Thanks for visiting our Frequently Asked Questions page! We hope you find the information below helpful. Have a question you want us to answer here that we don’t already have? Shoot us a message via our onsite contact form and we’ll have one our San Jose electricians add to this page!
Figure out if it is just your home or building that is without power. If you notice other homes or businesses around you are also without power you will know if the problem is isolate to just you or everyone on your grid. Most power companies these days provide their customers with some sort of hotline access where you can call in and get live up to date information on power outages in your area. Keep in mind, most phones these days rely on electrical power to function so it’s also a good thing to throw a phone in your “being prepared” arsenal that connects straight to the phone line.
If you discover the outage is isolated to just your home or place of business, first check to see if the main breaker to your home or business has tripped. Attempt to reset the breaker if you find it tripped but do not continue to reset if it immediately trips again once reset. This could be a sign of a bad breaker or an electrical short within the buildings electrical system. If you know the problem is isolated to just your home or business and you can’t get it back on from the main breaker, call one of our electricians for some advice over the phone or to schedule a visit to troubleshoot the problem.
Try to avoid opening your refrigerator or freezer to lesson the risk of losing your food should you be without power for more than a few hours.
The purpose of a GFCI device is to constantly monitor the electricity flowing into the circuit. While monitoring this flow of current, if the GFCI senses even the smallest fluctuation in that current, the GFCI device will immediately trip or shut that circuit off. The time it takes the device to kill the power on that circuit is less than 1/10 of a second, with the intention of killing the power before serious injury or death can occur.
Be aware, these devices are intended as an extra layer of safety to an electrical circuit but the same caution should be given as if one did not exist! These devices CAN FAIL and should never be relied upon to protect you from harm!!
The NESC is published by the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers, or IEEE. Both “National Electrical Safety Code” and “NESC” are registered trademarks of the IEEE. The NESC should not be confused with the National Electrical Code, or NEC, published by the National Fire Protection Association, or NFPA.
Visit National Electrical Safety Code for more information on the NESC.
Despite the use of the term “national”, it is not a federal law. It is typically adopted by states and municipalities in an effort to standardize their enforcement of safe electrical practices. In some cases, the NEC is amended, altered and may even be rejected in lieu of regional regulations as voted on by local governing bodies.
Both “National Electrical Code” and “NEC” are registered trademarks of the NFPA.
Visit National Electrical Code for more information on the NEC.
Sometimes the problem causing the breaker to trip or the fuse to blow, can be a wiring problem within the home or building…..such as a bad receptacle, bad breaker, a short or bad connection somewhere in the circuit. Either way, it can be dangerous to continue use of the appliance until the exact cause can be troubleshot properly.
This often leads to confusion between the “grounded conductor” and the “grounding conductor”, this confusion can lead to potentially lethal mistakes! The bare wire should NEVER be used as a “grounded conductor” or the white wire as the “grounding conductor”, regardless of the fact that they are connected together in the panel!!
Sub panels however are typically wired differently where they are fed neutral and ground separately from the main panel.
IMPORTANT Note: Never tape, color or substitute different color wires for the safety grounding conductor. In typical usage, the word neutral is used for “grounded conductor”, we use “neutral” in this FAQ to help avoid confusion and would recommend to everyone else to use it too, thus the white wire always being “neutral” NOT ground.
If you are replacing a fixture that pulls more power, be sure the circuit you are installing it on can handle the extra pull. In other words don’t pull out an old 500 watt fixture and replace it with one that pulls 700 watts and assume it’s ok. You need to make 100% certain that new fixture, along with everything else running on that circuit, does not surpass the wire or breaker ratings.
If you are unsure of this in anyway, be safe and call a professional electrician!
Again, if you’re unsure at all what wire size you should be using for a particular application, seek the advice of a professional electrician. Most will give you this type of advice free of charge and if they don’t…..call us!
Visit National Electrical Code American Wire Gauge for more information on proper wire size use and applications.
It is advisable if upgrading or replacing wiring in your home, that you use copper wire for any new wiring you do. There is however no reason to panic if your home still has aluminum wiring in it as it is most often just as safe as copper WHEN PROPERLY INSTALLED. One important thing to note about aluminum wiring is that it is FAR less forgiving to improper use or installation!