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Understanding Your Home’s Electrical System

Understanding your electrical systemWhether watching TV, microwaving a meal, or charging a cell phone, we depend on our home’s electrical system to supply us with power when and where we need it. By understanding the ins and outs of how your home’s electricity is distributed, you can keep your electrical system properly maintained and working safely.

Electrical Service Panel
Your electrical service panel distributes electricity to the circuits in your home, each of which provides power to specific outlets, light fixtures, and appliances. Because older homes may still run on outdated fuse boxes which can easily become overloaded and pose a fire hazard— a qualified electrician should service your panel every 2 years to correct small issues before they cause larger problems such as frequent breaker trips, overheating of wiring, or even loss of power to an area of your home.

Aluminum or copper wires running through the walls of your home carry electricity from the service panel to every outlet, light fixture and appliance. Aluminum wiring was used in the 1960s and early 1970s, but is now considered a fire hazard due to its susceptibility to potentially dangerous high-resistance connections. If your wiring is silver, or if the white plastic cover surrounding it is stamped “AL,” consult an electrician about updating your wiring system to protect your home.

Switches and Outlets
Switches and electrical outlets allow you to control the flow of electricity to lights and appliances. Until the mid-1960s, ungrounded outlets (2-pronged) were installed in most homes, but grounded outlets (3-pronged) are now the standard; and while it is not usually required to upgrade, it’s still a good idea. Adding a ground connection to your outlets provides an additional path for electrical current to return safely to the ground without the risk of shock in the event of a short circuit. Talk to your electrician about updating or replacing your electrical outlets.

Light Fixtures and Appliances
The final destination for all electricity running through your home is a light fixture or an appliance. Most appliances plug into outlets, and most light fixtures (excluding lamps) are connected directly to the electrical wiring. Be sure to use light bulbs that are designed for your sockets. Installing a bulb that even slightly exceeds a fixture’s maximum wattage rating risks starting a fire. Newer light fixtures are required to have a label stating their maximum wattage ratings, which should be visible inside the fixture when you remove the light bulb.
Call ARS/Rescue Rooter at 1-800-277-9400 to discuss our comprehensive electrical inspection services in your area. Our team will ensure that your home is operating safely and effectively.

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