Frequently Asked Questions - Electrical
How do I reset a breaker?
What if I hear sounds coming from my panel or other electrical equipment?
What if I see smoke at my panel or electrical equipment?
What if I smell a burning smell at my panel or electrical equipment?
What if my panel, receptacle, or other electrical equipment feels hot?
How do I reset a GFI receptacle?
What are the buttons on my GFCI outlet?
Are exposed electrical wires ok?
What is a flying splice?
My smoke detector keeps chirping. What does this mean?
Why do the bulbs in my exterior fixture burn out so often?
I have two telephone lines in my home. When I’m on the phone and the other phone line is in use, do I hear the other conversation in the background?
If I have problems with TV or telephone wiring within the house, whom should I call?
Why does my recess can light cycle on and off?
I have a 120 Volt Outlet on the Outside of my home. Can I plug my Christmas lights into it?
If I have surge/lightning protection on my main service should I use point-of-use surge plug-ins at my TV, stereo, computer, etc.?
If I have surge/lightning protection on my home, am I totally safe from lightning strikes?
When my air conditioner cycles on, I notice my lights blink. Is this normal?
Can I plug my coffee pot and toaster oven into the same kitchen counter outlet?
Can I dim fluorescent lights?
Can I hang a ceiling fan where a light is now?
What does it mean when my fluorescent lights are flickering or cycling on and off?
What should I do if my lights, switches and receptacles don’t work?
What is the difference between a breaker panel and my old fuse panel?
Why do I blow fuses or why does my circuit breaker trip?
What causes the lights in my house to flicker?
What is a GFCI device or breaker?
What is Arc Fault?

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How do I reset a breaker?
Sometimes a tripped breaker does not appear tripped. The breaker handle is in a Half on- Half off position. Push the breaker to the full off position, and then back to the full on position. If this does not restore the power, call us, 870-772-5026
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What if I hear sounds coming from my panel or other electrical equipment? What if I hear frying or crackling sounds?
Sounds coming from your electrical panel should be taken seriously. A frying or crackling sound could indicate arcing between the breakers and the panel connection points. This is a serious condition that should be checked out right away. A loose breaker at the panel buss would cause this.
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What if I see smoke at my panel or electrical equipment?
This is a serious problem. You should call a qualified expert right away. This is a malfunction that could result in extensive damage and possible personal harm.
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What if I smell a burning smell at my panel or electrical equipment?
This is also a serious problem. Most electrical burning smells will smell like a burning plastic or tar smell. You should turn off the power going to what you think the smell is coming from and call us, 870-772-5026.
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What if my panel, receptacle, or other electrical equipment feels hot?
Sometimes dimmers are hot to the touch. However, no electrical panel, outlets, cords, or switches should ever be too hot to touch. A hot cord is usually overloaded. The cord should be replaced with a larger size. Other electrical switches, outlets, or breakers should be at or near the room or area temperature. If it is hotter, there is a possible problem that will need to be checked out and corrected.
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How do I reset a GFI receptacle?
Push the test button (sometimes a black button, but always marked “test”). Then push the reset button (sometimes a red button, but always marked “reset”). If this does not restore the power, call us 870-772-5026
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What are the buttons on my GFCI outlet?
One button is a test button and when pressed, should deactivate the outlet and any other outlet fed from it – indicating a properly functioning device. The other button is the reset button that you press to turn on the outlet or outlets if the outlet has been tested or tripped off because of a ground fault. The newest GFI outlets have a LED light; some have a green light that indicates the proper function, some have a red light that indicates that the outlet is not functioning. This is dependent on the manufacture’s design.
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Are exposed electrical wires ok?
NO…………..Exposed wires are normally not acceptable. Wires must be protected. This is normally done by installing in pipe or conduit. Wires can also be protected by installing the wires underground, or stapled up in a nonassessable space like under a house. Wires above 8 feet would be OK if they are a properly labeled romex type cable.
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What is a flying splice?
A flying splice is a slang term used when wires are spliced together with out a junction box. This is an illegal and possibly dangerous condition. A junction box should be added to correct this poor workmanship.
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My smoke detector keeps chirping. What does this mean?
1.  A consistent chirp is probably an indication of a low battery condition and the smoke detector would require a new battery.
2.  An intermittent chirp is probably an indication of a defective smoke detector.
3.  Smoke detectors 10 years or older should be checked out and replaced, if there are any questions of the detector not working correctly.
(Click to see Maintenance Free Smoke Detector)    (Click here to learn more about Maintenance Free Smoke Detectors)

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Why do the bulbs in my exterior fixture burn out so often?
This is usually caused by several factors.
1.  120volt bulbs instead of 130volt bulbs will burn out much quicker. Check the packaging or top of the light bulb for rated voltage.
2.  Larger wattage bulbs could cause excessive, heat build-up shortening the life of the bulb.
3.  Power surges from the power company or storms.
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I have two telephone lines in my home. When I’m on the phone and the other phone line is in use, why do I hear the other conversation in the background?
