Humming Noise from Electrical Panel

You are right to worry about suspicious buzzing or humming electrical noises around your home. Electrical systems are designed to work quietly, offering you power and efficiency with no hassle.

Your electrical panel controls the power supply in your home while keeping you safe from electrical hazards. Hence, any annoying or worrying sounds from the panel could indicate problems of different kinds. See what these noises could be and what they might mean below.

  1. A light buzzing sound

By a light buzzing sound, we mean a faint buzzing sound from your breaker. It’s not the type to keep you up at night or be highly noticeable. The cause is often current flowing through the breaker, like water flowing in some direction. This light buzzing sound is generally normal and harmless. But, if it gets louder or involves clicking and other horror-movie sounds, be sure to call an electrician.

  1. Medium humming sounds

This sound is louder and more obvious than a light buzzing sound. It can take various forms such as a sizzling noise, sparking, a clicking noise, or a humming breaker. So you can hear sizzling sounds with occasional sparks and this certainly means something is wrong with the circuit breaker. The cause may be frayed and loose wiring which is incredibly dangerous and an electrical hazard. It is necessary to call an experienced electrical technician to replace and repair the wiring quickly.

  1. Loud and continuous buzzing sounds

Now, this is what keeps you up at night. Constant loud buzzing sounds can be disturbing because they are loud. The cause often stems from the breaker not tripping when it should, and this, in turn, indicates that the breaker is bad. Your electric breaker shuts off the power supply during a power surge to protect your home. But when it fails to do this the flow of current to the wires increases leading to a buildup of heat, the loud buzzing sound, and an electrical hazard. Circuit breakers go bad for several reasons such as wear and tear and a faulty panel. This humming noise should not be ignored, and an electrician should be called immediately.

A buzzing and humming sound is normal if…

The sound isn’t loud as we have described above.

If the buzzing sound starts right when your AC comes on but stops once the appliance is working smoothly.

Trying to solve this electrical issue yourself can be very dangerous. Therefore the first and safest way to solve humming and buzzing noise from your electrical panel is to call a licensed and experienced electrician.

It may be time for an electrical panel upgrade — contact an electrician for more information.

What’s the Cost To Replace Federal Pacific Electric Panel?

panel upgrade los angelesA safe electrical system is invaluable to every home and if you have a Federal Pacific Electrical Panel (FPE), replacing it is the best solution to ensure your electrical safety.

Federal Pacific Electrical Panels are commonly found in homes between 20 and 70 years old. These panels were first introduced by Reliance Electric in the 1950s and quickly became installed in millions of homes across the country. It was soon discovered that FPE panels were unsafe and present a great risk to homes that use them.

Your home’s electrical panel distributes electrical power safely across all circuits. It is also built to ensure protection by tripping off in situations like a short circuit, circuit overload, power surge, and so on. If the breaker cannot do this, the chances of an electrical fire starting increase dangerously.

How an FPE breaker puts your home in danger.

According to reports from the United States Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC), Federal Pacific breakers may fail to trip during an overload or short-circuiting. FPE breakers have recorded high rates of not tripping when necessary for your electrical protection. It was also discovered that the breakers tend to enter a lock-up. A lock-up describes a situation where a breaker that has tripped once will never trip in the future regardless of dangerous conditions like an electrical overload.

Studies estimate over 2,800 electrical fires caused each year by a Federal Pacific Electrical Panel that didn’t trip.

Most of the unreliability of the panel is due to the use of cheap materials in its manufacture and their limited original design.

Distinct risks and problems posed by a Federal Pacific breaker also includes;

  • The crowded wires often found within the panel box.
  • The breakers to do not switch off even in the OFF position.
  • Arcing occurs at the bus.
  • The Federal Pacific breakers trip unexpectedly when the dead front cover is removed.
  • Breakers are often not tightly connected to the bus bar.

Electrical inspectors always encourage homeowners to replace and not repair a Federal Pacific Electrical Panel. Electricians may also hesitate or refuse to fix problems with these panels because they cannot guarantee the results or your electrical safe afterwards.

Identifying a Federal Pacific Electrical Panel

You may have a Federal Pacific Electrical Panel if your home is as old as between 20 to 70 years. Since the company no longer exists, you can’t purchase a new FPE panel. It can only be present if it was installed in older homes. You can identify an FPE panel with the labels or logos on the front cover. The common appearance is an orange and white label.

You can also look out for the name Stab-Lok written inside the panel or on the breaker. A signature red label across the front of the panel is another indication.

The cost of replacing a Federal Pacific Electrical Panel may vary across electricians, location, and other factors. The replacement can generally cost anywhere from $1500 to $2000, and even more.

