Electrician,J.M. Mullen Electric
Written by John Mullen

Let’s Talk Energy Efficiency

Energy efficiency means to reduce the amount of energy provided for products and services. Another explanation of energy efficiency is the reduction of energy consumption by using less energy to attain the same level of useful output. One simple example is the installation of insulation to keep more heat in the home during the winter and the heat outside in the summer. This will lead to running your heating and air conditioning systems less frequently which will reduce your energy bill.

Americans have been at the forefront of finding ways to be energy efficient for two reasons. First, the price of energy continues to rise and the use of many forms of energy have caused problems in the environment. So, people are jumping on the ‘green energy’ bandwagon with increasing regularity and enthusiasm.

You can see this trend everywhere today. New appliances are being produced that are more energy efficient. Many are being labeled as ‘Energy Star’ appliances; not only are they more energy efficient but frequently have other technologies that make them appealing to consumers such as ‘noise dampening’ so the product operates more quietly. They may also use less water to complete a cycle or may have shorter cycles that took longer in previous models. These types of new technological advances have led to labeling the newer appliances as ‘smart’. Perhaps what they should be saying is that Americans are ‘smart’ for insisting that companies address energy efficiency!

Prospective homeowners are also joining the move for greater energy efficiency in their homes. Many now ask for energy ratings when they are house hunting. And, nationally indications are that energy consumption in the average household is falling and continues to do so despite the fact that we have more electric appliances in our homes.

Finally, homes are responsible for a little over 20% of all energy used in the country – a figure that also reflects the amount of emissions, too. The Department of Energy figures that each household could reduce their energy consumption by up to 30% if they install energy efficient appliances and use other energy saving measures.

If you would like to learn more about energy efficiency or electric related information, contact the experts at J. M. Mullen Electrical Services. We are the energy efficiency experts!

LightingJ.M. Mullen Electric
Written by John Mullen

Light Up Your Kitchen

Every room of the house has different electrical and lighting needs to perform its functions. The kitchen provides so many different services to a home – from food storage to food preparation, while also acting as a family gathering place – it might be helpful to focus on one room at a time when considering electrical needs. We could even narrow the focus even more and attend to the singular subject of lighting in the kitchen.

There are several types of lighting in the kitchen – under-the-cabinet lighting, ambient lighting and whole-room lighting. If you are remodeling or building a home the time to decide what type of lighting you want should begin at the planning phase. Start by taking a hard look at all the areas of your kitchen and determine what types of activities will occur where.

For example, if you will be doing food preparation largely by the stove or refrigerator, you may want stronger lighting to better see what you are doing. Ambient light does not lend itself well to cutting and chopping. Nor is it the best light in which to read a recipe. So strong under-the-counter lighting is recommended for this particular area.

However, walking into the kitchen for an evening snack or relaxing at the island with a morning cup of coffee while contemplating life does not call for bright lights. In these instances, the lighting over areas where the family gathers to snack and dine is better suited to a hanging light such as a chandelier with multiple settings.

Too, recessed lights all around the ceiling or placed in strategic areas can provide another level of light and enhance whatever mood you are trying to create. When planning your final lighting design, you should also take into account the amount of natural light the room receives and at what times of the day this occurs.

There are also multiple control options for your lights as well. For example, you can design your lighting so that they include dimmer switches in addition to the on/off switch. You might also look into putting a smart light system into your kitchen that will allow you to identify and create lighting set-ups that can be controlled by your computer or tablet.

Kitchen lighting is an important part of the house. Don’t leave it to chance. Call the electric professionals at J.M. Mullen Electric Services. We can help create the perfect environment!

Electrical Repair,J. M. Mullen Electrical Services
Written by John Mullen

Landlord’s Electrical Obligations

While there are many positives to being a landlord – the first of which is the pride of being a multi-property owner that can provide housing for others while enhancing your own financial net worth – there are obligations that must be met. In this blog we will consider some of the electrical requirements of being a landlord.

