
“Okay, but what about electric furnaces?” you might ask. “How do they score on AFUE?”
It’s good question. And the answer is a deceptive one: electric furnaces have 100% AFUE.
“So I should always get an electric furnace, right? Even the highest end gas furnace doesn’t get 100% AFUE! An electric furnace has a perfect score!”
Okay… this is one of difficulties in explaining AFUE to people unfamiliar with it. AFUE doesn’t actually tell you how much you’ll pay to run your furnace. “Higher Efficiency” isn’t equal to “Lower Cost.”
Current home heating systems work better and at higher energy efficiency than ones from 20, 30, even 10 years ago. We can chalk this up to an investment in research to improve the products, as well as the nebulous idea of “progress.” But there are specifics behind why heaters waste less energy today than the models of the not-too-distant past.
For example, look at the natural gas furnace. Gas furnaces once had AFUE ratings between 56% and 70%. That means that even at the most efficient level, a furnace was converting only 70% of its natural gas into heating power and letting 30% go to waste.
Fast-forward to today. The best furnaces available for homes have AFUE ratings of 98.5%, which means only 1.5% of the natural gas goes to waste. Lower-end furnaces can have AFUE ratings between 85% and 90%. The standard for a furnace to earn the ENERGY STAR label from the Department of Energy is 90% AFUE.
So the question is: “What’s changed?” Well, quite a bit!
Nothing can be more frustrating during another icy cold Chicago winter than to have a heating system that simply isn’t delivering the level of heat that a home needs. If you have a heat pump and you’re currently running into problems with cold spots around the house and what seems like a forever wait until people feel warm, you’ll want to know what’s wrong.
Let’s take a look and find out how to get your home pleasant once again: