Electrical FAQ - Berlin
These are the most common electrical questions asked by our clients in the Berlin area. Contact us today at (978) 838-2457 so that we can discuss your electrical needs, since each electrical configuration and design is different we will study your case and provide an array of options.
When is it time to call an electrician?
- 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 behind your electronics center
- When you have receptacle outlets overburdened by multi-plug strips
- When a three-prong plug needs a two-prong adapter
- When you have to run extension cords to plug in electrical
What size service do I install in my home?
The National Electrical Code calls for 100 amps minimum for a home. In many cases, 100 amps is sufficient, depending on the owners plans for expansion and increased use of electricity. Unlike most electricians who nearly always recommend upgrading electrical services to 200 amps, I suggest you call Paul Keleher Electrical Services and ask to have your service capacity evaluated. You may not need a larger service, just because you have run out of spaces to add more breakers!
Will My Circuit Breakers Trip safely if there is a Problem in My Wiring?
Your circuit breakers are your home's only protection from an electrical fire if a problem develops in your wiring. For that reason, and especially if your home is more than 10 years old, it is an important safety issue that your circuit breakers operate safely in the event of a fault in your wiring.
Electrical Faults do happen; thousands of people die every year across the US in electrical fires. Paul Keleher Electrical Services can for a nominal service charge, using its own patented technology test the fault response of all of your 120V circuit breakers and deliver you a report on their performance. Call Paul Keleher Electrical Services today and ask to have your circuit breakers tested! Enjoy the peace of mind that comes with knowing you've had your circuit breakers tested.
What is a "GFCI", and where do you put them?
Any bathroom or garage outlet within 6' of a sink must be GFCI protected. The code also requires all kitchen outlets for countertop use to be GFCI protected. 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.
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.
The GFCI outlet is actually a replacement for a standard electrical outlet. A GFCI is not dependent of a ground to function. It does not measure shorts to the ground, it measures the current difference between the hot and neutral wires. A sudden difference of 5 ma. or more, indicating that there is another path for the electricity to flow through will trip this device. The only downside to this is there may be some nuisance tripping in highly inductive loads like large motors or even fluorescent lamps or fixtures on the same circuit. But the newer models seemed to have corrected this somewhat.
It protects any appliance plugged into it, and can also be wired to protect other outlets that are connected to it. The GFCI circuit breaker controls an entire circuit, and is installed as a replacement for a circuit breaker on your home's main circuit board. Rather than install multiple GFCI outlets, one GFCI circuit breaker can protect the entire circuit. There is a test button and a reset button on these units. If you press the test button the reset should pop out. To reset just push the reset button in.
Not a good idea to put lights on GFCI. protected circuits so you aren't left in the dark if the circuit trips. Generally, equipment such as refrigerators, freezers and sump pumps that cannot go without electrical power for an extended period of time without causing costly losses or property damage should not be placed on a GFCI. protected circuit. GFCIs are very sensitive and are subject to nuisance tripping. GFCI receptacles don't last outdoors even under the best of conditions. Be sure to test the device using the "test" button before you use one.
What is an "AFCI", an Arc-Fault Circuit Interrupter? And where are they used?
An AFCI is a conventional circuit breaker with a micro-chip added to it that monitors the circuit it protects 24-7, looking for potentially dangerous arcs. If it detects a sustained arc that it does not recognize as safe, it will trip, cutting off power to the circuit, and stopping the potentially dangerous arc from occurring. These relatively new circuit breakers are required by the NEC on all 120V outlets that are not GFCI protected.
Starting January 1, 2011, The National Electrical Code, Section 210-12, requires that all branch circuits supplying 125V, single phase, 15 and 20 ampere outlets installed in many rooms throughout a home or area of an existing home being renovated, be protected by an arc-fault Circuit interrupter.
The AFCI (Arc Fault Circuit Interrupter) breaker, will shut off a circuit in a fraction of a second if arcing develops. The current inside of an arc is not always high enough to trip a regular breaker. You must have noticed a cut or worn piece of a cord or a loose connection in a junction box or receptacle arcing and burnt without tripping the regular breaker. As you can guess this is a major cause of fires in a dwelling.
There is a difference between AFCIs and GFCIs. AFCIs are intended to reduce the likelihood of fire caused by electrical arcing faults; whereas, GFCIs are personnel protection intended to reduce the likelihood of electric shock hazard.
AFCIs can be installed in any 15 or 20 ampere branch circuit in homes today and are currently available as circuit breakers with built-in AFCI features. Paul Keleher Electrical Services recognizes the particular value of AFCI protection in older homes with older wiring methods still in use. Paul Keleher recommends and has installed many AFCI breakers on the oldest, most vulnerable circuits in homes, where they are needed most! In the near future, receptacles with AFCI protection will be available.
If a GFCI receptacle is installed on the load side of an AFCI it is possible for both the AFCI and the GFCI to trip on a fault if the current exceeds the limit for both devices. It is also possible for the AFCI to trip and the GFCI to not trip since the two devices could race each other. Despite the potential for nuisance tripping, in neither case is safety compromised.
It's important to remember than AFCI is only an improvement over a standard circuit breaker if a dangerous arc is present. Short-circuits and ground-faults can damage wiring and even start fires with NO ARC. So they are NOT A SUBSTITUTE for a standard circuit breaker.
HAVE YOUR CIRCUIT BREAKERS TESTED TODAY!
How much should I attempt on my own?
At the present time most states allow you to do whatever you want in your own home. But doing electrical work yourself is a gamble. How much are you willing to risk to save money? There is a reason why it takes so much training to become an electrician. Do not 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.
In Massachusetts a homeowner can pull his/her own Electrical Permit for work in his or her single family home. But what he does not know is that in case of damage or fire caused by his work, homeowners insurance often will not pay a claim unless the work that caused the claim was 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 you are thinking of doing your own electrical work.
How many convenience outlets in each room?
In every kitchen, family room, dining room, living room, parlor, library, den, bedroom, or similar room or area of dwelling units, receptacle outlets shall be installed so that no point along the floor line in any wall space there is more than six feet, from an outlet in that space. This is to prevent the use of extension cords. Outlets are usually placed about 18 inches above floor level. Switches usually go about 48 inches from floor level. For convenience outlets each single receptacle in a single branch circuit is usually figured for 1.5 amps, duplex outlets for 3 amps in estimating total amperage for that circuit. Air conditioners should be on a single dedicated circuit.
How should outlets be installed in a kitchen area?
All 15 and 20 receptacles installed within 6 feet of a kitchen sink or wetbar shall have G.F.C.I. 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. There shall be no more than 24 inches from center line of counter top. No receptacle shall be installed face up on a sink counter top.