• Landlords are legally obligated to ensure the electrical installations on the property are safe prior to renting out the space. It is also their duty to maintain the integrity of all electrical systems throughout the duration of the rental contract. In other words, landlords are obligated to keep in good working order all installations and equipment that supply electricity. This is especially true of the wiring in an apartment or other rented space.
• While the landlord may not be obligated to have annual electrical inspections of a property, it is recommended as a proactive measure and to better guarantee that your property insurance does not get pulled or questioned in the event of an unfortunate accident such as an electrical fire. Too, after a tenant moves out, an electrical inspection ensures that any wiring damage made by the tenant can be identified prior to new tenants moving in.
• Houses in multiple occupation (HMO’s) are usually required to have electrical installations inspected and tested an average of every five years. To be sure you are meeting the expectations of your local authorities, check with your city and state officials. Landlords should know that there are regulations allowing for inspections by a number of local and state authorities to ensure the integrity of your electrical systems on rental properties. If an electrical hazard is identified, the property owner will be served with a notice to attend to this situation.
• A specific landlord-tenant circumstance that can be problematic is the college student rental agreement. There are many properties in which multiple tenants occupy a single dwelling in a college setting. Landlords should collaborate with city officials to ensure they meet all the requirements regarding electrical installations and have the expectations for the use of electricity spelled out clearly in the lease.

If you are a landlord in need of electrical expertise, contact the professionals at J. M. Mullen Electrical Services. Electricity is our business.

electricity,J.M. Mullen Electric
Written by John Mullen

Electricity in the House

If you are a homeowner, then you may get the occasional itch to take on a sophisticated do-it-yourself project or two. While there are some projects that lend themselves to hands-on efforts by the property owner, anything having to do with the electrical wiring in the house is probably best left to the expert – a professional, licensed contractor.

However, that does not mean you shouldn’t understand how the wiring is set up in your house or other aspects of electricity in the home. In this blog we will briefly review electrical wiring and what you must know before beginning any home electrical project.

To begin with, the average home in the United States has two hot wires, a neutral wire, and a ground wire coming into the house. The stated voltage they bring is 120/240 volts, but often it lingers around 115/230 volts. Called ‘single phase’ or ‘alternating current’ – this is the most common type of wiring found in residences. The most valuable thing about AC is that it can be transported over long distances.

The first AC power plant opened in 1894! The voltage of 120/240 accommodates most appliances and needs of a home. For example, lights and most small electrical devices use about 115 volts and larger items such as a stove or air conditioning require 240 volts.

Because electricity is so dangerous, we will again caution you – do NOT attempt to repair the electrical wiring in your home by yourself. This is the time to call in a contractor. Most people don’t realize there are a variety of local, county and state codes that must be met when working with electricity – this is also a job for the professional.

If you want to troubleshoot problems, there are some safety procedures you should follow.

Always be sure the power is off before proceeding.

Don protective gear. This could include safety goggles and a face shield, hard hat and safety shoes, insulating rubber gloves that have leather protectors and insulating sleeves, and, finally, flame-resistant clothes.

Find the circuit breakers in your home and identify what each circuit controls. There are usually a number of them, even in studio apartments. It is valuable to know in advance what circuit breakers go to what outlets / items in the event the power goes out and things need to be restarted.

If you have questions about electricity in your home, contact the professionals at J. M. Mullen Electrical Services.

Electrican,J.M. Mullen Electric
Written by John Mullen

Electrical Q and A’s

As a certified and experienced electrical contractor, I find people coming to me for advice on any number of related subjects. As a result, this blog will be devoted to providing answers to some of the most common queries I receive.

Q. Could our home be in danger of storm surge?

A. Storm surge is an abnormal rise in water due to a storm that can cause flooding. There are certain locations in the country that are more prone to storm surges than others. If you live near water there is the possibility that a strong rainstorm could cause water banks to overflow and result in flooding to your home. Even in the driest states in the country, there have been occasional instances of flooding. You should speak to your insurer to find out more.

Q. I keep having outages in the same location and it is becoming more common. Then this morning I had the same thing happen but when I turned on the stove everything started to work again! What should I do?

A This continued occurrence is not a good sign as you now have evidence that there is trouble with the wiring in your house. The causes could be many; start with determining when your house was built and what were the electrical requirements at the time. For example, what type of wiring was used? It’s a good idea to contact a contractor and have a professional examination of your electrical system.

Q. I get shocked by static electricity often in my home. Do you have any suggestions on how to avoid this?

A. Static shocks are no fun and can be painful. One of the most common ways that static builds up is when you are walking around on carpet. After a while this redistribution of electrical charges ends in a release that hurts! One way to avoid static shock is to wear rubber-soled shoes as rubber is an excellent insulator. Also, the type of clothes you wear can make you more prone to electric shocks. Don’t wear synthetic fabrics, like rayon, nylon, and polyester, as they conduct electricity well. In addition, layering your clothes increases the likelihood of getting shocked. Finally, keep a humidifier going as this will also lessen the chance of static buildup.

