What To Consider When Purchasing a New HVAC System

 

As the weather warms up, you might be coming to the realization that you need a new HVAC system. The most important day in your system’s life is the day that it’s installed (not the day that it was manufactured). If installed correctly, the system is likely to operate efficiently and have a long life. If not installed correctly, that’s when the problems start to creep in. The most critical thing you have to think about as a homeowner isn’t the brand or efficiency rating of a new HVAC system—it’s who’s going to be installing it.

We strongly recommend that you pay attention to the quality of the company, the caliber of the service technicians, and the training they undergo to make sure they do the job right every time. Remember, the quality of installation is the most important thing you need to consider. It’s critical that the installer pays attention to manufacturer’s specs for airflow. They should also be following all codes for safety. If you assumed that every contractor pulls permits and installs the system to code, you’d be sadly mistaken.

Another way that you can separate the good installers from the bad ones is by finding out if they’ve committed to purchasing the proper tools. At Boulden Brothers, we use all electronic gauges. When we’re putting the refrigerant charge in for the first time, we know that we’re using the absolute best tools on the market to make sure we’re doing it correctly. Companies that still use manual gauges can’t get close to the proper charge, especially at times of the year when it’s cold outside. Tools like electronic gauges are expensive, so not every company is willing to make the investment.

What Happens When You Contact Boulden Brothers?

The first thing we do is set an appointment for a project specialist to go out to your home. They will engineer the job to make sure that the type of system you want is an ideal choice for your home. Importantly, we perform an engineering load analysis where we determine the heat loss and heat gain for your home to make sure that the system we’re installing is the proper size. (Not all contractors do this.)

First, we perform the calculation by looking at things we know for sure: the size of the windows, the number of doors, and the direction that each wall of the house faces. Since we can’t always see the insulation, we have to make an estimate. We also look at whether the house is on a slab, crawlspace, or attic. It’s a fairly long list of items we pay attention to in order to come to a decision. Once we gather all the data, we enter it into a computer or manual calculation sheet. It will tell us the size of the system that’s ideal for your home.

When it comes to most things, people tend to think that bigger is better. That’s not the case for HVAC. You’re not going to get the maximum comfort unless you system is properly sized. On the other side of the coin, if the system is too small, it will not have the capability to heat or cool your house when the weather reaches extremes.

Then we’ll look at the ideal size of the system in combination with your house’s engineering. Maybe your house can accommodate a high efficiency furnace, standard efficiency furnace, or heat pump. In terms of efficiency, you can go from the government mandated minimum up to almost double, depending on the size of the system. You’ll have to decide what’s most important: operating cost, initial investment, or even the highest efficiency regardless of the payback. Everyone has a different motivation when it comes to deciding the efficiency that they prefer in an HVAC system.

There are usually four or five options that could work in a client’s home. It’s confusing if you’re presented with so many options, so part of the process we take is to narrow down the choices by getting an idea of what’s most important to you.

There are a lot of choices when it comes to a new HVAC system. We’ll be there for you every step of the way. If you want to get your system installed properly, give Boulden Brothers a call or contact us online. You’ll be sure that your new system is in good hands on it’s most important day.

How to Improve Indoor Air Quality

 

It’s a tough time of year for people who are suffering from asthma and/or allergies. Many of us assume that we can just stay inside during the worst days of allergy season. Unfortunately, the EPA has said repeatedly that the air quality is actually worse indoors. Poor indoor air quality leads to irritation of the eyes, nose, and throat. You can also get headaches, dizziness, or fatigue. That’s bad for everyone, but it certainly exacerbates the effects of asthma and allergies (especially in kids).

Polluted air has been proven to cause 94% of all respiratory problems. People don’t think about it often, but about around 40,000 dust mites can live on a single ounce of dust. (It’s not just the dust mites that are the problem. They leave nasty waste behind, too.) The average person inhales about 3,500 gallons of air each day. Accounting for size, children actually inhale more particles than adolescents or adults.

