Frequently Asked Questions (F.A.Q.'s)
What is a GFCI Device or Breaker?
GFCI stands for Ground Fault Circuit Interrupter.
In layman's term, 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 trips off to protect you.
What are the Red and Black Buttons on my GFCI Outlet?
The black button is a test button and when pressed, should deactivate the outlet and any other outlet fed from it - Indicating a properly functioning device.
The red button is the re-set button that you depress to reactivate the outlet or outlets in the event of deactivation resulting from a fault.
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 Breaker When it Has Tripped Off?
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 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. Contact a licensed electrician.
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 a ballast to replace bulbs as well.
Can I Hang a Ceiling Fan Where a Light is?
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.
Can I Dim Fluorescent Lights?
Yes. Dimming fluorescent requires not only a special dimmer, but also special fixtures. You cannot place a typical incandescent dimmer on existing fluorescent.
I Have a New Home. Why Does My Refrigerator or Freezer, Located in My Garage, Keep Going Off?
Unless you made provisions with the builder for a dedicated circuit, the outlets in your garage are GFCI Protected per National Electrical Code. This device will not tolerate the additional resistance load created by refrigeration equipment. The GFCI senses there is a fault, and therefore trips off. The only cure to this problem is to provide a dedicated, non GFCI circuit allowable by code.
Can I Plug My Coffee Pot and Toaster Oven into the Same Kitchen Counter Outlet?
Yes. Though, if the two loads exceed 20amps, 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 balance the load.
Can I Plug any 110Volt Device I Wish into My Regular 110 Volt Outlets Throughout My House?
Yes. Though, if the device exceeds the capacity of the circuit, the breaker will trip off.
When My Air Conditioner Cycles on, I Notice My Lights Blink. Is This Normal?
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 negative effect on the electrical equipment within your house.
I Have a 110 Volt Outlet on the Exterior of My Home. Can I Plug my Christmas Lights into It?
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.
Why do the Bulbs in My Exterior Fixture Burn Out so Often?
This is usually caused by several factors.
Use of non brand named bulbs.
Larger wattage bulbs which cause excessive heat build-up shorting the life of the bulb.
Helpful Hint: Use only brand named bulbs and try to buy 130Volt rated bulbs instead of the normal 120Volt rated bulbs. This should significantly extend the life.
My Smoke Detector Keeps Chirping. What Does this Mean?
This could mean one of two things:
An Intermittent Chirp is probably an indication of a defective smoke detector.
A consistent chirp is probably an indication of a low battery condition and the smoke detector requires a new battery