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About: David Slusher Jr

Recent Posts by David Slusher Jr

Lake Almanor Area Road Trip Guide

Must-See Hidden Gems Around the Lake Almanor Area

You have survived the winter, made it through the holidays, and binge-watched all of your favorite shows.  Now summer has finally arrived, and it is during this time of year we start thinking about getting out for adventures.  For you valley dwellers, the Lake Almanor area is a perfect day’s drive that offers a ton of things to see and do.  Getting out of the summer heat in Sacramento Valley can be refreshing.

Lake Almanor Area

There is a reason Highway 36 is called the Volcanic Legacy Scenic Byway.  It can be summed up by that magical feeling you get when you round the corner at Johnson Grade that first time back visiting Almanor and are greeted by Mt. Lassen off in the distance, snow capped and towering over the entire basin.  The feeling of untouched wilderness and absolute grandeur lets you know you’ve arrived someplace special.

If you are new to the area and want to find out where to start exploring, stop in at the Lassen National Forest Ranger Station in Chester and pick up a map of the forest.  While you’re there, stop by the Coffee Station in Chester and purchase a Water Trails Map of Lake Almanor that highlights the great spots to explore while on the water, as well as all of the local services that support the watersports enthusiast.  Lastly, don’t forget to stop by our office at 681 Main St. in Chester and let us know you enjoyed the article.  Here are some of our favorite spots to visit:  

Things to do near Lake Almanor

Drakesbad Guest Ranch

The historic lodge of Drakesbad is located in Warner Valley about 17 miles from Chester, CA, and offers plenty to do even if you only have a morning or afternoon to visit.  Make reservations for dinner, enjoy some horseback riding, a relaxing massage, and a soak in the hot springs. You can also enjoy some hiking in the area;  Boiling Springs Lake Hiking trail and Devil’s Kitchen Hiking Trail are in the Warner Valley area and are open to all visitors.  These trails are both part of the Pacific Crest Trail, and the trailhead is located 1/4 mile before Drakesbad.  

Indian Valley

Both Greenville and the communities around Indian Valley have a rich history as boomtowns.  Abandoned structures and local lore lead many a traveler to the area in search of a romantic, bygone era.  Architecture and history buffs alike will immediately fall in love with the locale.  The town centers of Greenville, Taylorsville, and Genesee all have buildings dating back to the 1860s that are still being used as shops and residences today.  That being said, what really draws people to the area is its sheer beauty.   

Mount Hough is located at the southernmost end of Indian Valley, and its snow-covered shoots make it look as if you might be driving through the European Alps.  Atop of Mt. Hough sits the subalpine Crystal Lake, a pristine beauty that is truly the diamond of the Sierra Nevada.  From there, the immense and spectacular vistas,ranging from Mt. Lassen in the north to the Sierra Buttes in the south, make the climb an experience that is simply not to be missed.

Things to do near Crystal Lake

Westwood

The drive from Lake Almanor to Westwood is a picturesque cruise where you can stop off at a number of locations and take in all the area’s natural beauty.  The Hamilton Branch of the Feather River, which originates from the watersheds of the Keddie Ridge, Coyote Peak, and Pegleg Mountain, drains into Mountain Meadow Reservoir before running along the northern route of HWY 147, and features some of the best fishing holes in the area.  The community of Hamilton Branch has public parking on county road A-13, where you can hike down to the river and fish in an area that is well known for its monster Rainbow Trout.  When passing through the community of Clear Creek, be sure to stop off for a picnic lunch at the park nestled next to the naturally occurring pond, which is fed from underground springs that bubble up through the lava flows of Mt. Lassen.

Buffalo Chips Pizza

If you are driving through Westwood, be sure to stop by Buffalo Chips Pizza. Its is located at 322 Birch Street.   One thing is for sure, if you are looking for the best of the best, a new go-to, Buffalo Chips Pizza is it.  Marilyn Gibbs’ legacy lives on with her son Ryan at the helm, and boy does it taste good.  They are doing it the right way: hand throwing homemade dough, topping it with the freshest ingredients and the tastiest super secret sauce, and crisping it in an old fashioned brick oven to a bubbling perfection.  You might also try their real crowd-pleaser, the Beefy Cheese Supreme.  

It really feels like you are stepping back in time when you visit Westwood and dine at Buffalo Chips Pizza,housed in their converted Red River Lumber Company bunkhouse.  Don’t miss the opportunity to experience both the history of logging and the technological marvels of the Red River Lumber Company on display at the local museum, and snap a selfie with Paul and Babe.

Things to do near Buffalo Chips

Susanville

Susanville, a short drive from Lake Almanor, is an up-and-coming destination for cycling enthusiasts.  The Susanville Ranch Park and the Southside Trail offer over 40 miles of non-motorized trails ideal for hiking, mountain biking, horseback riding, and dog walking, as well as cross-country skiing and snowshoeing in the winter.  Or, one could simply go for a quiet stroll. The 14 miles of trails in the northern portion of the park offer a very exciting experience for more advanced trail users. There are challenging climbs, bermed turns, an obstacle park, many loop options, and spectacular views of the Honey Lake Valley.  

Biz Johnson Trail

The Bizz Johnson Rail Trail is perfect for beginner riders or hikers that want to take in the area’s beauty without too much of a challenge.  The former logging rail line that was converted into a recreation trail in the early 1980s is best known for its gorgeous landscapes that meander through the Susan River Canyon, and include semi-arid plateaus, upland forests of pine and fir, and historic tunnels and trestles.  After your outing, stop in at the Lassen Land and Trails Trust’s Farmers’ Market (located at 601 Richmond Road in Susanville) and sample some of Northeastern California’s best locally produced eggs, fruit, meats, vegetables, and prepared foods.  The Market operates from June through early October.  

