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A tripping breaker is a nuisance! We’ve all been there. You get up to use a light switch, go to plug your favorite blender in, or open the fridge--only to see that the power is off. Keep reading to learn a little about breakers and what to do if one trips.


Breakers have come a long way. Until the 1960s, fuses were used instead of breakers. With fuses, if there was an electrical hazard, the fuse would pop and have to be replaced once the issue was solved. Nowadays, we can reset a tripped breaker and it will still function once the issues are solved.


What can cause a breaker to trip? There are many things that can set off a breaker. Here are a few examples:

  • If your home's hot (live) wire touches a metal part of your appliance, the ground wire provides a path back to your panel, from there the excess current causes the breaker to safely trip, alerting you to a hazard.

  • If you have too many items (lights, appliances) running on a single circuit, it can cause an overload.

  • Water can get into a plug or fixture, which alerts your system of a hazard and can trip a breaker.


What can you as a homeowner do to troubleshoot? For starters, you can make sure all of the switches on the affected circuit are turned in the off position. This ensures that you’ve eliminated your light fixtures as the problem. Another thing you can do is unplug anything on the circuit that is tripped (appliances, phone chargers, etc.). Once you unplug all items and turn off all switches, go back to your panel and reset the breaker. If it resets successfully without tripping again, plug in whatever it is you unplugged one item at a time, checking each time to see if the breaker trips again. If it does not, you’ve now isolated the issue to your lighting circuit. Turn on the switches one at a time, with the same method as above (checking to see if the breaker trips after turning on each switch). Once you’ve identified which part of your house is affected, you may use that breaker for all other items until your electrician gets there.


If your breaker still trips after turning off all lights and unplugging all items, it probably means there's something else going on internally and we'd recommend keeping the breaker off until an electrician comes.


Hope this helps!


Andrew

Lead Electrician

Gloudeman Electric, LLC

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Electricity is often something we take for granted in our day-to-day lives. Our lights turn on at the flick of a switch and our food is toasting at the push of a button. Since electricity has become essential for our everyday lives, when something in our electrical system stops working properly or goes wrong, our day is often brought to a halt. We've compiled in layman's terms how some electrical house fires happen and what you can do to help prevent them in your home.


HOW THINGS CAN GO WRONG - ARCING:


Electrical connections are essential to the health of your devices. Circuits start in your electrical panel and make their way through your home. You can see different electrical circuits by their labelling in a panel. You may have a single circuit where there are multiple outlets and light switches, and another circuit that is dedicated to only your HVAC unit or oven range. A circuit starts at your panel, runs through your house, and makes a reconnection (a full loop) back in your panel.


A phenomenon known as arcing happens when a connection becomes loose (think about a plug/outlet that has a loose wire in the back of it). The electrical component that has the bad connection (like a plug or a light fixture) tries to draw electricity from your electrical panel but doesn't have a solid connection, so it starts to arc in an attempt to make a good connection, thus creating heat. This is a potential hazard. When arcing is combined with exposed wiring that is not in an electrical box, damaged insulation, or failing components, a house fire can result.



HOW YOU CAN TELL SOMETHING'S WRONG


Electrical fires typically have telltale signs that they're happening.


  • You may smell burning plastic

  • You may see discoloration of conductors/outlets

  • You may audibly hear sounds of arcing inside your electrical box, or somewhere in your home (like a hissing or crackling sound)


HOW TO HELP PREVENT


Arc fault breakers got their name by being able to detect a disruption in the sinusoidal waveform that flows through your home. These breakers have a special computer inside them that detects if a wire is arcing in this way. Arc fault breakers have been around for over 20 years and NEC first made it a requirement back in 2002. If your home was built in the 2000’s, it is likely that you have some of these breakers in your electrical panel, but for some, you may not. Here at Gloudeman Electric, we offer arc fault protection packages to offer you the comfort of knowing those breakers will protect you from arcing.


If you are interested in other safety packages, we offer a variety of options that cater to your concerns. We offer a whole house load test that tests the integrity of your wiring, a visual inspection of your crawlspace, attic, and panel, as well as whole house surge protection.


Please reach out if you have any questions!


Text or call us at 909-801-4009

Email us at info@thegloudemanelectric.com





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Although we're always happy to come to your home for electrical installations, upgrades, troubleshooting and maintenance, there are some simple tasks that you as a homeowner can complete which will both increase the longevity of your electrical system and raise a flag to some potential safety issues. This will be a quick read, but could make a big difference in your home.


  1. Testing GFCIs monthly. GFCI is an acronym that stands for Ground Fault Circuit Interrupter. Your GFCI outlets look different from your regular outlets in that they have both a "RESET" and a "TEST" button on them.

Leviton GFCI

A GFCI can help to prevent electrocution. If a person's body starts to receive a shock, the GFCI senses this and cuts off the power before he/she can be injured. GFCIs are generally installed where electrical circuits may accidentally come into contact with water. There are two ways to exercise this first safety tip. If you have a GFCI outlet, press the "TEST" button on the GFCI, and then press the "RESET" button after to make sure it still functions. You'll know it's functioning correctly when the green light comes on after you press the "TEST" button, and when the "RESET" light comes on after you reset it. (some GFCIs are not equipped with Reset lights) If the buttons are not operative, you will want to have your GFCI outlet replaced.


The second way to exercise this: If you do not have any outlets that are GFCIs, you will likely have at least one, but perhaps multiple "GFI breakers" in your electrical panel. (If you have neither GFCI outlets, nor GFI breakers, you will want to call us to install protection where required). For this test, you will press the "TEST" button on the breaker, which will kick the breaker all of the way into the "off" or "tripped" position. Then, you will reset your breaker into the "on" position to restore power. This will tell you that your GFI breaker is operating properly. You can perform this same test on any ARC fault breakers you may have.


We recommend performing this test monthly.


2. Exercising Standard Breakers. Also in your electrical panel are all of your standard breakers. We recommend manually turning each breaker (one at a time) to the "off position", and then back to the "on" position to restore power, and doing this motion a couple of times to make sure the contacts are nice and solid. You'll know a breaker needs to be attended to if it does not give a solid "click" when you reset it. We recommend doing this yearly.


3. Testing Fire Alarms. Because they are infrequently used, fire alarms are an often forgotten, yet absolutely essential part of your home's safety. You should test your fire alarms monthly.


4. Cleaning Exhaust Fans. Performing this maintenance helps extend the life of exhaust fans, improves the operation of them, reduces the risk of rusting due to build up, and reduces the risk of airborne allergens. We recommend doing this semi-annually. Make sure the circuit breaker for the exhaust fan(s) is turned off, then use a soft cloth and some warm soapy water. Be sure to let the fan dry thoroughly.


5. Reverse Direction of Ceiling Fans. Although this may seem silly, reversing the direction of your ceiling fans in regards to what season it is can have an impact on your energy bill as well as the functionality of your fans. To keep cool in the summer, your fan blades should spin counterclockwise, and in the winter the blades should spin clockwise. To reverse/change the direction of your ceiling fan blades, you can simply use the directional switch located on the motors of most ceiling fans.


Thank you for reading and we hope you enjoy the satisfaction of a job well done!



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