We hear quite a few frequently asked questions here at Voltek. In order to help serve you better, we put together this FAQ section to help answer some of your questions.

Warning!

ELECTRICAL WORK IS EXTREMELY DANGEROUS! There is a risk of shock, severe injury, death and fire when working with electrical circuits and wiring.

If the steps in this section do not resolved your problems or you do not feel comfortable attempting them you can consult with the electricians at Voltek Electric free of charge. Just give us a call. We will ask you to try a few simple and safe steps to help with your problem. We might be able to help and save you the cost of a service call.

Clothes dryer does not get hot

This is generally caused by a couple of different things. Sometimes the heating element in electric dryers can get old and break. The dryer still works as normal but without producing any heat. Call an appliance repair shop. Another cause could be a defective 240-volt circuit breaker. If this is the cause it means that one side of the breaker has gone bad. Replacing the breaker will fix this problem. Call a licensed electrician. If you have any additional questions, give Voltek Electric a call at 262-224-3226, or you can reach us through our online contact form.

Dryer

Dimmer switch getting warm

It is perfectly normal for your dimmer the feel warm to the touch. Dimmers naturally get warm when they are in use, especially if there is more than one dimmer in the same location.

But if your dimmer is really warm or hot to the touch. This indicates that the dimmer may be overloaded which, could cause a safety problem and you should call a licensed electrician, who is trained in determining what the problem may be.

Dimmer Tips

Most dimmers in your home are rated at a maximum of 600 watts. This is equal to 10 sixty Watt light bulbs, or 6 one hundred Watt bulbs.

In most cases If there is more than one dimmer in the same location. The wattage rating of the dimmer can be reduced. For example a 600 watt dimmer can be reduced to 400 watts or more.

You can install a higher-wattage dimmer for connecting more than 600 Watts to one dimmer.

If you have any additional questions, give Voltek Electric a call at 262-224-3226, or you can reach us through our online contact form.

Dimmer Switch 1 Dimmer Switch 2

Flickering light fixtures

A flickering light fixture could be caused by several problems. It could be a loose connection in one of the outlet or light fixture boxes, or a loose wire in your circuit breaker box. It could also be a problem outside your house in your meter socket, or the power company, especially if all the lights in the house seem to be flickering at the same time. In any case like this it’s best to not use the lights and call a licensed electrician. If you have any additional questions, give Voltek Electric a call at 262-224-3226, or you can reach us through our online contact form.

Light Fixture

Fuses

When a fuse detects too much power flowing through the wiring in your home, a tiny piece of metal inside the fuse will break, thereby stopping the flow of power from continuing to run through the wire. Many homeowners get annoyed with replacing blown fuses due to many things being used at the same time and often increase the size of the blown fuse to “solve the problem”. Wiring gets overloaded and overheated. This is a serious fire hazard. Many people think if the fuse is made of glass that they can look at the metal piece inside and see if it is broken. THIS IS NOT ALWAYS TRUE. The best way to check a suspected blown fuse is to replace it with a new one. If the power comes back on, great! But if it the new fuse blows or if the power doesn’t come back on, then you should call a licensed electrician. If you have any additional questions, give Voltek Electric a call at 262-224-3226, or you can reach us through our online contact form.

Fuses 1 Fuses 2

Fuse Boxes

Your house was built long time ago if you have fuse box to distribute power. Many homeowners get annoyed with replacing blown fuses due to many more appliances we’re all using today and often increase the size of the blown fuse to “solve the problem”. Wiring gets overloaded and overheated. This is a serious fire hazard. The real solution is to update your electric service and install high quality electrical panel with circuit breakers.

Garbage disposal not working

The first thing to identify when fixing a garbage disposal is does it make any noise or not when you turn it on. Garbage disposal repair on units that make a humming noise and will not turn, represent a jammed flywheel. Fixing a garbage disposal that makes no noise when attempting to turn them on indicates an electrical problem.

Read the following steps in part 1: will tell you how to fix a garbage disposal that makes no noise:

Read the following steps in part 2: If your garbage disposal is making a humming noise.