Things to do near the Bizz Johnson Rail Trail

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7 Spring Cleaning Jobs for Your Lake Almanor Home

It’s Spring cleaning time in Lake Almanor!  Adding to that, Northern California experienced one of the wettest winters on record, dumping a ton of snow and rain, it is  the perfect time to start putting together that to-do list for your return.  In the coming weeks, the Snow Flowers will be popping up everywhere, and all of us will once again be meandering through our majestic forests.  

Remove hazardous dead trees

The U.S. Forest service estimates that there are now over 102 million dead trees in California, and chances are good that a few of them are on your property.  Dead or diseased trees can pose a substantial risk of damaging your property.  In fact, trees that grow close to one another compete for light and water, and are at a higher risk of contracting a fungal infection.  As such, thinning trees on your property is a great way to promote overall growth and health.  Always use a licensed and insured company with lots of residential felling experience when considering tree removal near buildings.

Change your smoke detector batteries

Being woken up in the middle of the night by a chirping smoke detector is perhaps the worst torture on the planet.  More importantly, in the event of a fire, a malfunctioning smoke detector is a danger to you and your family.  Make sure to change all of the batteries in all of your detectors at the same time, and be sure to test each alarm after replacement.  For maximum protection, you should also consider upgrading your smoke detector to a combination carbon monoxide/smoke alarm this spring.  It is a simple swap-out that can be done by anyone with basic electrical knowledge.  If your home has any gas appliances, a carbon monoxide detector is a must-have.

Service your air conditioning system

Uncover your outdoor unit (called the condenser) and thoroughly clean the coil with soap and water to wash away any dust and debris, as they often lower operating efficiency.  If your unit does not have a cover, disconnect power to the unit, remove the top screen, and carefully remove any pine needles or leaves that could impede airflow and reduce efficiency.  Because your air conditioner requires more airflow than your furnace to operate efficiently and avoid mechanical breakdown, always replace the indoor air filter before using your air conditioner, and remember to replace it monthly during the summer.  If it’s been a while, consider hiring an HVAC professional to measure the amount of refrigerant in your system and guarantee optimal operation under heavy heat loads.  This will prolong the life of the compressor in your equipment.

Pump your septic tank

Has it been awhile since your septic tank was pumped?  Has it ever been pumped?  Spring is a great time to have your septic system serviced.  If you’ve been gone all winter, the bacteria levels in your septic tank are low.  And, if your tank hasn’t been pumped in a while, the amount of bacteria in the tank may not be enough to manage the consumption of old and new waste.  Any large particles and sludge that aren’t broken down enough by the bacteria can be a recipe for a backup.  If you need help locating or uncovering your tank, hire a professional who can pinpoint the tank location with sonar equipment.  

Clean refrigerator coils, bathroom fan covers, and dryer vents

Before servicing any of these appliances, make sure to either unplug them or cut them off from the power supply..  Then, remove and clean their covers and thoroughly vacuum or brush any dust and lint from their coils, fan blades, and any accessible venting.  The outdoor dryer vent termination damper will often get clogged with lint, propping it open and  providing a warm place for critters to enter.  To prevent this, be sure to clean there as well.  These simple tasks will ensure quiet and efficient operation all summer long.

Change the oil in your backup generator

Many automatic generators around the basin have run for 60 hours or more this winter, providing power to unoccupied homes during electrical outages caused by severe weather.  Most manufacturers recommend changing the oil in your air-cooled generator every 100 hours or annually, whichever comes first.  Oil acts as the coolant in these motors, and it loses much of its lubricating properties after the 100 hour mark.  In addition, moisture naturally enters into the motor during the combustion process, mixing with oil and causing corrosion.  If your generator is brand new, or very old, it may be due for a valve adjustment, too.  Properly adjusted valves will ensure efficient combustion and reduce the risk of generator malfunction when you need it most.  Changing the oil, filters, and spark plugs is an easy, do-it-yourself job that will help keep your generator running strong.  Before service, make sure your automatic generator is switched to off,and disconnect any battery terminal wires.  

Check the house for critter infestation

Mice and squirrels invade during the winter months, looking for food and shelter. Once inside your home, they can cause tens of thousands of dollars worth of property damage, as well as create serious health hazards that will only get worse over time.  They’ll chew through walls, floors, wires, and pipes, and will contaminate living areas with disease ridden feces.  Be on the lookout for traces of critters in the spring, including droppings inside cabinets and pantries, or new holes along the perimeter foundation walls, under eaves, or around attic vents.  If you find that you have been invaded, trapping is the first step.  You don’t want to poison the animals, as it will result in them going back into the walls to die, inviting even more pests into your home and creating an awful stench.  When you are confident that the critters have been repelled, seal any cracks in your walls, siding, and floors with a good quality caulking that will hold up to extreme fluctuations in temperature.  Larger holes should be repaired through the replacement of wood trim and siding.  Eliminate any earth to wood contact along the foundation, making sure there is at least 8” of clearance, and cut back any trees or shrubs that are making contact with the structure, as they can act as a bridges for entry into your home.  

Download Our Springtime Home Safety Checklist and Print it.

As the days warm up and we are able to return to our cabins in the Lake Almanor area and poke around the outside of our homes, it becomes time to inventory the toll that Mother Nature has inflicted over the winter.

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5 cool led lighting products for your home

Saving the planet for future generations to enjoy?  That’s cool.  Saving your eyes and preventing migraine headaches?  That’s cooler. And now, with LED lighting more affordable than ever, outfitting your entire home or business  will no longer break the bank.  Here are 5 LED products to consider:

LED T-8 dual mode replacement lamps

The T-8 fluorescent bulb is the most common type of bulb found in office and kitchen lighting fixtures.  Everyday, people across the country are forced to suffer the torment of these bulbs for hours at a time.  Fluorescents are known to emit a very fast flicker that bothers many with sensitive eyes.  It’s no secret that fluorescents cause a bevy of health related issues,including: migraines; headaches; eye strain; fatigue; stress;and anxiety.  

