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We first called Duane a couple of years ago, with a water heater emergency, on a Holiday weekend. He had done some work for our son who recommended we call him. To our amazement, he came on that Sunday, after church, to deal with our emergency. We were expecting to have to wait till Monday. He used family time to help us out in our time of need. Ever since, he has been our person-to-go-to with any repair or remodel. There is no better advertisement than word-of-mouth. We've lived in Winston Salem for a little over six years and one of the problems with relocation is finding dependable, honest contractors. Well, we were finally lucky enough to be told about Lighthouse Electric and are so happy we were.

Margaret & Bill Crowley
Winston Salem, NC

  1. What is a GFCI Device or Breaker?
  2. What are the Red and Black Buttons on my GFCI Outlet?
  3. What is the Difference Between a Breaker Panel and My Old Fuse Panel?
  4. How do I Reset My Breaker When it Has Tripped Off?
  5. What Does it Mean When My Fluorescent Lights are Flickering or Cycling on and off?
  6. Can I Hang a Paddle Fan Where a Light is?
  7. Can I Dim Fluorescent Lights?
  8. I Have a New Home. Why Does My Refrigerator or Freeze, Located in My Garage, Keep Going Off?
  9. Can I Plug My Coffee Pot and Toaster Oven into the Same Kitchen Counter Outlet?
  10. Can I Plug any 110Volt Device I Wish into My Regular 110Volt Outlets Throughout My House?
  11. When My Air Conditioner Cycles on, I Notice My Lights Blink. Is This Normal?
  12. I have Surge/Lightning Protection on My Home. Am I Totally Safe From Lightning Strikes?
  13. If I Have Surge/Lightning Protection on My Main Service Should I Use Point-of-Use Surge Plugins at My TV, Stereo, Computer, etc.?
  14. I Have a 110Volt Outlet on the Exterior of My Home. Can I Plug my Christmas Lights into It?
  15. I Have a New Home. If I Have a Problem with TV or Telephone Wiring within the House, Who Should I Call?
  16. Why do the Bulbs in My Exterior Fixture Burn Out so Often?
  17. My Smoke Detector Keeps Chirping. What Does this Mean?
  18. When I try to put my dimmer off, it is usually very hot. Can this be a safety hazard?
  19. Recessed lights sometimes stay on for a while and then go off on their own. What could be the possible reason for this?
  20. What voltage level is considered dangerous?

1) What is a GFCI Device or Breaker?
GFCI stands for Ground Fault Circuit Interrupter. In layman's terms this device protects you from electrical shock. When it senses the slightest increase in resistance resulting from ground fault, (i.e., the use of electrical devices in or near water), it trips off to protect you.

2) What are the Red and Black Buttons on my GFCI Outlet?
The black button is a test button and when pressed, should deactivate the outlet and any other outlet fed from it - Indicating a properly functioning device. The red button is the re-set button that you depress to reactivate the outlet or outlets in the event of deactivation resulting from a fault.

3) What is the Difference Between a Breaker Panel and My Old Fuse Panel?
Both devices, either breaker or fuse, are designed to trip (turn off) in the event of an electrical overload, i.e. 20Amps of electrical load on a 15Amp circuit would cause a trip. The only difference is that a breaker is mechanical and may be reset. Whereas, a fuse is one time only and must be replaced. Please Note: Modern breakers are much more efficient and offer greater levels of protection.

4) How do I Reset My Breaker When it Has Tripped Off?
First, disconnect any additional devices that may have caused the breaker to overload and trip. Breakers are mechanical devices and must be turned all the way off before turning back on. Remember this is a mechanical device, so this may require several attempts. If this fails to reset the breaker, there may be a more serious problem. Contact a licensed electrician in your area.

5) What Does it Mean When My Fluorescent Lights are Flickering or Cycling on and off?
Flickering may indicate impending bulb failure, minor power fluctuation, and/or improperly installed bulbs. Cycling on and off is usually a clear indication of ballast and/or bulb failure. It is recommended when replacing a ballast to replace bulbs as well.

6) Can I Hang a Paddle Fan Where a Light is?
Yes, but first you must make sure the electrical box is properly braced and rated for the weight and torque of the paddle fan you are installing.