The replacement will include any necessary repairs, rewiring, moving the panel location, and installation that are up to recent codes.

Signs of Electrical Problems in Homes in Southern California

outlet on fire due to electrical problemYour electric system works 24/7 providing the power you need to make life easier. While you might wish this efficiency can last forever, this is usually not the case.

The good news is, despite how complicated electricity can be for inexperienced eyes and hands, there are signs of electrical problems you can look out for as a homeowner in Southern California.

Staying alert or watching out for these signs can protect your home from severe issues like electrical fires. It can also help you spend less on repairs or replacement when the problem is discovered on time.

Here are 7 signs to look out for.

  1. Unfamiliar or burning smells

Electrical burning smells can be hard to miss. This makes it easy for you to find the source by following the smell. If the strange or burning smell is coming from an outlet, your panel, or any other electrical installation stop using it immediately and call an electrician. Burning smells may indicate that damage or an electrical fire has begun. At the same time, new appliances often emit a strange odor when they are first installed or plugged in. This could stem from the finish, paint, or material used on the appliance and nothing serious.

  1. Flickering lights

Flickering lights indicate a power surge or damage to your electrical wiring. When your lights flicker, buzz, or dim when turned on, or if an appliance is plugged in, then your system likely needs an upgrade. You can call an electrical technician to inspect and determine the problem.

  1. Buzzing sounds

Buzzing sounds from your fixtures, switches, outlets, or appliances can be worrying. These installations should mostly operate silently. If you hear consistent buzzing noises call an electrician to fix the electrical issue.

  1. Frayed or chewed wiring

Pets, rodents, cheap products, and inexperienced handymen can lead to frayed or chewed wiring in your home in Southern California. This sort of damage is both a shock and fire hazard that should be handled immediately. Contact your electrical contractor in Southern California to inspect your entire wiring and replace any damaged parts.

  1. Warm or sparking wall outlets

If wall outlets or switches are warm to the touch, they may indicate loose or damaged wiring. Call an electrician to check and replace any damaged wiring.

  1. Circuit breaker trips

Your home breaker is designed to trip, to protect your system from overload or power surges. When these protective trips occur, it’s easy to switch your breaker back on and continue using your efficient system as normal. However, frequent circuit breaker trips are a sign of something deeper and dangerous in your electrical system. Call an electrician to confirm as soon as you observe this.

  1. Cheap or fake electrical products

You can find cheap electrical products for your home in Southern California anywhere. While the lower than normal price may seem enticing, most of such products are made with fake materials or not up to industry standards. They can go on to create dangerous problems or electrical hazards in your home. Always purchase quality electrical materials or products for your home.

Should I Worry About Cloth Wrapped Electrical Wiring?

cloth cover wiringThe wiring in your home has a lot to do with your home’s electrical safety and capability. A professional electrician knows how to not only ensure this but to also see that your home’s electrical wiring is up to standard.

Cloth wiring is a subject that comes up more often than you would imagine because there’s hardly any shortage of old homes. Read on as we discuss what it means and more.

What is cloth wrapped electrical wiring and how to identify it?

Cloth covered wiring is exactly what it sounds like – wiring covered in a cloth material. This type of wiring was used mostly in homes built before 1960 and before plastic-covered wiring became the norm. At that time, cloth covered wiring was the standard. It was efficient and served the electrical needs of buildings. Some still do so today. This era also made use of the wiring system knob-and-tube. Both cloth covered wiring and the knob-and-tube system are outdated and not up to the standard of recent times. In many ways, both pose risks and homeowners with old homes are always encouraged to confirm the wiring they have.

You can identify cloth covered wiring easily at a glance. You can also lookout for a knob-and-tube wiring system that may indicate cloth-covered wiring. For even easier identification, here are some common brands of cloth covered wiring. You can inspect the wires to see the brand name;

  • Essex
  • Cablex
  • Cres-flex
  • Dutrax
  • Kflex
  • Narax
  • Roflex/Romex
  • Ammcoflex
  • Hatflex
  • Triangle PWC
  • Southwire

The risks of cloth covered wiring.

  1. Prone to damage and wear and tear.

As expected with cloth material, cloth covered wiring can be chewed on by rodents and even damaged by insects. This can lead to exposure of the wire and electrical arcing, which is dangerous. Cloth wiring is also prone to wear and tear due to brittleness. The longer the wear and tear go on, the more the wires within are exposed. This then poses the risk of electrical fires due to electrical arcing.

