Electrical Services F.A.Q.

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Affordable Electric of Twin Cities F.A.Q's

What are your normal operating hours?

We are available 24 hours a day for any emergency electrical repair need in Minnesota. Our normal office hours are from 8:00 am to 5:00 pm. If you need urgent same day electrical services it may be charged at after hour rates.

I need an electrician fast! How fast can an Electrician to my house or business?

We do our best to have a professional Electrician at your house within two hours - however the times may vary based on availability.

Does Affordable Electric of Twin Cities warranty its services or parts?

Yes. Parts are warrantied for two years. Services provided by Affordable Electric of Twin Cities are covered for life. We stand behind the electrical services that we provide.

What forms of payment do you accept?

We accept all major Credit Cards, Check, Cash, and offer financing. We do our best too make it as easy and smooth of an experience as we can. Give us a call today if you want to double check if we accept a unique form of payment: 612-331-VOLT

What is an evaluation fee? Why do you charge it?

We charge a minimal evaluation fee, which shall be paid up front to secure the appointment with a professional electrician from Affordable Electric of Twin Cities, in order to protect ourselves against non-paying customers that take advantage of our services with no attention to do any service. Since all of our electricians are licensed contractors we need to make sure they are being dispatched to real customers that have real problems. The evaluation fee pays for an electrician to troubleshoot the problem in order to give you an upfront repair price. Since we get paid for our visit, we don't look for "unnecessary repairs" that some companies "find" to excuse their high prices. If you have an electrical issue, and want to get a quick estimate, you may call us for a free rough cost estimate over the phone. But it's important to remember that every electrical issue, install, repair or replacement are very unique - so our "rough" estimate may be far off of the actual cost both above and below.

Electrical Safety F.A.Q's

Keeping kids safe around electricity when playing outside

Assume overhead lines are power lines and stay away from them. Do not climb trees, or fly kites near power lines, and never attempt to remove something that may be caught on an overhead line.

Never touch anyone who is in contact with a Get inside at the first sign of lightning. Do not seek shelter under a tree or power line, call 911.

How should I keep pets safe from electrical hazards?

Make sure that your pet (s) do not use electrical devices as toys. The same frayed electrical cord that delivers an electrical shock to an adult, have enough voltage to kill a dog or cat. Keep those electrical cords away from puppies and kittens. If you have difficulty getting your pet to stop chewing on the cord, you may want to wrap the cord in a thick plastic sleeve. Keep Halogen lamps away from play areas for pets and children. Some Halogen bulbs can reach temperatures of 1,000 degrees. A fire can easily begin, if the lamp knocked over during play. Discourage pets from curling up for a nap behind warm computer equipment.

What can be done to prevent arc faults?

You can't prevent arc faults from occurring. However, there is a device that can stop them--by interrupting the electrical current before any damage is done. It's called an Arc Fault Circuit Interrupter (AFCI). It electronically detects any arc fault and stops the flow of electricity in a fraction of a second. No electricity, no heat, no fire. By tripping on a specific circuit, the AFCI helps you identify the source of the problem right at the load center.

Energy Savings F.A.Q's

Do light switch dimmer actually save energy?

Dimming a bulb by 25% uses approximately 20% less energy, and it will help extend bulb life by up to 4 times as well.

What can I do to reduce the cost of my energy bill?