7) Can I Dim Fluorescent Lights?
Yes. Dimming fluorescent requires not only a special dimmer, but also special fixtures. You cannot place a typical incandescent dimmer on existing fluorescent.

8) I Have a New Home. Why Does My Refrigerator or Freeze, Located in My Garage, Keep Going Off?
Unless you made provisions with the builder for a dedicated circuit, the outlets in your garage are GFCI Protected per National Electrical Code. This device will not tolerate the additional resistance load created by refrigeration equipment. The GFCI senses there is a fault, and therefore trips off. The only cure to this problem is to provide a dedicated, non GFCI circuit allowable by code.

9) Can I Plug My Coffee Pot and Toaster Oven into the Same Kitchen Counter Outlet?
Yes. Though, if the two loads exceed 20amps, your breaker will sense overload, do its job, and trip off. Under this condition, you must plug one of the appliances into a different kitchen outlet on a different circuit, in order to balance the load.

10) Can I Plug any 110Volt Device I Wish into My Regular 110Volt Outlets Throughout My House?
Yes. Though, if the device exceeds the capacity of the circuit, the breaker will trip off.

11) When My Air Conditioner Cycles on, I Notice My Lights Blink. Is This Normal?
Yes. This is a common occurrence when large motor/compressor loads start. These devices cause a minor momentary voltage drop, demonstrating itself as the blinking in your lights. This has no negative effect on the electrical equipment within your house.

12) I have Surge/Lightning Protection on My Home. Am I Totally Safe From Lightning Strikes?
No. Surge/Lightning Protection only offers additional levels of protection. Nothing can guarantee completely against mother nature and where she chooses to strike.

13) If I Have Surge/Lightning Protection on My Main Service Should I Use Point-of-Use Surge Plugins at My TV, Stereo, Computer, etc.?
Yes. Main line surge is no absolute guarantee and any additional surge protection down stream in the system offers a greater level of protection; though, nothing is absolute when it comes to the power of Mother Nature.

14) I Have a 110Volt Outlet on the Exterior of My Home. Can I Plug my Christmas Lights into It?
Yes. Within reason; if the quantity of lights creates a load greater than the capacity of the circuit breaker, the breaker will trip off. In this event, additional circuits may be required to accommodate your holiday display.

15) I Have a New Home. If I Have a Problem with TV or Telephone Wiring within the House, Who Should I Call?
With deregulation of the utility companies in most areas of the country, the cable or telephone companies are no longer responsible for the equipment or wiring in your home. This responsibility has fallen to you and your electrical contractor. Therefore, when a problem arises, we would recommend you contact your electrical contractor. Most TV and telephone utilities will still service within your home for a substantial fee. This service, as in the past, is no longer free.

16) Why do the Bulbs in My Exterior Fixture Burn Out so Often?
This is usually caused by several factors. 1. Use of non brand named bulbs. 2. Larger wattage bulbs which cause excessive heat build-up shorting the life of the bulb. 3. Power Surges. Helpful hints in the solution to this problem should be to use only brand named bulbs and try to buy 130Volt rated bulbs instead of the normal 120Volt rated bulbs. This should significantly extend the life.

17) My Smoke Detector Keeps Chirping. What Does this Mean?
This could mean one of two things. 1. An Intermittent Chirp is probably an indication of a defective smoke detector. 2. A consistent chirp is probably an indication of a low battery condition and the smoke detector requires a new battery.

18) When I try to put my dimmer off, it is usually very hot. Can this be a safety hazard?
Dimmers are rated on the basis of how many watts they are designed to handle. If the dimmer has to operate to its fullest capacity, it heats up. Few dimmers have metal fins to dissipate heat. You can choose to either use a high-rated dimmer or reduce the wattage connected to the dimmer to prevent the dimmer from excessive heat.

19) Recessed lights sometimes stay on for a while and then go off on their own. What could be the possible reason for this?
Recessed lights are supplied with a thermal overload. Since the fixture is inside the ceiling, it is important to ensure that excessive heat from the bulbs does not cause a fire. The thermal overload is designed to act as a thermometer when the heat reaches the preset temperature, it will disconnect the electrical power and will light up once the temperature drops. As an alternative, using lower wattage lamps is a consideration, as they generate less heat.

20) What voltage level is considered dangerous?
Generally any level that exceeds 30 volts is considered dangerous.

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