  1. Insufficient insulation in modern times.

Proper insulation is vital to prevent heat from building up in the wires and creating a fire hazard.  Cloth covered wiring is not effective at providing proper insulation. In modern homes especially, this lack of proper insulation can be dangerous.

  1. No grounding

Cloth covered wiring alongside the knob-and-tube system lack safety features like grounding. While this doesn’t make the wiring unsafe to use, it means there is no ground protection for your appliances against power surges.

With cloth wrapped electrical wiring being outdated, not up to recent codes and standard, and posing risks, it’s right to worry about them in your home. Some cloth covered wiring may be in good condition and reasonably safe, but only a professional electrician can determine that. If you live in an old home or suspect you have cloth covered wiring, contact a licensed electrician for an inspection.

The best solution to unsafe cloth covered wiring is rewiring the home to standard.

Electrical Panel Questions & Answers

electrical panelThe electrical panel can be a confusing subject for many homeowners. That grey metal box determines how electricity flows in your home and the capacity of your electrical system. Here are some questions and answers to help you know your panel more and explore the mystery around it.

  1. Can I install an electrical panel in the bathroom?

The short answer to this is no. When installing electrical conductors or equipment, you must consider the environment they will be used in. For example, electrical conductors to be used in a damp environment must be marked for that. And to install a panel in a bathroom, all the electrical components have to be marked for indoor wet location. This is neither feasible nor economical. Hence, an electrical panel is always installed in a place it can be kept dry, protected, and minimize the quantity of electrical wiring needed to reach other locations in the home.

  1. Should home surge protectors be installed in the main electrical panel?

Yes! Whole house surge protectors protect your appliances during power surges and help you avoid the hassle of having to replace them. In the upcoming 2020 NEC, there is a proposal that whole home surge protectors be installed with every new electrical panel installation; including replacements.

  1. Is it mandatory for electrical panel circuit breakers to be labeled?

Yes, the electrical code requires that electric panel breakers circuits be labelled. This labeling is vital for the safe operation of the panel, especially when there is an emergency. The circuit breakers should be labeled in such a way that it is easy for anyone to tell what circuit serves where. There should also be a circuit directory on the inside of the panel door capable of enduring much wear and tear. The initial labeling of the circuit breakers takes only minutes.

  1. What are the spacing rules for receptacle outlets on kitchen countertops?

For this to come into play, recall that you would often need to use an appliance on the countertop. Most appliances come with cords up to 24-inches or more. So, receptacle outlets are installed in a work space 12-inches or wider. They are installed in such a way that you can’t go over 24-inches along the wall line without reaching an outlet.

  1. Can I use nonmetallic cable ties in an electrical panel?

Yes, this is a solid way to keep the electrical conductors neatly grouped and the installation looking professional.

  1. Do I install a GFCI device in the panel or a receptacle?

When it comes to GFCI devices, the most common options today are GFCI receptacles and GFCI circuit breakers. Using a GFCI circuit breaker means everything connected to that branch circuit is protected and this would be an ideal option. However, for existing systems, using a GFCI circuit breaker might not work correctly. GFCI receptacles are preferable in such situations.

To know more about your panel or get an inspection for any electrical issues, connect with the Service Team at The Electric Connection.

Why Hire a Professional Los Angeles Electrician

hire los angeles electricianThe right question should be, why not hire a professional Los Angeles electrician? L.A is a beautiful city with lots of action, celebrities, and so on to take up your time and energy. Why include DIY electrical projects to the mix?

Just in case you are wondering what’s so special about hiring a professional electrician in the most populous California city, here are several reasons.

  • Save on cost
  • Have you ever tried to do something on your own and ended up buying a part that wasn’t needed or didn’t fit? That was money you could have saved or used for another purpose. Hiring a professional electrician who knows what he’s doing when he sees your electrical system can help you avoid wasteful spending like that.

  • It’s comforting
  • When you go to the hospital to see the doctor, don’t you feel safe knowing that he is experienced and trained for his job? How would you feel giving yourself treatment or prescription? You could have a headache just thinking of how unsure you are with what you are doing. It’s the same with hiring a professional electrician. You feel safe and comfortable knowing you hired someone with all the training and knowledge. You won’t fret at night wondering if something would go wrong with what you did.

  • Prevent accidents and house fires
  • Taking on an electrical project without training or proper knowledge can lead to mistakes. Electricity may seem friendly because it’s such a huge addition to our lives, but it is dangerous when not handled properly. A mistake can cause electrocution (mild or life-threatening). It can also cause a fire.

  • Efficient work
  • A professional electrician’s work will be smooth, neat, effective, and satisfactory. You can get exactly what you want or need. The right professional makes sure your work lasts as long as it should to save you cost in the long run.

