The following are suggestions from the National Electrical Safety Foundation:
Check for outlets that have loose-fitting plugs, which can overheat and lead to fire. Replace any missing or broken wall plates. Make sure that there are safety covers on all unused outlets which might be accessible to children. We can also install tamper proof outlets, as new code requires.
Make sure electrical cords are in good condition - not frayed or cracked. Make sure cords are placed out of traffic areas. Cords should never be nailed or stapled to the wall, baseboards or to another object. Do not place cords under carpets or rugs nor rest any furniture on them.
Check to see that extension cords are not overloaded. Additionally, extension cords should only be used on a temporary basis: they are not intended to replace permanent household wiring. Make sure extension cords have safety closures to help prevent young children from shock hazards and mouth burn injuries.
Make sure your plugs properly fit your outlets. Never remove the ground pin (third prong) to make the three-prong fit a two-conductor outlet: this could lead to an electrical shock. NEVER FORCE A PLUG INTO AN OUTLET IF IT DOESN'T FIT. Plugs should fit securely into outlets. Avoid overloading outlets with too many appliances.
Circuit breakers and fuses should be the correct size current rating for their circuit. If you do not know the correct size, have an electrician identify and label the size to be used. Always replace a fuse with the same size fuse.
GROUND FAULT CIRCUIT INTERRUPTERS (GFCI'S):
GRCIs can help prevent electrocution. They should be used in any area where water and electricity may come into contact. When a GRCI senses current leakage in an electrical circuit, it assumes a ground fault has occurred. It then interrupts power fast enough to help prevent serious injury from electrical shock. Test GFCIs regularly according to the manufacturer's instructions to make sure that they are working properly.
WATER AND ELECTRICITY DON'T MIX:
Don't leave plugged in appliances where they might fall into contact with water. If a plugged appliance falls into water, NEVER reach in to pull it out - even if it's turned off. First turn off the power source at the circuit panel board and then unplug the appliance. If you have an appliance that has gotten wet, do not use it until it has been checked out by a qualified repair shop.
Check the wattage of all bulbs in light fixtures to make sure that they are the correct wattage for the size of the fixture. Replace bulbs that have a higher wattage than is recommended; if you don't know the correct wattage, check with the manufacturer of the fixture. Make sure bulbs are screwed in securely; loose bulbs may overheat. Today, there are many different energy efficient options.
If an appliance repeatedly blows a fuse, trips a circuit breaker, or if it has given you a shock, unplug it and have it repaired or replaced.
Check to see that the equipment is in good condition and working properly; look for cracks or damage in wiring, plugs, and connectors. Use a surge protector bearing the seal of a nationally recognized certification agency.
Electric-powered mowers and other tools should not be used in the rain, on wet grass or in wet conditions. Inspect power tools and electric lawn mowers before each use for frayed power cords, broken plugs, and cracked or broken housings. If damaged, stop using the tool immediately. Repair or replace it. Always use an extension cord marked for outdoor use and rated for the power needs of your tools. Remember to unplug all portable power tools when not in use. Since metal ladders conduct electricity, watch out for overhead wires and power lines.
During an electrical storm, do not use appliances (i.e. hairdryers, toasters and radios) or telephones (except in an emergency); do not take a bath or shower; keep batteries on hand for flashlights and radio in case of a power outage; use surge protectors on electronic devices and appliances.
Space heaters are meant to supply supplemental heat. Keep space heaters at least 3 ft. away from any combustible materials such as bedding, clothing, draperies, furniture and rugs. Don't use in rooms where children are unsupervised; remember to turn off and unplug space heaters when not in use.
Depending on your age, you may or may not know what a fuse box is. Basically, fuse boxes help to efficiently and safely distribute electricity through a home’s system. Circuit breakers perform a similar task by distributing electrical currents across many circuits. Each of those circuits has a breaker, and when the current overloads the breaker, it trips, stopping the flow of electricity through that circuit. Unlike fuses, overloading only causes a temporarily broken connection for circuit breakers. (Fuses become physically damaged and need to be replaced in order for power to be restored.)
WHY IT HAPPENS
Each circuit is responsible for carrying electricity to a different location in your home, providing power to the various appliances in that area. From refrigerators to blenders, ceiling fans to televisions, each item that requires electricity impacts one of the circuits in your home. When a circuit breaker trips, it’s because the electrical flow to that particular circuit has reached a dangerous level; if it didn’t trip, an overload could result in a power surge that would, essentially, fry your appliances. The tripping occurs when an electromagnet pulls a lever or bends a metal strip, breaking the electrical connection.
WHAT TO DO
After a circuit breaker trips, it needs to be reset. Once it has been reset, the normal flow of electricity will return to flowing through the circuit. While resetting a circuit breaker is as simple as flipping a switch, tripping can become a chronic issue. When it does, the underlying issue may be connected with your appliances or your entire electrical system. An issues such as crossed wires or short circuits could be the culprit. If there is such an issue, simply resetting the breaker will not rectify the situation. You’ll want to hire a skilled electrician to investigate and repair the issue and return your electrical system to smooth, safe working condition.
HOW TO AVOID IT
Unless there is an underlying issue with your electrical system, you can avoid tripping breakers by being conscious of how many appliances you have pulling electricity from each circuit, and how much electricity they require. You may want to check out a chart like this one along with the labels in your circuit breaker box to see which circuits may have the potential for being overly taxed.
If you think your home’s electrical system or circuit breaker box may need attention, we hope you’ll trust the professionally-trained, certified electricians at D’Amico Electric with the task. We would love to help your electrical system run more smoothly and safely and help you understand how to best manage the system already in place. We specialize in thoroughly explaining your options and providing punctual and courteous customer service.