What active measures can you take to ensure that your home’s air quality is up to par? We recommend a product called MicroPower Guard. It’s an electric filtration system that’s dramatically more efficient than a run-of-the-mill dime store filter. It works by sliding into the space of your HVAC system’s existing filter. It fits right into systems designed for a standard 1” thick filter. (Sometimes we might have to make small changes so that your system will accommodate the filter.) It also requires power, so we either wire it directly into the HVAC system’s control board or simply plug the unit into the nearest wall outlet.

Maintenance of the MicroPower Guard filters is straightforward. It has a portion that needs to be replaced quarterly (under average use) and a portion that can be cleaned.

There’s no doubt about the benefits of good air quality. Boulden Brothers can take a look at your home’s HVAC system and recommend the best choice for you. Everyone in your family will experience the health benefits, especially if someone suffers from allergies or asthma. It also extends the life of your HVAC system and allows it to operate more efficiently.

Remember, a very small amount of dirt clogging your HVAC system can dramatically reduce its efficiency and lifespan. At the very least, make sure that your filter is maintained regularly. To learn more about the available micro-filtration options for your home, give Boulden Brothers a call or contact us online.

Transitioning Your HVAC System

 

As we approach the spring, homeowners often get into spring cleaning mode. It’s a great time to open up all the windows in the house and let in the fresh springtime air. Unfortunately, people tend to forget that opening up the windows also opens up the house to everything that’s outside (like pollen and allergens). How can homeowners enjoy the fresh air while still having a way to prevent allergens from circulating throughout the home?

1. Pay attention to your filter.

A good filter is critical to prolonging the life and maximizing the efficiency of your furnace. It’s also very important to the health of everyone in your home. On average, people inhale about 3,500 gallons of air each day. When considering the size of the average child, they inhale more particles comparatively than adolescents or adults. Polluted air is the cause of 94% of all respiratory problems.

How often should you be maintaining your filter? It really depends on the type of filter you have. Some filters need monthly, quarterly, or semi-annual maintenance. Refer to the documentation or ask a professional if you’re in doubt. If the filter isn’t maintained as often as necessary, it will eventually become ineffective. Your system will have a reduced life and decreased efficiency. It may also allow more allergens to be distributed throughout the house.

2. Regularly maintain your air conditioner.

The air conditioning manufacturers and the United States Department of Energy are most knowledgeable when it comes to air conditioning systems. They recommend that all air conditioning systems are maintained annually. There are some things that the homeowner can perform by themselves, but most maintenance requires a qualified professional.

Homeowners can clean the outdoor coil with a water hose to remove as much dirt and dust as possible. We advise against using a brush on the coil. A qualified professional will be able to use chemicals that are more effective at removing any accumulated debris. It’s also a good idea to make sure that weeds and other vegetation don’t grow too closely to the unit. (They can restrict airflow.)

A professional will get into the unit and check that all the electronics in the system are working properly. They’ll cycle the system through all of its operations. They’ll also make sure that the unit has a proper refrigerant charge so it’s running at optimal efficiency. We go through a multipoint checklist to make sure that the unit is ready for its next cooling season.

3. Stay ahead of the weather.

The first time a homeowner turns on their air conditioner is usually the first day that it’s hot outside. If you’re going to contact a qualified professional like Boulden Brothers for a maintenance check, don’t wait until the beginning of the season. That’s when all the heating and air conditioning companies are overrun. Turn your system on while it’s just getting warm outside. That’s a simple proactive measure that you can take to stay ahead of the rush. That way, you’ll be sure that your system is ready to provide cold air.

To properly maintain your air conditioner, give Boulden Brothers a call or contact us online. We’ll make sure your system is ready to go when the weather gets hot.

Summer Efficiency Tips

 

The summer months usually mean increased demand for electricity. Are high utility bills inevitable? Not necessarily. There are a few things you can do to improve your home’s efficiency.

