When is it time to call an electrician versus fixing it myself?
This depends a lot on the comfort level of the individual. Any time that you are not sure of yourself or feel like you might be putting you and your loved ones in danger, it would be a good idea to go ahead and call an electrician.
How do I reset my breakers?
First, look to see which breaker is tripped. Some brands of breakers have windows that will turn orange when they trip, others will simply be in a half-cocked position. In either case, to reset the breaker, turn it all the way to the "off" position and then back to the "on" position. CAUTION: The breaker is tripping for a reason. Repeatedly resetting a tripping breaker can create an unsafe condition due to the fact that every time short circuit current passes through the wire, it heats it up. Resetting over and over WILL heat the wire causing a potential fire hazard. If the breaker continues to trip, it's time to call an electrician.
How can I tell if an electrical outlet isn't safe for use?
An outlet that is two-pronged is one without a ground. Grounds are very important for the safe use of electricity. This is commonly seen in older homes, and while this isn't an immediate threat, it's something that should be remedied. 2-prong outlets can be changed to 3-prong outlets as long as GFCI protection is provided on these circuits.
Does Zander Electrical Services LLC offer emergency electrical repair? If so, who should I call?
While our typical hours are Monday through Friday 8:00 a.m.- 5:00 p.m., we do offer emergency services 24-7. While we are happy to provide this service, it should be noted that emergency rates are higher than the rates for work that is scheduled in advance and performed during normal business hours. If an emergency situation does occur, feel free to call us at 262-278-0480 and we will do our very best to quickly attend to and resolve the issue.
What electrical services are safe to perform on my own?
This largely depends on the mechanical ability and comfort level of each individual. Electrical work is not something to take lightly. Even if the initial installation of a do-it-yourself-er seems to be a success, symptoms of electrical problems due to improper installation can often take time to manifest. The initial expense of professionally done work is often times worth the peace of mind knowing that a licensed and insured electrician performed the installation.
How often should electrical wiring be checked?
A properly installed electrical system requires very little maintenance. Some things that should be checked regularly ,or at least annually, are your home's GFCI protected circuits. GFCI (Ground Fault Circuit Interrupter) protection is required in kitchens, bathrooms, garages, unfinished basements, and on any outlet that is located in an outdoor or wet location. Most GFCI protection is done through a GFCI outlet. The outlet will have a test and reset button on the device. Pushing the "test" button will trip the outlet, confirming that the GFCI mechanism is still functioning. The "reset" button will restore power to the outlet and any subsequent outlets protected by the GFCI outlet. A GFCI outlet that doesn't trip or reset should be replaced immediately. In rarer situations, GFCI protection is done through a GFCI breaker, located at your breaker panel. GFCI breakers will have a test button on them as well, and pushing this button will trip the breaker, confirming that the GFCI mechanism is still functioning. Pushing the breaker handle to the fully "off" position and then the fully "on" position will restore power to the circuit. Like it's outlet counterpart, a GFCI breaker that doesn't trip or reset should be replaced immediately.
In modern homes, smoke detector protection is required on all floors (at least one per floor), inside all bedrooms, and in the hallways outside of bedrooms. These smoke detectors are interconnected, so that if one goes off, they all go off. This is done so that no matter where a fire starts, all occupants are alerted, whether sleeping or awake. Additionally, a combination smoke/carbon monoxide detector is installed in the basement, and is also interconnected with the smoke alarms, warning all floors if smoke or carbon monoxide is present. Testing of these devices should be done regularly, and any units with battery backup should have the batteries serviced regularly. Beyond these items, much of maintaining your electrical system is just being observant and proactive in addressing any abnormalities that come to light. For example, do switches make popping or sizzling noises when used? Do you see arching when a switch or outlet is used? Are devices or plates discolored? Are they hot to the touch? All of these things could be early warning signs of larger issues starting to manifest themselves, and an electrician should be contacted immediately.
How do I know that it's time to upgrade my panels?
Panel upgrades are necessary when you run out of breaker spaces in your current panel or you anticipate that the electrical needs of your home or business are going to increase because of additions to the building, or because additional appliances or equipment are going to be added which would increase the draw on your system. Sometimes consolidating circuits is all that needs to be done to free up breaker spaces, but more often than not, service upgrades are the best option. You also need to take into account the brand of your current breaker panel. There are active recalls on certain brands of breaker panels installed in the 1950s through the 1980s because the mechanisms in the breakers are faulty and don't provide protection and can lead to fires. Federal Pacific brand panels are among the worst and should be replaced immediately if you have them in your home. Zander Electrical Services is very familiar with this brand and on many occasions have given homeowners peace of mind by upgrading these faulty panels with modern ones that actually work. Again, just as with the rest of your electrical system, be observant. If you notice your breaker panels making humming noises, any discoloration, smokey smells, excess rust, etc; these are all things that could be symptoms preceding larger more serious issues if left unresolved. Please, call an electrician if any of these symptoms are noticed.