Voltek Electric, LLC Garbage Disposal

Part 1:

  1. Make sure your disposal is plugged in.
  2. Once you have confirmed that the disposal is plugged in, turn the garbage disposal switch off and then try pushing the reset button. (It is located on the bottom of the disposal) Now try flipping the switch on.
  3. If pushing the reset button worked you are done. If a humming noise is heard the flywheel is jammed and will need to be freed. Read part 2:  If nothing changed check to see if the electrical outlet under your sink has power. You can do this by plugging in a radio or lamp. In most cases half of the outlet is on all the time and the other half is controlled by the switch for the disposal.  If power is present on the switched half of the outlet and you pushed the reset button but it still does not work you will probably need a new disposal. If no power is present continue following the remaining steps.
  4. Check for a tripped circuit breaker. (Read: How To Reset Circuit Breakers.) If you find that a breaker has tripped reset it and try the on and off switch again.

Sometimes the garbage disposal switch can go bad and need to be replaced. This will often be indicated when half of the outlet under your sink has electrical power all the time but the other half cannot be turned on when flipping the garbage disposal switch.

garbage-disposal-offset-wrenchPart 2:

The following steps will tell you how to fix garbage disposals that make a humming noise.

  1. Turn off the garbage disposal and unplug it. You need to make sure that the power is off and the disposal is unplugged before attempting this repair.
  2. Insert the offset wrench that came with the disposal into the flywheel turning wrench hole (located the bottom of the disposal). For most units a ¼ inch Allen wrench will work too. Turn it back and forth until the flywheel moves freely. Remove the wrench and carefully remove the obstruction inside the disposal if possible. With the switch still off, plug the disposal in again. You are now ready to try the switch. Be sure to run the water before turning on.
  3. Some obstructions are larger than others. If using the offset wrench does not dislodge the obstruction you may have to insert a stick into the drain hole and force against the grinding mechanism. Make sure the disposal is unplugged. Once dislodged, reach in the drain hole and try to remove the obstruction. With the switch still off, plug the disposal in again and push the reset button. You are ready to try the on and off switch. Make sure the water is running before turning on.

If these measures have not resolved your garbage disposal problems or you do not feel comfortable attempting them, you can contact your local electrician or plumber for help.

If you have any additional questions, give Voltek Electric a call at 262-224-3226, or you can reach us through our online contact form.

Some of my outlets don’t work. What is wrong?

A GFCI outlet is an outlet receptacle designed to protect you from electrical shock when moisture is present. GFCI outlets can be wired in series. For example, a GFCI outlet in your first floor bathroom can be installed so that it protects all of the bathroom outlets in your home. If your house was built after 1981, there is a good chance that your kitchen, bathrooms, garage and outdoor outlets are protected by GFCI outlets. You may have a receptacle that has lost power in a kitchen, bathroom, garage, or outdoor area but it’s not a GFCI. It may be “protected” by a GFCI that has tripped off somewhere else. You can check for this by making sure that all the GFCIs in your kitchen, bathroom, garage, and outdoor areas are working properly. Try pressing the “reset” button on the GFCI outlet. If power is not restored there may be a problem in the circuit or something plugged into one of the outlets may be defective causing the GFCI to trip. If you have any additional questions, give Voltek Electric a call at 262-224-3226, or you can reach us through our online contact form.

GFCI Outlet 1 GFCI Outlet 2

Half of my lights are out and large appliances are not working?

If you have breakers:

Check for tripped breakers and try turning off and resetting your main breaker. (Read: How To Reset Circuit Breakers.) If the main breaker is warm to the touch, there could be other problems with your electrical system. If resetting the breaker does not fix the problem, it is possible that your main breaker is defective and you should call a qualified, licensed electrician. Also you may have lost one phase (leg) of your main power supply coming into the house. Contact your utility company and have them inspect their service line for problems.

If you have fuses:

Check for blown fuses, if all the fuses are good than one of your main fuses may have blown and needs to be replaced. Or you may have lost one phase (leg) of your main power supply coming into the house. Contact your utility company and have them inspect their service line for problems. If you have any additional questions, give Voltek Electric a call at 262-224-3226, or you can reach us through our online contact form.

Light bulbs burn out quickly

If your light bulbs burn out quickly there are a few things worth checking out.

Light Bulb Size:

Using the wrong light bulb size is the most common reason for light bulbs to burn out, other than old age and heat. It’s important to use the correct size light bulb in each fixture. Bigger light bulbs will deliver more light but also create more heat. Heat will reduce the bulbs life if its light fixture has an enclosed lens that does not allow adequate air flow. Most light fixtures have a rating of 60 watts. Check the fixture for the recommended light bulb size and replace accordingly. Not doing so will not only burn out the light bulb sooner, but it will cook the insulation of the wiring in the fixture and electrical box above, possibly leading to a fire.

Vibrations:

Excessive vibrations will shorten the life expectancy of a light bulb too. This is most commonly seen in lighting that’s part of a ceiling fan or garage door opener. Also light fixtures that are next to doors or below areas of travel such as bathrooms, hallways, or kids bedrooms absorb all of the vibration from door slams, footsteps, objects dropped on the floor, or kids jumping and playing. You can also install light bulbs that are designed to withstand vibrations.

Higher than Normal Voltage:

The standard operating voltage for residential lighting is 120 volts unless low voltage lighting has been installed. Most light bulbs that you can purchase at a hardware store are designed to run on 110 volts or 120 volts A 120 volt circuit is considered normal with voltage readings anywhere from 115 to 125 volts. Levels above 125 volts will decrease the lifespan of your light bulbs. This can be damaging to other devices in your home, especially electronics and computers. Another solution to this is to buy 130 volt light bulbs. 130 volt light bulbs can be found at a local electrical supply store or lighting store.

Power Surges:

A power surge can be reasonably small or very large. A powerful surge can actually burst the light bulbs and smaller ones can strike regularly and go reasonably unnoticed. If you think power surges are causing problems with the lighting in your home or business. Consider Whole home Lightning Arrester/Surge Protector. If you have any additional questions, give Voltek Electric a call at 262-224-3226, or you can reach us through our online contact form.

Light Bulbs 2 Light Bulbs 1

Recessed can light is blinking

Most recessed light fixtures contain a thermal cutoff device that cuts power to the lamp if the temperature exceeds the rating of the fixture. This usually occurs when a bulb is replaced with one of a higher wattage than is recommended for the fixture. When the temperature in the fixture cools, the thermal cutoff device will reset and the lamp will come back on. Installing the correct wattage lamp for the fixture will cure this. If you have any additional questions, give Voltek Electric a call at 262-224-3226, or you can reach us through our online contact form.

Recessed Can Trim 2 Recessed Can Trim 1

Resetting circuit breakers

Your circuit breakers and fuses have just one job, preventing circuit overload, short circuits, and possibly start a fire. Things that may cause this would be plugging to many things into outlets that are on the same circuit like a portable heater with the TV on and all the lamps in your living room on. That would overload the circuit and cause the breaker to trip.  If you have a breaker that keeps shutting off there may be too many things on that circuit or there is another problem and the services of a licensed electrician may be required. But before you call an electrician try these steps.

Locate your main circuit panel. Try to identify the breaker in half or fully off position. Sometimes the breaker will be tripped but the handle stayed on the on position. So it may be necessary to reset all of the breakers. When resetting the breaker, you need to fully push the handle to the off opposite until you hear a “click”. Once in the off position, set the switch back to the “on” position. If it returns to the “on” position without tripping again, the circuit breaker has been reset.  But if when returning to the on position, you find that the breaker buzzes or trips off again there may be a short circuit or overload on that circuit that require a licensed electrical contractor to repair. If you have any additional questions, give Voltek Electric a call at 262-224-3226, or you can reach us through our online contact form.

