My switch-plate is hot. Should I be concerned?
Oftentimes switch-plates become “hot” (or warm) where there are dimmer switches installed. When a dimmer switch is functioning, it dissipates the excess heat through the metal chassis (or “fins”) of the switch itself. A good rule of thumb is if the switch-plate is so hot you cannot comfortably hold your hand against it, that’s probably an indicator that you’re overloading your dimmer and you need to call an electrician. If your switch-plate is hot (or even warm) and you don’t have a dimmer switch installed, it’s definitely something you should be concerned about.
My dishwasher suddenly stopped working. Should I schedule a service call?
By code, all motorized appliances (which includes dishwashers) must have some kind of “service disconnect” (a visible means of disconnecting the power to the equipment while being serviced by a technician). Though some electricians install receptacles under the sink to serve as the disconnecting means, many electricians simply install a wall switch at the kitchen counter (usually in the vicinity of the dishwasher). Before you call an electrician or an appliance repair-person, make sure someone hasn’t inadvertently turned a wall switch to the “off” position or unplugged the appliance.
Why do I see a spark when I plug in my clothes iron or other appliance?
Whenever you plug in anything that has an electrical “load” on it, you may see a slight spark at the receptacle socket. The greater the electrical “load” the greater the potential spark. This happens simply because the demand for electricity is present as you’re plugging the item into the socket and the electricity literally “jumps” from the socket to the plug tips of the appliance cord, creating an electrical arc. The way to avoid this electrical arc is to make sure whatever appliance or tool you’re plugging into the socket is turned off before inserting it into the socket. If your receptacle continues to spark, or is sparking at any other time, it’s time to call an electrician.
How can I tell if I have a bad light-bulb?
I can’t tell you how many service calls we’ve made where the problem turns out to simply be a bad light-bulb. The only sure way to tell whether a light-bulb is bad is to install the bulb in a fixture you know is working properly (this is especially important with florescent fixtures). If the bulb still doesn’t work, then it’s more-than-likely a bad bulb (assuming it’s been installed properly). If it does work, it may be time to call an electrician. Remember, just because it’s a new light-bulb (straight out of the package) that does not guarantee that it is good. Contrary to popular belief, shaking a light-bulb and not hearing a rattle is not an indicator whether the bulb is good or bad.