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The electrical system in your home is simultaneously one of the most useful and potentially dangerous systems you encounter in your everyday life. Therefore, knowing how to properly and safely make use of the components of your electrical system is an important aspect of home ownership. Here are some tips to help you do that.
Know How Your Outlets Are Wired
Understanding a little more about the outlets in your home can help you use them safely, conserve energy, and troubleshoot potential problems.
These days, most outlets come in pairs, in what is known as a duplex receptacle. They are generally rated at 15 or 20 amps and 120 volts. This rating is particularly important when replacing a receptacle, as you should always replace one with an exact duplicate.
A given outlet could be “live,” meaning electricity is readily available from it, at all times or wired into a switch. This latter scenario can be useful for plugging in a lamp, for example, so that it can be flipped on and off like the rest of the lights in your house. Outlets may be wired either at the end or in the middle of a circuit.
Fuses are a safety measure designed to keep devices and appliances from drawing too much current from your electrical system. Fuses are part of a circuit, consisting of a strip of metal in a protective housing. When current flowing through a fuse is greater than it was designed to withstand, the metal melts, thereby interrupting the circuit and stopping the flow of electricity. In this way, it acts like a kill switch.
When a fuse blows, it needs to be replaced. For the sake of safety and proper functioning of your electrical system, always use an identical replacement for the blown fuse. The three basic types of fuses are plug, time–delay and cartridge. The wrong type won’t fit in place of the old fuse, but you also have to pay attention to the amp rating of the fuse being replaced. You should never replace a fuse with one bearing a higher rating.
One of the best things you can do both for the planet and your wallet is to conserve electricity at home. Routine maintenance on your appliances can go a long way toward reducing the amount of energy your family uses on a daily basis. For example, any device involved in the heating, cooling and ventilation of your home should be kept clean and in good repair. Make sure to clean and replace heater and air conditioner filters regularly. Keep the furnace room free of debris that can be sucked up into the fan. Clean ventilation ducts consistently to keep them from becoming clogged.
While a lot of these smaller tasks are things you can do yourself, call in a professional for larger maintenance tasks. The upfront expense may give you pause, but consider it an investment in your home and lowering your energy bills. You should also have your major systems (HVAC, electrical, plumbing, etc.) inspected on a regular basis to spot warning signs of any potential issues, before they become problematic.