Power On The Right Way 

Southwest Florida Homeowner Electrical Services:

  • Energy-Efficient Lighting Controls
  • General Home Lighting Services
  • Rewiring Outlets
  • Surge Protection
  • Underground Services
  • Cable TV Hookup
  • Bedroom Arc-Fault Correction
  • Outlet Upgrades – GFI and Grounding
  • Electrical Panel Upgrades
  • New Circuits
  • Home Remodels and Additions
  • Landscape Lighting
  • New Construction Wiring
  • Telephone and Data Installation
  • Home Renovation Wiring & Lighting

Our expert electricians can wrangle electricity just like Doc Brown. We don’t feed it into a flux capacitor, but we do make it work for you. Our service list is long and distinguished. No matter your electrical need, we have the solution!

Did you know we are now an authorized Generac, Kohler & Cummins service dealer?

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 Call Us: (239) 745-5020

6 Signs of Faulty Electrical Wiring

Whether you are moving into a different home and want to give your old electrical wiring a good once-over, it’s always wise to routinely inspect your house for poor wiring. Natural wear and tear can lead to your electrical wires’ deterioration or poor workmanship in the past could lead to problems today, putting you and your family at risk.

Faulty electric wiring can cause short circuits, damage to your expensive appliances, and even an electrical fire. Depending on the damage, bad wiring could even be causing your devices to overheat, work harder, and use more electricity — AKA, raise your electric bill.

A symptom of bad wiring isn’t just a flipped breaker, though that’s often the most common indication of faulty wires … Here are a few other signs your home’s electrical wiring may need to be inspected by a licensed electrician and repaired or replaced:

1. Frequent Short Circuits

Do you find yourself turning on an appliance and that room of your house loses electricity? Short circuits are often caused by overloads of electricity, wherein your electrical panel cannot safely handle the voltage you are asking it to feed through a single breaker and it automatically cuts the current to protect you against electrical fire. While there are many reasons you could be tripping a breaker, it can be a sign of poor wiring. 

2. Hot or Discolored Outlets

Electrical outlets should never be hot to the touch or appear discolored. If you notice these symptoms, it could be the beginning of a serious problem. It means that your appliances or the wire behind the outlet face are generating excessive heat. If you see any blackened or discolored markings around the outlet facing or it feels warm against your fingers or hovering your hand around it, it’s time to call an electrician. You can also inspect your electrical appliances for discoloration on the cords or plugs.

Not sure how to check your electrical outlets for faulty wiring? Download our e-book, The Homeowner’s Easy Electrical Toolkit, for step-by-step instructions on how to investigate — and how to know if it’s a job for a professional electrician.

3. Dimming Lights

Lights that dim or flicker when other appliances are switched on can indicate an overloaded circuit or faulty wiring. While it might feel like a fun trick, especially around Halloween, it’s important to get this checked out ASAP. It may not always be an indicator of poor electrical wiring — it could be time for an electrical panel upgrade or even a ballast replacement — but it’s wise to get a professional to be certain. 

4. Popping Sounds or Tingling Plug-ins

An outlet that makes an audible “pop” or gives you a pins-and-needles feeling when you plug something in is not a safe outlet. It likely means it’s time to replace the outlet or that there is a problem with your electrical wiring. Call your electrician to get to the bottom of it.

5. Melting Plastic Smell or Smoke

Ever smell a “hot” smell or a melting plastic smell when you flip a switch or plug something in? This is a sure sign of a serious electrical problem, get this checked out ASAP. That means something is burning — like the plastic of your outlet facing or even the protective layer around a frayed write. You don’t want that to turn into an electrical fire; trust us!

6. Frayed Wires

This one seems obvious, but some are guilty of ignoring a frayed wire if it’s still providing electricity or if it’s in an area of the home you don’t often use — for example, your storage room or an attic. Fraying can occur from excessive use, something,  like furniture, rubbing against the cord, or damage from an animal chewing on it like your dog or a wild mouse in the house! A frayed wire exposes anything it touches to metal and electricity and is not safe. 

Poor Electrical Work is Often To Blame

Here’s the thing: electricity always wants to find the easy way out. It will inevitably follow the path of least resistance. If the insulation to a wire is faulty or a part of a bare wire mysteriously becomes exposed, allowing it to touch anything conductive (metal light switch housing, nails, or screws, etc.), the electricity will take that shorter path. This could result in anything from minor annoyances like tripped breakers or GFCI switches to more significant issues like electrical shocks, overheated wiring, and, in the worst-case scenario, a house fire. 

Some of the most likely symptoms of bad wiring jobs include issues like damaged insulation from improper installation (bare wire exposed, nicks in the insulation elsewhere), nail or screw punctures, and, most often, loose or improperly secured connections.

We all want to save some money, but hiring an unlicensed electrician or general “handyman” to do electrical work in your home could leave you in the dark — or worse. Sure, the price may be right, at first, but the risks are far too great. 

If you’ve had work done by an unlicensed electrician or handyman and you are experiencing these “bad wiring blues,” SWFL Electric can help. Contact us today for any of your electrical needs.

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10 Home Electrical Safety Tips

The lights simply turn on and our refrigerator just runs. Electricity plays such a common role in our everyday lives that we take it for granted. 

As you read this article, count all the devices running on electricity all around you. We bet there are at least a dozen things connected to power just within eyesight…

But while we’re literally surrounded by electricity throughout our homes, rarely do we think about the dangers of electrocution and electrical fire. Unfortunately, these are very real threats that can lead to injury— and even death— or destroy your home.

