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Electrical Questions

This is commonly called Bleed over and usually results from one of three conditions.

  • Excessively long runs of wire within the home of non-twisted pairs.
  • Loop wiring from phone station to phone station.
  • A nick in the phone wire somewhere within your residence causing a weak interconnect between phone lines.

Phone wiring installation today should be done as a home run system, each phone station being a dedicated run back to a common terminal block.

Please remember if you have a problem with your phone wiring within your home today, it is the responsibility of the electrician rather than the phone company as in the past.

If you need help sorting out your phone system in your home or commercial setting, contact our team of professionals today!

The black button is a test button and when pressed, should deactivate the outlet and any other outlet fed from it – Indicating a properly functioning device. The red button is the re-set button that you depress to reactivate the outlet or outlets in the event of deactivation resulting from a fault.

The TEST button is there to help you check and ensure the outlet is working properly. Whenever you plug a device in while the test button is on, the appliance should not work. The RESET button is there so you can return power to the outlet after running a test or if a breaker/circuit trip occurs.

If you outlet is still not providing power after the reset button is pressed, contact our team of professionals to get it fixed today!

Both devices, either breaker or fuse, are designed to trip (turn off) in the event of an electrical overload, i.e. 20Amps of electrical load on a 15Amp circuit would cause a trip. The only difference is that a breaker is mechanical and may be reset. Whereas, a fuse is one time only and must be replaced. Please Note: Modern breakers are much more efficient and offer greater levels of protection. They are easy to visually tell apart as the circuit breaker panel has small switches inside which are labeled to show which circuit belongs to which switch.

Fuse panels used to be popular in home construction but they are not used very much any more. Most new homes now utilize breaker panels. A fuse box utilizes small circular fuses instead of the switches in a breaker panel and they need to be replaced before the circuit may be used again. Fuse panels also offer a limited amount of power and often do are not able to power simple electronics or appliances.

If you need electrical work performed on your home or commercial setting, contact the professionals today!

GFCI stands for Ground Fault Circuit Interrupter which is a fast-acting circuit breaker designed to shut off electrical power in the event of a ground-fault within as little as 1/40 of a second. In layman’s terms this device protects you from electrical shock. When it senses the slightest increase in resistance resulting from ground fault, (i.e., the use of electrical devices in or near water), it turns off to protect you.

GFCIs are generally installed where electrical circuits may accidentally come into contact with water. They are most often found in kitchens, bath and laundry rooms or even out-of-doors or in the garage where electrical power tools might be used.

There is a “receptacle-type” GFCI, similar to a common wall outlet and it is the type with which most consumers are familiar. Additionally, there are temporary or portable GFCIs that are frequently used in construction and in outdoor settings with electric tools, mowers, trimmers and similar devices. They would not be used as a permanent alternative to a regular GFCI.

Central air conditioning and heat pump condensers may cause a noticeable slight dimming on start up. Lights may flicker or dim due to startup of some appliances or motor driven equipment. Check with the local utility company for possible defects in supply source or for the utility switching to other utilities for supply.

If you are still experiencing flickering lights outside of the aforementioned scenarios, contact our team of professionals to get it fixed today!

Except in the case of ground fault interrupters, which are susceptible to moisture and/or weather conditions, fuses and circuit breakers should not trip. Check to see if some type of plugged in appliance is causing the problem.

In every kitchen, family room, dining room, living room, parlor, library, den, bedroom, or similar room or area of dwelling units, receptacle outlets shall be installed so that no point along the floor line in any wall space there is more than six feet, from an outlet in that space. This is to prevent the use of extension cords. Outlets are usually placed about 18 inches above floor level. Switches usually go about 48 inches from floor level.  Air conditioners should be on a single dedicated circuit.

Starting January 1, 2002, The National Electrical Code , Section 210-12, requires that all branch circuits supplying 125V, single phase, 15 and 20 ampere outlets installed in dwelling unit bedrooms be protected by an arc-fault Circuit interrupter. Eventually they will be in more areas but the NEC selected to require them on bedroom circuits first because a CPSC study showed many home fire deaths were related to bedroom circuits.

The AFCI (Arc Fault Circuit Interrupter) breaker, will shut off a circuit in a fraction of a second if arcing develops. The current inside of an arc is not always high enough to trip a regular breaker. You must have noticed a cut or worn piece of a cord or a loose connection in a junction box or receptacle arcing and burnt without tripping the regular breaker. As you can guess this is a major cause of fires in a dwelling.

There is a difference between AFCIs and GFCIs. AFCIs are intended to reduce the likelihood of fire caused by electrical arcing faults; whereas, GFCIs are personnel protection intended to reduce the likelihood of electric shock hazard. Don’t misunderstand, GFCIs are still needed and save a lot of lives.

