Learn the Basics of Home Electrical Wiring

home-electrical-wiring-installation-guide

Electrical wiring can be tricky—especially for the novice. That’s why it’s usually best to hire a professional for anything other than a simple job. Otherwise, you could risk injury, damage or fire. If you do plan to complete a DIY project that has an electrical component, there are some basic things to know about wiring installation.

Understanding electrical wiring

Since the 1940s, any house built (or any older home that has been rewired) has had to follow an electrical code: the NEC—written with safety in mind. NEC code identifies types of electrical wires and electrical cable types by color. When you remove a switch plate, you’ve probably noticed yellow, white, black, red or green wires. They are not there to be decorative; each serves a specific purpose, and some don’t play nicely with others.

How to electrical wires

When you’re doing wiring installation, you need to identify the parts of the wiring cable, the non-metallic electrical cable: the outer sheathing (the jacket) and the inner wires. The colored “wire” you see—the green, black, red, blue or white—is actually the sheathing that covers the inner copper wires. If you look closely, you’ll see markings stamped on the sheathing to let you know the number and gauge of wires inside. The color of the sheathing lets you know what each wire does.

The following is sort of an electrical wire types chart:

  • Black wires or “hot wires” carry live electrical loads from the electrical service panel to an outlet, light or other destination.
  • Red wires are also hot wires used to interconnect smoke detectors, so that if one alarm goes off, all the others do as well.
  • White and gray wires are neutral wires that connect to the neutral bus bar, which attracts current and carries it throughout the house. Don’t let the “neutral” part fool you because they can still carry a charge—especially if the current load is not balanced.
  • White wires wrapped in black or red electrical tape are also hot wires. The tape just lets you know that the white wire, which is normally neutral, is being used as a hot wire instead.
  • Green wires connect the grounding terminal in an outlet box and run it to a ground bus bar in the electrical panel, giving current a place to escape to the ground in the event a live wire touches metal or another conductor. Green wires can only connect to other green wires but can still be live if the electrical system is faulty.
  • Bare copper wires are the most common type of grounding wires.
  • Blue and yellow wires, although not usually found in non-metallic (NM) cable, are sometimes used as hot wires in an electrical conduit. The blue ones are travelers that might be in the switches at both the top and bottom of a staircase to control the same light.
Black Wire
Carries live electrical loads from the electrical service panel to an outlet
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Red Wire
Used to interconnect smoke detectors, so that if one alarm goes off.
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White and gray wires
Are neutral wires that connect to the neutral bus bar, which attracts current and carries it throughout the house.
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What type of wire is used for residential?

Most modern homes use nonmetallic (NM) cable that consists of two or more wires wrapped inside the colored sheathing mentioned previously. The package of wires usually contains one or more hot wires plus a neutral and a ground. To accommodate wiring in an older home or if your wiring just needs work, you can splice the old wires with new NM cable using a junction box that protects wire connections. The larger circuit wires carry circuit voltage that can be really dangerous to touch. If you don’t know what kind of wires you have, consider them all to be dangerous.

DIY wiring and switching tips

If you have the confidence and want to tackle a DIY wiring job on your own, you need to be prepared with information and tools.

  • Have the proper tools. These might be a multimeter that tests electrical voltage and a combination sheath/wire stripper.
  • Familiarize yourself with the different wires. Make sure you know which colored wire goes where and their purpose to avoid electrical shock and to safely wire your home.
  • Have more wire than you need. Make sure it stretches at least three inches outside of the electrical box.
  • Patch drywall with big plates. Did you make the hole in the drywall too big? Fix it with an oversized electrical plate.
  • Pay for quality. Don’t scrimp on the quality of switches and outlets.
  • Check the voltage before you touch wires and circuits. The multimeter will let you know if they’re safe to touch.
  • Do your research. Watch YouTube video tutorials.
Electrical wiring mistakes to avoid

An electrical “oops” moment could be really serious, causing short circuits, shocks or fires. These are a few common mistakes you’ll want to avoid:

  • Never connect wires outside of electrical junction boxes. If there’s no box, add one and connect the wires inside it.
  • Remember the three-inch minimum on wire length. Don’t cut your wires to short. IF you do, add six-inch extensions.
  • Never leave sheathing unprotected between frames, as in a ceiling installation. Staple it to a 2×2 or use metal conduit if the wire runs along the wall.
  • Avoid loose switches or loosely connected outlets.
  • Never install a three-slot receptacle without a ground wire.
  • Don’t recess an electrical box behind a wall surface. Instead, add a wall extension.
  • Secure cable with a clamp so wire insulation doesn’t cut or fray.
Common household electrical problems

If you have old wiring, you probably have a whole set of issues. One of the more common ones is frayed insulation because there was no grounding, and the wiring wasn’t made to handle today’s heavy-duty appliances. There are several other common electrical problems that are not restricted to old wiring:

  • Frequent surges caused by lighting, damaged power lines, or faulty appliances or wiring
  • Dips in power supply because of faulty devices (or those made of poor-quality materials) connected to the power grid
  • Light switches that don’t work correctly
  • A circuit breaker that trips frequently
  • An overloaded circuit breaker
  • Shocks
  • Lights that are too bright or too dim
  • High electrical bills
  • Lightbulbs that burn out too often
  • “Possessed” recessed lights that go out and then come back on
How to

If you have proper electrical training, you should be able to handle most projects. Have you thought about becoming an electrician? According to O*NETOnLine, the projected job growth for electricians through 2028 is faster than average for other occupations. Consider enrolling in electrical construction and planning programs Coyne College Chicago. You’ll get the hands-on electrical training and individualized instruction you need to prepare for an in-demand career as an electrician. You may also want to consider electrical construction and maintenance (ECM programs) in Chicago.

Curious? Contact Coyne College for more information.

Common Misconceptions About Trade Schools

misconceptions-about-trade-schools

There’s a certain stigma that has surrounded trade schools for a while: that they somehow provide an inferior education that is only good for those who can’t do anything else. Nothing could be further from the truth. Let’s debunk some common misconceptions about trade school.

Trade schools are for people who aren’t smart enough to get into college.

That is simply untrue. According to U.S. News & World Report, there are at least 100 colleges that accept 90 percent of those who apply; some even accept all who apply. Trade schools offer focused education and teach many skills that are relevant to even those who study in four-year colleges, such as critical thinking, communication, collaboration, pride in workmanship.

You can’t get a high-paying job if you go to a trade school.

If earning an average of $47,230 right out of school is low, then I guess that’s right. But how many four-year college grads can’t get jobs in their field and are working as baristas? Some of the highest-paying trade school career options pay well over that average salary:

  • Dental hygienist ($71,970)
  • Electronics repairer ($55,610)
  • HVAC technician ($57,250)

A trade school degree is not a real degree.

It’s true that you can opt for a diploma or certificate program from a trade school, but many offer two-year associate degrees; some even offer four-year bachelor’s degrees. In some cases, a diploma or degree from a trade school is a steppingstone to continuing education. For example, if a student earns a diploma in medical assisting, there’s no limit to where that person’s career can go. They will have a strong foundation that could lead to any number of careers: nursing, accounting, administration and more.

If you learn a trade, you’re stuck with it throughout your entire career.

It’s true that your education is focused on a particular trade and the skillset that goes with it. However, many technical skills overlap. For example, someone who studies to become an HVAC technician will learn some basic electrical and welding, as well as essential workplace skills. A pharmacy technician will learn about anatomy, billing, records and medical ethics and could work in a variety of locations. Who knows where it could lead?

Credits don’t transfer to a four-year school.

It’s true that some students study at a trade school with the intention of finishing their education at a traditional college. Just ask the university if they accept transfer credits. They may only apply to certain majors, but you can learn the specific requirements before you enroll.

Trade schools aren’t challenging.

Yes. Major universities with heavy academics have some very challenging programs, but trade schools teach students to be workforce-ready on day one of their first jobs. The hands-on training students receive is valuable. Every student is challenged with new tasks that mimic what they will do in the real world. Many also are required to participate in externships that actually get them into the field to practice in a real company.

You can’t get financial aid if you go to a trade school.

That is also untrue. Most trade schools offer financial aid for those who qualify, and many even offer scholarships. Depending on the trade and the demand for workers, some employers will pay a student’s tuition if they agree to work for them for a certain length of time.

There’s no job placement at a trade or technical school.

Most trade schools offer job placement services and have staff available to help students learn to interview, write resumes and apply for jobs. Many schools also offer job fairs and invite local employers to come meet with students who will graduate soon.

These misconceptions have given trade schools a bad reputation.

In reality, many young people are seeing the value of attending trade school and not a traditional college—especially when you consider cost, length of the program and job availability.

How much does it cost to go to a trade school?

The cost is significantly less than a four-year college. The average trade school education costs $33,000—sometimes less than the cost of a single year of college. If you multiply that by four, you get $132,000, which also comes with significant student debt that can last nearly the length of a career!

What are some of the advantages of a trade school?

The trades are in demand. Many trades workers are nearing retirement age, and people are needed to fill their shoes. If you learn a trade, there are short-term programs. You could complete your program in a few weeks or months as opposed to a few years. Imagine that you’re 19 and just completed a nine-month HVAC technician program. You start working immediately.