Luckily, electrocution and electrical fires can be prevented by understanding how electricity works and implementing basic electrical safety practices at home. 

Here are ten home electricity best practices to keep you and your family safe:

Safety Tip #1: Check Electrical Cords & Wires

When you plug anything electronic into the wall, the current travels through the cord into the appliance. This cord is like the train tracks leading to the next stop; if the train can’t move across the tracks, the device won’t work. Unfortunately, cords often don’t completely stop working; they become faulty as a result of damage or age. 

Because damaged or aging power cords can spark and lead to electrical fire or shock to the touch, we advise checking your home’s electric cords, room-by-room, every few months. Look for discoloration, fraying, or any other signs that they are past their prime. And remember, don’t run cords under rugs— heat damage can go unseen until a fire strikes. 

Safety Tip #2: Understand the Proper Use of Extension Cords

Roughly 3,300 home fires start with a faulty extension cord each year, according to The Electrical Safety Foundation International (ESFI). Many homeowners mistakenly use extension cords as permanent fixtures, but although these long cords are a great temporary solution for working outdoors, extension cords should never be used as a permanent solution in your home. Why not? Because they are not designed for long-term, continual use.

If you must use one of these long cords in your home for a quick fix, let it be just for a few hours. Never plug an extension cord into another extension cord and always use them with your three-prong “ground fault circuit interrupter” (GFCI) outlets. Find more electrical safety tips about extension cords from ESFI here. 

But what if my cord won’t reach the wall?, you might wonder. If you have appliances that cannot reach your outlets, the proper solution is to professionally install more outlets in your room. (Luckily, we can help with that!).

Safety Tip #3: Always Unplug Electronics When Not in Use OR Buy Smart Power Strips

You may have heard it said that it’s best to unplug devices when not using them. Not only can this save a tiny bit on your electricity bill, but it increases your home electrical safety. Don’t believe us? It’s advice straight from The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission itself.

Despite this recommendation, we get that no one is going to run around their house unplugging things before they leave. The more realistic solution is to purchase smart power strips to stop the flow of electricity when not in use. According to Energy.gov, smart power strips “cut power off and save energy since they are able to detect when a device is in standby mode.” Here are a few options on Amazon.

Safety Tip #4: Don’t Overload Power Strips

Even if you invest in smart power strips, certain strips are only rated to support a  specific collective voltage. Additionally, each individual outlet will also have its own voltage rating.

Having ten things plugged into one outlet may be okay for low-load devices and appliances, but for higher-load devices, you are best off spacing them out across a few outlets and power strips. Always check the rating on your strips before purchasing and understand the wattage requirements of your devices. You can use The US Department of Energy’s Energy Saver Calculator to do this!

Once again, your best bet may be to install more outlets in your home. While this sounds like a temporary pain, it can be a wise long-term investment for your family’s safety (not to mention, convenience).

Safety Tip #5: Unplug with Care

When you do have to unplug an electric device, there’s a right and a wrong way to do so. Be sure to pull from the plastic housing on the plug to remove it from a wall socket. Never pull from the cord itself. This can stretch the wires and connections inside the cable, causing a short and increasing your future chance of electrical shock and fire.

Safety Tip #6: Protect Your Outlets

The holes in your outlets directly lead to electricity! Whether you have children or nosey pets, it’s important to make sure your outlets are tamper-resistant to reduce your risk of electrocution or electrical fire.

  • Make sure all light switch plates and outlet faceplates are fully screwed in and properly secured in place.
  • Never leave a faceplate off and allow your outlet’s wires to be exposed.
  • Invest in outlet covers like plug caps or sliding plate covers for when not in use.
  • If you have any older outlets with just two prongs, consider upgrading them to GFCI, three-prong outlets with a safer grounding port.
  • Inspect and test your outlets every year to ensure they’re performing properly. Are your outlets warm to the touch? Faded or discolored? Spark when you unplug something? Check out our advice for checking your outlets here.

Safety Tip #7: Keep Electronics Away from Water

It’s no secret that water and electricity don’t mix. For this reason, The National Electrical Code (NEC) requires GFCI compliant receptacles and breakers to be installed in areas with a high potential of water splash like kitchens, bathrooms, laundry rooms, outdoor wall plugs and garages.

You can tell a GFCI receptacle apart from a regular, unprotected receptacle by looking for the two “Reset” and “Test” buttons in the center of the outlet. These outlets are designed to cut electricity to an outlet if moisture is sensed nearby. 

Even if you use a GFCI-safe outlet, never operate electric appliances like hair dryers and radios near running or pooled water for added safety. This includes using portable devices while they’re charging, such as Kindles and iPhones. 

Also, don’t touch electrical equipment, including light switches and power cords, with wet or damp hands.

Safety Tip #8: Inspect Your Electrical Panel

Most of us only think about our electrical panel when we need to reset a circuit breaker. But your breaker box routes the electricity to all your outlets and manages a whole lot of wattage!

Like everything, electrical panels have a lifespan and eventually need to be replaced. If you’re having to reset your breakers all the time, your panel is older than 20 years old, or you’re adding a few major appliances to your home, it may be time for a replacement. 

Even if your panel is in tip-top shape, it’s still wise to have it inspected every year by a professional who can spot any potential issues.

