Tag: electrical outlets

The INs and OUTs of GFCI Outlets

GFCI Outlets

The colder weather means you might have to use outdoor tools a bit more than during the hotter part of the year. When you use those tools — one that needs an extension cord, for example — then it’s always a good idea to make sure you’re plugging it into a GFCI outlet.

How do you know which outlets are GFCI outlets? And what’s the difference between those outlets and normal ones? Good questions. Follow along and let the pros at Roman Electric help you understand the ins and outs of GFCI outlets.

Breaking Down the Acronym

A GFCI outlet can seem intimidating if you’re not sure what it is, but there’s no need to worry. All a GFCI outlet does is protect your electronics from things that could harm them — specifically from ground faults and short circuits.

That’s actually what the acronym stands for: Ground Fault Circuit Interrupter. These types of outlets are easily identified by the “RESET” and “TEST” buttons on the plate, which you won’t find in a regular outlet.

What a GFCI Outlet Does

A GFCI outlet functions the same way a regular outlet does, but it has a built-in layer of protection. This outlet constantly monitors the electrical current going in and out of it, and if it notices even the tiniest difference between the power levels, it shuts the circuit down.

That’s where the “RESET” and “TEST” buttons come in handy. Once the GFCI outlet trips itself, it has to be manually reset or else it won’t work. All you’ve got to do is push the “RESET” button, and the outlet will be back in working order.

This way, you’ve got a guaranteed defense against any type of electrical problem that would harm you or your devices far quicker than you’d be able to prevent otherwise. And all it takes is a little upgrade to the outlet!

Where GFCI Outlets Are — Or Should Be

Short circuits and ground faults tend to occur in places where the electrical current finds a quicker way to complete itself than through the usual wires. This happens where water is abundant, so GFCI outlets are usually installed outdoors and near water sources.

Your bathroom, kitchen and any other outlet near a water source in your home should already have GFCI protection capabilities. If they don’t, that’s something you should get checked out and corrected as soon as possible.

All it takes is one accidental spill, and you could have a serious electrical hazard on your hands. Better to be safe than sorry!

Roman Electric: Your GFCI Outlet Experts

As we’ve explained, GFCI outlets are essential to maintaining a proper defense against dangerous electrical problems. They stand guard around the clock to keep you and your family safe, and all homes need them.

Whether you need maintenance on your GFCI outlets or you’ve realized that your home is under-prepared, give us a call at 414-369-3798! Roman Electric offers the most reliable and comprehensive electrical service in Milwaukee, and we’d be glad to help however we can.

How to Make Two-Prong Outlets Safer

Do you have two-prong outlets in your home? If so, you may need to take extra precautions to ensure they’re safe to use. Although two-prong outlets used to be the standard in older homes, they are now considered outdated and dangerous. There are a few steps you should take to help ensure electrical safety for your Milwaukee home.

The experts at Roman Electric want to advise homeowners on making two-prong outlets safer. We would like to first discuss the dangers of using a two-prong outlet, as well as the possible solutions to help maintain electrical safety.

Why are Two-Prong Outlets Considered Dangerous?

The main reason two-prong outlets are considered outdated and dangerous is due to their lack of grounding. Grounding is how electricity is safely transferred in the case of an unstable current. If an electrical accident such as a short circuit occurs, the dangerous current travels through the ground wire instead of potentially shocking you or the plugged-in appliance.

This is what makes two-prong outlets the least safe of any type of outlet. Two-prong outlets have connections only for hot and neutral wire, hence their name. Without a third-prong for a connected ground wire, unstable electricity doesn’t have a path to travel safely away from you and your electrical system. This increases the chance of electrical shock during short circuits, ground faults, and electrical overloads.

Now that you understand why two-prong outlets are more dangerous than their modern counterparts, we can assess some possible solutions that may help alleviate the dangers.

Upgrade Two-Prong Outlets to GFCI

GFCI (ground fault circuit interrupter) outlets are designed to protect against electrical shock. And this is the only type of three-prong outlet you can replace two-prong outlets with without breaking NEC guidelines. This is because GFCI outlets can still protect against electrical shock, even without the grounding component. However, if you replace a two-prong outlet with a GFCI, then the outlet must be labeled with a “No Equipment Ground” sticker.

