Frequently Asked Questions About Electrical Wiring and Lighting
My house has aluminum wiring. Do I need to rewire the whole house? No, there are several UL listed ways to repair or re-terminate aluminum wiring. There is the Copalum crimp method, the purple wire nut method and the Alumiconn mechanical method. All vary in price however all are UL listed applications, as well as NEC approved. This type of work should only be done by a certified electrical contractor.
My house does not have grounded outlets. Do I need to rewire my house? No, in home wiring prior to the 1960’s it was quite common to only have a 2 wire (not grounded) system. The NEC allows the installation of GFCI outlets either at the first outlet of the circuit or at every outlet. They must however be labeled “ungrounded receptacle”. This method does NOT give you a ‘ground’, but only the use of a three prong receptacle. We would also recommend that the panel be properly grounded and that you consider new wiring to locations where you are using sensitive electronic equipment i.e. TV’s, computers, etc.
My power went out in my garage and the circuit breakers aren’t tripped. Do I have a bad circuit? Check the bathrooms and the exterior receptacles to see if these outlets are working. If they are not working then there is a good chance that a GFCI has tripped out (off). If they are working, the problem should be repaired by a licensed electrician.
A light bulb broke off in my light fixture and I am afraid I am going to get shocked. What do I do? Save your money, don’t call an electrician. Simply make sure the light is turned off. If you really aren’t sure, turn off your circuit breakers. Then, you can either take a bar of soap, or a pair of needle nose pliers and remove the remainder of the lamp. Be sure to wear gloves and safety glasses to keep from getting cut or glass in your eyes.
I have an FPE (Federal Pacific Electric) or Zinsco electrical panel and the electrician said my house is going to burn down. What do I do? Like with anything else, get more than one opinion. Though there is a history of those panels and circuit breakers having problems get more than one opinion and price. Make sure that the company gives free estimates and that they show you what they see. We have seen many situations and have found many to be in working condition and not requiring any repairs, while others should be replaced.
How do I know when to change the batteries in my smoke detector? Simple, every time you change your clocks, “Spring Forward, Fall Back” change your batteries. Use the “old” battery in a radio, flashlight or some other device that doesn’t carry the importance of a smoke detector.
Is a surge suppressor a waste of money? It can be if you purchase a cheap one. There are many TVSS’s (Transient Voltage Surge Suppressors) available that offer different degrees of protection. For your information, a TVSS does not replace a lightning protection system. Have a competent electrical contractor look at your system. Grounding is important. The TVSS should be mounted at the panel. That gives you the best protection. You should still have secondary protection at all electronic devices. You can do this with Surge Strips or surge receptacles.