At Baker & Sons, we are regularly asked many of the following electrical questions. While this FAQ won’t make you a certified electrician, the answers can help you decide whether you should hire an electrician or not.
Can I replace a circuit breaker that trips with one that has a higher amp rating?
No. The size of wire coming into the electrical panel determines what size of breaker you can use. If you install a breaker with too high an amp rating, the wire could overheat before it trips the circuit breaker. This could cause an electrical fire.At Baker & Sons, we have 23 years of residential and commercial electrical experience. We help Sarasota, Manatee & Charlotte County property owners with electrical systems from new installations to complete renovations with minimal disruption to their lives.Call us today at (941) 377-3602 about your electrical needs. We'll give you honest answers.
If a circuit breaker trips, is this dangerous?
Yes, and no. If the same breaker trips frequently, it could be a sign that the circuit is overloaded. Over time, the insulation on the wiring can become damaged from frequent overheating. While the circuit breaker prevents the wire from overheating enough to melt the insulation completely, it can cause problems over time.If you find that the breaker is still tripping after you have removed all the appliances that draw current through the wiring, there may be a short in the system. Look for a defective socket. If one appliance trips the breaker, the appliance may be the problem. Repair or replace the appliance to prevent an electrical fire.
It seems my light bulbs burn out much faster than the manufacturer promises. What causes this?
Even though manufacturers can give a range of life expectancy, the reality is that real-life conditions do impact how long a light bulb lasts. Bulbs installed on a ceiling fan, for example, will usually last for a shorter time than those installed in fixed lighting.Other factors can shorten a light bulb's life. Temperature variations have an impact on lamp life. A utility that delivers higher voltage (130 instead of 120) will shorten a bulb's life. Installing bulbs that have too high a wattage rating for the light fixture can also shorten the life expectancy of a bulb.If a light bulb consistently burns out in a particular socket, then a loose connection at a rivet could be causing heat build-up in the lamp base. Often replacing the lamp socket will resolve the issue.
Why do I need to replace outlets if plugs don't want to stay in?
When a plug is loose in the receptacle, it results in high resistance in the connection. This causes heat to build-up, which can cause a fire. It can also cause damage to the appliance connected to the outlet. Replacing the receptacle is an extremely cost effective investment.
I've purchased a new dryer. It has four prongs and my outlet only has three prongs. Can I replace the plug with a three-prong plug?
The reason your dryer has four prongs is the National Electric Code (NEC) now requires new installations to provide a second neutral on all 220 appliances. This prevents the entire metal surface of the dryer from becoming "hot" if the neutral wire somehow becomes open.You can replace the four prong cord with a three prong cord so you are able to use the new dryer in your older home, but you will need to establish a frame grounding link from the chassis of the dryer to the neutral.Seriously consider upgrading the electrical supply to dryers, ranges and other 220 appliances, as this will improve the safety of your home considerably.
My electrical breaker panel is buzzing. What causes this?
Several serious issues may cause this problem. A breaker could be loose. The buzzing is caused by the arcing between the breakers and the busbar contact point. Or it could be a hot breaker that is allowing current to flow between hot and neutral. Both issues should be dealt with promptly by a qualified electrician.
What is the difference between 110 and 120 volts?
The current coming into your home can range anywhere from 110 to 132 volts. In high demand areas, the utility company may increase the voltage level to meet consumer demand as this is the only way to supply more current through the wires that distribute power to your home.
Can I do my own wiring?
Home owners in some counties and cities are allowed to do their own wiring as long as they get a permit and have the work inspected by the city or county electrical inspector. In other locations, all electrical wiring must be performed by a contractor. Call your county or city department of public works to find out what rules apply. Even if you are allowed to do your own, it’s still wise to hire a licensed electrician unless you have a lot of experience and really know what you’re doing.