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Electrical Frequently Asked Questions

Of all the systems we have to deal with in our homes, our electrical system is perhaps the most perplexing. Depending on how old it is, you might deal with anything from a lack of electrical outlets to flickering or dim lights, malfunctioning light switches, or electrical fires. At John Nugent & Sons, we’re here to make these confusing issues clearer and help you find solutions to all your home electrical problems!

See the sections below for answers to the most common electrical questions we get from our customers, and give us a call if you need professional assistance!

What Is a GFCI?

GFCI stands for Ground-Fault Circuit Interrupter. It’s a device designed to protect people from electric shock by monitoring the amount of current flowing in a circuit. If the GFCI detects a difference in the current between the hot and neutral wires (indicating a leakage of current), it quickly cuts off the power to that circuit. GFCIs are commonly used in areas where electrical circuits may accidentally come into contact with water, such as bathrooms, kitchens, and outdoor areas.

How Do I Know if My Electrical Outlet Is Burning?

Emergency room doctors treat over 4,000 individuals each year for injuries caused by faulty electrical outlets — don’t let anyone in your family fall victim to an electrical accident. Electrical fires and related injuries can be prevented by properly inspecting the outlet receptacles in your Northern Virginia home. John Nugent & Sons has compiled a list of warning signs that signal an electrical problem is occurring behind your walls.

Learn more about burning electrical outlets >>>

What’s the Difference Between a Blown Fuse and a Blown Circuit Breaker?

A blown fuse and a tripped circuit breaker both indicate an electrical problem, but they work differently. A fuse is a small piece of metal that melts when overloaded, breaking the circuit and stopping the flow of electricity. Once a fuse is blown, it needs to be replaced. A circuit breaker, on the other hand, is a switch that automatically turns off when it detects an overload or short circuit. It can be reset by flipping the switch back to the “on” position, making it reusable.

Why Do My Lights Flicker?

Have you noticed that all or some of your lights have been flickering? In most cases, it can be a faulty lightbulb, but in other cases it can mean something more serious — and potentially dangerous. Keep reading to learn about potential reasons as to why your lights are flickering, from the expert Northern Virginian electricians at John Nugent & Sons.

Learn more about the causes of flickering lights >>>

Are LED Lights Better Than Incandescent?

LED lights are generally considered better than incandescent bulbs for several reasons. They are much more energy-efficient, using up to 90% less energy than incandescent bulbs for the same amount of light. They also last significantly longer, reducing the need for frequent replacements. Additionally, LED lights produce less heat and are more environmentally friendly.

Can I DIY Electrical Repairs?

It’s not uncommon for homeowners to immediately spot an electrical issue. Any good handyman will tell you that they can fix it themselves without a problem. Unfortunately, there is a problem. Handymen are not qualified to handle electrical work. Electricians have to undergo years of extensive training and certification processes to obtain his or her license. Sure, a license may seem like a piece of paper, but that paper is something that can save your life.

Learn more about the dangers of DIY electrical repairs >>>

What Does “Grounding” Mean?

Grounding in electrical systems refers to the practice of connecting the electrical system to the earth. This is done to ensure safety by providing a path for excess electrical current to disperse harmlessly into the ground in case of a fault, such as a short circuit. This helps to prevent electric shock, electrical fires, and damage to appliances.

Why Is My Light Switch Hot?

When you reach to your light switch to turn it off, only to find that it’s hot to the touch, you have a problem. This is not a normal phenomenon, and it indicates that there are serious issues hiding behind your walls. If you don’t get help right away, you could end up facing a serious electrical fire in your home.

Learn more about the causes of hot light switches >>>

What Uses the Most Electricity in My Home?

The appliances that typically use the most electricity in homes include air conditioners, space heaters, water heaters, clothes dryers, refrigerators, and electric ovens. The actual consumption can vary based on the efficiency of the appliances, how often they are used, and the size of the home.

How Can I Tell What Is Tripping My Circuit Breaker?

As the summer or winter months roll around, you probably start to experience more power outages than usual in your Northern Virginia home. In fact, these are the times of the year when the experts at John Nugent and Sons receive the most calls from the community. Your first option is to check the circuit breaker box. The rows and rows of switches make it almost impossible to guess which one is linked to which appliance, so naturally, most people just flip the switches that are out of alignment to get everything working again. However, we should warn you this doesn’t always solve your problem.

Learn more about the causes of tripped circuit breakers >>>

How Do I Reset My Breaker After It Has Tripped?

To reset a tripped breaker, first, ensure that you have resolved the issue that caused the trip, such as unplugging overloaded appliances or fixing short circuits. Then, find your circuit breaker panel, locate the tripped breaker (usually in the “off” position or in a middle position between “on” and “off”).

Switch it fully to the “off” position and then back to the “on” position. This should reset the breaker and restore power to the circuit. If it trips again immediately, you may have an unresolved electrical issue that needs professional attention.

Call John Nugent & Sons for Answers to All Your Electrical System Questions!

Above are just some of the most common questions Northern Virginia residents frequently ask us about their home electrical systems, but there are far more! If you have a question not answered on this page — or if you need more professional help with your problem — contact us online or give us a call at 703-291-1926 today!

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