Sunday, August 31, 2014

5 Home Electrical Safety Tips Everyone Should Know

Your home is your castle and keeping it safe also keeps you and your family safe. Many people take electricity for granted and many don't stop to think just how dangerous it can be or how to avoid such dangerous situations in the home. There are some things you can do to help keep your home safe from these dangers. Following a few simple guidelines can greatly reduce your chances of experiencing any such hazards.
Avoid the use of extension cords
There never seems to be enough power outlets in the home to accommodate all of the appliances and gadgets that needs power to operate. This is where many people grab the extension cords as a solution to this problem. A better way to attack this problem would be to purchase a good plug strip with a 2 to 3 foot cord that you can plug in to the wall outlet and gain several more power openings a little further down the wall. You get what you pay for with these items so please do not buy the cheapest one because that is exactly what you will get. Adding a wall outlet is the best way to approach this problem but that is not always the cheapest or the easiest fix.
Install the proper wattage bulbs in your light fixtures
Most ceiling mounted light fixtures are rated for no more than 60 watt bulbs due to the heat that they produce. Fixtures that hang down and do not touch the ceiling are usually rated to carry higher wattage bulbs due to the bulbs being away from the ceiling. Many times people will blow a 60 watt bulb and then replace it with a 100 watt bulb. This is not a safe practice because the fixture can not dissipate the extra heat that the higher wattage bulbs produce and it can heat bake the sheetrock above the fixture and the house wires inside the electrical box. There should be a tag on the fixture stating the maximum wattage rating for that fixture.
GFCI protected outlets
Ground fault circuit interrupters are receptacles that are designed for use around water or outdoors power requirements. Kitchens, bathrooms and any outside outlets should have GFCI protected outlets installed. These receptacles measure the amount of incoming and outgoing current and will trip out if there is a difference in the amount. This amount should be the same on what comes in on the hot side and leaves on the neutral. If not there is a ground fault and the receptacle will trip and shut down the power for safety purposes. If you do not have GFCI protected outlets installed in your home then you really should have this work done for the safety of everyone in the home.
Proper sized fuses or circuit breakers
Most homes are wired with #12 awg wire that is rated for 20 amps and some have #14 awg wire which is rated for 15 amps on the lighting and branch circuits. Older homes have fuses instead of breakers. Fuses can be easily changed when one blows but many times are not replaced with the proper sized fuse for the size of wire that it feeds. This is a dangerous situation when they blow a 20 amp fuse then replace it with a 30 amp to keep it from blowing again. This puts a strain on the house wiring because the larger fuse allows the wire to carry more amps than it is legally rated to carry. If you have fuses in your home it is a good idea to this checked by a certified electrician to insure that the proper sized fuses or even circuit breakers are installed according to the size of the wire that it feeds.This would also be a good time to have the connections in the electrical panel checked and tightened to avoid any future problems.
Check those drop cords for safety that you have hanging in the shop
Are your drop cords safe to use? Many times the ground prong on the extension cords will be missing or broken off and this can be an accident that is waiting to happen. That third round prong on your cord is the single most important part of your drop cord to keep you safe while using power tools and any type of equipment or appliances. You can purchase a replacement cord cap for the end of your cords and you really should do this if the ground prong is missing. Without the equipment ground intact the metal casing on a faulty power tool can become energized risking electrocution to the user. Check those cords for any other type of damage and replace them if needed.
A few bonus tips of the day for you
Be sure and clean the lint screen on your clothes dryer after each use. Lint can build up inside the dryer and cause problems or even a fire if not properly cleaned and maintained.
Do you have fire extinguishers strategically mounted in your home? The kitchen and garage or shop area would be a perfect place to have one or more mounted for quick access.. Just remember that an accidental fire can happen quickly and a readily accessible fire extinguisher can help avoid a disaster.
Electrically powered 120 volt smoke detectors with battery back up are an essential part of a reliable early warning system for the safety of the entire family. If you do not have these installed in your home this is a small price to pay for the added security that they can provide.

