Frequently Asked Questions

This is a short list of our most frequently asked questions.  Select the question below for the drop-down answer.  If you have an electrical question that is not listed here, feel free to contact us. We’ll do our best to get you an answer.

  • I need a circuit breaker. Are they all the same?

    No, it's best if you bring in the old breaker and match it up.

  • I have a circuit breaker that tripped. Is this dangerous?

    Usually the problem is simply an overload and you only need to run fewer appliances on the circuit. However, if it is not overloaded and it keeps tripping, you should suspect a short. Also, look for a defective cord, socket or plug.

  • Is it alright to replace a fuse or circuit breaker with a larger one to prevent them from blowing or tripping?

    In most cases the answer is no. They are designed to trip at certain levels to protect equipment and for fire safety.

  • What is the advantage of a halogen bulb?

    It provides brighter, cleaner light. However, it consumes lots of electricity and gets very hot. You should ensure that it stays away from draperies, bedding, clothing and hanging plants.

  • Do I need to buy a special bulb for my garage door opener?

    It's best to use a rough service bulb.

  • What's making the tubes in my fluorescent light flicker?

    Wiggle the tubes to make sure they are properly seated. Replace any tubes that are dark or have damaged pins. Replace the ballast if there is one.

  • The dryer plug will not fit the receptacle in our new house. How can I remedy this?

    In most newer homes, there should be four-prong dryer and range receptacles. If you have a three-prong power cord, you will need to have a licensed electrician change it.

  • Will a three-pronged plug adapter protect me against electrical shock when I use it in a two-prong receptacle?

    Only if the wall plate screw is grounded.

  • I am installing a ceiling fan; do I need a special electrical box?

    Yes, special saddle boxes are designed for hanging heavy fixtures-up to about 50 pounds. Since a ceiling fan moves, these boxes are good for about a 35-pound ceiling fan.

  • What is a ground fault interrupter?

    It's a safety device that shuts off the power if a wire in an outlet develops a leak that could electrocute someone. This hazard is so serious that the National Electrical Code requires all new homes be equipped with them in the bathroom, kitchen, workroom, outdoor, basement, garage and swimming pool circuits.

  • What is a transformer?

    It's a device that changes the voltage. In most home usage, it reduces the voltage for use on low-voltage equipment, such as thermostats, doorbells and low-voltage outdoor lighting.

  • My doorbell doesn't work, do you know what's wrong with it?

    There are three components to the doorbell; the button, the transformer and the bell itself. First, look for any loose wires throughout the system. If all the wires are connected, test the doorbell button by removing it and touching the two wires together. If this makes the doorbell work, you have a bad button that is easily replaced.

  • I've bypassed the doorbell button, and the doorbell still did not work. What's the most likely problem?

    Check the transformer. You will have to find it. It might be in the attic, but it can be anywhere. You just need to trace the wire. If it makes a humming sound when the button is pushed, your problem is probably the chime. If it doesn't make a sound, change the transformer to see if that's the problem.

  • Do all of the outlets in my kitchen need to have ground-fault circuit interrupters?

    No, if the first in the series is GFCI, then all are protected.

  • What's causing my fluorescent fixture to hum?

    The ballast probably needs to be replaced. Another sign of a faulty ballast is black tar-like substance oozing from the fixture.

  • The tubes in my fluorescent light are graying near the ends. Does this mean they are wearing out?

    Working tubes usually have a gray tinge on the ends, but dark gray or black is a sign that the tube is failing.

  • My dusk to dawn light doesn't go off and remains on all day. Do I need to replace it?

    First find the sensor and see if it is being obscured by something. If not, you can probably just replace the sensor.

  • Why does my circuit breaker keep tripping?  Why do my fuses keep burning out?

    This is usually caused by three things.  The first reason could be there are too many electrical items plugged into the circuit.  Circuits are designed to only handle so much electric demand.  The second reason is there could be a short in the wiring, or the third reason is the breaker or fuse could be faulty.  It is recommended that an electrician evaluate the problem to ensure there are no safety issues.  Your electrician can also talk with you about adding more circuits to your home so that your electrical system can support all your needs.

  • What is a GFCI outlet?

    GFCI outlets are commonly known as the outlets “with a button”.  GFCI stands for Ground Fault Circuit Interrupter. The outlet monitors itself for an electrical current imbalance.  (Those imbalances are what can give you a nasty shock!)  If it recognizes an imbalance, it will “trip” or shut itself off.  The national electric code requires that GFCI outlets are installed anywhere near water including bathrooms, kitchens, laundry rooms, and outdoors.  If you have a GFCI outlet that is constantly tripping, you should have it looked at as that may be an indicator of a more dangerous problem.

  • How do I know my GFCI outlet is working?

    There is a test button on all GFCI outlets.  The outlets should be tested from time at time – at least yearly.  Press the “test” button to trip the outlet.  Press the “reset” button to fix it.  If nothing happens when you press the test button or if the outlet will not reset, that could indicate a dangerous situation.  The outlet needs to be inspected by an electrician to ensure it safely operating and there is no underlying electrical issue.

  • Many of the electrical items I buy have 3-prongs on the plug but my home’s outlets are 2-prong.  Can I just cut that third prong off?

    No!  The third prong is designed to prevent deadly electrical shock from the electrical item you are using.  The third prong acts as a “ground” so that, if a wire inside the item were to come loose, the plug can help divert the electricity back into your home’s electrical system rather than shocking the next person to touch that item.  If the third prong is disabled, there is nothing protecting you or a family member from receiving a nasty shock from the equipment.

  • How are electrical permits handled by your company?

    Many types of electrical work require that a permit be obtained from the local municipality. Larger, more involved electrical work may also require an inspection. The municipality charge for a permit is included on your bill. In most cases inspection is included in this charge.

  • What are your billing policies regarding the use of Licensed Apprentice Electricians ?

    Frequently (but not always) the Licensed Apprentice Electrician will be on your property to assist our journeyman. This is part of a rigorous education/training program required for their license. They are under the supervision of the journeyman electrician during all work. Even though in training, they provide a benefit in that they are able to help complete a job more quickly and efficiently – actually reducing the total labor cost below what would occur if only the journeyman was present. Note: if an apprentice electrician is assisting in the completion of work, their time will be added to the invoice. No charge will be made if they are not assisting.

  • Do you charge for Travel?

    We do charge for one way travel to get to the job site. However, in no case will you be billed more than 15 minutes of travel – regardless of where you live in the Portland metro area.

Service Areas:  Beaverton Oregon  |  Hillsboro Oregon  |  Lake Oswego Oregon  Portland Oregon  |  Sherwood Oregon  |  Tigard Oregon  |  Tualatin Oregon  Wilsonville Oregon  |  King City Oregon

Copyright © 2015 Mike's Electric.  All Rights Reserved.