Frequently Asked Questions

If you have questions about the electrical work that needs to be done to your home or business, chances are, our electricians already have the answer. We asked the electricians at Penna Electric to offer answers to some frequently asked questions they receive during a free estimate.

How do I know if my Electrical panel should be replaced?

Light flickering, loss of power, are signs of electrical power issues. A panel 15 or more years old are known to have issues. Beach city areas (such as: Redondo Beach, Manhattan Beach, Rancho Palos Verdes, Long Beach, Santa Monica, Hermosa Beach, Huntington Beach, etc. ) are more prone to corrosion inside and outside of an electrical main meter panel. This corrosion can cause bad connection to internal hardware bussing and other internal parts. This is also known as pitting; resulting in heating-up and melting of either the metal parts and/or circuit breakers causing a hazard.

Why would my house need to be rewired?

Houses built before 1980 are wired with what is known as a 2-wire system leaving your house without proper grounding protection. Proper grounding protection is designed to protect from electrical shock and burning out electronic devices. The best source for grounding protection is to remove existing 2-wire system and install new 3-wire to incorporate an additional grounding conductor. This grounding conductor connected to all outlet devices ultimately leads back to your main meter panel ending at the Ground Bar. The main electrical panel should have a proper grounding system up to code consisting of a large conductor from the grounding bar connecting to the cold water pipe ending at an 8’ft ground rod driven into the ground.

A proper grounding system is designed to back up the neutral wire created by the transformer providing power to your area. If there are any loose connections anywhere in the system voltage will flow through it’s least path or resistance which would be your grounding system.

Other issues electrical systems have are caused by loose neutrals and/or loose connections resulting in loss of power, burning of electrical plugs, switches, and lighting fixtures. If lighting fixtures can become brighter and dimmer from loose neutrals causing a higher voltage to flow through the existing electrical wiring. Through the years electrical wiring can heat up and cool down depending on the usage vibration caused through electrical systems in general also causing loose connections. When electrical wiring is heated and cooled it causes the wire to become brittle and eventually lose conductivity. Poor workmanship in original electrical wiring installation also creates loose connections, ultimately causing heating and becoming defective.

Removing and installing new electrical wiring throughout all existing and new electrical outlet openings not only brings your house up to National Electrical Code (NEC) that gives you the peace of mind knowing you have made an environment for you to live safely in regards to your electrical system.

How Much Do Electrical Panel Upgrades Cost?

Costs for upgrading to electrical panels vary according to the type, size and installation method used to install the panel. It will typically cost more to install an electric service panel in a larger home because larger structures demand higher amp usage than smaller ones. Removal of old electrical panels can cause minor stucco work which, in most cases, would be handled in house. The amount of circuits have increased through the years due to all the high amp usage devices and appliances we use in today’s modern home.

Where are GFCI outlets required?

GFCIs have been required in homes since 1971, when they were mandated for use on the exterior of homes and for use with swimming pool equipment. There are many areas of your home where GFCI outlets are required to meet code, commonly in areas where the risk of electrical shock is increased due to possible exposure to risk factors such as water. GFCI outlets are required in:

Bathrooms since 1975.
Kitchens since 1987.
Laundry and utility sinks since 2005.
Wetbars since 1993.
Garages since 1978.
Crawlspaces and unfinished basements since 1990.
Your home’s exterior since 1973.
Spa and pool areas since 1968.

Limitations of GFCI receptacles
GFCI outlets should not be used as receptacles for refrigerators, freezers, or other appliances, as they could trip without your knowledge.

What is a GFCI outlet?

GFCI outlets are used in areas like the kitchen, bathroom or garage where the risk of electrical shock is greater. They can be identified by the “test” and “reset” buttons located on the receptacle. These outlets help protect you from electrical hazards by monitoring the amount of electricity flowing in a circuit and tripping the circuit if an imbalance is detected. Once detected, the outlet stops the flow of electricity.

What is surge?

Electrical surges are sudden and unexpected spikes in voltage that travel throughout your home/office electrical systems.
Some surges come from within your own home/office, such as turning on a vacuum cleaner or sending a document to your printer. Other surges come from outside your home, as in electric utility switching, downed power poles, cut power lines, and lightning strikes. Surge can even enter through cable televisions and telephone wiring.

Why do you need surge protection?

A five-year survey of power quality in North America indicates that per household there are 35 disruptive or destructive power disturbances per year.

Deregulation of the electric utility industry is expected to decrease the quality of utility power in the near future.

Annually, 30% of power outages are lightning related.

Five percent of all insurance claims are lightning related, amounting to over $1 billion per year.

These electrical disturbances can ruin or severely damage motor driven appliances, electronics, disrupt satellite signals, degrade the performance of sensitive audio/video components, and wreak havoc with telecommunication systems.

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