Common Electrical Problems During Winter Months

There’s no denying the fact that the average electricity consumption of a home significantly increases over the frigid winter months of the year. Due to this increased use, it is easy for people to let their guard down when it comes to electrical safety which may result in injuries and damage to property. It is crucial to remain extra vigilant during winter to avoid such mishaps. With winter there can be other problems that may arise due to snowfall, freeze/thaw cycles, strong winds, and heavy rains. Accidents related to electricity more often than not have fatal consequences along with heavy financial repercussions. This is exactly why we suggest that you prevent any such incidents by taking a few precautions that will ensure you and your family remain safe.

As winter sets in, you must be super alert while operating heavy appliances and anything related to electricity. We advise you to perform simple tasks like checking the overhead electrical lines for clearance to make sure that the electrical panels are covered adequately. This will help you protect your home from any power surges and other hazards caused due to electrical accidents. In this article, we have compiled a list of few tips to ensure a safe and secure winter as far as any electricity related accidents are concerned. These can range from fluctuations, short circuits to power outages caused due to rain or snow. With winter being the most popular holiday of the year, make the best of it by following these tips.

Top 8 Tips for Outdoor Electrical for Homes in Winter

  1. Crimped extension cords and flickering of lamps are a tell-tale sign that there is a huge risk of fire hazard.
  2. All plugs, panels, and boxes must be appropriately covered and made weather resistant. If water seeps into them, it can cause unnecessary complications.
  3. It is good practice to identify, mark and label all the circuits to be able to immediately cut power from them if a need arises. Time is of the essence in such situations as the situation can escalate quickly. By labeling all the circuits, you might be able to save critical time that may mean life or death.
  4. Never overload any power outlets with multiple extension cords. This can cause unwanted stress on that particular outlet causing them to heat up and disintegrate. It may even become a fire hazard and cause immense damage to properties.
  5. For those of you who have extension cords running under the carpet, it is essential to have them covered with childproof caps.
  6. If you have pipes that are prone to freezing during winter, keep them from freezing this winter by using heat tape. This tape will make sure that your pipe remains warm and does not freeze.
  7. Have a professional take a look at the wiring in your house to identify if it needs any replacements or repairs.
  8. To protect all your appliances from the frequent power surge during the winter, have a certified electrician install a surge suppressor. This will ensure that your appliances keep running well.

For all your electrical needs, you can count on Westphal & Co. Contact us to receive a free quote for your renovation project and any other electrical system needs you may have.

Can switching to LED light bulbs help you increase energy savings?

The simple answer is yes. LED light bulbs can help you save money on energy and in this article we will present simple calculations that with explain just about how much can be saved.

But let’s start from the beginning to understand the difference between LED and incandescent bulbs.  LED (light-emitting diode) bulbs, use a semiconductor to convert electricity into light. LED lights produce light more efficiently as they emit light in one direction, compared to standard incandescent light bulbs or compact fluorescent lamp (CFLs), making them less expensive to use.

LED lights gained huge popularity since year 2000 when the initial technology faced many issues like short lifespans, harsh lights, flickering and high price tags. Since then, the quality of the LED products increased significantly and the light bulb prices have dropped by 85% in recent years.  But yet not everyone has switched to LED lights and we are hoping this article will help you better understand the benefits of replacing your incandescent bulbs with LEDs. 

Cost per bulb
Average lifespan
25,000 hours
10,000 hours
1,200 hours
Bulbs needed for 25,000 hours of use
KWh of electricity used over 25,000 hours
Cost of electricity (@ 0.137 per KWh)
Total cost for 25,000 hours

Besides the energy savings, here are some other benefits of LED light bulbs:

LED Light Bulbs Last Longer.

High-efficiency LED bulbs last at least about 10 years while incandescent and halogen bulbs last on average one year. This provides savings in not only purchasing a lot less bulbs, but what’s more important – replacing them.  The task is not always easy when your house has vaulted ceilings or hard to reach light fixtures. 

Many Color Options.

While incandescent bulbs use gels or filters to create different shades of light, LED lights provide a range of colors and temperatures using the actual diode or its phosphorus coating. This allows you to enjoy many different colors that LED bulbs can offer. 

LED lights do not cause heat build-up.

LED lights do not cause heat build-up as only 20% of a LED light’s energy is used to emit heat.  They are generally cool to touch and you don’t have to worry about them being a fire hazard in case they tip over and touch the shade. 

If you have any questions regarding LED light bulb installation or replacement, please contact our experts at Westphal. 

