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.

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

Back Up Generators

A generator is a machine that converts energy into electricity. Generators are usually classified according to the source from which they draw their power. For example, a generator can be water or gas-powered.

Many homeowners agree that a generator is a ‘must-have’ in today’s world where power can be disrupted by a climactic or other event without warning. Even so, you can’t just ‘hook up’ a generator and expect it to work. You need to do some advanced planning.

  1. Contact an electrician. It is best to bring in a professional when it comes to the electrical systems in your home. The professional will ask you to determine what appliances in your home you would like to keep running ‘off-line’ in the case of an electric power loss.
  2. Take the time to figure out how much electricity your generator will provide and how much fuel will be needed to keep it running on a 24-hour basis.
  3. You should know that you cannot plug a generator directly into a wall socket. You must be disconnected from the larger power grid first. To run a generator, you must install a ‘transfer switch’. This is complicated and should be done by a professional. The transfer switch will be wired directly into your electric service then the generator will be plugged into a subpanel. When the switch is activated, it removes you from the power grid.

There are other things that must be taken into consideration. For example, there are standby generators and backup generators. A standby generator will start up immediately in the case of a power outage. This would be especially important if you are operating medical equipment in your home. On the other hand, a backup generator must be started manually.

No matter what type of generator you invest in, you should always test it a few times a year to be sure it is in good working condition and that you are comfortable in starting it up and getting it running.

Remember, generators get hot! They also emit carbon dioxide, which can be lethal, so set the generator away from the home and on a level surface with plenty of unobstructed room.

Contact J.M. Mullen Electrical Services when you need assistance installing a generator and for all your residential electric needs.

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

How Much Energy Do Video Game Systems Use?

What home with or without children does not have at least one video game system? They are usually plugged in and ready to play at a moment’s notice and remember, video games are not just for kids anymore. The games have long since graduated to have adult appeal. And for those who are really into it, the newest wrinkle to video gaming is virtual reality, which allows you to immerse yourself in the middle of the action.

But, have you ever wondered how much electricity these video game systems are using? Let’s take a closer look at the answer to this question. First, it should be noted that many game consoles have what is known as a ‘standby mode’. Standby mode lowers the amount of electricity the console is consuming when not in active use. The problem is that most game consoles are now streaming everything. They have become the entertain hubs and as a result they are using much more electricity than before.

Whenever a device is plugged in and left on, even in standby mode, it is still consuming electricity. You may have seen commercials urging consumers to unplug your phone’s power cord when you are not charging it because it wastes electricity. Well, the truth is most game consoles left in ‘standby mode’ also waste electricity. Experts suggest that the average household wastes nearly $200 dollars a year on wasted energy consumption. I am sure you could think of other ways to use that money!

Researchers have calculated the average energy use for various game consoles. They have found that the newest Xbox and PS4 consoles use 3x the amount of energy than even the generation before! The Xbox consumes an average of 72 watts an hour and the PS4 89 watts an hour. The government’s Energy Star standard is 50 watts per hour, so it is easy to see they exceed that number. Too, this does not take into account the amount of energy used when they stream live Netflix or Amazon Prime games.

Do you have questions about your appliances and the amount of energy they are using? Contact the experts at J.M. Mullen Electric Services, we’ll be glad to assist you.

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

Six Reasons to Contact an Electrical Contracting Service

In this era of DIYers many people might be inclined to try to replace a socket or figure out why a kitchen appliance keeps shorting out. While we applaud the do-it-yourself spirit on which the United States was built, there are some thing that are better left to an expert. This would include anything related to repairing and installing electrical devices. Here are a few reasons why you should hire a professional electrician to get the job done.

  1. Hire a professional electrician to be safe. Electricity is a dangerous commodity, even when you know what you’re doing. In the hands of a novice it can be deadly.
  2. Worry about tomorrow. So, maybe you have been able to handle what you think is a minor electrical job around the home. The question is have you addressed it correctly so that you are sure there won’t be problems in the future.
  3. Hiring a professional electrician is a safer choice because they have the training, education and background to ensure they are able to complete the job appropriately. You should never hire an electrician that is not licensed. There are too many things that could go wrong that could place your family in a dangerous situation.
  4. If you want to save money it is best to hire a professional electrician. They are more likely to get the job done right the first time, thereby saving you money.
  5. Get work done that is guaranteed. When you hire a professional electrician be sure to get a written guarantee for the work being done. That protects you and the worker so there is no disagreement about what is expected.
  6. Hiring a professional electrician helps to ensure that your appliances and electronic devices are protected. There is nothing more damaging than a power surge; it can destroy everything you own.

If you need more good reasons to turn to a professional electrical service company, contact the experts at J.M. Mullen Electrical Services. We have been in business for four decades and we have all the answers to your electrical needs!

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!

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

Floods and Your Home Electric System

We are quickly coming up on the wettest months of the year all along the East Coast. Winter and spring flooding are not uncommon and while it is not possible to stop Mother Nature, we can be proactive in our response. What follows are a list of measures to take before the water hits to ensure the greatest amount of safety and experience the least amount of damage.

• Make sure your gutters, downspouts and drains are clear. Keeping these areas unobstructed will allow the water to move away from the home’s structure as quickly as possible.
• Move as much of your goods and furnishings as possible from the lower floors to the upper parts of your home, such as to a second story or attic. Store materials in waterproof containers. This should include valuables, clothing, and small electronics.
• Create a record of your home goods, including the receipts and pictures of those items that may be very costly to replace. Make sure this information is tucked away in a dry, safe place and easily accessible.
• Turn off all utilities in advance of a flood. Your water, gas and electricity are all subject to creating potential hazards for homeowners and rescue personnel who may venture into the area. While it may be inconvenient to go without these utilities in the short-run, turning them off may save lives in the end. In response, be sure to have plenty of bottled water, flashlights and other non-battery-operated sources of light available. Today there are many options for staying out of the dark.
• Elevate your appliances on cement blocks to keep them off the floors. Contact your utilities expert if you need assistance. Do not unhook your appliances without the oversight of an expert. Wrap your air conditioner completely in plastic as well and be sure it is in the off position.
• Open the windows of the house on the lower levels. If there is flooding they will not be able to keep the water out and will only be subject to breaking. In this way you may not have to replace the windows after a flood event.

Again, no one is claiming a flood is on the horizon but it’s always better to be prepared. If you are looking for professional electrical support in case of a natural disaster, contact the experts at J.M. Mullen Electrical Services. It is our pleasure to serve you.

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