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Commonly asked questions

1. Why do circuit breakers trip?


CIrcuit overload is usually the cause of tripping. This occurs when too many things are plugged into the same circuit. Another reason for a tripped breaker is a short circuit.  This can be caused by faulty or damaged wiring or by faulty appliances and fixtures.


2. What is a GFCI?


A GFCI or Ground Fault Circuit Interrupter is a special breaker or receptacle (with the "test" and "reset" buttons) that is designed to protect you from electrical shock.  A GFCI measures the flow of electrical current moving in an electrical circuit.  Under normal conditions, the flow of electricity into an appliance or device should be balanced.  When a problem occurs such as an electrical shock or short circuit, the flow of electricity is no longer balanced.  A GFCI is designed to de-energize the circuit when it senses this imbalance.  If this current “flows” through your body to ground you, a GFCI should trip and stop the flow of electricity prior to you feeling the sensation of a shock.  


3. What is an AFCI?


An AFCI or Arc Fault Circuit Interrupter is a circuit breaker that helps minimize the risk of fire caused by arcing faults (small sparks).  It is able to sense the characteristics unique to arcing and it functions by de-energizing an electrical circuit when this is detected. An AFCI recognizes the “signature waveform” of an arcing fault and shuts the power off to the circuit to protect against fire. At this time, the NEC requires AFCIs in all 120-volt, single-phase, 15- and 20-ampere branch circuits supplying outlets installed in dwelling unit family rooms, dining rooms, living rooms, parlors, libraries, dens, bedrooms, sun rooms, recreation rooms, closets, hallways , or similar rooms or areas.  


4. Why do dimmers get hot and is this safe?


During normal operation, dimmers generate heat due to resistance.  A dimmer is constructed of a series of resistors in series with your lights.  The closer a dimmer is run to full output and the higher the load (watts) on the dimmer, the warmer it will feel. This is perfectly normal and safe as long as the load (total wattage of the lights) does not exceed the rated load of the dimmer. If a dimmer is overloaded, it can be a fire hazard.  In this case, the smaller capacity dimmer should be replaced with a larger capacity dimmer.  


5. What is Troubleshooting?


Troubleshooting is the systematic “detective work” involved in any electrical repair. In order to troubleshoot quickly and accurately, we need every clue that you can provide to us.  These clues can include an accurate description of the problem, as well as how and when the problem may have occurred.  We will test and examine your wiring, but your assistance is an excellent tool to expedite the repair.