5-Year Work Anniversary with Nate Frisch


Job Title: Foreman

Work Anniversary: 11/15/2016

Time at Westphal: 5 years


Can you tell us more about your role at Westphal & Company? Did you start in this role?

I am currently a Foreman transitioning to a Project Manager position.

What do you like the most about working at Westphal & Company?

What I like most about working at Westphal are the opportunities to grow and the camaraderie within the company makes it a fun and rewarding place to work.

What do you do for fun?

I enjoy weekends at the lake, boating and hanging out with friends and family. I also coach Football, which takes up most of my free time in the fall. It is fun working with the guys to learn and understand the game better.

UW Veterans Medical Center

Healthcare PORTFOLIO

UW Veterans Medical Center

Madison, WI



Madison, WI




Flad Architects




Controls Technology

The University of Wisconsin-Madison School of Veterinary Medicine (SVM) is home to one of the leading schools of veterinary medicine in the country. The SVM project includes a new three-story building as well as an existing building remodel. The new facility will provide space for the small animal clinic, new offices, conference rooms, and shared collaboration/interaction spaces to support the teaching hospital. The clinical space will be expanded to increase access to the small and large animal isolation suites that are required to meet accreditation standards, increase the quantity of specialized surgery environments, provide imaging space, and separate patient access to medical oncology services. The existing building remodel will renovate portions of the animal hospital and raze three buildings. Westphal & Co. is responsible for the installation of the Johnson Controls building automation system.

CEVA Biomune Lab Buildouts

Bioscience PORTFOLIO

CEVA Biomune Lab Buildouts

Verona, WI



Verona, WI


Vogel Brothers Building Co.





This multi-phased project consist of new labs with clean rooms and process for the use in developing vaccines for animals of the fowl, swine and cattle families in this 55,000 square foot facility in Verona, WI. This phased project is being completed to allow the facility to continue to produce these vaccines insuring the power to freezers and test equipment stayed active during construction. There are plans to expand this facility in to green space adjacent to the current facility. The initial design was completed by GBA Architects of Lenexa, KS and Westphal assisted in making available power and control for the equipment coming from other plants.

Anticipated completion of the renovated area is December 2021.


Resurrection Elementary School

K12 Education PORTFOLIO

Resurrection Elementary School

Dubuque Iowa



Dubuque Iowa


Portzen Construction


Origin Design


This is a new 2 section 3 story pre k through 5th grade elementary school. The building is about 44,000 square feet and includes a media room, warming kitchen, art and faith formation rooms along with a lunch room and the classrooms. The electrical scope includes a new 1600-amp 208/120 volt 3 phase service that will also feed an existing gym and other campus buildings.

How To Choose The Best Commercial Electrical Contractor

Finding the best commercial electrical contractor for your company’s needs hinges on asking the right questions and doing the right research. But it doesn’t have to be difficult. The following 6 essential questions will help you get the information you need to hire the right one for your needs.

Understand What You Need First

It’s important to clearly define your business’ needs before delving into which is the right commercial electrical contractor to fill them. Do you need some minor renovation or major remodeling? Do you need help with just the lighting or all of the electrical systems? Also, what is your timeframe for needing everything completed? Scheduling is important for both your business and the electrical contractor, so try to allow plenty of time to complete the desired work.

The Right Commercial Electrical Contractor is Licensed and Insured

Never hire an commercial electrical contractor that isn’t fully licensed and insured for the work they are doing. This is essential because it demonstrates that the electricians working on your project have gone to the effort of receiving and maintaining their electrical certifications, are up-to-speed on the latest electrical codes and are competent to perform the work you need them to do. The insurance is also critical in case accidents occur. These are absolute baseline requirements that your electrical contractor must meet for safety and quality reasons.

How Long has Your Electrical Contractor Been in the Business

This is another indicator of whether or not you’re getting the best commercial electrical contractor available. The longer an electrical contractor has been in business the better, for two very important reasons:

They will have amassed a great deal of experience working in a wide range of environments and… Any company that has been in the business for a long time has kept their customers happy and done a considerable amount of repeat business, or they would have gone out of business long ago. Westphal & Co. has been serving customers across Wisconsin and Iowa for more than nine decades, and we have generations of happy customers because we’ve put safety, high-quality work and our customers’ needs first on every job.

