Circuit Breakers 101

Circuit breakers are an essential safety component in your home. At bare minimum, they help prevent issues like fires and prevent injury. But what do it do, exactly and how does it work? Most of us only really know that there’s something about fuses, circuit breaker, something, something. The only real trips you make to the breaker is when there’s some sort of overload or short circuit.

But let’s put an end to that, today. Here’s most of what you need to know about your circuit breakers.

Here’s how it works

Your circuit breaker is really more of an electrical service panel. It has several lever-operated breakers that not only control the circuits, but protect them as well. If a specific amperpage loads into that particular circuit – It’ll ‘trip’ or shut itself off – protecting you and your loved ones from fire and a myriad of other safety issues. When it’s open – it keeps the circuit open to a normal electrical current – with each one being responsible for a certain area of your facility or home.

Why they trip

Overloaded circuits where excessive demands are placed on your system (think a dueling mother/daughter hair blower battle in separate bathrooms at the same time).

Shot circuits – which are mostly wiring issues with certain appliances that pulls too much current.

Ground faults – mostly occur in high moisture areas like kitchens and bathrooms and are the reason that GFCI’s are required by electrical codes.

Where are they located?

Breakers are most often found in your home’s ‘breaker box.’ You’ll usually find them in basements, garages, utility rooms and the like. If you can’t make yours out, simply find your electrical meter outside and follow the connectivity.

Resetting breakers

If you lose power in a particular area of your home, it’s likely because the breaker was tripped. Resetting that breaker is easy. Grab yourself a flashlight and head on down to your breaker box. Look for the area of your home where the lights went out on the label of your breakers. If you don’t have labels, look for the breaker that is positioned in the MIDDLE. A breaker that is off will point AWAY from the panel center. One that is on – will point towards it. Simply take the breaker switch and turn it OFF first, then flip it all the way back to ON and you should be good to go.

If not, and the circuit trips again, then turn the breaker back off without resetting it, close the panel door and call a pro to come check it out. 99/100 cases however, you won’t have to do this.

What to do about a trippy box? 

Some boxes constantly trip. The reasons for these are numerous, but the two most common ones being that it simply isn’t designed to maintain the capacity and stress that your lifestyle is putting on the board. The second is that the board could simply be damaged. Both should be calls you make to an electrician.

And above all else – if you notice charred breakers or something smells like it’s burning. Turn those breakers of immediately and seek a professional. DO NOT mess around with your own personal safety.

When the lights go out

Power outages are the worst. In fact, think of a more sinking feeling than the one you get in those first few seconds once the power goes out and everything goes quiet. There’s almost nothing worse. Once you’re over the initial ‘ugh’ factor, you immediately flip into the ‘what to do’ mode. How do you respond, what is the problem? Where is it? Is it just my home or somewhere else?

That’s what we’re here to discuss today. Here’s what to do during a power outage:

Reconcile that it’s mostly out of your control

You can’t really prepare for a power outage. Almost all of them happen out of nowhere. They usually come during a storm or with some issue that has to do with whomever supplies your power. Sometimes it’s even something as simple as a car accident that impacts an entire power grid. Whatever it is – you’re probably not going to be overly prepared.

Try to get some information

The great thing about cell phones is they give you access to all sorts of information. So take yours, and look up your local power supplier. They usually get updates and reports from customers almost immediately and you’ll be able to see what’s effected and where the outage has spread to. Usually within a set period of time they’ll have even identified a cause and will supply you with a general window of when you can expect the power to go back on. And by all means – report your outage to your local supplier!

Turn off all appliances

Especially if your outage is caused by a storm, you’ll want to unplug your appliances immediately. The initial power surge from the power coming back on can damage them and in some cases – prevent them from working altogether. This is especially important in the event that you experience an outage where your lights flicker before going dark.

Say ‘no’ to water

Avoid puddles, pools and any and all incidents of standing water. Downed and exposed lines are always exposed during these periods and can cause a great deal of trouble and prevent a serious safety risk. Stay away. And be sure to stay out of your shower!

Be mindful of the temperature

If your power goes out, so will your air conditioners and heating systems. If it’s cold outside, then it’s time to bundle up. If it’s hot and humid out, be sure to keep a spare case of bottled water hanging around. That water is safe and clean and will help you keep cool while the A/C is down.