Combination devices that include both AFCI and GFCI protection in one unit will become available soon. AFCIs can be installed in any 15 or 20 ampere branch circuit in homes today and are currently available as circuit breakers with built-in AFCI features. In the near future, other types of devices with AFCI protection will be available.

If a GFCI receptacle is installed on the load side of an AFCI it is possible for both the AFCI and the GFCI to trip on a fault if the current exceeds the limit for both devices. It is also possible for the AFCI to trip and the GFCI to not trip since the two devices could race each other. However, in no case is safety compromised.

At first the cost for AFCI will be high. Expect to pay between $20 and $50 for each AFCI. The cost is expected to drop as much more are ordered.

Check to see if the outlet is on a switch. Check and reset GFCI outlets and circuit breaker. Check light bulbs and replace if necessary. See if any other outlets are out as well. If there is still no power you could look for a bad connection, loose terminal screws, loose stab-in connections, loose wires, etc.

If you have exhausted all of these options, contact our team of professionals today to get it fixed ASAP!

Most breakers are the same in that you have to turn them off before you turn them on again. One brand trips to the off position and no reset is required, but most have to be reset by turning it off completely and then turning it back on. To do this, flip the tripped breaker’s toggle toward the outside of the panel, to the OFF position. Then, flip it back toward the center of the panel, to the ON position. If the breaker trips again right away, do not try to reset it again. There’s clearly a problem with the circuit. Turn the breaker to the OFF position and investigate the problem and possibly call an electrician. If the breaker stays on and all appears to be normal, it’s still a good idea to determine what tripped the breaker in the first place. Always close the panel door before leaving the area.

Unless you made provisions with the builder for a dedicated circuit, the outlets in your garage are GFCI Protected per National Electrical Code. This device will not tolerate the additional resistance load created by refrigeration equipment. The GFCI senses there is a fault, and therefore trips off. The only cure to this problem is to provide a dedicated, non-GFCI circuit allowable by code.

Yes, but first you must make sure the electrical box is properly braced and rated for the weight and torque of the ceiling fan you are installing. We’ll give you a few tips on how to tell if your electrical box is ok to support a ceiling fan.Silver ceiling fan with a white ceiling and walls

You’ll need to inspect the existing box first. The best way to do that is to examine it from above, from somewhere like the attic. If the outlet box is in between floors, that’s no problem! You’ll just need to inspect it from below. There are several ways it could be supported so you’ll need to confirm which way it’s fastened to the structure. It could be screwed to wood from the sides, or the screws could go through the top of the box. If you can’t see or are unsure, you’ll need to hire an electrician to inspect it for you. This is something Swiftec can do easily!

If your light fixture is in an older home, make sure the outlet box has been fastened with screws to the bottom of the block. If it has only been mounted on one side or with nails instead of screws, it will not be able to support a ceiling fan. You will need to secure it further, or get a new outlet box.

If you need to buy a new outlet box, the manufacturer of the will indicate that it is acceptable for ceiling fan installation. If not, there are other ways to attach and secure it to the building structure. This includes outlet boxes designed with straps, or making sure the box has been fastened to wood blocking.

If at any time you’re unsure about whether or not your outlet box can support a ceiling fan, or have trouble determining if it can, just give us a call at 605-721-1193!

Yes. Dimming fluorescent requires not only a special dimmer, but also special fixtures. You cannot place a typical incandescent dimmer on existing fluorescent.

A common fluorescent bulb will not work with a dimmer installed for incandescent lighting. There are special dimmers and ballasts which, when used together, provide the lighting that can be dimmed.

If your fluorescent bulbs flicker, most likely the problem is with the bulb itself. If the bulb is very dark on either end, it may be defective and burned out. The best way to test the functionality of a bulb is to put it into a fixture you know works. If the bulb doesn’t work or flickers in a working fixture, you know the problem is with the bulb and not the fixture. The problem could be with the starter in your bulb, but most new bulbs do not have starters. However, if your bulb has a starter, you should be able to see it at the bottom of the bulb! Fluorescent bulb starters generally look like gray metallic cylinders and require a simple replacement!

Flickering fluorescent lights can also be a result of temperature. If the air around the bulb is cold and circulating, the bulb won’t be able to generate enough heat to work properly. The internal temperature of a fluorescent bulb should be about 50 degrees Fahrenheit for it to work properly and optimally. If the air around the bulb is too cold, you can use an enclosed light fixture to help insulate the bulb. It’s also possible that you may be using the wrong type of fluorescent bulb that is simply not compatible with your ballast.

At the present time most states allow you to do whatever you want in your own home. But doing electrical work yourself is a gamble. How much are you willing to risk to save money. There is a reason why it takes so much training to become an electrician. Do not make a mistake by taking electricity lightly, even the smallest job is a safety hazard. Why take a chance. Get a professional to do this work.