Safety Tip #9: Don’t Forget About Outdoor Electrical Safety 

The electricity tips in this post mainly apply to indoor use. But you’re in luck; we wrote a whole separate blog on tips for staying safe outside. Whether it’s working with power equipment or performing renovations, the article is packed with great advice for working in your yard and lanai. Check out these 8 Outdoor Electrical Safety Tips.

Safety Tip #10: Bring in a Certified Professional for the Big Stuff

When you need electrical work done, your best protection against electrocution and electrical fires is hiring a licensed electrician, like our team at Southwest Florida Electric, for your home electrical needs.

While some smaller projects you can do yourself, we recommend reading our article The Do’s and Don’ts of DIY Electrical Projects to know what’s safer to leave to the certified professionals. 

Download Your Very Own Electrical Toolkit

If you like to do things yourself, we’ve got an excellent resource for you. The Homeowner’s Easy Electrical Maintenance Toolkit is packed with 13 pages of tips for performing popular electrical projects all on your own.

For the bigger jobs like installing outlets or replacing electrical panels, explore our Electric Services or give us a call at (239) 307-0716, today. 

How to Winterize Your Home for Your Extended Florida Escape: The Snowbird’s Ultimate Checklist

‘Tis the season when the great Sunshine State welcomes an influx of Northern snowbirds, eager to escape the chilly winter by heading south. 

As soon as the temperature begins to drop, these retirees pack up their bags and say “see ya in a few months!” to their summer home. Ready for warm weather, these nomads typically stay in Florida from November/December through March/April— or as long as the North sees ice and snow.

Four to six months is a long time to leave your home unattended, thousands of miles away. That’s why it’s crucial to winterize your Northern home before making the trek South.

Fear not, snowbird! We’ve got you covered. Here’s your ultimate checklist for preparing your home for a quiet few months ahead:


  • If it’s not snow-ready, bring it in! Chances are, you may have already brought your landscape features in after fall. If you haven’t, now’s the time to lug in or cover and secure all patio furniture, garden features, or decor (Christmas lights included if you’re heading south post-holiday!).
  • Clean those gross gutters. While you’re gone, debris and muck can accumulate in your gutters and cause drainage problems while away. Climb up that ladder or hire a handyman to clear them out.
  • Double check drainage systems. Speaking of water issues, don’t forget to make sure your exterior drains are cleared. If you have poor irrigation problems, there’s no better time than now to fix them. Remember, water turns into ice when cold. You don’t want any trip-and-fall incidents on your sidewalk. Plus, ice can do a real doozy on your driveway, cracking concrete and cutting down on the lifetime of your expensive paving.
  • Figure out who’s shoveling, plowing, and de-icing. You need to make sure your sidewalks and driveway aren’t covered in snow and ice while you’re gone, which could be hazards for passersby and contribute to drainage issues when they melt. Consider chatting with your neighbors to see if someone wouldn’t mind shoveling or hiring someone to clear your property after each snowfall.
  • Scope out your roof. See any raised or missing shingles? Because of how expensive a new roof can be, we often avoid repairing or replacing it. The issue is, while you’re gone for months, this could invite pests and even lead to water damage if not properly fixed.
  • Trim or cover your trees and shrubs. If there are any skeptical branches that are dying and could fall onto or be blown against your home or onto your neighbor’s property, take care of those now. The cold winter ahead will only make them more brittle and likely to snap. Plus, your plantlife will be exposed to hungry deer and critters, so be sure to wrap your trees and shrubs.
  • Winterize your pool. You’d have to do this anyway, but since you’ll be gone, triple-check you’ve crossed all your t’s and dotted all your i’s with your pool before leaving.
  • Don’t forget electrical safety. Do you have a bunch of power strips outside? Do you have electrical equipment in your shed or somewhere that needs extra protection? Here are 8 outdoor electrical safety tips you can’t miss.

Surveillance & Security 

  • Install some cameras. Wouldn’t it be nice to know if someone was knocking on your door? Or if a thief was snooping around your windows to see if you’re home? Mount a few well-placed cameras and set up motion-detection alerts to monitor your Northern home from your warm home-away-from-home.
  • Invest in a timed lighting setup. There’s nothing like lights to deter mischief. Plus, you’ll need them to get a clearer shot wherever your cameras are pointed. Getting spotlights and floodlights that turn on automatically by motion or on a timer is a huge energy-saver. Even better if you can control when they go on and off remotely from a smartphone app!
  • Arm the alarm. Not only do you want to see what’s going on outside, you want to know if something is happening inside! Make sure your home security system is all set up and good-to-go before leaving. It might be wise to get a few indoor cameras too that are hardwired in, so you can check in once a day that all is well.
  • Lock up or take valuables with you. That expensive jewelry collection on your dresser is an easy-target if a thief gets in. With being away, you don’t know how long it’ll take to be alerted that they’re inside and get the police there. A criminal could be long gone with your prized possessions. Anything that’s one-of-a-kind or valuable should be placed behind an extra lock and key or taken along to the South, so it’s safe by your side.
  • Tell your neighbors and loved ones. Those in your community can keep a vigilant eye on your property if you let them know when you’ll be gone. You could even ask a few folks you trust to check up on the property or home every week or two for greater peace of mind.
  • Change the batteries in your smoke detector. If a fire should start while you’re away, you want to make sure your fire alarm is working and that it’s connected to alert you and your local fire department of the danger from afar. Here’s how to properly change your smoke detector’s battery.