Breakers 1 Breakers 2

Smoke alarm keeps chirping and beeping

It is possible the reason your smoke alarm keeps chirping is that the battery is low. Whenever your smoke alarm keeps chirping, replace the battery immediately. If the new batteries don’t stop the chirping your “new” batteries may not be fresh. If batteries are stored for a long period of time, especially in cold areas like refrigerators or freezers, they lose their charge more quickly. Some other factors that can cause intermittent alarms are dust or insects and spider webs inside the smoke alarm. AC and AC/DC units will have a power indicator light (red or green) that shines continuously when they are receiving electrical power. If the indicator lights are not working your AC power may not be on. Check your circuit breakers or fuses. (Read: How to Reset Circuit Breakers.) If the indicator light does not come on after resting the breaker the unit may be defective and needs to be replaced. Which leads us to life expectancy; smoke alarms have a limited life expectancy of 10 years. The National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) recommends that smoke alarms be replaced after 10 years? The performance of smoke alarms older than 10 years is simply not reliable. To ensure your family’s safety, all smoke alarms need to be replaced every 10 years and all carbon monoxide and smoke/carbon monoxide combination alarms need to be replaced every 5-7 years. If it’s time to replace your smoke alarms, contact a licensed electrician. If you have any additional questions, give Voltek Electric a call at 262-224-3226, or you can reach us through our online contact form.

Smoke Alarm

Sump pump failure

Bad weather storms and power failure often make nasty combination that often results in a flooded basement. Or your sump pump somehow became unplugged, tripped a circuit breaker or GFCI (Ground fault circuit interrupter). (Read resetting breakers or resetting GFCI’s) One way to avoided this is by simply purchasing and installing a battery operated backup sump pump or a backup generator for your sump pump. If you lose power during a bad storm, you can manually turn this generator on to ensure your basement will not flood. Other issues can occur if your sump pump’s discharge pipe becomes frozen or clogged with debris. Another issue can be when the pump shifts inside the basin, causing the float that operates the switch to become ineffective by lodging itself against the side of the pump. Both these problems can typically be fixed with a little cleaning and adjusting of your sump pumps position within the basin. Routine maintenance can help reduce the risk of basement flooding. If you have any additional questions, give Voltek Electric a call at 262-224-3226, or you can reach us through our online contact form.

Sump Pump Basin Sump Pump

Why do I frequently blow breakers?

Each breaker or fuse is assigned a specific circuit in the home. Your family room, for example, may have a one breaker that controls all the outlet and light fixtures in that room. With advancing technology and the addition of new electrical appliances big and small it’s possible over time for these circuits to become overloaded causing the breaker or fuse to blow. Another problem may be a short circuit causing the breaker or fuse to blow instantly which may require a licensed electrical contractor to repair. If you have any additional questions, give Voltek Electric a call at 262-224-3226, or you can reach us through our online contact form.

Can I just install bigger breakers?

No, this is very dangerous and can be a serious fire hazard. Breakers, fuses and the wiring in your home are all designed to work together. A larger breaker or fuse would require a larger wire size. Installing a larger breaker of fuse may cause the wiring in your home to become overloaded and overheated. If you have any additional questions, give Voltek Electric a call at 262-224-3226, or you can reach us through our online contact form.

Why does turning on my cabinet-mounted microwave sometimes trip my circuit breaker?

Many Builders install a range hood above the range only to exhaust cooking heat and fumes. This is usually on a 15-amp lighting circuit and is more than adequate for an exhaust fan to operate. But often times when the exhaust fan is removed and a microwave is installed in its place. It’s just too much power for the circuit to handle and the circuit will blow. You really should consider installing a new 20-amp dedicated circuit for your microwave. If you have any additional questions, give Voltek Electric a call at 262-224-3226, or you can reach us through our online contact form.

Selecting a qualified electrical contractor for your home or business can be challenging. 

You know something is wrong, but you don’t know enough on your own to fix the problem yourself – or you are at the mercy of the supposed expert. You also might have difficulty describing your problem completely, or be confused by the jargon used by the professionals.

Here are a few questions to help you decide – and don’t forget to inquire about the contractor’s warranty and insurance, and be sure to get it in writing.

Does the contractor guarantee that the work installed will meet the current code?

Voltek checks the area of where they are working and routinely checks for electrical code changes in those areas.

Last but not least…

Always insist on a written estimate and a copy of the contractor’s insurance certificate.