By contrast, the smooth and constant light emitted by LEDs eliminates many health issues.  However, LEDs can also come with certain drawbacks.  Many super-low cost LED replacement T-8 lamps on the market either allow you to continue to use the ballast already installed in these fixtures or require you to eliminate it altogether.  

But what if the ballast fails, or you don’t have the electrical skills to replace it?  Must you now spend even more money?  Not with these new dual mode lamps by EiKO, which allow you to simply install the bulb, ballast or not.  And, if the ballast fails, rather than going out to buy new bulbs you can simply omit the ballast entirely.  With a 50,000 hour lifespan, and a 5 year warranty, the dual mode lamp will save you 80% on your energy bill.

 

Fully dimmable LED filament style candelabra lamp

This fancy looking bulb by EiKO is your standard 40 watt incandescent replacement candelabra bulb.  It is well-suited for decorative fixtures with exposed bulbs, and is perfect for those who are interested in converting to LED but feel  wary about a clunky looking bulb.  Best of all, the bulb is fully dimmable,making it perfect for those in search of lighting to set a mood.  

Decorative LED outdoor lighting fixtures

This decorative LED outdoor wall lantern uses 70% less electricity than traditional incandescent fixtures, and there is no bulb to replace or recycle. The LED light source turns on instantly at any temperature and lasts 50,000 hours without replacement, making it the most reliable outdoor lighting available. These fixtures are built with a beautiful and protective cast aluminum aged bronze patina finish that’ll look great for years to come.  Best of all, the entire assembly can be installed in minutes with minimal electrical skills. 

Under cabinet LED lights

Older LED puck and strip lighting leave pixilation on counter surfaces.  When illuminating decorative counter tops from above or in applications lighting merchandise or decorative collectibles, this result is less than desirable.  This under cabinet light by Cree eliminates LED pixilation with a uniform light, even on glossy counter tops.  These fixtures are fully dimmable to set any mood while maintaining an unobtrusive, low profile design, and are perfect for many installations.  E-Conolight offers a great Under cabinet light.

Outdoor LED spot light and LED security lights

This wall-mounted, outdoor LED floodlight from Lithonia Lighting provides security lighting for both residential and commercial applications.  At 18 watts, this floodlight can illuminate a high-risk area all night long. In addition, a photocell is included to maximize energy efficiency, automatically turning the light off at dawn and back on at dusk. The integrated LEDs last for 50,000 hours, so you never have to buy a bulb for the light.  Installs in minutes with minimal electrical skills.  

How Much Can you Save Switching to LED?

Here is a handy calculator to help you determine the return on investment of converting to LED in your home or business.

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July 14, 2016

Central Air Conditioning Buying Guide

We know your story:  You’ve spent one too many summer’s sweltering in the heat.  You’re tired of your friends giving you grief about your blast furnace of a house and mocking you by sending YouTube video links of how to make an $8 air conditioner out of a foam ice chest, bailing wire and your grandma’s old box fan.

We know that converting your home to a central air conditioning system isn’t cheap and that getting the most value for your hard earned money is a priority.  In this blog, we will focus on the ins and outs purchasing your first air conditioning system, things to consider when buying, and common mistakes to avoid.  

6 things to consider before you invest in air conditioning

What’s first?  There are a few things you will need to know before you can ask for a price estimate.  Here are 6 questions you should ask yourself before you buy an air conditioning system:

Does your home already have a forced-air furnace and ductwork?

If not, central air conditioning may be out of your budget.  You may consider a whole-house evaporative cooler or a ductless-mini-split system which can typically be installed in retrofit applications for much less than central air conditioning.

Is the existing ductwork in your home large enough to support air conditioning?

More air needs to be moved during air conditioning than heating because of the nature of removing latent heat (moisture) from the air.  Less airflow over a cooling coil will actually pull more latent heat (moisture) out of the air and less sensible heat.  This can cause the cooling equipment to “ice-up” and cause potential damage to your home or the equipment itself.  Some older homes with original ductwork and only a gas or electric furnace will not have large enough ductwork to handle the addition of air conditioning.  If you still want central air conditioning, you will need to replace at least some if not all your ductwork.  Again, this can be a costly expense and you may consider another more cost-sensitive approach to cooling.  

Another ductwork consideration for older homes: Is the existing ductwork tin/metal?

Tin and metal ductwork may rust-out over the years with air conditioning. Cold air holds less moisture than warm air resulting in condensation, this condensation will collect at the bottom of the metal ducting and result in rust.

Does your home have enough electrical service and space for an additional 240vac circuit?

If not, you may need an electrical panel upgrade prior to the installation of central air conditioning.

Is there available space for your outdoor unit and does your home have an attic or crawl space underfloor?

The installation of refrigerant tubing to a new evaporative coil at your air handler will also positively impact the cost of the installation.

Most importantly, considering the length of time you plan on living in your home and making sure you have available funding for your project

are the two most important considerations.  We often recommend to our clients that they purchase the most efficient system they can afford that will experience a return on investment while they own the home.  It really doesn’t make too much sense to purchase the most efficient system on the market if you never experience the cost-benefit of its long-term installation.  In other words, don’t buy the most expensive system if you plan on selling or moving locations in the near future.

Hiring professional HVAC technicians

Air-conditioning-buying-guide-slusher-chester-ca

Hiring the right person or company to install your central air conditioning system is crucial!  Only call and schedule an estimate visit with a licensed HVAC C-20 contractor in California.  This is for your protection.  There are lots of people who think they can do the job, but you don’t want to be on the purchasing end of a system that could be a potential health and safety hazard.  

Also, most manufacturers will only warranty equipment that is installed by a qualified air conditioning technician.  A large portion of the final product cost is the manufacturer’s warranty.  Forfeiting this would be a huge mistake!  

