Category Archives: Electrical How to Instructions

How to Replace a Light Switch

In our last blog, we discussed how to replace an electrical outlet. The need to replace a light switch is less common, but the process is very similar. Here are tips on how to replace a single pole light switch that controls only 1 light from one location. Just as before, we always suggest never taking on an electrical project unless you are completely confident in your abilities.

We recommend having the following tools available before starting:

  • Replacement light switch, of course
  • Screwdriver
  • Wire Stripper
  • Needlenose pliers.
  • Voltage detector, not required but suggested.

First, turn off your power to the light switch at the breaker box. Then double check that the existing light switch is not getting any power. It is extremely important when working with electricity, to always put safety first.

Take off the faceplate and then remove the screws that fasten the switch to the wall. Gently pull the switch out from the wall and take a look at the wires connected to it.

The wires should be connected to the older switch either by looping around the terminal screws or through holes in the back. Before unhooking those wires, take notes or even a photo to remind yourself about the original setup. Once you’ve done that, unhook the wires and remove.

The red or black wire attaches either to the brass screw or connects through the hole on the same side as the brass screw. The white wire connects to the silver screw or through the hole on that side. If the ground is attached to the switch (and not the box itself) unscrew that as well.

Now it’s time to install your new light switch. Attach the live (black or red) wire to the brass screw (or through the hole on that side) first. Next attach the neutral white wire, and finally the ground (if it is not already attached to the box.)

Take a moment to look over your work. If the wires are firmly attached to the correct screws/openings, carefully push the switch back into the wall and secure. Reattach the face plate.

Turn the breaker back on and restore power to the light switch. We hope you have successfully replaced your switch and light has been restored to your room.

Douthit Electrical has been providing Charlotte with quality electrical services since 1990. If you need experienced electrical service or installation, check out our money saving coupons and give us a call!


Written by:

How to Replace an Electrical Outlet

Any electrical project in your home should be taken seriously. But replacing an existing outlet is one of the most common projects a homeowner will take on by themselves. Here’s basic instructions on how to replace an 110V electrical outlet with 2 wires and 1 ground.

1. Turn off the power at the main circuit panel.

2. Unscrew the outlet cover and remove it.

3. Use a voltage tester to confirm that the circuit is receiving no electricity.

4. Unscrew the outlet and gently pull it and its wires away from the wall.

5. Locate the terminals and remove both the black and white wires. The black wire (live) is usually connected with a gold or brass screw. The white wire (neutral) is usually connected with a silver screw.

6. Remove the ground wire (typically green or copper).

At this point, you should be able to remove the old outlet and replace it with the new one.

Connect the ground wire, then the black & white wires to the same screws as were attached before. Fit the new outlet into the wall and rescrew into the electrical box. Reattach the outlet cover.

Remember, you want to attach everything exactly as it was before. If you fear a faulty memory, take notes or even a photo of what the wires look like attached.

Once you’ve surveyed your work and believe you are ready to be tested, turn the power back on at the main circuit panel. Hopefully your nice new electrical outlet is working properly, and you can pat yourself on the back.

Douthit Electrical has been providing Charlotte with quality electrical services since 1990. When you need help with your electrical service or installation, check out our money saving coupons and give us a call!


Written by:

What is a Short Circuit?

Going on a long trip? You are probably going to use your GPS or perhaps google map it to find the shortest distance you need to travel in order to arrive at your destination. Well, that is what electricity does!

Electricity must travel along its own roadway of circuits. If it finds a quicker way, just like us, it changes its normal route and detours. When that happens, a “short circuit” occurs.

A short circuit can be caused by many things. It can happen from destructive household pests, loose connections, or even insulation that has become damaged over time. There are many unseen home issues that can cause this.

When that happens, bare wires that should never have touched become instant short cuts for our electricity. This means too much power is moving across too short of a distance.  This causes more heat to be produced then was intended for our circuits and can lead to shocks, burns and/or fire.

Oftentimes a short circuit will lead to a circuit breaker constantly needing to be reset . Click here for our blog “Why does my breaker keep tripping.” A visual inspection of our home’s outlets, appliances and extension cords can sometimes offer information for a quick diagnosis.

Remember, a short circuit in your home can easily lead to fire. If you suspect a short circuit, give us a call to diagnose and remedy the problem. Douthit Electrical has been providing Charlotte with quality electrical services since 1990. When you need electrical service, check out our money saving coupons and give us a call!


Written by:

What is Causing My Electric to Hum?

Have you ever had such a great day that when you are alone you begin humming or whistling a song you recently heard? That’s when you know that you are having a great day! But, unfortunately, hearing a hum coming from one of your electrical systems or outlets can ruin all that. Don’t let it!

