Category Archives: Electrical How to Instructions

My old dryer outlet was only 3 slots. What do I do?

Laundry Room DesignGas dryers require very little electrical power. They use gas as their heating power source and their electrical needs are mainly to turn the drum. They typically use the same 120V amount of power as a small appliance.

Electric dryers are quite different. Electric power is converted to heat and has much more power needs. These require an electric outlet that is specifically for dryers and the extra power they need to run properly.

3 Prong vs. 4 Prong
If your previous dryer was older than 2000, then it may have very well been quite happy with the 3 prong outlet in your home. Since that time, many electrical safety advances have been made. That is reflected in the current electrical code that requires 4 slots in newer home 220V outlets. The extra slot was an added safety measure to add an additional neutral path to the circuit.

What do I do?
Douthit can update your outlet to the new safety standards. Just give us a call for an appointment.

But, if you would like to wait to change to a 4 prong outlet, you may be able to convert the dryer cord yourself.

Changing the Dryer Cord
We always recommend having a licensed electrician help you with your home’s electrical projects, but if you are feeling confident, here’s our suggested steps:

1. ALWAYS MAKE SURE THE DRYER IS UNPLUGGED.
2. There should be a metal plate covering the area on the back of the dryer where the cord attaches. Remove it and make sure to put those small screws where they won’t be lost.
3. You should now see a restraint that keeps the cord stable and helps to relieve the stress and strain of movement. Remove the restraint.
4. Disconnect the existing dryer cord
5. Connect the center wire of the new 3 prong cord to the center silver terminal.
6. You have 2 wires on the new cord that now need be attached. Attach these to the 2 terminals beside the silver terminal.
7. Reattach the restraint collar. This can be frustrating and can take a bit of patience. Slide the tab ends one at a time into the cord wire hole. When you’ve been able to match up the 2 halves and can get the screws to catch, you’re done with the hardest part. Tighten.
8. Replace the safety plate.
YOU MUST GROUND THE DRYER. Return the frame ground strap to the central terminal post (neutral).

All electrical home projects should be done carefully to ensure the safety of your home. Always 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!


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Why is my light bulb flickering?

A flickering light bulb is more common that you might think. A slight drop in your Charlotte home’s voltage can cause your lights to dim momentarily … or flicker. Here’s a few things you can check before calling your local electrician.

Loose bulbs. Sometimes the easiest solution is the right solution. Make sure the bulb is not loose and is properly seated in the socket.

Type of Bulb: Fluorescent lights tend to flicker more often than the more energy efficient LED light bulbs. The easy answer is just to replace the bulb. Hopefully that will solve the problem.

Dimmer switches: Low voltage LED bulbs can often flicker on these types of switches. Dimmer switches expect to be controlling higher voltage items and can cause lower voltage bulbs to flicker.

Faulty connections: Sometimes a switch can go bad over time, as do most things in our home. See if the on/off switch has a bad connection and is causing the flickering. You should also check the outlet where it is receiving its power, to make sure the prongs are not bent or damaged.

Appliances: Our appliances can sometimes require a surge in power when they are in full operation. You may have noticed your lights flicker when your washer or another appliance turns on. If this is a common occurrence, you should consider calling an electrician to help you decide if your home’s circuit is being constantly overloaded.

These are just a few examples of common reasons why your light bulb could be flickering. If you experience a sudden change in your home’s electrical system, you should always err on the side of caution, and give your friendly electrician a call.

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


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How do I remove a broken light bulb?

BulbA broken light bulb stuck in a light fixture can be much more trouble than you might expect. It is always best to approach anything dealing with electricity with the “better safe than sorry” point of view.

Preparation

  • Gloves
  • Goggles
  • Drop cloth to catch any broken pieces from the bulb that may shatter.
  • Make sure to turn off the power!

Methods

Pliers: Pull out any large pieces of the bulb left in the socket. Use needle nose pliers to hold onto the base of the bulb. Once you have a good grip, start twisting and pulling the bulb away from the socket to pull the bulb free.

Potato: You’ve probably heard of the “potato method” for freeing a broken light bulb. Yes, it can actually work. Grab a raw potato from the kitchen and cut off the end, insert it into the socket and give is a twist. That potato should actually give you a grip on the broken light bulb and hopefully free it from the socket. Please dispose of the potato after it has successfully done it’s job.

Hot Glue: For exceptionally difficult broken bulbs, apply a large dose of hot glue to a stick of wood that will fit into the bulb’s base. Completely fill the base with glue. After letting the glue set for over 5 minutes, use the wood stick like a handle to unscrew the bulb from the socket.

Remember: always be careful with any project dealing with electricity. Safety should always be your first concern!