Lastley, ensure the contractor knows what you want, not what he or she thinks you want.  Listen to the contractor’s comments and recommendations, of course. Then, make your choices.  What energy efficiency equipment are they recommending?  What are the savings and payback if you go with the higher efficiency equipment?  Are there rebates available from your local utility provider?  What brand equipment does the contractor use and what’s included in the warranty?  Remember, you are the customer, get what you want.   Be sure to review the proposal and make certain it covers all aspects of the job including required building permits from the county, city, or state.  You’ll be glad you took the time to do all this research when you have a nice, comfortable, cool home on one of those hot August nights.

We proudly install these brands of air conditioners.

Air-Conditioning units from York, Rheem, Payne, Daikin and Mitsubishi:

  • Energy Star Rated
  • Industry Leading Warranty and Quality

California energy rebate programs

Air conditioners, furnaces and water heaters have improved considerably in the past few decades. When it’s time to replace yours, look for a high-efficiency model to save energy and money over the long run.  The state of California and utility companies offer rebates and financial assistance.  Make sure you check with your local Utility to find out details.

State Of California Programs:  California offers many energy efficiency programs.  Take a look at there website to see details.

Home Upgrade:  Home Upgrade is a statewide program that offers up to $6,500 in rebates when you make energy-saving home improvements. It takes a comprehensive approach and looks at all the systems in your home to determine what upgrades will most effectively reduce energy usage while providing you with a comfortable living environment.

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11 Electrical Safety Tips For Children

As a parent there is nothing more dear to my heart than my children. Their safety and security is something that is constantly on my mind. As a parent, I want to protect them from harm. I teach them about stranger danger, bullying and the impact that media and outside influences have on their perceptions of the world around them. Yet moreover, as an electrician, I have a deep understanding of the potential hazards that lay in wait that most, especially a young child, don’t have when it comes to electricity. In the United States, injury is the leading cause of death among children and nearly half occur in the home. So I feel it is my duty, as a parent to educate my children about these potential hazards and make my home as child friendly as possible.

Secure power chords from a child's reach

Power cords are one of the most underestimated electrical hazards we have in our homes. And if you have teens and preteens in your home like I do, then you know how popular gaming consoles and portable computers are. It is estimated that about 4,000 injuries each year are associated with power cords. Believe it or not, 50% of these injuries involve fractures while only 5% are electrical burns. So, it is important that all power cords be tucked away as neatly as possible and whenever a cord is in an area with foot traffic be sure to use power cord covers.

Teach children to not stick things in power outlets

Young children see everything we do. They learn by example if you will. One of the things our children see us do over and over is plug devices into power outlets. It is important that we teach our children to not stick anything into a power outlet. Express to the child that if they do they could get hurt. On that same note, it is equally important to teach children of all ages to not pull out a power cord by the cord. It is possible that by doing this, it could tear the outer coating of the wire and live wires would be exposed and dangerous. As a parent we should go through our home and install plug protectors to further prevent any tampering by little fingers.

Protect children by adding GFCI outlets

In kitchens and in bathrooms there are outlets available for the use of countertop appliances such as toasters and hair dryers. The National Electrical Code has rules in place that state that there should be a GFCI receptacle within 6 feet of any source of water. While this is a great idea, not all homes have GFCI receptacles installed. Therefore you should teach your children that electricity and water do not mix. Electricity flows easily through water, and it will travel through your body which is made 70% of water. Furthermore, if you do not have GFCI receptacles in place, contact a local licensed electrician to do so.

Teach children that pets shouldn't chew on electrical chords

If you have a household with children then it is likely you have a house pet as well. Teach your children to not allow animals to chew on power cords for obvious reasons. But if you child does catch your animal chewing on a cord, teach them to inform you of the situation and go to the cord, disconnect it, and inspect the cord, insuring that the outer insulation was not compromised. If so, simply putting electrical tape over the cord is not the solution. The cord must be replaced. Remember, these children see everything we do, and simply putting a “band aid” on an electrical hazard does nothing more that create a potential injury down the line.

Teach your kids that adults change light bulbs

One of the necessary tasks around your home is the changing of light bulbs. I’m sure that many people, throughout their lives have attempted to remove a broken light bulb from a socket. I hope that as an adult you understand that you should insure that the light switch is off and never stick anything metal such as a pair of pliers in a socket to remove a broken bulb.  While most light fixtures are located high on a ceiling, there are fixtures around our home that are easily reached by our children such as lamps and under cabinet lights. It is important that we teach your children to let you know if a light bulb needs to be changed for whatever reason and that if they were to stick their fingers or any object in the socket they could be shocked. Just remember, you were a kid once and threw a ball in the house and broke a light bulb and didn’t want to get in trouble.

Teach your children the hazards of overhead power lines

Kids are kids.These days our children are surrounded by technology and at times it is difficult to pull them away from that console and make them go breathe some fresh air. But it should be encouraged. One outdoor activity that is as old as time is climbing trees. Some parents may discourage their children from climbing in trees due to the risk of falling and getting hurt, which i completely understand. Yet if you are a parent that has no issue with this, please educate your children on the hazards of overhead power lines and discourage them from climbing in any trees where power lines are running through them.

Don't swim during thunderstorms or hazardous weather

Summer is a great time of year. Swimming is a great way for kids to cool off. Beating the heat at your local outdoor swimming pool, lake or river is where memories are made of. As parents we are not always able to join in the fun due to work or other boring adult stuff, therefore it is important that we teach our children that they should not go swimming during extreme cloud cover or rain. Again, electricity flows easily through water and us if we are in it.

Teach children about downed power lines

It is an absolute must that we teach our children to be safe around power lines. If your child witnesses a power line down, tell them to have an adult call 911. Teach them, while it is fun to fly a kite on a windy day, do not do this around power lines and if they witness anyone who has come in contact with a power line, do not touch them. Run and get help.

