Generator Safety Tips from Consumer Reports

November 9, 2012

A good generator can get you through a power outage but it also poses safety hazards of its own including carbon monoxide poisoning, electric shock or electrocution and the risk of fire. Every year, people die in incidents related to portable generator use, reports the Consumer Product Safety Commission. Most of the incidents involve CO poisoning from generators used indoors or in partially-enclosed spaces. Here’s how to stay safe, with tips from the CPSC.

Click HERE for the complete article on the Consumer Reports website.


Air Conditioner Safety Tips from Breton Electric

July 6, 2012

Keep Cool and Safe this Summer
Air Conditioner Safety Tips from Breton Electric

[I first wrote this in 2007, but thought it a good time to post again!]

The heat of summer can be more than just uncomfortable. For some folks, it can be quite dangerous. Staying out of the sun, wearing loose clothing, and drinking lots of water helps. But, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), air-conditioning is the No.1 protection against heat-related illness and death.

However, as with all things electrical, care must be taken to ensure that no safety hazards are present. According to the Electrical Safety Foundation (ESFI), contact with electric current from air conditioners accounts for a significant number of electrocutions and electrical injuries each year. The .S. Fire Administration says that, while some electrical fires are caused by electrical system failures and appliance defects, many more are caused by misuse and poor maintenance of electrical appliances, incorrectly installed wiring, and overloaded circuits and extension cords.

To avoid dangerous situations while your unit is running, please follow these guidelines:

– Be sure that both the electrical circuit and the electrical outlet can handle the load. When in doubt, have a licensed electrician inspect your home’s wiring and advise you as to whether it will safely handle air conditioning units. Check the specifications of the air conditioning unit; some require a dedicated circuit.

– Always plug an air conditioner into a grounded (three-prong) outlet. If an appliance cord plug doesn’t fit an outlet, have a qualified electrician replace the outlet.

– If you must use an extension cord to reach a grounded outlet, make certain that you use a cord designed for air conditioners and that it is UL listed, meets OSHA specification, and can handle the power needed by your air conditioner. NOTE: Some manufacturers will not honor warranties if the unit is plugged in using an extension cord.

As with all extension cord use, always inspect before you use! Ensure that the plug’s blades and grounding pin are present and do not use extension cords that are cut or damaged. And, never run any extension cord under a carpet!

Breton Electric also recommends using ENERGY STAR rated appliances. Replacing a 10-year-old room air conditioner with a new ENERGY STAR qualified model saves an average of $25 a year on your electric bill. (

To further reduce your energy expenses during the summer, here are some tips from Underwriters Laboratories (UL):

– Have your air conditioner cleaned and inspected before summer.

– Conduct routine maintenance checks during the summer such as regularly changing or cleaning filters.

– Don’t let heat build up and then attempt to cool areas immediately by turning the controls to maximum settings. Start units early and cool areas throughout the day.

– Close blinds and curtains on the west and south sides of your home to block out the sun.

– Turn off all unnecessary lights.

– Wait until late evening to use heat-producing appliances like ovens, dishwashers and clothes dryers.

– Close off unused rooms.

Breton Electric is an electrical service and contract company based in Wakefield MA. For additional safety tips, information about reducing energy costs, how to recycle mercury-containing bulbs, and more, see or call 781-245-0787.

Breton Electric Parade Sponsor Photo

June 25, 2012

Breton Electric Parade Sponsor Photo

We do love a parade. 🙂

As always, we love a parade, especially the Wakefield 4th of July Parade!

June 5, 2012

Breton Electric is once again proud to be a sponsor of the Wakefield “4th of July” Parade!  This is the largest July 4th parade in Massachusetts and the second largest in New England.  There are children’s events in the morning at the Upper Common, a canoe race at noon, music on the Lower Common, the parade starts at 5:00 p.m., and the evening ends with more music and fireworks over the lake at 9:00 p.m. or so.  Come to Wakefield for the best Independence Day celebration around!

Our sponsorship certificate!

Funny, but not just a joke!

May 16, 2012

We like this comic strip from Non Sequitur.    🙂

Click the link!     The danger of doing it yourself

Important Winter Electrical Safety Advice from Steve AND Angie’s List!