There are a few things you may do to lower your electrical energy consumption.
  1. Unplug seldom used appliances, like an extra refrigerator in the basement or garage that contains just a few items. You may save around $10 every month on your utility bill. Unplug your chargers when you're not charging. Keep them unplugged until you need them.
  2. Enable the "sleep mode" feature on your computer, allowing it to use less power during periods of inactivity. Configure your computer to "hibernate" automatically after 30 minutes or so of inactivity. The "hibernate mode" turns the computer off in a way that doesn't require you to reload everything when you switch it back.
  3. Set your thermostat in winter to 68 degrees or less during the daytime, and 55 degrees before going to sleep (or when you're away for the day). During the summer, set thermostats to 78 degrees or more. Ceiling fans can make a room feel much cooler without using nearly as much electricity. This allows you to keep your thermostat a little higher in the summer. During the winter, you can reverse your ceiling fan, which will push the warm air back down.
  4. Set your refrigerator temperature at 38 to 42 degrees Fahrenheit; your freezer should be set between 0 and 5 degrees Fahrenheit. Use the power-save switch if your fridge has one, and make sure the door seals tightly. Don't preheat or "peek" inside the oven more than necessary. Check the seal on the oven door, and use a microwave oven for cooking or reheating small items. Wash only full loads in your dishwasher.
  5. Don't forget to flick the switch when you leave a room. Use motion sensor lights inside and outside of your home. Use compact fluorescent energy saving light bulb where possible.

Do CFL's actually save energy or should I go with LED's?

Replace traditional incandescent bulbs with Compact Fluorescent Light bulbs (CFLs) that have the ENERGY STARĀ® label. (Those are the bulbs the look like soft ice cream cones.) Now days, you have many choices of shapes, sizes, and colors of light.

CFLs cost little up front and last up to 10 times longer than a regular incandescent light bulb. Compact Fluorescent Light bulbs create savings on your electric bill. Up to 20% of the average home's electric bill goes for lighting. Because CFLs use up to 75% less electricity than a traditional bulb, they lower your bill and provide a quick return on investment. If every home in America replaced just one incandescent light bulb with an ENERGY STAR CFL, in one year enough energy would be saved to light more than 3 million homes.

This would reduce greenhouse gas emissions equivalent to taking 800,000 cars off the road. CFLs also reduce mercury emissions to 1/5th of those generated by the use of traditional incandescent bulbs. Click here for more information about saving energy with CFLs.

Visit www.energysavers.gov for more energy-saving ideas.

General Electric F.A.Q's

How do I reset my circuit breaker?

First, look for the breaker that's set in the middle. Then flip the breaker all the way off. You should feel a slight resistance as the spring inside resets. After you feel this, turn the breaker back on. Your power should be restored.

In case the breaker doesn't reset, Contact Us and we'll troubleshoot the problem for you.

Is it easy to change my own outlets and switches?

If it is a simple problem with your home electrical system, you as a homeowner with basic electrical knowledge, can fix it yourself. Keeping in mind that safety is paramount when dealing with electricity, the first thing you must do is turn off the circuit breaker. Never do any work on an energized circuit. Most homeowner issues such as replacing switches or outlets are simple.

When changing an outlet or switch, the main thing to remember is the longer slot on the outlet device has to be connected to the neutral (white) wire. The black (or hot) wire connects to the smaller slot. The green (or bare) wire connects to the ground slot. You'll also need to purchase a plug tester so you can test each outlet after installation. If you have any questions about this process, give us a call and we'll help.

It's always safer and easier to have a professional electrician install or swap out home outlets and switches - What may seem like a quick and easy task quickly is complicated by multi-pole light switches and outdated wiring. Be safe.

What can be done to prevent arc faults?

You can't prevent arc faults from occurring. However, there is a device that can stop them--by interrupting the electrical current before any damage is done. It's called an Arc Fault Circuit Interrupter (AFCI). It electronically detects any arc fault and stops the flow of electricity in a fraction of a second. No electricity, no heat, no fire. By tripping on a specific circuit, the AFCI helps you identify the source of the problem right at the load center.

What are polarized electric outlets

The different sized slots were developed to allow outlets to be polarized as a safety enhancement. The larger slot connects the common wire in the outlet to the common wire in a device. The smaller slot connects the "hot" wires. By forcing the smaller blade of the plug to always connect the hot wires, the outlet is polarized. Devices, such as a table lamp, are designed to minimize the risk of electric shock by keeping the hot wire as short as possible by wiring directly to the switch. The rest of the internal wiring connects to the neutral wire. While this system does not eliminate the possibility of electrocution, fire and electrical faults, it reduces the risk by limiting the path of live current.