Let’s say you earn $50,000 a year. Your friend, who is also 19, decided to attend the state university and has three more years to go. By the time he or she graduates, you will have worked for three years and made $150,000. Deduct the $33,000 for the cost, and you’re $117,000 ahead of your buddy who has earned $0 and paid $132,000 in tuition. Now, who’s the smarter of the two?

How to Trade school

It’s easy. You need to have a high school diploma or a GED and fill out an application. In many cases, there are student loans for trade programs. You just need to contact the school you want to attend and ask about their financial aid. If you want to know how to apply, visit the school’s website. In most cases, you can apply online.

Trade programs in Chicago

Coyne College in Chicago offers several in-demand training programs that last less than a year:

  • HVAC Refrigeration
  • Electrical Construction & Planning
  • Electrical Construction & Maintenance
  • Medical Assistant
  • Medical Coding & Billing Specialist
  • Pharmacy Technician

Coyne also offers financial aid and has career services specialists who can help you find a job.

Contact Coyne College for more information or to enroll in a program.

Coyne College celebrates National HVAC Day – June 22

national-hvac-day

A lot of the time we can take indoor comfort for granted, but it’s the HVAC technicians who keep our systems running year-round.

National HVAC Day - June 22

Today is YOUR day, HVAC techs. A National HVAC Day. Coyne College would like to extend our thanks to you! Your hard work and dedication to the field are what keeps consumers happy and buildings/houses running smoothly.

If you are interested in becoming an HVAC technician, Coyne College offers an HVAC/R program where you can complete hands-on training in less than a year. You will be taught by industry professionals all of the skills needed to succeed in a career as an HVAC technician.

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Coyne College celebrates National HVAC Day – June 22

A lot of the time we can take indoor comfort for granted, but it’s the HVAC technicians who keep our systems running year-round. National HVAC Day – June 22 Today is YOUR day, HVAC techs. A National HVAC Day. Coyne College would like to extend our thanks to you! Your hard work and dedication to

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Prepare-HVAC-for-Summer

HVAC System Summer Preparation Tips

Prepare for a hot summer with a tuned-up HVAC system. Your heating, ventilation and air conditioning, or HVAC, system is designed to provide comfortable interior temperatures year round. Without routine maintenance, your system may be costing more in monthly utility bills or operating inefficiently. Learn more about hvac system summer preparation tips and how to

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Furnace Replacement: A Guide for Homeowners

To replace your home furnace or not replace it. That is the question that may be on your mind—especially if you haven’t experienced the warmth and comfort level you’re used to. Furnace replacement or your entire HVAC system can be costly, so you must ask: is it time to replace your furnace and/or air conditioning

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HANDS ON TRAINING COMPLETED IN LESS THAN A YEAR

If you like working with your hands, have a mechanical aptitude and are looking for a career with a tremendous future, becoming a heating, air conditioning and refrigeration technician could be a perfect fit. Demand for technicians with heating, ventilation, air conditioning and refrigeration (HVAC-R) training is on the rise. As the world shifts to an increasingly energy-efficient, technology-based HVAC-R systems, and a construction industry driving new commercial and residential construction, will fuel the need for qualified technicians, installers and mechanics. Tremendous opportunities for people with the right HVAC-R training continue to emerge.

Visit Coyne College for more details.

Night Trade School – Evening Programs at Coyne College

Evening-Trade-Programs

Do you have the desire to learn a new trade that is marketable and provides financial security? Are you tired of working hard for minimum wage and want to invest in a long-term career? Now you can learn a trade while you continue to work with evening trade programs at Coyne College.

Trade Programs

Trade Programs teach valuable skills that will prepare you for a rewarding career in as little as 42 weeks. Spend less time in unrelated topics and more time in hands-on learning and application of skills that will make you immediately employable.

Electrician Night Classes

  • Work with your hands
  • Troubleshoot
  • Learn how to install electrical devices and components and wire
  • Develop your mechanical skills and aptitude

HVAC Night Classes

  • Learn to install, troubleshoot and service residential and commercial HVAC units
  • Build skills in heating, ventilation, air conditioning, and refrigeration
  • Stay ahead of technological advancements and energy-efficient methods

Career

Careers for electricians and HVAC technicians are projected to continue to grow over the coming years. Invest in yourself and your future by learning a trade that will benefit you and serve others. Get your certification and get to work in short order when you enroll in night classes in Chicago at Coyne College. Contact us for more information.

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HVAC System Summer Preparation Tips

Prepare-HVAC-for-Summer

Prepare for a hot summer with a tuned-up HVAC system. Your heating, ventilation and air conditioning, or HVAC, system is designed to provide comfortable interior temperatures year round. Without routine maintenance, your system may be costing more in monthly utility bills or operating inefficiently. Learn more about hvac system summer preparation tips and how to receive professional training at a HVAC program near you.

What Is an HVAC System?

