Electrical - Breakers and Outlets

Electricity enters your home through the electrical panel. Distribution of electricity to your various appliances, outlets and switches is regulated by the circuit breakers inside of the electrical panel.


Care and Maintenance Tips Maintenance

  • Test the operation of the GFCI and AFCI breakers to ensure they are doing their job to protect you and your family.
  • To test, push the Test button located on the circuit breaker. If the device does not trip, it is defective and must be replaced. Contact an electrician to make the repair.
  • If it is working properly, the outlet (not the circuit) should trip. Push the Reset button to restore power to the outlet. If the device does not trip, it is defective and must be replaced. Contact an electrician to make the repair.
  • Never dig around your home until you have contacted your local utility Company. They can advise you where ground wires have been run and direct you to safe areas to dig.

Operation

  • Circuit breakers have three positions: on, off, and tripped. When a circuit breaker trips, it must first be turned off before it can be turned on. Switching the breaker directly from tripped to on will not restore service.
  • ARC Fault Circuit Interrupters (AFCIs) are required for all bedroom outlets. They protect you from injury or damage due to appliances with damaged cords, loose connections, or nicked or pinched wires inside the walls.
  • Ground Fault Circuit Interrupters (GFCIs) are circuit breakers that offer personal protection against electric shock. Building codes require installation of these receptacles in bathrooms, the kitchen, and outside areas where an individual can come into contact with water while holding an electric appliance or tool.

Tripped Circuit Breakers

  • Breakers trip because of overloads caused by plugging too many appliances into the circuit, a worn cord or defective appliance, or operating an appliance with too high a voltage requirement (such as a power tool) for the circuit. The starting of an electric motor can also trip a breaker.
  • If a circuit trips, go to the electrical panel and find the circuit that has tripped (will be in the tripped position). Investigate what items are controlled by this circuit, and what may have caused the breaker to trip. (If the breaker trips immediately after you do something, that item caused either an overload to the circuit or may be defective.)
  • After investigation and unplugging any damaged or unnecessary appliances, reset the breaker by pushing the lever to the fully off position, then to the on position.
  • If any circuit trips repeatedly, unplug all items connected to it and reset the breaker. If it trips when nothing is connected to it, contact an electrician for assistance. If the circuit remains on, one of the items you unplugged is defective and will require repair or replacement.



Frequently Asked Questions

Q: Can I increase the amperage of a circuit?
A: Yes, it is possible, but do not try this yourself. Call your electrician to evaluate what needs to be changed at the outlet level and on the electrical panel to accommodate an increase in amperage.


Q: Why do some outlets in my bathroom work and others do not?
A: Bathroom outlets are protected by GFCI's which are usually located in one of the bathrooms. This one GFCI will control the outlets in all of the bathrooms. Check to make sure that it has not tripped and if it has push the reset button on the outlet that has tripped. If this does not solve the issue, contact your electrician.


Q: Why do some outlets in my kitchen work and others do not?
A: Kitchen outlets are protected by GFCI's which are located on two or more of the outlets inside the kitchen. Check to make sure that none of them have tripped. If they have, push the reset button on the outlet that has tripped. If this does not solve the issue, call your electrician.


Q: Why does one half of an outlet not work?
A: Check that there is not a switch in the room that operates the 2nd half of the outlet. These switched outlets are usually located in bedrooms, family rooms, and sunrooms. If turning on the switch does not solve the issue, call your electrician.


Q: Why don't the outlets inside the garage or on the exterior of the home work?
A: Garage and exterior outlets are protected by GFCI's which are located on two or more of the outlets. One is usually inside the garage and in one of the exterior outlets. Check to make sure that none of them have tripped and if they have push the reset button on the outlet that has tripped. If this does not solve the issue, call your electrician.


Q: Why is there a bad smell coming from the outlet?
A: This is a serious issue that requires immediate attention. Call your electrician immediately. This usually indicates an arc (spark) and wire has begun to burn. Try to locate where it is coming from and shut off that circuit.


Q: Why won't one of the circuit breakers reset?
A: If a circuit breaker has tripped and will not reset, there is an underlying issue that is the cause. Do not force the breaker into the on position. Call your electrician.


* If you are in a Condo residence please refer to your Condo Association Documents to verify your responsibilities, if any, for the maintenance of these areas.