What Are Ground Fault Circuit GFCI Receptacles?

Hundreds of deaths occur each year due to electrocutions in or around the home. Over two thirds of these deaths and thousands of electrical shocks can be prevented if a ground fault circuit interpreter is installed properly in the homes branch circuits. However many people do not know what a ground fault circuit interpreter or “GFCI” is or if it is installed in their homes.

Invented by Charles Dalziel in 1961, the GFCI is an inexpensive device that monitors electricity flow within the circuits. If there is a loss of current the device shuts off that circuit instantly to avoid a fatal dose of electricity. The national electric code requires them in all new kitchens and bathrooms as well as unfinished basements, crawl spaces and many outdoor areas. If you live near Atlanta, for instance, and are unsure if your home is up to code, it is prudent to contact an Atlanta electrical contractor. Wherever you live, it's best to be sure.

There are three common types of ground fault circuit interpreters used in the home.

GFCI Receptacle:

GFCI receptacle: The most common type used since the early 1970's. These are types that look like a wall outlet. With areas on either side allowing the user to plug things into the wall and a two buttons in the middle that usually reads “test” and “reset”. When pressing the “test” button the GFCI should trip and turn off the power to anything plugged in. If this does not happen, the device is faulty or improperly installed and Atlanta-area homeowners should contact an Atlanta electrical contractor as soon as possible.

GFCI Portable:

These devices resemble an extension cord. They plug into a wall outlet and allow users to plug items into them while the device is encased for weather protection. These are used mainly in outdoor areas where the receptacle type use is impractical.

GFCI Circuit Breakers:

These devices are installed into a panel box allowing for the GFCI to dual function. The device will protect the selected circuits from “ground fault” but will also shut down the circuit in the event of an overload or a short.

It is never wise for a homeowner inexperienced in electrical work to attempt to install a GFCI alone. Contacting an electrical contractor should precede any “do it yourself” projects around the home as there is a serious risk of injury and fatality for a simple error. In Georgia, an Atlanta electrician will be able to asses the electrical system in the home and provide a good deal of information on options and local codes.

Eliminate Extension Cords With Adequate Receptacle Outlets

Extension cords are a common sight in today's technologically rich and gadget friendly society. They can be extremely convenient, due to their ability to provide electrical power to areas that do not have receptacle outlets nearby. In fact, many older or historical homes may have only one or two electrical outlets per room. This is a very impractical situation, especially in places that require large amounts of electricity, such as a kitchen. In an attempt to compensate, many homeowners opt to use extension cords to supply power to places that are hard to reach through other methods. However, caution should be used and if possible, the use of extension cords should be avoided altogether. According to statistics from the US Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC), there are about 4,000 extension cord related accidents per year that required emergency room care. An estimated 13 percent of these cases involved children less than five years of age (1). Contrary to popular belief, extension cords are not intended for long-term usage. Extension cords are often snaked under rugs or carpeting, which can be a fire hazard. Additionally, they can result in electrical burns, or present a tripping hazard for people who are occupying the room. The safer alternative for those in Georgia, for instance, would be to contact an Atlanta electrician to discuss options of increasing the number of receptacle outlets within a home or room. Eliminating extension cords within a home is particularly important for anyone who has pets or young children. Extension cords can cause serious damage if they are chewed on or played with. Accidents can happen even under carefully supervised conditions. Therefore, the long-term benefits of increasing the number of electrical outlets will far outweigh any initial costs involved in the installation process.

Advantages of Contacting An Electrician For Assistance With Receptacle Outlets
At first, it may seem tempting to try and install additional outlets without the help of an electrician. However, it is not only more cost-effective, but also more efficient to call upon Atlanta electricians to survey the situation and recommend the best solution. They can use their expertise to create an end result that is both user-friendly and reasonably priced. Electricians often visit the home before starting the project so that they can provide a price estimate and answer any questions or concerns. Usually, they will provide status updates to the customer so that there is full disclosure of when the task will be completed. The choice to install additional receptacle outlets within a home is a decision that is smart, convenient, and easy to act upon with help from your local electrician.