Always Get References

The best commercial electrical contractors will not hesitate to provide references for you to check so you can ask other clients about the quality of their work and their customer service. Steer clear of any contractor that doesn’t want to provide references. When you receive references, make sure to call and ask questions about the contractor’s quality of work, professionalism, attention to detail and any other specifics that are similar to the job that you need to have done.

How Detailed is the Quote?

When you receive the quotes, make sure to look carefully at how detailed they are and how well they explain what each expense is. The right commercial electrical contractor will provide a highly-detailed, very specific quote that outlines exactly what each expense is after having examined your needs in person. Ask all the questions you need to!

Check Online Resources

During this process, make sure to double check all the online references you can: the company’s website testimonials, industry affiliations, and online review sources like Better Business Bureau and Google Reviews. Find out if the contractor has won any industry awards or special mentions for impressive design or new construction projects.

For all your electrical needs, you can count on Westphal & Co. Contact us to receive a free quote for your renovation project and any other electrical system needs you may have.

Celebrating 20th Anniversary with Deanna Hoff


Job Title: Assistant Controller

Work Anniversary: 9/30

Time at Westphal: 20 years


Can you tell us more about your role at Westphal & Company? Did you start in this role?

Yes, I started in this role after working in public accounting for 14 yrs previously. I live in Janesville and our headquarters were located there when I started. In 2006, I relocated with the headquarters to our current Madison location. At the start of the pandemic, I relocated to our new Janesville office, but do work in our other offices occasionally.

My basic role is to assist the CFO and Controller – hence my Assistant Controller job title😊, but I feel my role is to assist or support everyone on Team Purple in any way I can. I’m involved in the day to day accounting operations as well as many HR functions for our office staff. I process office payroll & expense reimbursements biweekly, sales & use tax returns monthly, payroll tax returns quarterly, and W2’s/1099’s annually. I assist with monthly account reconciliations associated with the preparation of our financial reports. I handle various required statistical reporting as well as audits of our union reporting. I also support other members of our accounting staff and assist PM’s with accounting-related functions and questions. I’m involved with implementation, upgrades, training and documentation for various software we utilize. As you can imagine, I’ve worn many hats over the past 20 years and have learned SO much!

What do you like the most about working at Westphal & Company?

My work has a lot of variety and challenges and I enjoy being part of the Westphal Team where the philosophy and culture are a really good fit for me.

If you could have an unlimited supply of one thing, what would it be?

TIME. I think the one thing I appreciated about the pandemic year was a less hurried pace and the time to do/enjoy things you didn’t feel like you had time for before. 

What do you do for fun?

Spend time with family and friends camping, motorcycle riding, ATVing, biking, golfing, grilling out, etc.

10 Signs It’s Time To Rewire Your Home

Just like other parts of your home, electrical systems wear out over time. An aging electrical system is a hazard not only to your home, but to the safety of you and your family. You shouldn’t let an electrical fire be your wake-up call that it’s time to rewire your home. There are many signs an electrical system gives off when it’s worn out or damaged, and you should be paying attention to these signs.

So how can you tell if your home needs rewiring?

  • Contact an electrician. Our electricians can diagnose your electrical system’s health and let you know if it’s time to rewire your home.
  • Watch for the following warning signs:

If any of the following is true about your electrical system, it’s time to get your home rewired!

  1. Your home has frequently blown fuses or tripped breakers – This may be a sign your electrical system is worn out or can’t handle the amount of electricity you need in your home.
  2. Your home’s lights frequently dim or flicker – This is a sign of faulty wiring and frequently seen more often in older homes.
  3. You hear buzzing or sizzling sounds in your wiring or outlets – If you hear any sounds coming from your outlets, you should call an electrician immediately.
  4. Your home’s outlets are loose – If plugs wiggle and fall out of electrical outlets, you need to get new outlets.
  5. You’ve made a major renovation or added additional large appliances – Additional large appliances like microwaves or washer/dryers use so much electricity they might need their own dedicated circuitry.
  6. Your home is more than 40 years old – If you have an older home, the existing electrical system may be wearing out, made of aluminum wires instead of copper, and straining to meet your home’s demand. Houses built in the 1960s, 70s, and even 80s may not be able to handle the amount of power you need for modern devices.
  7. Your home has ungrounded, two-pronged outlets – All of your outlets should be grounded to reduce the threat of electrocution.
  8. Your home has aluminum instead of copper wiring – According to the Consumer Product Safety Commission, failing aluminum wire connections can cause overheating that can start a fire. You can tell if you have aluminum wiring if “AL” is written on the jacket.
  9. You’ve experienced an electrical shock when plugging in or unplugging an appliance – Even the smallest tingle may be a warning sign, so don’t dismiss it!
  10. Your outlets give off a burning smell – Burned or overheated wires often give off a noticeable burning odor.

