Electrical Tips for Pacific Northwest Homes

LightBulb

Fuses:

When a fuse detects too much power running through a wire, a tiny piece of metal inside the fuse will break, thereby stopping the power from continuing to run through the wire.

When the top of the fuse is made of glass, many people think that they can look at the metal piece inside and see if it is broken. THIS IS NOT ALWAYS TRUE.

The best way to handle a suspected blown fuse is to simply replace it. If the power comes back on, great! If it doesn’t, then you should call an electrician who is good at troubleshooting

Smoke Detectors:

Smoke detectors are great safety devices. But occasionally a smoke detector will start “chirping” or worse, sound a non-stop alarm for no reason. Here’s what you can do if this happens to you:
If it’s a battery-powered smoke detector, take out the battery and replace it with a new one. If there’s still a problem, replace the entire smoke detector.
If it’s a 120 Volt powered smoke detector (hard-wired), turn off your circuit breakers one by one until the noise stops. Then turn on all the circuit breakers again except the one controlling the smoke detector. Replace the faulty smoke detector and turn its circuit breaker back on again.
You will then need to replace the 120 Volt smoke detector or if it is a battery powered smoke detector, replace the battery.

Dimmers:

  1. Never connect a regular dimmer to low-voltage lights, paddle fans, or any kind or motor. These devices require special dimmers.
  2. Never exceed the recommended wattage of the dimmer. Regular dimmers are rated for a maximum of 600 Watts. This is equal to 10 sixty Watt light bulbs, or 6 one hundred Watt bulbs.

NOTE: You can also buy higher-wattage dimmers for connecting more than 600 Watts to one dimmer.

Bulbs Burning out Too Quickly: Here are the three reasons bulbs can burn out quickly:

  1. The wattage of the bulb is too high. This is very common. Most light fixtures with glass covers have a maximum rating of 60 watts per bulb. It is very common for people to put in 75 watt or even 100 watt bulbs. The result is bulbs burning out much too quickly. Use the correct wattage bulbs in all your light fixtures.
  2. Poor-quality lights bulbs. Use only major-brand light bulbs.
  3. Mysterious light fixture problems. It’s mysterious because the light fixture LOOKS perfectly fine, and even electricians can’t find anything wrong with it. Nevertheless, after checking #1 and #2 above, if the bulbs keep burning out…replace the light fixture.

Lights Dimming:

Lights will sometimes dim for a few seconds and then come back to complete brightness again. This can happen when a light is connected to the same wires that provide power to an appliance that takes a lot of power, like a refrigerator, a microwave oven, or an air conditioner. The reason the light dims for a few seconds is that the appliance is using a lot of power when it first starts up. After the appliance is running for a few seconds, it will use less power, and the light will return to normal again. If you have central air-conditioning, the lights may dim each time the air conditioning comes on.
You will usually notice this dimming more at night (for obvious reasons!), but you might also notice it in the daytime. If this dimming bothers you, you can handle the problem by having an electrician add another circuit specifically for the appliance that is causing the dimming problem.

NOTE: If you haven’t changed anything electrical in your home or office, and you suddenly start to have dimming problems or power fluctuations, then you probably have a loose wire somewhere. You should contact an electrician skilled in troubleshooting to find and correct this problem.

Humming Lights:

Humming lights can be caused by:

  1. A bad ballast or bad transformer. Replace the ballast or transformer.
  2. A conflict between a low-voltage dimmer and the low-voltage light fixture it controls. This is a tough one, but sometimes experimenting with different dimmers will lead you to one that doesn’t make the low-voltage light transformer hum.

Tripped Circuit Breakers or GFCI’s:

The circuit breaker system is designed to “trip” or shut off in the event that you are trying to pull too much current through it. It is meant to prevent dangerous and hazardous effects of overloading your system. By turning off, a circuit breaker stops the flow of electricity through an electrical circuit in an effort to avoid a possible fire hazard. A solution to this issue first and foremost, is to determine the cause of your “trip”. Check for an overload of circuits, inspect your chords for a possible short circuit (making sure that power source is turned OFF), and if neither of these seem to be the cause, check for a ground fault. This occurs when the “hot” wire (black) comes into contact with the ground wire (copper) or the side of a metal box. When in doubt, CALL our friendly service representatives for troubleshooting techniques.

Safety First!:

In the event of a storm it is important to follow a few simple safety rules –

  • Be aware that submerged outlets or electrical cords may pose serious and even leathal threat.
  • Do not use electrical appliances that have been wet. Have these appliances reconditioned by a qualified service repairman, or purchase new ones.
  • Do not connect generators directly to household wiring. Have a qualified, licensed electrician install your generator.
  • Keep all generators dry.
  • Follow the generator manufacturer’s guidelines regarding appliances and extension cords.
  • Do not overload your generator.
  • Do not operate your generator in enclosed or partially enclosed spaces. Generators can produce high levels of carbon monoxide very quickly, which can be deadly!