There are many components that work together to create comfortable indoor temperatures. Your home uses one or more of these systems to adjust the temperature and purify the air of your home:

  • Furnace
  • Ductwork
  • Thermostat
  • Central AC system
  • Window AC unit
  • Ductless air conditioner

Many homes are equipped with a central AC system or a ductless system. These systems come with a SEER rating to describe the energy efficiency of the unit. A qualified AC technician can inspect a system and determine whether it needs maintenance, repairs or if you should consider replacing your unit.

HVAC System Works

How Can I Prepare an HVAC System for the Summer?

Prepare for a summer in Chicago by following these maintenance steps and considering an HVAC upgrade. Be sure to inspect your air conditioner before summer starts to avoid causing additional damage to your unit or to spend days or weeks without cool air.

Summer is also a great time to inspect your furnace. After you turn off your furnace for the last time, inspect it to see if there are any signs of damage or needed maintenance. Summer is a great time to repair your furnace and have it ready for a chilly fall.

  1. Check the Filter

    The most common summer maintenance task is to check your HVAC filter. Window AC units have their own filters and central AC systems use the same blower and filter as your furnace. Most filters need to be replaced every three months, but check the manufacturer’s recommendations before replacing. Choose a quality filter to improve your indoor air quality this summer.

  2. Clear the Area

    Outdoor units can become clogged with leaves, branches and other debris. Check your air conditioner before turning it on for the summer. Use caution when clearing any brush and try to have at least two feet clear around your AC unit.

  3. Clean Out Vents

    Air ducts are an efficient way to spread cool, comfortable air throughout your home in Chicago. Unfortunately, they are also prone to clogging. Professional cleaning services can remove dust, debris and mold that may be residing in your ductwork. This will increase the energy efficiency of your AC system this summer and dramatically improve your indoor air quality.

What Are Common HVAC Upgrades?

Look for signs that you need an update as you check your system. An older AC may still be operating, but it could be increasing your monthly energy bill. A local trade school has more information on the state-of-the-art HVAC features available for your home.

1. Window Treatments

An affordable and low-tech option for upgrading the efficiency of your system is using new window treatments. Curtains, blinds and drapes not only provide privacy but also reduce the amount of heat that penetrates your windows. This is particularly important if your home has large windows.

2. Modern Thermostats

The latest thermostat options allow you to program your system and adjust features from your smartphone. A programmable, smart thermostat can dramatically reduce your costs and offer more personalized comfort. Compare the latest thermostat options to find out how you can tailor your home to match your lifestyle. A thermostat requires professional training to safely install, so be sure you have the proper training before tackling this upgrade.

3. New Fans

Modern ceiling fans are far more energy efficient and quiet than older models. If you’re tired of a loud, slow fan or you need to add fans to increase air flow, professional HVAC training can help you determine the best placement of new fans.

What Are the Signs I Need HVAC Repairs?

Some systems just need a tune up. If you have a damaged air conditioner or other component in your HVAC system, essential repairs can improve the convenience and cost of your system. At Coyne College, you can learn more about how to diagnose these signs and repair your system.

1. Inefficient Operation
Is your AC blowing hot air? An inefficient AC unit may need to be recharged or repaired. A refrigerant leak or a condenser coil issue can affect the temperature of the air blowing through your system. A skilled technician can inspect the condenser, filter, blower and ductwork to find the cause of the inefficient operation and make any necessary repairs.

2. Costly Energy Bill
A clogged air filter or refrigerant leak can result in inefficient operations. This causes your blower to blow for longer to achieve the same results. Don’t let a simple repair issue increase your monthly bill and decrease the lifespan of your blower.

3. Annual Maintenance
Most air conditioning systems should be maintained every year. A professional cleaning, inspection and sealing service offers great results and keeps your system going. This service requires a trained technician, so it’s important to receive professional training before maintaining your air conditioner.

hvac-repair-checklist

Where Can I Learn More About HVAC Systems?

Ready for an exciting new career or a jumpstart on your HVAC career? Receive quality HVAC training at Coyne College in Chicago to learn all the skills you need to become a professional HVAC technician. Learn more about our program or call us at 800-720-3990 for more information about our dynamic, hands-on training program.

Coyne College Electrical Training

Coyne-College-Electrical-Training

Coyne College is home to two electrical programs – Electrical Construction & Planning (ECP) and Electrical Construction & Maintenance (ECM). Through evening electrical classes at Coyne, students will learn how to become an electrician in no time.

In as little as 10 months, you will be ready to transform Chicago with the electrical skills you learned.

If you learn by doing, then this is the path for you. Elevate your career at Coyne College today.

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In Coyne College’s Electrical Construction and Planning program in Chicago, you’ll get the hands-on electrical training and individualized instruction you need to prepare for a career as an electrician.

For More Details, Visit Coyne College.