Teach kids about electrical sub stations

Never climb on the fencing around electric substations. If your child has a pet which has entered one or if they have accidently thrown something over the fence of one, call an adult and the adult will contact the power company and retrieve the pet or object.

Children should know about warning labels

At times there are devices, areas or items with warning labels on them. These labels are there for a reason. Many times these labels not only have the word “WARNING” or “DANGER” on them but a picture depicting a lightning bolt and a person becoming shocked. Children should be taught to respect these labels, it is for their own safety.

Ask an adult before you dig in the dirt

Another favorite outdoor past time that children enjoy doing is to dig in the dirt.  Lets hope your child is just scratching the surface and not performing a major excavation. Either way, teach your children that before they dig in the dirt, they ask you or another adult first. There are rules in place as to how deep an electric line is to be buried, but let’s face it, not everyone follows the rules. If you, as a parent are unsure about the location of underground power lines, contact your local power company for guidance.

Our children are our greatest asset. Let’s allow our kids to be kids, but let’s raise safe, fun loving, well informed kids.

Install GFCI and AFCI Outlets

AFCI, and GFCI circuits, are two different important safety devices serving completely different purposes.  AFCI receptacles and breakers are designed to prevent fires and GFCI receptacles and breakers are designed to prevent electrical shock.

RELATED ARTICLE:

Springtime Home Safety Checklist

  • Confirm all air has been purged at water heater on start-up by testing (manually tripping) temperature and pressure relief valve before energizing water heater.  It is safe to energize once a full stream of water has discharged.
  • Test all GFCI and AFCI circuits (manually trip).
  • Test surge protectors (manually trip).
  • Test motion and dawn to dusk sensors at exterior lighting.
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5 Ways Rodents Can Ruin Your Home’s Electrical Wiring

Are rodents wreaking havoc on your wiring? Find out why and how to fix the issue.

A common question we get from our clients here in the Lake Almanor and Susanville areas is, “What can I do to prevent rodents from chewing through my home’s electrical wiring?”.   Often, they experience a rodent related electrical outage of some sort due to the fact that the area that they live in is infested with field mice or other critters  like squirrels who would rather live inside of your warm and cozy home than out in the cold.

  1. It’s common to assume that the wires must have been “chewed through” but this is rarely the case. It’s time to set the record straight!  I’ll examine some of the risks that these pesky critters can create and a few easy solutions to keep them out in the wild where they belong.
  2. Mice are not attracted to the wiring in your home due to the plastic material which encases them. For some, this is hard to believe. For the record, mice, most of the time are simply attempting to get from point “A” to point “B”. The travel through your walls through whatever means necessary. This means through the holes that the wires have been directed through. Sometimes they must chew to make the path a larger one and therefore, your wires may become collateral damage.
  3. Due to mice chewing through wires, sparks may ignite a fire. No. That is not how it works. If the mouse chews through a single electrical conductor, two things could happen. Either the mouse will be electrocuted and die and now the smell is the problem, or the conductor will be chewed in half and now you are without power on that particular circuit.
  4. Mice can get into your electrical main panel and shut down your whole system. Yes, and No. This goes back to my previous point about a mouse chewing through a single conductor. If your entire system were to shut down due to a mouse, it would have to be between the two main conductors. If you, the homeowner, has ever looked inside your electrical panel at the main conductors, you would know that there is simply no way a mouse could fit both conductors into their mouth simultaneously. If they can, it’s a mouse that was living in the sewers with the ninja turtles. Therefore, I’m thinking, no. Yet, if the mouse or small rodent were to touch the exposed lugs between the two circuits, it could cause the system to fail, yet is very uncommon.
  5. Mice like the warmth of the wires and nest in electrical boxes in attics. Yes. if there are no covers on electrical boxes in attics and in basements, mice may collect insulation and nest in these locations. But, then again, the potential of exposed wiring and the rodents touching two separate circuits at once is the issue.

How do I prevent rodents from tampering with my electrical system?

Now that we have dispelled some of the myths about mice and other rodents and your electrical system, what should you do to ensure you are not a victim of a potential hazardous situation?

Seal all potential points of entry into your home.

Remember, a mouse can squeeze through and opening roughly ¼” thick.  There are professional rodent abatement contractors who specialize in the type of work and we highly recommend using their services.  

Hiring a Licensed Electrician

Have a qualified electrician go into your attic and basement / crawl space, and ensure that all of the electrical boxes have covers on them and all of the knockouts on the boxes are sealed.

Check the electrical panel

Ensure that all possible entry points to your home’s electrical panel are sealed off. The electrical industry makes “knockout fillers” that should snap right into any holes in your panel that were, most likely, a factory created knockout. This will also keep other pests, like wasps, from creating a home base just waiting to harass you later.

Use Steel Wool to block holes in your wall

If you have experienced a mouse chewing through a wire in your walls and you have the wall exposed to make repairs, place steel wool into any holes that wires travel through. This makes for a very uncomfortable feeling on the teeth of these little creatures when they attempt to chew through.

Rewire problem areas that have been chewed through.

And lastly, if you are one of the rare situations where you continue to have issues with rodents tampering with your home’s wiring, you could hire a qualified electrician to come to you home and rewire any problem areas  in conduit or metal clad cable. Yes. This is extremely expensive but at the end of the day, you win, they lose.

When is it time to hire a licensed electrical contractor?

If the basic tips about don’t work and you continue to have issues with rodents chewing on wiring, then it might be time to hire a professional like Slusher Plumbing Heating Cooling Electric. We are a licensed and certified Electrician that proudly serves the Chester, Susanville, and Quincy areas.

