Hurricane Gustav & Hurricane Ike: Replacing Flooded Receptacles

Hurricane Gustav and Hurricane Ike caused flooding in many houses.  When the water level of the flood is higher than the receptacles in your house, the receptacles must be replaced. Some areas, like St Tammany Parish, Louisiana, want you to replace just the devices while others, like in Orleans Parish, New Orleans, Louisiana, want both the wiring and devices replaced or everything that went underwater.


If you have cooper wiring in your house and it gets flooded, the wiring needs to be cleaned and dried.  If it is aluminum, it is more problems.  The metals in the receptacles are going to corrode and eventually short out.  Romance soaked in water, with copper wiring, generally doesn’t have a conductive problem when it is submersed in water.  On the other hand, it has to be dried out because of corrosive conditions that can occur.


A storm serge can cause salt water intrusion instead of fresh water. Salt water is more corrosive than fresh water.  It can cause much more damage, sometimes to the point of replacing the whole electrical system.  If that's the case, everything submersed in salt water must be replaced.  This would include the panel, wiring, and devices.  The whole electrical system.  If it is submersed in fresh water, it can be dried out and cleaned to the point where the wiring can be used again, but all devices must be replaced.  This includes replacing panels, disconnects and other electrical equipment like motors, pool pumps, well pumps, air conditioning systems.


I opened a panel this week that had salt water corrosion.  I saw corrosion on the buss.  And the breakers,too.  Steel corrodes badly.  And aluminum corrodes even worse. And it has been three years since Hurricane Katrina.  Some people will say that they flooded and nothing happened to their wiring.  It is not an overnight thing, it make takes years before something happens to your wiring. 


If you flood, let a professional look at your wiring system.  Do you know what your local code is concerning flooded receptacles?

Generators: Home Stand By Or Portable

If you live in an area frequently visited by hurricanes, tornadoes, and storms, you may loose power occasionally. This loss of power may last for hours.  To avoid the inconvenience of living without air conditioning, water, or lights, I suggest you purchase a generator.


Generators come in all shapes and sizes.  Generators can be portable or permanent. A portable generator comes on wheels.  It usually has two handles that make it easier to pick up so you can move it around from place to place.  A permanent generator, called a home stand by generator, is stationary and cannot be moved. It has an automatic transfer switch that transfers the power from your utility company to your generator which powers your house.


Here are five tips to help you decide which one is right for you.  First, a portable is just that, portable.  A home stand by generator is permanent.  It will help increase the value of your home. 


Second, a portable generator runs on gasoline or diesel fuel.  You have to fill up tanks and haul the fuel to where you place the generator.  A stand by generator runs on natural gas or propane. The gas company or propane company must hook up their lines to the stand by generator.


Third, you can install a portable generator.  You can buy it at your local home center or hardware store.  A stand by generator must be installed by a licensed electrician.  He must use a forklift, or something similar, to pick up and move into it into place next to your meter panel.


Fourth, both types of generators need maintenance.  You must do regular oil changes according to the owners’ manual of the manufacturer. 


Fifth, a home stand by generator exercises itself every 7 days to keep the engine lubricated.  It will also runs a diagnostic test to make sure it does not have any problems and that it is ready to go in a power outage.  A portable does not exercise itself. You must get it out and try to see if it still works.


Do you want to wait in line at a gas station just to fill up a gas can for your generator?  If you are going to evacuate for a hurricane, will you leave your automatic generator running constantly until you return?  These are decisions you must make before purchasing a generator. Which generator is best for you?

Electrician Without Pride

As an electrician, I have wired many houses. But today I met a fellow electrician who couldn't wire his own house.  I was called out to this guy's house because he had a problem with a home stand by generator. This electrician installed it himself.  But I wonder where he got his license.  He had the wiring backwards.  It was directional and blocking the terminal. 

So, I asked him why he wired it backwards.  He said he, "couldn't put it the other way, I couldn't bend it.  It was too hard."

"That's why they pay us the big bucks," I replied. 

