IMPORTANT: This page features answers to some of the most frequently asked questions by our customers. This page is intended to be a resource for you regarding your electrical system. It is not intended to be a “troubleshooting guide.” If you become injured or your property is damaged as a result of your own electrical work, Black Diamond Electric, Plumbing, Heating and Air will not be held responsible. You should always contact a licensed electrician to perform electrical repairs or make modifications to your electrical system.
Frequently Asked Electrical Questions
Q: How much does it cost to fix my electrical problem?
A: We get this question over the phone several times a day. Unfortunately, electrical work is very difficult to estimate over the phone. It would be similar to calling a mechanic and asking them to diagnose and give you a price quote to fix your car problem over the phone. Electrical work has a large number of factors and variables. The only way to get a firm idea of how much something may cost you is to have an electrician come and actually investigate the problem.
Q: I have some lights that flicker and dim throughout my home, is this a serious electrical problem?
A: It can be. Intermittent power throughout the house may be a sign of problems with your electrical panel. While this is not always the case, most panel problems will generally cause intermittent power in your home. If you have flickering or dimming lights in your house, try replacing the bulbs. If your new bulbs are still dimming or flickering, we recommend calling our expert electricians to help you find the problem and fix it for you.
Q: What’s the big deal with LED lights?
A: LED or light-emitting diode use semiconductors and electroluminescence to create light. This process allows it to function better than standard incandescent and CFL bulbs. LEDs are a huge jump in quality from traditional lights and even from compact fluorescent bulbs. The features of LEDs include: much lower energy consumption, longer lifetime, stronger physical build, smaller size, and faster switching time. Not only can LEDs provide more light with less power, but they last much longer than traditional bulbs. A standard 40-watt incandescent bulb (traditional light bulb) has an expected lifespan of 1,000 hours, but “good-quality LED bulbs can have a useful life of 25,000 hours or more” than the traditional bulb.
Q: The house that we just bought is old and has some outdated electrical wiring. Will we be required to rewire it?
A: That depends. The National Electric Code (NEC), which is the governing code for all electrical construction in the country, has certain regulations as to what must be updated. There are some old setups that can be grandfathered in and others that must be replaced because of the hazards they pose. If you’re not sure that your house has items that need to be updated, give us a call and we will send an electrician to complete a whole home inspection.
Q: What should I do if my breaker keeps tripping?
A: Circuit breakers are designed to protect your home and only trip when something happens. Sometimes, a tripped breaker is the result of too many devices or appliances in the same circuit. Generally, a tripped breaker means that there is an underlying electrical problem that needs attention. If the same breaker has tripped several times, it would be wise to call an expert electrician to find the problem.
Q. What is a “short” or a “short circuit”?
A: A “short” and “short circuit” occurs when the “hot” wire, which carries the electrical current, (usually the “black” wire) touches either the grounded conductor, also called the “neutral,” (generally the “white” wire) or the equipment ground (the “bare copper” or “green” wire). When a short circuit happens, it generates excessive heat and/or sparks. Properly working breakers in the electrical panel will cut power to the circuit in the event of a short circuit.
Q. What is a GFI or GFCI outlet?
A. GFCI stands for “Ground Fault Circuit Interrupter.” GFCI outlets are designed to protect people from electrical shock when water is near the outlet. Most houses after the 1980’s, are protected by GFCI outlets. You will usually see them in your kitchen, bathrooms, garage, and outdoor outlets. GFCI outlets have two buttons on the face usually in between the plugs. One button will say “test” the other says “reset”. The “test” button will make the GFCI outlet trip ( turn off), and the “reset” button will reset (turn on) the GFCI outlet. If the outlet does not reset when the “reset” button is pushed, there may be a serious problem. Check out our services page to learn more about GFCI outlets.
Q. I have a light fixture in my house that keeps blowing light bulbs what is causing this?
A. The three most common reasons for light bulbs to burn out are: 1) old age, 2) excess heat and 3) vibration. Old age is the number one reason that light bulbs blow. This is easily avoided by replacing bulbs regularly or replacing them with Halogen or LED bulbs, which last much longer.
Heat can blow a light bulb if the light fixture has an enclosed lens. If there isn’t enough airflow to disperse the heat coming from the light bulb, the trapped heat can cause bulbs to break. One way to alleviate this situation is to use a lower wattage bulb. Always check the wattage labels on any light fixture and never install light bulbs bigger than what is specified by the labels. Overloading the fixture with the wrong bulb can burn out the light bulb, but it will also heat the insulation around the wiring in the fixture, which could lead to a fire.
Vibration burns out light bulbs because it shakes the filament inside the bulbs. Excess shaking eventually causes filaments to break. Light fixtures that are near doors or below areas like bathrooms, hallways, or kids bedrooms get rattled by all of the vibration from footsteps, slamming doors, or kids jumping and playing. One way around this problem is to make the switch to LED light bulbs. LED bulbs are not as fragile as incandescent or CFL bulbs and do not suffer from burn out. They are also more efficient.