  1. Check the thermostat.

One of the best things you can do is install a programmable thermostat. It automatically maintains a comfortable temperature while also making the most out of your daily habits. Also, take some time to adjust it to the highest temperature that you still feel comfortable. It could be 72 or 73 degrees, but keep in mind that you save 3% to 5% for every additional agree that you raise the thermostat. Raising the setting from 70 to 73 degrees could mean 9% to 15% savings on your energy bill during the summertime.

Air conditioners do two things for your home: they remove the humidity and cool the air. The difficulty comes when people open their windows on a mild, humid day. They’re letting all that humidity into their homes. Later in the day when they turn on the air conditioner, it has to work harder to remove the humidity.

  1. Close off unconditioned areas.

If you have an unconditioned area of your home, it’s really important to make sure it’s closed off. If not, you’ll have hot air moving from that room into the rest of your home. Maybe it’s a screen patio that you converted into a three season room by installing windows. You want to make sure you shut the door because your air conditioning system was probably not designed for that additional cooling load. You’d be overworking the system to keep the entire area at temperature.

  1. Use your fans.

If you have a ceiling fan, turn it on. Fans provide you with much better air circulation. They also give the comfortable sensation of air moving across your skin. As long as the air isn’t humid, you’ll get a feeling that the room is a bit cooler.

  1. Keep the heat out.

Make sure that any holes/cracks in the windows and doors are sealed. Also, keep the blinds, shades, and drapes closed. If you have a side of your home that’s facing directly into the sun, this is going to have a dramatic impact. Anything you can do to keep the sun’s heat from entering your home will have a measurable effect on your energy usage.

  1. Make sure the AC is working efficiently.

If something’s out of whack in your air conditioning system, it might still be able to cool your house. Unfortunately, it’s going to take more energy to get the job done because it’s not working at optimal performance. When a technician visits your home, they will go through all the steps involved in our cooling tune-up to determine if everything is operating optimally.

If your unit is running for a long time, that may or may not be a sign that something is wrong. Newer units are designed to run for longer, but that’s how they are most efficient. They may be saving you money, since that’s how they’re designed to run.

We now have a monitoring system that we can install on a home’s air conditioning unit. It will tell you if the system is operating within the manufacturer’s specifications. It has the ability to monitor performance 24/7. It’s checking to make sure everything is running optimally, and it also makes sure all components are working properly every time the system cycles through. It will alert us by text message or email if it notices that a component is operating out of spec or is about to fail.

If you notice any irregularities that need to be addressed, give Boulden Brothers a call or contact us online. We’ll assist you to make sure that your HVAC system is running at peak efficiency.

Water Conservation Tips

 

Water conservation isn’t just good for the environment—it’s also a great way for homeowners to save money on utility bills. Here are some tips that will keep both you and mother nature happy.

  1. Install efficient products.

New products that use tried and true technologies are a great way to save water. High efficiency shower heads are fairly common. In many cases, they can give the user a feeling of higher pressure. Dual flush toilets are also very water efficient. They have a light flush and heavy flush mode and are rated in gallons per flush. Pay attention to the rating on the label before buying a new appliance. That way, you’ll know exactly what to expect.

  1. Use eco mode.

Many dishwashers, washing machines, and other appliances have a built-in eco mode. If you have the opportunity to take advantage of it, it will attempt to conserve water and electricity. You should give the setting a try to see how much it can save. You might find out that it works well in certain situations or use cases. Experiment to find out if it works well for you.

  1. Fix household drips and leaks.

It’s amazing how quickly a small drip can add up to gallons of wasted water going down the drain. It should always be a priority to get drips fixed if you’re trying to conserve water. If you think you have an underground leak on your main water line (even if it’s the city line), get it checked out.

  1. Shut off running water whenever possible.

Unfortunately, we tend to develop bad habits growing up that are hard to break. For example, lots of people leave the water running unnecessarily while brushing their teeth. If you have the water running the whole time, it’s going to add up to gallons and gallons wasted. Turn off the water while brushing your teeth, shaving, or washing dishes when possible.

