Millions of Americans have experienced power outages in connection with the winter storms that have swept the nation. Texas has been especially hard hit, with some residents left with no power for 72 hours or more at a time. Because of this, news reports have come in of 15 or more deaths due to the below freezing conditions. Exposure to these low temperatures is life-threatening. Deaths have also been connected to improper use of generators, which can result in carbon monoxide poisoning. Below are the top three things you need to know about proper use of generators. In addition, the frigid weather means a risk of frozen and burst pipes. So, we have tips on preventing this, and what to do for flooding if it happens. We'll also share information about electrical fire prevention and whole home surge protection.
Top 3 Things to Know About Generators
1. What are some correct ways to use generators?
- Place the generator outside, not in closed in area. The outlets of the generator should be GFCI protected.
- If you want to backfeed the generator into the home, contact a certified electrician to do this properly as backfeeding is very dangerous. The electrician can discuss having a transfer switch installed.
- Use properly rated extension cords for outdoor use.
2. What are some incorrect ways to use generators?
- Do not backfeed the electrical through the electrical system unless you have the correct transfer switch setup to do so. It will feed power to the house but also to the transformer and could put neighbors and linemen in danger. You could also cause damage to appliances and electronics.
- Do not put the generator in closed spaces, not in the garage.
- Do not put generator near an a/c window unit because it sucks the carbon monoxide into the unit and then into the house.
- Do not sit the generator in the snow or wet area. Also, though the outlets are GFCI protected, it’s best to keep the cords out of the water or snow.
- Install carbon monoxide detectors in your home.
3. A lot of people may be rushing out to buy generators after this. What should they keep in mind before making a purchase?
What are your goals for the generator? Do you want it to run the refrigerator and a couple of outlets? Do you want to run the whole house?
A standby generator, permanently installed, will have an automatic transfer switch. It will notice a drop in power or complete loss power and turn on automatically. These run off natural gas, propane or diesel fuel. 20kw – 100kw for huge house. You will need an electrician to check the load and determine what size you need. If you have some gas you will not need as big a generator.
Want to know more about generators? Check out some of our blogs with helpful info:
- How Do Generators Work?
- Reasons You Might Want to Install a Generator
- Mr. Electric’s Top 5 Home Generator Maintenance Tips
- Is Running a Generator More Expensive?
- Commercial Generator Upkeep: Daily Tasks to Keep You Powered Up
How to Prevent and Put Out Electrical Fires
In the meantime, once you’re powered back up, it’s important to reduce fire risk, and know how to put out an electrical fire if one starts. See need-to-know info on that topic below:
Freezing Temps Means Risk of Frozen Burst Pipes and Flooding
Why do pipes burst in cold weather?
As water freezes, it expands, and when it expands inside your plumbing pipes, it puts the entire system at risk. Increased pressure inside the pipes makes them prone to cracking. But there are steps you can take if you know cold weather is coming, or if you’re experiencing freezing temperatures now. Our fellow Neighborly brand, Mr. Rooter, shares these best practices:
So what to do if you do have water damage?
It happens, and there are steps to take both during and after flooding. Our fellow Neighborly brand, Rainbow International, has these best practices to help you recover:
What about surge protectors?
The national electrical code in 2020 made it mandatory for whole home surge protection. Whole home surge protectors protect from outside electrical surges coming primarily from the power company. Surge protectors in the house protect from interior surge. To fully protect the whole house, surge should be installed on phone and cable lines as well as electrical.
Want more info on surge protectors? Here’s a blog for you: