Home Electrical Essentials | Best Pick Reports

Faulty electrical work can lead to a house fire and extensive property damage. However, by understanding the basics of a home's electrical wiring, homeowners can avoid fires that result from improper wiring. There are a number of licensed Atlanta electrical contractors who are qualified for electrical installations or repairs.

How electricity works. Electricity is delivered to a home through service wires, which can run underground or overhead. After going through the electric meter, wires enter the home's main fuse box, also called the service panel. From the fuse box, different circuits or loops connect to different parts of the house. Lights and other standard wall outlets are powered by 120-volt circuits. Kitchen appliances, electric dryers, and air conditioning equipment require heavy-duty 240-volt circuits. Most homes have 200-amp service; however, a few older homes still use 60-amp service.

Circuit breakers and fuses. The electric service panel keeps too much current from being drawn through the circuit. In the case of too much current, the circuit breaker or fuse discontinues the flow of electricity. In the case of an extreme emergency, the service panel has one main breaker that shuts off all power to the house.

Most Atlanta electrical circuit breakers have common operating features. Generally, newer panels use circuit breakers and older panels use fuses. Once one of these circuit breakers is tripped, the appliance that caused the problem should be turned off before the circuit is reset. Calling an Atlanta electrician is not always required - homeowners may easily reset the tripped circuit breaker by switching it all the way to the "off" position and then back to the "on" position.

While circuits can be reset, blown fuses must be replaced. Homeowners with a fuse box rather than a circuit breaker should keep spare fuses on hand. Different circuits require different fuse sizes. A burned-out low-amp fuse should never be replaced with a higher-amp fuse. Fuse panels remain hot even if the main breaker is turned off or the main fuse is removed; therefore, only qualified professional electricians should work on a home's main panel.

Grounding. The ground leg, the third round leg on most power cords, is designed for safety. Many appliances, such as computers, are encased in metal. If the case is not properly grounded and an electric short occurs in the appliance, it is possible for the case to become electrically charged. The ground provides a path for electricity to travel safely out of the house and into the earth in an emergency. Breaking off the ground leg on a power cord is dangerous. By breaking off the ground leg, the homeowner typically assumes all liability for the appliance or product and voids all manufacturer’s warranties.