Hanging a Ceiling Fan


Many years ago, I attempted to hang a ceiling fan.  I say attempted because it did not go very well and I ended up looking very foolish.

I found this beautiful ceiling fan at a rummage sale and decided it belonged in my bedroom. Letting my ambition to be handy take control, I decided to hang this fan up right away and did not want to wait until my husband back from his Navy deployment.  I figured that I could do it because my husband is an electrician and I watched him do this before many times.  It looked so easy when he did it.

So I climbed up onto a stool on my bed and unscrewed the ugly light fixture that was there.  This was rather difficult because the screws were stripped and rusted.  I managed to unscrew the fixture but it remained on the ceiling as if it was glued so I yanked it down taking a small chunk of ceiling down with it.  When it finally was unscrewed and dangling by the cords, I noticed that all the cords were white.  The cords were supposed to be different colors like on the directions in the box of my new fan.

I was totally unsure what to do at this point.  I called my husband and told him what I did and he said, “Stop!  Put the old one back up.”  I was unable to do that because when I unscrewed the old one some ceiling came down with it.

I wound up having to call the base housing maintenance man and have him fix what I did.  I was too embarrassed to tell him the truth of what I did so I said, “I don’t know what happened it just fell down.”

GTS Helps the Community



GTS has established a reputation for helping the community.  Our little family business has donated so much time and material to help transform five run down houses in the City of Milwaukee into nice places to live.  Together with Milwaukee Works and the Neighborhood Improvement Project (NIP), these houses were transformed over the summer of 2011.  The transformation of these houses was very challenging and frustrating to say the least.  Part of that frustration was due to the extremely tight budget of the City of Milwaukee.

This is what Joseph Farmer had to say about it.  “… for example; we would be putting in new receptacles throughout the house.  Every time we would open up the boxes to see what was in there, we would find something that made the job 3 times more complicated than just changing a receptacle should be.  The big thing was that the wires were corroded and needing to be replaced.  So, we would have to do it, but we were not paid for it.  We only were paid for simply changing the receptacle.  So, I would just out of good conscience, threw in a bunch of extra stuff just so that the people were not buying something that is not electrically sound.”

After the transformation of the first house was complete, the city of Milwaukee asked if GTS would continue to be their electrical contractor.  Knowing that we would not make much money but feeling great about helping others, GTS said yes.

Also last summer, we did a similar sort of project that was again staffed by Milwaukee Works at the Oneida Indian tribe’s community center in Milwaukee.  More from Joseph Farmer, “It is actually a really cool old building.  It was originally a firehouse way back when horses pulled the fire trucks.  They added on to the building and put in a couple of classrooms and a computer lab.  GTS was the electrical contractor for that project.  With all of the Milwaukee Works projects, I’m not supposed to lift a hand to do any of the actual work.  I just tell the trainees what to do, how to do it and supervise them, but I am not supposed to do the work.  This is actually somewhat frustrating at times.”

Neighborhood Improvement Project (NIP) is a program that assists eligible owner occupants in repairing their homes.  All repairs are based upon municipal building code violations, lead hazard reduction, health and safety concerns.  NIP is not a remodeling program.

Milwaukee works is a program that is helping thousands of very low-income families who are at extreme disadvantages for finding employment gain skills and re-enter the workforce.  These people are paid not by the company who hires them but rather through funding from the American Recovery & Reinvestment Act and other sources.  This allows employers a source of no cost labor while they grow their businesses.  More importantly, it gives the employers a chance to evaluate their performance and consider them for employment when a position opens up.

If GTS had enough work, there are a couple of people from the Milwaukee Works that we would offer a job.  On each of these projects there are 6 guys and out of those 6 there are 2 and maybe a 3rd who get it, they understand, they like the work and they are full of all kinds of potential.  The others are just there just because it is a job.

This is our third time working with people from Milwaukee Works.  The people who did the rough were there for the whole time we were there.  Now on the finish, one group started it and a different group is going to be completing the finish.

Welcome to GTS


Welcome to GTS Electric’s new blog.  I will regularly be posting news and updates from GTS Electric Company.

What does GTS stand for?  Genuine Trustworthy Service!

Who is GTS?  We are a hard working, family operated business, offering affordable solutions for your commercial, critical power and residential electrical needs. State licensed and insured, we make it our business to ensure your project is completed professionally, on time and under budget.

Do we charge for estimates?  No.  Estimates are free!

What is our mission?  We are dedicated to seeing our costumers satisfied with everything we do on your site, from design/layout, to installation, to inspection/commisioning.

Now that you know who GTS is, call Tom at  262-367-2487 to find out how we can help you with all your electrical needs.

Stand-By Generators



Stand-By Generators

Written By Joseph Farmer, President of GTS Electric Company

Q: The last major storm knocked out my electric power for days. I’m wondering if I should invest in a portable generator or a standby generator. What’s the difference in these home generators? How do you determine what size electric generator to purchase? Do you think I can install a standby generator myself as I’m pretty handy?

