As you can see in our Home Page, we do offer several services, one of which is the repairing, restoring, rewiring or making lamps, floor lamps and chandeliers. The reason for doing a blog on this subject, is always to educate and in this case to help prevent a main concern for anyone, Fire. There is a lot of information on this subject, hopefully interesting and unknown to many of you. Before I begin this lecture, let me qualify and say (I was an electrical contractor from 1980 to 2005 when I retired my license. I suppose I could wave a little flag and say I was the first woman to be licensed in the State of Ohio, having many interesting experiences which could be written in a book.)
Back to the topic and hopefully enlightening many of you. Lamp cords could be considered one of the most dangerous things in the home. Reason being they are either a 18 gauge wire or at the most 16 gauge wire. In actual fact this small gauge will not for the most part trip a breaker or blow a fuse and has caused many homes to catch on fire. I can remember this topic coming up at many code courses that I attended to maintain my certification, where the instructor Jerry Gerber, who was on the National Electric Code Panel, would say how difficult it was for the Code Panel to get the manufacturer's to redesign the lamp cord or extension cord because of the dangers they offered. Eventually they did come out with a redesigned attachment plug which had fuses in them set for less than 5 amps. I have always recommended using them with Christmas tree lights.
One important item here is that you check the stiffness the lamp cord. If it feels brittle, then it is time to change it. The insulation of the cord is breaking down and before long the wire will become exposed. (One point about Christmas tree lights, they should be changed out every 2 years according to the Fire departments)Another very important point is that lamp cords should always be exposed and NEVER put under any kind of carpet or rug. Still another important point is that if you have animals, be very careful to watch for cords that have been chewed. These last two points have causeed many a fire.
The other part of the lamp is the socket. Interestingly, the push-thru switch socket has the highest wattage allowance of ( 660 watts) than the 3 way switch socket or the on/off socket which is 250 watts. The push-thru switch socket should be asked for when people are wanting to use the higher wattage bulbs.
I try to buy Leviton sockets for my customers as I do know they have a UL listing, but unfortunately even these are made in Mexico. I don't think anything is made in this country anymore. Very sad......These other countries don't have the standards that we have and consequently the products we are getting in barely meet if any of our traditional qualities. That is another topic and a SOAP BOX goes with it.
For people with older homes, let say built prior to the 2005 code. I strongly recommend that for lamps being used as a night light or used when you are out for the evening, get some timers and let different lights go on and off at different times, allowing bulbs to cool. You will not only save the lamp from breaking down, but it will offer some security in the event someone might be interested in taking a tour of your house when you're not there.
For those of you in newer homes, the national electric code was able to mandate in 2005 code that an ARC FAULT breaker be installed to protect all lighting in bedrooms,
now in the current 2008 code all new construction must have ARC FAULT breakers in family rooms, dining rooms, parlors, hallways, dens, rec. rooms., closets, and bedrooms. Kitchens, garages and basements aren't included as yet, but according to my friend and mentor, Jerry Gerber, this will happen. The ARC FAULT breaker is designed to detect any arcing in lamp cords, broken wires in ceiling lights etc. and will trip the breaker. This was the answer to the problem of lamp cords. However,
it still doesn't solve the problem for the home owner that still owns the older home and can't afford the newer breakers as they are expensive and unfortunately the cities don't mandate that Load center upgrades have to have these put in.
Well, I think I have shot my wad and better get started on my work for today. I will put some pictures into our Lamp section to show what to look for.
Have a good and safe month.