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  • Frequently Asked Electrical Questions

    We’ve been in business for decades. In that time, we’ve noticed that certain electrical issues pop up more frequently than others. Therefore, our customers often have similar questions and concerns. We’ve compiled the most common electrical questions asked by our customers, and composed expert answers to each one. Get easy, anytime access to your electrical inquiries on the Boy’s Electric website.

    Q:Why does my circuit breaker keep tripping? Why do my fuses keep burning out?

    A: Three things most typically cause this:

    1. There are too many electrical items plugged into the circuit — Circuits are designed to only handle so much electrical demand.
    2. There could be a short in the wiring.
    3. The breaker or fuse could be faulty.

    It is recommended that an electrician evaluate the problem to ensure there are no safety issues. Your electrician can also talk with you about adding more circuits to your home so that your electrical system can support all of your family’s needs.

    Q. Why are circuit breakers better than fuse panels?

    A: Statistics show that fuse panels have a much larger risk of fire than circuit breakers. This can be caused by loose fuses, corroded contact, or having the wrong size fuses installed. In addition, most fuse panels are outdated and not quipped to handle the electrical load of homes in the 21st Century.

    Q: What is a GFCI Outlet?

    A: GFCI outlets are commonly known as outlets “with a button.” GFCI stands for Ground Fault Circuit Interrupter. The outlet monitors itself for an electrical current imbalance. Those imbalances are what can give you a nasty shock! If it recognizes an imbalance, it will “trip” or shut itself of. The National Electric Code requires that GFCI outlets be installed near water and moisture. The most typical places include bathrooms, kitchens, laundry rooms, and outdoors. If you have a GFCI outlet that is constantly tripping, you should have it looked at, as that may be an indicator of a more dangerous problem.

    Q: How do I know my GFCI outlet is working?

    A: There is a test button on all GFCI outlets. The outlets should be tested from time to time — at least yearly. Press the “test” button to trip the outlet. Press the “reset” button to fix it. If nothing happens when you press the button, or if the outlet will not reset, that could indicate a dangerous situation. The outlet needs to be inspected by an electrician to ensure it’s safely operating, and that there is no underlying electrical issue or emergency.

    Q: Many of the electrical items I buy have 3-prongs on the plug, but my home’s outlets are 2-prong. Can I just cut the third prong off?

    A: No! The third prong is designed to prevent deadly electrical shock from the electrical item you are using. The third prong acts as a “ground” so that, if a wire inside the item were to come loose, the plug can help divert the electricity back into your home’s electrical system rather than shocking the next person to touch the item. If the third prong is disabled, there is nothing protecting you or your family member from receiving a nasty shock from the equipment. Please contact Boy’s Electric to discuss upgrading or replacing your outlets.

    Q: Why can’t I use extension cords long term to bring power to my lights and electrical items?

    A: Extension cords are designed for temporary use. The US Consumer Product Safety Commission recently released a report on the dangers of using extension cords long term. Contact Boy’s Electric for installation of extra outlets in any area of your home.

    Q: Can I use extension cords outside for my pool, hot tub, or sauna? What about for Christmas lights in the winter?

    A: You should never use an indoor-rated extension cord outdoors. There are extension cords rated for outdoors use that have a special covering to help protect the wires from the elements. Even outdoor-rated cords, however, aren’t designed to be exposed to water or snow, nor are they designed for very cold weather. Because of these reasons, if you are regularly using extension cords to bring power to the same areas, you should call Boy’s Electric to seek a more permanent and safe solution.

    Don’t see your question listed here? Feel free to ‘Ask an Expert’ by calling our friendly and knowledgeable team at (651) 393-6830 or (612) 284-8623.