Q.) When is it time to call an electrician?

A.) When you are resetting circuit breakers or changing fuses too often. When you turn on your air conditioner and the lights dim in the room. When your lights flicker or go on and off. When you can smell electricity burning. When you have six electronic devices going into one outlet in back of your electronics center. When you have receptacle outlets overburdened by multi-plug strips. When a three-prong plug needs a two-prong adapter. If you have to run extension cords to plug in electrical devices.

Q.) What size electrical service system do I install in my home?

A.) Most states call for 100 amps minimum, but with all the new electronic devices, air conditioning and electric heat, I would suggest 200 amps especially in new homes. This also gives you some space for future additions. This is not a job for an unlicensed person to attempt. In most cases it involves replacing everything from the service loop (this is the wire that extends from the top of your meter to the utility tie in ) up to and including the main panel.

Q.) Explain the term “tamper-resistant receptacle.”

A.) This is a type of electric outlet that the NEC (National Electric Code) requires to be installed in all newly constructed or renovated residences as of 2008. It is designed to protect children from shock and burns as the result of their sticking small metal objects (for example, paper clips or keys) into the receptacle.

Q.) Are there outlets manufactured especially to stand up to outdoor use?

A.) Yes, you can purchase specially manufactured weather-resistant electrical receptacles. These are subjected to extra stringent requirements and tested for their resistance to factors such as exposure to intense cold or ultraviolet light.

Q.) What is the difference between a breaker panel and my old fuse panel?

A.) Both devices, either breaker or fuse, are designed to trip (turn off) in the event of an electrical overload, i.e. 20amps of electrical load on a 15amp circuit would cause a trip. The only difference is that a breaker is mechanical and may be reset, whereas, a fuse is one time only and must be replaced. Please Note: Modern breakers are much more efficient and offer greater levels of protection.

Q.) How do I reset my breakers?

A.) Turn the breaker completely off and then completely on. Some breakers will look like they are not tripped, but could be in the neutral stage, which still does not allow them to function as if they were completely on. A way to help determine this, is to turn every breaker completely off and then on.

Q.) What is the difference between conventional circuit breakers and an AFCI

A.) Conventional circuit breakers only respond to overloads and short circuits; so they do not protect against arcing conditions that produce erratic, and often reduced current. An AFCI is selective so that normal arcs do not cause it to trip. The AFCI circuitry continuously monitors the current and discriminates between normal and unwanted arcing conditions. Once an unwanted arcing condition is detected, the AFCI opens its internal contacts, thus de-energizing the circuit and reducing the potential for a fire to occur. An AFCI should not trip during normal arcing conditions, which can occur when a switch is opened or a plug is pulled from a receptacle.

Q.) Does my house need to be re-wired?

A.) We recommend a whole house safety inspection to understand the current status of the wiring. Some wiring that is considered a major hazard is: knob and tube wiring, BX wiring, and an ungrounded system. These compose hazards on your home and if in poor condition, a re-wire should be considered.

Q.) What is a surge protector and should I get one?

A.) Surges are created by lightning or from the local power station. Sometimes, a surge of electricity can flood out to the residents from the power station. A surge protector helps to protect your electrical devices from a power surge. Usually, surge protectors are used for electronic devices such as computers and flat screen televisions. If you appreciate your electronic devices and want them to perform efficiently without having to worry about replacing them, you may want to consider protecting your devices with a surge protector.

Q.) There is a humming noise coming from my panel. What does this mean?

A.) This could be the result of a defective breaker. Replacement should be immediate as this defective breaker could cause serious harm to electrical components.

Q.) Why is a breaker in my panel hot to touch?

A.) This overheating is a serious defect and could cause arcing in the breaker. It should be immediately replaced.

Q.) I’m purchasing a home and the power has been off for over a year. The electric company won’t turn it back on. What do I do?

A.) This is a normal process. Your electric company isn’t picking on you. The electric company has regulations that will not allow them to turn on the electric if it has been off for over a year, unless a electrician or inspector checks the service to ensure safety of it. An inspection will need to take place to ensure that when they reconnect power no damage has taken place in the amount of time the power was off and no one will be hurt through re-connection. One of our licensed electricians will examine the entire service and make any repairs that are necessary if needed. Then, we’ll call a third party inspector to pass the service. Once the service is passed, we will have the electric company reconnect the electric and you will be ready to go!

Q.) How can I tell when an electrical outlet is not safe?

A.) The plug falls out of the outlet without touching it, or the outlet is not secure and will move easily when touching it. When the outlet is warm or hot to the touch, you need to immediately take care of the issue by unplugging the device and calling an electrician as this type of problem can result in a fire.

Q.) What does it mean when my fluorescent lights are flickering or cycling on and off?

A.) Flickering may indicate impending bulb failure, minor power fluctuation, and/or improperly installed bulbs. Cycling on and off is usually a clear indication of ballast and/or bulb failure. It is recommended when replacing ballast to replace bulbs as well.

Q.) Can I change an existing switch to a dimmer switch?

A.) Yes. We will match the specific dimmer to the lights in your home. There are different bulbs required for specific dimmers. Such bulbs include incandescent, CFLs and LEDs.

Q.) What areas of my house should be GFCI protected?

A.) GFCIs should be installed in all wet locations including unfinished basements, garages, anywhere outside the dwelling, within six feet of any sink, kitchens, bathrooms and powder rooms.

Q.) What are the buttons on my GFCI outlet for?

A.) One button is the test button. When it is pushed, it should turn off the outlet and all other outlets that are tied to it. The other button is a reset button, which is used to turn the power back on to the outlet and any others that are tied into the outlet.