Temperature Control

  • Prep the fireplace. Take down the mantle wreath or any items near the fireplace that could potentially burn. Better yet, seal the fireplace to save on insulation and reduce fire hazard risks.
  • Get the thermostat right. No use keeping the house warm when it’s empty. But you also don’t want to let it drop below 50 degrees to prevent your pipes from freezing. Your best bet is to invest in a remote-controllable thermostat to keep an eye on your temperature from a few states away and adjust accordingly to the weather.
  • Get your backup generator ready. If there’s an outrage while you’re away, you want to make sure your pipes don’t freeze and that your home security system isn’t down. A handy backup generator will do the trick, automatically providing electricity to your home even during an outage. Here are a few questions to ask before choosing a home generator if you don’t have one!
  • Keep interior doors open. You may think it makes more sense to close your bedroom and bathroom doors while gone to regulate temperature, but it’s actually better to allow your rooms to breathe. Ventilation is key!

Gas & Water

  • Shut off your main water valve. Don’t come back to a water leakage or flooding problem. Keep the drains open to allow pressure balance, but turn off the flow of water. A plumber could also help you to winterize your pipes to play it safe.
  • Turn off pumps, except the sump pump. No need to have your fountains or water pumps running while away. If you have an aquarium, this is a different story. Obviously, someone will have to stop by to feed and check on your fish and critters, but don’t forget to ask them to properly keep the filter clear or clean the tank as needed. If you have a sump pump, make sure that’s on and functional to take care of any flooding while away!
  • Turn off the gas. You could even have your gas service temporality suspended if your provider allows for the few months you’re in Florida.

Food & Kitchen

  • Empty out that fridge and freezer. The last thing you want is to come home to rotten food and a rancid-smelling house. That’s why it’s crucial to clear out the fridge before leaving. Many even unplug the entire unit while gone for many months. Keep the doors open after wiping down so it can properly dry and not form mildew inside.
  • Keep non-perishables locked away. Don’t leave any food sitting on your counter or within easy access for bugs or mice, should they get in. We recommend setting a few ant traps in corners to prevent them from getting into the kitchen or other pest control measures. 

Electrical Safety

  • Unplug all you can! If you won’t be using any of your electronics while away, why leave them plugged in? Unplug all appliances that aren’t necessary for security before your journey south. This includes power strips and extension cords that could be a fire hazard when left unattended for months. Remember, all it takes is for one power surge to create a spark and put your home in danger.
  • If you want indoor lights, keep them on a timer. You don’t want to run a light for months straight while you’re gone. If interior lighting is a concern, some lighting fixtures have remote access and can be set on timers, making it look as though you’re home to passersby at night without an insane electric bill or increased fire risk.


  • Take care of your plants. If you’re able to bring your houseplants with you to Florida, great. If not, ask someone to come once a week to water them.
  • Forward your mail. This is easy to miss with all your other checklist items. We always like to remind our customers!

Are Your Electronics Safe to Leave?

Download our Electric Toolkit to make sure you’re ready for your long getaway.

Before you leave, it may be wise to bring in a professional to assess your electronics, ensuring there are no fire hazards. Don’t let any necessary repairs go either! It’s better to leave with peace of mind that you did all you could to prepare your house for your extended getaway. 

Explore our Home Electrical Services page, or give us a call at 239-307-0716.

homeowners electrical guide

6 Ways to Lower Your Home Electric Bill

It’s that time of the month again: paying the electric bill. For Florida residents, this can be a painful endeavor, having to fork over the big bucks to power that continuous stream of air conditioning.

But you may be surprised to learn that there are more subtle ways to lower your energy bill that you may not be aware of.

Here are some helpful tips for cutting your electricity costs and going just a little more green at home:

1. Buy a programmable thermostat.

Boy, can cooling costs dip into a Floridian’s wallet. One way to quickly lower your cooling costs while still keeping your home comfortable is to better regulate your thermostat. 

Programmable thermostats allow you to set the temperature depending on the time of day, so you aren’t tempted to change it. You can choose the settings based on when you’re home and not, or when you’re active vs sedentary. 

For example, if you are out of the house for most of the day, you can set the temperature higher. That way, you aren’t cooling an empty home. Many programmable thermostats also allow for remote access, granting you the ability to start your AC 30 minutes before getting home to cool your space without wasting electricity. 

2. Replace your air conditioning filter (or air conditioner).

Living in Florida, you know that your air conditioning has more than a full-time job— let’s just say it’s always working overtime! Because your air conditioner is one of the heaviest run electronics in your home and one that uses a ton of energy, it’s crucial to take good care of it.

When’s the last time you checked on your air filter? Dust-clogged or aged filters can affect the performance of your unit, making it work harder and heat up faster, wasting more energy. If you don’t have an ENERGY STAR-efficient central air conditioner, know that some models can save you up to 30% on their cost-to-operate over federal minimum models. 

3. Utilize ceiling fans.

Ceiling fans help to circulate the flow of air throughout your home, helping your AC units to perform better by better dispersing airflow. Just the sensation of air blowing across your skin can create a cooling effect, even if the temperature isn’t drastically changed. Because of this circulation and added sensation, most Floridians who actively use ceiling fans can raise their thermostat by 4º F without sacrificing comfort. 