  • Protect your appliances.
  • A professional electrician knows what you need to protect your home. They can upgrade your wiring, install surge protection, identify an electrical fault, and so on.

When you need to choose a professional electrician in Los Angeles

Now that these benefits have you convinced, you must wonder what to do when you need to choose a professional electrician in Los Angeles.

Start by getting proof of their certification and license. Check past clients for their experience and long-term results. Check reviews. Check customer service, costs, and more. There are several electricians in Los Angeles, but finding quality and superior service for pocket-friendly prices is vital.

What to Do When Your Outlet Stops Working

outlet stops workingWhen one or more outlets in the home suddenly stop working it’s easy to assume the worst. Before you panic, it’s good to know that there are some things you can try to solve the problem. However, when these don’t work, be sure to call in the pros.

Tips to troubleshoot your electrical outlet

  • Confirm the problem
    When one outlet stops working out of the blue, confirm that there is a problem. Plug the same appliance to other outlets in the home and another appliance to the suspected outlet and working ones. This helps you identify the faulty outlets and their location. After this is done, unplug all appliances from the dead outlets and mark them for easy identification later.
  • Check the circuit breakers
    Next is to check for a tripped breaker or a blown fuse. The circuit breakers or fuses can be found in the electric panel. The electric panel can be found by following the electrical wires from outside the home to the point where they enter. It is usually installed in the garage, utility room, or basement.

    Check the panel for any breaker whose switch is not in line with the others. Tripped breakers can be reset by taking the switch to an OFF position and then back ON again. Make sure you hear a click in the OFF position before switching to the ON position.

    If the breaker trips again, there is no need to overdo it. Simply call an electrician and avoid using the outlet.

  • GFCIs Check
    The Ground Fault Circuit Interrupter outlets are those strange-looking outlets you see in some areas of the home where there is a higher risk of electric shock. GCFIs protect you from electric shocks by shutting off the power when a leak or unusual electric surge is detected.

    GFCI protected outlets are often labeled to help you point them out, but it is also common for those labels to fall off after some time. Test and reset the GFCI by pressing the reset button. If the GFCI refuses to reset and just keeps tripping each time you press it, stop the action and call a professional at The Electric Connection.

  • Electrical outlet tester
    An electrical outlet tester is like an easy way to troubleshoot your faulty or dysfunctioning outlet. Plug the tester into the outlet and read the light patterns. The tester easily shows if the outlet is mis-wired or improperly grounded.

Safety tips before troubleshooting

  • Ensure that there is no bare wiring from the outlet or the appliance you plug into the outlet.
  • Don’t force the wrong sized or shaped plug into the outlet.
  • Don’t overload your outlets.
  • If the outlet sparks, shut it off and call an electrician.

What is Grounding and Why is it Important?

Electricity has come to mean a lot to the world, but while it has proven so vital, electricity is also dangerous. To protect human lives and property from the dangers associated with using electricity, experienced electricians always ensure they ground your electrical system.

Grounding is a common term when it comes to power. It means connecting electrical wires to the ground below your home. We will get to why this is even necessary in a few moments.

Think of grounding like the way humans have to step their feet on the earth to walk. Stepping your feet on the earth connects to a stable surface and helps you walk safely as you should.

This is what grounding means for electricity. After connecting all the appliances and electrical components in your home, each one must be grounded.

Every electric outlet has two main wires. One is the hot wire or active wire which supplies the power, the other is the neutral wire which carries that current back. An additional wire is the grounding wire which can be attached to other electrical devices and connected to the ground bus bar at the breaker.

The ground wire functions as an extra path for the electrical current to pass through and return safely to the ground. The aim is to prevent any danger of electrical shock or fire.

Importance of Grounding

  • Serves as a shock absorber
    Sudden surges of electrical power occur more often than you think. It could be triggered by a storm, transformer malfunction, or when a power demanding appliance picks up. You can observe this in the home when an appliance like the AC comes on; the light flickers briefly.

    Such minor surges can create major problems if the outlets in your home are not grounded. This includes fatal shocks when you touch the appliance. So, grounding prevents all of this by directing any excess charge to the ground where they pose no threat.

  • Stabilizes voltage
    Grounding equips your electrical system to be highly efficient. It helps the appropriate amount of power to be distributed accordingly. This also prevents overloading which in turn protects your appliances.
  • Uses the best conductor
    Why the earth? Why isn’t grounding about connecting excess charges to something else? Well, it is because the earth is a great conductor. Excess electricity will always choose the path of least resistance and the earth presents a safe alternative to your human body.

