Frequently Asked Questions
Q: I have some outlets out, mostly outside or in my bathrooms.
A: This is very symptomatic of a GFCI tripping. Many homes’ outdoor outlets, garage outlets, basement outlets and bathroom outlets are connected to one or two GFCI’S. You will need to locate the GFCI and press the “reset” button. If the problem still exists, it will trip again. Unplug items in the affected outlets then try to reset the GFCI again. If it holds then the problem is in one of the items, you unplugged. If the GFCI still trips, then it may be bad and require replacement.
Q: How do I know if one of my circuit breakers is actually tripped?
A: Circuit breakers are designed to trip in the case of an overload or short. In many cases we get calls from people stating that they have checked the breakers and didn’t see any tripped. The problem is that most brands of circuit breakers don’t actually move when they are tripped. In order to know for sure, you need to check each one by either gently tapping on the breaker toward the “off” position. In many cases if the breaker is tripped, it will move easily to the middle or off position. Just flip it all the way to OFF then to ON. This will reset the breaker provided the problem no longer exists. If you can’t determine if a breaker is tripped by this method, you may have to flip each breaker to OFF then back to ON until you find the one that was tripped.
Q: How do I know if I have damage from a power surge?
A: In most cases, a close or even direct lightning strike or damage to the electric company’s transformer will cause varying types of damage. Mostly it affects items with electronic parts. Everything from computers, TV’s, DVR’s, telephones, even your appliances with electronic timers and controls. In some instances, electronics in furnaces, heat pumps and air conditioners are affected.
The biggest problem with power surges is that so much of your electrical system is hidden behind walls and in attic spaces. To really find out if you have any damage from a power surge, you need to have our electrician come out to do an inspection of your system. Size and scope of the inspections vary and our electrician will explain the differences when he visits with you.
Q: Half the power is out in my house.
A: This is a fairly common problem in older homes with older electrical services. Your home has two 120V circuits coming into your panel. Together they make the 240 volts you need for the larger appliances like central air conditioners, electric dryers, electric water heaters and electric ranges. If the lights and timers work on your electric range but the burners won’t heat up, then there is a good chance you have lost one of the “legs” or one of the 120V feeds coming into your home.
We ALWAYS recommend that you call the electric utility first. Sometimes the problem is at the transformer or on the feed coming to your home. If that is the case, they will fix it at no charge to you. If the problem is in your electrical service inside your home, they will tell you. At that point you call us and we will come out, find the problem, and recommend a solution.
Q: Why do my lights flicker for no reason?
A: In some cases, flickering lights are an indicator of potential problems on that particular circuit. Loose connections or overloaded circuits are the most frequent cause of flickering or dimming lights. Occasionally, these symptoms can be caused by a failing transformer at the street. It’s always best to have that checked out by a qualified electrician.