Homeowner’s Rx: Frequently Asked Questions
Answer – GFCI stands for Ground Fault Circuit Interrupter.
In layman’s terms this device protects you from electrical shock. When it senses the slightest increase in resistance resulting from ground fault, (i.e., the use of electrical devices in or near water), it trips off to protect you.
Answer – The black button is a test button and when pressed, should deactivate the outlet and any other outlet fed from it – Indicating a properly functioning device.
The red button is the re-set button that you depress to reactivate the outlet or outlets in the event of deactivation resulting from a fault.
Answer – 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.
Answer – First, disconnect any additional devices that may have caused the breaker to overload and trip. Breakers are mechanical devices and must be turned all the way off before turning back on. Remember this is a mechanical device, so this may require several attempts. If this fails to reset the breaker, there may be a more serious problem. Contact a licensed electrician in your area.
Answer – 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 a ballast to replace bulbs as well.
Answer – Yes, but first you must make sure the electrical box is properly braced and rated for the weight and torque of the paddle fan you are installing.
Answer – Yes. Dimming fluorescent requires not only a special dimmer, but also special fixtures. You cannot place a typical incandescent dimmer on existing fluorescent.
Answer – Unless you made provisions with the builder for a dedicated circuit, the outlets in your garage are GFCI Protected per National Electrical Code. This device will not tolerate the additional resistance load created by refrigeration equipment. The GFCI senses there is a fault, and therefore trips off. The only cure to this problem is to provide a dedicated, non GFCI circuit allowable by code.
Answer – Yes. Though, if the two loads exceed 20amps, your breaker will sense overload, do its job, and trip off. Under this condition, you must plug one of the appliances into a different kitchen outlet on a different circuit, in order to balance the load.
Answer – Yes.Though, if the device exceeds the capacity of the circuit, the breaker will trip off.
Answer – Yes. This is a common occurrence when large motor/compressor loads start. These devices cause a minor momentary voltage drop, demonstrating itself as the blinking in your lights. This has no negative effect on the electrical equipment within your house.
Answer – No. Surge/Lightning Protection only offers additional levels of protection. Nothing can guarantee completely against mother nature and where she chooses to strike.
13. If I Have Surge/Lightning Protection on My Main Service Should I Use Point-of-Use Surge Plugins at My TV, Stereo, Computer, etc.?
Answer – Yes. Main line surge is no absolute guarantee and any additional surge protection down stream in the system offers a greater level of protection; though, nothing is absolute when it comes to the power of Mother Nature.
Answer – Yes. Within reason; if the quantity of lights creates a load greater than the capacity of the circuit breaker, the breaker will trip off. In this event, additional circuits may be required to accommodate your holiday display.
Answer – No. With few exceptions, i.e. davits, a boat lift requires at least a 20Amp dedicated 110Volt circuit and possibly as much as several 30Amp dedicated circuits.
Answer – Modern Recess Cans are rated for a maximum wattage bulb and are equipped with a thermal device that does not allow a bulb larger than that rating. If a larger wattage bulb is used, as the excess heat builds up, the thermal device will shut the can off until it cools. This is a safety device to protect your home against fire.
17. I Have a New Home. If I Have a Problem with TV or Telephone Wiring within the House, Who Should I Call?
Answer – With deregulation of the utility companies in most areas of the country, the cable or telephone companies are no longer responsible for the equipment or wiring in your home. This responsibility has fallen to you and your electrical contractor. Therefore, when a problem arises, we would recommend you contact your electrical contractor. Most TV and telephone utilities will still provide service within your home for a substantial fee. This service, as in the past, is no longer free.
18. I Have Two Telephone Lines in My Home. Why When I’m on the Phone and the Other Phone Line is in Use, do I hear the Other conversation in the Background?
Answer – This is commonly called Bleedover and usually results from one of three conditions.
1. Excessively long runs of wire within the home of non-twisted pairs .
2. Loop wiring from phone station to phone station.
3. A nick in the phone wire somewhere within your residence causing a weak interconnect between phone lines.
Phone wiring installation today should be done as a home run system, each phone station being a dedicated run back to a common terminal block.
Please remember if you have a problem with your phone wiring within your home, it is today the responsibility of the electrician rather than the phone company as in the past.
Answer – This is usually caused by several factors.
1. Use of non brand named bulbs.
2. Larger wattage bulbs which cause excessive heat build-up shorting the life of the bulb.
3. Power Surges.
Helpful hints in the solution to this problem should be to use only brand named bulbs and try to buy 130Volt rated bulbs instead of the normal 120Volt rated bulbs. This should significantly extend the life.
Answer – This could mean one of two things.
1. An Intermittent Chirp is probably an indication of a defective smoke detector.
2. A consistent chirp is probably an indication of a low battery condition and the smoke detector requires a new battery.