A: That’s a great question! I understand where you are coming from. When I was in the Navy a hurricane knocked out the power to our house and it wasn’t restored for nearly two weeks! (You’d be amazed at just how many meals can be prepared on a charcoal grill!) Electricity is almost as important as oxygen in some respects. When it’s there, you don’t even think about it, but when it’s gone, you get desperate in a hurry.

Home generators are gaining in popularity for many reasons. After this storm event, I was bound and determined to get a standby generator, especially for the winter season when vicious ice storms can create power outages for weeks in some remote areas.

There’s a huge difference between portable generators and standby generators. A portable generator is one you can move around. The type most homeowners recognize are those that are the size of a medium picnic cooler and are powered by a small gasoline engine. Contractors often use these on job-sites when regular electricity is not yet connected.

These small portable generators are not designed to power an entire house. The intention is for you to run one or several extension cords from the generator directly to the appliance you wish to power. You may connect it to a refrigerator for a few hours, then a window air conditioner, and maybe a few table lamps. Forget about connecting all of your appliances at once to a small portable generator. It simply will not work

A standby generator is a larger fixed device that resembles an outdoor air conditioning compressor. They are capable of generating enough power to keep many essential electrical devices operating at once, or you can invest in a standby generator that can operate every electrical appliance and light in your house all at once.

The standby generators are not meant to be installed by a homeowner. Not only do you have to connect a fuel source to it such as propane or natural gas, but you also have to hard wire the generator into your electrical system. This is fairly complex and best done by professionals. What’s more, you need to install a sophisticated transfer switch with a separate electrical panel that contains the electrical circuits that will be powered when the generator turns on.

One primary difference between a standby generator and a portable one is the standby generator will turn itself on when the primary electric to your home is knocked out. This is accomplished by the transfer switch, and can have your lights back on in as little as ten seconds. When the utility company finally restores your power, the transfer switch senses this and shuts off your generator.

Extension cords are not used with a standby generator. All of your appliances remain plugged into their wall outlets. The electrician, with your input, decides which circuits in your home to connect to the generator. This allows you to purchase the correct-sized generator. If you decide to power just a part of your home, the other areas will be dark and off the grid. Think about what appliances and rooms of your house you can survive in until the utility company gets power back to your home

Some standby generators come with software that allows you to check the status of your generator if you’re not at home. This software can also communicate with you or a service company if it senses something is wrong that might cause the generator to fail in the event of a power outage. This allows you to have it repaired so that it will be working when you need it most.

Portable generators can get you by in an emergency, but they are not in the same league as a standby generator. In an emergency, you need to drag out the portable generator, and safely string all the extension cords. You then need to add fuel to the engine on a regular basis day and night. It can be a hassle. You also need to be very careful about placing it near the partially open window or door that the cords pass through. The carbon monoxide fumes from the engine exhaust can drift indoors.

Standby generators require periodic maintenance as they contain engines that spin the actual generator. Often you can do this maintenance yourself. An excellent example of recommended maintenance for your generator can be found on the following web-site(http://www.cumminspower.com/www/literature/technicalpapers/PT-7004-Maintenance-en.pdf)  If you are the type of person who does your own oil changes on your car, the check list to maintain you generator will seem very familiar.

We are available to install and maintain residential, commercial or industrial generators and the associated electrical system they protect. Give us a call today if we can be of service at 262 367 2GTS (2487) !

Understanding Arc Fault Protection



Understanding Arc Fault Protection

Written By Joseph Farmer, President of GTS Electric Company

Q; What is arc fault protection, and why is it required?

A; Problems in home wiring, like arcing and sparking, are associated with more than 40,000 home fires each year. These fires claim over 350 lives and injure 1,400 victims annually.

A new electrical safety device for homes, called an arc fault circuit interrupter or AFCI, is expected to provide enhanced protection from fires resulting from these unsafe home wiring conditions.

Typical household fuses and circuit breakers do not respond to early arcing and sparking conditions in home wiring. By the time a fuse or circuit breaker opens a circuit to defuse these conditions, a fire may already have begun.

Several years ago, a Consumer Product Safety Commission  study identified arc fault detection as a promising new technology. Since then, CPSC electrical engineers have tested the new AFCIs on the market and found these products to be effective.

Requiring AFCIs

AFCIs are already recognized for their effectiveness in preventing fires. The most recent edition of the National Electrical Code, the widely-adopted model code for electrical wiring, will require AFCIs for all “living space” circuits as shown in the illustration below.

AFCIs vs. GFCIs

AFCIs should not be confused with ground fault circuit interrupters or GFCIs. The popular GFCI devices are designed to provide protection from the serious consequences of electric shock.

While both AFCIs and GFCIs are important safety devices, they have different functions. AFCIs are intended to address fire hazards; GFCIs address shock hazards. Combination devices that include both AFCI and GFCI protection in one unit will become available soon.

AFCIs can be installed in any 15 or 20-ampere branch circuit in homes today and are currently available as circuit breakers with built-in AFCI features. In the near future, other types of devices with AFCI protection will be available.

Should You Install AFCIs?

You may want to consider adding AFCI protection for both new and existing homes. Older homes with ordinary circuit breakers especially may benefit from the added protection against the arcing faults that can occur in aging wiring systems.