This is commonly called Bleed over and usually results from one of three conditions.
1.  Excessively long runs of wire within the home of non-twisted pairs.
2.  Loop wiring from phone station to phone station.
3.  A nick in the phone wire somewhere within your residence causing a weak interconnect between phone lines.
Phone wiring installation today should be done as a home run system, each phone station being a dedicated run back to a common terminal block.
Please remember if you have a problem with your phone wiring within your home, today it is the responsibility of the electrician rather than the phone company in the past.
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If I have problems with TV or telephone wiring within the house, whom should I call?
With deregulation of the utility companies in most areas of the country, the cable or telephone companies are no longer responsible for the equipment or wiring in your home. This responsibility has fallen to you and your electrical contractor. Most TV and telephone utilities will still service within your home for a substantial fee. This service, as in the past, is no longer free.
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Why does my recess can light cycle on and off?
Modern recess cans are rated for a maximum wattage bulb and are equipped with a thermal device that does not allow a bulb larger than that rating. If a larger wattage bulb is used, as the excess heat builds up, the thermal device will shut the can off until it cools. This is a safety device to protect your home against fire. Sometimes this safety device malfunctions and does not allow the light to come on.
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I have a 120 Volt Outlet on the Outside of my home. Can I plug my Christmas lights into it?
Yes. Within reason, if the quantity of lights creates a load greater than the capacity of the circuit breaker, the breaker will trip off. In this event, additional circuits may be required to accommodate your holiday display. Outside receptacles should be ground fault interrupter (GFI) type. Many December rainy days will cause the GFI receptacles to trip. You could use duct tape around each plug connection to protect that from happening.
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If I have surge/lightning protection on my main service should I use point-of-use surge plug-ins at my TV, stereo, computer, etc.?
Yes. Main line surge is no absolute guarantee and any additional surge protection down stream in the system offers a greater level of protection; though, nothing is absolute when it comes to the power of a direct lightning strike.
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If I have surge/lightning protection on my home, am I totally safe from lightning strikes?
No. Surge/Lightning Protection only offers additional levels of protection. Nothing can guarantee completely against lightning and where it chooses to strike.
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When my air conditioner cycles on, I notice my lights blink. Is this normal?
Yes. This is a common occurrence when large motor/compressor loads start. These devices cause a minor momentary voltage drop, demonstrating itself as the blinking in your lights. Your service wires could be undersized. This can be corrected by increasing your service wire sizes, and checking for lose or bad connections.
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Can I plug my coffee pot and toaster oven into the same kitchen counter outlet?
Yes, though if the two loads exceed 20amps, your breaker will sense overload, do its job, and trip off. Under this condition, you should plug one of the appliances into a different kitchen outlet on a different circuit.
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Can I dim fluorescent lights?
Yes. Dimming fluorescent lights requires not only a special dimmer, but also special fixtures. You cannot place a typical incandescent dimmer on existing fluorescent.
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Can I hang a ceiling fan where a light is now?
Yes, but first you must make sure the electrical box is properly braced and rated for the weight and torque of the ceiling fan you are installing.
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What does it mean when my fluorescent lights are flickering or cycling on and off?
Flickering may indicate impending bulb failure, minor power fluctuation, and/or improperly installed bulbs. Cycling on and off is usually a clear indication of ballast and/or bulb failure.
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What should I do if my lights, switches and receptacles don’t work?
Check to see if the outlet is on a switch. Check and reset GFCI outlets and circuit breakers. Check light bulbs and replace if necessary. If none of these are the problem, call our office.
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What is the difference between a breaker panel and my old fuse panel?
Both devises, either breaker or fuse, are designed to trip (turn off) in the event of an electrical overload, i.e. 20Amps of electrical load on a 15Amp circuit would cause a trip. The only difference is that a breaker is mechanical and may be reset. Whereas, a fuse is one time only and must be replaced. Please note: Modern breakers are much more effective and offer greater levels of protection.
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Why do I blow fuses or why does my circuit breaker trip?
Except in the case of ground fault interrupters, which are susceptible to moisture and/or weather conditions, fuses and/or circuit breakers, should not trip unless they are overloaded. Overloaded means too many lights and/or other items are plugged into outlets. This causes too many amps to travel through the circuit breaker and/or fuse.
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What causes the lights in my house to flicker?
Lights may flicker or dim due to startup of some appliances or motor driven equipment. You may need your service wire and panel replaced with a larger size. Sometimes the Power Company will switch loads. That could make lights dim or blink for a short moment.
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What is a GFCI device or breaker?
GFCI stands for Ground Fault Circuit Interrupter. In layman’s terms this device protects you from electrical shock. When it senses the slightest increase in resistance resulting from ground fault, (i.e., the use of electrical devices in or near water), it turns off to protect you.
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What is Arc Fault?
Arc Fault breakers or outlets are a new type of safety devices that trip off if they detect the slightest arc or electrical spark. The newest code requires arc fault breakers on most circuits in a house. The requirement is not required in most businesses.
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