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Electrical FAQ

A service upgrade is an equipment upgrade so you, the customer, can power up or use more electrical appliance at the same time.  Sometimes a Service Upgrade is done for the sole purpose of replacing an old fuse box or an older power panel or even just to condense multiple smaller panels into one main panel.  Regardless of the reason, a service upgrade usually entails getting a permit from the city and coordinating with the local electric utility company.

The electrician will install a new meter box and riser pipe on the outside of the home or business (usually in the same location); inside the building, they will install and consolidate all the circuits into one main panel (also usually in the original location).  All the circuits will be re-installed in the new panel and a new breaker, that is properly rated for the circuit, will be installed.  The panel will be bonded and a grounding electrode system will be installed, to make sure the system potential always has an earth reference.  The final stage is to have the work inspected by the city.  Once the inspection has passed the city inspector will call the utility company and give them the OK to permanently reconnect their lines.

A surge suppressor is a device that tries to limit the maximum voltage to a safe threshold.  Some do this by routing excess voltage back to the grounding conductor (green or bare wire), others try to open the ungrounded conductor (typically the black or colored wire) or “trip”.  Surge suppressors can be installed in shunt (parallel) or in series, depending on the model and manufacturer; they may also guarantee up to some amount that they will protect downstream devices.

AFCI is an acronym for Arc Fault Circuit Interrupter.  This device acts as a safety device by “watching” the amperage signature passing thru it and evaluating it to known arc signatures.  Because most electrical fires are caused by the heat due to arcing, these devices can be a critical part of home safety.  As of 2012, the National Electric Code requires that all circuits in living areas of a home or residence be protected by AFCI.

GFCI is an acronym for Ground Fault Circuit Interrupter; it sometimes is referred to a GFI.  This device acts as a safety device by sensing when current flowing thru it has found an unintended path, such as water or something metallic or a person.  Typically, a GFCI is factory set to open the ungrounded conductor or “trip” at around 15ma.  GFCI protection is required by the National Electric Code in all bathrooms, garages, outlets above the counter in kitchens, exterior outlets, and unfinished basements, etc.

At the present time most states like Kansas and Missouri allow you to do whatever you want in your own home. But doing electrical work in Kansas City yourself is a gamble. How much are you willing to risk to save money? There is a reason why it takes so much training to become an electrician. Do not make a mistake by taking electricity lightly, even the smallest job is a safety hazard. Why take a chance? Let JMC Electric to do the work!

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