Furnace Replacement: A Guide for Homeowners

Furnace-Replacement-Guide

To replace your home furnace or not replace it. That is the question that may be on your mind—especially if you haven’t experienced the warmth and comfort level you’re used to. Furnace replacement or your entire HVAC system can be costly, so you must ask: is it time to replace your furnace and/or air conditioning system?

It helps to understand the parts of a gas furnace and what they do. A bit of troubleshooting may help you decide if now is the time to replace or just repair your HVAC system.

What are the parts of a furnace, and what do they do?

Regardless of the type of furnace you have—electric, gas or oil—they all have parts that serve similar functions.

  • Heat Exchanger
    Cold air is heated in the heat exchanger. Because of the dangerously high temperatures, there could be cracks leaking toxic carbon dioxide.
  • Burners and Manifold
    In many residential gas furnaces, a pilot light ignites burners that heat the air in the heat exchanger and then disperses it into the ductwork. Gas burners are connected to the furnace’s gas valve via the manifold. Newer models may offer multi-stage burners (modulating burners) that deliver different amounts of heat depending on the demand.
  • Blower Motor
    This is what actually pushes or cycles the air from the furnace into the ductwork. With a variable-speed blower, you can adjust the fan speed using furnace controls, but keep in mind that some blowers need to be lubricated annually.
  • Air Filtration
    All furnaces need something to reduce bad particles and filter them before they are circulated into main living spaces. If you fit your furnace with an electrostatic filter that traps particles through an electrical charge or install a HEPA (high-efficiency particulate-arresting) filter, you can reduce the amount of dust that blows through the system.
  • Venting
    You don’t want byproduct gasses to stay inside your home; breathing them could be deadly. Venting pipes that go from the furnace to outside can eliminate this danger. However, you should regularly inspect the pipes to avoid leaks.

How do I know if it’s time to my furnace?

If it stops working completely, you know the answer. If not, ask yourself some questions. Does it heat effectively? Does it turn off and on irregularly? Do you make frequent repairs on it? Is it noisy or produce a foul odor? Do you notice you or your family members are having frequent respiratory issues? Are your energy bills going up? If your furnace is more than 12-15 years old or if you’re experiencing any of these issues, it may be time to bite the bullet and replace your furnace.

What kind of furnace should I buy?

Before you buy anything, you should consider getting a home assessment. Hire a reliable contractor to come to your home and assess the situation.

  • The contractor will check your home’s square footage, age, windows and insulation to determine the furnace size and capacity your need.
  • He or she will also look for leaks or damage in the ductwork.
  • The contractor will also suggest what might improve your comfort level and air quality.

Once you get recommendations and know what’s best for your home, you can go shopping for a new furnace. If you are trying to avoid buying a new furnace—which costs, on average, $2,500-$7,150—make sure to have an HVAC technician regularly maintain and diagnose it for issues.

Home's Footage
The contractor will check your home’s square footage, age, windows and insulation to determine the furnace size and capacity your need.
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Damage Check
He or she will also look for leaks or damage in the ductwork.
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Contractor Suggestion
The contractor will also suggest what might improve your comfort level and air quality
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What are the features and benefits of today’s furnaces?

Above all, you’re going to want your furnace to work well for you while keeping operation costs down. The best furnaces today are energy efficient and abide by industry regulations. One that is energy efficient makes it easier to reduce your home’s energy use, saves you money and offers better safety controls and sensors. It doesn’t even require a chimney! These are some things to look for in a new gas furnace:

  • High AFUE (annual fuel utilization efficiency) rating
    The higher the AFUE percentage, the more efficient the furnace. The minimum requirement today is 80 percent, but the most efficient models have ratings of 90-98 percent. Although they may have a higher upfront cost, they can save you more long term. Another plus is that many are eligible for rebates.
  • Multi-stage burners
    These modulating burners can be adjusted electronically to provide warmth at any given time. They also deliver different levels of heat depending on your personal requirements.
  • Programmable thermostats
    A programmable thermostat lets you adjust the temperature in your house based on your daily schedule. If you also add smart controls that can be operated remotely from your smart phone, they can monitor the outdoor temperature, humidity levels and system efficiency.
  • Multi-speed or variable blower motor
    Customize your comfort level with the force air goes through your house.
  • Electrical ignition system
    You can save energy with an electrical Hot Surface Ignition (HSI) system rather than the old-fashioned pilot light ignition.
  • Warranties
    Most quality furnaces come with warranties that can cover manufacturer parts and labor, heat exchanger and contractor parts and labor. Some even offer an optional extended service agreement.
Are there any enhancements I can request?

Several enhancements can help your furnace’s efficiency and increase your comfort.

