Franklin Co. (614) 891-7502      Licking Co. (740) 964-2485

Electrical
Saving Tips

How many times have you called an electrician for a service call just to find out it was something simple? If only you would have known, you could have fixed it yourself!

Well maybe we can give you a few electrical tips that might save you a service call. Our first priority is our customers. If we can help you solve an electrical problem over the phone, we will.

We at Higher Power Electric are always trying to save our customers money whenever we can. If you have an electrical question and you think we can help, please call. We'll do whatever we can to help.

Click on a question below to show our answer or recommendation...

 

Q: I have surge/lightning protection on my home. Am I totally safe from lightning strikes?

A: No. Surge/Lightning Protection only offers additional levels of protection. Nothing can guarantee completely against Mother Nature and where she chooses to strike.



Q: If I have surge/lightning protection on my main service, should I use point-of-use surge protection at my TV, stereo, computer, etc.?

A: 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.



Q: I have a 110 volt outlet on the exterior of my home. Can I plug my Christmas lights into it?

A: 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.



Q: Can I plug any 110 volt device I wish into my regular 110 volt outlets throughout my house?

A: Yes. Though, if the device exceeds the capacity of the circuit, the breaker will trip off.



Q: Can I plug my coffee pot and toaster oven into the same kitchen counter outlet?

A: Yes. Though, if the two loads exceed 20 amps, 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 minimize overloading a circuit.



Q: When my air conditioner cycles on, I notice my lights blink. Is this normal?

A: 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 immediate negative effect on the electrical equipment within your house. Over time, surges and/or voltage dips can minimize the life of your valuable sensitive electronics. A whole house surge protection system will give added protection for such occurrences.



Q: How do I reset my breaker when it has tripped off?

A: 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 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. Call Higher Power Electric.



Q: Why do I blow fuses or why does my circuit breaker trip?

A: Except in the case of ground fault interrupters, which are susceptible to moisture and/or weather conditions, fuses and circuit breakers should not trip. You can unplug an appliance to determine if it causes the problem.



Q: What is the difference between a breaker panel and my old fuse panel?

A: Both devices, either breaker or fuse, are designed to trip (turn off) in the event of an electrical overload, i.e. 20 amps of electrical load on a 15 amp 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.



Q: I only have half power in my home. What causes this?

A: Sometimes we get calls from our customers stating that they experience half power or that they have some power in a few rooms but not every room. It has been our experience that about eighty percent of the time it will turn out that the customer has a problem with the utility company. Let us explain. The utility company will bring the power from their location and attach it to the pole or pedestal at your house. Power to the pole or pedestal is the responsibility of the utility company. Power from the pole or pedestal to your house is your responsibility. More times than not when you have "half power" it turns out to be a utility company problem on their end, but not always. Sometimes it can be a faulty main breaker or circuit breaker, sometimes it is the result of an underground break in your service wires, or any combination of things. If the problem started for no apparent reason and you weren't doing anything that you think might have caused it, you may consider calling your utility company first. If it turns out to be your responsibility, you'll need to call a qualified electrician. Bottom line, if it turns out to be your utility company, you'll save yourself some money because they will make the repair at no cost to you.



Q: What is a GFCI device or breaker?

A: 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 turns off to protect you.



Q: What are the red and black buttons on my GFCI outlet?

A: The black button is a test button and when pressed, it should deactivate the outlet and any other outlet fed from it - indicating a properly functioning device. The red button is the reset button that you depress to reactivate the outlet or outlets in the event of deactivation resulting from a fault.



Q: Why does my refrigerator or freezer, located in the garage, keep going off in my new home?

A: Garages built in 1978 and after required GFCI protected receptacles per National Electrical Code. This receptacle may not tolerate the additional resistance load created by older and some newer refrigerators/freezers. The GFCI senses there is a fault, and therefore trips off. The 2008 National Electric Code requires GFCI protected receptacles in unfinished basements, garages, outdoors, kitchens, and bathrooms. Have the GFCI protective device inspected by Higher Power Electric to determine if a replacement is required.



Q: What should I do if my lights, switches and receptacles don't work?

A: Check to see if the outlet is on a switch. Check and reset GFCI outlets and circuit breaker. Check light bulbs and replace if necessary. If none of these are the problem, call Higher Power Electric.



Q: What causes the lights in my house to flicker?

A: Central air conditioning and heat pump condensers may cause a noticeable slight dimming on start up. Lights may flicker or dim due to startup of some appliances or motor driven equipment. Check with the local utility company for possible defects in supply source or for the utility switching to other utilities for supply.



Q: Why does my recess can light cycle on and off since I put a larger wattage bulb in?

A: 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 will shut the can off until it cools. This is a safety device to protect your home against fire.



Q: What does it mean when my fluorescent lights are flickering or cycling on and off?

A: 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 the ballast to replace bulbs as well.



Q: Why do the bulbs in my exterior fixture burn out so often?

A: This is usually caused by several factors.
    1. Use of non-brand named bulbs not made with stronger tolerances than name brand bulbs.
    2. Larger wattage bulbs, which cause excessive heat build-up, shortening the life of the bulb.
    3. Worn or burnt lamp sockets that create arcing and excessive heat.



Q: Can I hang a ceiling fan where a light is?

A: Yes, but first you must make sure the electrical box is properly braced and rated for the weight and torque of the ceiling fan you are installing.



Q: Can I dim fluorescent lights?

A: Yes. Dimming fluorescent requires not only a special dimmer, but also special fixtures. You cannot place a typical incandescent dimmer on existing fluorescent.



Q: What causes my smoke detector to keep chirping? What does this mean?

A: 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 requiring a new battery.



Q: 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?

A: This is commonly called "Bleed Over" 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 problem with your phone wiring within your home, today it is the responsibility of the electrician rather than the phone company as in the past.



Q: If I have problems with TV or telephone wiring within the house, whom should I call?

A: 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 recommend you to us at Higher Power Electric. Most TV and telephone utilities will still service your home for a substantial fee. This service, as in the past, is no longer free.


Franklin Co. (614) 891-7502      Licking Co. (740) 964-2485