Also bear in mind that there are plenty of tools like generators out there that can help you overcome these issues. Feel free to shoot us a call if you’d like to find out about these sorts of products and we’ll also help give you some advice on some other household things you should probably have handy. And most importantly – if it’s just your house going out – we can help get the lights back on. Give us a call to learn more!

Some new years resolutions on electrical safety

2018 is coming in hot and with that, it’s time to make some New Year’s Resolutions for the coming year. While everyone’s got the usual, standard fare resolutions – like losing weight, quitting smoking, visiting Fiji or what have you; we’re going to take care of one you should be thinking about – how you’ll keep your home safer!

Here are five resolutions you can make right now to keep your home safe from electrical hazards in 2018!

I promise I will check my smoke alarms once a month

You do plenty of things every month – you pay your bills, go get your haircut, go out on a date with the spouse – and you do them because they’re essential. But could any of those things save your life?

Whether it’s from electricity or anything else, smoke alarms can save your life. It takes less than a minute to test and check you detectors each month. You can check them on the way out to work, on your way through the door when you get home… heck, you can even check them on your way to get a bowl of Doritios. It takes a minute, and it could save your life!

You will stop overloading your sockets

Adaptors make it easy to plug many things into one outlet, but just because you have the ability to plug things in doesn’t mean that it’s actually safe to do so. Remember to use on extender per socket and no more! Get additional sockets installed if you really need them. In some cases – it might not even cost you as much as all those overpriced extension chords you’re buying!

You’ll register your appliances

When you think of all the electrical appliances and things you have in your house, the number climbs quickly. Just imagine ONE of them being recalled due to a dangerous malfunction or faulty component. You could potentially have a ticking time bomb in your house.

While yes, registering your products can lead to a little more junk mail and a few annoying solicitations – it also makes it easier for a company to contact you if something is wrong with their product. Chargers, adaptors, hair care appliances, irons, toasters – they all get recalled more than you think. Send in the little card and it could save your life.

I will not buy cheap phone chargers

Something around the range of 98% of budget car chargers have a serious fault or defect. Leave that sucker plugged in over night and it could hurt your car, your socket, your home, your computer, your phone…. or you. They’re made cheaply, usually in China and aren’t really inspected all that well. They’re dangerous and the fastest growing cause of electrical fires in the home.

So for that relevant resolution? It’s staying away from these cheap phone chargers.

Check in with your older relatives, friends and neighbors more often

Electrical accidents happen the most to older, more vulnerable people. Statistics show over a million people over 75 live in homes that aren’t properly heated, in disrepair and don’t have modern facilities and appliances. The overwhelming number or those aren’t up to safety standards.

Check in on the older folks who are important in your life. Checking their appliances is part of a checklist we’d like you to tackle, but more importantly – just spend time with them. It’s the right thing to do, it’s rewarding and you can learn a lot. But most importantly, we can help keep them a little safer. A little sentimental for us on a level, but it’s a good note to end the year on.

Have a happy new year, folks – and here’s to a super safe 2018!

Electrical safety for the holiday season

It’s holiday time again and if you’re one of our friends who go all out to celebrate, it’s time to break out those decorations. But those decorations can come with some risk – especially to your electrical system.

Here are some trips to have a happier, healthier, safer Christmas season. Let’s jump right in!

Inspect all your electrical decorations for damage before use

Whenever you’re going to use anything electricity-related, be sure to inspect it. Look for things like loose and bare wires, damaged light sockets, or any kind of connections that could potentially cause a significant shock or fire.

It’s not a bad idea to also make sure that you follow manufacturer’s guides. And trust us, we know manuals are a bummer – especially with most of you guys wanting to be ultra creative in your displays, but in all honesty, decorations are designed to be used in a specific way and when you step outside of that space, you’re putting you, your family and home at risk.

Do not decorate near power lines

At all. Stay as far away as possible; don’t decorate near them, around them – any of that. This should be self-explanatory, but to some, it’s not.

Never connect more than three strings of lights 

While you CAN get away with it on the outside of the house depending on the power source; going more than three strands is a huge no-no if it’s inside the house. Not only can these lights trip circuit breakers, but also they can cause fires quickly. We recommend purchasing LED lights purely from the standpoint that they use a lot less energy and run cooler than their incandescent cousins.

When you go to bed, turn it all off

Most electrical issues and fires come overnight when the homeowner isn’t paying attention. Flat-out, there’s no reason to have them on when you’re sleeping. No one’s looking at them, admiring them or any of that. Turn everything off before you go to bed.

