Frequently Asked Electrical Questions
We asked our electricians to give us some of the most common questions homeowners ask -- oh yeah, we asked them to answer them too. Click on the questions below to get your electrical questions answered by an actual electrician.
It only costs $38 to get an electrician to your home. They will arrive in a truck stocked with thousands of parts. They'll have everything they need to start your electrical project while they're at your home, unless the situation is unusual. Most of the time, your electrical project can be finished on the same day we arrive. Our electrician will perform a thorough evaluation of your electrical system and explain what they'll need to do in order to complete the work you called for. They will not charge you by the hour; instead, they will give you a total price, with multiple options for repair or replacement, before any work begins.
Once you approve the project and price, our electrician will begin. If you don't want to proceed with the work while we are there, all you pay is $38 for the consultation. If you call us back to complete the work later, you do not pay another $38. Contact us if you'd like to schedule an appointment for an electrician to come to your home.
A circuit breaker "trips" or a fuse is "blown" when too much electricity is traveling over the wires in a circuit. The most common reason a breaker will trip is a short circuit. This happens when a live wire comes into contact with a grounded conductor. The result of a short circuit is usually sparking coming from the switch or outlet.
There are specialty breakers that can detect irregularities in the electricity flowing through it. These irregularities can be a safety hazard and the breaker will trip until the issue is corrected. Two such breakers are Ground Fault Interrupter (GFI) Breakers and an Arc Fault Breaker.
GFIs are generally installed in locations where water might be present, like bathrooms, kitchens, and outdoors. GFI breakers are designed to cut power to a circuit if it detects, in as quickly as one thirtieth of a second, any change in power flow through the circuit, however subtle. Since water is an excellent electrical conductor, if a person comes into contact with water and electricity, the results could be fatal. Therefore, GFIs are life saving devices that prevent against electrical shock.
Arc Fault Breakers trip when an arc is detected somewhere in the circuit. Arcing that goes undetected and unresolved can generate a lot of excess heat, causing insulation, outlets, and devices to melt or even catch fire. Arcing can occur from a loose connection, a nail through a wire, faulty extension cords, etc.
The fact that your breaker tripped is a good thing: that usually means it's working. The danger occurs when a breaker should trip but it doesn't. When a breaker trips, it's because there was too much electricity flowing over the wires in that circuit. When you go to reset the breaker, if it stays on, you're probably good. If it immediately trips off again there is probably something still causing a short that needs to be fixed. If the breaker is old, it's possible that the breaker has failed mechanically and just needs to be replaced. In this case, you'll want someone with electrical experience to help you replace breakers or troubleshoot a breaker that will not reset.
If you have an outlet that won't hold plugs anymore, the only solution is to replace it. There are prongs inside the old outlet that get loose over time and/or after heavy usage. Many people will bend the prongs out on their plug to try and get it to stay in the wall. However, doing this is bad for the plug and only makes the outlet worse.
Replacing an outlet is a basic project you can do yourself if you have the right tools and know how to cut the power off to that outlet. Here's a video showing How to Replace an Outlet. If you are uncomfortable attempting this on your own, call an electrician for help. Or if you are uncomfortable attempting this on your own, you may need to call an electrician for help.
No, you shouldn't hear noises when you turn a switch on and off. Popping, crackling, sizzling noises are usually an indication there is a loose connection behind the wall plate. Loose connections can overheat and melt the wires. In extreme cases, it could even cause a fire. Switches can wear out over time and need to be replaced.
Replacing a switch is a basic project you can do yourself if you have the right tools and know how to cut the power off to that switch. Here's a video showing How to Replace a Light Switch. If you are uncomfortable attempting this on your own, call an electrician for help.
Look for an access door on the front of the smoke detector. If you can't see the detector clearly, remove the smoke detector from its mounting plate on the ceiling or wall. Most models can be removed by twisting the detector. Once you've located the access door, slide it open and pull the battery out. Replace with a new battery and slide the door closed. If you don't see a battery door on the front, take the smoke detector down and look on the back. There may be a small screw holding the door closed. Remove the screw, open the door, and replace the battery.
Here's a video we made on How to Change the Battery in Your Smoke Detector. We hope you find it helpful and informative.
First, try changing the batteries. If the chirping continues, the smoke detector may have gone bad and needs to be replaced. Smoke detector manufacturers recommend replacing the smoke detector after 10 years. To find the age of the smoke detector, remove the smoke detector from its mounting plate on the ceiling or wall and look on the back to find the stamped manufacture date.
If you need to replace your smoke detector, it is a basic project you can do yourself if you have the right tools and know how to cut the power off first. Here's a video on How to Replace a Smoke Detector. If you are uncomfortable attempting this on your own, you may need to call an electrician for help.
LOWER USAGE - There are some simple things you can do to save energy around the house. First, make sure that lights are turned off in rooms that are not in use. Next, if you have an electric water heater, you can turn the temperature down. Next, consider running your air conditioner less. Air conditioners use a lot of electricity in the summer so running them less can save money. Finally, clothes dryers use a lot of electricity. Try hanging clothes to dry to help you run the dryer less often.
UPGRADE TO HIGH EFFICIENCY - One of the most dramatic energy-savers is switching the whole house to LED bulbs. LED bulbs use less energy than compact fluorescent and incandescent bulbs. Also, many appliances have high-efficiency models available that can help you save electricity. And beyond high-efficiency dishwashers, water heaters and etc., multi-stage, high-efficiency air conditioners can save you a lot of money in the summertime as well. In a best-case scenario, opting for high-efficiency appliances in combination with lowering usage will yield the best results.
GO SOLAR - Installing rooftop solar can reduce your monthly power bill substantially. If you can't afford the upfront investment, there is special financing available that allows you to install solar now and start saving. Any Hour Services installs rooftop solar and can help you understand the options that are available.
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