With the economy still in recovery mode from 2008, 2011 will more then likely continue to be a year of saving time and money for most of us, for that reason, I would like to share some simple but often overlooked things one should do before calling your electrician.
Maybe this morning while blow-drying your hair the power in the bathroom suddenly went out. Naturally the first thing to check is whether the power is out throughout the house or is it only out in certain areas such as the bathroom. If the outage seems to be affecting only one circuit, the next thing to check is the ground fault circuit interrupter (GFCI).
The National Electrical Code requires GFCI protection for the following receptacles, bathroom, kitchen, garage, basements, crawl spaces and any outdoor receptacles. GFCI's monitor the flow of electrical current and is designed to sense any loss of current, and when detected immediately interrupts the electricity to that circuit. In doing so stops the risk of electrocution.
Usually the outlet itself is a GFCI receptacle however, a GFCI receptacle maybe installed anywhere on the branch circuit. Occasionally you may find your GFCI receptacle will be in your garage, carport or hidden in a cupboard in your garage. In addition, your electrical panel may contain a GFCI breaker.
Once the GFCI has been located pushing the reset button should restore power if the GFCI was the reason for the power failure.
It is also possible the breaker in the main electrical panel has tripped. A breaker is designed to trip when a circuit is overloaded. If the hairdryer and another appliance are running on the same circuit it may be a good deduction that the breaker is just doing its job and resetting the breaker, and running the hairdryer on a different circuit should take care of the power outage. However, if the breaker continues to trip, a qualified electrician should investigate the problem causing the breaker to trip such as, a short circuit, or ground fault.
A final tip regarding resetting a tripped breaker, most people are unaware that when a breaker trips the breaker switch will be resting in-between the on and off position, and must be manually switched to the off position completely and then pushed back to the on position to reset the tripped breaker. Finally, when checking or resetting a breaker in the panel, remember the entire panel is grounded, so use one hand only placing your other hand either in your pocket or behind your back to avoid electrical current flowing through one hand through your heart and out the other hand.