What is a GFCI outlet? Where do I need to have a GFCI and why?

GFCI (ground fault circuit interrupter) outlet is a device that adds a greater level of safety by reducing the risk of electric shock. Most building codes now require that a GFCI outlet be used in wet locations such as bathrooms, kitchens, and laundry rooms.

The power is out in my bathroom outlet and all breakers seem to be on. What should I do to fix this?

Typically when a house is wired and has two bathrooms, the master bath has a GFCI outlet that protects both bathrooms. The kitchen has one that protects the other plugs close to the sink and there is typically one in the garage that protects the outlets there and perhaps the outside plugs as well. Often times the GFCI outlet will go bad or is faulty, affecting the other plugs downstream as it were.

What could be causing an outlet to Spark when I plug something into it?

Sometimes, when you plug an electrical appliance into an outlet, you may notice a small blue spark. In most situations, this is a normal event as the electrons begin to flow into the appliance's power cord. At other times, however, a spark from an electrical outlet could start a fire or severely damage the plug. It is important for to understand why an electrical outlet may spark or short out without warning homeowners.

What is an electrical outlet?

An electrical outlet is an opening or series of openings connected to a wired power source meant to power electrical equipment and components. The electrical outlet is one of the most commonly used items in a home or building. Electrical outlet provides power to an electronic component by using a wire to take power to the outlet. The plug of the component then transfers power to the device requiring it. Another wire then takes the electricity back to its original location. For simplification, in a home environment, this is the electrical panel. Due to this round-trip routing, it is often called an electrical circuit.

My house doesn't have grounded outlets (it only has two prong style plugs) do I need to rewire my entire house?

No, in home wiring, prior the 1960's, it was quite common to only have a 2 wire (not grounded) system. The NEC allows the installation of GFCI outlets either at the first outlet of the circuit or at every outlet. They must however be labeled "ungrounded receptacle".

What does the ground in an electric outlet do?

Another improvement in safety came with the addition of a ground wire to the outlet. This serves as an alternative return path for electricity and is referred to as the equipment ground. Ordinarily current flows from the hot wire and returns via the common wire to ground. However, if the hot wire comes in contact with a metal part of a device, the outer cabinet housing of a washing machine for instance, current could flow through you to ground.

The ground wire in a device connects to the housing and provides a return path. The current could still travel through you, but the ground wire probably has lower resistance and so chooses that path over through you.

Do fuses and circuit breakers do the same thing as AFCI's?

No. Fuses and circuit breakers cannot detect low-level arcs. Only AFCIs are specifically designed for that purpose.

Are AFCIs required by code? (National Electrical Code)

Yes. As of January 2002, arc fault circuit interrupters are required by the National Electrical Code on all new bedroom circuits. But, you can protect you existing home too! By installing AFCIs now, you can get peace of mind from their added fire protection.

My electric bill seems too high. Is my electrical meter broken or not working properly?

No, all electric meters are calibrated once by their manufacturer. Your meter is designed to spin by the electrical energy that passes through it. Therefore, it is not possible that the meter is "over spinning". In some cases mechanical meters may spin slower than they should due to gear issues.

How can I be better prepared for power loss in my house?

You can install a backup power system, consisting of a generator connected to a switching panel. USA Electric installs all sizes of emergency home generator systems according to your home needs.

What usually causes power loss in my house?

Power loss may be caused by a winter storm, an energy shortage, a summer brownout, a downed tree falling on a power line, a large storm, snow, ice issues really any unforeseen event that cuts off the power to your electrical system.

Why do my circuit breakers keep tripping?

When too many appliances are plugged in or turned on in the circuit, you will experience an overload which makes the circuit breaker trip. Other reasons are faulty wiring or appliances that cause a short circuit.