When shopping for fans, look for ENERGY STAR-rated fans, which are typically 60% more efficient than conventional fan/light units. These units use improved motors and blade designs combined with cutting-edge technology to reduce your energy bill costs with the same usage frequency as traditional fans. 

4. Tweak your fridge and freezer temperatures.

These are typically areas that we don’t think to adjust, but cranking your refrigerator or freezer too cold can be wasting a lot of energy. Most refrigerators work best when set between 37 and 40 degrees F, while most freezers work best at about 5 degrees.

Also, few realize that you can reduce your electricity bill by keeping your freezer full. The more cold things in the freezer, the less your freezer has to work to keep cold. Don’t have enough food to keep your freezer packed? Freeze containers of water; they take up space, keep the freezer working efficiently, and can be used as a ready water supply come hurricane.

5. Light your home with LEDs.

“ENERGY STAR-qualified LEDs use only 20%–25% of the energy and last 15 to 25 times longer than the traditional incandescent bulbs they replace,” according to Energy.gov. Because of this, LED lights are a more durable, longer-lasting option for your home than incandescent or CFL bulbs. To lower your energy bill a smidge, swap out older bulbs for bulbs sure to last for many years to come.

Curious as to what bulbs are best for energy-efficiency? Check out our other blog, Halogen, CFL & LED Light Bulbs: What’s the Difference & Are They Worth It?

6. Don’t forget about your water bill!

You’re so focused on lowering your electricity bill, have you considered your home water usage? Don’t forget, you pay to heat your water. That means when you’re taking long, roasting showers, washing clothes on hot, or running a steamy dishwasher, you’re being billed for it.

Think of a few ways you can use water without the heat:

  • Take shorter showers and buy a low-flow shower head. Some homeowners with slower-to-warm water heaters are guilty of turning on the shower and walking away for a bit, letting it warm up and forgetting it’s going. Older showers use up to 5 gallons of water per minute, according to The USGS. That’s a ton of wasted water! Be mindful of your time behind the curtain and consider turning off the water while shaving, which typically wastes about a gallon of H20 in-and-of-itself. Or, purchase a shower head that regulates how much water you use per minute. You may be surprised that the right dispersion method can make it feel like just as “strong” of a flow, with far less water.
  • Wash your clothes on “cold” and get an ENERGY STAR-rated washer. Even newer washers use 25 gallons of water per load, which is a lot to heat! The good news is, most laundry detergents are formulated to work at any temperature— so switch that dial to cold or cool, all the time. In addition to saving energy and hot water, your clothes will stay brighter. By switching to an energy-efficient washer, you can lower your electric bill even more!
  • Don’t always run the dishwasher on hot. Scrap or lightly rinse your dishes off before putting them in the dishwasher so the cold setting can get the remaining food off without high heat. Also, save up for a better dishwasher, knowing you’ll have long-term energy savings. Older dishwashers can use up to 16 gallons per cycle. In contrast, ENERGY STAR models use 6 gallons or less per wash cycle and can often run faster and more efficiently, reducing both your heating costs and electricity usage!

Waste less water by understanding how many gallons you use per day with The USGS’ water calculator. 

Maximize Your Energy Savings

Want more energy savings, beyond your electric bill? Check out our other blog, 6 Energy-Saving Tips for Your Home, where we’ll talk more about:

  • Installing dimmer switches or motion detection
  • Investing in energy-efficient windows
  • Checking your home’s insulation
  • And more!

Our team is just a phone call away to help install energy-efficient lighting fixtures or bulbs, ceiling fans to circulate airflow, smart thermostats for temperature control, and just about any electrical work you can imagine.

Give us a call at 239-307-0716, today.

Hurricane Preparedness Tips for Before, During & After a Florida Storm

If you’re new to Florida, it’s important to understand how serious hurricane season should be taken in our southern state. Category 3 and above storms hit our region regularly, and repercussions can be catastrophic if proper precautions aren’t followed.

Here’s a quick list of some hurricane preparedness ideas to prepare before, during, and after the next SWFL storm:

Before the Storm

The best time to prepare for a storm is before a storm is expected. When you gather everything in advance, you won’t have to fight the crowds that inevitably form when a severe weather event is in the forecast.

Reinforce Your House

What do you need to buy? Your first stop should be to the hardware store. Reinforcing the framing in your roof and buying protection for your windows will keep your house in the best condition possible when high winds hit.

Compile a Hurricane Shopping List

It’s just as important to stock up on supplies to have on hand in case of a major weather event. 

Here’s a quick rundown on some of the items that you should keep ready for a hurricane or strong storm:

  • Bottled water
  • Nonperishable food and/or canned food (don’t forget a hand-operated can opener!)
  • A battery-powered weather radio
  • A basic first aid kit, including a few day’s worth of your prescription medications
  • Flashlights
  • Batteries for your flashlights, detectors, weather radios, and any health-related devices, such as insulin pumps
  • Tarps, plastic sheeting, ropes, and duct tape
  • Fire extinguisher
  • A portable generator, and the appropriate power source
  • Hurricane window covers

Don’t be part of the mad-dash for bottled water or batteries in the lead-up to a storm, only to find empty store shelves. Being prepared ahead of time means you will have more time to stock up on the smaller (but still important) items later. 

Here is a helpful checklist from the Red Cross to ensure you have everything you need!

Don’t Forget Your Generator!

If you have a generator, double check to see that it’s working before a storm hits. If it’s been sitting around collecting dust for months or years, fire it up well before the storm to ensure it’s working properly and not in need of service or repair.

