white mouse chewing on wire

Tips to Prevent Rodents from Entering Your Home

Rats and mice chewing away at your electrical wires, in your home, may sound like a horror movie, right? Unfortunately, it is a scary reality for homeowners in the Pacific Northwest.

Our climate, offers so many beautiful things for us to enjoy. However, it also offers opportunities for rodents to enter our homes, and garages, creating havoc on wiring and electrical panels.

Since rodents are nocturnal, you may not notice their presence immediately. Even when you do, it’s not always easy to tell if the mice and rats are chewing on the wires in your home.

Mice and rats usually target wires and chords, that are located in places where they can hide easily. This makes it more difficult, but not impossible, to spot the damage before you start to see its effects. Even if you haven’t seen any rodents in the flesh inside your home, there are numerous signs that can alert you to their presence. 

Rodents chewing on electrical wiring can present major safety problems and should be looked at by a professional as soon as possible. In the absence of electrical issues, a rodent infestation can still cause serious damage, that is both costly and difficult to repair.

Here are few tips to help keep those pesky irritants out of your house and garage:

Steel Wool

If you want to keep mice out of your house, bring on the steel wool. Unlike insulation, paper, or even drywall, mice can’t chew through steel wool.  Place the steel wool in any holes where mice may be getting in. 


If you have a hole in your wall that steel wool won’t fill, place a brick in front of it instead. Bricks are heavy and dense enough to prevent them from getting in. 

Caulk Any Small Holes

Mice can squeeze into virtually any space, so to keep them out use a little silicone caulk to seal entry points.

Use Moth Balls

Those strong scented moth balls can scare away mice and other rodents, too. Set out a few where you think the critters may be getting into your home. Hopefully they will run to the hills, and not your home.

Check Under The Hood Of Your Car In The Garage.

Unfortunately, with many people working from home due to the Coronavirus Pandemic- Many cars are going unused for prolonged periods of time. It’s never been easier  for rodents to find opportunities to nest inside cars, and that brings them one step closer to your house!

Keep Your Garage Food-Free

Don’t treat your garage like a makeshift pantry. Garages are often an entry point for rodents. Serving them up a buffet , can lead to infestation. Keep your food indoors!

If you think your electrical panel has been affected by rodents , give us a call and we can help you. In the meantime, hopefully the helpful tips will prevent the fury foes from entering your home!

discolored wall outlet

Frequently Asked Electrical Questions

Of all the systems we have to deal with in our homes, our electrical system is perhaps the most perplexing. Portland is known for it’s beautiful old craftsman style homes that bring character to our city. They can also bring outdated electrical wiring and problems.  Anything from a lack of electrical outlets to  flickering or dim lights, malfunctioning light switches, or—unfortunately—electrical fires. At Green Box Mechanical  we’re here to make these confusing issues more clear and help you find solutions to all your home electrical problems!

Emergency room doctors treat over 4,000 individuals each year for injuries caused by faulty electrical outlets—don’t let anyone in your family fall victim to an electrical accident. Electrical fires and related injuries can be prevented by properly inspecting the outlet receptacles in your Portland. home. Green Box Mechanical has compiled a list of warning signs that signal an electrical problem is occurring behind your wall.

Keep your home safe by being aware of three common signals of burning around an electrical outlet. If you notice any of these signs , contact us immediately and our electrical team at Green Box Mechanical will help you repair faulty electrical outlets.

Discoloration of Wall Outlets:

If the wall appears to be discolored, this is the biggest warning sign that your electrical outlet  may be burning or improperly installed.  Our electrical team urges you to never attempt to use a discolored outlet. Please call us immediately and we will send one of our qualified electricians to inspect it for you.

Experience a Tingling Sensation When You Touch an Electrical Device:

If you ever plug in an electrical device, such as a toaster, or coffee maker, and you experience a tingling sensation when you touch the device, it is a sign of major electrical trouble. Our electrical team urges you to please not  ignore this sensation or to pass it off as a random occurrence. If you do not address this electrical problem, you could face a more serious injury later on. One of our expert electricians can investigate this problem for you, and begin the process of replacing your electrical outlet.

