Prevent Ice Dams by Switching Out Your Lights

Sep 29, 14 Prevent Ice Dams by Switching Out Your Lights

As we race through summer and into fall, it’s not a bad idea to prepare for the coming winter.  Last winter, many cities across the US saw substantial snowfall and freezing temperatures.  Doubtless, many of you also noticed the formation of ice dams on your roofs and in your rain gutters.  On their own, an ice dam isn’t damaging, but any degradation in your roof can lead to leaks and water damage inside your home.  It’s a shame since one way to prevent this is a simple replacement of your downlights.  Surprised?  Let’s take a look at ice dams and how your current lights might be the cause.

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Fire Safety 101, Part 2: Accessories and Placement

Mar 01, 13 Fire Safety 101, Part 2: Accessories and Placement

In part 1 of this series, we discussed the types of fire alarms and the advantages of each. Here, we’ll discuss a few essential fire safety accessories and where to place your alarms.

Relay Modules

Alarm relay modules are great tools to link your smoke, CO, and heat alarms to auxiliary devices, such as sirens, strobe lights, door closers, exhaust fans, etc. When one of the alarms sounds, the alarm relay module activates your connected auxiliary devices. These devices are excellent for providing additional warning in the event of an emergency.

Strobe Lights

Strobe lights are another great tool for providing early warning for fire and CO dangers. Strobe lights must be connected to smoke, heat, or carbon monoxide alarms. When an alarm sounds, it activates the strobe light, giving off an intensely bright light.

Even though strobe lights are designed for those with hearing impairment, they can still be used in homes without hearing impaired individuals, especially for those who may have a hard time being woken up by fire or CO alarms. Since they are not designed to detect any fire or CO threats, these are not standalone devices.

Alright, so you’ve decided which fire alarms are right for you, but where do you put these alarms for maximum efficiency?

Placement

The U.S. Fire Administration (USFA) recommends you put smoke alarms on every level of your home, including the basement. Since many fatal fires typically start late at night or early in the morning, the USFA also recommends installing alarms both inside and outside of sleeping areas. Installing alarms inside and outside is especially helpful if you have heavy sleepers in your home or sleep with the bedroom door closed.

For large houses, make sure you have more than the recommended number of fire alarms. Put these in living rooms, studies, and other non-sleeping areas. Also keep in mind that smoke and deadly gases rise, so fire alarms should be installed at proper levels. Follow the manufacturer’s instructions on placement height.

For an example of fire alarm placement, check out this diagram.

Comments or questions about smoke alarms or their placement? Let us know in the comments below or follow us on Facebook, Google Plus, or Twitter!

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Fire Safety 101, Part 1: Types of Smoke Detectors

Feb 08, 13 Fire Safety 101, Part 1: Types of Smoke Detectors

One of the most overlooked, yet vitally important safety features of any house is the smoke alarm. You’ve spent a lot of time and money turning your house into your home, filling it with irreplaceable things like wedding pictures and family heirlooms. An early warning from the right kind of alarm could help save those things, not to mention you and your family.

Protecting your home from fire and carbon monoxide threats is serious business. In this two-part series, we’ll discuss the different types of alarms, the advantages of each, the placement of alarms, and necessary fire safety accessories. First up are the types of smoke and carbon monoxide alarms available and their individual benefits.

Ionization Alarms

Ionization alarms detect invisible particles produced by fast, flaming fires, usually caused by things like grease or paper, or candles too close to curtains. Ionization sensors are generally better at detecting invisible fire particles sooner than photoelectric alarms. These alarms are either battery powered or wired directly into a power source, which is a definite plus as this prevents the alarm from not functioning due to dead batteries. Many of the wire-in alarms also feature a battery backup, protecting you even during power outages. These alarms have tamper-resistant features, preventing the battery from being removed for other uses, such as for video game console controllers or TV remotes.

Photoelectric Alarms

Photoelectric alarms can detect the large particles associated with smoldering fires, such as an electrical fire that starts in the walls, sooner than ionization sensors. Photoelectric alarms, just like ionization alarms, can either be battery powered or wired into your home’s power source and also provide battery backup. Since there are many different types of fires that can strike your home, it is recommended to install one alarm with ionization sensors and one with photoelectric sensors.

Dual Photoelectric and Ionization

Dual photoelectric and ionization alarms provide protection from fast, flaming fires and smoldering fires. These types of alarms are generally wire-in alarms and also feature a battery backup to keep protecting you during a power outage. Since there is no way to know which type of fire can strike your home, these alarms are recommended because they protect you from both types of fires..

Heat Alarms

Heat alarms detect high levels of heat, and alarm when the temperature reaches a preset level or when the unit detects a steady rise in temperature. Heat alarms are meant to supplement smoke alarms and give early warning of heat from a fire. These alarms are ideal in garages, kitchens, or other places with conditions not suitable for smoke alarms. Garages are usually not heated or cooled, so the temperatures can be below or above the alarm’s operating temperature, while smoke alarms installed too close to cooking appliances can lead to nuisance alarms. Heat alarms are generally interconnectable, meaning if one alarm is triggered, all the alarms sound, giving you enough time to safely escape.

