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F.H. Furr Tips and Advice

8 Of Our Most Frequently Asked Home Electrical Questions… Answered

1. An outlet in by bathroom isn’t working and I’m not sure why.

Common problem. First check to see if there is a reset button on the outlet. If so, press the button to reset. If there is no button, check another outlet in the room, or around the room for a GFCI outlet, which could be controlling all the outlets in the room. Press the reset button on that outlet. If power isn’t restored, and/or you don’t hear a “clicking sound” make sure the circuit is not tripped on your electrical panel. Normally when this issue comes up, the reset button on a nearby GFCI outlet is the culprit. However, if you still have not resolved the matter, it would be a good idea to call a licensed electrician.

2. Every now and then a bulb goes out in my recessed light.

Why? In most cases, you are using a bulb with too high of wattage for the fixture. Try using a lower watt bulb, like 40 watt, and that should resolve the issue. If not, there may be another issue going on and you would need an to get an electrician on the scene.

3. What is a short circuit?

A short circuit is when a wiring carrying electricity comes in contact with a grounded wire. This will create heat, and in turn, your circuit breaker will trip, cutting off power to the potential hazard. A short circuit will not repair itself, and if the outlet/light, etc. is one you want to use, this will have to be repaired.

4. A tripped circuit breaker won’t turn back on. Why?

First make sure the switch is in the complete off position until it clicks in place. Now try to reset. If it still will not reset, then there is an issue which needs to be rectified. Consider this your red flag. Either there is a short, or an overload to that circuit. Either one can be spotted by an electrician.

5. Do I need carbon monoxide detectors installed?

Yes if you use natural gas in the home. For heating or cooking, natural gas sometimes is odorless, and if you have a potential leak, inhaling natural gas can be harmful, and sometimes deadly. Coming in tandem with smoke detectors, carbon monoxide detectors can be purchased at many stores and should be installed outside of every bedroom and on every floor in your home.

6. I purchased an older home. How do I know my electrical is safe?

Without first living in the home, it is tough to tell. But if aluminum wiring is present, it is a potential hazard as it can expand and actually melt in some instances. Not all aluminum wiring has to be removed, but it should definitely be inspected by an electrician for a safety check and potential remediation. Another important part of the home to inspect is the electrical panel. Is it 200 amps or less? It may not provide enough power. Is it produced by Federal Pacific of Zinsco? Buyer beware. Both of these manufacturers produced panels in the 1950’s-1980’s which are considered unsafe.

7. My smoke detector won’t stop beeping. What should I do?

First, make sure no smoke or fire is in the home, then, try pressing the reset button. If that is unsuccessful, unscrew the detector from the ceiling and replace the battery. If THAT still doesn’t work, it may be time to call in the electrician as there could be a wiring issue or it’s time to replace your detectors. Now in Maryland new smoke detectors are all hard wired with a 10 year battery—so this annoying situation will never occur again. Sounds great doesn’t it?

8. A dimmer switch is hot to the touch. Is that normal?

Sometimes dimmer switches do get warm to the touch. As long as the switch isn’t operating lighting above 300 watts, your situation should be safe. If you smell burning, or the plastic is melting, clearly this situation is not safe and the switch and potentially wiring should be replaced.

Please call (703) 690-0449 for any electrical repair or installation. We offer emergency service too for your piece of mind.

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