Keep your trees well watered

Believe it or not, most tree fires start and get worse because a spark hits a dry tree and it goes up quickly. You should be consistently watering the tree to keep it healthy. Also – make sure when you’re buying your tree that you’re checking for freshness. Fresh trees stay healthy longer and will present less of an electrical hazard than an older one will. In addition, try to avoid electric ornaments outside of the usual fare of lights and a star/angel.

The holiday season is the best – but it’s better when it’s safe. Enjoy your family, friends and make this holiday season the best ever!

Electrical Safety Prep for the winter

As the fall weather begins to transition into the cold weather of winter, it’s time to start tidying up and getting prepared for the winter. This month, we’re going to let you know the things you need to keep in mind on the electrical front – to make the transition as smooth and safe as possible.

Let’s jump right in!

Store your tools appropriately

It’s time to shelve those mowers and trimmers and check the cold weather ones. As such – it’s a good time to check spark plugs, power chords and the like. Especially if you’re in a place where snow blowers are a way of life, be sure you check the starters, undergo a dry run and have spaces clear where you can start up your blower safely and without worry. Also be sure to replace any parts you have.

Weather proofing is a must

Make sure you’re using weatherproof electrical devices for outside activities and keep all your devices away from moisture. Make sure that any equipment that has been wet gets inspected and reconditioned by a dealer if need be.


Yeah, we hate them, too – but they need to be cleaned up thoroughly. Especially if you have outdoor outlets and electrical fixtures – make sure you clean the areas and spaces around them thoroughly. It only takes one errant spark for things to go wrong.

Check your heat-generating devices

Especially if you have things like space heaters and electric blankets – give them a test run to make sure they’re in working order. And as is the case with any electric blanket or heating pad – do not fall asleep with them on or tuck them into your sheets! And as always, be conscious of pets and small children. Do another walk through of your house to make sure unused outlets are covered and protected from these noble explorers.

Getting ready for the cold stuff is important and shouldn’t be taken lightly. Fire hazards have a way of being doubly devastating in the winter – and more costly to fix. If you want a safety walk through, simply call in a pro and have them do it. The small cost for doing so far outweighs the potential for catastrophic damage or injury.

Why your circuit breaker keeps tripping

In many houses – particularly older ones – breakers can sometimes trip to the point of sheer annoyance. Putting on the dishwasher? Boom, there goes the light. Turn on the air conditioning? Bye-bye power.

It’s frustrating for sure, but there are some things you can do to make sure this isn’t happening as much and more importantly – isn’t hiding a more serious problem in your system.

Why do breakers trip?

So we’re going start off with the basics, here. Breaker trips monitor specific circuits or sets of circuits in your home. They police the amount of electricity flowing to and from your lights. When too much comes through or it exceeds the usage limitations on a particular device – it shuts off to save your system. Pretty simple stuff, really.

What usually causes trips?

Appliance use – Each breaker in your home is set to administer a specific amount of electrical current. When that’s exceeded, the breaker trips and shuts off. Appliances, TV’s and even some more mobile appliances like Vacuums can trip breakers unexpectedly because of their newer, more modern power needs. Be mindful of just how much you have plugged into the wall and where.

Worn out breakers – Some breakers – after a lot of use – can get worn out. Like anything in your life, breakers have a shelf life and will eventually break as they get older. Frequent breaker trips are a sure fire sign that your breakers may be worn down – and it’s a good idea to call a pro. Believe it or not, this is a super simple, affordable fix to make so long as you’ve got an electrician around.

Storms –We’ve had our fair share this year – big and small – and storms can certainly trip breakers and sometimes damage them. Simply put – just for safety’s sake – we recommend looking into a whole-home surge protection system just to avoid this very situation. It’ll not only keep your home safe, but many of the important appliances and devices within it that play such a vital role in your life each and every day.

Lousy wiring – The cause of just about every other problem we face, lousy wiring can be a suck hole for money. This can include old and worn out wires that no longer work, newer writing that wasn’t configured properly by a professional – or weak/non-traditional configurations… long story, short – bad wiring can cause a lot of issues. If you’re having issues with the breaker tripping, then get on it and call a pro. This could be a problem that spreads far beyond the breaker box.

