Frequently Asked Questions
Commercial & Residential Electrical Repair in Erie, PA
Click on a question to view the answer! If you still have questions not answered here, please contact us and we’ll be happy to help you with any electrical challenges you may face.
- +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.
- +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.
4. Corroded lamp socket/loose connection.
- +If I have problems with TV or telephone wiring within the house, whom 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 recommend you us. 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.
- +Why does my recessed can-light cycle on and off since I put a larger wattage bulb in?
Modern recessed cans are rated for a maximum wattage bulb and are equipped with a thermal device that does not allow a bulb larger than that rating. If a larger wattage bulb is used, as the excess heat builds up, the thermal device will shut the can off until it cools. This is a safety device to protect your home against fire.
- +I have a 110 volt 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.
- +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.
- +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.
- +My child loves trying to put things in outlet slots. What can I do to prevent this?
Tamper resistant receptacles (TRRs) provide a simple, permanent solution for preventing common childhood shock and electrical burn injuries caused by tampering with a wall outlet. It is as simple as removing the existing outlet and installing a new one. (Of course, always make sure power is off; and this is assuming there is an equipment grounding conductor present; i.e. 3-wire outlet.) A built-in shutter system prevents objects from being inserted. Plugs can still be easily inserted when equal pressure is applied to both slots. Newly constructed homes/additions require these receptacle outlets. Knorr Electric help upgrade your existing receptacles.
- +Can I plug my coffee pot and toaster oven into the same kitchen counter outlet?
Yes. Though, if the two loads exceed 20 amps, your breaker will sense the 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.
- +I have a new home. Why does my refrigerator or freezer, 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. Knorr Electric can provide you with this service.
- +Can I dim fluorescent lights?
Yes. Dimming fluorescent light requires not only a special dimmer, but also special fixtures. You cannot place a typical incandescent dimmer on an existing fluorescent light.
- +Can I dim LED lighting?
Yes. Dimming of LED fixtures requires a bulb that will say “dimmable” somewhere and the dimmer must be able to dim LED lighting loads also.
- +Can I hang a ceiling 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 ceiling fan you are installing.
- +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 the bulbs as well.
- +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 almost all styles of breakers appear to be sloppy if tripped. Simply turn the breaker OFF, and then move to the ON position. If this fails to reset the breaker, there may be a more serious problem. Call Knorr Electric, 814-474-4744.
- +Why do I blow fuses or why does my circuit breaker trip?
Except in the case of ground fault interrupters, which are susceptible to moisture and/or weather conditions, fuses and circuit breakers should not trip. Check to see if some type of plugged in appliance is causing the problem.
- +What should I do if my lights, switches and receptacles don't work?
Check to see if the outlet is on a switch. Check and reset GFCI outlets and circuit breakers. Check light bulbs and replace if necessary.
- +What causes the lights in my house to flicker?
Central air conditioning and heat pump condensers may cause a noticeable slight dimming on start up. Lights may flicker or dim due to startup of some appliances or motor driven equipment. Check with the local utility company for possible defects in the supply source or for the utility switching to other utilities for supply. If none of the above seem to be the problem, it could be a loose connection in your meter box or breaker panel.
- +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 turns off to protect you.
- +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 reset button that you depress to reactivate the outlet or outlets in the event of deactivation resulting from a fault.
- +What is an arc-fault circuit interrupter?
An Arc Fault Circuit Interrupter (AFCI) is a circuit breaker designed to prevent fires by detecting an unintended electrical arc and disconnecting the power before the arc starts a fire. An AFCI must distinguish between a harmless arc that occurs incidental to normal operation of switches, plugs and brushed motors, and an undesirable arc that can occur, for example, in a lamp cord that has a broken conductor in the cord. Arc faults in a home are one of the leading causes for electrical wiring fires.
- +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. 20 amps of electrical load on a 15 amp 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.
- +Our stove/dryer cord doesn’t match the wall outlet… Do I need to add an entirely new circuit from the breaker panel?
The reason for this is safety. The older 3-prong outlets connected the neutral and ground wires together. This opened up the possibility of current flowing on to the ground wire and could lead to the metal frame of the stove or dryer becoming energized. If this happened, the result could be a shock delivered to the user when touching the appliance. So what is a person to do when they get home and find that their new appliance won’t fit the old outlet on their wall? You simply replace the appliance cord. Most retailers that deal in appliances, and even many big box retailers sell replacement cords for dryers and stoves.
When the NEC mandated 4-wire outlets in new homes, it was also realized that it may be too costly and invasive for many home owners to replace the old wall outlet with a new 4-prong outlet and replace the wire inside the walls to upgrade to the new 4-wire system. Therefore, it is code compliant to continue to use your existing 3-prong outlet, and simply replace the 4-prong cord on the appliance with a 3-prong cord that matches your existing outlet. The connections are very simple on the appliance and the screw terminals will usually have indications as to which wire connects where.