Electrical FAQ

 

Electrical Frequently Asked Questions

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.)What are the common Electrical Acronyms and what do they stand for?
A.)G.F.I. – Ground fault circuit interrupter. It is an electrical wiring device that disconnects a circuit whenever it detects that the electric current is not balanced between the energized conductor and the return neutral conductor. Such an imbalance may indicate current leakage through the body of a person who is grounded and accidentally touching the energized part of the circuit. A lethal shock can result from these conditions. GFCIs are designed to disconnect quickly enough to prevent injury caused by such shocks. They are not intended to provide protection against over-current (overload) or short-circuit conditions.

AFCI –

BPU –

NEC – National Electric Code

Q.)How electrical work much should I attempt on my own?
A.)At the present time most states allow you to do whatever you want in your own home. But, doing electrical work yourself is dangerous and could result in costly repairs as well as making more problems within your home’s system. How much are you willing to risk to save money?
There is a reason why it takes so much training to become an electrician. Do not make a mistake by taking electricity lightly, even the smallest job could be a safety hazard. Why take a chance. Get a professional to do this work.Also In some states the homeowner can pull his own Electrical permit for work in his single family home, what he does not know is that in case of damage or fire caused by his work, his homeowners insurance will not pay, they will only if the work is done by a licensed Electrical Contractor. You should check with your homeowners Insurance Co., and they should sign a document or something to this effect to acknowledge this when they pull a permit.The most dangerous time is when you tell yourself. This is easy. I can do it myself. Why should i get an electrician? Then, when you don’t remember where all those wires went or your hair is standing straight up, you say to yourself, “Well maybe we better call someone to straighten up this mess.”
Now it will cost you double what you thought you were going to save in the beginning.

Q.)Which grade of electrical outlets should I have installed in my home?
A.)There are three grades of outlet on the market. Homeowner grade, the cheapest, is the commonest type of outlet for installation in a builder-grade home. However, they are flimsy and tend to wear out in 5-10 years at the most. When you install or replace electrical outlets, go for commercial grade instead – these cost about 50 percent more than the cheaper kind, but the financial difference is insignificant and they will last 100 years under typical home use conditions. Hospital grade are very expensive, costing ten times the price of homeowner quality, and are really not necessary; they are designed for never-fail use in medical facilities, for example to power breathing machines.

Q.)What is the half-circle-shaped hole that you see on electrical outlets these days?
A.)This very important addition to modern electric outlets is there to ensure your safety. It is a ground built in to the outlet in order to prevent contact between a hot wire and a neutral one, thereby avoiding the danger of electric shock or fire. If you move into an older house, you will need to install these outlets to replace the old ones.

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.)What is a rotating electrical outlet used for?
A.)When you want to plug several devices into the same receptacle at the same time, a rotating outlet will allow you to rotate the individual plug-ins as much as 360 degrees, so that they will all fit in nicely.

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 ultra-violet light.

Q.)How can electrical switches help with home security?
A.)Switches can be illuminated for greater visibility, particularly desirable when a household member has physical limitations. In case of emergency, just flick the Emergency Decorator Home Locator Switch and cause your home’s outdoor front lights to flash, signaling “SOS” until help arrives.

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 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 registered 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 Eric Krise Electrical as this type of problem can result in a fire.

Q.)Can I plug a new refrigerator in anywhere?
A.)Eric M. Krise Electrical suggest a dedicated circuit for refrigerators. They have an extensive amp draw. They should not be GFCI protected like a lot of receptacles found in kitchens and garages. A dedicated circuit will protect your freezer or fridge from being tripped and destroying anything inside.

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.

Q.)Can I make my home safe if I currently have knob and tube wiring, but do not have the funds available to complete a whole-house rewire at this time?
A.)To an extent, as knob and tube wiring can be very dangerous. There are ways to keep your home and family safe until you are ready for the re-wire. First, an inspection would be completed by Eric Krise Electrical. to determine the current state of the knob and tube wiring in your home. A 15-amp arc fault circuit interrupter can be installed on the circuit occupied by the knob and tube. An arc fault breaker is a circuit breaker designed to prevent fires by detecting an unintended electrical arc and disconnecting the power before the arc starts a fire. An AFCI must distinguish between a harmless arc that occurs incidentally to normal operation of switches, plugs and brushed motors and an undesirable arc that can occur, for example, in a lamp cord that has a broken conductor in the cord.

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 shall be considered.

Q.)Will my house be destroyed during a re-wire?
A.)With experience in homes dated over 100 years old, Eric M Krise Electrical Contractor LLC can find efficient paths and ways to complete a project in a safe, neat manner. Our company will preserve the beautiful details and structure of your home, which in turn will keep the costs and heavy repairs to a minimum.

Q.)How long will it take to complete a re-wire and will I need to move out during the process?
A.)Most homes can be completed within one week. Larger homes can take up to two weeks. You will not need to move out of the home during the process.