Los Angeles County and surrounding Electrical FAQ
These are some of the most common electrical questions asked by our clients. Contact us today at (661) 269-2600 so that we can discuss your electrical needs. Since each electrical configuration and design is different, we will investigate your situation and inform you of your potential options.
When is it time to call an electrician?
When you are resetting circuit breakers or changing fuses too often, or when your lights flicker and dim with the air conditioner. If you can smell burning or smoke, or have many devices plugged into a single receptacle or multiple plug strips. If you have a device with a three prong cord end, but your home’s outlets only have two prongs. All of these conditions can be a hazard.
What size electric service does my home need?
National Electric Code calls for a 100 amp minimum, however with the increased load of electronic devices, electric appliances, air conditioners and pool equipment, a 200 amp service is often recommended. This also gives some space for future additions, and makes it much easier to add an electric vehicle charging station or solar power array later. This is not a job for an unlicensed person to attempt. In most cases it involves replacing everything from the service loop (the wire connecting your meter to the wires provided by the power utility company), replacing the main panel, and sometimes terminating live wires from the utility company.
My GFCI outlet tripped and won’t reset, what do I do?
If your GFCI outlet tripped, you may have an issue. First, unplug whatever is plugged in from the outlet, then try to reset it. Sometimes, one GFCI may protect multiple outlets downstream in the circuit from the GFCI, one bathroom GFCI may protect the outlet in the other bathroom or maybe even the garage, or one outlet in the kitchen may protect another on the counter. If these outlets are off, unplug whatever is in these also. If you have unplugged all loads and the GFCI still will not reset, the GFCI may be defective and should be replaced by an electrician immediately. Sometimes, there are other problems that an electrician can diagnose and repair. If the GFCI will reset, but trips when something is plugged in, the item being plugged in may have an electrical problem. An electrician can help make this diagnosis.
Where do you put GFCIs(GFI)?
GFCI stands for ground fault circuit interrupter. National Electric Code (NEC) requires any bathroom or garage outlet within 6' of a sink to be GFCI protected, as well as all kitchen outlets for countertop use. GFCI outlets must be installed in any area where electricity and water may come into contact, including basements, pools, spas, utility rooms, attached garages and outdoors. At least one GFCI outlet is required in an unfinished basement and for most outdoor outlets.
GFCIs are designed to detect voltage leaking, such as a ground fault (a metallic part of an appliance or equipment is energized), or if someone is being electrocuted, and immediately trip. Countless lives have been saved since the advent of the GFCI device.
The are two types of GFCIs in homes, the GFCI outlet and the GFCI circuit breaker. Both do the same job, but each has different applications and limitations.
Early GFCI receptacles had issues such as “nuisance tripping” when certain devices were plugged in. It should be noted that newer GFCI devices are built with newer technology, and built to higher safety and quality standards.
At least once a month, you should test your GFCI outlets by pressing the “test” button on them. You should hear a “click” as the reset button pops out, and whatever load is plugged in should be shut off. After you have verified this, press the “reset” button. If the GFCI does not reset, then the GFCI is likely defective and should be replaced by a qualified electrician.
How much should I attempt on my own?
If you are at all unsure of what you are doing, contact a licensed electrician. Currently, most jurisdictions allow the homeowner to obtain an “Owner/Builder” permit, and allow the homeowner to do their own work. Do-it-yourself electrical work can be a gamble, and while something may work and the lights turn on, there may be unseen hazards. Is the safety of your family worth the saved cost? Most electricians have spent at least four to five years as an apprentice, learning the trade, and even then, an electrician never stops learning.
Another thing to consider, is if a homeowner does their own electrical work, and damage to the home results, such as a fire, homeowners insurance may not cover the loss. Many insurance companies will only cover work done by a licensed contractor. If it is discovered that a homeowner did the work, the claim may be denied. Check with your homeowner’s insurance before doing any work.
How should outlets be installed in a kitchen area?
All receptacles installed within 6 feet of a kitchen sink or wet bar shall have GFCI. protection. Receptacles in a kitchen used to serve counter tops should be supplied with at least two 20 amp branch circuits, for small appliances. Each fixed appliance (refrigerator, stove, dish washer) shall have its own dedicated circuit. On counter tops 12 inches or wider, a receptacle shall be installed so that there is no more than 24 inches between outlets. Receptacles outlets installed to serve island counter tops shall be installed above, or within 12 inches below the counter top. No receptacle shall be installed face up on a counter top.
How many convenience outlets in each room?
In every hallway, family room, dining room, living room, parlor, library, den, bedroom, or similar room or area of dwelling units, there shall be no space along the floor line more than six feet to an outlet. This is to prevent the use of extension cords. Outlets are typically installed eighteen inches above the floor, and switches are typically forty eight inches above floor. Wall mounted air conditioners should be on a single dedicated circuit.
What is an AFCI, and why are they required?
AFCI stands for arc fault circuit interrupter. An AFCI is a type of circuit breaker that is now required for all circuits serving outlets and lights in bedrooms, dining rooms, living rooms, hallways, parlors, dens, libraries or similar rooms. An AFCI breaker detects an electrical arc, which can be found in faulty wiring, old or damaged receptacles and cords, or faulty appliances, something a standard circuit breaker cannot do. These electrical arcs can easily cause a fire in the right circumstances, but a properly installed AFCI can prevent this. AFCIs have been required since the 2002 edition of the National Electrical Code, and with each code cycle, more stringent requirements have been laid out. AFCI breakers help prevent electrical fires.