Carbon Monoxide Alarms

Carbon monoxide alarms are pretty straightforward. These alarms detect dangerous levels of carbon monoxide (CO). What makes CO so dangerous is that it cannot be seen, smelled, or tasted, so a CO alarm is definitely recommended, especially if you have gas appliances, as these can malfunction and leak the deadly gas. Even if you don’t have gas appliances, a CO alarm is recommended if you have a fireplace, as the burning wood gives off carbon monoxide. Just like the photoelectric and ionization fire alarms, the CO alarms are generally wire-in with a battery backup.

Protecting your home from fire and carbon monoxide threats is easier than you think, and we hope we just made it easier. If you have any questions about these products or just want to share how your home is protected, drop us a comment in the box below or visit us on Facebook, Twitter, or Google Plus!

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Light Post Lighting News: Christmas Light Tour, Holiday Safety, and More

Dec 22, 12 Light Post Lighting News: Christmas Light Tour, Holiday Safety, and More

For this week’s issue of Light Post, we’ve collected some excellent lighting stories, from a Dallas-area Christmas light tour, to some last-minute holiday lighting tips, and even a scoop on how LED lights are helping astronauts sleep. So, post up in your favorite spot and enjoy Light Post.

Farmers Branch Offering Tour of Lights

If you live in the Dallas/Fort Worth Metroplex, check out the Tour of Lights in Farmers Branch. This drive-through event features hundreds of thousands of Christmas lights and displays. To get there from the intersection of Interstate 35E at Valley View Lane, follow the candy cane signs down William Dodson Parkway to Farmers Branch City Hall, through the DART station area and to the Farmers Branch Historical Park. What makes this event even sweeter is that it’s FREE. The Tour of Lights runs through December 1 to New Year’s Eve.

Holiday Lighting Safety Tips

These tips come all the from Wayne County, NY, but lighting safety tips are universal and will ensure you have a safe holiday season.

  1. Make sure you inspect your lights each year before putting them on the house. Look for worn or frayed receptacles, cords, and loose connections. If you find anything out of place, replace your lights with new ones from 1000Bulbs.com.
  2. For those who’ve seen ‘Christmas Vacation’, you know that electrical cords and cats don’t mix. Well, neither do toddlers and electrical cords. Make sure cords are out of reach of your four-legged friends and the kiddos.
  3. The only hassle with live trees is keeping up with all the stray needles and refilling the water when your cats drink out of the tree holder. Having a live tree takes a few more safety steps. Cut the base of the tree at a 45-degree angle to allow water absorption. Also, use mini lights as they produce much less heat than regular lights and reduce the drying effect on the tree. Pesky, water-drinking cats aside, your tree will drink anywhere from a quart to a gallon of water each day, so refilling the water prevents the tree from drying out.
  4. All of these safety tips are no replacement for checking and replacing the batteries in your smoke detectors.

LED Lights to Combat Astronaut Insomnia

Apparently sleep is tough to come by on the International Space Station. NASA flight surgeon Smith Johnston explains why: “The station is noisy, carbon dioxide is high, and you don’t have a shower (seriously?).” This is why NASA is spending $11.2 million on switching out the space station’s fluorescent lights for color-alternating LEDs. The LEDs will alternate from blue, white, and red, based upon the time of day. NASA says it plans to have the switchover completed by 2016.

LED Lighting Options Help Christmas Displays Go Green

One year, I put about 7,000 lights on my parents’ house. They liked the lights, until they got their electric bill. However, there are a lot of money-saving options like LED mini lights. LEDs are the most efficient lights you can buy, and will save you a ton in electricity costs. Powering 600 incandescent lights for six hours a day will cost about $80, while the same number of LED lights will cost only $7.

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4 Steps to Clean Up a Broken CFL

Sep 07, 12 4 Steps to Clean Up a Broken CFL

If you read last week’s article, you learned about the mercury content in compact fluorescents and just how much of a threat it can be to your health. However, you were probably left with this question: If a CFL in your home breaks, what do you do? You don’t need to call a hazmat team, but you will need to follow these 4 tips for your safety:

1. Don’t Panic

First, don’t panic. As noted in the previous article, your exposure to mercury from a broken CFL is less than that in a tuna sandwich. Though the danger of mercury exposure is minimal, use common sense: Get everyone out of the room and make sure they don’t step on the glass.

2. Close Off the Room

Next, close off the room and open the windows to let any mercury vapors ventilate. It’s also a good idea to turn off your HVAC system to avoid circulating the vapors throughout your home. The room should be safe to re-enter after about 10 minutes*.

3. Collect the Debris

Upon returning to the room, collect the debris, including broken glass, powder, and plastic from the broken lamp. Do this by scooping up the broken pieces with a stiff piece of paper. Use the sticky side of a piece of duct tape to pick up any smaller pieces remaining on the floor or stuck in carpet fibers. However, do not use a vacuum cleaner, which could excite the mercury on the floor and release it into the air.

4. Recycle or Dispose

Finally, place all materials in a sealable container such as a jar or pack it within two zipper bags. Dispose of the CFL and its container according to laws in your area. Though most areas allow CFLs to be disposed of in the garbage, the best way to dispose of a CFL, broken or intact, is by recycling. The process is simple, inexpensive, and in some areas, it’s even free. To find a recycling location near you, go to Earth911.com. For added convenience, you may prefer a postage-paid CFL recycling kit from Veolia.

Have you ever had to clean up a broken CFL? Let us know and share your thoughts in the comments below, or visit us on Facebook, Twitter, or Google Plus!

*As recommended by the US EPA. Smaller or poorly ventilated rooms should be left unoccupied for a longer period of time.

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