  1. Maximize your lawn’s efficiency.

If you’re planning to water the lawn, the best time is in the morning or evening. That’s because you’re not going to get the evaporative effect that occurs during the middle of the day (when it’s hottest). You can even install collection tanks that store the water that drips off the roof during rainy season. Even though you can’t use it as potable drinking water, it’s great for watering plants.

Bonus: Use containers creatively.

People tend to turn the tap water on and let it run for a while to get nice cool drinking water. You could save a lot of water by putting a pitcher of it in the fridge instead.

When cleaning, it’s better to use buckets instead of running the water hose. A continuous spray will end up using large amounts of water.

If you would like to install highly water efficient products in your home, give Boulden Brothers a call or contact us online.

Digital Programmable Thermostats

 

The primary benefit of using a digital programmable thermostat is energy savings. If you haven’t made the switch to a digital programmable thermostat yet, now’s a great time.

Customized Usage

Digital programmable thermostats are especially useful if you leave your home during the day. They save power by turning the air conditioner/heater off when you’re not using it. Let’s say that everyone is at school or work on weekdays. After being properly programmed, the thermostat will adjust itself automatically. Just before everyone comes back home, it will get your home to the desired temperature. As a result, you can potentially see significant savings on your electric bill.

On the other hand, that means that if you stay at home all day with your thermostat set to 70 degrees, you probably won’t see any savings. It becomes way more efficient if it’s programmed to run the air conditioner or heater less during the day. Ideally, 8 hours a day when most people are out is a great opportunity for increased efficiency. It wouldn’t make much of a difference if you just turned the system off for an hour.

Thermostats on the market today are even smarter than they used to be. The technology has improved so that the unit will actually anticipate the amount of time it will take to bring your home back to temperature. Older systems used to go by a predetermined time prior to everyone coming home. New systems actually learn how long it takes to get the home to the desired temperature.

Apps, Reminders, and Alerts

New digital programmable thermostats are also more accurate. There’s no mercury in them, so you don’t have to worry about toxicity from that perspective. In terms of convenience, some systems even have a smartphone app that allows you to adjust the desired temperature at all points in the house. It also allows you to see what the actual temperature is compared to what it’s set to. It’s much easier to make sure it’s set exactly how you want, even when you’re away from home.

Select models give alerts when it’s time to change the filter, based on a set timer. (The alert isn’t based on run time of the unit.) Some models even give you an alert if a component in the furnace or air conditioner has stopped operating. That way you can call a qualified service provider to check it out.

Compatibility with Existing HVAC Systems

There’s a digital programmable thermostat that’s designed to work with any type of HVAC system that’s on the market now. Before making a purchase, it’s important to make sure that the type of thermostat you’re buying is compatible with your home’s system.

Boulden Brothers can guide you through the process. We’ll install the thermostat for you and make sure it’s going to be a great value for your home. If you want to install it yourself as a project, make sure you know what you’re doing. A word of caution, though: it’s common for people trying to install a programmable thermostat to cross the wires. It risks frying the board on your furnace or air conditioner. An inexpensive home project could end up becoming an expensive HVAC system repair due to the sensitivity of the circuitry on newer equipment.

If you would like to get a digital programmable thermostat for your home, give Boulden Brothers a call or contact us online.

Duct Cleaning

The typical homeowner would be surprised to find out just how dirty their ductwork really is. All kinds of filth can accumulate over time, which may not be healthy for you or your family. That’s why it’s definitely a good idea to make sure that your home’s ducts are cleaned every two to three years, depending on the home environment. (Duct cleaning should be performed more frequently if you leave your windows open or if your home environment has smokers and pets.)

 

The duct cleaning process we use begins at the registers, which are furthest from the unit itself. We push the accumulated filth back to the unit. At the same time, we brush and vacuum as we go. When we’re almost done, we’ll spray an EPA approved sanitizer that leaves the duct system with a nice fresh smell. The end result is a very clean system.

The air filters in air conditioning systems do a great job of capturing lots of the particulate in the air. However, they don’t catch everything. Some of the finer particles can get through your filtration system. As a result, a certain amount of dust will eventually make its way into the ductwork and fall to the bottom.