If you don’t have a generator, here are four big questions to ask before buying a home generator.

When the Hurricane is on Its Way

Once you know a hurricane or tropical storm is approaching, you can begin to gather your final necessities. 

Don’t forget to double check that you have the following: 

  • Medical records
  • Medical insurance
  • Homeowners’ insurance
  • Auto insurance
  • Flood insurance documents
  • Financial records
  • Personal information like social security cards, birth, and marriage certificates

Additional Storm Preparations

Once a hurricane warning is announced, do the following: 

  • Fill any prescriptions so that you have a 30 day supply on hand.
  • Top off your car’s gas tank and gather any propane or gas you may need for your generator. 
  • Make or buy as much ice as possible.
  • Charge all electronic devices (laptops, cellphones, etc)— don’t forget cordless power tools as well; you may need them!
  • Trim all trees near your home. This will ensure that there aren’t any branches close to your house that could really do some damage. 
  • Set an evacuation plan and meeting place for your family.

As you are readying your home’s exterior, bring in trash cans, bikes, grills, and lawn furniture, secure swing sets, and move as much as you can into your garage or a secure outbuilding. Not only will this protect your items from damage, but it will keep you and your neighbors safe from any extra potential flying debris too.

After the Storm

Once a storm has passed, you aren’t quite in the clear yet. Be sure to continue listening to your weather radio for advisories. If your home is a safe place, don’t leave until all danger has passed, and don’t enter any buildings that appear to have structural damage. If roads are bad, don’t leave until they have been cleared, and never try to drive through standing water or flooded streets. 

If you happen to smell gas, turn off your gas line and make sure your sewer system is running before flushing any toilets. There’s a lot that can be damaged in a hurricane or severe storm and things may not be working properly.

Post-storm, document all damage by taking photos. You’ll also want to contact your insurance agent before making any repairs or hiring anyone to make repairs for you.

Get Yourself a Generator! 

One of the worst things about hurricane season is losing power for long stretches of time. Avoid being in the dark during the next storm by investing in a long-lasting generator now.

Here are four big questions to ask before choosing a generator. Explore our free Backup Generator Guide to help you choose the right unit, the proper fuel type, and brand for your SWFL home.

Ultimate How To Guide For DIY Electrical Projects

A four year study by the National Fire Protection Association found 47,820 fires were caused by electrical failure. These fires caused hundreds of deaths and $1.5 billion in property damage.

Preventing these catastrophes may simply be a matter of routine maintenance and an attentive eye. Many homeowners neglect their electrical system because of all the confusing talk about circuits, currents, amps, and watts. Although many electrical concerns should be handled by professionals, there are easy steps homeowners can take to protect their homes.

We created this simple guide for those proactive homeowners. With everything from smoke detectors and outlets to extension cords and proper grounding, you will be able to diagnose and fix minor electrical problems… you may even find a few scenarios that require immediate professional attention.

If you find an electrical problem needing immediate attention, don’t hesitate to contact an electrical professional. They will diagnose and quickly fix your problem. Never wait to call, your family’s lives may depend on it!

PRO TIP: If your electrical cords are frayed, they must be promptly repaired or replaced. Damaged electrical cords are a shock and fire hazard.

Install Smoke Detectors

Even the most vigilant homeowner can fall victim to a devastating house fire. Install and regularly test your smoke detectors to protect against such a disaster. Smoke detectors should be installed on every level of the home, inside all sleeping areas, in stairways and hallways, and in the garage.

Since smoke rises, the ideal place for a smoke detector is on the ceiling. If you are installing smoke detectors on the wall, ensure they are placed within one foot of the ceiling. If you have a pitched ceiling, install the smoke detectors six inches below the apex of the peak. It’s equally important to consider the interference caused by a draft. Avoid installing detectors near doors, ducts, vents, or windows.

Regularly Check Smoke Detectors

Just like the battery in your smartphone, your smoke detector battery won’t last forever. Use the “test” button to check your smoke detector at least once every month. Smoke detectors will need a new battery at least once every year. If the alarm makes a chirping sound, you must immediately replace your battery.

If your battery needs replacing, the back of the alarm will designate the proper battery type. If the manufacturer’s instructions signify a special type of battery brand or model, don’t risk your family’s safety with a knock-off brand.

Even if your alarm uses a non-replaceable 10 year battery, do not neglect a monthly test. If the battery fails the test, replace the smoke detector immediately.

PRO TIP: Prevent false alarms! Install smoke alarms at least 10 feet from your cooking area.

Know Your Smoke Detector


These smoke detectors use Americium-241 to create a current between two small metal plates. When smoke disrupts the current, the alarm is tripped. Since it can detect small amounts of smoke, ionization detectors are used in kitchens where fast flaming fires are more common.


By positioning a light source and a light-sensitive electric sensor at a 90 degree angle, this alarm trips when smoke enters and scatters the light and it hits the sensor. This type of smoke detector responds quickly to fires in the smoldering stage – the moment before it bursts into flames.


Using both an ionization and photoelectric sensor, these smoke detectors can detect both a fast flame fire and a smoldering fire. The combination of the two sensors makes the dual sensor smoke detector the safest option.

PRO TIP: If you have young children, use the monthly test as an opportunity to explain the importance of fire safety. Discuss the proper response in the event of an emergency.