  1. Air cleaners (stand alone or affixable to your HVAC system) to improve air quality
  2. Zoning systems that offer more precise control over different areas of your home
  3. Humidifiers (sand alone or affixable) to add moisture that can help with dry winter air
  4. UV lighting to help clean air as it moves through the system, eliminating bacteria.

Does HVAC sound like something you’d like to do? Consider enrolling in HVAC programs at Coyne College. Do you have a job during the day? Enroll in evening HVAC programs at Coyne College Chicago. Depending on your needs, choose between day and night courses to become an HVAC technician in as few as 42 weeks.

How to Deal with Unsafe Electrical Wiring

Deal-with-Unsafe-Wiring

Even if you think of yourself as being pretty good with DIY projects, you may want to leave a potential electrical issue to the experts. Anytime there is unsafe wiring, it could cause a fire and severe shock. It’s crucial to understand the hazards and know how to stay safe.

Unsafe Electrical Wiring
Even if you think of yourself as being pretty good with DIY projects, you may want to leave a potential electrical issue to the experts.
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Understand Hazards
It’s crucial to understand the hazards and know how to stay safe.
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What could cause unsafe wiring?

Not all unsafe wiring is caused by old wiring, but damaged, worn, cracked or corroded wiring can certainly increase the likelihood of an electrical accident. These are a few possibilities:

  • Loose connections
  • Frayed cords
  • Pinched, pierced or cracked wire insulation
  • Overheated wires or cords
  • Damaged electrical appliances
  • Wiring that rodents may have chewed

What about electrical outlets and switches?

You definitely want to keep electrical outlets away from water, as water conducts electricity. Never use a radio, hair dryer, phone or anything else with an electrical cord near water—including pools and wet floors. Never plug damaged or frayed cords into an outlet, either.

How do I know if my wiring is old?

Most homes built before the 1940s used knob and tube wiring, named for the insulating knobs and tubes that ran wiring along and through the building’s frame: one black charged wire and one white neutral wire. Splices and wire connections made with tape placed around ungrounded soldered wires were the norm. The electrical tape insulated them and kept them from touching each other.

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Must-know Tips for DIY Electrical Wiring and Switching

People take on DIY projects in their own homes for a number of reasons. Whether they want to save money, feel more independent or enjoy fixing things themselves, any DIY project requires some basic know-how to be done properly. Installing or replacing electrical switches and wiring is no exception. These DIY Electrical Wiring tips can

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Learn the Basics of Home Electrical Wiring

Electrical wiring can be tricky—especially for the novice. That’s why it’s usually best to hire a professional for anything other than a simple job. Otherwise, you could risk injury, damage or fire. If you do plan to complete a DIY project that has an electrical component, there are some basic things to know about wiring

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How to Deal with Unsafe Electrical Wiring

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Is old wiring always unsafe, and should I replace it?

Before 1960, wiring insulation was made of rubber that can crumble or flake. It’s dangerous if the insulation has worn away, was installed incorrectly or is covered with regular building insulation material (which could overheat and potentially cause a fire). National Electrical Code (NEC) doesn’t require you to replace knob and tube wiring—especially if you live in a historic home. If local code allows it and your wiring needs work, you can splice the old wiring with new NM (non-metallic) cable if you use a junction box, which protects wire connections.

What if I have a short circuit?

If the power suddenly goes out on an appliance or light or you notice a spark or smoke or smell burning wires, you could have a short circuit. If you suspect a short circuit, turn off the circuit panel, check to see which flip is switched and inspect power cords plugged into outlets along the particular circuit for damage. There are other steps you should take to find a short circuit. If you’ve done the troubleshooting and don’t find an obvious problem, it might be in hidden wiring that an electrician should check out.

The thing about electricity is that it always tries to go back to ground through the wiring circuit breaker panels and then through the utility wires. If the connections within the wiring network loosen or break, current can leak and try to take a shortcut to get to ground. That might mean through flammable material or even you!

Is a short circuit dangerous?

When there’s additional electricity flowing through a switch, outlet or appliance, it generates additional heat. If the affected wires come in contact with flammable parts in your home, they can cause a fire. If you or a pet touches a live or damaged wire or cord, you can get shocked because you both conduct electricity. When the current flows through to the ground, it results in electrical shock.

What a short circuit?

Although there are several possible causes, three are most common:

  • Poor circuit wire insulation: If your wiring insulation is old or damaged, a faulty neutral wire connection touching a hot wire can trigger a short circuit.
  • Loose wire connections: When attachments loosen, neutral and live wires might touch, creating unsafe wiring that should be repaired by a professional electrician.
  • Appliance wiring issues: When you plug an appliance into a wall outlet, the wiring in the cord becomes an extension of the circuit. If the cord has issues, they become circuit issues.
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What if I think I know enough to do a wiring job and stay safe?