Rewiring a home requires understanding and expertise for a smooth and safe installation. Call our team now for a free in–home assessment. Our licensed residential electrical professional will guide you through the process and discuss your electrical needs, and answer any questions or concerns you may have. Contact us at (608) 222-0105 or learn more about our other residential services at

The Importance of Electrical Surge Protection for Your Home

The average home today is filled with valuable electronic devices. This will typically include televisions, multiple computers, tablets, mobile phones, sound systems, gaming systems, and more. If any (or all) of these devices were damaged, it would not only cost you a lot of money to replace, but it would also be extremely inconvenient. In most situations, the biggest threat to electronics in your home is going to be a power surge.

Power surges can be caused by many different things including a problem at the electric company, damage to a local power line, or most commonly during a Wisconsin summer, lightening from a bad storm. Most people will purchase a surge protector that can be used on individual outlets in order to keep their television and entertainment center protected, but this leaves all your other electronics exposed. Fortunately, there is a much more convenient (and affordable) option to consider.

Whole Home Surge Protection

Rather than picking and choosing which devices you want to protect, why not have a whole home surge protection device installed right at your home’s electrical panel. This option will have all of the electricity that enters your home pass through it so if any surges in electricity occurs, it will never cause any type of damage.

Benefits of Whole Home Surge Protection

There are many benefits to going with a whole home surge protector rather than options that only work on one outlet. Take a look at just a few of the most common advantages that you will enjoy once you have this device installed in your home:

  • Total Protection – You will not have to worry about what you are plugging into which outlet again since they are all protected from electrical surges.
  • Much More Affordable – If you purchased a surge protector for every outlet that you use, it would be much more expensive than simply having one device installed for the whole home. This is true even with the cost of professional installation included!
  • Keeping Your Home Safer – In addition to keeping your electronics safe, a whole home surge protector can also help to prevent fires and electric shocks from occurring.
  • Potential Savings on Insurance – Some insurance companies offer discounts on their policy when you install home protection equipment like this.

Remember, all of these benefits (and many others) have always been essential, but with so many people working from home, it is more important than ever. If you work from home, what would you do if your laptop, tablet, or other critical devices were damaged? With this type of protection throughout your house, the risk of this happening is minimal.

How to Install a Whole Home Surge Protector

If you want to take advantage of the benefits of a whole home surge protector, it is recommended to have a professional take care of the installation. It is necessary to disconnect your main power lines that go into your circuit box and then run them through the surge protector. This means working with very high voltage equipment that requires a trained professional to be done safely. If you are interested in learning more or scheduling a time for someone to come install this type of device in your home, please contact Westphal & Company. We will be there for you every step of the way.

When Do I Need an Electrician?

It’s never been easier for homeowners to try to do their own electrical work. With solutions just a click away on Google or YouTube, DIY confidence has never been higher. You can locate step-by-step guides for just about any electrical installation or repair project. There are hundreds of videos and tutorials for everything from electrical outlet and ceiling fan installation to major projects like wiring a new electrical panel for your backyard shed.

Doing your own electrical work can seem like a great way to save time and money. So, how do you know when you should call an electrician?
The real answer is surprisingly simple – call a certified electrician for any electrical project around your home! If you don’t, you’re risking injury, damage to your home, and many other expensive problems. At Westphal & Co, our experienced team of licensed electricians is here to handle all of your needs, whether you’re on the isthmus in Madison or our in the countryside of Southern Wisconsin. Here are a few examples of electrical repair and installation projects that always require a trained professional.

There are many blog posts, articles, and videos online claiming that installing or replacing your own electrical outlets is safe and easy. All you have to do is turn off the room’s circuit breaker, and the rest is simple, right? Wrong! Installing or replacing an electrical outlet or light switch is a project that requires a trained, licensed electrician. It’s surprisingly easy to get the wiring wrong.

At best, a poorly wired outlet simply won’t work. At worst, it will cause a short that can damage your hardware or even cause a fire. It just isn’t worth taking that chance!

New light fixtures can transform the look of a room. It’s a surprisingly cost-effective upgrade that can brighten your home’s interior and create a premium look that potential buyers will love. But, is it really as easy as removing the old fixture, twisting a few wires together, and installing the new fixture? It isn’t. In reality, there’s a lot that can go awry if you wire and install a new light fixture yourself.

