Frequently Asked Questions
Mr. Electric® knows that you have a lot of questions about our services and why we usually recommend using a professional for electrical diagnosis, repair, and installations. We have listed some of the more frequently asked questions below.
Can you tell me exactly how much this electrical job will cost me?
In our years of experience, we have found that our customers prefer an accurate price based on their exact electrical issue. Most phone quotes are subject to change once the technician sees the job. We don't think that is fair to you. By allowing us to diagnose the problem in person, you will know exactly what it will cost to get the job done before we begin work. Contact Mr. Electric today for a quote on all of your electrical repair needs.
What is the difference between a regular breaker and an Arc Fault breaker?
All breakers are designed to prevent the wire in your home or business becoming overloaded. All breakers are designed to automatically turn off if the circuit is carrying too much load or if there is a short circuit present. Arc Fault breakers have the additional ability to sense arcing in a circuit. Arcing is the sparking you might see between 2 damaged conductors, and is a fire hazard as this arcing is extremely hot. An arc welder uses electrical arcing to weld steel. A regular breaker may not sense that because it does not always create the load needed to trip the breaker, but an Arc Fault breaker will sense it and shut the circuit down before it can cause a fire. These devices are designed and required to be tested on a monthly basis to ensure proper and safe operation.
Is aluminum wiring a fire hazard or is my aluminum wiring safe?
Aluminum wiring was used in the late 1960s and into the mid-1970s in many homes across North America. Aluminum wiring itself is not dangerous to have in your house. The issue with aluminum wiring is in faulty terminations either in receptacles and switches, or light fixtures and equipment. Due to expansion and contraction of the conductor itself and the fact that aluminum will oxidize over time, heat can be generated at points where the aluminum wiring is improperly terminated. One of the main issues with aluminum wiring is that while everything may appear fine with your wiring, it could be deteriorating behind devices, creating a dangerous fire hazard. If you have concerns about aluminum wiring in your home or business you should have it inspected by a licensed electrician who has experience working with aluminum wiring.
What is knob and tube wiring?
Knob and tube, or open wiring, was installed from the initial electrical installations in the early 1900’s into the 1940’s. It is named for the porcelain fittings that were used to support and run cables through wood structure. If it is left alone and no changes have been made to the original installation, and the insulation is still in good, flexible condition, it may still be a safe installation. However, there are a number of issues you should be aware of. If you have knob and tube wiring in your home, you should have it inspected by a licensed electrician.
- The insulation used in knob and tube wiring has a tendency to dry out and become stiff and brittle. This can result in insulation actually cracking and falling off the conductor, leaving it exposed and creating both a shock and fire hazard.
- Since a knob and tube wiring installation has most likely been in place for over 70 years, the chances of the wiring in being untouched and not damaged or revised in some way is pretty small. Once these systems are tampered with in anyway, intentionally or otherwise, that section of wiring should be replace with new up to date wiring.
- Knob and tube wiring was installed at a time when there was very little demand inside homes for electrical devices, and the circuiting and wiring was designed to that standard. Today we are using many more electrical and electronic devices in our homes than ever before, and the way homes were wired in the early 1900’s does not support this many devices being present. This causes circuits that are 70 years old and probably weak to begin with to now be overloaded, causing fire and shock hazards in some circumstances.
- Knob and tube wiring was install as insulated individual conductors with a “hot” and a “neutral” line. In that day there was no grounding run alongside them. In many homes people have changed receptacles to match changing times over the years, and may have changed from two prong ungrounded receptacles to two prong grounded receptacles. If you have three prong receptacles installed on an ungrounded circuit you have created a situation where devices that require the ground for safety may be plugged into power that does not provide that safety, creating a potential shock hazard.
How much does it cost to change my fuse panel?
Mr. Electric provides you with a quote to complete the work at no charge. We must look at each panel location to provide this quote as there are many variables that must be taken into account. Things like panel location, electrical system flexibility, feeder cable length, and, most importantly, the decision to repair or completely replace the panel are important pieces of information we must find out before we begin a job. To provide an accurate quote without this information is impossible.
What is Whole Home Surge Protection and is it necessary in my home?
Today’s homes are more advanced and filled with electronics than they have ever been, and we are increasingly dependent on not only the electronics, but the ability to easily charge them. Whole Home Surge Protection provides protection to all the electrical equipment in your home from surges and spikes that can be created outside or even inside your home. It acts just like the high quality power bars we often buy for our entertainment systems or our computer systems, but instead it protects all the devices in your home. This means it protects the electronic components of refrigerators, freezers, washers, dryer dishwashers, coffee makers and anything else that wouldn’t traditionally have protection. We recommend whole home surge protectors be installed in all homes to protect all the electronics.
How can I save energy in my office?
The quickest and easiest way to save energy in any building is by making sure your lighting system is as efficient as possible. There are many options available to make your lighting more efficient, from retrofitting existing fluorescent fixtures, to replacing old fixtures with new energy efficient solutions. This could mean using fluorescent bulbs where high bay metal halide or high pressure sodium fixtures were used previously, or even using LED technology to improve lighting levels as well as reduce energy usage. Mr. Electric can give you the right information and work with you of getting all the incentives available in your area to improve your lighting.
What is a GFCI Receptacle?
A Ground Fault Circuit Interrupter is a receptacle that is designed to protect against electric shock when using electrical devices near water. It senses when power is going where it should not, and if it senses a problem it shuts off. This is why most codes specify that they be used in bathrooms, kitchens, laundry rooms and outdoor areas. One thing many people do not realize is that these devices are designed to be tested once a month to ensure proper operation. This is done by pressing the test button on the device to make sure it turns off, and then pressing the reset button to make sure it turns on. If either of the test or reset buttons do not work it is time to replace the device.
Can I do this work myself?
Many areas allow a home owner to do their own electrical work, provided they take out the proper permits and have the work inspected by the proper authorities. The safety of your family and your home should always be considered before you undertake any electrical work. Mr. Electric suggests call a professional unless you have the proper training, and we provide free quotes for all electrical work.