  • Common electrical services we offer in Chester, Susanville, and Quincy areas:
  • Electrical Troubleshooting and Repair
  • Ensuring Code Requirements
  • Through-the-wall Wire Tracing
  • Load Calculations
  • GFI / GFCI Receptacles
  • Arc Fault / AFCI Circuits
  • Service Panel Upgrade
  • Room Remodels & Upgrades
  • Short Circuits and Flickering Lights
  • Blown Fuses and Broken Outlets
  • Defective Lights, Damaged Splices
  • Complex Fixture Installations
  • Lighting maintenance
  • Electric panel upgrade
  • Landscape lighting
  • Christmas light outlets & installation
  • Fixture installation
  • Switch & outlet repairs
  • Electric water heaters
  • Electric wall & basement heaters
  • Roof & gutter snow & ice melt
  • Home automation
  • Home theater systems
  • Security
  • Over and under cabinet lighting
  • recessed and track lighting installation
  • Spa hookups
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Understanding Your Home’s Electrical Wiring System

In 1879, Thomas Edison exhibited his new invention, electric lighting, in a neighborhood in Menlo Park, New Jersey.  Originally, this new invention was only available to the wealthiest of families. Yet, by the turn of the century, electricity inside of residences were commonplace.  

Now, 137 years later, many changes have occurred regarding electrical wiring within your home, thanks mostly, to the National Electrical Code requirements and modern technology. Contributions to the NEC code are made and revised every three years in an attempt to prevent loss of life or property due to improper installation of electrical systems. Therefore, electrical systems and wiring particularly, has evolved greatly over the years. Although much of the practices and materials that were used in the past have been phased out, much of the early wiring that was installed are still present in homes across lake Almanor and Susanville.

Do I need to rewire my home?

Countless times I have been asked by homeowners for an estimate to rewire their homes due to their “old” wiring. Many times the reason for their concerns are due to misinformation.  One should not be concerned with the type of wiring that they have as much as the instillation of the electrical components, open splices and contact of live wires with years of insulation that is not compatible with their electrical wiring.

Common types of electric wiring in your home

Knob and Tube Wiring

Knob and tube was the earliest residential wiring system used in the United States. Electricians would use individual conductors which consisted of an outer cloth braid with an inner rubber coating covering the conductor (wire). Wherever the conductor passed through any wooden Close up photo of Knob and Tube Wiring at Slusher in Chester castructure, porcelain tubes were used to deflect any heat or arcing that may occur between the wire and the wood. Also, porcelain knobs and cleats were used to support the wire as it passed along the attic to its termination point. At certain locations, it was required that the wire be spliced in order to redirect the wires to different locations. These splice points are the points that the homeowner should pay close attention to. These splice points were often soldered together or simply twisted together and then electrical tape was placed over the splice. Due to the open air installation of the knob and tube wiring, dissipation of heat was good, however these splice points would become hot and could melt the tape. Another concern with knob and tube is that in the days of knob and tube there was no insulation to speak of. During the mid 70’s it became popular to blow in insulation and contact with these splices created a fire hazard.

Cloth Braided Wire

During the 1950’s the wire industry began to transition from from the knob and tube wiring to cloth braided wire and the insulation on the wire from the gum-rubber insulation to thermoplastic or PVC rubber insulation. Rubber was very soft, so a cotton braid or wrap was added as an outer Cloth Braided Wiring in your homecovering for mechanical protection. This new cloth braided wire was actually suitable for outdoor use due to the incorporation of three braids or wraps that were saturated with a waterproofing compound. This new rubber PVC held color pigment better and would not become brittle and crack with age. The biggest concern with this type of wiring is often times the person who installed the wire would use staples to hold the wire in place and would, sometimes, hammer the staple too tight and with time the wire would become hot at that point and defect. Another concern would be that at points where the wire is terminated, the insulation should be trimmed back in a clean manner because the frayed cloth prevents a fire concern.

NM-B Jacketed Cable

nmb-jacketed-cable-slusherCurrent residential wiring applications consist of a wire called non-metallic sheathed cable or NM-B. It is used in both exposed and concealed areas of dry locations only. The conductors are coated with PVC rubber. The ground wire is wrapped with paper and laid parallel between the two insulated conductors. The entire construction is wrapped in paper under the outer jacket. This wire is approved by the NEC and the only real concern is whether the wire is terminated properly in a junction box with a cover to insure the wires cannot be tampered with.

Things to look for when inspecting your electrical wiring

Knob and tube wiring was phased out in the 1930’s yet is still present in many homes throughout the United States. It is highly suggested that, if you have knob and tube, and insulation around your knob and tube, that you upgrade your wiring. Unfortunately, cost is a factor. In the meantime, it is worth the homeowners time to inspect the tubes, knobs and splice points and look for apparent “hot spots”. All splices should be placed in junction boxes by a licenced electrician. As soon as the homeowner can afford to do so, replace the knob and tube wiring with NM-B wiring.

Cloth braided wiring should be thoroughly inspected. Check to make sure that all staples are secure, yet not so tight that the wire is being crushed. Also, if there are any splices that are not in junction boxes, they need to be. And insure that if they are in junction boxes, that they are connected in a neat and clean fashion and a cover on the box to insure safety.

NM-B wiring should be inspected and like with the cloth braided wire, all connections should be in junction boxes with covers and staples should be loose but secure.

When is it time to bring in a professional?

If you have any issues with your electrical wiring or are concerned about your home’s wiring, don’t hesitate to hire a professional electrical contractor like Slusher.  Slusher Plumbing Heating Cooling Electric is a licensed and certified Electrician and serves the Chester, Susanville and Quincy areas.  