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Sunday, August 24, 2014

The Hidden Dangers of Ungrounded or Improperly Grounded Electrical Outlets

Having a grounded electrical system is something that many of us take for granted on a day-to-day basis. With a short glance at the three-pronged electrical outlets that line our walls, we make an unconscious note that our electrical systems are grounded, safe and ready to go. If you live in an older home, however, you may be surprised to learn that your seemingly grounded three-pronged outlets are not actually grounded. In fact, even some newer homes can have improper grounding as a result of a seemingly small electrical mistake during the wiring process. This can be very hazardous, and deserves your attention regardless of whether you own your own home or rent the dwelling that you are currently in.
An outlet that electricians describe as "open ground" contains a three-pronged outlet that has only been wired with two wires. These outlets have a hot and neutral wire, but no ground wire. These are particularly dangerous because they give the illusion of grounding, but no extra protection. What dangers does this present, and how can you check?
Product Warranties
A little known fact about electrical grounding is the way that it affects your product warranties. Most appliances, such as dishwashers, dryers and refrigerators must be connected to a grounded outlet in order to be eligible for warranty replacement. By plugging them into an outlet that is not grounded, you essentially void the warranty and run the risk of losing your entire appliance in the event of a shock or power surge.
Electrical Shock Dangers
Your main concern when it comes to proper grounding should be electrical shock. Any outlet in your home that is not properly grounded is a hazard to you and your family. If your standard 120v outlet shocks anyone in your home, the result can be severe injury or even death. Because of this, avoid any devices that attempt to circumvent ungrounded outlets.
Is Your Outlet Grounded?
You can check for this yourself by purchasing a low-cost plug-in tester ad nearly any home improvement store. These devices are relatively cheap and reliable. Another method would be to turn off the electricity at your breaker panel and actually take a look at the back of your outlet. This method, however, is not foolproof and should only be attempted by a trained professional. The best way to tell if your outlet is truly grounded is to hire a professional. If you have any doubts about your electrical system, never hesitate to call a local electrician. They can not only tell you whether or not your system is grounded (often for free), but can also quickly and efficiently fix the problem if one exists.
Next Steps
If you are testing your outlets on your own, you should call in a professional if even one outlets presents a negative reading. This could indicate further electrical problems, more ungrounded outlets and other dangers. To be safe, call an electrician to test the integrity and safety of your entire system.

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Thursday, August 21, 2014

How to Save Money by Hiring a Professional Electric Contractor to Update Your Electrical System

If you live in an older home, you may have inherited an older electrical system as well. As advances in materials and technology have occurred, your home's electrical system has remained the same. This can sometimes lead to inefficiency and may mean that it does not meet the latest safety standards. Find out how a skilled residential electrical expert can revamp your home's wiring and more so that your system functions more efficiently and your electric bill arrives with less sticker shock.
When a building is constructed and wired for electricity, the power needs of the time are the standard by which that wiring and the electrical panel are designed and installed. This means that, unless you live in a new construction, your home's electrical setup was probably designed for moderate electrical usage that is out of sync with today's high-tech world.
In many modern homes, having multiple computers and televisions is the norm. That is in addition to other appliances, lights, and add-on items like gaming consoles and mobile device charging stations. Simply put, we use significantly more electricity today than we did even fifteen or twenty years ago. This means that our electrical systems have to do work that they were not designed to do, which can lead to frequently tripped circuit breakers and excess wear and tear on the system overall.
Over time, this imbalance between the amount of power your electrical system was designed for versus the ever-growing demand for more and more available electricity can mean that your home's system starts to not work as well. Old wiring, an electrical panel that's out of sync with your electrical demands, and appliances that are improperly installed can all lead to inefficiency within your electrical system. As your system struggles to handle the demands you're making on it, you end up racking up power bills that are far higher than they could or should be.
How do you get those power bills down? If you think that an older system could be contributing to hiking up your electric bills, the first step is to call a team of electricians in your area and have them assess your home's electrical capacity and system. An electrical contractor will be able to take in the current state of your system, compare it to how much electrical power you need on a regular basis, and make recommendations to help bring those two aspects into a better relationship. This may mean an electrical panel upgrade, or it may mean rewiring parts of your home. The end result, though, will be an electrical system suited to your needs and your budget.
If you live in an older home and you feel like your electrical system may be out of sync with your lifestyle, electrical contractors can help you get those two elements back into balance. You'll get the power you need, and your electricity bill will get a breather.

