FAQ's

Tamper resistant/child-proof outlets protect your children and invited guests, preventing injuries and liability.  Also called tamper-proof recepticles, these electrical outlets are so effective that as of 2008, the National Electrical Code (NEC) has required their installation in all new homes.

Spring-loaded receptacle cover plates inside each opening protect electrical contacts, preventing the insertino of objects when unequal pressure is applied to the receptacle’s contact points.

In order to insert a plug into the receptacle, simply apply equal pressure to both sides simultaneously (as you would normally do) which allows the receptacle’s cover plate to open.

A dedicated circuit is used by one appliance only. Meaning the circuit is not shared with any other devices or appliances. Nothing else is able to draw energy from this circuit. 

This would be a wire run from the main panel straight to one outlet / receptacle in a designated location. 

Computer, printer and scanners can be a heavy power draw on a standard den or bedroom circuit.  To avoid tripped circuit-breakers it is advised to install a circuit that only controls your computer systems.

A dedicated circuit is recommended for a refrigerator or freezer being used at a garage or laundry location. 

Plugging a refrigerator or freezer into the homes standard GFCI circuit located in the garage or laundry will have the potential of tripping the Master GFCI Receptacle. 

This would turn off the power going to your refrigerator or freezer in these locations and leave your food to spoil. 

Make sure to always request a dedicated circuit for additional appliances. If you currently have a refrigerator or freezer plugged into the GFCI circuit, schedule a free estimate for a dedicated circuit. 

GFCI outlets are used in areas like the kitchen, bathroom or garage where the risk of electrical shock is greater.  They can be identified by the “test” and “reset” buttons located on the receptacle.  These outlets help protect you from electrical hazards by monitoring the amount of electricity flowing in a circuit and tripping the circuit if an imbalance is detected.  Once detected, the outlet stops the flow of electricity.

  • Press the “test” button to stop electrical flow to the outlet
  • Plug in a night light or other small device that uses a minimal amount of electricity to ensure current is no longer flowing to the receptacle
  •  Press the “reset” button to return power flow to the outlet and GFCI circuit

An AFCI is an arc-fault circuit interruptor and its job is to stop electric flow when an “arc” or surge is detected.

Typically, AFCI’s come in the form of circuit breakers and are installed in newer electrical panels. AFCI’s protect bedroom circuits in most cases but extend to other locations in homes built with the newer code requirements.

If you have a problem with an AFCI (arc fault circuit interrupter) shutting off in your main electrical panel, you’re not alone. Arc fault circuit interrupters are prone to “nuisance tripping,” which is probably what you’re experiencing. AFCIs are designed to sense an arc, which is an electrical “leak” caused when a hot wire touches a neutral or ground but doesn’t trigger the circuit breaker. Although current-sensing circuitry enables AFCIs to detect arcing conditions, unintended trickles of current may also cause the breaker to shut off (AFCIs are very sensitive!).

To solve the nuisance tripping problem and provide arc fault protection, start with things you can do yourself. Unplug or turn off surge protectors plugged into bedroom outlets, fluorescent lights with electronic ballasts, and lighting controls with LED displays that are on the AFCI circuit. They sometimes allow current “leakage” that can trip the AFCI and create a situation where a circuit breaker keeps tripping without a load. Damage or deterioration to wires or cords (which can happen when furniture is pushed against plugs in an outlet) also causes arcing faults and will trip the circuit. If you identify one of these sources, you’ll have to replace the electrical item.

 

If unplugging electrical and electronic devices doesn’t solve the problem, hire an electrician to install a new arc fault breaker in the electrical panel. There’s no reliable method for testing AFCIs (the test button isn’t always accurate). If the nuisance tripping stops, then the old arc fault breaker was probably defective.

If the arc fault breaker still trips, the electrician then needs to track down the cause by going into each switch, receptacle and light box to track down the issue. Wires are often folded into boxes, and if the wrong two wires make contact, they can trip an AFCI.

The National Electrical Code required AFCIs for receptacle outlets in bedrooms beginning Jan. 1, 2002 (local jurisdictions may have additional requirements). Don’t confuse AFCIs with ground fault circuit interrupters (GFCIs), which are designed to protect against shocks (not arcs).

There are several possible explanations:

  • The number of items plugged into the circuit may exceed the electrical demand that the circuit is designed to carry.
  • There may be a short in the wiring. If this is your problem, the breaker will automatically trip as a safety mechanism to cut the power to the circuit.
  • The breaker or fuse can be faulty.

The best course of action is to have one of our professional electricians diagnose the problem to ensure that there are no safety concerns.

To reset a breaker, Move the breaker switch all the way to the “Off” position, then switch it back to the “On” position. 

If the circuit breaker will not remain in the “On” position. Schedule a service with us to resolve this issue. 

  • Maintaining your smoke detectors and carbon monoxide detectors are two of the easiest things you can do to ensure your safety at home.  Remembering to change the batteries, vacuum and test them regularly are easy habits to put off, but put safety first and make them part of your regular home maintenance routine, along with changing your air filters and scheduling an annual electrical inspection. 
  • While wearing ear protection, press the Test / Silence button until you hear the test sequence. The test button is usually found on the side or front of your unit. Refer to your user manual for instructions and a description of your detector’s test sequence.

