As a licensed electrician, it’s easy to forget that not everybody knows everything they need to about electricity in their home. Hard to imagine, right? When it comes to electricity, a lack of knowledge can translate into real danger. We’re here and we’re happy to answer any questions our customers may have regarding electrical service to their homes. Here are some of the most frequently asked questions Jeremy Services encounters:
When Do I Need to Call an Electrician?
This little question has multiple answers! Among them are:
- If you smell electricity burning, drop everything and call right away!
- When you find yourself changing fuses or resetting breakers every few weeks.
- If the lights dim every time you turn on your heater.
- When you’ve got a half-dozen electronic devices plugged into a single outlet, and it burns out.
- If your lights flicker or go on and off by themselves.
- When you’re continually having to run an extension cord to plug in electrical devices, because you don’t have enough electrical outlets in a room.
- When a three-pronged plug needs a two-pronged adapter.
Related Read: Does Your Home Have These 4 Electrical Hazards?
What Is the Right-Sized Electrical Service for my Home?
A 200 amp service is probably the best choice, especially for a newer home. With all of the electronic devices in use today, plus the potential for additional electrical needs in the future, it’s better to be safe than sorry. Speaking of being safe, don’t attempt to install a new service yourself. This is a potentially dangerous job that requires the services of a licensed electrician.
Where Do I Put GFCIs?
Maybe we should define what a GFCI is first… a GFCI (ground-fault circuit interrupter) is an outlet that protects us from electrical shock by automatically shutting off power when the current flows to an unintended path, like water.
The law requires that any outlet that’s within 6 feet of a sink be GFCI-protected, since there is the potential for water and electricity to interact, including:
- pools and spas
- utility rooms and attached garages
An alternative is to install a GFCI circuit breaker, which protects the entire circuit and eliminates the need for separate GFCI outlets. One caveat: The outlets are a better alternative to protect your refrigerators, freezers, sump pumps, or any appliance that can’t go without electrical power for an extended period of time without causing costly losses or property damage. That’s because GFCI’s are very sensitive and are subject to nuisance tripping. If a circuit with a refrigerator trips in the morning while you’re at work, you could come home to a freezer full of thawed out food!
How Much Should I Try to Do Myself?
Doing electrical work by yourself is always a gamble. The question is, how much are you willing to risk to save some money? Electricians have to go through a lot of training to obtain licensing, and then more training and testing to keep their licenses current. Even the smallest job can be dangerous, so why take the chance? Hire a professional and stay safe!