[1] sixwise.com/newsletters/05/01/11/extension-cords-far-more-dangerous-than-many-realize-three-important-reasons-to-check-your-cords-004.htm

My Breaker Keeps Tripping! Should I Use a Larger Size Without Risking a Fire?

You are having a quiet evening at home watching television, cruising the internet, or perhaps simply reading a book. Suddenly, the power goes out and you think to yourself “not again!” as you fumble in the darkness for the flashlight. Your breaker keeps tripping, you are wondering if you should hire an electrician to install a larger size and if you are at risk of starting a fire either way.

First, the reason circuit breakers trip should be addressed. The most likely reason you are having this problem is because you have an overloaded circuit. This simply means you have too many things drawing too much power through that one circuit at the same time. A more serious, though less likely possibility is that you have a short circuit. This is caused by a broken wire or by two exposed wires (which means the insulation is missing) touching. The least likely (yet still possible) option is a ground fault. A ground fault is similar to a short circuit, except that in this instance the exposed wire is in contact with the side of the metal box or the ground wire its self.

A professional electrician should be consulted to determine the exact reason your circuit breaker keeps tripping. In any city it should be relatively easy to contact an electrical contractor (Atlanta seems to be particularly good for this.)

If it turns out that you have an overloaded circuit and it is a common occurrence, you are regularly running too much electricity through your circuit breaker on a regular basis. This is extremely dangerous and you risk starting an electrical fire in your home or business each and every time you flick on the light switch or turn on the television through that too-small circuit. It is highly recommended that you install a larger breaker and should seek immediate help from an electrical contractor. Atlanta is host to dozens of such fires each year from people who did not take this risk seriously.

If it turns out that the problem is a short circuit or a ground fault, the larger circuit size will not assist the situation. You are not, however, out of the woods. In the case of the short circuit, you have live electricity running through exposed wires, which is a serious fire hazard that gets more dangerous the longer you wait to hire an electrician to fix it. In the case of a ground fault a fire is a less likely possibility, but unless you enjoy the way your breaker keeps tripping you should call a professional to remedy the situation immediately.

Why Does My Circuit Breaker Trip When My Space Heater Is In Use?

As colder weather approaches, some people are using space heaters to help ensure that their house is heated adequately through the winter months. However, those who use space heaters frequently may run into a problem in which they notice that the space heater causes a circuit breaker trip. Although this occurrence can provide a lot of confusion to people who don't have a clear understanding of their building's electrical system, in reality it is a safety feature designed for fire prevention. There are a few simple steps that can be taken to eliminate this issue, allowing for trouble-free space heater usage.

Breaker Functionality and Safety

Space heating units use more electricity than the average appliance, since they use resistance to generate heat. Breaker tripping is designed to prevent electrical shorts, which can happen if too many things are plugged into one electrical outlet or on a single circuit.

Initial Steps To Prevent A Heater From Causing A Circuit Breaker Trip

Check the documentation included with your heater to determine the amount of wattage needed while the space heater is operational. Then, compare that number with the maximum wattage that your breaker and any applicable fuses can bear.

The majority of space heating units on the market use 1,500 watts of electricity, and generate 5,000 BTU's per hour. Keep in mind that units using 1,500 watts or more will need to be on a dedicated circuit. Homes often have 15 or 20 amp outlets, but the energy needs of a space heater are usually much greater than that. Furthermore, circuits are often the same throughout several rooms in a house. Add the energy requirements of a space heater to all the other electrically powered devices within a room and you'll frequently find a circuit that is very close to becoming overloaded. This consequently causes the breaker to trip.

