Category Archives: Electrical Safety

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!


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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!


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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!


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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!


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How to Safely Plug in an Air Conditioner

I don’t know about you, but we’ve been waiting what seems like a very long time for winter to end. You may be beginning to think about preparing for your summer air conditioning options. If a wall unit is in your future, we hope you plan for its location safely.

Most home owners that use wall units have defined spots where they can go. Because of that, don’t overlook the need to make those areas a safe choice for the electrical power an air conditioning unit requires.

Air conditioner units run on more electric power than the average home appliance. That is why they have a fatter (typically shorter) cord. When plugged directly into a home outlet, that cord is expected to be the correct size to do the job.

Extension Cords

Never ever use an extension cord for your air conditioner or any other major appliance that has not been rated for the use of a major appliance. They are not made to withstand that much power and can put your family in jeopardy.

If you are purchasing an extension cord for temporary use, we suggest at least a 12 gauge cord. An air conditioner uses an excess of power when it is first turned on, and we prefer to land on the side of safety for you and your family.

Always remember to keep extension cords away from main walkways that could cause tripping, and make sure to never cover them up with carpet or taped to walls. Extension cords can get hot, and we only recommend using them on a temporary basis.

Permanent Outlet

Douthit Electrical can upgrade your current outlet(s) to be a safe source of power for your air conditioning needs. You may find that your new AC unit is drawing too much power from the circuit, and the breaker keeps tripping. We can help take care of that problem. Give us a call to discuss your options.

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!


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Electrical Space Heater Safety

It’s winter and it’s cold … even here in Charlotte. If you have added electrical space heaters to those certain rooms that need a bit more warmth, here’s a few tips to help keep you and your family a little safer.

According to www.esfi.org, heating equipment is the second leading cause of home fires in the United States. For that reason alone, it is a good idea to take all the precautions necessary to keep your home safe.

1. When you took that heater out of storage, did you inspect it thoroughly? Never use a heater that shows any sign of damage to its cord or plug.

2. Space heaters should be located at least 3 feet from anything that can burn. And let’s face it, that’s includes most things, so take special notice of the location you decide to place it.

3. Don’t use extension cords. Plug the heater directly into the outlet. Yes, we know it is tempting, but consider how much power it takes to run the heater through a cord that was probably designed for much smaller things.

4. If you have children or pets, identify their common play area and place the heater a safe distance.

5. A space heater should never be left on without supervision. They are meant to provide warmth on a temporary basis and do not have all the added safety features of a long-term heating unit.

A space heater can be a welcomed addition on an unusually cold day. It can provide extra heat to exactly where you want it. With certain precautions it can be just what you’re looking for in the room you spend time in.

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


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Tips to Help Prevent Holiday Electrical Problems

OverloadOh, how we love to make our homes beautiful for the holidays! Our lawns become a wonder for cars passing by and our Charlotte homes become a showcase of holiday spirit for visiting guests. But most do not stop and consider how much extra power they are running through their outlets at this time of year.

Here are a few safety tips to consider when decorating.

Now that you’ve gotten all those decorations out of storage, take the time to inspect all the wires. We tend to reuse decorations from year to year without giving enough thought to the age of most of them. Those that need electric should be given extra attention for safety, while the others are usually keepsakes that we treasure even more over time.

As you dispose of old tattered incandescent lights, consider replacing them with low wattage LED lights. They produce less heat and require less energy, a win-win.

Remember to keep all those wires away from heat sources. The insulation on those wires is there for a reason. Don’t take the chance of any of it melting and exposing the wire.

You might be tempted to keep attaching those strings of light together, so that you can plug them all into one outlet. Don’t do it! That is just too much to ask from one single outlet of your house to withstand. Try to spread the power you need over several circuits whenever possible.

Carrying on the live tree tradition in your home? Make sure to keep that tree watered! Some decorations put off more heat than others, and you don’t want to take a chance with a tree that is dehydrated and begging for water.

Lastly, turn off and unplug all those decorations before going to sleep. You’ll be keeping your home safer and save a few dollars at the same time.

Douthit Electric 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!


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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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Why isn’t the outlet in my bathroom working?

If the only outlet that is not working is in your bathroom, then it is likely that it is a GFCI outlet that needs to be reset. GFCI outlets (Ground Fault Circuit Interrupter) are a must have in rooms that have the greatest possibility of water making contact with electricity, like the kitchen and bathroom. GFCI outlets help protect your family from shock.

GFCI Reset
There is a small button between the plug-ins. If the outlet detects a problem with the circuit , it automatically trips. Try resetting it and see if the power returns.

Why GFCI in the Bathroom?
Water is a highly conductive element. Electricity can travel along its path, and without warning, produce dangerous shocks to those nearby. GFCI outlets are a warning system to help keep that from happening.

GFCI Continual Issues
If you need to regularly reset your GFCI outlets, then a problem exists that can be a danger to your home and family. That would be a good time to call a licensed electrician in to diagnose the problem.

Older Homes
Often in older homes, the outlets have not been updated to GFCI in rooms with water sources available. We suggest updating those indoor rooms, as well as outdoor outlets that can come into the elements and produce the same deadly shocks.

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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New Year Checkup for your Charlotte Electrical System

It’s always a good time to do a basic electrical safety checkup of your Charlotte home. This week let’s take a look at the health of our indoor outlets.

  • Have you noticed any of your switches or outlets not working?
  • Do any of your switches or outlets seem to be discolored?
  • Do any of your switches or outlets get warm when in use?
  • Have you noticed any popping or cracking from any of your switches or outlets when you use them?
  • Do plugs still fit snugly into all outlets?

Take a look around your room. How many outlets do you see? We often don’t realize just how many outlets we have in our homes until one stops working. It only takes 1 faulty outlet to create a disaster. In most cases, a licensed electrician can quickly fix a faulty outlet and recommend any additional safeguards you might need.

Watch for our future posts on tips about the use of extension cords in our homes and the safety of our fuse box. Our simple list of things to look for can help keep your house away from electrical mishaps.

Douthit Electric has been providing Charlotte with quality electrical services since 1990. Check out our money saving coupons and give us a call!


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