To know if you are safe and that your electrical system is grounded, you can use the tips below:

  • Check the home outlets. Grounded outlets have three slots, while ungrounded ones have two slots.
  • Older homes may be at risk of being ungrounded compared to modern homes.
  • Call for an inspection from a professional electrician to confirm if you have a grounded electrical system or not. An upgrade can be carried out if needed.

Lights Flickering? We have the solution!

Flickering lights are almost impossible to ignore. They can be very annoying and dangerous if not solved. Flickering lights can be fun and raise no cause for alarm if the lights in question are decorative lights.

Here is why your lights are flickering and the possible solutions to restore your peace of mind.

Something to do with the bulb
Flickering lights may mean an issue with the light bulb, and this can occur in several ways.

Loose bulb – A loose bulb is probably good news because it means the problem is a poor connection. This usually applies when you have one flickering light. Turn off the power and use a gloved hand to unscrew the bulb carefully and then screw it back in.

Fluorescent bulbs – With fluorescent bulbs, it is almost normal to experience a brief flicker for about a minute after the light is turned on. To avoid this, you can replace your fluorescent bulbs with LED lights.

Faulty bulbs – Faulty or burned out bulbs can flicker as a sign that they need replacement. If a new bulb works better, then problem solved.

Dimmer switch – A dimmer switch comes in handy for lighting control and comfort but the bulb connected to this switch must be compatible. An incompatible bulb may flicker or you may even experience strobe light. Simply replace the flickering lights with a compatible one.

Outlets and Switches
Most lights are hard wired to a wall outlet or switch. Check the outlets for any sign of fault or wear. Flip the switch on and off while listening closely and observing the changes. If the outlets or wall switches are the culprits, a replacement will solve the problem.

When it’s none of the above, then you must consider a problem with the wiring of the fixture itself. Sometimes this can be fixed. Weigh your options if a repair is a better choice than a replacement.

Minor power surges can cause lights to flicker. These surges can occur when a demanding appliance comes on or during lightning strikes. This may not be a cause for alarm but over time it can become dangerous for your lighting system. A professional electrician can inspect and proffer a solution in this case.

A sign of outdated wiring
Flickering lights can be a sign of outdated wiring in the home. They show that your system is unreliable and needs an upgrade. This is not something you can troubleshoot or handle on your own. It can only be confirmed by an electrical technician.

How to Fix a Tripped Breaker

When a part of your home or fixture suddenly goes dark, it is usually because of an individual circuit breaker tripping. The best way to find out if this is the case is to check your main electrical panel. The main electrical panel is located in the basement or utility room. A tripped breaker is always represented by a breaker switch facing a different direction from all others. For example, others may seem ON and just this one switch seems OFF or in-between.

Since no one switched off this breaker, you can safely assume it tripped. Now, a breaker tripping is not a strange thing. The circuit breakers are designed to act as safety devices in the home to prevent electrical problems or hazards from occurring. When there is a sudden surge of energy due to lightning or overload the electric breaker will trip. If an outlet suddenly draws too much current, the electric breaker will also trip.

How to reset a tripped breaker

  • The first thing to do has been explained above, and it is finding the tripped breaker.
  • Next, turn off all the lights, outlets, or electric devices controlled by that breaker. To guide you the breaker should be labeled for the area it serves.
  • Reset the breaker by making sure it is in the OFF position. Then, turn the switch back ON. Turn on your appliances or the outlets connected to that circuit.

This simple procedure should fix the problem, but if the breaker trips again it means there is another issue. In this case, it’s time to call an expert electrician at The Electric Connection.

Here are some possible causes of a breaker tripping

Ground fault
A ground fault occurs in the grounded junction box. It is when a hot wire and a bare ground wire both touch the metal box housing them. This sets off a reaction that pushes an unusual and large amount of electricity through the circuit. This will repeatedly trip the breaker and eventually burn an outlet.

Faulty appliance
A faulty appliance can have both short circuits and ground faults that overheat the circuits and cause the breaker to trip.

Short circuit
A short circuit occurs when a neutral wire and hot wire touch. This can happen within the home’s wiring system, an outlet, or a fixture. A short circuit leads to overheating, which trips the breaker.

Most circuit breaker tripping is caused by overloading. Usually, when you can identify what you were doing before the breaker tripped, you can stop or unplug the electrical device to restore order. Resetting the breaker with the steps above will work fine.

However, a short circuit or ground fault are more serious problems that require an electrical technician. Some signs you might observe in either situation are burning smell or scorch marks around an outlet. A faulty appliance will also need to be replaced or repaired to avoid electrical problems. An electrician can confirm the true cause of the tripping breaker and fix it.