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Electricians Tips & Tricks Blog

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Welcome to the Mister Sparky Tips & Tricks Blog! Look around to read our latest posts or delve into our archives for great ideas on maximizing your home’s energy efficiency, upgrading your electrical wiring, selecting new appliances or keeping your home safe. Whether you’re buying or building a new home, preparing for renovations, or just trying to keep on top of your own home maintenance, you’ll find interesting topics and helpful tips right here.


Technological innovations are developing faster all the time, and many of them have implications for the modern home. If you wish you could control all your appliances and electronics from a single smartphone or have a house that learns your behaviors and predicts your needs, it’s not science fiction -- it’s the smart home.


And if you’re looking to learn more about the old-school basics, like bringing your home into compliance with local building codes, replacing broken fixtures or setting up a generator to keep your household humming through a blackout, feel free to start your journey here. You might even find inspiration for a new home project or be reminded of an overdue opportunity for preventative home maintenance!


Check back often and bookmark this page to stay on top of the latest posts.



questions

Finding and Fixing a Low-Frequency Electrical Hum

  • 02/28/18

If you’ve ever experienced an electrical humming noise somewhere in your home, you know how maddening it can be. Sometimes it’s so difficult to track this kind of noise back to its source that you might start thinking your ears are playing tricks on you. But these hums and buzzes
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xmaslights

Save Time and Money On Next Year’s Holiday Light Display

  • 12/20/17

Mister Sparky hopes you had a fun and safe time decorating for the holidays this year! As electricians, we have a soft spot for strands of twinkling lights, as well as lots of opinions on how to safely put them up, operate them and store them until next year. We
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LED, incandescent and compact fluorescent light bulbs

What Does It Mean When Light Bulbs Keep Blowing?

  • 09/27/17

More and more homeowners are making the switch to LED light bulbs as prices continue to drop. These bulbs are extremely long-lasting and energy efficient, and they don’t suffer from some of the same durability problems of their filament predecessors, such as the tendency to blow out under certain conditions. 

If
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House with outdoor lighting

Strengthen Your Home Security With High-Tech Upgrades

  • 09/13/17

Are you worried about potential trespassing or break-ins at your home? It may be cheaper and easier than you think to add layers of protection and deterrence from would-be burglars. The latest smart home technology, along with tried-and-true tech like motion detecting security lights, can make your home an intimidating
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flood

Repairing Your Electrical System After a Flood

  • 09/06/17

The flooding caused by Hurricane Harvey in Texas and Louisiana has damaged hundreds of thousands of homes, and the recovery ahead will continue for months. Unfortunately, the hurricane season isn't over, and more storms are on the way. Flood-affected homeowners will be hard at work removing carpeting, drywall and sheetrock
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pets

Make Electricity Pet-Safe on National Dog Day

  • 08/23/17

National Dog Day is almost here -- on August 26, consider doing something extra special for your four-legged friend. And if you don’t have a furry companion, you might make a donation to a humane pet shelter in your community. But one of the most important things you can do
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Girl turning off light

Signs Your Light Switch is Wearing Out

  • 07/19/17

Light switches are easy to take for granted. Most will last for decades, and other than an occasional cleaning, they’re essentially maintenance-free. But time and wear will take their toll, and eventually you might find that a light switch in your home is showing telltale signs of failure.

Trust Your Senses

When
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flashlights

Buy a Flashlight -- and Choose Wisely

  • 04/12/17

If your home’s electrical system is well maintained, you can have confidence that the lights will come on when you flip the switch. That is, unless there’s a storm-related power outage. Or a utility blackout. Or a transformer malfunction near your home.

Unfortunately, there are several potential causes of temporary power
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LED, incandescent and compact fluorescent light bulbs

When Upgrading to LEDs, Don’t Trash Your CFLs

  • 02/15/17

Just a few years ago, an energy efficient LED bulb might have cost you $20 or more. But today, you may be able to get as many as six bulbs for that price, and consumers are taking notice.