Burning Smell Coming From Outlet:

If  you notice a strong burning smell coming from your outlet, it is a clear sign that replacing your electrical outlet is an immediate priority. If you touch an outlet and it feels hot, this is also a sign of electrical trouble. The sound of sizzling or popping near an electrical outlet should also be taken very seriously. Your electrical outlets need to be inspected as soon as possible.

It’s easy for us to pass off these simple signs as minor issues that do not warrant any attention or inspection. However, it is incredibly important that you contact Green Box Mechanical immediately if you experience any of these signs of burning around an electrical outlet. We can repair or replace your outlets in time, ensuring your home is safe for you and your family.

Old knob and tube electrical wiring in a Portland Oregon home

Knob And Tube Wiring: What You Need To Know

If you’re a Portland homeowner whose house was built before the 1950s, there’s a good chance your home’s electrical wiring was done in the knob and tube style. We’re here to tell you what it is, what you should know about it, and, if necessary, what you should do about it.

The people of Portland love vintage homes. There are many well established neighborhoods that are full of American Foursquares, charming bungalows, and historic victorians. Vibrant paint colors, roomy covered porches, interesting architecture, and the historical significance of these older homes make them a treasure worth preserving. 

While beautiful characteristics like hardwood floors and stained glass windows are safe and beautiful to restore, there are less visible aspects of these older homes that must be addressed in order to maintain safety and efficiency. The homes electrical wiring is often a big concern, as many older homes have knob-and-tube-wiring.

What is knob and tube wiring?

Knob and tube wiring (also known and K&T in some circles) is a method of electrical wiring that was standard practice in the United States (not excluding the Portland area) during the period of the 1880s thru the 1940s. This method of electrical wiring gets its name from two of its most identifiable components, the knob and tube. 

The knob refers to the ceramic cylinders that you’ll often see nailed directly into floor joists or wall studs to act as anchors for the wiring. Typically, a small groove is found in the circumference of the knob, acting as means to more securely fasten the wire to the cylinder. 

The tube refers to the hollowed out porcelain tubes that were used as insulation for wires passing through floor joists and other potentially flammable materials. Sometimes these cylinders were also stacked on top of one another in order to keep wires from touching one another. 

Knob and tube wiring practices became obsolete as electrical practices advances and efficiency and safety standards grew. There are still instances where knob and tube wiring is used, but are extremely limited in scope, pertaining not to residential but certain agriculture or industrial situations. 

Much of the wiring itself was wrapped in a rubber insulation, differing from modern-day materials like certain plastics that are currently used.

Is knob and tube wiring dangerous?

The overly simplistic answer is, “It depends.” Are all of the components — the knobs, the tubes, the wires and their insulation — still intact? If that’s the case, then there are not necessarily critical threats posed by your knob and tube wiring. However, there are important details to consider. Knob and tube wiring is a technique that has not been employed as a standard by electricians for seventy years. 

The ceramic and porcelain knobs and tubes can degrade and become cracked, diminishing their ability to properly and safely support and route the wires. More commonly, however, is the degradation of the wiring’s rubber insulated coating. Over time, rubber can dry out, crack, and disintegrate, exposing bare wires and increasing your risk of an electrical shortage or even fire! Exposure to air and moisture increases this risk, and with Portland’s high-precipitation climate, it’s something we should all be particularly aware of. 

Additionally, there are hazards associated with having knob and tube electrical work near fiberglass insulation, and there are risks in attaching new electrical work to old knob and tube systems. 

The risks associated with knob and tube wiring aren’t limited to safety hazards. There are also financial and insurance-based implications to consider, as well. Some insurers will massively increase premiums for homeowners looking for coverage for their knob and tube-equipped homes, whereas others will refuse to provide coverage altogether until their homes have been rewired to present-day codes! 

My home has knob and tube wiring — what do I do?

First, we recommend having a local professional inspect your knob and tube wiring. At Green Box Mechanical, we employ a team of Portland-based electrical specialists who are licensed, bonded, members of the National Electrical Contractors Association, and have the experience in assessing and making the appropriate recommendations for houses such as yours. 

Electrical work, if improperly installed or poorly maintained can pose serious risks to your home and to your family’s well-being. Having the right professionals by your side can not only give you the services you need, but the peace of mind you deserve. 

