Below are some of the most commonly asked questions along with some helpful hints:
Should I call an electrician?
Electricity can cause serious property damage, injury, or even death if not handled correctly. Unless you are properly trained, it’s always best to have a qualified, licensed electrician handle your electrical needs.
My bathroom, kitchen, or outdoor outlets don’t work all of a sudden. Why is this?
You most likely have a G.F.C.I issue. Check in one of your bathrooms, kitchen or the garage for a G.F.C.I receptacle. On this special receptacle, there will be a reset button. Push it. If it doesn’t reset, you either have a faulty G.F.C.I. receptacle or a ground fault on that circuit, meaning that there is moisture in one of the outlets on that circuit or a ground wire is making contact with a neutral wire. On a standard circuit, the neutral making contact with a ground would not matter.
Some of the outlets on one of my general lighting circuits stopped working suddenly.
In most cases, this due to a connection in an outlet that has come loose. This is most common in circuits that have a continuous load, such as a bedroom, Living room, etc. The best way to find the location of the problem is to plug in a light in an outlet that is not working and go around to the other outlets on that circuit and plug in a circuit tester and move it around enough so that the loose connection makes momentary contact, turning on the light that you plugged in to the “dead” outlet. If you are lucky, this will happen, and you will then know where the loose connection is located. This is most commonly caused by electricians stabbing the wires into the back of the receptacle instead of using screws on the sides. Some receptacles are manufactured with only the “stab lock” holes. I do not recommend using these outlets. You should always use the screws on the sides to insure a good connection.
My clothes dryer stopped producing heat.
This is usually caused by a defective 240 volt circuit breaker. Probably, one side of the breaker has gone bad. Replacing the breaker will fix this problem, provided that no damage has occurred on the breaker panel contact, also known as the buss bar, due to a loose connection on the circuit breaker.
My swimming pool pump motor stopped working. I replaced the motor, but that didn’t solve the problem.
In many cases, the underground conduit and circuitry has rotted due to moisture or the corrosive soil that we have here in the Southwest. The only solution to this is to install new conduit and circuitry from the main breaker panel to the pool equipment, as pulling new circuitry in existing underground conduit is almost always impossible.
My new over the stove microwave oven causes the Kitchen lights to flicker or, even worse, trips the circuit breaker.
The fact is, all new wall mount microwave ovens require a dedicated 120 volt, 20 ampere circuit. Salesmen rarely tell you this, but, when you read the owners manual, you will find that the manufacturer includes this in the literature.
I’ve lost power to a portion of my house. What would cause this?
There are several reasons that this would occur. The first thing you need to do is to turn on your electric stove or clothes dryer. If they do not produce heat, you have one of two problems. One scenario is that you have a bad main breaker (if you have a main breaker). The other is that you have a dead phase on the power company feeder wires going to your electrical meter. If it is the main breaker, it is your responsibility to make the repair and pay for it. If it is a power company problem, they are responsible for the repair.
What is a G.F.C.I.?
G.F.C.I. stands for "ground fault circuit interrupter". These devices interrupt the flow of electricity in case of a fault. They are available in the form of receptacles or breakers and should be periodically tested using the "test" and "reset" buttons found on the units.
What is an A.F.C.I.?
A.F.C.I. stands for "arc fault circuit interrupter". These devices sense an undesireable arc in the circuit and interrupt the flow of electricity. An A.F.C.I. breaker provides a higher level of protection than a standard circuit breaker by detecting and removing the hazardous arcing condition before it becomes a fire hazard. Like a G.F.C.I., these breakers have a "test" button and should be periodically tested.
Is aluminum wire safe?
Aluminum wire is safe when properly installed and is still used in new construction today. If you have a home built between 1965 and 1972 you may have aluminum wiring for lighting and receptacle circuits. Call a qualified, licensed electrician if you experience any of the following symptoms:
- Lights that dim or flicker
- Sparks, smoke, or noise coming from switches or receptacles
- Swithces or receptacles that are hot to the touch
- Receptacles or lights that stop working
- Circuit breakers that trip for no apparent reason
- Light bulbs that fail quickly or are unusually bright
I replaced the lamp in my recessed light and now it blinks on and off. What’s wrong?
Most recessed light fixtures contain a thermal cutoff device that de-energizes the lamp if temperatures exceed the rating of the housing. This commonly occurs when a lamp is replaced with one of a higher wattage. When the temperature within the fixture cools, the thermal will reset and the lamp will come back on. Installing the correct wattage lamp for the fixture will cure this.
Why is my smoke detector is chirping intermittently?
Usually when a smoke detector is chirping intermittently, it is signalling the need to replace the back-up battery. If replacing the battery in your smoke detector does not eliminate the chirping call a qualified, licensed electrician.
What can I do to protect electrical equipment from lightning damage?
Surge suppression devices can be installed in the main service and sub-panels by a qualified electrician. These devices, in addition to point of use surge suppresion, offer the best protection from power surges associated with lightning. These devices are typically sacrificial and may require replacement if they experience a lightning strike.
Why are half of my lights out and large appliances not working?
Check for tripped breakers and reset your main breaker. If the main breaker is warm to the touch, call a qualified, licensed electrician immediately. If resetting the breaker does not fix the problem, it is possible you have lost one phase (leg) of your main power supply. Contact your utility company and have them inspect their service lines for problems.