MES Spark: Rewiring in a 100-year-old church

The year is 1840.  Pioneers make their way west across the Mississippi in search of new opportunities, farm families are building sod houses across the prairie, and each day is a lesson in survival.  In the lush, rocky terrain of East-Central Iowa, another immigrant has come to the area with his own purpose.  Rev. Samuel Mazzuchelli founded several Catholic parishes in the area in the mid-1800s, including the majestic limestone building just south of Bernard, Iowa – St. Patrick’s Garryowen.  While the beauty of this structure can’t be denied, its infrastructure was beginning to crumble by the second decade of the new millennium, and parishioners wanted to take steps to ensure their beloved church lived to stand the test of time for decades to come.  So in 2014, a massive renovation began, and McAllister Electrical Services was on-hand to assist with the electrical installation and upgrades needed for the project.

Electricity in the 1840s

When the church was originally constructed, electricity had advanced as far as the kerosene oil lamp…seriously.  It would be another 25+ years before Thomas Edison invented what we know as a long-lasting modern light bulb.

Infographic of electrical innovations courtesy NESC
Infographic outlining the advances of electricity in modern times.

Over the years, the parishioners and church leaders rallied to update the church with modern electrical systems as technologies advanced.  But when we got called in, it was time to update HVAC systems as well as the electrical wiring itself and make it more energy-efficient and safe.

What we did

To help out St. Patrick’s our crew came in for a complete overhaul.  We started by running new wire, which was a bit challenging with the interior’s age. Fortunately, the renovation included patching and repairing some crumbling sections of walls and ceiling, so we were able to get behind the walls with minimal additional damage.  It was important to address this dated wiring as any structure built more than 40 years ago should be inspected to assess electrical quality and determine if any hazards that have developed.

Another major improvement for St. Patrick’s was changing out the incandescent bulbs and fixtures for energy-efficient LED bulbs.  As with most rural parishes these days, the St. Patrick’s board was looking to cut monthly costs.  By switching out their bulbs to LED, we were able to assist with this goal and help them brighten the interior of the church while reducing bulb maintenance and Wattage used.

Comparing incandescent lightbulbs to CFL and LED bulbs
Compare a traditional incandescent bulb to newer, energy-efficient options.

 

 

How do I know it’s time to update the electrical system in my home or building?

We like this great explanation from Angie’s List when describing the function and importance of an up-to-code electrical system:

“Your home’s electrical system is similar to your body’s circulatory system. Your electrical panel is the heart of your electrical system. The circuits that carry electricity to all the plugs, lights and appliances in your home are like your veins and arteries.”

If you want your house to optimally and safely function, you need to make sure your electrical systems are in order.

Here are some basic guidelines to check if your home could use an inspection and/or service from McAllister Electrical Services:

  1. Your home/structure is over 40 years old. In the past 40 years, we’ve had major technological advancements in our society (phones, computers, flat screen tvs, etc.) and all these electronics depend on having reliable receptacles and energy sources to work.  Homes built in the 1970s just weren’t equipped for the power supply necessary for modern life.  If your home is over 40 years of age, it’s time to call us for an inspection.
  2. Circuit breakers trip frequently. This is a sign that your receptacles are either trying to pull more power than they can handle, or there is a miss somewhere in your wires.  If you are tripping breakers on a regular basis, it’s time to call us for an inspection.
  3. Your lights dim when you turn on other appliances. This is another sign that your system cannot handle the demand that modern appliances and electronics are trying to pull.  If you are experiencing dimming lights when the fridge or AC kicks on, it’s time to call us for an inspection.
  4. You have to use extension cords or adapters to create additional electric outlets for your home. If you need an extension cord to get power to your phone charger, or you’re relying on a power strip for your living room lamps, we can quickly and cost-effectively install new receptacles to declutter and improve the safety of your home.  If you are using more than one power cord throughout your home for basic needs, it’s time to call us for an inspection.

If you feel like it’s time to call our team, we can be reached at 563-852-7484 or email Pete at mcallisterelect@netins.net.

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