News & Tips

Electrical Materials and Codes are constantly changing.  Check back regularly to see the latest code changes and recommendations from the experts as well as what’s happening in the Mike’s Electric community.

  • Energy Saving Light Bulbs (CFLs)

    Energy saving light bulbs are rapidly replacing incandescent bulbs in homes and businesses since they last much longer and use much less electricity.

    They do contain very small amounts of mercury which can produce health risks when a bulb is broken.

    For helpful information regarding safe and proper cleanup if a bulb is broken in your home or business click here.

    Also since mercury has toxic characteristics, proper disposal is important. In general, spent CFLs need to be recycled through an approved source.

    Many suppliers of CFLs (such as Home Depot or Lowes) will take small quantities of spent CFLs and dispose of them at no charge. Click here for more information.

  • Things to try before you call an electrician


    What if the top half of an outlet is working, but the bottom half is not?

    If the outlet is located in the living room or master bedroom it may be controlled by a switch. Try turning the switch “ON”


    What if an outlet in the kitchen, bathroom, garage or outdoors isn’t working?

    All of these areas may be GFCI protected (there is a button on one or more of the outlets that controls other outlets). Push the “RESET” button on the GFCI outlet until you hear a clicking sound.

    Kitchens may have two or more GFCI outlets. These may control all the outlets in the kitchen.

    There may be one GFCI outlet located in one of the bathrooms which will control all the outlets in the other bathrooms.

    Look carefully, the GFCI that controls the circuit that is out may be in a different room.


    What if it is difficult to insert a plug into a particular outlet?

    Some new outlets need to be broken in. Use a strong plug and wiggle it as it is being inserted. Once a plug had been inserted completely the first time, the outlet should be easier to use.



    What if a circuit does not have power at all?

    A breaker has probably been tripped. Locate the breaker box and look for a breaker in the middle position, or just a soft handle on the breaker ( tripped). First, turn the tripped breaker to the “OFF” position, then from the “OFF” position turn the breaker to the “ON” position. (turning a breaker directly from tripped position to the “ON” position will NOT reset the breaker).



    What if a breaker trips while my vacuum is being used?

    Vacuums with 12 amps or more, pull too much power for bedroom circuits. Plug the vacuum into the kitchen, bathroom or washer outlet.



    What if my lamps seem to burn out quickly?

    Purchase 130 volt lamps (check packaging) instead of 120 volt lamps. Most home outlets supply 121 to 123 volts when checked with a voltage meter, so 120 volt lamps will burn out quickly. Do not increase watts, just the volts of the lamp.

  • Unsure over whether you have an electrical problem or not?

    Here are some common warning signs of potential electrical problems that we recommend be checked by a licensed electrician soon after being first observed.


    1. A shock from any electrical fixture, appliance, plug, or switch.

    2. Arcing or sparking anywhere in your electrical system.

    3. Frequent tripping of breakers in your electrical system.

    4. Unusual sounds – such as sizzling or buzzing coming from your electrical system.

    5. Discolored switch plates or receptacle covers or those that are hot to the touch.

    6. Damaged, cut, missing, or broken wiring insulation.

    7. Wiring which may be spliced rather than properly combined using wire nuts and a junction box.

    8. Wires that may give off an odor of hot insulation, which may be an indication of overheating.

    9. Non GFCI receptacles that are within  6 feet of a water source.

    10. Extension cords being used as a semi-permanent method of providing power.

  • Concerns about your Federal Pacific electric panel?

    A golden rule:  Don’t fix what isn’t broken!  With regular maintenance, your electric panel will last for 30 or 40 years?  Not if you have a Federal Pacific Electric Panel.  Consumer safety reviews have concluded the FPE panel is a potential safety risk that could cause an electrical fire.

    The problem stems from a failure in the normal breaker operation.  Your electrical breakers are designed to disconnect the power when there is a short.  In a high percentage of FPE panels, the breaker trip feature fails and the result could be a fire.

    Click here for more information regarding this problem.

    Some tests show that FPE panels experience a failure rate between 30% to 50%.  Worse, tests also show that as much as 10% of the time breakers in FPE panels jam and may never trip. Keep in mind that a modern breaker has less than a .3% failure rate and should never jam.

    Failures of FPE panels have several serious consequences.   Expensive home appliances or electronics may be damaged or destroyed.  Fires can result which may lead to the loss of the entire home.  Insurance companies may opt to discontinue coverage until the problem is remedied.  Almost inevitably, problems with FPE panels have to be corrected before the home can be sold.

    If you are not sure if you have a Federal Pacific Electric Panel, then add the request to your annual electrical maintenance check

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A DBA of Mollenhauer Enterprises, Inc.

CCB # 191094

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