For more information about AFCIs, contact an electrical supply store, an electrician, or the manufacturer of the circuit breakers already installed in your home. Sometimes these components can be replaced with AFCIs in the existing electrical panel box.

Be sure to have a qualified electrician install AFCIs; do not attempt this work yourself. The installation involves working within electrical panel boxes that are usually electrically live, even with the main circuit breakers turned off.

Feel free to give us a call at 262 367 2487 and we’ll be happy to discuss any questions or concerns you may have regarding electrical safety in your home or place of business!

CO Detector Installation



CO Detector Installation

Written By Joseph Farmer, President of GTS Electric Company

 

Q: Should a home owner attempt to install carbon monoxide detectors themselves?

A: That depends. If your home already has interconnected smoke detectors installed (and if your house was built in the last 10 years or so, it probably does) then installing CO detectors is very easy and makes a great DIY project. You can verify this interconnection by pushing the “test” button on any of your smoke detectors- they should all activate and sound an alarm together.  If they do not-if they are not interconnected-then I would not recommend attempting rectify the situation yourself.

Before you begin any work on electrical devices of any kind be sure to de-energize the device by turning off the circuit breaker powering the device. In the case of smoke detectors, it is usually on a bed room circut, but don’t take that for granted; double and triple check. Safety first. Safety always!

Again, for optimum protection, you should install smoke and carbon-monoxide (CO) alarms that interconnect (they all sound at once) throughout your home. The illustration below shows you exactly where to install them. As a rule, smoke alarms should be installed on the ceiling or on a wall no more than 12 inches below the ceiling and away from corners, windows, and vents. Read the manufacturer’s instructions. Also make a family escape plan and practice it for day and night escapes.

Basement

Place an interconnecting dual-sensor smoke alarm near the stairwell leading upstairs. And put an interconnecting CO alarm at least 20 feet from a furnace, water heater, or other fuel-burning appliances.

Kitchen and Living area

Place an interconnecting photoelectric smoke alarm 10 feet away from—but not inside—the kitchen. Put another interconnecting dual-sensor smoke alarm and an interconnecting CO alarm in the living area. (If your home has more than 1,000 square feet per level, your local building code might require a second smoke alarm.)

Sleeping area

Place an interconnecting dual-sensor smoke alarm in each bedroom and in the hallway. If the hall location is close to a bathroom, install a photoelectric alarm since steam can trigger nuisance alarms. And place a separate interconnecting CO alarm in the hallway.

Garage 

Never put a CO alarm inside the garage, where car exhaust can trigger false alarms. Also don’t put CO alarms near any windows in your house, where fresh air can have the opposite effect.

Attic

Even if your attic isn’t finished, install an interconnecting dual-sensor smoke alarm. Even if this is not required by your local codes, I highly recommend it.

Breaker Panel Upgrades-When is it time?



Breaker Panel Upgrades-When is it time?

Written By Joseph Farmer, President of GTS Electric Company

 

Q: We are in the process of selling our home and our realtor wants us to upgrade to a 200 Amp electrical service-is this necessary?

A: Today, Americans use an incredible amount of electricity. The demand for electrical current is a hundred times greater for the average household than it was half a century ago. The way a new home is equipped for electricity has changed drastically since then.

For instance, these days an air conditioning system can use more electricity than the whole house would have fifty years ago. And, because of all the new technology constantly being introduced into the world today, it’s not uncommon for us to have some sort of electronic device, be it a television, computer, printer, or some other electricity-eating gadget, powered on somewhere in the house twenty four hours a day.

And that doesn’t include the items we own that are perpetually turned on and drawing power, even when we’re not using them. All of this electricity running through a home puts a lot of stress on the home wiring, as well as on its electric panel.

Plus, today’s homes have many more “plug-ins” for appliances, electronics, and such, which are in much greater demand today than they were even 20 years ago. The fact is, if your home is over 20 years old, you should definitely look into upgrading your service panel.

And if you’re using extension cords and power strips so you can plug several things into one receptacle, it’s definitely time to look into getting a service panel upgrade. Doing so will allow each circuit to run straight from the distribution panel. It’s simply too much of a fire hazard to have so many things running from one place.

Here are some basic guidelines that will help you decide if upgrading your service panel is something you should do immediately. If your house has less than 200 amps of electricity available with the current service panel, or if it has screw in fuses, you most likely need an upgrade. In fact, most of the time, an insurance company won’t let you buy insurance for a house that still has the “screw-in” type fuses.

Another tell tale sign, and a pretty obvious one, that you need to upgrade your service panel is not being able to use one appliance, such as your microwave, without having to turn off another, like your coffee pot, so that you don’t “trip a breaker”. In this case, it’s likely your circuits are overloaded meaning it’s definitely time for a service panel upgrade.

A Very Important side note: Always consult a licensed professional electrician  to do this work on your home or business. Service upgrades are far too dangerous to be “do it yourself” projects because of the fire hazards they pose, and because of the risk of electrocution.

We would be happy to take care of this for you! Give us a call at 262 367 2487 for a free consultation and estimate!