Electricity 101: The Basics Every Homeowner Should Know

Residential electrical work is serious business with very real dangers.Electrical work is serious business—no matter how easy the job may seem, there are very real dangers if you don’t know what you’re doing. To help homeowners better understand and stay safe when it comes to their electrical systems, the pros at Seider Heating, Plumbing & Electrical are sharing the basics.

What can a DIYer do? Because electricity is such a powerful force, it’s usually best to call a pro. However, if you want to tackle a simple project, like installing a new light fixture, make sure you turn off the main breaker before starting and follow directions exactly as provided by the manufacturer.

Why do circuit breakers trip? The most common, and annoying, electrical malfunction homeowners experience are tripped breakers. If there’s too much electricity entering a circuit, the breaker will trip or shut off the flow of electricity to protect your home from current overload. Most often, a simple reset of the switch is enough to correct the issue. If the breaker continues to trip, make sure you contact a professional to determine the underlying issue.

What are ground fault circuit interrupter (GFCI) outlets? If you’ve purchased or built a home recently, you’ve probably heard of GFCI outlets. They are required by National Electric Code in all new construction—specifically in wet locations, like bathrooms, kitchens, crawlspaces, unfinished basements, and most outdoor spaces—because they detect a leak in the current. As soon as the outlet senses a difference in power, it shuts down flow immediately.

Does electrical wiring need regular maintenance? The short answer is no. However, if your home is over 40 years old, you may need to have a few upgrades to meet current codes and safety guidelines, especially if your home has aluminum wiring. Aluminum wiring was used during the mid-1960s through 1972. Unfortunately, aluminum did not perform as well as once thought, and has been phased out of new installations. If you think you might have aluminum wiring, ask our electricians about a safety inspection—you may be due for an upgrade.

Normal or Not? When to Call the Pros

  • Shocks: We’re all used to the light static electricity shocks we get during dry winters, but if you feel shocks from an outlet or wired device, call for service.
  • Burnt-smelling odors: A burning odor is never good—it means there may be a faulty device or overload issue at play. Switch off the power at your circuit breaker and call an electrician.
  • Flickering lights: Most often, this is normal and due to a loose or faulty lightbulb. Try tightening or replacing the bulb first, if that doesn’t work, call a professional.
  • Smoking outlet: Where there’s smoke, there’s a problem that could lead to a fire. Turn off power at the source and call an electrician immediately to have the problem looked at.
  • Sparks: Small sparks when you plug in an appliance are not unusual, but if the sparks become larger or more frequent, call an electrician.

Have additional questions or concerns? Don’t hesitate to ask us. From our experienced Carrier® technicians to our master plumbers and electricians, we’ve got your home concerns covered.

June 15th, 2017|