|Troubleshooting Electrical Systems|
|Welcome to Lucas Electrical Service Troubleshooting.
A prompt, accurate diagnosis of any electrical problem is so important. Troubleshooting can be time consuming, costly and frustrating to the client. Often several “electricians” have been solicited in hopes of determining and correcting the problem; each requiring their own separate payment for services rendered. At this time, it is so important to initially research and find a reputable, knowledgeable electrician and “hang on to their number”. Their experience is equivalent to a punctual remediation and consequential lower cost to the you, the client.
Lucas Electrical Service: 760-464-4583
|To Reset an Electrical Breaker|
A circuit breaker which has been tripped will either be in the middle or "OFF" position. Locate the tripped circuit breaker and reset it by pushing it all the way to the "OFF" position and then back to the "ON" position. Often when you can't cannot reset the circuit breaker, it is because it must be turned all the way to the "Off" position first.
Electricity should now be restored to the circuit. If the circuit breaker trips again before you have turned anything on or plugged anything in, the breaker itself may need to be replaced or a serious wiring fault may exist. Immediately consult a qualified electrician.
If the circuit breaker trips after plugging in or turning on a device, that device may have a short or may be placing too much of a load on the circuit.
If no circuit breakers were tripped and you still do not have power at an outlet, there may be a wiring fault, the outlet may be defective or it may be on a GFCI controlled branch circuit.
Ceiling Fan Operating by Itself
I can't tell you the frequency clients have contacted me for their celing fan malfunctioning. I'm informed the fan operates on its own. The light turns "on" or "off" and the speed changes without them controling it. The culpret is typically a neighbor who recently installed a ceiling fan with the same "radio frequency code". The solution is to simply change the "dip switch" code in both the transmitter and receiver.
To Reset a GFCI
A GFCI (ground fault circuit interrupter) outlet is a device that adds a greater level of safety by reducing the risk of electric shock. Most building codes now require that a GFCI outlet be used in wet locations such as bathrooms, kitchens, laundry rooms and outdoors.
A GFCI outlet monitors for a current imbalance between the hot and neutral wires and breaks the circuit if that condition occurs. A circuitbreaker usually will trip if you receive a shock, but it may not act fast enough to protect you from harm. A GFCI outlet is more sensitive and acts faster than a circuit breaker or fuse and is thus an important safety feature.
If you have an outlet that doesn't work, and the breaker is not tripped, look for a GFCI outlet which may have tripped. The non-working outlet may be down line from a GFCI outlet. Note that the affected outlets may not be located near the GFCI outlet, they may be several rooms away or even on a different floor.
A GFCI outlet has a "Test" and a "Reset" button. Pressing the "Test" button will trip the outlet and break the circuit. Pressing the "Reset" will restore the circuit. If pressing the test button does not work, then replace the GFCI outlet. If the outlet does pop when you press the "Test" button, but the outlet still has power, the outlet is miswired. A miswired outlet is dangerous and it should be fixed immediately.
Electrical outlets wear out. A new outlet will hold a plug quite firmly, but after years of use the outlet will lose its grip. It's common to find 20 or 30 year old outlets that are so loose that a cord barely stays in place. High volume use (like vacuum usage) and wear out the outlet quickly. This isn't just a nuisance, this is a hazard. Loose-fitting plugs can arc, which is essentially small-scale lightning. Arcing will create heat, and if the arcing is bad enough the heat can melt the surrounding wiring and start a fire. I've seen it happen. The effeted outlet should be replaced.
Switched-outlet no longer functions:
My first question is have any of the outlets, switches or dimmers been recently changed? It is typical to find the 120v-side of the outlet was not separated or the neutral-side was separated, which will cause the recepticles to malfunction. Some new "electronic dimmers" and transformers require a load before they function.
