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A circuit breaker can fool you. When it trips, this stops the flow of electricity to a portion of the house; the color behind the little window on the switch changes to red. The switch has a portion of it painted red so that when it switches off, that portion appears in the window. However, sometimes that portion of the switch doesn't make it to the window, even if there's a trip. Anytime you suspect a circuit breaker problem, flip the breaker all the way off and then back on again.
Breakers that keep tripping usually need replacing. Most do-it-yourself homeowners want to replace breakers, but if working inside an electrical panel makes you uncomfortable you should call a professional. To replace a breaker, shut off the power to the breaker box. grasp the breaker and rock it away from the center of the electrical panel. This frees it from its connection to the main power supply. Loosen the screw holding the wire in the end of the breaker and remove the wire. Insert the wire into the new breaker, tighten the screw and reinstall it.
A ground fault circuit interrupter (GFCI) outlet switches off the electricity to the outlet, should it pick up a dangerous variance in current. Modern homes require a GFCI anytime an outlet is within 6 feet of water. The outlet comes with two buttons in the center. One is for testing the outlet and the other for resetting the breaker inside the outlet once it trips.
One way to ascertain an electrical problem is to use devices created to test outlets and connections. A voltmeter tests the voltage output of the electrical outlet, which runs around 110 to 120 volts. If the needle doesn't show that much voltage or shows none at all, you may have a problem in the wiring as it relates to that outlet. Replacing an outlet is not difficult, but don't attempt it unless you are comfortable doing so. Call a professional.
An arc fault is an unintentional electrical discharge. This is a problem that even the most safety-conscious homeowner can't always avoid. This is because arc faults are usually caused by undetected problems such as damaged extension cords, improperly installed wall receptacles and electrical cable that have been pierced by picture-hanging nails. An arc fault can be extremely dangerous because they can ignite combustible materials and cause a fire. Though arc faults cannot be prevented, there is a device that can detect them and disconnect the power before further damage can result. An Electric Arc Fault Circuit Interrupter or (AFCI) will electronically detect any arc fault and stop the flow of electricity in a fraction of a second. No electricity, no heat, no fire.
Once the surge protector is in place and connected to your load center, telephone service or cable service, it will redirect surges to the ground and dissipate the energy. The surge protection selected must be UL rated on response time. A point to remember is that the greater the surge current rating, the longer the surge protector will last. See our surge protection page for more information.