Of course, you should have good filtration in place along with a regularly maintained filter. It’s also a good idea to leave the system’s fan set to ‘on’ instead of ‘auto’. That way, the air will continually circulate in your home. That means you’re constantly running air across the filter, giving it the opportunity to remove more of the particles. The best strategy is to combine these good habits with a clean duct system.

Benefits

If you haven’t ever had your ducts cleaned before, you don’t have a baseline of comparison. It’s not until you’ve had duct cleaning performed before you can see the difference. Airborne particles can contribute to respiratory issues like asthma or allergies. Dirt in the ductwork can also eventually accumulate on your heat pump or air conditioner coil. In turn, that will reduce the efficiency of those appliances.

Duct cleaning removes most of the dust and other particulates from circulation by the air in your home. While duct cleaning won’t completely eliminate the need for dusting, it will decrease its frequency. (Think about how much dust you’re introducing into your home on a regular basis.)

Of course, our system isn’t perfect—if it was, we’d be able to actually get into the ducts and see everything. However, the brushes we use are extremely flexible and do a good job of getting most of the particles. There are different areas of ductwork, like tight corners for example, that could be very difficult to reach with any duct cleaning system.

Remember, duct cleaning every two to three years is a great way to improve air quality and maximize your system’s efficiency. To learn more about Boulden Brothers’ duct cleaning services, give us a call or contact us online.

Water Conditioning Systems

 

Hard water is a problem in our area, but it’s not as bad as some other parts of the country. Lime scale is the most obvious sign that your home has hard water. That’s the white crusty substance that will accumulate on your faucets, sinks, tubs, and other plumbing fixtures. If your water has a large amount of calcium and magnesium, it’ll stay behind after the water evaporates. It doesn’t just make your fixtures look ugly—it also has the potential to affect their lifespan.

Why You Should Care

Hard water makes dish washers and washing machines work much harder. The soaps we use aren’t as effective. Clothes don’t come out as clean and they don’t stay bright for as long. Hard water makes your dishes look spotty and foggy after they come out of the dishwasher.

Hardness in the plumbing system will eventually restrict proper flow of appliances and build up inside of the pipes. It’ll also slowly clog up the rim of your toilet where water releases along the bowl.

When it comes to the water heater, hardness buildup will reduce its life and overall efficiency. When all that hardness falls to the bottom of a gas water heater, it means that the system will have to work much longer to heat up the water. That’s because it has to heat up the minerals before it can work its way up to the water itself.

What You Can Do

The best way to deal with hard water is to install a system to soften the water in your home. A water softener removes the calcium and magnesium from the water. It’s most noticeable to people when showering, bathing, or washing their hands. When you have soft water, you get a very silky smooth feeling.

It’s not because the calcium and magnesium prevents all the soap from being washed off. Instead, it’s actually because calcium and magnesium removes the natural oils from your body. Women will notice a difference in their hair, too. They’ll need to use less shampoo and conditioner. For cleaning products in general, you should be able to use half of what you’re accustomed to.

Options & Maintenance

Unfortunately, there isn’t a one-size-fits-all solution for every home. The ideal system is based on the size of the home, number of bathrooms, and size of the water lines. We tend not to size the water softener off of the number of residents in the home. Let’s say there’s a residence with only two people living there. If we were to install a softener sized for them, it might not be able to keep up with demand if the home is sold, if more people move in, or if family comes over for a holiday visit.

Maintenance depends on the quality of the water. In our area, hard water that comes from a well may contain a higher level of iron. Iron requires more maintenance, since it can potentially clog the unit. You need regular maintenance from a qualified professional to ensure that the unit is functioning correctly and there’s no excessive iron buildup.

If you notice the telltale signs of hard water, give Boulden Brothers a call or contact us online. We’ll be able to make a recommendation about the ideal water softener for your home.

How Does a Sump Pump Work?

What is a Sump PumpHeavy rainstorms, mild flooding, or heavy plumbing damage all run the risk of flooding out your home.  However the water got into your home, it will try to collect at the lowest point first (usually your basement).  With a working sump pump, the damage from water seepage will be minimal.

