A very old and revered adage states, “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure”. Another way of saying this is “a little precaution before a crisis occurs is preferable to a lot of fixing up afterward”. However you choose to say it, this is good sound advice but within this wisdom is housed a veiled warning to all regarding attention to preventive maintenance. This principle extends to everything imaginable but never truer than with residential electrical equipment.
Experts and engineers will tell you the life expectancy of residential electrical equipment on average is 15 to 20 years but even this range is contingent upon heat: not so much the ambient air temperature rather the amount of electrical current flowing through the terminals and circuit breakers. Heat is the enemy of all electrical components and nothing cuts short the life expectancy of electrical equipment and motors than overloading which translates into overheating. In short, overloaded and over-crowded panels have a shorter service duty than a well-balanced panel operating at or below 75 degrees Celsius (167 degrees Fahrenheit). It is important to note electrical demands have increased in the average home by 35%-50% over the past 75 years yet the electrical equipment in many cases has not. Couple this with aging equipment and a recipe for a dangerous condition in need of monitoring begins to become clear.
How can the average homeowner stay ahead of issues of electrical maintenance in their home and know it has been done correctly? Electricity is dangerous as it is attempting to perform routine maintenance exposes the inexperienced to unnecessary health and safety hazards. It also exposes all our loved ones within the home to unnecessary dangers.
The solution for many new and seasoned homeowners is a maintenance agreement with a trusted professional electrical contractor. Service agreements are the best way to ensure all conditions of maintenance are covered on an annual basis. And when something is beginning to show age or is about to raise its ugly head, the service contractor will head it off with a recommendation for repair, replacement, or retrofit.
Doing business on a handshake alone is admirable but too often leads to less-than-quality installations. If the contractor is reliable, you will have no problem getting the proposed service agreement in writing.
WHAT IS AN ELECTRICAL SERVICE AGREEMENT?
Basic Electrical Service Agreements or maintenance contracts are flexible instruments between homeowner and electrician determining the type of service to be provided and allowing both parties to spell out the details in writing prior to the start of work. No two homes are identical and neither are service agreements-they are customized documents formulated by size, diversity of equipment, and budgets.
Maintenance agreements could and should include some of the following:
· Proper panel voltage verification
· Proper draw of amperage per circuit
· Redistribution of circuits to balance household loads
· Re-torquing of terminations to manufacturer specs (connections occasionally become loose through thermal expansion/contraction
· Check and relamp indoor and outdoor lighting as necessary
· Identification of issues with electrical devices (switches/outlets)
· Reset and testing of time clocks and other timing devices
· Test Arc Fault Circuit Interrupters for proper functionality
· Test Ground Fault Circuit Interrupters for proper functionality
· Test all 120 volt and battery smoke and carbon monoxide alarms for proper functionality and replace all batteries on an annual basis. Some manufacturer’s set their expiration date 5 to 10 years into the future. Replacing expired smoke and carbon alarms could be the difference in getting out of the house at the earliest stages of trouble.
Additional a la carte features may include swimming pool maintenance, specifically attention to the bonding of all equipment associated with the pool. Pool companies that pull out pump motors in the Fall do not always re-bond them correctly in the Spring. A trained service tech will pick this up and automatically make the correction.
Another newer issue to consider is storms. Storms are becoming more frequent and severe and a service agreement can be tailored to test all household devices for proper voltage and/or damage from voltage spikes associated with lighting and utility surges from downed electrical poles.
A good service contract will also state the number of visits per year. One visit is an acceptable frequency but two visits spaced 6 months apart are very good terms homeowners should insist upon. Also, the length of time per visit should range from 1-3 hours depending on the plan and should be written into the agreement.
The maintenance agreement should be comprehensive and inclusive of all the home’s electrical equipment, not just for specified pieces. This ensures all pieces are communicating with each other, working in conjunction correctly and in balance with one another.
At Lippolis Electric, Inc. we offer a three-tier approach to service agreements. Standard to all three tiers is 10% off any new electrical repair or installation for the duration of the agreement, priority on all emergency service calls during storms and other emergencies as well as our customary free estimates.
Tier 1-Standard Plan
· Inspect, clean, and torque all connections in your main electrical panel.
· Inspect and verify proper grounding and bonding of your main electrical service.
· Check for proper voltage and amperage of all circuit breakers.
· Inspect main service entrance cable.
· Inspect exterior service meter.
· Inspect power company termination points.
· Test all smoke and carbon detectors for correct operation and review locations.
· Test all (GFCI) ground fault circuit interrupter outlets for proper operation and review locations, inside and out.
· Recommend energy and cost-saving products.
· 1 visit per year
· 1-hour inspection
Tier 2-Additional Systems Plan-Tailored for homes with a pool and outdoor lighting. Includes standard plan.
· Test & set timers & timeclocks for pool and outdoor lighting.
· Check all outdoor lighting for proper operation.
· Clean & inspect pool panel and equipment connections.
· Inspect and verify proper grounding and bonding of pool equipment.
· Test all (GFCI) ground fault circuit interrupter outlets & breakers for proper operation.
· 2 visits per year
· 2-hour inspection
Tier 3-Technology Plan-Tailored for homes with additional specialty systems such as lighting control, networking equipment, and audio-visual equipment. Includes standard plan.
· Test all AV signal sources and displays.
· Perform general maintenance and cleaning of all system components.
· Clean all monitor faces, touch screens, and projector optics.
· All audio, video, and control cables, patch fields and hardware inspected and tightened.
· Test any surge protection devices.
· Once a year (remote accessed) system updates to keep firmware, software, and features working in the best possible conditions and speeds.
· Customer training on the newest system features.
· 3 visits per year
· 3-hour inspection
For customization and pricing of these value-packed maintenance agreements, call 914 738-3550 to speak with a qualified Lippolis Electric representative. The end of worry and the beginning of peace of mind are only a phone call away.
STAY CONNECTED WITH LIPPOLIS ELECTRIC, INC.
Lippolis Electric, Inc. | 538 Route 22, Pawling, NY 12564 | 845-855-1426 | lippoliselectric.com