As with electrical outlets, a DIY light fixture replacement risks everything from a non-functioning fixture to serious damage to the fixture and your wiring to shorts and electrical fires. Don’t cut corners with your new light fixtures! Just call Westphal & Co, and we’ll provide a fast, affordable professional installation.

A ceiling fan can make a room much more comfortable in nearly any season, potentially saving you money by keeping the AC or furnace off longer or running less overall. It may seem obvious that new ceiling fan installations aren’t a DIY project, but a surprising number of homeowners attempt these projects themselves. Any time there’s the need to install new wiring in your home’s walls or ceiling, you need to hire a trained professional.

Electrical panels take the electricity from the grid and separates it into various circuits throughout your home. They also route the electricity through circuit breakers, which cut the electrical flow when a short or surge is detected. These are incredibly important systems, and they’re also highly technical pieces of equipment that are very easy to install incorrectly. Faulty electrical panel wiring can lead to poor power quality, unreliability, or even dangerous faults that can cause expensive damage or even a fire. If you’ve finishing your basement or thinking of an addition, don’t take any chances with your electrical panel.

Why Use a Licensed Electrician?
Here are a few of the many reasons why you shouldn’t risk doing electrical work yourself. Consider the points below, and you’ll see why calling Westphal & Co for a licensed electrician is the best way to handle any electrical project.

Risking Shorts & Fires
If the wiring in your home isn’t installed correctly, or wires are too close together, electricity can jump between them. This is called a short-circuit, or just a “short”. Shorts cause lots of heat to build up, potentially melting your wiring, damaging the surrounding areas, or even causing an electrical fire that could destroy your home. Not only is doing your own electrical work dangerous, it could also lead to major tragedy.

Complying with Building Codes
The dangers of faulty wiring has led to building codes requiring a licensed electrician to handle any wiring work. These codes are surprisingly detailed and complex, and noncompliance can be dangerous and make your home hard or impossible to sell. Electricians study building codes extensively, so we know exactly how to handle your project safely, legally, and reliably. Don’t risk expensive fines or trouble selling your home in the future!

Risking Greater Costs in the Future
There are many ways DIY electrical work can end up costing you more than hiring a professional electrician in the long run. First, you could cause expensive damage to your wiring, electrical panel, or fixtures. You could also cause a fire that might destroy some or all of your home. Finally, noncompliance with building codes could lead to expensive fines, lower home value, and difficulty selling in the future. Any of these issues will be more expensive than having the work done properly in the first place!

Need Help with an electrical project for your home? Contact Westphal & Co today!

What Factors Do You Need to Know Before Trying a Home Generator Installation?

Are you thinking about installing a generator for you home? Consider the following factors before you try a home installation. If these matters are more than you bargained for, contact Westphal for professional guidance!

Electrical Connection—Backup generators use an automatic transfer switch that detects when there’s a power outage and instinctively starts the generator. Depending on the design of your generator installation at your home, the switch may transfer control of your electrical power to a separate breaker panel box, sending electricity to the circuits you have chosen to have powered. It’s important to understand the connectivity of a home generator before attempting a self-installation.

Plumbing Connection—Using natural gas or Liquefied Petroleum gas (LP gas) to power your home generator requires that your generator installation includes connecting the gas line or propane tank to the generator. Be sure to purchase and install the correct valve that correlates to the type of gas you have.

Building Permits—Make sure you check to see if there are any restrictions or rules through your HOA or building agreements before starting an install. Depending on your location, you may need a building permit for your installation as well as for possible inspections once the installation is completed.

Installation Location—It’s important to know where your generator install should take place. Be sure to follow specific manufacturer’s guidelines for proximity to your home. You will need to consider the proximity of your unit to other household functions including windows and vents.

It is important to understand the importance of a safe installation. We recommend contacting a Westphal electrical professional to learn more before installing a home generator. Attempting to do a home generator installation yourself could result in a variety of different complications or damaging scenarios including electrocution, gas leaks, and carbon monoxide poisoning.

Installing a home generator requires understanding and expertise for a smooth and safe installation. Westphal Company not only can install your generator correctly, but they can also help you throughout the entire process from choosing the right size unit to the installation location. Call our team now for a free in–home assessment. Our licensed residential electrical professional will guide you through the process and discuss your backup needs, installation process, and answer any questions or concerns you may have. Contact us at (608) 222-0105 or learn more about our other residential services at