A sump pump collects water in a basin and pushes it outside of your home.  The collected water can be returned to a dry well or the city’s storm drains.  What matters is that the water is being direct away from your home and not right back into the flow that’s entering your home.

Older homes used to tie the sump pump directly into a city’s sewer system.  If your sump pump is connected to your washing machine’s water return line, then this is the case for your home.  This kind of system can overburden the sewer system so it is no longer compliant with city codes.  If you see this in your home, we advise calling a licensed plumber to redirect the line.

How it Works

It’s all well and good to know what a sump pump does, but how does something that small keep such a large volume of water from flooding your basement?  The answer, as usual, is science!  Your sump pump consists of:

  • Gravel-Bottomed Basin or Pit
  • Pressure Sensor or Float Valve
  • Centrifugal Pump
  • Return Pipe
  • Check Valve

As water flows into the pit, it activates your sump pump by raising the pressure on the sensor, or simply raising the float valve (this is for automatic sump pumps, we’ll cover manual pumps in a moment).  The pump is actually an electric motor which turns an impeller (a type of fan or screw) to move water within the basin.  As the impeller pushes water away, more flows in to the fill the void near the impeller, which forces water to move out through the pipe in the basin.  As it leaves via the pipe, a check valve blocks the water from returning, leaving it only one avenue of escape.

Sump Pump Types

While sump pumps are made up of many different components and come in multiple styles, the key measurements to consider when purchasing or replacing your sump pump are:

  • Pedestal or Submersible
  • Manual or Automatic
  • Pressure Switch or Float Valve
  • Head Pressure
  • Power Source

Visually, the biggest difference in sump pumps is whether the motor is suspended above the pit, or placed inside.  Submerged sump pumps are nicer to look at because the pump isn’t hovering above the pit as a visible piece of machinery.  The drawback comes with maintenance and repair. A submersible sump pump is harder to work on because it’s difficult to reach.  Most repairs will require a complete removal which takes extra time.

For manual pumps, they simply wait for you to turn them on.  Obvious drawbacks are that you can’t turn on the pump if you aren’t there.  For an automatic pump, take notice of how the pump is triggered.  Both float valves and pressure switches are triggered by water depth.  As depth increases, the pressure on the switch increases until the switch is tripped (more water = heavier weight = higher pressure).  Float valves simply float on the surface of the water, once the valve reaches a certain height, the pump activates.  One important difference:  Pressure switches are usually enclosed and can’t be adjust but also are not affected by junk or small trash, unlike float valves.

Head pressure is another factor to consider.  This is simply a rating that tells you how high a pump is capable of pushing water.  Measure the height of the pipe from the base of the sump basin.  You want to make sure that height (which is exactly how high your pump is going to pushing water) isn’t more than 80% of your pump’s rated head pressure.  This is to help your pump operate efficiently and prevent it from burning itself out with heavy loads.

One last thing to consider before buying a new pump:  How is it powered?  Battery backups and main line power are the options you have, but you might want to consider springing a little extra for having both.

Pump Testing

You should test your sump pump regularly.  As emergency equipment, when it needs to operate you don’t have time to spend on fixing it.  Once water moves into your basement it’s there to stay unless you act fast, and even an inch of water can cause a lot of damage.

The simplest way to test your pump is to pour a couple gallons of water into the basin itself.  For automatic pumps, it should trigger immediately and begin pumping water out.  Have someone watching the outflow pipe to make sure water is flowing away from your home as intended.  Wait until the pump is finished to make sure that your sump pump actually disengages.  This is especially true for submersible pumps.  Submersible pumps are designed to be cooled by the water they’re moving, and have the potential to burn out when left to run in dry air.

If the pump engages, removes all the water from the basin, and disengages successfully then the test is complete and your pump is in good working order.  It’s a simple test, so it’s best to check on your pump every month, or at least every three if you don’t have the time normally.


Protect your home from water damage by having Boulden Brothers install, maintain, or repair your sump pump!

