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Are our 2-prong outlets still OK to use in our home?
Most appliances and electrical devices today come with 3-prong plugs; the third prong is for grounding purposes. For safety issues, it is advisable to have everything in your home properly grounded; therefore, it is recommended that they be changed.
I have aluminum wiring. Will I need to rewire my whole house?
Absolutely not. Although, aluminum wiring has many safety concerns you do not need to re-wire your home. When properly installed, aluminum wiring can be safe; however, it is very unforgiving of improper installation and is subject to some problems that can be rectified. The main problem with aluminum wiring is a phenomenon known as “cold creep.” When aluminum wiring warms up, it expands. When it cools down, it contracts. Unlike copper, when aluminum goes through a number of warm/cool cycles it loses a bit of tightness each time. To make the problem worse, aluminum oxidizes, or corrodes when in contact with certain types of metal, so the resistance of the connection goes up, which causes it to heat up and oxidize more. Eventually the wire may start getting very hot, melt the insulation or fixture, and possibly cause a fire. It is very important to have a qualified electrician check your system if you have aluminum wiring.
Arc Fault Circuit Interrupter
What is it, and do I need an AFCI?
When referring to electricity, an arc occurs when an electric current “jumps” a gap from one medium to another. An arc fault is an unintentional “jumping” of an electric current over an unplanned path. With temperatures exceeding 10,000°F (5535°C), these arcs can easily ignite surrounding materials, such as wood framing or insulation.
Arc faults can be caused by:
- Damaged wires
- Receptacle leakage
- Worn electrical insulation
- Wet connectors or conduit
- Loose electrical connections
- Shorted wires
- Wires or cords in contact with vibrating metal
- Overheated or stressed electrical cords or wires
- Misapplied/damaged appliances
Unlike a standard circuit breaker that detects overloads and short circuits, an AFCI utilizes advanced electronic technology to sense different arcing conditions. In essence, the AFCI monitors the circuit and distinguishes between normal and dangerous arcing conditions. Dangerous arcs are recognized by the AFCI and stopped before any damage can occur.
Why should I install AFCIs in my home?
Problems in home wiring, like arcing and sparking, are associated with more than 5,000 home fires in Canada each year. These house fires are responsible for more than 250 injuries and deaths, and more than $180,000,000 in damages. An AFCI can be a homeowner’s first line of defense against these tragedies. Presently the code only requires them in circuits serving bedrooms, but that doesn’t mean other circuits can’t benefit from their protection.
What can I do to improve the safety of my home for my children?
Fortunately, protecting kids from electrical injuries is simple. Tamper-resistant receptacles (also known as child-safety outlets) look like standard receptacles—but they include automatic shutters, which admit plugs but block other objects.
The Alberta Electrical Code has changed its Code, requiring tamper-resistant receptacles be installed in all new construction. This change is in response to a Consumer Product Safety Commission study that documented thousands of injuries each year to children who attempt to insert foreign objects into receptacles.
Tamper-resistant receptacles are safer than plastic outlet caps (which young kids can easily remove) or sliding-shutter wall plates (which may cause potentially dangerous heat build-up and arcing). Once installed, they are permanent, offering continuous protection and provide automatic and instant protection whenever a plug is removed from a receptacle. This ensures that hairpins, keys, or other ordinary household objects children might try to insert will be locked out.
How do I reset a tripped circuit breaker?
The tripped breaker will not be in either the on or off position, but rather in between. To reset the breaker, just push the lever all the way to the off position and then back fully to the on position. If the breaker trips again, there may be an excessive load on the circuit. Correcting the overload should solve your problem. If that doesn’t work, contact 4-Star Electric for an evaluation.
Why do they trip?
An overloaded circuit is the most common reason for tripping. This can be caused by too many things being plugged in or turned on in the circuit. A short circuit is another reason; this may be caused by faulty wiring, appliances or fixtures.
When I turn my dimmer off, it is very hot. Is this a fire hazard?
If a dimmer has to operate at or close to its full capacity, it will heat up and will be warm to the touch; this is normal. For instance, some dimmers have metal fins on the front of them to enable proper heat dissipation. However, dimmers are rated for how many watts they are designed to handle and all too often the incorrect dimmer is installed which can create a fire hazard. It is essential to use a dimmer that is rated for the wattage that it is connected to. If you are unsure if you have the correct dimmer installed it is best to contact a qualified electrician to alleviate any potential problems.
What is a GFCI?
A GFCI is an abbreviation for a Ground Fault Circuit Interrupter. The Alberta Electrical Code requires GFCI protection of receptacles in any area where electricity and water may come into contact, including kitchens, bathrooms, laundry areas, basements, pools, spas, and outdoors. This GFCI is a specifically designed outlet that provides protection against short circuits and ground faults. It detects very low levels of electrical current leaks (ground faults), and it acts quickly to shut off power, preventing serious shock.
My lights flicker from time to time, what causes this?
Any number of things can cause this, from loose connections in your service or worn out circuit breakers to overloaded circuits, or faulty light bulbs and there are many more possibilities. First, try to replace your bulbs with a different make. If that doesn’t fix the problem, it’s best to get one of our qualified technicians to diagnose the problem.
My home is older, should I be concerned?
Just like any product, your home electrical systems gradually deteriorate with use, abuse, age and increased demand. To ensure the electrical safety of your home, your electrical inspection should be up-to-date, defects corrected and service upgraded to meet present and foreseeable demands. For that reason, our Home Protection Plan was developed to ensure your home is safe and remains safe.
How can I pay?
We accept cash, cheque, Visa, Mastercard, and American Express. As well, we can provide financing. In addition, we commit to always present to you the complete price for the work that is needed before we begin. We won’t start until you have given us your approval. As well, we do not accept payment until you are 100% satisfied with the agreed upon work. If our technicians smoke or swear in your home, are not DRUG FREE, do not wear shoe covers, or leave your home without cleaning up, you do not have to pay for the service.
What size service do I need installed in my home?
The Alberta Electrical Code calls for a minimum 100 Amp electrical service for new construction. The majority of older homes have a 60 amp service. While it is not required by law to upgrade to a 100 amp service, it is required by most insurance companies. Although the Code calls for a minimum 100 amp service, with all the new electronic devices, air conditioning, electric heat, hot tubs, steamers and so on, we suggest 200 amps; this will give you space for future additions.
When should I replace my smoke detectors, or carbon monoxide detectors?
Smoke detectors and carbon monoxide detectors are designed to last 10 years and 7 years, accordingly, if they are maintained properly. Your detectors should be tested weekly and vacuumed at least once a year. If this has not been done or they are beyond their life expectancy, then it is time to replace your detectors.
My smoke detectors are battery powered; is this sufficient?
Smoke detectors that only use battery power are not sufficient, as they do not interconnect to other smoke detectors in your home. We always recommend and install detectors that use both 120V power and batteries.
Why do I need one?
Every home gets hit with 8 to 20 surges every day. Most of these surges are minor in nature. However, they breakdown many electrical components in your home, ultimately decreasing their life expectancy. Larger surges have a greater effect and may completely destroy electronics in your home. To remedy this problem, we recommend installing a surge protector on your electrical system. This will protect all your electronic components in your home, including your: furnace, washer, dryer, stove, fridge, television, stereo equipment and more; giving them a longer life and saving you money.
Telephone and Computer Wiring
Do electricians do this kind of work?
4-Star Electric can supply and install a wide variety of data and communications in your home or business. We specialize in: computer networking, computer wiring, intercoms, TV, telephone, speakers, satellites, etc.