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Frequently Asked Questions

Q: How do I reset a circuit breaker in my electrical panel?

First, locate the electrical service panel or breaker box, then open the panel door. You will see two rows of black switches with numbers on the switch (e.g., 15, 20, 30, etc.) If the circuits are marked for the area of the home they are wired to, look at the one for the area that no longer has power to it. If a circuit is tripped, the switch will be in the middle position, which makes it apparent that it has been tripped. The “on” position is toward the center of the panel.To reset the switch, move the switch fully into the off position, then move it in the opposite direction toward the center of the panel to turn it back on.

Q: What is the purpose of the circuit breaker?

Circuit breakers are essential safety switches for your home’s electrical system. Every circuit breaker has an amperage limit, and when that limit is reached, the circuit will trip.

Q: What makes a circuit breaker trip?

The most common reason is due to an overloaded circuit. The circuit trips to prevent an electrical fire and is an essential safety mechanism. The other reason is an electrical short–that is, when the insulation around the wires is damaged, an electrical short is likely to occur.

Q: Can I replace my light fixture with a ceiling fan?

Yes, but this is a task that should be completed by a trained professional.

Q: When should I have an electrical safety check?

You should have an electrical inspection carried out if: you are purchasing a property that has been occupied; your property is more than 25 years old; if it has been over five years since your last inspection; or if you are concerned about how any of the equipment was installed.

Q: When should I call an electrician?

Many people think that an electrician is only required if you are constructing a new home. That is not the case. DIY projects in the electrical realm can be both costly and dangerous. Not only is there a risk of electrocution, but there is also a risk than an improper repair may become a fire hazard down the road. Situations that require an electrician include, but are not limited to, situations where: fuses continually blow or breakers continually trip; GFCI outlets are not installed in kitchens and bathrooms; there is rust on your main service panel indicating water damage; lights dim when appliances are powered on; electrical switches or outlets feel warm or function improperly; adding additional outlets or fixtures; and turning 2-prong outlets into 3-prong ones. Again, the tasks above provide just a few instances in which a professional electrician is needed.

Q: What is making my fluorescent lights flicker?

Fluorescent flicker can be caused by a burned out bulb, a bad starter or bad ballast. If the bulb has turned black at one or both ends, try replacing the bulb.

Q: My smoke detector keeps chirping. Why?

This indicates that either the battery is low on charge or there is something wrong with the electronics or smoke sensor chamber. If your smoke detector is over 10 years old, it is time to replace it.

Q: What should I do when my lights go out?

Generally, utility companies will know when outages occur. But if you notice that your home is the only house on the block without power, call an electrician to come inspect the problem as it is likely isolated to your house only.

Q: What is a GFI?

A GFI is an abbreviation for a ground fault interrupter. It is a specially designed outlet normally used in locations where moisture can accumulate–such as kitchens and bathrooms–to protect you from electrical shock. A GFI measures the resistance on the “positive” and “negative” loads connected to it, and if there is more resistance in either of the 2 loads, the GFI trips.The GFI has a built-in circuit breaker to reset once the problem has been resolved.

Q: What precautions do I need to take around the holidays?

Frayed electrical cords are the primary cause of electrical fires during the holiday season. Inspect your lights each year for fraying, bare spots, gaps in the insulation, broken or cracked sockets, and excessive wear before putting them up. Do not link over three light strands together, unless the instructions indicate otherwise.

Q: A dimmer in my house is very hot to touch. Should I be concerned?

A dimmer is nothing more than a small transformer that causes the light bulbs to dim by decreasing the voltage applied to them. As the dimmer decreases the amount of voltage going to the light bulbs, excess heat is generated and radiates from the switch via the switch plate.