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Top Dallas Electrician | Helpful Tips for Three-Way Switch Installation and Wall Outlet Replacement

Editor’s Note: This article has been edited and updated from its original content with permission from National News Today. To view the original article please visit www.nationalnewstoday.com

A good number of the calls I get during an average day at work fall into two categories;   customers who call to have something installed in their electrical system, and customers who tried to install it themselves and are calling me to come and fix the mistakes they made.  There’s certainly nothing wrong with trying to perform basic electrical work yourself if you have a good grasp on proper electrical safety techniques and what you’re doing.  On the other hand, there’s nothing wrong with calling a top Dallas electrician to do the work for you either.  The best way to ensure the job is done right every time is to hire an honest, hardworking professional electrician who’ll stand behind his work.

Even tasks that can seem quite simple can be treacherous if you’re not sure what you’re doing.  This comes into play a lot when a homeowner is trying to perform a three-way switch installation.  It seems a lot easier to install than it really is; I generally recommend homeowners not attempt to install three-way switches without at least a electrician on the phone to walk you through the process.  Keep the following in mind:

  • Identify the wires before you remove the switch. There are three wires hooked into your three-way switch.  One is the switch leg (or power), and the other two are called travelers.  Identify the travelers before you remove the switch.  This is important because the design of three-way switches isn’t standardized; the leads may not go in the same place on the new switch that they went on the old switch.  Knowing this ahead of time will save you from lengthy rewiring and a lot of heartache.
  • Know what switches you have installed. Because of the way they work, you can never have just one three-way switch; they are always installed in pairs.  If you’re having a problem with a three-way switch, you may want to go ahead and replace both of the three-way switches to ensure you get the faulty one.  “But what about that light in my house that is on three-switches?” you’re no doubt asking yourself.  Whenever you see a light or appliance that’s controlled by an odd number of switches (usually three), one of the switches will be a four-way switch.  Four-way switches are a totally different animal than a three-way switch and are hooked up in a completely different way.  You should NOT try to wire a four-way switch where a three-way switch used to be without contacting a top Dallas

There are tasks well suited for the do-it-yourself minded homeowner, though.  The easiest is wall outlet replacement, which is usually a very simple, straightforward procedure.   That doesn’t mean the haystack isn’t free of the odd needle that you can hurt yourself on, though.  Here are some of the more common problems I run into, along with some typical solutions or hints to keep them from happening to you: 

  • Replacing a simplex (single-plug) outlet. If you have a simplex outlet (these are typically found in garages), it was probably designed to have one specific appliance or device plugged into it; usually, this is something like a refrigerator or AC unit.  As such, it’s usually on a different circuit than the rest of the room (especially in a garage, where a refrigerator could easily trip the GFCI installed on the other circuits) and is rated specifically for that device.  If you plan to replace this with a duplex (dual-plug) outlet, you may need to rewire the circuit to allow the circuit to handle the additional item that can now be plugged in there. If you are not adding another appliance to this yet still installing a duplex outlet please consult a electrician to discuss safety issues.
  • Replacing a duplex outlet. Duplex outlets are generally pretty easy; the black wire is the power in, and the white the power out.  If your outlet is controlled by a switch, this isn’t so easy, though.  These outlets will have two powers in wires; one that connects it to the switch and the other that provides constant power and is attached to the bronze screw inside the outlet.  The metal tab between the screw and the connector must be completely broken off to complete the installation; if you get stuck, a good-hearted electrician can walk you through this over the phone.
  • Replacing a GFCI outlet. Notice that the back of the outlet has connections that say Line and Load.  Line controls the power in; the power lead and neutral should be hooked up here, with the power out line connected to load.  If you don’t wire these leads correctly or if any of the outlets are wired into the Line side of the outlet, they will not be properly protected by the GFCI.

For more information and other tips Electric Man to the rescue. We’re available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, so don’t ever hesitate to give us a call! Visit our website to learn more or connect with our online community on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest and Google Plus.

 

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Best Dallas Electrician | Save Money with Digital Timer or Mechanical Timer Installation

Editor’s Note: This article has been edited and updated from its original content with permission from National News Today. To view the original article please visit www.nationalnewstoday.com

Saving money sometimes means coming up with an unconventional idea to make your life more efficient.  As such, one of the ways the best Dallas electrician can help you make your electrical system more efficient is also one of the more overlooked ways:  installing timers to control your lighting. Timers are great tools; they can be used to turn your lights on and off at any time, whether you’re home or not.  Besides keeping your house lit when you’re on vacation or controlling your Christmas lights or other holiday displays, there are plenty of other applications for timers too.  For instance, why not set a timer to control all the lights in your house? By setting the lights to turn off after you’re normally in bed, lights that you might have mistakenly left on will turn off, saving you money. You can also set your lights to come on when you wake up in the morning, making it easier for you to wake up!  (This makes a great backup alarm clock, by the way.)  You can turn your lights off when you’re gone at work, or turn them on during the day to give your pets light. There are two kinds of timers commonly used in home systems:  mechanical and digital timers.

Digital timers are a great tool for the modern home. They fit elegantly into your wall and are automated in a lot of ways; some even adjust themselves for daylight savings time automatically!  Even better, digital timer installation is pretty straight forward even for the do-it-yourself electrician.  However, remember that a digital timer is not a switch; because of the sensitive electronics inside, digital timers require a neutral wire that switches do not.  When I get called to deal with digital timer issues, they’re largely caused by the homeowner neglecting this fact or not considering it.  Some do-it-yourself electricians think they can just wire the neutral on the timer into the ground wire.  Let me be clear here, folks:  a ground wire is NOT a neutral, and wiring it into the timer that way will create an electrical shock hazard potential and damage the timer.

The other concern with digital timers is more of a design issue than a wiring issue, thankfully.  Before you go through with the timer installation, consider where it will be located and what kind of switches you have at the site.  This is important when the time comes to finish the work; most switch assemblies (and the switch plates that cover them) are rectangular.  But digital timers are pretty uniformly square objects, and they don’t always play nice with your existing switch plates.  If you don’t plan ahead, you might wind up having to make multiple trips to your hardware store or home improvement warehouse of choice to get the plates you need to make everything fit together.  This is actually one of those times where a professional installation can make your life easier:  the best Dallas electrician will carry multiple types of plates in his service truck, which saves you the time and effort of going back to the store over and over.  Even though a professional installation may be more expensive than doing it yourself, the time and effort you save may well more than cover the difference in price.

Mechanical timers are also really useful tools, although they’re a bit less common than the digital timers.  Mechanical timer installation generally occurs in one of several places.  Mechanical timers are most often found controlling swimming pool equipment to ensure it only runs for a given amount of time.  Make sure the timer is set to allow the equipment to run more often in summer than winter; this will help reduce the amount of algae in your pool.  Electrical timers are also pretty common for outdoor lighting; since they can be set to only turn lights off, you can make sure your outdoor lighting is off before sunrise to conserve power.  One of the best and most overlooked uses for mechanical timers has nothing to do with lights, though.  Attaching a timer to your water heater means you can keep the heater from running when you’re not home and don’t need hot water;  this can be a HUGE savings (though don’t forget to override the timer if you’re home from work for the day!).

What’s the difference between the timers?  Not as much as you might think, actually;  they both work the same way, and can perform the same functions.  Mechanical timers tend to be larger, last longer, and can handle more electrical load than a digital timer.  However, electrical timers tend to be designed as large, grey, metal boxes, which may stick out quite a bit in your home decor.  Digital timers can be built right into the wall, and their smaller size and more aesthetic designs may make them a better fit for your home.  Either way, timers are a great asset, and one you should consider installing in your home electrical system.

For more information and other tips Electric Man to the rescue. We’re available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, so don’t ever hesitate to give us a call! Visit our website to learn more or connect with our online community on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest and Google Plus.

 

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Best Dallas Electrician | Dimmer Switch Installation and DIY Electrical Tip

Editor’s Note: This article has been edited and updated from its original content with permission from National News Today. To view the original article please visit www.nationalnewstoday.com

Everyone is looking for ways to save power.  Whether to save money or the planet, one of the best and most popular ways to save power on lighting is by installing dimmer switches to control your lights.  Besides saving power, they’re also great for setting the mood in your home.  More and more dimmer switches are being installed in American homes every year.

Dimmer switches are easy to install, even for an everyday person. Of course, even an easy installation can be problematic, so you should always contact the best Dallas electrician to ensure that you’re doing things right, or to perform the dimmer switch installation for you if you don’t want to take a chance of making a mistake.  Either way, here are some important do-it-yourself electrical tip to keep in mind about dimmer switches:

  • How many lights does the dimmer control? As simple as they may be, dimmer switches are a piece of electrical equipment just like any other, and there are limits to the amount of load they can handle.  Depending on which switch you buy, your dimmer can handle up to 600, 1000, 1500, or even 2000 watts of power; you can add up the wattage of all of the lights to make sure you’re not in danger of overloading the dimmer you’ve purchased.  It’s not a good idea to have the dimmer running as many lights as it can, either; running a dimmer switch at more than 80% of its load output (480W, 800W, 1200W, and 1600W, respectively) can dramatically shorten the lifespan of your dimmer switch.
  • How do I know if something’s wrong with the switch? Dimmer switches that are overloaded heat up as the excessive current heats the wires.  It’s OK for a switch to be warm, but if your dimmer switch is hot to the touch, it’s overloaded and is a potential hazard.
  • What other switches are connected here? If you’re installing a dimmer switch on a circuit that already has dimmers or other kinds of switches installed, the potential load the dimmer can handle will be decreased. It’s easy to overload the switch without realizing you’re doing anything wrong.  Always check the documentation included with the dimmer switch for more information before completing the installation.
  • What kinds of lights am I running with the switch? The best Dallas electrician knows that when a call comes in about a dimmer switch not working, I save a lot of time by first asking what kind of bulbs the switch is running.  Because of the way they work, fluorescent light bulbs can NOT be run by dimmer switches!  (Fluorescent bulbs that work with dimmers do exist, but are generally really expensive.)  You can save yourself a lot of time and effort by remembering never to use fluorescent bulbs in any fixture a dimmer switch controls.
  • What other kinds of devices are being run by this switch? A standard dimmer switch should never run any device that has a motor in it.  This includes things like ceiling fans that don’t always have obvious motors.  Motors can’t run on dimmer switches because all motors are designed to operate at a specific voltage at all times, which your electrical system is normally very good at providing to it.  A dimmer, on the other hand, works by slowly progressing through voltages from low to high as you turn the dimmer up.  This is fine for lights, but a motor running at an incorrect voltage will have a much shorter lifespan and will make a loud whining noise.  If you have a motor-driven device that you want to run with a dimmer, ask your hardware store or part supplier for a specialty dimmer switch, like those designed to run ceiling fans.
  • Do I have sensitive electrical equipment? Dimmer switches, especially older styles, can affect your sensitive audio equipment, even if they’re not on the same circuit.  The dimmer will cause the equipment to produce a humming or whining noise.  If this is happening to you, you basically have two options:  replace the dimmer switch or install a noise filter.  If it’s installed correctly at the audio equipment, the filter can eliminate the noise.  Try to buy a noise filter that covers as many frequencies as possible. If you try to go the cheap route with noise filters, you may discover that the interference is occurring on frequencies the cheap filter won’t cover, and the sound may suddenly return without warning over time.

For more information and other tips Electric Man to the rescue. We’re available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, so don’t ever hesitate to give us a call! Visit our website to learn more or connect with our online community on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest and Google Plus.

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