LEDs were always extremely energy efficient and long lasting -- the high upfront
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security

Troubleshooting Motion Detector Lighting

  • 01/25/17

One of the most affordable and effective components of any home security system is motion detecting outdoor lighting. Installed by a professional electrician, these lights can give you years of reliable service and peace of mind.

But like any part of your household electrical system, problems can arise from time to
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leds

Make the Switch to LEDs and Save

  • 11/09/16

Daylight saving time has ended and winter is on its way. That means you're using your household lighting much more often, and if you're still using incandescent light bulbs, it could also mean a noticeable jump in your electrical bills.

But it doesn't have to be that way -- if you're
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leds

Save Energy Effortlessly With Lighting Controls

  • 10/12/16

We all know it’s a good habit to turn the lights off when you leave the room. But be honest -- how often do you forget?


Leaving an unnecessary light on for
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congress

October is Energy Action Month

  • 10/05/16

Last year, President Obama declared October to be Energy Action Month, a time when Americans are encouraged to take steps to reduce their energy consumption and cut greenhouse gas emissions. In this second October of focused
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House with outdoor lighting

Add Drama and Safety to Your Home with Outdoor Lighting

  • 07/20/16

No matter how much you do to beautify the exterior of your home, you won’t be able to appreciate it after dark unless you put some of that effort into your outdoor lighting scheme. A good outdoor lighting design can
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Home inspector

Find Opportunities for Savings with a Home Energy Audit

  • 07/13/16

Most homeowners want to do what they can to make their homes more energy efficient, but it’s less common to know exactly where to focus those efforts. To make informed decisions about energy efficiency upgrades, you’ll need to search your
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earth

Celebrate Earth Day With Energy Efficiency Upgrades

  • 04/20/16

Do you have any plans to do something great for the environment this Earth Day? Start change at home by boosting your household energy efficiency -- a move that not only reduces your contribution to destructive greenhouse gases,
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bathroom3

Tips for Electrical Safety in the Bathroom

  • 03/02/16

Water and electricity make a dangerous combination. That's especially true in your bathroom, where you use water from the sink and shower to clean yourself, but also rely on electrical devices like shavers and hair dryers. That's why you need to take special care with your devices in the bathroom
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SAD

Using Indoor Lighting to Fight Seasonal Affective Disorder

  • 12/15/15

Winter can be a dreary time. Depending on where you live, cold weather can stretch on seemingly forever, and sometimes it feels like the sun doesn't come out for months on end. It's not unusual to feel a little low
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xmaslights

Put Safety First When Stringing Up the Lights

  • 12/10/15
For many homeowners, one of the most anticipated traditions of the holiday season is stringing decorative lights inside and outside the home, on trees, in bushes and just about anywhere else. Putting the lights in place can be just as enjoyable as basking in the glow of the finished display,
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lightfixture

Tips for Connecting New Light Fixtures to Old Wiring

  • 12/03/15

There are plenty of reasons to install new indoor light fixtures in your home. Perhaps you want to update your interior aesthetic, or save energy by upgrading to efficient LED bulbs. Maybe you even want to bring your lighting into a smart home control system. Although
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modern

Can You Save Energy and Maintain the Same Standard of Living?

  • 10/20/15

Saving energy is a laudable goal. By using less electricity and other energy around your home, you reduce your contribution to environmental degradation and climate change. On the other hand, easy and reliable access to electricity is in large part responsible for the high standard of living that most Americans
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security

Beef Up Your Home Security by Adding Outdoor Lighting

  • 09/10/15

There are few things more chilling than a home burglary. Imagine a stranger rifling through and stealing your possessions – to say nothing of the danger if you or your family members are home at the time of the break-in. Fortunately, you can take steps to deter potential thieves by
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damagedwiring

When is it Time to Upgrade Your Electrical Work?