Other common electrical services we offer:

  • Landscape lighting
  • Christmas light outlets & installation
  • Fixture installation
  • Switch & outlet repairs
  • Electric water heaters
  • Electric wall & basement heaters
  • Roof & gutter snow & ice melt
  • Home automation
  • Home theatre systems
  • Security
  • Over and under cabinet lighting
  • recessed and track lighting installation
  • Spa hookups
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Lake Almanor Springtime Home Safety Checklist

I heard the first Mountain Chickadee the other morning sing that familiar summertime song of “Cheeseburger” and I was reminded that spring has most definitely sprung in Northeastern California.   El Nino was particularly strong this winter season in Plumas, Lassen, and Tehama Counties.  Eagle Lake, Lake Almanor, and Bucks Lake water levels continue to rise and there is much anticipation that this year won’t disappoint as the Northern Sierra snowpacks sit at about 96% of normal.   

As the days warm up and we are able to return to our cabins in the Lake Almanor area and poke around the outside of our homes, it becomes time to inventory the toll that Mother Nature has inflicted over the winter.  Whether you are performing regular inspections of your mechanical systems or one of our professionally trained technicians comes to your home, it is important that you have a plan.  I have compiled a handy checklist for homeowners to help them put together a springtime home safety inspection so that they can better identify potential hazards before they become much bigger problems.  Please take the time to study the guide and contact Slusher Plumbing Heating Cooling Electric  if you have any specific questions regarding troubles at your home.  Download and print off a copy of our list to take with your while you perform your inspection.

Happy Spring Cleaning,  

David Jr.  

Water System

  1. Confirm main water shut-off turns freely.  If valve is tight after 2-3 full cycles, replacement should be considered.
  2. Purge air on start-up from both hot and cold water lines at every fixture.
  3. Once water has been turned on to the house, check under all sinks and toilets to ensure shut-off valves, supply lines, and traps are leak free.
  4. Adjust water level at toilet fill valve if needed and listen for a leaky flapper.  Replace if necessary.
  5. Make sure water heater drain, shut-off valve, water supply lines, and temperature and pressure relief are leak free.
  6. Check exterior hose bibs for leaks.
  7. Run dishwasher, washer machine, and ice maker.  Check for leaks behind and under the appliances.
  8. Check and replace cracked or bulging washer machine hoses.  

Electric System

  1. Confirm all air has been purged at water heater on start-up by testing (manually tripping) temperature and pressure relief valve before energizing water heater.  It is safe to energize once a full stream of water has discharged.  
  2. Test all GFCI and AFCI circuits (manually trip).  
  3. Test surge protectors (manually trip).
  4. Test motion and dawn to dusk sensors at exterior lighting.
  5. Replace flickering or burned out light bulbs and ballasts.  
  6. Clean dust from behind, front, underside of refrigerator for increased efficiency.
  7. Clean and dust ceiling fan blades and motor.
  8. Clean and dust electronics.  

Gas System

  1. Confirm LPG tank has sufficient gas to operate appliances, greater than 30%.
  2. Light all standing pilots at gas appliances.
  3. Confirm all air has been purged at water heater on start-up by testing (manually tripping) temperature and pressure relief valve before lighting or energizing water heater.
  4. Inspect all gas appliances for sooting or abnormal ignition (lazy or jumping flame) which may indicate unstable gas pressure.  Contact a professional gas technician to adjust.
  5. Clean and inspect Gas BBQ.  Fill LPG tank, check for cracked hoses and leaking valves.
  6. Inspect flue pipe caps for snow damage (crushing) and critter infestation that may block exhaust flow.  

Irrigation System

  1. Inspect irrigation backflow and control valves for leaks once water has been reestablished.  Replace any valves that are hard to turn or are leaking.  
  2. Reset irrigation timer.  Replace battery backup.  
  3. Uncover and clean weather sensor.    
  4. Manually test each station at the timer to ensure proper control function.  
  5. Inspect all sprinkler heads for breaks, inadequate flow, and erratic spray.

Heating and Air Conditioning Systems

  1. Replace batteries at carbon monoxide and smoke detectors.  Test (manually trip).  
  2. Replace HVAC systems filters.
  3. Manually operate heating system for a minimum of 30 minutes to ensure heat is produced and safeties are working normally.  
  4. Remove air conditioner cover.  Vacuum and wash pine needles/ leaves, pollens and dust from coils.  
  5. Manually operate air conditioning system for a minimum of 30 minutes to ensure cooling is produced and safeties are working normally.  
  6. Service and test evaporative cooler.  Replace pads, clean sump, lube bearings, inspect and replace worn belts.  

Woodstove/Fireplace

  1. Inspect chimney/flue for cracks and water leaks.
  2. Inspect chimney cap for snow damage (crushing).
  3. Clean firebox and catalytic converter.  
  4. Schedule a chimney cleaning if not done in the fall.  

Septic System

  1. Septic tanks should be pumped every 4-6 years, spring is best.  
  2. Add septic treatment (bottled anaerobic bacteria cultures) to jump start system digestion.  
  3. Test sewer pump alarm (manually trip).
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3 Ways to Detect a Water Leak In Your House

Here are a few tips to find out if you have a water leak in your home

Over time water pipes can fail because of age, cold winter weather, and many other factors.  This can especially be true in the Plumas, Lassen and Tehama areas.  It can be frustrating when a homeowner discovers a leaky pipe. Sometimes it can be difficult finding those small pesky leaks, which, over time, can cause damage and increase utility bills. It is important to find and repair any leaking water pipes early.  Doing so can save you money and help to avoid costly damage to your walls, flooring and other parts of your home or property.  Here are some signs that you may have a leak and should consider hiring a professional plumber.

No Water Pressure

Low water pressure can be annoying. There are number of factors that can cause low water pressure.  If low water pressure is only coming from the hot water outlets, this might indicate an issue with your water heater or a potential under-slab leak.  Little to no water pressure on both the cold and hot water sides of your water system may indicate a more severe leak, a problem with your well equipment, sediment build-up in your plumbing fixtures, or maybe a malfunction with your water filtration system.  Any one of these scenarios can be quite difficult to remedy and you may want  to consider calling a professional plumber.