If you’re experiencing this issue and tired of the headaches it creates, then give us a call and we can come and take look. Good luck!

Five Fall Electrical Safety Tips

Believe it or not, the fall is actually one of the most hazardous times when it comes to electrical safety issues and that’s what our post is going to be about for this month.

The change from Summer to Fall is a big one largely because it’s where you’ll see the most change occurring between large-scale electrical devices in the home. Air conditioners are out, electrical blankets and space heaters are in – and that’s not even getting into all the thing things you use in your yard, the basement and everywhere else.

But have no fear – we’re here to help. Here’s some tips to abide by!

Check all of your smoke detectors and CO detectors

This should go with any season, really – but every 3-4 months we suggest you test your detectors as they can be life savers. Your average detector lasts 10 years and if you have one getting a little long in the tooth, it’s probably time for a new one. That way if there is a problem – electric, gas or otherwise – you’ll have your last line of defense ready to go!

Inspect your extension cords

The holidays are coming up sooner than you think (yes, we know – that’s… ugh)… but with the holidays come Christmas lights, light up candles, menorahs, light up Santas, light up… ugh, it’s August. But honestly – you know it’s coming – so you need to be prepared! Check those lights – but just as importantly – check those extension cords as they work overtime no matter the season. That means no damage or fraying. That means anything you’re planning on using outdoors should be weather rated. That means making sure you have surge protectors and power strips that have internal overload protection for your indoor cords. And as always – DON’T plug too many things into one space.

Be careful with any heat-generating electrical item

That’s not just space heaters – but also things like electric blankets and the like. While incredibly convenient (and cozy) – realize you are parking yourself next to and draping yourself in a lot of electricity. Make sure there’s nothing flammable laying around the places where you’re planning on using them and double-make sure those devices are in good, working order.

If you haven’t protected your outdoor systems – please do

Any outdoor electrical outlets should have covers. All of them. At best – the Bubble Covers to make sure the elements stay out – but the metal or plastic flapper works almost as well, too. With snow and or rain on its way – this will ensure its not damaged.

Oh and before we forget

DO NOT HANG ANYTHING HOLIDAY RELATED NEXT TO A POWER LINE OR WIRE NEAR YOUR HOUSE. Ever. For any reason. We’re saying this with a shred of humor – but the consequences can be really serious. In the fall, people love their decorations, their corn husks, pumpkins and then that morphs into the crazy light shows in the winter. You’d be surprised at the bad ideas some people come up with. Nothing should ever be near wires leading in and out of your house, be within range of falling into them and most certainly – never hanging off of them.

We’re always here for a free consultation, so if you want more information or even a walk-through, we’re happy to oblige. Best of luck and enjoy the cooler weather!

Five simple ways to get cooler and cut your electrical bill this summer

Energy costs are one of those things as people we just need to kind of accept as being a thing in life. In the north, they have oil and heating bills that would make us folks here in the St. Petersburg/Tampa area blush. And if they saw our electrical bills to keep things cool – they’d probably pass out. So no matter where you live, it’s something we fight and manage in our own way.

That doesn’t mean you need to be swallowing massive bills, though. In fact there’s a lot you can do to take the edge off that doesn’t involve calling us for the latest greatest electrical install to do it.

And that’s what today’s post is all about. Ways you can beat the heat and save a little money on the side without calling us to install, repair or wire something.

If you have window shades, use them

Windows open up rooms and bring bright light in – but they also allow unwanted heat to sneak in and raise the temperature. This tip is the perfect excuse to dress up your room in order to lower your electrical bill. Blinds and curtains can help insulate a room and especially when it gets hotter out – can help keep the temperature cooler.

Find your green thumb

One thing that always helps reduce the amount of heat in a home is by planting trees to help cut down on the amount of heat that penetrates your roof, walls and even the outside A/C unit. The more heat, the harder the system has to work – the harder the system has to work then, well… the higher your bill will be.

Deciduous trees are great on the east/west portions of your house as they’ll be the ones dealing with the heat the most. And the best part about them is that they’ll block heat in the summer while simultaneously getting out of the way to invite it in during the colder winter months. So in a way, while nature is part of the problem, it can become part of the solution, too.

Keep appliances away from the thermostat

Especially if you have central air, thermostats tell the A/C when to turn on and off. One common mistake people do is by putting things like lights next to the thermostat itself. Lamps give off heat, making the thermostat think its hotter than it really is and then you’re turning you’re A/C on more than you need to. Simply moving those devices somewhere else can help remedy this issue.