  •  Alarm that is hardwired into your home’s electrical system: 

  • o    Test the alarm once a week.

    o    Clean the alarm monthly.

    o    Replace the backup battery at least once every year.

    o    Replace the entire alarm every 10 years.

     

    ·         Clean your alarms at least once a month. This ensures that smoke or CO can reach the alarm’s sensing chamber.
     

    ·         Instructions on cleaning:

    ·         Gently vacuum the outside of the alarm using your household vacuum’s soft brush attachment. A can of clean compressed air (sold at office supply stores) may also be used.


    NOTE:

    ·         Excess moisture can damage the unit.

    ·         Never use water, cleaners, solvents, or air compressor machines to clean your alarm.

     

    SAFETY WARNING:

    ·         Never test your alarms with real smoke, flames, or exhaust.

    ·         Testing with a UL-certified liquid smoke detector tester (also known as “canned smoke”) is acceptable.

Please schedule service if you do not want to attempt this yourself. 

To change a battery in a smoke detector or carbon monoxide detector that will not stop chirping (even after replacing the battery):

  1. Turn off the breaker that controls this one circuit at the panel.
  2. Remove the detector from the mounting bracket by twisting slightly in either direction.
  3.  Disconnect the pronged connector on the back of the detector to remove it from the wall or ceiling. It will pull out of the back of the detector with a little force. If it has a squeeze connector apply pressure to both sides of connector before pulling. 
  4. Slide the door open on the front, back  or side of the detector and remove the new battery you had previously installed.
  5. With the battery out of the detector and the detector not connected to any power. Hold the test button down until you hear a beeping that fades away. 
  6. Checking to make sure the polarity is correct. Positive and negative match up on the battery and detector. Insert the battery back into the detector. 
  7. Plug the prong connection from the outlet box back into the back of the smoke detector. (line the connection and prongs up and push together)
  8. Slide the detector back onto the bracket in the opposite way you removed it. 
  9. Turn the circuit breaker back on at the panel. 
  10. Wait to see if this cleared the chirp. you should know within a couple minutes. 
  11. if it chirps again. repeat the process one more time. 
  12. If this does not work this detector may be defective and needs to be replaced. 

Your exterior outlets may lose power due to the amount of holiday lighting and yard decorations you add to this circuit. Your exterior outlets are rated at 15 amp or 20 amps and can only use some of this circuit rating before it starts to stress the breakers capabilities.

Be aware of how many watts each string pulls and how many items you string together off of one circuit. To many items will cause the breaker or Master GFCI device to trip

If you currently have incandescent holiday lighting the best thing to do is start converting them to LED lighting.

Benefits of LED Lights

 LED bulbs offer many benefits and we’ll cover them quickly:

Energy savings – Incandescent bulbs waste a full 90 percent of their energy because it is released as heat. That’s why they get hot to the touch. According to U.S. Department of Energy, LED bulbs use up to 75% less energy, and last 25 times as long. Since Holiday Decorations are on for hours at a time, switching to LEDs will lower your typical electric bill over the holidays.

Safety – Because they don’t get hot to the touch, LED bulbs are a much lower fire hazard.

Cost Efficient – Because LED Holiday decorations are long-lasting and energy saving items you can use them year after year, they will undoubtedly pay for themselves over time.

Duration – When it comes to Holiday lights, LEDs burn for about 4,000 hours, while incandescent bulbs lose one or two bulbs per strand before half that time is up. A main reason LEDs are so long lasting is because, unlike incandescent, they don’t have filaments which can heat up and burn out.

A half-hot (or switched) outlet is an outlet that has one half permanently “on” or ready to provide electricity while the other half can be turned off and on by an ordinary wall switch. … If you plug a lamp into the switched side, you can turn the light off and on via the wall switch.

On newer homes these receptacles are most likely identified by being turn upside down. If one half of the receptacle does not work it may be on a wall switch. 

A 3-Way Switch is one that allows you to control a ceiling light (or other electrical fixture) from two separate locations. Common scenarios would be 3-way switches located at both the top and bottom of a stairway, having 3-way switches next to doors in a room with two entry points, or at each end of a hall.

3-Way Switches have a stiffer switching mechanism then your standard wall switch. There is nothing wrong with the switch this is how they function. 

There are no designated on off marking on a 3-way or 4-way switch. This is because there is no typical on / off position on a 3-way / 4-way switch.  Example:  You turn switch location #1 on (in the upward position) as you are entering the hall and the lights turn on. Then you walk to the other end of the hall to switch location #2 and turn the lights off (in the upward position). At this point they would both be in the upward position but the lights would be turned off.   

Four-way switches are used to control lighting from three or more locations. Four-way switches are used in combination with three-way switches.

If you have (1) 3-way at one end of the hall and (1) 3-way at the other end of the hall and want another switch at another entry way this would be a 4-way switch. 

4-Way Switches have a stiffer switching mechanism then your standard wall switch. There is nothing wrong with the switch this is how they function. 

There are no designated on off marking on a 3-way or 4-way switch. This is because there is no typical on / off position on a 3-way / 4-way switch.  Example:  You turn switch location #1 on (in the upward position) as you are entering the hall and the lights turn on. Then you walk to the other end of the hall to switch location #2 and turn the lights off (in the upward position). At this point they would both be in the upward position but the lights would be turned off.