Have an electrical question? Contact J. M. Mullen Electrical Services – we have your answer!

electrican,J.M. Mullen Electric
Written by John Mullen

Home Security Cameras

Home security systems are becoming very commonplace because of their wide availability and affordability. They are also becoming easier to install. Many are also becoming wireless although that does not negate the use of more traditional home security systems as good choices as well.

Today’s wireless security cameras and systems try to present themselves as a do-it-yourself job. For some this may be true. But, since you may be talking about interfering with the current wiring and electrical system in your home it is probably a good idea to call on your neighborhood professional electrical contractor to provide the appropriate support. After all, even if the security camera claims all you need to do is ‘plug it in’, there are plenty of opportunities for mistakes to be made during the installation process. Here are a few suggestions to make the job go easier.

• Start by making a diagram of what you believe are your surveillance needs. It is not necessary to monitor the entire surface area of your home and yard. Identify those areas you want to monitor and then do a physical check to be sure there are no obstructions prior to installing the camera. Some of the most recommended areas for cameras are windows, doors, driveways and porches. But you may also want to have monitors on your home’s valuables and the indoor / outdoor areas where your children play.
• Research the various security camera options then consider their pros and cons before purchasing. Weigh the advantages of a wireless system versus a wired system.
• If you are going to install a security camera system it is a good idea to see the breadth of coverage it offers before it is put in. Often, homeowners believe that one camera will give them complete coverage of their property and this is usually not true. Today’s security cameras do provide multiple perspectives by panning, tilting and zooming but even this does not guarantee a 360-degree view of your home.
• Finally, test out the equipment before you install it. Then once it is installed, be sure to work with it until you are comfortable with how to operate all its components.

Better yet, if you are in the market to install security camera equipment in your home, contact the commercial electrical experts at J.M. Mullen Electrical.

home electrical,J.M. Mullen Electric
Written by John Mullen

A Primer on Home Electricity

Most people turn switches off and on and expect the miracle of electricity to happen without giving it much thought. But there is a sophisticated system behind the process of bringing electricity into your home and that is what we will discuss in this blog.

The system of home electrical service begins with the lines either strung from power poles or buried underground and the accompanying equipment that is placed strategically outside your home. Where the power enters your home is called the ‘service entrance’.

Power comes through an electric meter. This is how the electric company keeps track of how much you use each month and from which your bill is calculated. Generally speaking, you have three wires that provide your service. Two are cables that carry 120 volts apiece. The third cable is a ‘ground wire’.

The electric meter is usually located on an exterior wall of the home but may also be found within the breaker box itself. It measures the electricity that is used by the homeowners. Electric usage is measured in terms of kilowatt hours (kWh). An easy way to understand this is that a 100-watt light bulb burning for ten hours uses 1 kWh of electricity. While meters have been analog for the most part, more of them are being replaced by digital meters which provide a more accurate usage reading.

Of course, once the electricity enters the home it does not stay in one place! It has to be distributed through circuits across the entire area (indoors and out). To prevent an electric overload, each circuit comes with a breaker that can shut down the power. You are able to shut off the electricity that leaves the breaker to the various household circuits but not the electricity coming into the home itself.

Electric boxes in the home may be plastic or metal. It is from here that the wires and other devices, such as switches, outlets and more will be connected. All metal electrical boxes must be grounded while plastic boxes are non-conductive and do not need grounding.

It is important to know the components of your electric system. If you are in need of an expert, contact J.M. Mullen Electrical Services. We’ll help you keep the power on!

Electric, J.M Mullen Electric
Written by John Mullen

The Different Types of Commercial, Residential & Industrial Electric Services

The availability of electricity is so widespread and ubiquitous that people usually don’t give it a second thought. No matter if you’re in a high rise in the middle of a densely populated urban area or at a remote cabin in the mountains, people expect to walk in, flip a switch and find they are fully hooked up to electricity. But what does this involve? In this blog we will provide a brief overview of the different types of electric services that combine to keep the lights on (TVs playing, air conditioning running, etc.) across the country.

