​Electrical FAQs

​Your Questions Answered

​We’ve put together some commonly asked questions to give you information about ​various electrical FAQs or situations and ​how to handle them. Simply click on the question to reveal the answer. ​And if you still have a question that you can’t find the answer to, please use the ​Ask An Expert page.

When do I need emergency electrical services?

It can be hard to decide when a standard service will do and when an electrical problem becomes an emergency. Honestly speaking, however, we would genuinely call any situation where you feel at risk or unsafe an absolute emergency!

Emergency services become necessary if you smell odd or melting plastic odors from appliances, wiring, or outlets OR see sparking or smoke coming from outlets OR discoloration or blackening around outlets or along walls OR there is a buzzing sound coming from any electrical access point in your home, from the breaker panel, or from any appliance.

​How much electrical work should I attempt on my own?

Although most states allow you to do whatever you want in your own home, doing electrical work yourself is dangerous and could result in costly repairs as well as making more problems within your home’s system. How much are you willing to risk to save money?

There is a reason why it takes so much training to become an electrician. Don’t make a mistake by taking electricity lightly, even the smallest job could be a safety hazard. Why take a chance. Get a professional to do this work. Also, in some states, although the homeowner can pull his own Electrical Permit for work in his single family home, what he does not know is that in case of damage or fire caused by his work, his homeowners insurance will not pay, they will only pay if the work is done by a licensed Electrical Contractor. You should check with your homeowners Insurance Co., and they should sign a document or something to this effect to acknowledge this when you pull a permit. It is dangerous to tell yourself it’s easy, I can do it myself. Why should I get an electrician? Because when you don’t remember where all those wires went or your hair is standing straight up, you say to yourself, “Well maybe we better call someone to straighten up this mess.”

Now it will cost you double what you thought you were going to save in the beginning.

When is it time to call an electrician?

Typically, when you are resetting circuit breakers or changing fuses too often. When you turn on your air conditioner and the lights dim in the room. When your lights flicker or go on and off. When you can smell electricity burning. When you have six electronic devices going into one outlet in back of your electronics center. When you have receptacle outlets overburdened by multi-plug strips. When a three-prong plug needs a two-prong adapter. If you have to run extension cords to plug in electrical devices.

Can you tell me exactly how much an electrical job will cost me?​

We have found that our customers prefer an accurate price based on their exact electrical issue. Most phone quotes are subject to change once the technician sees the job. We don’t think that is fair to you. By allowing us to diagnose the problem in person, you will know exactly what it will cost to get the job done before we begin work. Contact Equity Electric today for a quote on all of your electrical repair needs.

​How long do electrical repairs take?

Most electrical repairs can be fixed in a single day. However, repairs requiring us to file paperwork or work within other constraints – getting permit approval, state inspections, etc. – may take longer than a regular break-fix. At Equity Electric, we offer superior, expedited service and will always resolve your electrical issue as quickly and safely as possible.

What is the difference between a breaker panel and my old fuse panel?

Both devices, either breaker or fuse, are designed to trip (turn off) in the event of an electrical overload, i.e. 20amps of electrical load on a 15amp circuit would cause a trip. The only difference is that a breaker is mechanical and may be reset, whereas, a fuse is one time only and must be replaced.

Please Note: Modern breakers are much more efficient and offer greater levels of protection.

How much does it cost to change my fuse panel?

Equity Electric provides you with a free quote to complete the work. We must look at each panel location to provide this quote as there are many variables that must be taken into account. Things like panel location, electrical system flexibility, feeder cable length, and, most importantly, the decision to repair or completely replace the panel are important pieces of information we must find out before we begin a job. To provide an accurate quote without this information is impossible.

​How do I reset a tripped circuit?

If you tripped a circuit, first locate your breaker panel (usually found in a garage, basement, closet, or hallway). Find the panel, open it, and identify the tripped breaker by looking for the breaker that is neither in the “on” or “off” position. It may be orange or red in color to quickly find it. Once the tripped breaker is located, push the switch to the “off” position and then back to the “on” position. Your breaker should now be aligned with the rest of the breakers on your circuit panel and should be working.

Some breakers will look like they are not tripped, but could be in the neutral stage, which still does not allow them to function as if they were completely on. A way to help determine this, is to turn every breaker completely off and then on.

Why does my circuit always trip?

If you find a specific circuit continues to trip over and over, you may have too many electrical items or devices running on the same circuit, or a faulty short. If your circuit breaker does not reset, give us a call to prevent further damage.

There is a humming noise coming from my panel. What does this mean?

This could be the result of a defective breaker. Replacement should be immediate as this defective breaker could cause serious harm to electrical components.

Why is a breaker in my panel hot to touch?

​This overheating is a serious defect and could cause arcing in the breaker. It should be immediately replaced.

What is a GFCI Receptacle?

A Ground Fault Circuit Interrupter (GFCI) is a receptacle that is designed to protect against electric shock when using electrical devices near water. It senses when power is going where it should not, and if it senses a problem it shuts off. This is why most codes specify that they be used in bathrooms, kitchens, laundry rooms and outdoor areas.

One thing many people do not realize is that these devices are designed to be tested once a month to ensure proper operation. This is done by pressing the test button on the device to make sure it turns off, and then pressing the reset button to make sure it turns on. If either of the test or reset buttons do not work it is time to replace the device.