Visually Inspect all Fixtures in the Home  

Visual inspection of your plumbing is the number one thing a homeowner can do to prevent costly damage from a leak.  Routinely check all accessible locations within your home that have plumbing fixtures. Make sure all faucets are closing properly and that the surrounding areas are not showing signs of a leak or mildew. If only one faucet in your home has low water pressure, this might indicate there is a water leak, a clogged screen from sediment build up, or you’re beginning to see signs of frozen pipes.

Make sure you check the toilet in each bathroom.  Is there a noticeable sound of water dripping or running? Remove the top lid on the toilet and listen for any noise.  Sometimes the flapper is not properly seated and may require replacement.  A little handy trick is to place a few drops of food dye into the top tank.  After an hour or two look to see if the color is showing in the bowl. This can usually indicate that your toilet tank is leaking through into the bowl.  A continuously running toilet can drastically increase your water bill and also lead to the premature failure of your septic system’s drain field.  

Also, make sure that you check the water shutoffs underneath each of the sinks and toilet. Look for moisture or mildew. Be sure to check the walls and floor for evidence of an intermittent leak that may indicate a leaking pipe inside the wall or under the floor.  A water stained or soft and spongy floor or wall can indicate there is a leak.   

Your Water Bill has Increased

Another important step in finding a possible water leak is to check your service meter.  This can help you determine if your water usage has gone up over time.  The first thing you need to do is determine if your daily water usage has not increased from such things as a broken sprinkler head or misadjusted irrigation timer. This can be especially true with seasonal homes in the Lake Almanor or Quincy CA. areas.  Make sure you consider any changes in use before turning your attention to a possible leak.  Once you have ruled out an increase in consumption, you can turn your attention to hunting for that leak.  Make sure all faucets are turned off and stop any appliances that require water.  If the indicator dial at your meter is still running after an hour or so, this might be a sign that you have a leak somewhere on the property.  

I Know I Have a Water Pipe Leak, but Cannot Find it.  What Next?

If a leak is not showing any evidence of its location, hiring a professional plumber can be a cost effective solution to your problem.  Water leaks under a slab or deep within the ground may be difficult to detect. We can pin-point the location of your hidden leak with accuracy and without the expense of hunt-and-peck style demolition. Our minimally invasive service can reduce property damage and restoration costs.  Locating leaks non-destructively requires the use of modern tools such as electronic amplification equipment, electromagnetic pipeline locators, and infrared imaging. With the proper equipment, leaks can be found and repaired with minimal disruption to property. In many cases, only a single floor tile needs to be removed and replaced.

We will coordinate with your insurance company during all phases of construction to ensure your leak is repaired in a timely manner and make sure your building returns to its original condition.

Does your home in Lake Almanor, Quincy or Susanville areas have a water leak?  Call Slusher Plumbing Cooling Heating Electric at 530-258-3474 or schedule plumbing service online

 

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The Importance of Regular Plumbing Maintenance

“An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure” – Benjamin Franklin’s famous quote is as relevant today as it was when he was pioneering our new country 250 years ago.   Franklin, who was a thrifty and keen businessman, understood that frequent, small maintenance expenses far outweighed the cost of having his equipment broke-down and unproductive for any amount of time.

The biggest part of a professional plumbers job and perhaps the most rewarding for me is educating clients about their house’s plumbing and sewer systems.  Conducting regular maintenance is important so that they can avoid unnecessary, costly repairs.  At Slusher Plumbing Heating Cooling Electric, we believe it is important to build relationships with our clients by empowering them to understand how and why their systems function the way they do so that we can work together towards implementing a comprehensive maintenance program for their property.  Investing in your property rather than just “fixing” things when they break can actually free up money for other needs and wants.  


7  important things you can do right now  to prevent unexpected plumbing expenses?

 

Whether you are performing regular inspections of your plumbing system to check for leaking pipes or one of our professionally trained technicians comes to your home, it is important that you have a plan.  At a minimum, that plan should include the following areas of importance:

Drains– Slow drains indicate an existing problem with your waste piping.  A stoppage is  frequently accompanied by unhealthy and toxic sewage leaks.  These leaks are usually in hidden locations and can cause considerable damage to your structure.  

Leaks – Persistent water leaks are the most common and costly cause of damage to your home.  Routine inspections in locations like cabinets, closets and underfloor areas where pipes and plumbing appliances reside and that are infrequently accessed is an important practice.    

Toilets – Is your toilet water continuing to run? Excess water consumption due to  leaky components can cause high water bills and may do irreversible, costly damage to your leach field.  

Water Heater – Inspections can identify intermittent leaks that can lead to costly water damage and loss of service due to malfunctioning controls.  Regularly scheduled draining and descaling of sediments from the vessel can also greatly increase energy efficiency.

Water Pressure – High water pressure can lead to excessive wear and premature failure of your plumbing fixtures and appliances.  High water pressure can also cause pipes, fittings, and hoses to leak and or burst.  

Water Softener and Iron Filter – Regular maintenance of your water filters are key to maintaining clean and safe water, avoiding a loss of service, or damaging filter equipment or other plumbing fixtures and appliances beyond economical repair.  

Septic Maintenance – Regular pumping is imperative to maintain an optimal microbial action and can greatly prolong the life of your leach field.  In conjunction with pumping, a leach field test should always be performed to confirm the ground is draining waste water at an adequate rate.  A healthy septic system can also help to ensure clean drinking water for people who have on-site well water.   

Remember, maintenance can help prolong the life of your mechanical systems and will help to avoid potential catastrophic failure and emergency service fees.  If a problem is identified as a part of our inspection and maintenance program, we will explain to you what options can be taken and work towards a solution that fits your budget and timeline.  As always, estimates are free and completed in a timely manner.  

Schedule regular maintenance

We can also set up a maintenance program for your heating system, air-conditioning, electrical equipment, wood stove, and stand-by generator.  
Schedule a free on-site consultation today.

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