Questions about my electrical equipment: Panels, Breakers, Surge Protectors:
• What is the difference between a breaker panel and my old fuse panel?
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.
• How do I reset my breakers?
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.
• What is a surge protector and should I get one?
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.
• There is a humming noise coming from my panel. What does this mean?
This could be the result of a defective breaker. Replacement should be immediate as this defective breaker could cause serious harm to electrical components.
• Why is a breaker in my panel hot to touch?
This overheating is a serious defect and could cause arcing in the breaker. It should be immediately replaced.
My Devices: Outlets, Switches, Dimmers, Lighting, Smoke Detectors, and GFCI Protection
• How can I tell when an electrical outlet is not safe?
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 Electric Express, as this type of problem can result in a fire.
• Can I plug a new refrigerator in anywhere?
We 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.
•What does it mean when my fluorescent lights are flickering or cycling on and off?
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.
• Why do my smoke detectors chirp?
This could indicate a defective smoke detector. This could also be telling you that the battery life is low or gone. Note, if you mix brand name smoke detectors, they may not be able to communicate if one goes off. This is a serious matter. If you do replace one of your smoke detectors, make sure it is compatible with the others in your home.
• Why does my recessed light cycle on and off?
1. You could have the wrong type bulb installed. A higher rated watt bulb will create too much heat and will trip the thermal device turning the recessed light off.
2. There may be insulation packed around the recessed light-- not letting the heat dissipate and in return tripping the thermal device. After the recessed light cools down, it will cycle back on.
• Can I change an existing switch to a dimmer switch?
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.
• Can I hang a ceiling fan where a light is?
Yes, but first you must make sure the electrical box is properly braced and UL Listed for the weight and torque of the ceiling fan you are installing.
• What is a GFCI device or breaker?
A GFCI stands for 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.
• What areas of my house should be GFCI protected?
GFCIs should be installed in all wet locations including garages, anywhere outside the dwelling, within six feet of any sink, kitchens, bathrooms and powder rooms.
• What are the buttons on my GFCI outlet for?
One button is the test button. When it is pushed, it should turn off the outlet and all other outlets that are protected by 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 protected by the GFCI.
Installing Recessed Lighting:
• What types of recessed lights are available for installation?
Recessed lights come in a variety of sizes such as: 6'', 5'', 4'', 3'', and 2''. When sizing recessed lights, Electric Express, shall take into consideration the room, layout and mood to choose the specific type, make, and model to suit your wants and needs. Recessed lighting is a great way to enhance areas in your house such as: theaters, bars, and kitchens, as well as to show off amazing art work. Recessed lighting can also be installed in cabinets, pantries, and nooks to illuminate areas without the bulk of a fixture.
• I have a finished ceiling. Would I still be able to install recessed lighting?
Absolutely! Electric Express often uses attics and crawl spaces to limit the damage of your ceiling. If these are not available, Electric Express' technicians are equipped with special tools, cameras, and drills to preserve the structure of your home while keeping the cost of repairs to a minimum.
My house is very old. What should I do about the outdated wiring?
• 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?
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 Electric Express 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.
Arc faults in a home are one of the leading causes for electrical wiring fires. Each year in the United States, over 40,000 fires are attributed to home electrical wiring. These fires result in over 350 deaths and over 1,400 injuries each year.
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.
• Does my house need to be re-wired?
With experience in homes dated over 75 years old, Electric Express 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.
• How long will it take to complete a re-wire and will I need to move out during the process?
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. Electric Express will work around your schedule in order to maintain your comfort and your needs.
• Benefits of a re-wire:
Safety: Knowing that you have a safe, functional electrical system gives you peace of mind when considering your family and possessions. Keeping your family safe is top priority.
Comfort: Your new layout of receptacles will limit the struggle of finding places to plug in appliances and devices. The new lighting accents the house in a way that your family and guests will appreciate. The distribution of electricity throughout the house includes even loads, which results in no tripping breakers or dimming lights when an appliance turns on.
Resale value: This new addition will bring up the resale value of your home, making you a top competitor in the market.