Boulder Brothers is available to answer any electrical and home generator questions you may have. Your safety and comfort are out highest priorities. Feel free to give us a call at (302) 368-3848; we are available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

You can also keep in touch with us through Facebook, Twitter, and Google+.

How Your Electrical Panel Works

How an electrical panel worksConsidering the fact that most breaker boxes are hidden in back room, storage closet, or outside of the house, it’s no wonder we don’t think of them all that often.  But consider the fact that your circuit breaker is the first point of entry for power to your home.  Without it, everything would be connected to the same firehose of electrical power.  Your circuit breaker doesn’t just protect your devices; it regulates for them.

Circuit Breaker Function

Most people recognize that your breaker box is a safety device to shut off your power in an emergency.  But it also regulates power to multiple circuits throughout your home.  The outlets you plug into are all set at 110-120 volts, but other outlets aren’t.  Appliances, your HVAC system, and higher-voltage outlets in your garage are typically set on independent dedicated circuits to separate them from the rest of your home.

Large appliances, power tools, and your central heating and air conditioning unit all have heavy power requirements.  The wiring in your home is not able to support these heavy demands (the wires are too thin), so to meet the demand (and save you money on expensive, thicker cables) a dedicated circuit is installed that powers these devices.  The heaviest demands are given their own separate circuit entirely, which is why your HVAC unit is alone while your washer and dryer are listed on the same breaker.

Separating these circuits has the added benefit of making many of your devices cheaper.  Without an electrical panel to separate, adjust voltage and current, and protect against high power loads, each individual device would require specialized and bulky equipment to handle those tasks.

How Breakers Work

Of course, the main function people recognize about their electrical panel is how a quick trip to replace a breaker or a fuse can turn the lights back on.  Your breaker circuit is able to do this because of the effects of current and power in a circuit.  As the power demands on a specific circuit increase, current increases as well.  This increase in current and power increases the temperature of all parts on the circuit.  In each circuit breaker there’s a small strip made from two different metals.  Metal expands as it heats, but it does so at different rates for each metal.  As heat increases, the strip bends until it forcible pushes the breaker into an open position.

Each circuit breaker is set to trip when a certain amount of current is being pulled through it.  For most homes, this value is 15 or 20 Amps.  If your circuit continues to trip, it’s a good idea to switch a few devices out

Signs of Aging or Damage

Some breaker issues are obvious.  If you cannot physically move the breaker arm to trip or turn on the breaker, then it needs to be replaced.  Melted plastic, a burning smell, or broken casings are all clear signs that something is or has gone wrong and should be dealt with immediately.

But you should also keep an eye out for other problems.  If the breaker is in the on position but you still are not receiving power, if the breaker continually trips as soon as it is reset, or if the breaker box feels extremely warm you should immediately consult an electrician to find the fault and repair it.

Reasons to Upgrade or Install New Circuits

Most problems with your electrical panel don’t warrant a complete replacement.  But sometimes an upgrade to a new panel, or a needed installation for a new circuit are necessary.  If you plan to add new high load devices, are upgrading to a more powerful central heating unit, or are building an addition to your home you might need to install a brand new electrical circuit.  Higher power demands sometimes require a new circuit to split the load, preventing an overload.

You may also need a brand new circuit breaker depending the type you currently have installed.  Federal Pacific circuit breakers were installed in many homes from the 50s through the 90s.  These panels are, unfortunately, prone to failure and dangerous electrical fires.  If your home is still using one of these outdated electrical panels, it’s time for a replacement.


Whether you need a new panel installed, want an upgrade to a more powerful circuit system, or simply need a repair on your existing panel, Boulden Brothers is your source for quality electrical work!

Give us a call at (302) 368-3848 for any of your Delaware, Maryland, and Pennsylvania home service needs — plumbing, electrical, HVAC, propane, and more!

Call us 24 hours a day, 7 days a week to answer any questions you might have.

For more expert tips on maintaining a safe and efficient home, visit us on our websiteFacebookTwitter, and Google+.