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


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Understanding Fuses and Circuit Breakers

Fuses and circuit breakers have the same job in our Charlotte homes. When too much power is going through a circuit, they both are able to stop the flow and hopefully, stop the damage that could be caused by too much electricity going through the circuit.

Both fuses and circuit breakers have their advantages and disadvantages. Here’s a few of the differences.

Fuses

The most common type of fuses is made up of glass or ceramic with a metal casing. Inside the fuses is a filament or metal wire. When electricity is flowing normally, it safely passes through the filament and into our homes.

If a power surge occurs, the filment melts and stops the flow of electricity. Once that happens the fuse must be replaced in order for the circuit to be complete again.

Fuses react faster, but has to be replaced in order to restore power to the circuit.

Circuit Breakers

When turned on, the breaker allows power to pass across. If the current reaches an unsafe level, the switch is automatically turned off either by a magnet or a bi-metal strip, and the circuit is broken.

Circuit Breakers are much easier for the average homeowner to use. Once the problem has been found and corrected, restoring the circuit is easy as flipping the switch.

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


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How to “Sleigh” Common Electrical Problems in Charlotte Right in Time for the Holidays!

Christmas Room Interior Design, Xmas Tree Decorated By Lights PrElectrical decorations are a great way to get into the joyous spirit of the season but failure to properly install them can pose some pretty serious risks. According to recent data from the Electrical Safety Foundation International, home-based electrical systems are the cause for nearly 55,000 fires a year, resulting in over 500 deaths and 1,400 injuries. Furthermore, electrical fires cost a whopping $1.4 billion each year in property damage.

At Douthit Electrical, electrical safety and your satisfaction are always our top priorities. We understand how important the holiday season is, and our experienced electricians are happy to help with your electrical holiday lighting in Charlotte.

Whether you’re hanging a few lights or creating a spectacular lighting display that’ll leave the neighborhood Joneses green with envy like the Grinch, here are a few easy ways to avoid common holiday electrical problems.

Inspect your electrical decorations

You won’t be able to safely put on much of a holiday lighting display with electrical decorations that are worn, frayed, or otherwise damage. Considering it’s likely you haven’t seen them since last year, it’s important to closely inspect your electrical decorations for signs of wear, such as torn insulation which can drastically increase the risk of short circuits and fire. Repair or replace any faulty equipment before installing it.

Use the right kind of lighting

The best kinds of electrical decorations are those that have been approved and tested for safety by a nationally accredited laboratory such as the Underwriters Laboratory. Look for the seal of approval on the packaging. In addition, never use lights and electrical equipment designed for indoors use only outside. Looking for ways to save on lighting energy costs? Consider using energy efficient, low wattage LED lights instead of old incandescent lighting. Not only do they use less energy, but they also produce less heat, reducing the risk of electrical fire.

Avoid using the same outlet

It can be tempting to string holiday lighting and decorations together from the same outlet, but spreading electric decorations across multiple circuits is the safest way to install them. Plugging too many things into the same outlet puts a significant amount of stress on the circuit and may cause it to overload or worse, spark a fire.

Consider using a timer

Leaving electrical decorations unsupervised can be potentially dangerous as they can become overheated due to being left on for an extended period of time. Use a timer or be sure to remember to turn the lights off before bed or when leaving the house.

Exercise caution in all areas

A jolly “ho-ho-ho!” can easily turn into a big “Oh-no-no!” if you aren’t careful! In fact, hospital emergency rooms experience an influx of patients with injuries related to hanging — or falling over — holiday decorations during this time of year. Never use a metal ladder when hanging or taking down string lighting to reduce your risk of electrical shock or fire. Always keep walkways shoveled and when necessary, tape cords down to prevent falls. And remember to always keep your tree watered! Fresh, green trees are far less likely to ignite than dry, brittle ones. Buying an artificial tree? Make sure it’s fire-resistant.

Our electricians want you to have the happiest and safest holiday possible. We understand how frustrating and intimidating troubleshooting electrical problems can be, so never hesitate to give us a call for all your Charlotte electrical needs, both big and small!

 


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Easy, Mind Blowing Tips for Learning How to Fix a Blown Fuse in Charlotte

I think this fuse is blownBlown fuses are among some of the most common electrical issues homeowners can face, especially during this time of year. Between cranking up your favorite holiday tunes, hanging decorative lights, vacuuming before guests arrive, and popping a bag of popcorn just in time for watching Home Alone, your fuse box can easily become overloaded. When this happens, your fuse box will automatically cut the flow of electricity as a safety measure to prevent damage or a fire.

At Douthit Electrical, we understand how annoying, frustrating, and even intimidating replacing a blown fuse can be. That’s why we’re proud to offer comprehensive electrical services such as safety inspections and electrical panel service that will help you become better acquainted with your home’s electrical system. These services can also help identify any potential hazards before they become problematic, saving you time, money, and the irritation of a power outage due to a blown fuse!