We at Green Box Mechanical would be proud to have the opportunity to inspect your home’s knob and tube wiring, and provide you the best recommendations for your unique situation. In our experience in serving home’s with knob and tube wiring, these recommendations can range from minor adjustments and upgrades to a complete wiring and panel replacement. 

The first step in knowing what’s right for your home and family begins with a call. Contact Green Box Mechanical today to learn how your home’s electrical, HVAC, and plumbing can be as safe, efficient, and affordable as possible! 

Switching from a traditional light bulb to led lighting

LED Lighting: Facts All Portland Homeowners Should Know

LED lights get talked about all of the time these days, but what do you really know about them? As a homeowner in Portland, are LEDs the right type of lighting for your lifestyle, budget, and environmental considerations? We’re here to help you better understand the ABCs of LEDs so that you can make better, more informed decisions about your Portland home’s energy efficiency.

What does LED stand for?

LED stands for light-emitting diode. Essentially, what this means is that LEDs are semiconductor light sources. Semiconductors are materials that, more or less, exist in between insulators (think glass, rubber, or plastic) and conductors (such as metals like copper, steel, and even sea water).

This means that LED lights use these semiconductors to convert electricity into light. LED is considered to be an extremely energy-efficient source of light for Portland homeowners, but LED lamps are also used in automobile and aviation lighting, street lamps, flashlights, electronic devices, and other applications where energy efficiency is key.

Because the technology and its manufacturing has improved considerably over the years, so has its cost, making energy efficient LED bulbs and lighting options not only more desirable for residential homes, but also considerably more affordable. We need more and more of our clients’ homes in the Portland area choosing LED lighting options due to their energy efficiency and overall lower environmental impact.

How are LEDs energy efficient?

According to the US Department of Energy, LEDs are incredibly energy efficient and could pave the way for a new era of lighting the United States in a more efficient and eco-friendly manner.

It is noted that LEDs — especially those with an Energy Star rating — can last as much as 25 times longer than regular incandescent bulbs at a rate that uses at least 75% less energy!

For instance, incandescent bulbs use a filament that is heated until it glows, emitting light but only converting about 5% of the energy used into light that we can see while releasing almost 90% of their energy as heat. On the contrary, LEDs release very little energy as heat, and though the results may vary, LEDs reportedly turn upwards of 80% of their energy into visible light in some instances.

LEDs also do not burn out in the manner standard incandescent bulbs do. Intead, LED bulbs will fade slowly over time. Energy Star describes this dimming as “lumen depreciation.” Lumens is a reference to the unit measurement of the brightness of LEDs lights. This is different than how incandescent bulbs are measured in “watts,” which is the measurement of the amount of energy in a light.

How are LEDs environmentally friendly?

Quality LED bulbs can have a lifetime that is 25 times longer than standard incandescent bulb — that’s over 25,000 hours of light! That alone makes LEDs more environmentally friendly than an incandescent bulb. Fewer bulbs purchased means less waste over time. Not only that, but LEDs also use less energy to produce light. According to the US Department of Energy, LEDs superior energy efficiency not only pertains to incandescent bulbs, but to compact fluorescent lights, as well.

A US Department of Energy study stated that, “Switching entirely to LED lights over the next two decades could save the U.S. $250 billion in energy costs, reduce electricity consumption for lighting by nearly 50 percent and avoid 1,800 million metric tons of carbon emissions.” That’s incredible, and it’s a perfect reason to consider transitioning your home’s lighting to LEDs. 

Time to switch? Learn why Green Box isn’t “business as usual!”

Are you interested in how you can make your home more energy efficient? Who doesn’t like saving money on their energy bills?!? At Green Box Mechanical, we pride ourselves in bending over backwards to make our customers feel great about working with us. It’s in our DNA.

No matter if you’re looking to switch your home’s lighting over to LED, are in need of an electrical contractor, or are in need of top-tier plumbing or HVAC solutions Green Box has you covered! Our trusted and experienced technicians are proud to provide you the services you need and the level of customer support you’ve always wanted. Call Green Box Mechanical today to learn more!