Category Archives: Electrical

The Handy Man Craze Hits Boise

By | Basements, Electrical, Plumbing, Problem Solving, The Law | No Comments

I have recently come across 3 guys that have quit employment to go out on their own to become handymen for their sphere of influence. I love entrepreneurship and I encourage everyone to give it a try. I can not thank them enough to take over the small jobs that my company is frankly not able to take care of because our niche is handling far more complicated and larger projects. Let’s face it YouTube and the Big Box stores have given rise to this new industry. Where is the line? When handymen cross the line is when they start…

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Electrical Cord Safety

By | Electrical, Safe Practices | No Comments

I am a stickler for good extension cords. OSHA is too, urban legend says they will cut up a cord if they find one on your job sit that is frayed or dangerous in their opinion. I am constantly pointing out problems on job site with our sub-contractors but is it worthwhile? What is the worst that could happen? I suppose electrocution, or a fire. We joke that smoke is what makes electricity work, so our primary objective is to keep the smoke in the wires. Truth is that if you pick up an extension cord and it is warm…

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Electric Water Heaters

By | Electrical, Plumbing | No Comments

Electric water heaters come in many sizes and shapes. (I recently found one in a basement of a 1938 home that looks like a washing machine). Most are cylindrical. They all provide years of service and have gotten much better insulated. This alone is a good reason to replace an old one. If you get over 10 years of service you have gotten your moneys worth. The sure sign of failure is a leak, usually trouble free, they can have some tricky to diagnose issues. Gas water heaters recover quicker as a rule, be sure your heater is ample for…

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Figuring Out a Three Way Switch

By | Electrical | No Comments

Three way switches used to frighten me, they seemed so complicated. I found a great residential electrical book and redrew the diagram several times until I thought I had it figured out. Inevitably, I ended up not trusting myself and randomly switching wires around until I got it, or at least I though I did. Then I found an electrician that showed me how the big boys do it. Here is what I do now. It reminded me how Red corrected me forever when I was pronouncing Porsche wrong every other time. He said,” Joe I’m going to say this…

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Flashing Red GFCI

By | Electrical | No Comments

I recently returned to a kitchen remodeling project to figure out why the a counter outlet stopped working. I traced the power back under the crawl space to a junction box with a GFCI outlet that would not reset and had a flashing red LED in it. I turned it into a junction box and left the outlet un-energized as a cover plate of sorts until I can get back up there. We do not have non-working outlets in our projects. Looking it up I realized that it was a failed GFCI outlet. It was nice to have the flashing…

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Fuse failure almost causes fire

By | Electrical, Energy | No Comments

Fusees are an important link in the safety chain of electrical components of a home. They are designed to fail prior to the wires getting so hot that they melt and or catch other things on fire. Sadly many folks are willing to put too large of a fuse or the wrong rating of a fuse in the line to keep a circuit working. There are many different looking fuses some look the same but operate differently. The key is to use the appropriate fuse for the job. Just because it fits in the space does not mean that it…

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I Have Knob & Tube Wiring

By | Aged Home Upgrades, Electrical, Trust, Understanding your home | 2 Comments

During almost every remodeling project Levco does, especially in Boise’s historic North End, we encounter Knob & Tube Wiring. It was the craze back in the late 1800’s to the early 1900’s, it was relatively safe ( compared to kerosene or gas lamps) and it was cheaper to install than the armored cable alternative. Knobs are the porcelain insulators that are nailed in and keep the wires from touching. Tubes are the porcelain insulators that were stuck in holes that the wires would run through. Danger occurred when splices were done improperly because poor connections caused heat and heat caused…

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Mislabeled Electrical Panel

By | Aged Home Upgrades, Electrical, Home Evaluations, Understanding your home | 2 Comments

I realized this issue after a friend called. He had just purchased a remodeled home, and was concerned that his electrical panel was mislabeled. This turns out to be a fairly common problem. What happens is that over the years, our electrical needs change and or problems occur, and an electrician is called to either upgrade or replace a faulty breaker. The electrical paned is opened up and the circuit breakers a rearranged to fit better. Unfortunately, the step that is frequently skipped is relabeling the panel correctly. Years ago, we had half of the gadgets that we have now….

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Refrigerator Failure

By | Appliances, Electrical, Green Remodeling, Understanding your home | No Comments

At Levco we normally repair other peoples problems and rarely have time or give much thought to care for our own problems. Here is a situation that happened to me recently that probably happens often to others. My wife noticed that the refrigerator side seemed a bit warm and the freezer side was definitely not freezing.  I suppose a thermometer would have been a more scientific method of determining a problem, but I digress. The first thing I hear is ” I turned the refrigerator up because it isn’t cold enough to freeze everything” This caught my attention because of…

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Building Code Updates

By | Electrical, Framing, HVAC, Plans, Plumbing, Process, Safe Practices, The Law, Understanding your home | One Comment

As of January 1st 2011 Boise City along with all of the other jurisdictions that adopt building codes, followed the states lead and adopted parts of the 2009 IRC international Residential Building Code. The last code was the 2006 IRC which was implemented in the same year. Plumbers use their own code 2003 UPC and electricians use their own code 2008 UEC, there are fire codes, mechanical codes, and energy codes to navigate as well. Thankfully the inspectors in this city are fantastic. As long as it is clear that they are not the enemy, they do a great job…

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