Learn how to fix a blown fuse safely and easily by following these simple steps!

Find your fuse box

Also known as an electrical panel, fuse boxes are typically located in garages and basements. Knowing where yours is before a fuse blows can help save you from the hassle of stumbling around in the dark trying to find it. Always have a flashlight nearby and always keep this area free of clutter.

Turn out the lights

Turn off all lights and appliances in the room or area that have lost power. If you recently added a new appliance, such as a vacuum or gaming system, that just might be the culprit so be sure to unplug that too. This is especially important because leaving everything on could blow a fuse all over again once you replace the blown fuse and restore power!

Proceed with caution

Working with electricity can be dangerous, especially if you are unfamiliar with it. Always be sure your hands are completely dry and be sure the surface you are standing on is completely dry as well. If at any time you feel uncomfortable or unsure of what you’re doing, just give us a call and we’d be more than happy to help!

Identify the blown fuse

Inspect each fuse for signs of damage, which often includes a melted metal piece on the inside or the glass window at the top of the fuse becoming discolored and turning brown or purple. Voila! That is your broken fuse! To replace it, simple unscrew the broken fuse and replace it with a new one that is exactly the same amperage, size, and type of the broken fuse. The best way to do this is to take an old or broken fuse to the hardware store and find the exact match. Keeping a few of these handy can help make the process of replacing one even quicker and easier.

Try turning the lights on again

Now that the blown fuse has been replaced, plug in one or two electrical appliances and turn them on to test the new fuse. If it blows again it’s likely that you may be using too many amps for the fuse to handle. You may need to move some appliances around or even better, call an electrician for help identifying the underlying problem.

With the holiday season in full swing, now is a great time to learn how to replace a blown fuse! Here at Douthit Electrical, no job is too big or too small for our experienced Charlotte electricians, and we’re happy to help you troubleshoot your electrical panel. You can trust Douthit Electrical for all your electrical needs all year round!

 


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How to Make Resetting Your Charlotte Circuit Breaker Easy, Safe, and Hassle Free

Electrical PanelCircuit breakers are an essential part of your home’s electrical system and can be found in millions of homes across the country. First created as an alternative to fuses during the 1920’s, circuit breakers are designed to “trip” or shut down when a fault is detected. This not only protects your appliances from a damaging surge of electricity but also safeguards your home against fire.

As necessary as this safety feature is, a tripped circuit breaker can also be an inconvenience. The holiday season is prime time for circuit breaker trips as a result of outdoor lighting displays and the increased use of household appliances. Hair dryers, irons, and toasters are common appliances that can trip a circuit breaker.

At Douthit Electrical, we understand that resetting a tripped circuit breaker can be intimidating. Luckily, there are several simple and easy ways that can make resetting your breaker quick, painless, and most important safe. Here’s how.

Locate your electrical panel

Electrical panel boxes, also known as electrical service boxes, are commonly found in basements and garages. Knowing exactly where yours is can help you save time in the event your circuit breaker trips. Keep the area around your circuit breaker free of clutter that may cause you to fall, such as boxes and wires. Also, be sure to keep flashlights handy and easily in reach. This saves you the trouble of trying to find one in the dark.

Identify the tripped breaker

Look for the breaker that has flipped all the way into the off position or one that is not fully in the on position. It’s common for a breaker to fall somewhere in between. Some breakers may even show a bit of color such as orange or red if they’re in any position but on.

Turn off appliances, electronics, and lights

Avoid a potentially dangerous power surge by turning off anything connected to the tripped breaker. This is where color coding or labeling your switches comes into play. Clearly labeling your breakers can take the guesswork out of trying to figure out which breaker is responsible for a particular appliance, area, or room. Consider color coding your circuit breaker by creating a key using construction paper, paint swatches, or a label maker.

Reset the tripped breaker

Ensure the tripped breaker is all the way in the off position before flipping it back into the on position. This includes breakers that are stuck somewhere between on and off. Flip the breaker back into the on position. Old and outdated electrical systems have a higher risk of malfunctioning. If this is the case, be sure to use only one hand when resetting the breaker to avoid electrocution!

Breaker re-trips

Breaker re-trips occur when the circuit breaker has been reset but trips immediately afterwards. Common causes for this include a damaged cord or plug, or even faulty wiring. If your breaker continues to trip, call a professional right away. Working with electrical circuitry can be potentially dangerous and is best left to an experienced electrician.

With the holidays right around the corner, now is an especially important time to ensure your electrical panel is in good working order. At Douthit Electrical, our service technicians are happy to help you maintain your electrical panel with our circuit breaker maintenance service. Preventative maintenance is key to keeping everything — especially electricity — flowing smoothly. From routine maintenance, to Charlotte electrical emergencies, make it Douthit Electrical!

 


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