Q. Where are my GFI’s? Do I have them? Do I need them?
A. If your home was built or updated after 1980s you probably have them. You do need them. They are a secondary safety precaution to help prevent electrical injury. All wet areas absolutely need them: outside receptacles, kitchens, baths and sink areas. If your home has them they are not always in the place they control. For example, outside receptacles are usually tied to a GFI in your garage. Powder bathrooms are sometimes attached to other bathrooms in the home. A lot of times you can find a powder bathroom GFI in a Master Bedroom closet or in the garage go figure. In many cases you really have to search to find them all. They are tied together during construction to help save on building costs.
Q. There was a lightning strike nearby but it did not hit my home directly could I still have lightning damage?
A. Yes, you may have indirect lighting damage. Symptoms affected are usually electrical circuitry systems like TVs, computers, phones and doorbells and are the first to be affected. Sometimes symptoms won’t show up for days or weeks and sometimes even months after a strike.
Q. I have a wall switch that gets hot to the touch, is this dangerous?
A. It can be. If any device gets hot to the touch, it is probably over amped. For example: You just replaced the bulbs on your dining room chandelier, which takes 15 bulbs. You used to put in 40 watt bulbs, but you wanted a brighter room so you put in 60 watt bulbs. Your wall switch can’t handle the extra load so it gets hot and will eventually melt. Call a professional to change the wall switch to a high wattage switch or lower the bulb wattage.
Q. My breaker keeps tripping and I keep resetting it. Is this a problem?
A. Yes, eventually the tripping mechanism will wear out and will no longer do its job, which is to trip when necessary and prevent over heating. If a breaker won’t hold and wears out it will have the potential to cause an electrical fire. What you need to do is find out what keeps making this circuit trip, and repair it.
Q. My breaker box (panel) hums, and pops and smells funny, is this a problem?
A. Yes, call a licensed master electrician and have it checked out as soon as possible, it could be a fire hazard.
Q. My lights in the house dim regularly is this normal?
A. It depends on a few variables: a. Age of home. b. Age of breaker box. c. If there is any existing damage in need of repair. d. How often it happens and to what degree. In most cases a simple PM is what’s needed. PM – Panel Maintenance service, tightening of loose connections etc. Never do this yourself.
Q. My breaker box is old. Do I need to replace it?
A. Usually not, unless it is old knob and tube, cloth wire or a Federal Pacific, Zinsco or Challenger Brand Breaker Box (read Federal Pacific Breaker Box FAQ below).
If it is just old and not one of the three listed above and is working perfectly well and there is no damage of any kind, there would be no need to replace it.
However, breaker boxes / panels that are 20 years and older should be checked out by a licensed master electrician every year from top to bottom and front to back including the bus bar. A lot of potentially dangerous damage can be hidden.
"PM" Panel Maintenance should be done every 10 years to tighten up loose connections that occur over time. Electricity vibrations are very low frequencies. You can't see it, but it happens nonetheless, and things become loose.
Q. I have a freezer/refrigerator in my garage, but it is on a GFI, which does trip on occasion, and I have lost what was stored inside, what can I do so this won’t happen again?
A. There are a few options, replace the GFI, run a new dedicated GFI circuit and/or buy a new refrigerator. All garage receptacles now have to be GFI according to the National Electric Code. Most people have older refrigerators in their garages and the older the refrigerator the higher the chance that there are compressor issues that even a new dedicated GFI circuit can not fix, because GFI's are so sensitive. Some customers choose to have a new dedicated circuit installed and also purchase a new refrigerator to have the best chance of fixing the issue.
Q. I am selling my home and a home inspection was done, there are several electrical issues what do I need to do?
A. Discuss what you are willing and not willing to pay for with your prospective buyer. If things are noted by inspector it really should be repaired or at least inspected by a licensed master electrician to advise you on what is necessary and what can wait.
Q. How much will it cost to replace a light fixture with a new one?
A. Some lights take 20 minutes to change and some take 6 hours or more. The difference in price is due to the difference the amount of time it will take. Some fixtures are completely assembled and weigh only 20 lbs while others are in hundreds of pieces and weigh hundreds of pounds and some ceilings heights are 9’ to 12’ and others are 20’ plus. We can give you an estimate over the phone based on a few questions: size, weight, ceiling height, current fixture sizes and design, approximate number of parts for the new fixture and how much crystal, glass or dressing there is, as well as its design. Some customers choose to dress the fixture themselves to save money.
Q. How effective is Exterior Lighting when it comes to deterring theft or crime? What kinds of outside security lighting works best?
A. According to local anti-theft and crime prevention units, the best exterior security lighting is the kind that stays on all night long regardless of type. You should opt for the brightest light that won't be a nuisance.
Problems with some outdoor lighting and lack of security: Many people forget to turn on switched lights every night. Motion Sensor Lights can be tricked and timed by professional thieves to allow them access in the dark.
Timeclocks and photocells are BEST because they work from dusk till dawn automatically.
Even though there is no sure solution for theft or crime outdoor lighting does decrease your chances of a break in.
Local police also recommend security cameras and a large dog or two if you are having reoccurring issues with crime.
Q. I have a Federal Pacific, Challenger or Zinsco Breaker Box, do I need to replace it? I was told they were bad from my Real Estate Inspector.
Yes, most likely they do need to be replaced. The main problem is that they quit doing their job and no longer trip when they get overheated, thus getting hotter and hotter until they completely fail or catch on fire. You may have signs of this, or you may not, which is alarming. Any crackling, hum or buzzing sound, any odor, any discoloration of the breakers or lights dimming can be signs of failure, but as I said there may be NO signs that are easily recognizable. If any of these signs are happening you should have it checked out immediately. Even if you have no signs, know this: it needs to be serviced and/or replaced as soon as possible.
You can search in any search engine for any one of these failing breaker boxes, Federal Pacific, Zinsco or Challenger for more information.
They have been a known hazard for over the past 20 years. Some people, because of budget constraints, can not afford a new breaker box - service change and want to just keep repairing them, which we understand. However, the issue is safety. The safety of yourself, your family, your home or your renters. It is worth the investment for that reason alone; however, there is another reason: if and when you ever go to sell your home a new service panel will add value when it comes time to sell. State Farm and a few other Home Owners Insurance Providers are having current rate increases for homes that have these hazards, and or discounting home owners policies if it has been replaced it with a new breaker box. If you have not changed it and are selling your home, you can expect to get less for your home because the inspectors and real estate agents do make note of the hazard and typically use it as a $3,500 to $5,500 negotiating tool. A standard breaker box service change has to be done by a licensed electrician. All local city permits will need to be pulled, and your power provider will need to be scheduled for a complete same day early morning disconnect and late afternoon reconnect and you are normally are without power for 6-8 hours, even though the job can take a few days with all the prep work that needs to be done before the power is disconnected.
We are just letting you know so you can make the best decision for you and your situation. If you are purchasing a home where this is noted, you really do need to have it replaced ASAP. The older they get the more hazardous they become.
Federal Pacific Breaker Boxes are not the only ones with safety issues, Zinsco and Challenger have the very same issues, so follow the same guidelines for these brands as well.
Standard Service Change, means the breaker box is able to stay in current location in a garage or service area according to the National Electric Code and City Ordinances. Breaker boxes that are inside closets have to be moved. They are usually moved to where the power supply comes into the home, outside next to your meter base and they do cost more, because of the need for weather-tight service panel materials and labor is much more extensive. You can call us for a quote 972-335-4620