Dimmer Lights
Did you know that when you use a dimmer switch, you are not actually dimming the energy. Instead it is being turned off and on so fast (many times per second) that our eyes don’t notice it. The hum from your switch could be caused by the constant switching of power on and off.

Outlets
If you tracked that hum down to one of your outlets, don’t ignore it! It could mean that a wire is no longer properly grounded or that too many volts are being carried over those wires. Give us a call to repair it!

Circuit Breakers
If you hear an electrical hum coming out of your circuit breaker box please contact us immediately. That could mean that your box is being overloaded with current, but is not shutting off properly the way it was intended.

If you wish to investigate the problem yourself, try shutting off the power entirely and then turning the breakers back on one at a time. This could narrow down the cause. We always recommend contacting a licensed electrician when dealing with the electrical safety in your home.

Douthit Electrical has been providing Charlotte with quality electrical services since 1990. If you need experienced electrical service or installation, check out our money saving coupons and give us a call!


Written by:

How to Choose the Right Outdoor Extension Cord

Extension cords … how we do love thee! But most Charlotte residents have not taken the time to truly understand our extension cords. Are they all made the same? Does the length matter, except for convenience? What makes one outdoor extension cord better then another?

Last blog we discussed “Outdoor Extension Cord Safety”. This time we’re going to explain how to choose the right extension cord for the job on hand.

IMPORTANT NOTES

UL symbol – These means that the cord has been approved by the Underwriters Laboratories.
W – Marked “For Outdoor Use” and their coatings have been designed to prevent moisture entry.
Gauge/Wires – The packaging on the extension cord should have a numerical rating. For example, 14/3 means It is 14 gauge and has 3 wires inside.

WHAT SIZE?

The smaller the gauge number, the thicker the wire is, and the more electricity it can handle. But at the same time, keep in mind that the longer distance the current will need to travel, the thicker the wire (gauge) will need to be. Which is why buying only the correct length that is needed for the job is a more safety cautious rule of thumb.

This may seem confusing, but choosing the right outdoor extension cord is important for your family’s safety. Especially if you will be using it to run an outdoor appliance that requires a lot of juice.

Douthit Electrical has been providing Charlotte with quality electrical services since 1990. If you find yourself relying on multiple extension cords, that could signal that it is time to increase the number of outlets in your outdoor area. When you need electrical service, check out our money saving coupons and give us a call!


Written by:

Outdoor Extension Cord Safety

Outdoor extension cords can be a blessing or our demise. So many Charlotte residents do not have enough outdoor outlets and rely on extension cords to bring the power outside with them during the summer months.

I’m sure you’ve seen them lying in a pile on driveways or garage floors, waiting to be stored away. Or perhaps they are dragged across yards to provide energy to power our outdoor tools or toys.

Extension cords can be a blessing, but only if we take the extra precautions of observing proper safety and common sense. If you find yourself relying on multiple extension cords, that could signal that it is time to increase the number of outlets in your outdoor area.

If you’ve ever compared an indoor to an outdoor extension cord, you’ve undoubtedly noticed the differences. The most obvious difference is the insulation that protects the outdoor cord from the elements. But most importantly, never use an indoor extension cord outside!

You may think that purchasing an extension cord is as simple as measuring the length you need, getting in the car, and finding one on sale. But just like anything else that poses a safety risk in our homes, there are specifications you’ll want to consider.

The most important information you’ll want to gather in advance is the length of cord you’ll need, and how much power you want it to safely be used for. We’ll be discussing how to understand the ratings of extension cords and tips on how to choose the “right cord” for the job you have in mind in our next blog “How to Choose the Right Outdoor Extension Cord.”

Douthit Electric has been providing Charlotte with quality electrical services since 1990. When you need help with your electrical service or installation, check out our money saving coupons and give us a call!


Written by:

Why does my breaker keep tripping?

Indoor Home Open Electrical Breaker PanelIf you continually need to go down to the basement or to the garage to your electrical panel box, your breaker is trying to tell you something.

The most common reason a breaker keeps tripping is because you are constantly overloading the same circuit. The breaker is trying to keep you and your family safe, by warning you the only way it can … by interrupting the power usage on a circuit that has reached its safe limit.

Before resetting the tripped circuit breaker, unplug the items that are on that circuit. Once you’ve reset the breaker, consider allocating the energy usage over different circuits. If that is not a practical solution, Douthit Electrical can help you decide if an upgrade is the next step.

If this is the first time you’ve been left in charge of resetting the breaker, here are a few helpful hints on how to reset a circuit breaker.

A short circuit or ground fault is another reason a breaker might be tripping. There is usually a physical sign when this happens. It could be as obvious as a blackened area around an outlet or even the smell of burnt wires.

