Your Louisville, Kentucky, home’s electrical systems do a lot for you. It keeps you comfortable through your HVAC system, gives light to dark evenings, provides hot water, allows you to power your devices, and lets you enjoy the entertainment and convenience of your many gadgets. It’s important for any you to know and understand your home’s electrical system and how to tell if you need an electrician’s help.
Your Electrical System
All of a home’s electricity comes inside through the electric meter, either through a line from a pole or an underground line. Meters are often mechanical and read the amount of electricity used each month. Most meters only count usage increases, but some can account for the energy coming in from greener options like solar panels and energy leaving from the electric line simultaneously.
Once electricity enters your home, it goes into the breaker box. Your home can only use as much electricity as the breaker box allows. Your breaker box is a switch that protects your home from fire and your family from electrocution when it detects an overload. Most homes have a 200-amp box; there are many older homes with a 100-amp box. If you look at the largest switch in your box, you’ll see the number indicating your amperage.
Below the main switch, many smaller switches regulate the amount each circuit can handle. Circuits flow to different rooms and appliances, like your washer and dryer, furnace, and water heater. If an overload happens on one of these circuits, the switch will flip. Make sure each circuit has a label on the diagram inside the door.
Older breaker boxes may have fuses in place of switches. Fuses burn out when an overload occurs, shutting off power to that circuit. Any problem causing a blown fuse needs to be fixed before replacing a fuse.
Circuits consist of hundreds of wires running through the floors, walls, and ceilings of your home. Black and red (or only red) wires are hot wires, and they come from the circuit breaker. White wires carry current back to the source at the breaker box. Bare copper wire is the ground wire.
The two covered wires attach to outlets or switches and don’t allow electricity to flow until you flip the switch on or you plug in something. When you plug something in, you complete the circuit and power can flow.
The ground wire connects directly to the ground and protects against fire and injury during a short-circuit or overload. If a broken appliance, frayed wire, or moisture gives electricity a pathway other than its intended one, the ground offers a path of least resistance. Electricity will then travel to the ground and trigger the breaker.
Some circuits connect to appliances that use a lot of electricity like your HVAC, water heater, and washer and dryer.
Ground Fault Circuit Interrupt (GFCI)
These outlets are commonly found in bathrooms and kitchens where you use water or outside in the elements. A GFCI knows when someone gets shocked and shuts off electricity immediately. These outlets look like regular outlets, but have the test and reset buttons. Pushing the test button trips the GFCI, and the reset button restores it.
Signs of Electrical Problems
Sparks occurring frequently or coming from your breaker box are cause for alarm. Flickering lights not fixed by replacing a bulb reveal an underlying issue. Lights and outlets that don’t work part of the time need attention. Breakers that flip regularly indicate a problem.
Smelling burning plastic or hearing buzzing from outlets, switches, or fixtures are signs you need to call an electrician. Outlets, switches, or ceiling fixtures should never be too hot to touch; shut these off until a professional can inspect them.
Your Electricity Experts
Electric system maintenance and repair is best left to trained electricians. Tinkering with your home’s electrical systems is dangerous and could be fatal. If you have issues in your electrical system, give One Choice Mechanical, LLC a call at (502) 242-8204 today. Our experienced electricians will diagnose and repair your problem quickly and correctly.
Image provided by Shutterstock