Aug 152011

Tracking Down the Power

   If your home is like most that I have seen, your electrical breaker box labels are somewhat ambiguous at best.  Tracking down lights and outlets connected to breakers can be challenging.  The major appliances like your air conditioner, oven, and dryer are clearly marked and often take up two locations in your breaker box.  Sometimes a breaker will blow and the lights in one room will go out as well as outlets in another room.  My own home is this way.  For example, the lights in the master bathroom are on the same circuit as the lights and outlets in my office.  Every now and then, my wife will be using her hair dryer and curling iron while my printer is churning out pages of text.  When the breaker goes out, the lights in the bedroom stay on but my office and master bathroom goes out.  I decided to map my electricity to my breaker box.  
   The job is easier than you think and can easily be completed by two people.  Begin by turning all of your breakers off.  Flip one breaker to the on position then test the lights and electrical sockets in each room to see if power is present.  If you don’t have an electrical tester, use a small appliance like a drop light or an electric mixer.  Items such as these work equally well as electrical testers and are readily available in every home or office.  Place a small piece of masking tape on the outlet and light switch cover plate with the corresponding breaker number (number can be located in the breaker box next to each breaker). 
   Turn that breaker off and turn the next breaker on.  Repeat the process until every light and outlet has been tested.  Do not forget to test your exterior and garage lights and outlets.
   Once the entire process has been completed, you should have a small piece of masking tape on every outlet and light switch cover plate.  
   The last step is to record your findings on a sheet of paper so your breaker labels can be updated with accurate and complete information.  Once you have recorded your results, remove the masking tape from the cover plates and your job is finished.  
   This is another project that the entire family can become involved with.  You kids will be very helpful and will learn a little about how your home works at the same time.  It is a win-win project benefitting everyone.

Protect Your Home in the Rain

Rain is finally falling across the country and the moisture is welcomed by everyone.  When its hot out for days and weeks in a row without a remote chance of rain, we have a tendency to let our guard down.  We open windows in garages, porch areas, and other areas of our homes where we want ventilation.  I have a cat that like to hang out on my work bench in the garage so I leave the window open for her.
   Once the chance of rain increases, the windows should be closed.  Rain water coming in through the window can destroy the window frame, wall, and interior wood.  Windows are designed to withstand the rain when closed.  Exterior surfaces are painted or made of material that is designed to repel the rain.  The interior surfaces such as the guides , tracks,  and sills are not designed to withstand the damaging effects of water.
   Now is also a good time to check the gutters and downspouts.  A plugged downspout can cause water to back up into your fascia and soffit causing wood rot and mold to develop.  A simple inspection and cleaning can prevent $1000s of dollars of damage.