Electricity, do your bills seem high?

imgres When you get your monthly bill from CFE, do you go into mild shock and think I can’t have possibly used that much power?  Well, every modern electrical device in your house, comes with a price attached. TV’s, Sat systems, laptop computers, microwaves, for example all use power even when they are not turned on. They don’t use much power, but if you have a couple of laptops, a couple of smart phones, 2 TV’s, Radio clocks in bedrooms, it can all add up and add to the CFE bill. However, the biggest user of all outside of A/C units, is the good old fridge. A modern fridge is nothing more than an an electrically powered compressor and evaporator unit, on a temperature switch. The problem is, they are front opening and have very little insulation. Every time you open the fridge door, the cold air pours out like water and is replaced by warm air. Now the fridge has to turn on again to cool it down. Believe it or not almost all modern fridges, also have a heating circuit on a timer. This heater is the frost free feature of your fridge. So not only is it sucking electricity to cool, it is also burning it up on the heater phase. Not much you can do about it, other than to ensure you have a modern energy efficient model and try and moderate the opening and closing of the doors.

But that is not what I was planning on discussing. What I want to discuss is electrical leakage. Electrical leakage can be a small but constant drain of electricity from the system. A good analogy is a small drip from a faucet, doesn’t seem like a lot, but over time it sure adds up. Electrical leakage in Mexican homes can come from a variety of sources. Chaffed wires are a good source of leakage, not enough to trip a breaker, but they could be the equivalent of a 50 watt bulb burning 24/7. Since you are billed by Kilowatt hours used, a little math will show you are losing 1.2 Kilowatts a day or 438 kilowatts a year. Now if you happen to be a high consumer to start with and are in the excedente category. That 438 Kw will cost you roughly 1200 pesos more a year.

There are numerous sources of electrical leaks. Ants are good one, they just love electrical wires. The wires are the perfect ant super highway, taking them to every room in your house. Ever found ants and stood there thinking, “where the hell did they come from?” Well check around wall sockets. The other problem with ants is for some reason they like to chew wire coatings. It is good insurance to pop the socket covers off and spray ant killer inside or sprinkle in ant powder as preventative medicine. I have already discussed chaffed wires which can be another issue, as can the electrical tape coming off wires in junction boxes, especially ones on the roof for A/C. Rain supplies a nice path for a small leak to find ground and up your usage.

Ok, how do you test for leakage?  The easy way is to turn off the main breaker to the house and all the other breakers and unplug everything and turn all lights and any other consumer off ( this is really important). Now go check your meter, if it is spinning even slightly you have an issue and more importantly the problem is not in your actual house circuits but between the meter and your main breaker. If you see no movement, switch on the main house breaker and again check for movement. Now turn on the individual circuits, one at a time and watch the meter. If you find one particular breaker causes the meter to spin, double check that nothing is drawing power on that circuit, like a tinaco sensor that is not plugged in, but hard wired. If you confirm nothing should be using power, you have located an electrical leak on that circuit. Now check inside all the plug boxes and switch boxes on that circuit to see if there are any signs of chaffing or other issues. If you can find the issue and fix it yourself, great. If not, maybe it is time to call an expert and see where the real issue is, before it gets worse or causes a wire fire,

Pool problems, do it right the first time.

imgres-5Lately it seems, we have been getting lots of calls to sort out pool leaks and plumbing issues. While we do not want to turn away work, it poses many problems for us, when we do not know how the installation was done.  For some reason, problems most often crop up in tiled pools. Not sure why that would occur, unless it is easier to hide a bad pool build under the layer of tiles. If you are using a contractor that does not have a lot of experience building pools, you had better make sure you are watching carefully. We are just working on a leaking pool where the “contractor” buried the piping for the jets under the cap of the pool, in concrete. That is bad enough in itself, but in this case one or more of the jets were not installed properly and were leaking. It is not easy to find a leak or repair one, when it is under 12 inches of concrete. Not only that but this particular pool appears to have more than one leak, which makes the whole process a slow and methodical check of levels to find leak sources. With tile pools we most often drain the pool completely and let it dry, we look for areas that remain damp much longer than surrounding surfaces. Most often water has become trapped beneath poorly bonded tiles or the tile is covering a crack in the pool surface. Now we fill it again and look for bubbles rising out of the tile joints, indicating that air is being displaced by water penetrating cracks and crevices. The other way we check for leaks, is with a special dye that can show water migrating into the pool surface at areas of cracks or leaks at fittings. Once the leak is located we use various methods to repair the issues. If it is a plumbing leak, that is an easy fix, provided it is not under concrete. If it is a leak in the pool itself, that is a much larger issue and if the pool is tiled, most often we need to remove all the tile to see exactly how the pool was finished and then re finish the pool in a specialty product we use called Pool Master. This prevents future issues being hidden under tile and we can warrantee our job, providing the pool itself is soundly built.

If a pool is constructed properly, the plumbing is done right the first time and the plumbing components made of quality materials, it should last many years without any issues, other than routine maintenance.

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