Although in some states the homeowner can pull his own Electrical permit for work in his single family home, what the homeowner does not know is that in case of damage or fire caused by his work, his homeowners insurance will not pay. They will only pay if the work is done by a licensed Electrical Contractor. You should check with your homeowners Insurance Co., and they should sign a document or something to this effect to acknowledge this when they pull a permit.

The most dangerous time is when you think that it is simple to change one or two wires. Suddenly you are surrounded by a tangle of loose ends and cannot recall where they all go. Then you need a professional to come and sort it all out for you. This could end up costing you more than you thought you were saving when you began the project.

Yes. Though, if the two loads exceed 20amps, your breaker will sense overload, do its job, and trip off. Under this condition, you must plug one of the appliances into a different kitchen outlet on a different circuit, in order to balance the load. 

However you rarely want to plug two appliances into a single outlet unless the outlets were designed to handle multiple plugs. As a general rule of thumb you do not want each outlet to exceed 1,500 watts so you should check what the wattage of each appliance is.

Yes. Though, if the device exceeds the capacity of the circuit, the breaker will trip off.

Yes this is completely normal for when most HVAC systems turn on. If your lights dim for less than a second or their brightness is reduced by only a fraction then it shouldn’t be a cause for concern as it has no negative effect on the electrical system. The cause for concern only comes if your lights flicker constantly when the system is on or noticeably brighten before flickering as this may indicate a larger issue at hand. The most common causes of continued light flickering are circuit overload, exposed wires, damaged wires, maxed out distribution panel, or a damaged/weak AC capacitor.

The short answer is NO. By themselves, surge protectors cannot protect your home’s electronics from being damaged by a power surge caused by direct lightning strikes… in fact nothing can.

You should still set up surge protection in your home to guard against two much more common threats – internal and external power surges.

A lighting strikes contains too much electricity to be stopped by any type of system, not even a full-fledged lighting protection system.

Yes. Main line surge is no absolute guarantee and any additional surge protection down stream in the system offers a greater level of protection; though, nothing is absolute when it comes to the power of Mother Nature.

This is usually caused by several factors.

  1. Use of non-brand named bulbs.
  2. Larger wattage bulbs, which cause excessive heat build-up shorting the life of the bulb.
  3. Power Surges.
  4. Bad light bulbs
  5. The bulb is screwed in too tight
  6. Too much vibration
  7. Turning off and on too often
  8. Loose or improperly connected fixtures or wiring

Check that your bulb socket is providing good contact to the center of the bulb. You may have to clean and/or lift up the center contact (while the power is OFF)

Home decorated with Christmas lights on the frame and through the yardYes. Within reason, if the quantity of lights creates a load greater than the capacity of the circuit breaker, the breaker will trip off. In this event, additional circuits may be required to accommodate your holiday display.

There are several factors determining what you can plug in – the type of Christmas lights, if you have anything else plugged into the outlet, and the amperage of the circuit.

To tell how many watts your circuit can handle, just multiply the the outlet voltage (110) by the amount of amps the circuit has. Most homes have 15-20 amp circuits. In this case, it would be between 1,650 and 2,200 watts.

We recommend not loading your circuits more than 80% capacity. To tell how much this is, just multiply the wattage by .8! This would make the safe amount between 1,320 and 1,760 watts.

Christmas decorative lights turned on and shining brightlyThis is where the type of Christmas lights comes into play – LED lighting uses much less wattage than traditional lighting so you would be able to string up much more. And, LED lights become more efficient the colder the temperature gets – which is a win-win in South Dakota!

If you’re still not sure how much your outlet can handle, just get in contact with us! We will be glad to help.

This could mean one of two things. 1. An intermittent chirp is probably an indication of a defective smoke detector. 2. A consistent chirp is probably an indication of a low battery condition and the smoke detector requires a new battery. Other common reasons for chirping are the battery pull-tab is still in the alarm, the battery drawer is open, low battery, the battery is there but part of the terminal is obstructed and others.

Modern Recess Cans are rated for a maximum wattage bulb and are equipped with a thermal device that does not allow a bulb larger than that rating. If a larger wattage bulb is used, as the excess heat builds up, the thermal device will shut the can off until it cools. This is a safety device to protect your home against fire.

Most states call for 100 amps minimum, but with all the new electronic devices, air conditioning and electric heat, I would suggest 200 amps especially in new homes. This also gives you some space for future additions. This is not a job for an unlicensed person to attempt. In most cases it involves replacing everything from the service loop (this is the wire that extends from the top of your meter to the utility tie in ) up to and including the main panel.

With deregulation of the utility companies in most areas of the country, the cable or telephone companies are no longer responsible for the equipment or wiring in your home. This responsibility has fallen to you and your electrical contractor. Therefore, when a problem arises, we recommend you us. Most TV and telephone utilities will still service within your home for a substantial fee. This service, as in the past, is no longer free.

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