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Sunday, August 17, 2014

Don't DIY! Call Us Today!

Many people enjoy indulging in DIY tasks in their homes. It is usually a big boost to their egos whenever the task goes well. Many people may also perform tasks personally to save the cost of hiring a professional. When it comes to DIY electrical installation, there are many dangers and risks involved. The task is better left to professional electricians. Some home owners are equipped with tools for electrical purposes. However, it is still not advisable to experiment with electrical connections. The results could be hazardous and at times fatal. The risk involved is not worth it. You had better incur some costs of hiring an electrician and be safe.
There are several dangers that come with DIY electrical installation. The most common one is electrocution. You will be at a risk of being electrocuted if you touch live wires. Electrocution could also result if wrongly cut through cables. This could result to serious burns that could render you being disabled for the rest of your life. It could also lead to heart failure leading to death. Should a friend or family member try to save you from being electrocuted, he will face the same risk.
Poorly installed electrical cables could lead to fires. A fire could result if the wiring is incorrect, badly insulated or loose. A fire could start in the electric socket and spread to other parts of the house. Why risk burning your house down if you can hire an electrician? You could be doing the installation to save the extra cost. However, after burning up your home, you will incur much higher costs of replacing your belongings. Apparently, the DIY installation is not worth it.
Conducting unlicensed electrical installation could cost you high fines. Unlicensed electrical work is illegal. Should any damage result, you could face a penalty of as high as two hundred thousand dollars. You may also be legally charged and suffer a jail term of up to three years. Damages in your home resulting from unlicensed electrical work may not be compensated by your insurance company. Thus, if any loss occurs, the home owner will bear it.
The DIY homeowner may not understand the correct size for wires and cables. Electric wires come in many sizes and types. The type and size of wire will determine the manner in which it is used. If the wrong size is installed, overheating may result. The wires should match the appliances with which they are used. The wires used for appliances like television are different from those used for electric cookers. Many homeowners are not armed with this kind of knowledge.
While doing electrical installations, the power boards should not be overloaded. DIY electrical installations could result to overloading of power outlets and power board. This could lead to straining of the circuits. The same case applies for electrical box connections. Electrical boxes are meant to give protection against external elements. Inexperienced people may overload the electrical box. This will in turn result to overheating and short circuiting. By seeking the assistance of a qualified electrician, such scenarios can be avoided.
It doesn't matter whether you are dealing with a minor electrical installation or a major one. You still need to hire a qualified electrician. Mistakes can be made even when performing simple tasks such as installing light bulbs. You may put a bulb with a higher wattage than a socket. There will be a risk of overheating. The socket will burn and cease functioning. You are likely to keep replacing bulbs and sockets every now and then. This is not economical at all. In fact, the risks and costs of DIY electrical installation exceed the cost of hiring an electrician by far.