Eat fruit

So technical, right? Honestly, fruit helps the body maintain its internal temperature. But fruits like watermelon, peaches and honeydews give you a lot of water. Eating better will help keep you cooler and help ebb the need to be constantly cooled off by fans or electronic devices.

Get the most out of your fans

Instead of flipping on a switch, make sure you’re actually getting cooled off by your fans. A lot of people put fans in the corner of the room and all that will do is simply circulate the air. Put your fans near you so you receive that cooling effect you need. And then simply turn it off when you don’t need it. Don’t place it in a far off place in the room because it won’t do you any good.


A little late, but about Electrical Safety Month

So last month was Electrical Safety Month and we meant to post something earlier, but hey – better late than never, right? But Electrical Safety Month is important to us because face it – we make our living large in part due to our ability to help keep your electrical systems working properly, and part of electrical systems working properly means that they’re safe.


Electricity is an amazing thing, but it’s also incredibly dangerous and the consequences – and the frequency with which they manifest themselves – are very, very real.


Electrical incidents caused:


  • 43,900 home fires
  • 438 deaths
  • 1,430 injuries
  • $1.47 billion dollars worth of property damage


…just last year, alone. What’s staggering about that isn’t just some of the numbers, but how frequent and common these occurrences are. We are always sharing out electrical safety tips with you on this blog, but having a safer home really comes back around to you actually taking electrical safety seriously.


And actually taking electrical safety seriously isn’t a belittling thing. It’s just being more aware of what’s around you. Doing so can and will prevent a lot of bad things from happening.


It’s being vigilant about replacing wobbly switches and outlets. It’s making sure that you don’t run cords across carpets. It’s not using electrical equipment near water. It’s not overloading electrical sockets with gadgets. It’s about teaching your kids how to be safe around electricity.


Our point is ‘being safe’ isn’t just a thing you do – it’s an ongoing state of awareness you have as to your surroundings. Just behaving that way is going to prevent a whole myriad of potential issues in the future. It could save you, your home, perhaps even your loved ones.


If you’re unsure as to what you need to do, it’s always advisable to give folks like us a call and we can come through and help. It costs nothing to do a quick walkthrough.

Tips to prevent electrical fires

While technology has come a long way over the years, it also places increased demands on our household electrical systems – which sadly haven’t kept up with all the innovation. Too many homes are lagging too far behind when it comes to what their system can handle – and the results – sometimes – can be costly. The most common consequence – and perhaps the most dangerous – is the threat of electrical fire.


Doing your part is important, but knowing how to do your part is the best place to start. Here are some tips to help keep your home safe from electrical fires.


Always go to the source


Your electrical outlets are some of the most important aspects of your home. But like any critical component, they can become worn and damaged over time. When that wear and tear occurs, it can be dangerous, primarily because your devices all have contact with the outlet – thus the risk for sparking increases.  If you have outlets that seem damaged, warm or spark on occasion, you need to call an electrician immediately and have them replaced.



Another thing to look out for is consistently tripping your breaker. Especially if there’s sparks involved, you could have a significant underlying electrical issue in your house. That being said – tripped breakers usually occur in the kitchen – where several heat-producing appliances are hogging up the same breaker. It could simply just be that you’re overloading your system, so you might want to try to spread out some of your appliances across multiple circuits so you avoid tripping your breaker.


Cut that cord


One of the most common mistakes we encounter in houses are people relying on extension cords and power strips. Both should be used sparingly and/or temporarily. Now – there are exceptions to this rule. Entertainment areas, computer work stations – those are places where it’s unavoidable. But you should keep up on them and when you get the first sign of disrepair, they should be replaced immediately.



If it gets hot, be careful


Heat-producing appliances are probably the most common causes of fire, period – not just electrical fires. And that shouldn’t come as a surprise at all. They produce heat, after all.


Be sure to always, always follow a manufacturer’s safety manual when it comes to things like dryers and space heaters – especially if they’re older. Always clean out your lint tray in the dryer – and always be sure to clean it once a year. Keep your space heaters away from paper, carpets and the like.



And as always, it’s a good idea to call a local pro and have them simply do an audit of your home. That way, you’ll know what things need to be upgraded, where potential dangers might exist and also what you can do to make sure your home is safer. Good luck!