Understanding the Basics of Electrical Repair

Friday, July 8, 2011
While electrical wires and pipes bringing water in your home might seem as different as can be, they actually have a lot of parallels that can help you better understand do it yourself electrical repair. Water enters your home under pressure through a pipe and when you turn on the tap, it flows at a certain rate; electricity enters your home through wires and when you flip a switch, it flows at a certain rate. Because electricity is meant to power things in your home, unlike water, it is calculated in a higher unit, with kilowatts per hour. The electricity you use is monitored by an electrical meter. There are two types of electrical meters used in homes, one that displays a small row of dials with individual meters counting different number of kilowatt hours or one that has number slots similar to an odometer on your car.

There is a main entrance panel through which electricity, provided by your local power company, enters your home. Built into this entrance system are fuses and circuit breakers in order to allow your electrical system to work properly. To prevent electrical overloads, circuit breakers and fuses are designed to trip or blow and stop the flow of electrical current in an overloaded cable. If not for these, the cables carrying the power could get extremely hot, causing an electrical fire.

There are many reasons that a circuit might trip or a fuse might blow. Often, it is because too many appliances are plugged into one circuit, or that an appliance on the circuit is malfunctioning. It is important to figure out the cause of the problem before replacing a blown fuse or resetting a tripped circuit breaker as the problem will only reoccur if the root isn’t found. Also, you should never try to replace a circuit breaker with one that allows a higher current-carrying capacity in order to circumvent the problems. For example, by replacing a 15-ampere fuse (that is, a fuse that will blow if more than 15 amps are flowing through it at any time) with one that is 25-ampere would hypothetically allow for more current before blowing, but could also damage the wires or cause a fire.

It is easy to follow instructions and replace a fuse that has blown once you have solved the problem as to why the current was too high in the first place. As for circuit breakers, they do not have to be replaced like fuses, but rather they need to be turned completely off and then back on in order to reset them.
Superior Electrical Staff 7/8/2011

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