January 18, 2012

Steve Breton, Master Electrician and owner of Breton Electric, is quoted a number of times in the following article in the January 13 edition of the Angie’s List online magazine!  Read it here:

And, here are the original questions posed and the answers that Breton Electric provided to the author of the article:

1. Why is there an uptick in home electrical fires during the winter?

ANSWER:  The misuse of extension cords with portable heaters is a major cause of residential fires during cold weather, although holiday lighting also poses a danger. In addition, holiday gatherings can increase the loads on appliance circuits and thus “bring to light” issues that otherwise go undetected.

2. Can you explain how electrical fires in the home tend to start?

ANSWER:  One example: extension cords are rated for different load applications.  If an extension cord is overloaded, it could very well melt and arc and spark before it trips a conventionally protected circuit.  Other common causes of residential fires that we often see are improperly installed lighting fixtures, loose connections going through outlet circuitry, and, most common, the use of light bulbs that exceed the fixture’s maximum wattage rating.  A good remedy for this last issue is to use CFL and LED bulbs.

3. What can homeowners do to prevent a home electrical fire?

ANSWER:  Use properly sized extension cords and do not overload the circuit. And, always hire a reputable licensed electrician for all electrical installations, including fixtures and outlets  Also, upgrade residential circuitry to arc fault circuit interrupter (AFCI) and ground fault circuit interrupter (GFCI) protection as per 2011 National Electrical Code requirements.

In my opinion, properly installed and maintained AFCI and GFCI protection will eliminate virtually all threat of residential electrical fires and electrocution.

4. When you make routine service calls, do you notice a lot of overloaded circuits/outlets in customer’s homes? Explain?

YES.  Older kitchens typically do not have enough dedicated appliance circuits to accommodate our modern gadgetry. Also often lacking is a dedicated GFIC circuit adjacent to the bathroom basin (required by code) so as to accommodate turbo-charged hair dryers and other grooming tools. J

Other overloading situations are typically caused by window air conditions, sump pumps, treadmills, and auxiliary freezers and refrigerators, along with the above-noted portable heaters used during cold weather.

Last winter, a tree fell on the power lines in my backyard and they fell to ground, still live. The city electric company came out and moved the lines but then told me to call an electrician to hook everything back up. I was surprised that the electric company didn’t handle the entire job. (I live in Indianapolis so this may be a local issue, I’m not sure.

1. What does a homeowner need to do if they find power lines in their yard? 

ANSWER: Do not touch any downed wires.  Call your power company so that they can address immediate safety issues, then call a licensed electrician to appraise and repair any damage to your electrical service. Note that most power companies will not restore power until your electrical service has been deemed safe by your local town or city electrical inspector.

2. What is the role of a city electric company vs. an electrician in this situation?

Typically, the power company is responsible for the lines from the electrical grid to the point of attachment to the building.  From there on, it is the homeowner’s responsibility.  FYI, in general, linemen are not trained or licensed to do work beyond their system.

Computer Expert Kim Komando Recommends Angie’s List, and we recommend both!

January 16, 2012

As the Office Manager of Breton Electric, I am on the computer a lot and really appreciate all the great computer and online tips I get from Kim Komando of   Along with her syndicated radio show and premium services, she offers free emails newsletters (which often include product discounts) and free access to many of the great tips and articles on her website.

She also answers questions from her radio audience on all sorts of topics. Recently, a reader asked how to find a reputable contractor. I was pleased to see that she recommends Angie’s List:

“Angie’s List is one of the best sites to use. Contractors can’t pay to be on the list or submit reviews about themselves. Members can’t submit reviews anonymously, so their stories can be checked. Don’t worry; you’re not identified to other users in online reports.

Contractors who maintain an A or B rating can offer discounts to members, which can save you money. A complaint resolution team from Angie’s List will step in if a home repair job goes sour.

You said that many contractors you deal with aren’t on review sites. I recommend finding ones that are, even if you have to pay a little more.”

– from Hiring a Reliable Contractor by Kim Komando

Check out Kim Komando for computer and Internet advice and tips, and Angie’s List for finding the best contracting and professional services in your area.  You will be glad you did!