Here at J.P. McCurdy Electrical Services, Inc. we get a lot of questions about electricity, and we’re more than happy to answer. If you don’t find what you're looking for here, feel free to send your question using the form below. We're always happy to help!
Q. What type of lighting is best?
A. There are many factors involved in your lighting decision.
Incandescent – Outdated, least efficient bulb, though some prefer the color output indoors.
Fluorescent (or CFL) – Smaller color spectrum, but uses about 25% of the electricity of an incandescent and about 10x the lifespan. Some of these are now compatible with dimmers.
Metal Halide (MH) – Typically used for outdoor lighting, comparable usage and lifespan to fluorescent. Bluish tinge. Recommended for outdoor areas where security camera viewing at night is important.
High Pressure Sodium (HPS) – Also used for outdoor lighting, with higher longevity bulbs than MH. Poor color reception for security cameras. Red/orange tinge.
Light Emitting Diode (LED) – Extremely efficient with about 1/10 power usage of the standard incandescent. Although pricey, these can last a lifetime. Typically bluish tinged, but recent technology is making them more color appropriate.
Q. I am considering purchasing a Plug-in Electric Vehicle (PEV), how does this affect my home’s electrical system?
A. The installation of a new PEV charging system will usually have a minimal impact on your home’s current electrical system. May we suggest an inspection of your panel board and its ability to take on the additional load.
Q. What is involved in a service upgrade?
A. A service upgrade is the replacement of your existing electrical service (outside wiring, meter pan, circuit breakers and panel board) to increase your ability to add new circuits safely and bring your home up to the current electrical code.
Q. I read that some insurance companies will not insure knob & tube is this true?
A. Nearly all insurance companies refuse to insure knob and tube wiring. In our experience, insurers require a home to be free of knob and tube wiring before a sale or very soon afterwards. They ask about knob and tube wiring in the application form. Insurers may see knob and tube wiring during a claim inspection and ask about it, and they can ask at yearly policy renewal time. Knowing the issues can prevent a big surprise.
Q. How does a surge protector work?
A. Once the surge protector is in place and connected to your load center, telephone service or cable service, it will redirect surges to the ground and dissipate the energy. The surge protection selected must be UL rated on response time. A point to remember is that the greater the surge current rating, the longer the surge protector will last.
Q. My dryer plug will not fit the receptacle in our new house. How can I remedy this?
A. In most new homes, there should be four-prong dryer and range receptacles. If you have a three-prong power cord, you will need to change it.
Q. The outlets in my kitchen, bathroom, garage or outdoors are not working, what is the problem?
A. The most likely scenario is that the GFCI outlet has tripped. To remedy this, locate the GFCI outlet that controls the circuit and press the "Reset" button.
Q. Does my house need to be re-wired?
A. We recommend a whole house electrical inspection to understand the current status of the wiring. Some wiring that is considered a major hazard is: knob and tube wiring, aluminum wiring, and an ungrounded system. These create hazards in your home and a re-wire should seriously be considered.
Q. My house still has round fuses. Is this safe?
A. Most fuse box-based electrical systems are not designed to handle the electrical demands of the contemporary home. In addition, many insurance companies require that homes with fuse boxes upgrade to modern circuit breakers.
Q. I replaced the lamp in my recessed light and it blinks on and off. What’s wrong?
A. Most recessed light fixtures contain a thermal cutoff device that de-energizes the lamp if temperatures exceed the rating of the housing. This commonly occurs when a lamp is replaced with one of a higher wattage. When the temperature within the fixture cools, the thermal will reset and the lamp will come back on. Installing the correct wattage lamp for the fixture will cure this.
Q. What is the benefit of having hardwired smoke detectors as opposed to battery operated?
A. Several actually. First, a hardwired smoke detector has 120 volt power and a battery back up so no matter what you have a functional smoke detector, even if the power goes out. Second, usually hardwired smoke detectors have a signal wire connected between them that allows them to communicate to each other when there is smoke. This means that even in a large home if there is a fire on the other side of the house the smoke detector in your bedroom will go off giving you plenty of time to evacuate. Third, you will be in compliance with current code requirements.
Q. My dimmers get warm, is this safe?
A. During normal operation, dimmers will feel warm to the touch. The closer a dimmer is run on full output and the higher the load (watts) on the dimmer, the warmer it will feel. This is perfectly normal and safe. Dimmers are designed to the strictest UL safety standard, and can handle their full rated load without overheating.
Q. Why do we really need Arc Fault Circuit Interrupters (AFCIs)?
A. Smoke alarms, fire extinguishers and escape ladders are all examples of emergency equipment used in homes to take action when a fire occurs. An AFCI is a product that is designed to detect a wide range of arcing electrical faults to help reduce the electrical system from being an ignition source of a fire. Conventional over-current protective devices do not detect low level hazardous arcing currents that have the potential to initiate electrical fires. It is well known that electrical fires do exist and take many lives and damage or destroy significant amounts of property. Electrical fires can be a silent killer occurring in areas of the home that are hidden from view and early detection. The objective is to protect the circuit in a manner that will reduce its chances of being a source of an electrical fire.
Q. What can I do if I am resetting the breaker or replacing the fuse and it keeps tripping or blowing?
A. Unplug everything and turn off all the lights on that circuit. Then try to reset/replace the fuse/breaker. If it still does not work the problem is wiring and you should call an electrician. If the circuit resets then plug things back in and switch the lights on one at a time – if you plug something in and it trips the circuit the problem may be with the item you are using.
Q. Is my Knob & Tube wiring safe?
A. We work on a lot of old homes in the area and would have to say that, while Knob & Tube is not automatically unsafe there are still many safety issues primarily from additions and changes over the years and, or from brittle insulation cracking from around the wires and leaving them exposed. Remember that when it comes to electrical systems, mere function is no indication of safety.
Every house with Knob & Tube wiring requires a thorough inspection to determine the state of the wiring. We can do this and provide a detailed report of our findings and discoveries.
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