Rewire Your Two-Prong Outlet’s Box

Although your two-prong outlet may not have a ground wire, your electrical system might. Ground wire can be present in older homes, although it may be hidden or encased in sheetrock. And if it does exist, it may be possible to retrofit a ground wire onto the two-prong outlet’s box. If this can be done, you can upgrade your two-prong outlet to any three-prong variant.

To determine if this can be done, you’ll need to have your electrical system inspected by a professional. Contact Roman Electric to assess if your box can be retrofitted with an existing ground wire.

Rewire Your Electrical Panel

If no ground wire can be found to retrofit your two-prong outlet’s box, then your other option is to rewire your electrical panel with ground wire. Although this solution might be the most expensive, it helps to guarantee your electrical system is fully grounded and any new or existing outlets are safer to use. Contact Roman Electric if you require wiring services to install new ground wire in your home’s electrical system.

If you have two-prong outlets in your home, follow our guide to help make them safer! And when you require complete wiring, rewiring, and outlet services for your two-prong outlets, contact Roman Electric today! Call us at 414-369-3798 to speak with Milwaukee’s leading electrical experts.

Related Articles

Upgrade a 2 Prong Outlet With a New GFCI – The Spruce

Extension Cord Safety: A Comprehensive Guide

We all know the basics of using an extension cord. But do you know about extension cord safety? Without taking the right safety precautions, using an extension cord can put you, and your home, at risk of an electrical accident. If you’re planning on using extension cords to add to your outdoor lighting or simply need to extend an outlet, you must also keep in mind extension cord safety.

To help achieve this, Roman Electric has assembled a comprehensive guide. Follow our tips below for your Milwaukee home!

Avoid Using Damaged Extension Cords

Before using an extension cord, you’ll want to check its condition. Extension cords can receive a fair bit of damage throughout their lifespan. Exposed cords, frayed wires, or cracked plugs can cause an extension cord’s electrical flow to become uneven. This can cause a short circuit, which can trip the circuit breaker and potentially cause shock.

Don’t risk using a damaged extension cord. Check each cord’s condition before use and discard any cords with noticeable damages.

See What Conditions Your Extension Cord is Suitable For

Damages aren’t the only thing you should check your extension cord for. You must also check to see if it is suited for indoor or outdoor use.

On the cord you may find several different letter symbols. Each letter indicates a quality about the extension cord, including whether or not it can handle outdoor weather conditions. Below are some common letters you’ll find on an extension cord, and their associated meaning.

  • S – Suited for General Usage
  • W – Suited for Outdoor Usage
  • J – Cord has 300V Insulation
  • T – Cord is Made from Vinyl Thermoplastic
  • O – Cord has Oil Resistance

After examining the letters, you’ll need to also look at the amperage rating. This determines how much capacity an extension cord can handle. As a rule, the higher the amperage rating, the higher capacity of the extension cord. Here are some examples:

  • 1-13 Amperage Rating – Light Duty, suitable for lamps, desk fans, and other small appliances.
  • 14-15 Amperage Rating – Medium Duty, suitable for power drills, lawn mowers, and hedge trimmers.
  • 16-20 Amperage Rating – Heavy Duty, suitable for power saws, space heaters, and air compressors.

Note: Be aware that the longer the extension cord, the less power it can distribute. Therefore, use a cord only as long as you need.

Match Extension Cord Prongs with The Outlet

An extension cord’s plug can either have two or three prongs. If the plug has two prongs, then it can fit in either a two or three-prong outlet. Two-prongs lack a connection to the ground. Ground is used to safely transfer electricity and help prevent electrical shock. Keep this in mind when using a two-prong extension cord.

If the extension cord’s plug has three prongs, then it can only be used with a three-prong outlet. The third prong acts as a ground and is safer to use than two-prong outlets. However, they cannot fit in two-prong outlets.

Note: Do NOT attempt to cut off the third prong of an extension cord to use with a two-prong outlet. This can create unstable electrical flow and may damage the connected appliance or cause severe shock.

Avoid Connecting Multiple Extension Cords

Extension cords should never be paired together. Combining extension cords can lead to excessive voltage, as electrical resistance is lowered the more cords are combined. This can lead to an electrical overload, which trips your circuit breaker.

Speaking of tripping, multiple extension cords can also be a fall hazard. Avoid tripping your circuit breaker – and yourself by only using one extension cord at a time. Be sure to run them along walls and away from heavy traffic areas as well.

