As the occupant of a home there are numerous tasks you perform on a daily basis that you probably take for granted. Some of these chores seem simple like flipping on a light switch to light up a dark room or turning on a hairdryer to dry your hair. Every time you flip a light switch or plug in an appliance for that matter, you are using power that is part of a complex power grid. Transformers reduce high voltage current to the more manageable 110-220 volt lines used within your home. Your electrical meter records the amount of power that is used every time you turn on a light or run an appliance.
Circuit Breaker Definition
One of the most important safety features within your home is the circuit breaker. The circuit breaker is designed to immediately cut off the power when there is an overload in the flow of electricity entering your home. In many homes, particularly newer homes, a circuit breaker panel or breaker box can generally be located in a utility closet. Each switch inside the box is connected to the wires attached to a specific room in the house. In many instances a large appliance that uses a lot of energy has a single switch devoted to it, for example your HVAC unit.
Old Style Plug Fuses to Modern Circuit Breaker Switches
In older homes, old style plug fuses contained a tiny strip of metal that would melt during surges of power to break the power circuit. These types of plugs were extremely dangerous because homeowners would often use a stronger fuse than the circuit was designed to safely accommodate. Unfortunately this type of seemingly innocent tampering would often lead to fires resulting in major property damage and in many cases death of the occupants. Modern circuit breaker switches work on the same premise, but instead of replacing the fuse, the homeowner just resets the breaker to safely restore power.
How to Safely Reset a Tripped Circuit Breaker in Your Home
When a breaker shuts off, the cause is usually self-explanatory. For example, if you turned on an appliance right before the power shut off; there is a very good chance that the appliance overloaded the circuit. It is very common for appliances to cause a sharp enough spike in amperage to trip the breaker. When the electricity unexpectedly goes out in only a small portion of the home such as a room or two, the first thing that you should do is turn off any appliances that were operating in the rooms before the power went out. If necessary use a flashlight to examine the breakers to find out which one tripped. The tripped breaker will be easy to identify because it will be facing in the opposite direction from the other switches. To safely reset the breaker, turn it all the way off, then back on. Wait a few moments to make sure that the switch stays on before returning to the rooms. Test the power output by turning the appliance back on. If the breaker continues to trip, contact your Burley Electrical Services professional to diagnose the cause and expertly repair the problem.
What is a GFCI Outlet & How Does it Work?
GFCI (Ground fault circuit interrupter) is a standard outlet that includes a built-in circuit breaker as an added safety feature. The term ground fault is used to describe the electrical current that travels off of its intended path. Since water conducts electricity more readily than wire, if an outlet gets splashed with water there is a good chance that the current will follow the water possibly causing electrocution to any individual unfortunate enough to be standing in its path. GFCI outlets are installed in kitchens and bathrooms as an added safety feature to instantly interrupt the flow of electricity to prevent electrical shock. GFCI outlets look much like regular outlets except for the two small buttons in the center labeled “test” and “reset”
How to Test a GFCI Outlet
You should test your GFCI outlets on a regular basis to ensure they are working properly. The best way to test the outlet is to plug in a lamp, and turn it on. Push the test button on the outlet panel, if it is working properly, the lamp will shut off and the red reset button on the panel will pop out. Leaving the lamp in place, push the reset button back in. If the outlet is working correctly, the lamp will come back on. Some GFCI breakers can be hard to find and when they flip they can also interrupt power going to other outlets. If a traditional outlet loses power, locate any GFCI outlets that are nearby and check the reset buttons to ensure that haven’t popped out. For additional safely, some appliances and extension cords come fitted with GFCI trips in them. Take note of these and check the reset buttons to ensure they haven’t tripped.