I recently had a client who's guest bathroom light had to be "on" for their dining room light and living room television to operate. After trouble shooting, It was determined the "painters" had removed the guest bathroom sconces and mis-wired them during the replacement.
|Wobbling Ceiling Fan:
There are several things that can cause a ceiling fan to wobble
- Loose junction box
- Loose mounting hardward or blade holders
- Bent blade holders
- Warped blades
- Blades that are out of balance
- Poor quality ceiling fan
You can pick up a ceiling fan balancing kit at most home centers and some hardware stores. If you cannot find one locally, give us a call and we should be able to get you one. The ceiling fan blade balancing kit should consist of a plactic weighted clip and some lead weights that have double stick tape on them. The clip is the same weight as the lead weights and is simply used to locate the blades that are out of balance. Once the out of balance blade (or blades) is found, you will need to stick a lead weight on the top middle of the blade in the same position you had the clip. Here is a more detailed description of how to balance a ceiling fan.
1. To balance the blades, run the fan on high speed, down draft.
2. Before using balance kit, switch positions of 2 adjacent blades ( replace blade 'a' where blade 'b' was and put blade 'b' where blade 'a' was. ) If this improves the balance of fan, leave as is and proceed to step 3. If this makes balance worse, change blades back and proceed to step 3.
3. With the fan stationary, attach the balancing clip firmly on the leading edge of one blade halfway between at the outer edge of the blade and the blade bracket.
4. Run the fan and observe the wobble. Stop the fan and move the clip to the next blade. Again run the fan and observe the wobble. Repeat this for all blades.
5. Move the clip back to the blade where you noticed the least wobble. This time attach the clip to the leading edge of the blade near the blade bracket, run the fan and observe the wobble. Stop the fan and move the clip outward toward the end of the blade in small increments until you find the position where the fan runs best.
6. Peel the protective paper off of one of the self adhesive weight strips, and stick it firmly on the top of the blade along the center line, opposite the clip. Remove the clip and start the fan. If the fan wobble was not completely stopped, you may be able to further improve it by repeating all of the above steps. Adding another weight to whichever blade is indicated by your second test, in addition to the one you put on the first time, may solve the wobbling problem.
To Remove a Broken Light Bulb
You've have heard of the old potato trick. "Cut a potato in half, push it into the bulb base, and twist it out". Does it really work? I guess it could, though I must admit that I never tried it. Why, you ask? I guess it's because I don't carry a potato in my toolbag!
1) First and foremost, make sure the electric power is off. If you can't determine which circuit the fixture is on, turn off ALL circuits.
2) Put down a tarp to catch any remaining broken glass from the old bulb.
3) Leather gloves are preferred if you have to touch the broken bulb base.
4) Wear eye protection, especially if you are working on an overhead fixture. A hat might also help keep glass off your head!
There are two ways to take out the bulb's base...
- Using both hands, insert the pliers as far into the broken base as you can.
- Spread the handles apart, exerting force against the sides of the bulb base with the tips of the pliers, and rotate counter-clockwise (the pliers, I mean).
- Continue turning until the base is out. If you meet resistance, turn base back in slightly and then back out. The idea is to remove the broken bulb base, not break the fixture.
If the first method doesn't work for you, try this:
- CAREFULLY insert a small screwdriver or awl between the bulb base and the socket. Bend the bulb base SLIGHTLY INWARD, just enough to allow the needlenose pliers to get a grip.
- Hold the pliers firmly and begin to turn the base out, counterclockwise. You will probably meet some resistance. When you do, turn the base back in slightly, then out again. The trick is to work the base out, not break the fixture.
Prevention... DON'T OVERTIGHTEN YOUR BULBS
When you replace a bulb, turn the bulb in just until you feel slight resistance. Turn the switch on. If the bulb lights without flickering, you are done. Do not turn the bulb any further!
If bulb has not lit, turn switch back off, turn bulb a quarter turn, and try again. Do this until the bulb lights. Never screw in a bulb so tightly that it bottoms out in the socket.
Electricians get many repair calls when a homeowner has wired a three-way switch incorrectly. Or, an old three-way switch has been accidentally replaced with a single-pole switch, which won't operate the light correctly. This situation can be easily corrected by changing the traveler/switch-leg positions on the device or replacing the single-pole with a proper 3-way switch.
|Lamp Socket Repairs:
A common problem for lamps is a bad connection with the bulb and contact tab in the bottom of the socket. Make sure the lamp is unplugged. Use a file or screwdriver tip to scrape off any corrosion, and then prying it up a little.
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"We perform (electrical) miracles daily. The impossible takes a little longer."