Do Not Substitute Extension Cords for Permanent Wiring

Above all, you must always remember that extension cords are a temporary solution. They do not possess the capacity to be a permanent replacement for an electrical outlet. If you find yourself heavily relying on extension cords, you may require more outlets in your home. Contact Roman Electric for affordable outlet installation services.

Never use an extension cord without first reading our comprehensive guide! And remember to only use extension cords are a temporary solution for an outlet. If you are in need of additional electrical outlets in your Milwaukee home, contact Roman Electric today. Call us at 414-369-3798 for affordable outlet installation services.

Related Articles:

ESFI – Extension Cord Safety Tips

Home Depot – How to Choose Extension Cords

Types of Outlets (For Beginners)

Roman-Types-of-Outlets-(For-Beginners)

We all know the basics of an electrical outlet. After all, you use them in your home every day. But beyond the most common, there are different variations available, each with a unique function. If you plan on installing new outlets in your Milwaukee home, Roman Electric recommends doing research on the different options that are available. However, to begin your education, we have assembled a beginner’s guide with the basics. Whether you’re looking to install new outlets or would just like to learn more about them, we have listed the types of outlets available in your home.

Two-Prong Outlet –  As the name suggests, this outlet posses two prongs on each plug, lacking a ground wire. Without a ground wire, two-prong outlets are considered outdated and dangerous, but to upgrade them, your home’s electrical system must possess ground wires. Albeit a norm in older homes, don’t rely on them unless your home cannot install a three-prong design.

Three-Prong Outlet – The modern standard, three-prong outlets possess the original two-prongs, along with a third prong for grounding. Most other variants on this list follow the three-prong design, although there are a few exceptions.

20A Outlet – A stronger version of the three-prong outlet. Most outlets carry 15 amps, which is usually enough for most appliances, but 20A (or 20 amp) outlets have the available power for larger items such as power tools. 20A carry about 25% more electrical load than regular counterparts. Found in some garages along with commercial buildings, these outlets can be identified by a horizontal slit placed on one of the prongs.

120-240 Volt Outlets – The strongest outlets in your home. Voltage can range from 120 to 240, and they are used for major appliances such as washers, dryers, and ovens. These outlets come in both three-prong and four-prong types, with the fourth prong acting as a neutral pathway. However, three-prongs are no longer deemed up-to-code, and four prongs are required to comply with NEC guidelines. These outlets are easily identified by their large, black casing.

GFCI Outlet – Also known as Ground Fault Circuit Interrupter, GFCIs are three-prong outlets with an added safety mechanism to prevent shock. When a current is too strong or on an unintended path, a GFCI quickly shuts off power to lessen the severity of the shock. NEC requires GFCI protection in kitchens and bathrooms, and they are easily identified by their “reset” and “test” buttons between the two plugs.

AFCI Outlet – Also known as Arc Fault Circuit Interrupters, AFCIs provide similar safety measures to GFCIs, except they focus on preventing electrical fires. When a loose or damaged cord begins to spark and overheat, an AFCI quickly shuts off power. The NEC requires AFCI protection in bedrooms, kitchens, and laundry rooms.

USB Outlet – These three-prong outlets come fitted with additional USB ports located on the side of the plugs. Great for charging devices without the power adaptor.

Split Circuit Outlets – The plugs on these outlets are connected to two completely different circuits. The use of split circuit outlets is when you need to power larger devices on the same outlet without causing an overload.

Tamper-Resistant Outlet – These three-prong outlets possess shutters located inside the plugs that block children from inserting objects into one of the prongs. The only way these shutters will open is when all prongs are inserted at the same time. An essential safety precaution, the NEC requires these outlets in new or renovated homes. These outlets can be identified by the shutter located inside the plugs.

Rotating Outlet – Simply put, rotating outlets possess the traditional three-prongs, but can rotate 360 degrees. With this, you can plug in your appliances and devices at almost any angle.

Switched Outlet – Unlike other three-prong outlets, switched outlets only possess one plug instead of two. Where second plug would be, a light switch is now present. Consult with a professional to determine if your electrical system allows these outlets to be installed.

Smart Outlet – These three-prong outlets allow active control and scheduling via smart phone. With smart outlets, you can turn off appliances, optimize your security system, and cut down on energy usage.

By using our beginner’s guide, you can easily decide on the right outlet for your home! If you are ready to install your new electrical outlets, contact Roman Electric today! Being the leading electrical company in Milwaukee, our outlet services power your home up the way you want it! Give us a call at 414-369-3798 to schedule an appointment and get started!