Pay Attention to Your Electrical System

Your home electrical system may just seem like a bunch of wires and circuits, but it’s actually alive! If you pay attention to your electrical system’s aches and pains, you can prevent serious and costly problems.

The best way to monitor your system is to fix minor problems when you first notice them. Make note of things like frayed wires, damaged electrical cords, and condensation or water pooling below major appliances.

If you have a room where circuit breakers trip often or the lights constantly flicker, you may have a serious wiring problem. Remember, your circuit breaker prevents electrical fires by tripping when it’s overloaded.

Therefore, if your system frequently trips, it’s overloaded and possibly a fire hazard. If you unplug major appliances and the problem persists, you are dealing with a serious wiring concern. To decrease the chance of a fire, immediately contact an electrical professional.

PRO TIP: Never overload your outlets. Only use one high-wattage electrical device per outlet.Circuits won’t stop tripping? Click to contact a licensed professional now!

Check Your Outlets

Checking your electrical outlets is like taking your temperature with a thermometer: You can tell you have a fever, but only a doctor can properly diagnose and address the problem. Believe it or not, simply checking your outlets is an easy way to take the temperature of your home’s electrical system. If the outlet is hot you may be at risk of a serious electrical fire. You can’t take your home to the doctor, but you can call an electrician. They will diagnose your electrical ills and provide a remedy.

Begin by grabbing a pen and paper to make a list of all the electrical outlets in your home. Since some outlets are located behind appliances, you may need the assistance of a friend or family member. Once you have your list, check to see if your outlets have any of the following problems:


If you answered “yes” to any of these questions, you may be at risk. Contact an electrical professional immediately! They can find and fix the issue before the concern becomes a dangerous incident.

PRO TIP: Cover all unused electrical outlets with covers or install tamper resistant outlets.

Hot outlets? Don’t risk it! Contact a licensed professional now!

Do Your Outlets Need a GFCI Update?

Water and electricity don’t mix. This makes areas like laundry rooms, bathrooms, kitchens, and outdoor living spaces especially susceptible to danger. To prevent a deadly shock, make sure your home is equipped with the latest GFCI outlets.


It’s easy to tell the difference between a traditional and a GFCI outlet. A GFCI outlet has a pair of three-pronged outlets separated by a test and reset button.

Electrcial Outlets

How Does a Ground Fault Work?

Electricity always wants to find a way to the ground. A ground fault is when electricity does in fact find its way to the ground. Unfortunately, this path can be through a person’s body.

A GFCI prevents a dangerous incident by measuring the amount of electricity flowing in and out of the circuit. If the GFCI detects even a minor variance in electricity, it will immediately shut off the circuit.

WATT IS THAT? GFCI stands for Ground Fault Circuit Interrupter.

PRO TIP: Immediately replace any electrical tool if it causes small shocks, overheats, shorts, or gives off smoke or sparks.


Regularly Test Your GFCI Outlets


If you drop your hair dryer into the water, a malfunctioning GFCI outlet won’t protect you. Only by regularly testing your GFCI outlets can you prevent such a disaster. An outlet tester is the easiest way to verify functionality. If you do not own an outlet tester, grab an electrical device, like a lamp, and conduct the following test:

The GFCI Test


If your GFCI fails the test, your electrical system could pose a fire and/or electrocution risk. Remember, water and electricity don’t mix, so if your kitchen or bathroom GFCI isn’t working, you’re not protected.

PRO TIP: If you purchase a receptacle outlet tester, you can easily check to see if your outlets are correctly wired and grounded.

Did your GFCI fail the test?  Click to contact a licensed professional now!

Extension Cord-1

Check Your Extension Cords

Extension cords are an essential part of every homeowner’s repertoire. They are a great temporary solution for working outdoors or getting power to your TV at a tailgate. Although they have many practical uses, extension cords should never be used as a permanent solution. Use the extension cord best practices in the next section to prevent serious damage.

The Extension Cord Dont’s


Follow these rules, and all your extension cord days will be filled with light and happiness! If you still need to get power to an appliance or electrical device far away from an outlet, contact a professional electrician. They can give your home a practical, permanent, and safe solution.

PRO TIP: The electrical capacity of an extension cord is actually a combination of the gauge of the cord and its length. As a cord increases in length, its capacity diminishes.

Is Your Home Properly Grounded?

No, we aren’t talking about your home’s emotional stability, we are talking about your electric! In the event of a short circuit, the electrical current will find the quickest route to ground. Grounding is the way electricity returns safely to the ground by way of the service panel.

If your home is properly grounded, the current will flow, quite literally, into the ground. If your home is improperly grounded, the current will find the quickest way to ground… and that could very well be through you. Although the cartoon characters of old may make it seem hilarious, a short circuit is no laughing matter. It can result in serious injury and possibly even death.

A ground wire is used to carry excess current away from the home in case of a short circuit.

You May Be at Risk if…


PRO TIP: In a properly grounded outlet, the large slot is neutral, the small slot is “hot” and the u-shaped hole is the ground.

Think you’re at risk? Click to contact a licensed professional now!

Check Your Bulbs

The wattage numbers aren’t just on your fixtures and bulbs for decoration! Before you go to the store to buy new light bulbs, check the wattage numbers on your lamps and light fixtures. They will specify the appropriate bulb wattage.

You can either match the wattage of the fixture with the bulb, such as a 60 watt bulb with a 60 watt fixture, or use a bulb of a lesser wattage, such as a 40 watt bulb with a 60 watt fixture. But you should never exceed the specified wattage, such as a 75 watt bulb with 60 watt fixture.