Reasons To Seek Professional Advice

For those who want to resolve circuit trip incidences quickly, the best course of action is to hire a professional to offer personalized advice. For those in Atlanta, for instance, Atlanta electricians can review your current electrical configurations and make any necessary alterations in a way that is easy on the budget and an effective solution to your home heating needs. Your Atlanta electrician will provide service that prevents you from having to deal with a constantly tripping situation, enabling you to prepare for the winter months in comfort and safety.

Is Your Electrical System Grounded Properly?

It is very important to determine if your house is properly grounded because it will lessen the occurrence of power surges. When power surges do happen, they can sometimes cause fires, or even electricity-related deaths. In the event of a break or interruption in the circuit, your house's ground wire acts as the shortest path back to earth. Electricity will naturally flow to the ground, through any substance that conducts electric current. If an appliance has a shorted wire, the electricity may try to find another path to reach the ground. It is important to keep your electrical system grounded correctly so that the electrical current will stay safely confined within the appliance and not cause personal harm. An Atlanta electrician can help you determine if your home is properly grounded and recommend any necessary steps of action.

Determining If Your Electrical System Is Grounded Properly

Electricians will use a tool called a circuit tester to determine your home's current grounding state. In most modern electrical systems, the U-shaped slot of standard electrical receptacles is representative of the ground wire. Once the circuit tester is properly connected, it should become illuminated to indicate if the outlet is grounded.

Special Considerations For Older Homes

Many residents of older homes may discover that their house is not grounded at all. Often the electrical outlets in these locations are not the standard three-prong type, which means that the outlet is not grounded. In this case, it is not safe to use electrical outlets until the issue is resolved by replacing the receptacles to the three-prong variety that is standard in modern homes.

Relying On An Electrician To Keep Your Electrical System Grounded Correctly

Got grounding problems? You should call a local electrician. If you're in Atlanta, consider calling someone specialized in your area. Atlanta electricians should be contacted to take the necessary measures to fix the problem and provide advice. They can also ensure that the overall electrical system is up to code in your home. This will prevent long-term problems while ensuring the safety of residents and visitors. It is important to have the peace of mind that comes from keeping your electrical system grounded correctly, even if you move to another residence. Renting? It is always a good idea to ask your landlord for confirmation of grounding, and if in doubt, ask your electrician to investigate the matter to a satisfactory degree. The matter of a properly grounded home is too important to sacrifice, but luckily it can be resolved quickly at a reasonable price by a qualified electrician.

Why Your House Should Have Surge Protection

Sure, you've heard lots of people talk big talk about having surge protection for their house, but is it right for you? Is it really worth your while to invest in surge protection at this time or in your current location? While you're at it, ponder these two questions; 1) Do you own any appliances that you'd like to make sure stay in working order? 2) Do you want to keep anything you have stored on your computer? If you answered yes to either of these questions, surge protection just might be the solution for you.

Wherever you live, there are risks to your electronic devices that are universal from Vancouver to Atlanta. Electricians learn on day one that most homes run on a voltage of 120 volts. If the voltage rises much beyond that, even for an instant, any device you have plugged in will be instantly “fried”. Damaged well beyond any hope of repair. A number of different things can cause such a surge, but the most common one is a lightning strike (10,000 volts at the low end) near a power line. Though your home will not feel all ten thousand of those volts, it is still more than enough to ruin everything you happen to have plugged in at the time. You will be glad you made the simple purchase of surge protection as you watch the neighbors throwing out their brand new flatscreen the next day.

Did you know that power spikes are a common occurrence? In fact your home experiences several of them a day. Of course the daily ones are not nearly as strong as a lightning strike, but they can still be hazardous to some of your electronics. These days many devices in the average home contain sensitive parts like micro chips which require a constant low level supply of electricity to run properly. It takes considerably less of a spike to burn out one of these small, delicate parts than it does to burn out your toaster in the above example. A particularly noteworthy example of a function performed by one of these delicate parts would be your computer's memory. That's right, if you are hit by the wrong spike at the wrong time (and it could happen at any time) you could loose everything you have stored in your home computer unless you have surge protection.