  • 08/04/15

You can't see the electrical wiring in your home, but it’s integral to your day-to-day life. The electrical work behind your walls is responsible for lighting your home, powering your microwave and electric stove, running the air conditioning and so much more. So while your electrical work might be out
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badelectrician

You Can Be Liable for Unlicensed Electrical Work

  • 07/30/15

Revamping your home's electrical work can be a big headache. You need to find a qualified electrician and write what could be a hefty check for work that might require opening holes in your walls and temporarily making a mess of your home. The last thing you want after a
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leds

LED Lighting Technology and Your Smart Home

  • 07/09/15

Are you still using incandescent light bulbs? Your electrician would recommend a different course. Efficient lighting technology has blown up in the last few years, and advanced technologies are just getting better. Light emitting diodes, or LEDs, are at the forefront of modern lighting thanks to their inexpensive
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electronics

Smart Plugs Let You Control Devices With Your Phone

  • 07/02/15

Smart technology is poised to take over the home appliance market. We already have smart thermostats, smart lighting and even smart refrigerators. If that's not enough for you, there are some new contenders on the market that allow you to turn any electrical device in the
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Home inspector

Get the Most from a Home Inspection

  • 04/30/15

When you're in the market for a new house, every little detail counts. If you overlook an important flaw, you could be in for major repair or overhaul bills in your would-be dream home. Fortunately, you can avoid unexpected costs with some savvy when it comes to choosing your home
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Earth Day

Earth Day energy-saving tips

  • 04/21/15

This Earth day, why not play your part by making some small changes around the home to cut back on your electricity consumption? For every kilowatt hour your can knock off your meter, you're saving coal or natural gas that gets burned to generate electricity. 

Saving Energy Starts with You

Small
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Spring cleaning tips

Spring cleaning tips to help lower your energy bills

  • 03/24/15
Ah, spring! When the temperature rises, the snow melts and birdsong provides a pleasant morning soundtrack. For many families, the onset of spring weather means it's time for a thorough house-cleaning — and a ramp-up of your energy-efficiency efforts? You can take advantage of your annual deep clean to make
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Incandescent light bulbs

A brief history of electricity

  • 03/17/15

When it got dark yesterday, you probably flipped a switch and turned on the lights in your home. It’s something we do every day, but most American homes have only enjoyed safe and convenient electricity for little more than 100 years. Read on for a brief tour through the history
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Girl turning off light

Teach your kids to save energy

  • 02/26/15

You've done everything you can to conserve energy in your house -- purchased the latest Energy Star appliances, insulated your walls, and turned your thermostat down to 68. But the next thing you know, your kids are leaving lights on in rooms they aren't occupying. Or staring into the refrigerator
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CES show 2015

Consumer Electronics Show highlights money-saving devices

  • 02/09/15
The Consumer Electronics Show held recently in Las Vegas showcased some of the devices leading the way to the next generation of energy efficiency. Among the equipment on display: Super-efficient lightbulbs, fans, dryers and more. Some of the designs will stick around, others might not, but the show allowed consumers
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House with outdoor lighting

Outdoor lighting tips for your home

  • 02/05/15

The next time you call your local residential electrician to come fix any electrical problems you have in your home, you may want to ask him or her about outdoor lighting. According to the American Lighting Association, exterior lighting can not only enhance the beauty of a home,  it can
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LED, incandescent and compact fluorescent light bulbs

How to choose the right light bulbs for your home

  • 01/22/15

Do you get confused when you walk into the light bulb aisle of your home supply store? Those old familiar incandescent bulbs are gone, phased out due to federal efficiency standards. In their place are options like compact fluorescent lights (CFL), light emitting diodes (LED) and halogen incandescents. What does
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Electrical home maintenance banner

Home maintenance and safety tips

  • 01/19/15

You can help keep your electrical system in safe working order by being mindful and following some simple precautions. Check out Direct Energy's infographic for some basic electrical home maintenance tips that will keep you a step ahead. It's also a good idea to call in a professional electrician once
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Truth about electricity myths

Debunking electricity myths

  • 01/12/15

Smart homeowners are always looking for ways to lower their electricity bills. Not only do you save money, but you reduce your environmental footprint as well by decreasing your reliance on fossil fuels. Lowering your electricity and other utility bills can increase the value of your house and
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Can your home survive a natural disaster

Could your home withstand a natural disaster?