It’s critical that you make tight electrical connections because if wires loosen, there might be arcing and overheating. That spells potential fire. However, if you make a proper wire nut connection, have reliable terminals and know what else to watch for, it’s possible to make safe connections.

With many electrical wiring projects, you may need to repair the main service panel. That’s the place where utility wires send electricity for distribution throughout the circuits of your home. Again, it’s something that you may be able to do on your own—if you have some electrical experience.

If you know you have unsafe wiring—or even think you may—it’s always better to be safe than sorry. Contact a certified electrician to do the job.

How can I become a certified electrician?

According to O*NETOnLine, the projected job growth for electricians through 2028 is faster than average for other occupations. Have you thought about enrolling in electrician programs in Chicago? Consider taking day and night electrical program classes at Coyne College Chicago. You’ll get the hands-on electrical training and individualized instruction you need to prepare for an in-demand career as an electrician. If you have a day job, Coyne College offers evening electrical classes that could work with your schedule.

Register now for electrical programs at Coyne College.

Types of Furnaces: Heating Ventilation and Air Conditioning

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A furnace heats the air that is circulated by your home’s Heating Ventilation and Air Conditioning (HVAC) system. A thermostat has a direct link to a furnace so that changes in the thermostat will immediately trigger a furnace to turn on or off. When considering a replacement or upgrade for your home’s (HVAC) system, the type of furnace that will be best for your home depends on the way your house is shaped and designed. That is why it is beneficial to know the four different types of furnaces and to understand the features of each one.

Keep These Things in Mind

As you start your search for a furnace, be mindful of come of the features of your home that will limit or necessitate certain options. Is your climate dry or humid? Do you experience cold and icy winters or relatively mild ones? You may also need to consult a professional to determine what level of heat you need to generate to properly warm your home. You need to be able to know the amount of British Thermal Units (BTUs) that you require a furnace to produce.

Propane Furnace

Propane furnaces are used in about 10% of households in the U.S. As a byproduct of the production of gas and oil, propane can be just as effective as any other natural gas. The downside to these furnaces is that you have to change the propane tank every so often. However, in some areas, oil and gas are not easily accessible. If your home does not have a natural gas pipeline, then you will probably be looking at propane furnaces.

Electric Furnace

Electric furnaces use an electric heating element to transfer heat to the air that cycles through them. They are less efficient than natural gas furnaces, but they have the advantage of being smaller, allowing them to fit into more compact spaces. They tend to rack up more costs on your energy bill, but they end up being cheaper than most natural gas furnaces.

Again, if you do not have a source of natural gas connected to your house, and you don’t want to haul propane tanks around, an electric furnace could be a good option for you. Your decision may also ride on the cost of electricity in your area.

One advantage of electric furnaces is that they can last as much as ten years longer than gas or oil furnaces. If you are doing the installation yourself, you will also find that an electric furnace is easier to install. Be aware that there can be a safety risk to installing any kind of heating system in your home without the aid of a professional if you are not properly trained yourself.

Electric-Furnace
Oil Furnace

An oil furnace burns oil to produce a heating flame. One of these may be the better option if you are not looking to spend as much money as you would on a natural gas furnace. You can expect to pay approximately 25 percent less on average compared to a natural gas furnace.

Do be aware, however, that natural gas furnaces tend to run more efficiently. An oil furnace will usually run at an efficiency of 80-90 percent. A lot of homes in the northeastern U.S. use oil furnaces.

Furnace

The most widely used heating source in America, natural gas furnaces can be found in about half of all U.S. homes. They do a great job of providing even heating throughout an entire home. Jets of gas are propelled along a burner to make a big directional flame that makes hot air, which is then circulated through the HVAC ducts via fans.

These furnaces are highly effective but can be a bit pricey compared to electric or oil furnaces. The newer gas furnaces can run at up to 98 percent efficiency. Many of the older types of gas furnaces average at about 65 percent efficiency. If you have an old-style natural gas furnace that is not providing enough heat for your home, it may be time for an upgrade. Either way, natural gas furnaces tend to make less of an impact on the utility bill, due to the lower price of gas.

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Modulating Furnace

A modulating furnace combines the efficiency of natural gas with the cost-effectiveness of a cheaper furnace. While these furnaces require a bigger investment upfront, they end up saving you money on your energy bill thanks to their extremely energy-efficient design. In addition, these furnaces have a much more precise heating capability, typically landing within half a degree of the target temperature, compared to the 4-6 degree margin of error found on other types of furnaces. This is made possible by a design which, rather than shutting off and on, modulates a continuous flow of gas that adjusts based on the ratio of the home’s temperature to the temperature on the thermostat.