Again, Vancouver to Atlanta, electrical contractors get calls all the time about computers that have suddenly gone blank. Sadly, the only real solution is prevention, and each of those calls could have been avoided with basic surge protection.

Electrical Contractor Duties and Responsibilities

An electrical contractor is a professional who install, repairs, maintains and services equipment and other electrical installations. These installations need not be of his making or may not be previously installed by the electrician. In spite of this, many of these professionals may decline work due to the fact that they are not familiar with the installation if it were installed by another electrician.

Educational Attainment

The electrical contractor may have finished a post-secondary education in electrical engineering. This means that they have actually passed college with this as their major. There are also some electricians who may not have attained a college education but have finished high school and continued on to courses which are related to electrical studies.

The difference between the two is that the individual who have gone through electrical engineering is more likely to be able to handle bigger projects since he is sure to have graduated from a reputable school and is sure to have studied the principles and the dynamics concerning the course .

This is not to say that those who did not undergo the college course are not as skilled but they will have a difficult time being qualified and certified without a degree. There are also short term courses that can help individual who wish to be an electrical contractor achieve this. These courses usually last about two years and the graduates can be certified with a different diploma from the electrical engineer but can also work similarly as them with certain restrictions.

Duties and Responsibilities

The duties and responsibilities of the electrician may vary depending on the contact that is brought up between him and the client. The electrical contractor may have work centered on construction sites such as the erection and installation of electrical devices and wirings which are needed to service the structure once it is finished. The estimation of the cost of both the materials d the labor falls on him and so with the purchase of the materials for each project, depending on the contract.

The safety of the project is also another priority that the electrical contractor should have. He has to ensure that his instructions as per the safety of the site and, more specifically, his area, are followed to avoid any untoward accidents. The coordination with other contractors who are responsible for other fields of the construction is also another thing that he should look out for. The timing of the construction and the melding of the different fields, such as the plumbing and the electrical ones should be coordinated well.

The hiring of other subordinates to help with the construction project is also included in the responsibilities of the electrician. The welfare of the one she has hired is also one of his lookouts. Progress reports which are usually given to the client to keep him up to date with the construction progress may be requested by the client from the electrician.

5 Signs You’ve Found a Great Electrical Contractor

It's more likely a fan stops working in the heat of summer, or the only outlet available for your microwave fizzles out right before dinnertime. When people have electrical problems, they want them fixed as soon as possible so they can get back to their everyday lives. In Atlanta, for instance, there's a good chance they call every Atlanta electrician in phone book until somebody gives them a price and time they like, considering little else in the equation. The other questions they should be asking often don't come up until after the work is done. With all the options out there, though, how do you know you have found the right one? What really makes a great electrical contractor?

  • A great electrician will get as much information as possible when you first talk to him. He'll find out where you are, what your situation is, and when you need him. Perhaps most importantly, he'll ask you questions to help construct the rest of the situation. An experienced electrician will have seen and experienced a wealth of different electrical problems and will know important signs of certain issues. Be wary of an electrician who seems to jump to conclusions quickly or won't answer questions directly.
  • A great electrical contractor tends to carry a great reputation. Look him or his company up online where you can find reviews. Talk to friends and relatives. Who do they recommend? Have they had any experience with the person or company you're dealing with? What were their experiences? You may not always be able to find reviews easily, but when you do find excellent reviews, it's a good sign you've found a keeper.
  • Great electricians work efficiently. You won't see them sitting around, moving slowly, or being lackadaisical. If you ask him a question, he should usually be able to tell you exactly what he's doing and why he's doing it. The process of performing the repair should be steady and progressive.
  • A great electrician respects your wallet. He won't do anything to waste your time or his own and will work hard to do whatever he can within your budget. Any electrical contractor in Atlanta can tell you that you've got a problem, but the best will find a way to make things better within the constraints of your budget.
  • Finally, a great electrical contractor will leave you with a good understanding of what the problem was and how to avoid it in the future. He understands that, although doing okay work increases the likelihood of more work in the future, a good reputation works out much better for him in the long run. You should feel as though you are in a better position than when you started, after dealing with a great electrical contractor.