  • 09/01/17

Extreme weather can strike during any season, putting life and property at risk. Wise homeowners make sure they prepare in advance so their homes have a better chance of surviving disaster. The good news is that many of the steps that help disaster-proof a home also serve to make it
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Green, energy-efficient home

Green homes sell for more money

  • 12/22/14

If you're looking to increase the efficiency of your home, there's some good news: Not only can you save a bundle of money with lower utility bills, studies show that you will be able to sell your house faster, and for more money as well. Green houses are attracting more
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Brownout sign

Protect your home from brownouts

  • 12/18/14

Hopefully, you have surge protectors set up in your house to protect your electronics from power surges, or voltage spikes, that can fry your devices. Unfortunately, surge protectors won't save you from the evil cousin of a power surge -- a low voltage event, or brownout. Dimming lights in your
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Christmas tree and dreidel

Holiday safety tips

  • 12/15/14

The Christmas carols are already playing nonstop in shopping malls and on the radio. Before you know it, Christmas day will arrive. Whether that means flying off to visit far-flung friends and relatives, or inviting the extended family into your own home, follow these tips to have a meaningful, and
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Solar panels on roof

Is solar power right for your home?

  • 12/11/14

Solar power isn't just for going off the grid anymore. More and more homeowners are finding solar panels are a great option to supplement their existing power source and lower utility costs.

If you have the cash to make the up-front payment, installing solar panels can be a smart long-term
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How the power grid works

Understanding the power grid

  • 11/20/14

Electricity gives us light, warmth and many of the conveniences of modern life. It powers industry, our homes, our schools and our offices, yet most of us take it for granted. Do you know where your electricity comes from or how it reaches you to provide the energy you depend
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Ways to save energy and money

Saving energy saves money

  • 11/10/14

We all know that lowering the thermostat a degree or two in the winter will also lower our energy bills, and that turning off the lights when you leave a room conserves energy. There's a lot more you can do to protect your wallet from high utility bills. The U.S.
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Recessed lighting is an ideal option for basements

Helpful hints for basement lighting

  • 11/06/14

Too often, basements are left in the dark, relegated to storage space. These lighting tips will help you make the most of this neglected spot and bring the space to life.

Hire a professional
You don't want to tackle potentially dangerous
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Energy vampires could drive up your electric bills

Power vampires make for scary electric bills

  • 10/30/14

Halloween night is when ghouls and goblins hit the streets, but beware -- there are vampires already lurking inside your home. Energy vampires, that is, or electronic appliances that drain power even when turned off. If you aren't careful this wasted energy (also known as phantom loads) can turn your
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Head outside for family fun during a power outage

Power outages can mean family fun

  • 10/27/14

The digital age has made us especially reliant on technology - and electricity - for our entertainment, and most kids are even more plugged in than their parents. So when the power goes out, finding fun and engaging activities can be tough. Need some electricity-free activities the whole family can
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Sparks from outlets are a sign of electrical trouble

Common symptoms of home electrical problems

  • 10/20/14

There are many electrical problems that can spring up in your home, but it can be tough to recognize them. How do you know when it’s time to call an electrician? Here are some key signs that you may need electrical repairs in your home.


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Consider safety when creating your Halloween yard display

Tips for a safe and energy-efficient Halloween

  • 10/20/14
Halloween is almost here, and it's time to start planning a great yard display. Vampires, ghosts and graveyards can liven up your property, get you in the holiday spirit and put a good scare into neighbors and trick-or-treaters alike. And of course, you'll want to light up your ghouls at
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Make a power outage emergency kit

Power outage safety tips

  • 10/20/14

Winter storm season is approaching in many parts of the country, and power outages often accompany severe weather. Here are some tips on what to do and what to avoid in case of a power outage.

Safety First

Some simple steps you can take to ensure your family’s safety:


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