Don't block the terminations with your own mistakes.  If you take a little extra time, you could put the wires in the proper locations where the wires are away from the termination points.

I opened a panel last week and noticed the screws were not panel screws. The screws were about to pentrate service entrance wires.  Some things are dangerous.  Some electricians go out their way to make things safe.  So don't think you will get away with hiding something.  Because someday someone is going to go into that panel and see your work.  And they are going to ask, "who did this?"  Put a little pride into your work and do it right.  Watch you screws, don't cover up you neutral buss or your breakers with wiring.  Make everything accessible.  And the next electrician will say, "you did a great job." Do you take pride in your work?  Do you keep it safe?

Energy: Going Green

How much did energy cost you this week?  How much was you electric bill this month?  How much did you pay for a gallon of gas?  Whenever the cost of gasoline goes up, so does the interest in alternative fuel.  Are you ready for solar power?  Are you ready for wind power?

I read that 1% of the nation's electricityis derived from wind energy.  That figure will increase in years to come.  But in the mean time, we are dependent upon offshore drilling and imported oil.  We are dependent upon others.  And that can cause problems.

Wind is independent.  Solar is independent. We don't have to depend upon anyone else.  It can be produced within the United States.  It's homegrown energy.  The costs are still high but when I look at my electric bill, I know that will only go higher, too. Technology cost are increasing daily.  But the technology is already there.  Alternative energy has been around for over 30 years.  So why hasn't it grown more?  Why are we still dependent upon foreign oil?  This topic only comes up when the price of gas goes up.

We need to support alternative energy.  We need to get our local utility companies to commit to buying this energy to sell to the public. The federal government needs to support this technology.  We need to ask Congress to support tax credits on the local and federal level.

Alternative energy is our future.  How do you propose we cut our dependence upon foreign oil?

Generator Maintenance

As an electrician and as a mechanic, I know proper maintenance is important and necessary.  When you buy any electronic device like a toaster or a new car, it always comes with a manual.  Yet most people won't read it. Now, I know most people know how to operate a toaster, but it requires little maintenance.  Most all mechanical devices like an engine in your car requires timely maintenance.  So does a generator.

Generators need oi and filter changed regularly.  Some generators come new with break in oil that will need to be changed after 20 hours.  Some come with the oil already broken in.  If it does, then you can wait until 100 hours before changing it.  If you run your generator continuously, 100 hours is about four days.  I was out of power from Hurricane Gustav for five days and I wasn't in the direct path.My generator came with break in oil so I don't need to change it until I reach 100 hours.

I had one customer call me yesterday that wanted an oil change. They bought the generator last year and they said it only exercised weekly.  They have not loss power until now,until Hurricane Gustav.  They loss power for six days and have not changed the oil yet.  They called me to do that.  Their generator did not come with break in oil.  Their generator should have been changed after 20 hours.  I can only imagine how dirty their oil is.  Is you don't change the oil, the engine could freeze up.

Maintenance is listed in your operators' manual.  It is important and necessary. Do you have an hour meter on your generator?  Do you know when you need your next oil change?   Have you read your manual?  Did a licensed professional install your generator?

Electrician Has Battery Explode

As an electrician, I’ve had three generator batteries blow up within the past month (two of them today!)  Maintenance for a battery is very important.  Most people stick a battery in and forget about it.  But you should check you battery once every oil change.  The acid filled electrolytes need to be maintained.

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Storm Ready

An electrician can help you if your need your house wired but he can’t help you if a hurricane is coming.  Storms can be result of summer heat, high winds, or warm water temperatures.  Most disasters come from our weather.

I live in a hurricane zone that is prone to hurricanes.  Let me tell you what I did to get ready for Hurricane Katrina.

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Fuel Adjustment Costs

Are you considering solar?  Solar energy is an alternative to your present electric bill.  Have you looked at your bill lately?  You should.  You may be surprised at your actual usage.

My electric bill lists my usage, or kilowatts used.  It also list something else that is more than my total kilowatt usage and adds to my bill. My local company, Cleco, calls it

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