5 Essential Skills of an Electrician

Few things are as off-putting as having a contractor come back to complete work he already done once. You also want someone who will communicate well with you to get the problem solved efficiently an effectively. Find a local expert with a great competition. When searching for an electrical contractor in Atlanta, you have a multitude of options. How do you know which is the right one? Here are five things any good electrician will be able to provide you.

The first and most important qualification for any electrician is that he is licensed to do the type of electrical work you need. In Atlanta, electricians must be licensed with the state of Georgia. There are three types of licenses. Low voltage contractors work on things like telephone and alarm systems. Class I contractors work only on systems of 200 amps or less, and Class II contractors are unrestricted. Make sure your electrician has the qualifications and skills to do the work you need done.

Second, the electrician should be prompt in arriving. This does mean to get rid of him if he's a bit late. Things happen, from traffic to previous customers being slow to sign off on completed work. What you should expect, however, is good communication in the case of a delay. You should never have to accept wondering when your electrician is going to arrive.

Thirdly, an electrician should be able to find your problem quickly. While it may be far-fetched to expect him to diagnose the problem over the phone, he should be able to get a pretty good idea of ​​where to start working with some on-site testing. The work itself may take a while to complete, depending on the issue, but you shouldn't have to wait around for him to get started.

Fourth, your electrician should be budget conscious. He may not be the cheapest electrical contractor in Atlanta, but he will give you a quote that you can use. He also won't start any work that would put you over the quote without talking to you first. Work will not begin until the electrician and the client have a good understanding of what needs to be done. If something is discovered during the repair process, the electrician will proceed only after discussing it with the client.

Finally, the electrician will have a reputation for good work. You may be able to find reviews in your phone book or online. If your electrician has questionable reviews, you may need to proceed with caution. If, on the other hand, he has a quality reputation, then you will have a good idea of ​​how he handles his business.

Dangers of DIY Electrical Work

For homeowners who want to save money, there is a lot of appeal to the do-it-yourself route. Doing home modification or improvement onyour own can give you results at minimal expense and generate a sense of pride. For those with the skills and the ability, doing home improvement yourself makes a lot of sense. If you have the tools, time, and ability, it makes sense to install tiles, paint, or refinish parts of the house. This does not always apply to DIY electrical work, however, as the risks of a bad job are far more dangerous.

Harder Than It Seems

Many do-it-yourselfers make the mistaken assumption that doing electrical work in their home is just like anything else. They may have a big set of tools, and some might even be designed for electrical purposes. Some people who live on the outskirts of a big city like Atlanta, for instance, may not want to call an Atlanta electrical contractor and choose to do DIY electrical work instead. What they usually are not prepared for are the possible dangers in doing electrical work. A common assumption is that they can just take something like a light switch or wall socket apart, and as long as they put it back the way they remembered it there will be no problems. It works in theory, but not so much in practice.

When electrical work isn't done properly, a number of problems can occur. The power should always be shut off before any electrical work is done. Even so, many do-it-yourselfers hurt or kill themselves through electrical shock. Without proper qualifications, it's easy to make a mistake with wiring, and one misplaced wiring can be catastrophic. It's crucially important for the safety of the house that all the wiring be stable and secure. Hundreds of houses experience electrical fires each year. A quick electrical fix could turn into a dangerous problem down the line, even if everything seems fine now. A professional electrician has the knowledge and ability to prevent such problems.

The bottom line is that DIY electrical work just isn't worth it most of the time. The risks are far too great. Yes, you may be able to save a few bucks if you do the work successfully. If you're a bit off, you could seriously hurt or even kill yourself in the process. Unless it's a very small job in Atlanta, you would be better off hiring an Atlanta electrician (or electrician in your own city) to do the work for you. You'll feel more secure once the work is done, knowing you won't have any surprises later.