Here are some common questions and problems we encounter with our customers. We have compiled a list in order to help you by saving you time and money. Perhaps your problem can be solved here? Look through these, and then if you still can't solve the problem, Contact Us.

Circuit Breaker
Ground Fault Circuit Interrupters (GFCI)
Ground Fault Interrupter (GFI)
Blank Face Ground Fault Interrupter (GFI)
Switched Receptacles
Smoke Detectors
Telephones

Circuit Breaker
Every circuit in your home is protected by a breaker. This breaker will trip (shut off) any time there is an overload on one of your circuits. All breakers are located in an electrical panel and usually the panel is located next to your electric meter just outside of your garage. After opening the door of the electrical panel you will see several breakers (looks something like a switch) that look something like picture below

Picture #1

The breakers should be in the ON position for normal use. If the breaker has tripped due to an overload in your house you should do the following:

  • Unplug everything that is plugged into the circuit that is not working.
  • Go to the electrical panel and find the breaker that is in the TRIPPED position.
  • Press the breaker in the TRIPPED position the rest of the way OFF. A tripped breaker is in a state between the ON and OFF position and it must be pressed to the OFF position. Pressing the breaker to the OFF position will take a little effort. It must be pushed HARD. When done right the breaker will stay in the OFF position even after your hand is removed.
  • Now you may push the breaker ON. This should restore power to the circuit that was overloaded.
  • As you go back and plug in your appliances, test each one to see that it works. The first one that does not work is the one that is causing you to overload the circuit. After unplugging the defective appliance you may need to reset the breaker again. You should not use the defective appliance again until it has been repaired per the manufacturers requirements.
  • An overload on the circuit could also be caused by plugging in too many cords on a particular circuit. For example, the breaker may trip if you plug too many Christmas lights in on a circuit. In most cases additional breakers can be added to the electrical panel so that items such as Christmas lights may be plugged in with no problem.
  • One of the biggest problems that cause a breaker to trip is if you attempt to plug a freezer into a regular outlet that has not been specifically labeled as an outlet for a freezer. A freezer must run on it’s own circuit and so a separate circuit must be added in the electrical panel for the freezer.

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Ground Fault Circuit Interrupters (GFCI)
There is another safety device that is located in your home which is a Ground Fault Circuit Interrupter (GFCI). The GFCI controls ALL receptacles that are located in any of the following locations:
  • Bathrooms
  • Garage
  • Outside receptacles
  • Basement, crawlspace, or unfinished area
  • Receptacles near any sink such as a kitchen or a utility room.

The GFCI is a receptacle that has two buttons located on the front of it. See picture #2. One button is a TEST button and the other is a RESET button.

Picture #2

If you have a receptacle that is not working and it is located in one of the rooms or areas listed above, you need to locate the GFCI receptacle that controls those receptacles and press the RESET button. The GFCI receptacles are typically located in the master bathroom, the kitchen, and the unfinished area of your basement. However, they may be located at any of the locations that were mentioned above.

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Ground Fault Interrupter (GFI)
An overload on the circuit could also be caused by plugging in too many cords on a particular circuit. For example, the breaker may trip if you plug too many Christmas lights in on a circuit. In most cases additional breakers can be added to the electrical panel so that items such as Christmas lights may be plugged in with no problem.

One of the biggest problems that cause a breaker to trip is if you attempt to plug a freezer into a regular outlet that has not been specifically labeled as an outlet for a freezer. A freezer should be run on it’s own circuit and so a separate non-GFI circuit should be added in the electrical panel for the freezer.

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Blank Face Ground Fault Interrupter (GFI)
Whirlpool tubs
Soffit outlets
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Switched Receptacles
In some of the rooms in the house there will be one receptacle that is upside down compared to other receptacles in the house. This receptacle is controlled by a switch on the wall. Only half of the outlet is switched (controlled by the switch), and the other half is HOT (used for plug in devices) all the time. This outlet has been provided so that a lamp can be plugged into the receptacle and controlled by a light switch, and then the other half is used as a regular outlet.
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Smoke Detectors
Your smoke detectors are designed to detect smoke from a fire and sound a warning alarm. They are wired directly, but have a battery backup in case of a power outage. They are extremely sensitive and may set off a false alarm from smoke associated with cooking, insects, or dust particles. The manufacturer recommends vacuuming the device periodically to help eliminate false alarm. Pine Valley Electric, Inc. cannot respond in these circumstances: 1. Battery, or 2. False Alarm.

The smoke detectors will make a chirping sound when the batteries are getting low. We recommend you test the smoke detectors monthly and change the batteries twice a year with a nine volt alkaline battery and do all of them at the same time. This is best done around the time change in the spring and fall. Follow the instructions carefully, as an incorrectly installed battery will continue to “chirp”.

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Telephones
On the outside of your home, near the electric meter you will notice a square cover marked “Telephone”. This is your telephone access cover. If you are not getting any telephone reception at any of the phone jacks in your home, remove the cover and plug your phone into the jack located inside the box. If you have no dial tone there and you are sure your phone service is turned on, you need to contact the telephone company for repair. Tell them you do not have a dial tone anywhere. If you DO have a dial tone at the box, please call Pine Valley Electric, Inc. for service. If we come out and the problem is the phone company’s, there will be a service charge.
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