- Author : eric
Residential electricians are called to homes to fix a variety of electrical problems, from simple replacement of worn out switches and receptacles to changing out electrical panel boxes and extensive house electrical rewiring. Before homeowners call in professional electricians, they see signs that something may not be right, and they have questions about what to do. Here are some common questions that homeowners ask electricians.
Q) Can I do electrical repairs myself?
A) The answer is generally both yes and no. Most states will allow homeowners to do whatever repairs they choose to do in their own homes. However, this comes with a serious warning. Electrical work can be dangerous or even life threatening. Some simple fixes, like replacing a light switch or rewiring an outlet may not be not too challenging for some homeowners. But never forget that poorly installed electrical components can short circuit and cause fires or electrocution. If you’re unsure of what you’re doing, it’s better to call The Neighborhood Electrician.
Q) Why is there a humming sound in my electrical panel?
A) A worn-out or defective breaker is the usual culprit. If you know which breaker is humming, switch it off immediately and call for professional help. It can cause serious damage to plugged in electrical devices if left unrepaired.
Q) What are GFCI outlets, and why do I need them in my bathroom and kitchen?
A) GFCI stands for Ground Fault Circuit Interrupter. The circuit is designed to disconnect when it detects an imbalance between the energized conductor and the neutral return. The imbalance can be caused when the body of a grounded person accidentally touches an energized part of the circuit. Rather than deliver a fatal electrical shock to a wet person, for example, the GFCI shuts off the power to that circuit. In addition to the bathroom and kitchen, GFCI circuits should be installed in any wet locations, such as basements, garages, outdoor receptacles, or anywhere within six feet of a sink, tub, or shower.
Q) What are those buttons on GFCI outlets?
A) One is a test button. When you press it, it trips the circuit to show you that the outlet is working properly. The other button is a reset button to turn the power back on after testing or if the circuit has been tripped.
Q) A breaker in my panel tripped. Why can’t I turn it back on?
A) You can’t reset a tripped breaker without first clicking it fully into the OFF position. You’ll hear a click. Then try to return it to the ON position. If you hear another click and the breaker doesn’t trip again, you have reset it successfully. If the breaker trips again, the circuit may be overloaded. That means you may have too many devices plugged into one circuit (for example, two multi-outlet six plug power strips filled with electronic devices). Try unplugging some devices. If that works, your circuit was overloaded. If that doesn’t solve the problem, you may have a short circuit. Then it’s time to call The Neighborhood Electrician.
Q) I have an older home and the breakers keep tripping in multiple rooms. What could be the problem?
A) Many older homes just don’t have enough “juice” in their electrical systems to handle the loads of modern life. While most states require only 100 amp systems, this may not be enough for multiple computers, TVs, microwave ovens, central AC, and electric heat. We recommend 200 amps, especially when wiring a new home. CAUTION: Never attempt this type of repair yourself. It involves replacing everything that runs from your meter into the home, including the entire electrical panel. Only a licensed electrician is qualified to do this repair. One mistake in this process can severely injure or even kill you.
Q) When should I call an electrician?
A) Call an electrician immediately if you notice any of the following.
• Flickering or dim lights, or frequently tripped circuit breakers
• A burning smell from outlets, switches, or your electrical panel
• You need additional outlets installed
• Your outlets have only two prongs, requiring you to use three to two prong adaptors. NOTE: These are dangerous and could result in serious injury or death.
Q) How do I know if my house needs to be rewired?
A) Call The Neighborhood Electrician for a whole house safety inspection. We strongly recommend a rewiring under certain conditions, such as defective or hazardous wiring (more common in older homes). If your house has hazardous wiring, or your wiring is in poor condition, then a rewire should be considered.
Q) How long does a rewiring take, and do I have to move out during the process?
A) Most homes can be completed in a week. Some larger homes may take several weeks. You don’t need to move out during the process. The Neighborhood Electrician can rewire your home with minimal disruption to its details and structure, by finding efficient pathways to complete the job in the least intrusive way.
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