• Different types of properties have varying types of electrical needs. Usually residential structures may need circuit panel updates, upgrades or repairs. On the other hand, commercial and industrial locations can be subject to regular additions to their electrical systems as well as upgrades and changes to the control systems.
• Commercial sites are always in the process of being changed. For example, parking garages may be enhanced, store fronts and their insides may be changed as new owners and goods are switched. As a result, you will see construction projects constantly in process. This will likely require electrical services such as refurbishing and refitting or retrofitting the electrical systems. One of the most important services provided by electrical installation companies is attendance to the health and safety laws. Often, regular inspections of commercial electric systems must be conducted to ensure the ongoing safety of employees and the public.
• Industrial sites are those that include factories (large and small) and designated industrial parks where multiple types of industries have been zoned to operate. Just what types of electrical services are required in these areas? Plenty – and they are often highly sophisticated. For example, the design and installation of high-voltage boards and the accompanying machinery is a challenging task that is not prepared and completed overnight. These same locations will also need control system installations as well and then there is the issue of regular maintenance and repair required by such notable government overseers as OSHA. Again, this is for the safety and benefit of all.

If you are in need of commercial, industrial or residential electrical services, contact the experts at J.M. Mullen Electrical Services. We have been providing quality electrical support to companies and homeowners for the past 25 years…and our reputation is unmatched.

electrican,J.M. Mullen Electrical
Written by John Mullen

It is Always ‘Hire a Professional Electrician’ Day!

It seems that every day of every month is an observance of one kind or another. There are literally dozens of proclaimed holidays in the month of February to honor everything from reading in the tub to good old-fashioned love. But try as we might, we have combed the calendar and no mention is made of ‘Hire a Professional Electrician Day’!

But in our estimation, there should be. While there are few modern conveniences to rival the delivery of electricity to the home, it is also true there are few utilities that should be treated with greater respect. You call a doctor for an illness, right? Well, when you are experiencing electrical problems we suggest you call a professional electrician. Here are just a few of the reasons why:
• Addressing your home’s electrical problems is not the time to become a do-it-yourselfer! Everyone should have a healthy respect for the dangers of electricity. If you are having any electrical issues in your home, contact a professional electrician. They are trained to approach each project with the proper amount of caution and expertise.
• The use of a professional electrician should ensure that there are no reoccurring problems as they will be addressed by an individual who has knowledge and expertise in the field.
• An experienced and trained electrician understands home electrical systems from a comprehensive perspective. This allows them to come into your home and troubleshoot or identify potential weaknesses and problems that you as a layman cannot possibly identify.
• You will save money in the end. There is plenty of evidence that homeowners can get in over-their-heads pretty quickly when trying to identify and/or repair what appears to be a minor electrical issue that quickly turns into a costly and complicated project. If your plan is to save a few dollars by tackling an electrical issue around the house by yourself, be advised that usually the most cost-efficient route is to bring in a professional electrician from the beginning.

If you are having a problem with your home’s electrical system, contact the experts and professionals at J.M. Mullen Electrical Services. We have a quarter-century’s worth of experience to tackle your electrical problems.

Electrical, J.M. Mullen Electric
Written by John Mullen

Frequently Asked Electrical Questions

As a homeowner you may run into minor electrical issues that keep you awake at nights. In this blog we will answer some of the more common questions about electrical issues around the house.

  • Why do lights flicker? The most common reason for this to happen is a poor connection between the bulbs and the electric source. The first thing you should do is be sure that your bulb is screwed in correctly and tightly!
  • Should I upgrade my home’s electrical system? If your house is fifty years or older, it is probably a good idea to bring in an experienced electric professional to assess the current ability to meet all of the home’s electric needs (dishwasher, refrigerator, washer / dryer, technology equipment, etc.). The expert will be able to advise you on what route to take to keep your home safe and up-to-date. All too often older homes are not equipped to handle the modern electric needs of today’s busy families. Overloading current electric capabilities can put your home and family in danger. Better to be safe than sorry!
  • My breakers trip frequently – why is that? You probably have too many electrical devices on a single circuit. When everything is in use, it automatically trips the breaker to prevent further issues. The best advice is to divide your electric needs across multiple circuits within the home and don’t overload one area.
  • My doorbell has stopped ringing – what is the reason? The first thing to do is use a circuit tester to ensure the transformer is in good working condition. It is recommended you bring in a professional electrician for this. If there are no problems in this area, the doorbell has probably aged out-of-service and needs to be replaced.
  • What are CFLs? CFL is the acronym for compact fluorescent lights. These are the modern replacements for older bulbs that are more costly, wear out quickly and negatively impact the environment. Modern technology has created bulbs that last for months or years that rarely need replacement. As a result, they do not have the far-reaching ecological effects of previous generations of bulbs.

Have any more questions about electricity? The professionals at J.M. Mullen Electrical Services have the answer. We have been serving the greater Baltimore / Washington area for over a quarter of a century and intend to be here for years to come. We look forward to hearing from you!

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