LED Light

How to Replace Your Bulb


If you’ve ever tried to change a light bulb right after you turn it off, you’ve probably burned your finger! Light bulbs get really hot and therefore can be serious fire hazards. To minimize the danger, never put anything flammable on top of a lamp or light bulb.

PRO TIP: Avoid improper disposal of energy efficient CFL bulbs. Contact your local garbage service for more information!

Schedule a Professional Consultation

Even if you follow all the best practices for maintaining your electrical system, it’s still wise to consult a professional.

Whether you just moved into your new home, or you’ve been there for years, an electrical professional will help diagnose and fix any major or minor electrical problems.

From smoke detectors and outlets to grounds and circuit boards, your electrical professional will verify the safety of your home’s electrical system. Even if you just want an explanation of the intricacies of your electrical system, call an electrician today – they’ll be happy to demonstrate their expertise!

PRO TIP: Schedule routine safety consultations with a trusted electrician.

Watt are you waiting for? Schedule a professional consultation today!

Want to download this guide? Download this guide by clicking the link below.

homeowners electrical guide

Monthly & Annual Maintenance Tips for Keeping Home Standby Generator Running Smoothly

You’re the kind of person who understands the importance of preparedness. You’ve seen a hurricane— or five!— and you know that you have your food and water supply, your medications, your evacuation plan, and your first aid kit. Your pets are microchipped. Your tires are full. Your important computer files are backed up. And your standby generator is ready to go.

At least, you think it is. For sure… Isn’t it?

How do you really know? If your generator has been sitting untouched in a storage room for the last year, you don’t, and while a standby generator can save your lifestyle or even your life in the event of an extended power outage, not just any generator will do: you need a generator that works.

But there you’ll do different things to maintain a permanently installed standby generator than you would a portable generator.

Get in the swing of a routine maintenance schedule with these tips:

Monthly Standby Generator Maintenance

Like a car or any other complex machine, generators require regular maintenance. If you were to find an older, rarely-used car in a relative’s garage, you wouldn’t just hope it starts up when you need to drive it, would you? No! Before driving it, you’d have it checked out, or at least test the obvious: Does it start? Do the brakes work? Does the engine sound okay? Are the tires full, or at least full enough to get to the nearest filling station? Is there gas in the tank? Does it need an oil change? Is it clean? Is it leaking? Have any critters taken up residence inside? (Yes, this is absolutely something to check for.) Does it have fuel, oil, and coolant?

Here are some basic things you should check on a monthly basis to ensure your home standby generator is up to date and the generator is in good working condition: 

  • Run the standby generator
  • Make sure there are no alarms or warnings 
  • Ensure the unit is clear of debris and pests who may try finding shelter in the housing
  • Check fuel levels 
  • Ensure that the generator is in “Auto” mode, for automatic startup
  • Make sure there are no fluid leaks
  • Check engine coolant level

Most people have the ability to check on their generator at this basic level, but being systematic about it is key. Having a whole house generator maintenance checklist on hand to remind you of what to look for (and how often) absolutely helps. 

Here are a few other signs your generator may need repair or servicing.

generator maintenance

Semi-Annual & Annual Maintenance 

Twice a year or so, you’ll want to perform more thorough home generator maintenance, looking more specifically at individual parts. Things like batteries, drive belts and cooling lines all need to be inspected. Filters and spark plugs need to be changed on an annual basis.

Even if your generator is rarely used, parts still need to be replaced over time. Even just knowing what the individual pieces and parts are and what they should look, feel, and sound like can go a long way towards making you feel more confident that your generator will do its job in an emergency. 

Here’s what they’re going to be checking for you semi-annually: 

  • Inspect the enclosure
  • Check battery cables and connections for signs of corrosion 
  • Inspect drive belts
  • Check coolant lines and connections for damage
  • Check for oil leaks and inspect lubrication system hoses and connectors
  • Check for fuel leaks and inspect fuel system hoses and connectors
  • Inspect the exhaust system, muffler and exhaust pipe
  • Check and clean air cleaner units
  • Inspect air induction piping and connections
  • Inspect the DC electrical system, control panel and accessories
  • Inspect the AC wiring and accessories

Because home generator maintenance you should be done regularly and can be time-consuming and require specialized knowledge, working with an electrician is important. 

Here are a few more items to check annually: 

  • Change oil and filter
  • Change the fuel filter
  • Change the air filter
  • Clean the crankcase breather
  • Change spark plugs
  • Check coolant concentration
  • Flush the cooling system (as needed)
  • Perform load bank testing
  • Fuel testing & reconditioning (diesel-fueled units only)
  • Remove water from the fuel tank (diesel-fueled units only)

Some people are nodding their heads right now saying, “Yeah, yeah, got it, no problem.” Others who are not the DIY-type may seem overwhelmed,

For anything out of your comfort zone— especially an annual inspection— it’s best to have the work done by a professional. 

Southwest Florida Electric is here for you, and all your whole house generator maintenance needs.


Trusted Maintenance Near You

The worst moment to realize you need a new part for your generator, or you have neglected generator maintenance, is the same moment a storm hits. 

A regularly maintained generator doesn’t just power your home or business, it also empowers you to develop a sense of calm, knowing that you’re ready for anything, whatever the weather may bring.

Let us help with your home standby generator maintenance, today!