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Thursday, August 14, 2014

How To Know If You Need An Electrical Panel Upgrade

There are many things that are charming about older homes, but their electrical wiring and infrastructure are rarely one of them. If you live in a less-than-new property, you have probably already run into some strange wiring glitches, outlets that don't work, or light switches that don't seem to do anything. These idiosyncrasies may be things that you can live with, but not all electrical issues should be left alone. Find out what electricity-related problems to keep an eye out for, and how an electrical services professional can help you resolve them.
Have you ever had the experience of not being able to run two appliances in the same room at the same time? Say you're in the kitchen and you have the coffee maker going and you put something in the microwave to heat up. After a few seconds, both machines go dead and you have to trek down to the basement to reset the breaker that tripped.
In a different scenario, let's say you're in the bathroom using a hairdryer. You turn it on and then the lights go dim or start to flicker as the hairdryer draws power. Nothing stops working altogether, but it's clear that the demand for power is exceeding the supply.
When you stop to think about it, the problem is not that there's not enough power available from your local utility. It's that the conduits for the power--i.e. your home's electrical wiring and panel--aren't in sync with the demands of the modern age. This is not only an annoying state of affairs: It's also a dangerous one.
If you find that there's not enough power in your home to run the appliances or lights that you need, don't ignore the problem. Constantly resetting tripped breakers or dealing with flickering lights are minor issues when compared to the danger of faulty wiring. If left untreated, old, worn out, or frayed wires could easily start fires, causing home damage, personal injury, and even death. If you live in an older structure and you are experiencing electrical problems, call your local electrical service specialist to come check out your electrical panel and/or wiring today.
Once on site, the electrical contractors will be able to assess the age and health of your wiring, and might either upgrade or change out your electrical panel. Your licensed electrician may advise an upgrade or change out for your panel if you have:
  • Insufficient electrical power
  • A previous electrical or wiring job that was not performed properly
  • Panels contaminated by water or other foreign substances
  • Old, dangerous panels or wiring
Making the necessary upgrades or changing out your panel will not only make things run better in your home. It will also make your house a safer place.
If you're having electrical issues, contact your local electrical contractor today. He or she will be able to assess the situation and make the necessary upgrades, repairs, or replacements so that your home runs the way it should.

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Monday, August 11, 2014

Avoid These 5 Common Mistakes in Do-It-Yourself Electrical Projects

We all want to save some money whenever we can, which is why a lot of people take on do-it-yourself projects. Take electrical projects, for instance. It can be very expensive to hire an electrician so many try to take on the electrical work in their home themselves.
Do-it-yourself electrical projects requires a lot of planning and preparation. Although do-it-yourself projects tend to be cheaper, this is only true if you have adequate knowledge and sufficient time to prepare and plan for it; otherwise, mistakes can be costly and get you in serious trouble. In the case of a do-it-yourself electrical project gone awry, it can be expensive to fix a badly done wire job than hiring a licensed electrical contractor to do the job from scratch.
Majority of home owners try to save money by fixing small electrical wiring jobs in their house themselves. They may be minor electrical tasks, there is still the danger of electrical shock. Electrical shock isn't the only thing do-it-yourself homeowners should be concerned about when they decide to undertake electrical projects themselves. There is also the risk of electrical fire. More often than not, it is still more prudent -- and safer -- to let the professionals handle electrical work.
While it is admirable to take on home improvement jobs yourself, there are just some things you shouldn't be doing unless you are a licensed professional. Here are 5 of the most common and costly mistakes committed by homeowners who decide to undertake those DIY electrical projects.
1. You would think it's fairly obvious but believe it or not, thousands of homeowners sustain injuries from electric shocks every year from working on live wires. Don't become a statistic; make sure you turn off the circuit breaker -- or better yet, remove the fuse - before you work on or replace electrical equipment.
2. It's not a good idea to splice wires by twisting them together and then covering them with electrical tape. It's better to use wiring that is most appropriate to the wiring connections in your home. This helps reduce the risk of fire.
3. Electrical jobs require time, attention and concentration. Many rush through electrical tasks or don't bother spending sufficient time to finish the work.
4. Don't compromise on the quality of the materials you buy for a DIY electrical project. It is much better to do the job right the first time with quality materials as doing so can save you more money instead of using sub-standard materials and sloppy work.
5. Many do-it-yourself homeowners do not know their own limitations, and this can prove to be costly and dangerous when they undertake electrical projects themselves. For instance, taping together the wrong wires can cause a major electrical fire when they turn the electricity back on.
While doing electrical wiring in your home yourself does have some advantages, electrical work does have some risks. Among all DIY home improvement projects, electrical projects are perhaps the most risky ones, and are in most cases, best left to professionals.

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Thursday, August 7, 2014

Electrical Safety Is Not Shocking

In electrical injuries there are four main types of injuries: electrocution (will cause death), electric shock, burns, and falls. These injuries can come from direct contact with the electrical energy, electrical arcs that jumps to a person who is grounded, thermal burns including flash burns from heat generated by an electric arc, flame burns from materials that catch on fire from heating or ignition by electrical currents, and muscle contractions can cause a person to fall. The fall can cause serious injuries also. High voltage contact burns can burn internal tissues while leaving only very small injuries on the outside of the skin.