Become a True Expert

Are you interested in learning more about the ins and outs of the different types of furnaces? If you see yourself advising people on their HVAC systems and installing furnaces in their homes, consider getting an education in Electrical Construction and Maintenance or Electrical Construction and Planning at Coyne College. Our instructors have years of experience in the field and have given many students the tools of success. The HVAC industry has a lot of opportunities, as there will always be a need for people who know how to install and repair these systems. For more information, call our admissions department at 800-720-3990.

What You Need To Know About Electrical Outlet Types

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In the average American home, there are 75 electrical outlets. While most of these are typical three-prong, 15-amp outlets, there are many other options. If you want to work in electrical construction and maintenance, you will need to understand each of these commonly used electrical outlets and their applications. At Coyne College in Chicago, we have electrical programs to teach you everything you need to know for a career as an electrician.

The Most Common American Outlets

There are six major types of outlets you can expect to find in most homes. While not every home has all of these, nearly all have at least a couple of these options. Anyone working in the electrical field needs to be very familiar with these common types.

2-Prong Outlets

This type of outlet is very common in older houses but almost non-existent in new buildings. It is a 15-amp, 125-volt outlet that takes two wires on an ungrounded circuit. Since it lacks a ground wire, it is significantly less safe than the superior three-prong option. Furthermore, it is quickly becoming obsolete due to modern building codes. Expect to have to replace these in renovation jobs.

3-Prong Outlets

This is without a doubt the most common outlet in modern homes. It replaced the two-prong alternative as the go-to outlet for general electrical usage. It also is a 15-amp, 125-volt outlet but it has a third prong for grounding. It is significantly safer than the older version and is compliant with modern building codes.

GFCI Outlets

Ground fault circuit interrupter outlets are a shockingly safe choice of outlet. It is often used in kitchens, bathrooms and anywhere that the outlet may be near water. The outlet monitors the electrical flow in the circuit. If the current spikes or leaks, the GFCI outlet will interrupt the current to avoid a hazard. The outlet features two buttons for testing and resetting the interrupter.

GFCI-Outlets
AFCI Outlets

An arc fault circuit interrupter looks very similar to a GFCI outlet. Its purpose is to protect against arcs when electricity jumps from one wire to another. Arcing is a fire hazard, so this typica of circuit protection is important. In modern construction, AFCI circuits are built into the breaker. However, on older homes, this technology can be added using a special outlet.

20-Amp, 125-Volt Outlets

Many large appliances need a 20-amp current to operate. These are especially common for refrigerators and laundry machines. They are similar to the three-prong, 15-amp outlets but have a horizontal or T-shaped pin on the left. This helps prevent people from plugging items into the wrong type of outlet.

20-Amp, 250-Volt Outlets

These outlets are similar to the 125-volt ones used for appliances, but they have an even higher voltage. They look very similar and are sometimes used for tools such as air compressors. In a home, these outlets are usually installed by hobbyists for their shops. However, they are also common in commercial spaces.

Switch and Outlet Combinations

Unlike the other options above, this doesn’t offer any sort of electrical benefits or drawbacks. Instead, this marvelous multi-tasker allows the addition of a switch or outlet to a receptacle. Rather than having to add wiring to put a switch in the wall, an outlet can be converted to have an integrated switch. This is great for use in new bedrooms or to help make a room more practical.

Newer Types of Outlets

Many homes are adopting newer types of electrical outlets. These alternatives offer special features that are more convenient for modern living. Many of them can be installed without at most basic wiring work. If working a new construction job, it is likely that at least one of these could be requested. This is even more likely on a renovation job for the homeowner.

Recessed Outlets

The connection point on these outlets is recessed into the box rather than flush with the wall plate. This means that electronics can be plugged in with less cable protruding. The end result is that less space needs to be allowed behind furniture to plus items in. This is popular in living rooms and other places with outlets typically hidden behind furniture.

Temper Resistant Receptacles

These receptacles are now required by building codes in many areas. They have a special barrier than stops objects from being inserted to them by children. It is a similar concept to plastic outlet plug covers but more effective. The barrier can only be pushed aside by a plug or similar object. This is very effective in preventing accidental insertions.

USB Outlets

These outlets have USB charging ports integrated into them. They are growing very popular thanks to the prevalence of USB-charged smartphones, tablets and other devices. The key advantage is that the charging cable does not take up an outlet.

LED Outlets

This style of outlet has a built-in LED that can act as a nightlight. Many people find this convenient for young children or for providing minimal lighting in bathrooms and other areas that may need to be reached at night.

Learn More About Outlets and Other Electrical Components

Working in the electrical construction and maintenance field can be very rewarding. However, it is important to learn the trade if you want to land a good job. If you are thinking about going to trade school, consider Coyne College in Chicago.

Our electrical programs can help you learn all about wiring houses and other properties. This could be your first step towards a bright future. Contact us today to learn about enrolling at Coyne College.