How can I save energy in my home?

​The quickest and easiest way to save energy in any home is by making sure your lighting system is as efficient as possible. There are many options available to make your lighting more efficient, from retrofitting existing fixtures, to replacing old fixtures with new energy efficient solutions. Equity Electric can give you the right information and work with you of getting all the incentives available in your area to improve your lighting.

How can I lower my electric bill?

​When it comes to saving money on your monthly electric bill, taking small steps (like only operating a minimal amount of lights in the room you’re in) can go a long way towards lower utility bills. Also be sure to turn off any TVs or electrical devices when not in use. Additionally, your HVAC system and water heater account for the bulk of your electrical expenditures. Therefore, making sure your furnace, central air conditioning unit, and water heater are in good working condition can have a significant impact on lowering energy costs. Try setting your thermostat a little bit higher than normal (in the summer) and lower (in the winter) or taking faster showers.

What should I do if I lose power?

​If the lights are out in your neighborhood, alert your power company and use safe methods of lighting, such as flashlights, while your utility company corrects the problem. Keep your refrigerator and freezer closed as much as possible to prevent food from spoiling in the event of a prolonged outage.

If your home is the only one on your block without power, call Equity Electric! We’ll send out one of our electricians to diagnose and repair your problem as safely and quickly as possible.

How can I prevent electrical fires?

​Preventing an electrical fire should be a concern for all homeowners. Upgrading your electrical equipment or having a licensed electrician inspect your home can help identify and locate potentially hazardous or faulty electrical equipment to prevent an electrical fire in the future. Using surge protectors in areas where there are not enough outlets can also provide some protection against electrical fires.

Why are my lights flickering?

If you find your lights begin to flicker – particularly when a major appliance turns on or off (heating or air conditioning system, washer and dryer, etc.) – chances are the wiring in your home is old and needs to be replaced. Old, out-of-date wiring simply wasn’t designed to handle the electrical capacity of today’s more modern technology, and if left unfixed, could result in an electrical fire.

Call Equity Electric for a free, no-obligation estimate on an electrical upgrade.

​Why does my smoke detector keep chirping?

If the chirps are infrequent, it means you have a faulty smoke detector and if they are consistent, it means the smoke detector battery is low and should be replaced.

Where is the safest place to use a generator?

​Home standby generators are a great source of backup power during storms or prolonged electrical outages. You should never operate a generator inside your home or in a garage. Contact us or give us a call for a free generator installation estimate!

Do I need an electrical code inspection?

While code corrections aren’t exactly an annual service per se, the majority of homes we service do in fact need some code corrections. This is especially true for older homes that aren’t quite up to date with the current Code requirements, but even modern homes often could use some corrections here and there to address aging wiring, faulty panels, and weak or broken electrical connections. It’s wise to seek code corrections any time you:

  • Move into a new home
  • Haven’t had an inspection in 5-10 years
  • Are living in an older home
  • Are planning on a renovation or home addition

What is a surge protector and should I get one?

A surge protector helps to protect your electrical devices from a power surge. Surge protectors are used for electronic devices such as computers and entertainment systems. If you appreciate your electronic devices and want them to perform efficiently without having to worry about replacing them, you may want to consider protecting your devices with a surge protector.

​What is Whole Home Surge Protection and is it necessary in my home?

Surges are created by lightning or from the local power station. Sometimes, a surge of electricity can flood out to the residents from the power station.

Whole Home Surge Protection provides protection to all the electrical equipment in your home from surges and spikes that can be created outside or even inside your home. It acts just like the high quality power bars we often buy for our entertainment systems or our computer systems, but instead it protects all the devices in your home. This means it protects the electronic components of refrigerators, freezers, washers, dryer dishwashers, coffee makers and anything else that wouldn’t traditionally have protection.

We recommend whole home surge protectors be installed in all homes to protect all the electronics.

​How can I tell when an electrical outlet is not safe?

The plug falls out of the outlet without touching it, or the outlet is not secure and will move easily when touching it. When the outlet is warm or hot to the touch, you need to immediately take care of the issue by unplugging the device and calling Equity Electric as this type of problem can result in a fire.

Can I plug a new refrigerator in anywhere?

​Equity Electric suggests a dedicated circuit for refrigerators. TheyModern refrigerators have an extensive amp draw. They should not be GFCI protected like a lot of receptacles found in kitchens and garages. A dedicated circuit will protect your freezer or fridge from being tripped and destroying anything inside.

Can I change an existing switch to a dimmer switch?

​Yes. We will match the specific dimmer to the lights in your home. There are different bulbs required for specific dimmers. Such bulbs include incandescent, CFLs and LEDs.

Does my house need to be re-wired?

We recommend a whole house safety inspection to understand the current status of the wiring. Some wiring that is considered a major hazard is:

  1. Knob and tube wiring
  2. BX wiring, and
  3. An ungrounded system

These compose hazards on your home and if in poor condition, a re-wire should be considered.

How long will it take to complete a re-wire and will I need to move out during the process?

​Most homes can be completed within one week. Larger homes can take up to two weeks. You will not need to move out of the home during the process.

​We Do It All

Whether you’re building a New Home​, Remodeling & Upgrading or need Service & Repairs, we can help!

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