Has a new appliance entered your home? Appliances come and go, but our electrical system tends to stay the same. New appliances can sometimes mean it is time to update the electrical system.

Now that summer is approaching, air conditioners can take a heavy strain on our electrical circuits. Make sure that your home can handle the extra power needed to keep your home cool.

Douthit Electrical has been providing Charlotte with quality electrical services since 1990. When you need help with your electrical service or installation, check out our money saving coupons and give us a call!


Written by:

Why aren’t the outlets in my bathroom working?

It’s happened to most of us. We’ve just taken our morning shower … switch on the hair dryer and nothing happens. We turn it off and on and off and on until we finally give up. Now it’s time to find out what is to blame for this inconvenience.

The most obvious next step is to try the hair dryer somewhere else. Find another outlet that you know is currently working and plug in the hair dryer. Does it work now? If it does then you’re on your way to discovering the problem.

Go back to the bathroom and see if that is the only outlet not working in the room. All the outlets in your bathroom should be updated to GFCI. Check the button in the center to see if it needs to be reset. In some cases, outlets in the bathroom and kitchen are updated by installing a GFCI circuit breaker in the main electrical panel. If you are not sure what the importance of GFCI outlets in your bathroom is click here.

The next step is to see if you have a tripped circuit breaker or blown fuse. Locate your main electrical panel. Check to see if a circuit breaker needs to be reset or a fuse replaced. If that’s the culprit of your hair dryer misery, reset or replace and check on the outlet. If that has resolved the problem, good job! If this becomes a common occurrence, you will want to find out the reason for it. Douthit Electrical can help!

If that did not restore the power to the outlet, then we suggest giving us a call to do more troubleshooting of the problem.

Douthit Electrical has been providing Charlotte with quality electrical services since 1990. If you need experienced electrical service or installation, check out our money saving coupons and give us a call!


Written by:

Basic Electrical Tools for Your Home

Douthit Electrical is here to help you with any electrical project you have planned for your home. But if you’d like to try to take on a small project or two on your own, we’ve prepared a basic list of both general use and electrical tools you should have on hand in your toolbox.

  • Tape Measure
  • Hammer
  • Flashlight
  • Flat Head Screwdriver
  • Phillips Screwdriver
  • Pliers
  • Level
  • Utility Knife

Determined to take on an electrical project or two around the house? Here’s a list of tools that should be in your toolbox that are particular to electrical work.

1. Voltage Detector – used for a quick safety check in order to see if a circuit is “live”
2. Multimeter- checks for multiple electrical facets with one tool
3. Fish Tape – used to steer new wiring through walls and electrical conduit in confined spaces
4. Wire Strippers – used to cut the insulation away from wire
5. Diagonal Pliers – also called wire cutters
6. Needle Nosed pliers – to reach into those small spaces
7. Electrical tape – covers and insulate wire
8. Allen Wrench Set – electrical Panels often use allen screws
9. Channel Lock Pliers – used primarily when working with electrical boxes

Just remember, if you decide to do even a small electrical project—turn off the current!

If you decide to reach out to us for help on a future electrical project, Chuck Douthit and his team are the ones to call. With an A+ rating at the BBB, you can rest assured in the knowledge that you will be pleased with the outcome.

Douthit Electrical has been providing Charlotte with quality electrical services since 1990. When you need help with your electrical service or installation this holiday, check out our money saving coupons and give us a call!


Written by:

Why is electrical wire in different colors?

Electrician Connecting WiresWe’ve all seen those shows. The bomb is ticking and the hero has to decide which wire to cut to stop the timer. Did the bad guy change the colors to make it confusing? Luckily in our homes, the wires have been color coded and installed to make things as easy as possible to make changes to our electrical system.

Types of Wire
Hot — The job of a “hot” wire is to deliver power to a destination.
Neutral – A “neutral” wire completes the electrical circuit.
Ground – A “ground” wire is a safety measure. Put simply, an electrical spike sends the extra power through the ground where it can cause a circuit breaker to trip.

Common Wire Colors Used by Certified Electricians
Black Wire is always hot.
White Wire is neutral (but can change to live if marked accordingly).
Green Wire is always a ground wire.
Red Wire is always hot and used more in switch wiring.
Yellow and Blue Wire is less common, but if used are hot wires.

Never guess or assume! Always shut off the power when working with electricity. All electrical home projects should be done carefully to ensure the safety of your home.

Always connect wires of the same color, and as an added precaution use insulated tools when working with or even around electrical wires. Remember to err on the side of caution when dealing with electricity.

Douthit Electric has been providing Charlotte with quality electrical services since 1990. When you need electrical service or installation, check out our money saving coupons and give us a call!


Written by: