Circuit Breaker Basics

Circuit Breaker Basics

Circuit Breaker Definition

To understand the importance of a circuit breaker, we need to understand what it is and what it exactly does.  A circuit breaker is an automatically operated electrical switch which serves to protect an electrical circuit from damage. This can be due to excess heat flowing through, or in other words, an electrical overload, or a short circuit.  Hence its basic function is to detect a fault condition and automatically disconnect the electrical equipment from the voltage source. Below are some circuit breaker basics.

Electrical Overloads

When there are too many devices that are operating, this can exceed the circuit limit, and this can be dangerous. With a circuit breaker, it prevents any serious damage by automatically shutting off the circuit at the main electrical panel.

Short Circuits

A short circuit occurs when two bare conductors, e.g. positive and negative terminals of a current touch on a low resistance conductor.  With the low resistance in connection, excessive current is produced in such a short time, and possibly destroy the power source or even actually explode.  Circuit breakers thus prevent this from happening. This can happen with alternating current (AC) or what we commonly know as electrical or direct current (DC) from a battery.

Short circuits can happen when high levels of heat cause the insulation to break or flake off, exposing the conductors and thus causing a short circuit.

Which of the Circuit Breaker Types to install?

With practically everything in homes or offices uses electricity, circuit breakers are a must to prevent damage to your electrically-operated devices and possibly cause electrical fires.

Knowing these circuit breaker basics, your next question is what type to install. There are however several types of circuit breakers depending on the needs of your home or office. This being an important safety feature of the home or office, check with your licensed electrical professional. They can best determine which is best according to your needs.

 

Safety Precautions Your Electrician Wants You To Know

Among home accidents, one of the most dangerous is about electrical wirings — it can be deadly! Here are some safety precautions your electrician wants you to know.

The Safety Precautions

  1. Unless you have had training in electricals, never attempt to fix things yourself. The current running through the wires is enough to cause serious damage or even death.
  2. If you have to do anything at home that puts you in close contact with your home’s wirings, like the ceiling/roof, remember to turn off the main switchboard.
  3. Never use an appliance when in contact with water. Water conducts electricity and using an appliance near water can cause serious or even fatal damage.
  4. Do not overload adapters with several appliances. This electrical overload can lead to fires.
  5. Use safety devices that will protect children from touching outlets.
  6. Periodically check your appliances’ wirings for any damage to the cords/cables.
  7. Have your wirings inspected by a licensed electrician.  After a few years, the wiring system might no longer be adequate for the electricity you need. There might also be tears or damage that need replacement.

safety precautions from an electricianKnowing these safety precautions will prevent serious home accidents. Remember to contact your licensed electrician for electrical inspection, repair, or replacement.

Gas vs Electric for Cooking: Which One is Better?

Buying a stove or range, there are many choices now available in the market, especially with the induction and ceramic tops aside from the traditional gas vs electric. So which one is better? This article notes down the pros and cons of each one.

Gas Stove / Oven

The Pros:

A gas stove provides instant heat, thus you have a more precise control over the heat level. If we see chefs using gas stoves, it is mainly for this purpose.  There is also a lesser chance of burning what you are cooking. When you’re done with cooking, you can just turn it off and not worry about overcooking/burning it when you leave the food on top of the stove.

Gas stoves and ovens are also usually cheaper to operate. This, of course, depends on the cost of electricity or gas in your area.

Another advantage of gas units is that you need not worry in the midst of a power outage and still continue to cook/bake.

The Cons:

With gas stoves having an open flame, the risk of burning or a fire accident is higher. As for the oven, gas ovens have less even heat distribution, hence you have to watch and turn your food in between. However, there are gas convection ovens that will distribute heat more evenly.

With gas being an open flame as well, heat stability can be a problem when cooking in a windy area, such as open grills or spaces.

Gas stove tops are also harder to clean compared to the smooth electric stovetop.

Electric Stove / Oven

The Pros:

Electric stoves/ovens provide a more even heat, and because there is no open flame, the risk of a fire accident is less likely.

With electric ovens having a more stable and even heat distribution, so you need not turn your food in between the cooking time.

Electric units are easier to clean as well.

The Cons:

The conventional electric stoves take longer to heat up, except when you are using an induction type. They also take longer to cool down, and there is latent heat that could overcook or burn your food even after you turn it off.

Ceramic stovetops are very sensitive and you need to be careful with its use.  You could shatter the top by dropping a heavy utensil on it, or by spilling cold liquid while the unit is still hot.

Lastly of course, when there is a power outage, this is another problem to tackle with an electric unit.

Gas vs Electric?gas vs electric

Considering the pros and cons of gas vs electric, weigh your options before choosing, depending on your needs as well as the economy of using either of the two.

 

HVAC Preventive Maintenance Tips

HVAC Preventive Maintenance Columbus ohFor your HVAC system, there are tasks better left to the HVAC professionals such as wiring and mechanism inspection about twice a year. However, you can prolong the life and efficiency of your system with regular inspection and cleaning.  With good HVAC preventive maintenance, you will avoid overworking your system (which translates to lower utility bills).

Basic DIY Preventive Maintenance for your HVAC system:

  • Use a high-efficiency pleated air filter and replace this every quarter.
  • Inspect the units to make sure that leaves, grass, twigs, or pollen do not clog the units.
  • Make sure that furniture do not block the heating or cooling vents so that your unit does not have to work harder to give ample heating or cooling.
  • Clear about 2 feet of space around the outdoor units.
  • Install ample thermal insulation. This makes a huge difference in conserving energy. Use the recommended thermal insulation especially for your ceilings. For your windows, you can drastically reduce heat transfer by double glazing (2 glass panes separated by sealed air space). Also keep in mind that the more glass area, the more heat is transferred during warm months and heat lost during the cold season. Keep all doors and windows closed.

 

HVAC Preventive Maintenance That a Professional Should Handle:

  • Checking for any leaks, such as gas leaks in the gas furnace or refrigerant, or duct leaks.
  • Checking refrigerant levels and recharging as necessary.
  • Inspection of wirings, control box, thermostat, and other electrical components.
  • Inspection and cleaning of internal parts: fan motors, fan blades, blower assembly, evaporator coils.
  • Checking all hoses and belts.
  • Lubrication of all moving parts.

Conducting HVAC preventive maintenance extends the life of your HVAC system. This also makes for efficient operation to cut your energy bills to a minimum. Hence, having a professional check your entire system twice a year will optimize the use of your HVAC performance.

 

 

Know How Your Electric Panel Works

electric-panelThe electric panel is a main component in your home, so it is necessary to know its structure. Also known as a circuit breaker, electric panels are usually mounted in an inside or back room, such as in a laundry room, in a garage, or in the basement. There are two columns in a circuit breaker. Above these columns is the main switch that controls the power to your home.

An electric panel controls the flow of electrical current to a specific outlet. It protects your home from current overloads or surges. A surge is a sudden trip in the electrical current in your home. It usually happens when large appliances, such as air-conditioners or refrigerators, had a rapid, forceful thrust or lightning strikes nearby. When more amperage passes across a circuit than it can handle, excess current occurs.

This is the reason why electric panels are created to fail safely, so they can prevent fires and other accidents. The switch automatically sets off once it detects an overload of current flowing through one of the breakers. This, in turn, protects everything beyond that switch. Power flows through the outlet when the switch is set in the “on” position. If it switches to “off” position, it means that there is excessive current. Excessive current will power surge and will automatically set the panel into the “off” position or if someone turned it off manually.

It is important to label your breakers so you can properly identify what circuits connect to each specific outlets. This will help you identify the specific appliances connected to a specific outlet, as well as the actual location of the outlets in the other rooms of your home. You can either do this yourself, or ask a licensed electrician to label your panel.

How to Label Your Electric Panel:

  • Leave the main breaker (located above the single switches) on.
  • Turn the other switches off.
  • Turn on one switch on at a time.
  • Look around your home for outlets or appliances that are working and label that switch.
  • Put the label on the inside cover of the panel or put the labels next to their corresponding switches.
  • Repeat the same process with each breaker in both columns.

 

Current leaves your electric panels on energized or “hot” wires. This works through the outlet or device. Then, the power returns to the panel along the neutral wires. When a person’s hands touch neutral and hot conductors, electrocution happens and this causes the current to complete its circuit through the person’s body. Electrocution is one of the leading causes of household death, where approximately 200 people die yearly.  

All of the neutral circuits connect to a neutral bar in your panel. They then connect to the main circuit neutral wire where it transmits the current to the transformers of the electrical company. The power from the utility company’s lines passes through your meter and into your electric panel. Remember to turn off the panel when working with electricity because it is very dangerous.

Electricity is the primary cause of approximately 4,000 injuries in a year. Therefore, it is best to seek the help of an electrician rather than trying to fix/adjust anything yourself.

6 Reasons Why You Should Upgrade to LED Lights

led lightsLight-emitting diode (LED) is a solid-state lighting device that uses a semiconductor to create light. It is a kind of light that generates light output by utilizing electroluminescence, a material that releases light when electricity crosses it.  LED light fixtures are very popular because they are much more efficient and economical at converting electricity into light. They are easy to replace, more reliable and are available in a variety of colors.

Here are some great reasons why you should upgrade to LED Light Fixtures

  • Illumination. Compared to the standard fluorescent and incandescent halogen lights, LEDs are very reliable and efficient at transforming electricity into visible light output. To convert visible light, incandescent lights use less than 5% of energy and use the remaining 95% into thermal radiation. Ordinary LEDs have more than 90 lumen per watt of energy consumed while ordinary fluorescent bulbs have an efficacy 60 lumen per watt of energy consumed and ordinary incandescent bulbs have an efficacy of 16 lumen per watt of energy consumed.
  • Light Color. Unlike incandescent lights, LED light fixtures produce light in a fairly range of color spectrum. Various colors are achieved by changing the semiconductor material used. Regardless if the LEDs are for residential, industrial/commercial, and automotive use, the color is gauged by Kelvin temperature. This relates directly to the color released at that specific temperature range.
  • Dependable. LED bulbs are very dependable and do not require any maintenance. They last up to over 40,000 operating hours. This means there is less time changing faulty lights, giving you big savings, particularly the commercial or industrial users that leave their lights on 24/7 all year through.
  • Energy-Efficient. LED lights save you on energy costs. Do not be discouraged if LED lights seem expensive. The initial investment can be a bit pricey, but the return on investment will definitely make up for it. You can see it within 18 months from the date of upgrade.
  • Easy to Replace. LEDs have a simple design, making them easier to replace. Some manufacturers have LED lights that resemble the original dimensions of bulbs. These are the PAR series LED lights and E26 medium LED lights. The E26 lights can directly replace the original bulb.
  • Safe. LED bulbs do not get as hot as regular light bulbs do; causing less fires and making them safer for your home and your family.

 

Remember, however, that some replacement LED lighting fixtures are not direct replacements. The T8 LED tubes can replace fluorescent lamps but need some moderate adjustment. If you need advice on how to replace your halogen and fluorescent lamps, contact the certified electricians at American Air.

Use a UV Germicidal Light to Kill Allergens

UV-germicidal-lightIndoor air quality, according to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), has a huge impact on human health. You can use UV germicidal lights to kill allergens and has been proven effective in improving indoor air quality.

Indoor pollution like outdoor pollution is harmful. In fact, the EPA stated that pollution indoors could be much higher than pollution outside. Even if you keep the windows closed and clean frequently; indoor air pollution (germs) can still exist and cause asthma and/or allergy symptoms.

As the airborne germs are blown past the air conditioning filter or furnace, they circulate throughout your home or building and adversely affect the quality of indoor air. For better indoor air quality, food processing plants, hospitals, laboratories, and other public facilities are encouraged to use ultraviolet lights (UV). The U.S. General Services Administration Office of the Chief Architect  Facilities Standards for the Public Buildings incorporated UV in The Facilities Standards for the Public Buildings.

Several health studies show the effectivity of UV germicidal lights against mildew, mold, fungi, viruses, spores, and bacteria. As far as airborne allergens are concerned, ultraviolet light helps in preventing secondary allergy by reducing the symptoms. There are two methods of using UV germicidal lights to control the quality of indoor air: upper-room air, and in-duct ultraviolet germicidal irradiation.

Here are 7 reasons why to use a UV germicidal light.

  • Controls molds and bacteria
  • Reduce smells and odors
  • Reduce colds and flu because it prevents the germs from re-circulating.
  • Remove volatile organic compounds (VOC)
  • Reduces clogging in crystallized pipes lines where algae has grown
  • Mostly recommended for use in areas with humid climates
  • Always have a cleaner coil to improve the cooling efficiency and to reduce electricity costs.

 

If you are interested in more information about UV germicidal light fixtures; or if you’re interested in having some installed in your home or building, call American Air today!

5 Great Things about Becoming a Columbus, Ohio Electrician

electricianA Columbus, Ohio electrician’s job includes the installing, maintaining, and repairing of electrical wiring, fixtures, and equipment. To become an electrician; one must earn a certification or associate’s degree, complete an industry-sponsored apprenticeship, and become licensed.  It is not a trade to master, but the hard work and dedication quickly pay off.  

Here are 5 Great Things about Becoming an Electrician:

  • It is a noble and respectable profession. Being an electrician in the construction industry is a top, noble and respectable profession. After all, handling electricity every day is nothing to take lightly- requiring a good amount of skill and knowledge.
  • It is not physically tiring compared to other jobs. Although it involves some physical activity, being an electrician requires more problem-solving and having an eye for detail. It allows you to face new challenges for every new project that you handle.
  • It opens the opportunity for building your own business. By becoming an electrician, you get the chance of building your own business. As an electrician, you have acquired a skill that has a high demand regardless of the economic situation. If you are good at managing your financial status and time, you can become your boss by putting up an electrical service company once you’ve gained enough experience. Most electricians start from the bottom and move up by venturing into their own business.
  • It allows you to earn a decent, livable wage. As an electrician, you have acquired a skill that has a high demand regardless of the economic situation. In 2015, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics released a report that the mean annual wage of electricians is $55,590. After gaining more experience, an electrician can earn up to six figures and higher.
  • Job security. In the recent future, less and less young people are pursuing trade jobs, but rather college degrees and jobs in other fields. The demand for electricians has always been very high, and the demand is only increasing with time.

Have you ever thought about becoming an electrician? It is essential that you are interested in working with electricity and have the passion for solving unique challenges required by the practice. With this drive, there is no question that you’ll become a successful electrician!

Why Does My Hair Dryer Keep Tripping the Circuit Breaker?

hair dryerYou woke up early because of a very important meeting. You were getting ready and started to blow dry your hair when suddenly your circuit breaker trips. This is not the first time it’s happened and it is getting to be annoying-especially now that you cannot afford to be late. Sound familiar?

When a circuit breaker trips, it switches off the electrical flow to prevent and protect the circuit from causing damage or the possibility of an electrical fire caused by overheating.  If this is repeatedly happening, plug your appliance into another outlet until to find out what initiates the tripping.

Reasons other than your hair dryer that might be causing your circuit breaker to trip

  • Circuit Overload or Overloaded Circuit means there are plenty of heavy-powered appliances or devices running on the same circuit at the same time. This is the most common cause of breaker trip. Heavy-powered appliances include air conditioner, refrigerator, television set, hair dryer or any device that have a 15 amp circuit with 20 amps worth of electricity. If they all work at the same time and are connected to the same circuit, your breaker will trip to prevent overheating. To solve this issue- reallocate the high-powered appliances to another mutual purpose circuit, and turn off some appliances using the same circuit to minimize the electrical load. Overheating appliances can also cause an overloaded circuit because it pulls in more amps than the usual that causes the circuit to overload. This usually happens during summer in the case of an overheating air conditioner.
  • Short Circuit refers to a black (hot) wire touching the white (neutral) wire in one of your outlets. There are several reasons why these wires touch, but it could also be a simple improper wiring or loose connection. The circuit breaker shuts off when these two wires touch because a huge amount of current flows, producing more heat than what your circuit can handle. A short circuit is the next possible cause of stripping circuit, which is in fact, more dangerous. To know if a short circuit occurred, check your plugs and outlets for any black/brown discoloration or any burning smell.
  • A Ground fault is almost the same as a short circuit. It occurs when a black or hot wire touches the ground or the bare copper wire located on the side of a metal outlet box, which is attached to the ground wire. To check if any ground fault occurred, check your outlets for anything that does not look usual or normal.

 

Don’t ignore your tripping circuit breaker. The best thing to do if you notice the circuit breaker tripping often is contact a licensed electrician. An electrician will quickly and safely identify the real cause of the breaker trip.

4 Great Reasons to Have a Wall Mounted TV

wall-mounted-tv

Modern flat screen TV’s are built to be displayed, not hidden in a cabinet. Simpler HDMI cables and the universal VESA mounting standard are found in most modern TVs, making them easy to use, and very popular.

If you are one of those people who are not convinced that you should have a wall mounted tv, this article will help you understand why it’s a great idea.

Reasons to Have a Wall Mounted TV

  • Saves on Space. Especially if you live in a small home and you’re short on space, mounting your television on the wall is the most practical thing to do. A wall-mounted TV offers you an opportunity to create a valuable space on top of your entertainment unit or on any furniture. Mounting your TV on the wall is also a great way to accentuate its slim, sleek design. With all the cables and wires out of sight, it gives your room a cleaner, modern look. It adds to your room’s décor. You can also explore your creativity by creating photo slideshows and play it when nobody’s watching TV. This makes your unit a great wall photo album and a superb way to entertain guests.
  • Safety. Mounting your TV on the wall is the safest. It prevents accidents, such as tipping or bumping. The Consumer Product Safety Commission said that emergency rooms in the U.S. reported that approximately 20,000 injuries in 2010 were caused by the instability of TV sets. Thousands of injuries and deaths from fallen TV involving children are recorded every year.
  • The Best Viewing Angle. Mounting your TV on the wall is not done haphazardly. You need to choose the height that will provide you the best viewing angle when watching TV. Getting the ideal viewing angle maximizes your viewing experience. This helps prevent eye or neck strain from watching at an inconvenient height. It also allows you to enjoy the full capability of your high-definition TV.
  • Enhanced Performance. Mounting your TV on the wall enhances its performance. A study showed that picture quality is reduced significantly when watching a flat-panel TV off-course or off-center.      

 

The market offers various styles and designs of wall mounts. A big number of wall mounts feature a tilt and swivel, so you can easily find the optimal viewing angle and minimize the brightness from lights coming from outside.  

To wall-mount your television, you need to put four bolts in the wall that will hold a bracket, where you hang your TV. Although the process seems simple, putting the four bolts into a wall is no joke! Also, you should not attempt to wall-mount your TV if you are not sure of your walls. Attempting to do so can damage not only your TV but also your walls and home.  

If you are not confident doing the job yourself, call American Air. Our qualified electricians can hide the TV’s cords and cables behind the wall, giving your living room that sleek/clutter-free look.