There are some safeguard procedures that can be followed to ensure electrical safety:

1) Inspect tools, power cords, and electrical fittings for damage or wear prior to each use. Repair or replace damaged equipment immediately.

2) Always tape cords to walls or floors when necessary. Nails and staples can damage cords causing fire and shock hazards.

3) Use cords or equipment that is rated for the level of amperage or wattage that you are using.

4) Always use the correct size fuse. Replacing a fuse with one of a larger size can cause excessive currents in the wiring and possibly start a fire.

5) Be aware that unusually warm or hot outlets may be a sign that unsafe wiring conditions exists. Unplug any cords to these outlets and do not use until a qualified electrician has checked the wiring.

6) Always use ladders made of wood or other non-conductive materials when working with or near electricity or power lines.

7) Place halogen lights away from combustible materials such as cloths or curtains. Halogen lamps can become very hot and may be a fire hazard.

8) Risk of electric shock is greater in areas that are wet or damp. Install Ground Fault Circuit Interrupters, known also as GFCI, as they will interrupt the electrical circuit before a current sufficient to cause death or serious injury occurs.

9) Make sure that exposed receptacle boxes are made of non-conductive materials.

10) Know where the breakers and boxes are located in case of an emergency.

11) Label all circuit breakers and fuse boxes clearly. Each switch should be positively identified as to which outlet or appliance it is for.

12) Do not use outlets or cords that have exposed wiring or use power tools with the guards removed. Do not block access to circuit breakers or fuse boxes and do not touch a person or electrical apparatus in the event of an electrical accident. Always disconnect the current first.
A Ground Fault Circuit Interrupter (GFCI) works by detecting any loss of electrical current in a circuit. When a loss is detected, the GFCI turns the electricity off before severe injuries or electrocution can occur. A painful shock may occur during the time that it takes for the GFCI to cut off the electricity so it is important to use the GFCI as an extra protective measure rather than a replacement for safe work practices.

GFCI wall outlets can be installed in place of standard outlets to protect against electrocution for just that outlet, or a series of outlets in the same branch. A GFCI Circuit Breaker can be installed on some circuit breaker electrical panels to protect an entire branch circuit. Plug-in GFCIs can be plugged into wall outlets where appliances will be used and are commonly found in bathrooms. Another common use for GFCI is for pools and hot tubs.

Test the GFCI monthly. First plug a "night light" or lamp into the GFCI-protected wall outlet (the light should be turned on), then press the "TEST" button on the GFCI. If the GFCI is working properly, the light should go out. If not, have the GFCI repaired or replaced. Reset the GFCI to restore power. If the "RESET" button pops out but the light does not go out, the GFCI has been improperly wired and does not offer shock protection at that wall outlet. Contact a qualified electrician to correct any wiring errors.

Power tools used incorrectly can electrically hazardous. Switch tools OFF before connecting them to a power supply. Disconnect power supply before making adjustments. Ensure tools are properly grounded or double-insulated. The grounded tool must have an approved 3-wire cord with a 3-prong plug. This plug should be plugged in a properly grounded 3-pole outlet. Do not use electrical tools in wet conditions or damp locations unless tool is connected to a GFCI. The operation of power tools might ignite flammable substances and in can cause an explosion near certain vapors and gases.

Never use extension cords as permanent wiring. Use extension cords only to temporarily supply power to an area that does not have a power outlet. Keep power cords away from heat, water and oil. They can damage the insulation and cause a shock. Do not allow vehicles to pass over unprotected power cords. Cords should be put in conduit or protected by placing planks alongside them. Check power cords and plugs daily; discard if worn or damaged. Keep power cords clear of tools during use.

Extension cords themselves can be hazardous. Suspend power cords over aisles or work areas to eliminate stumbling or tripping hazards. Do not tie power cords in tight knots; knots can cause short circuits and shocks. Loop the cords or use a twist lock plug. Many circuits are wired to twelve amp breakers so do not plug several extension cords into one outlet.

Electrical safety is simple. Electricity should be respected and precautions should be taken to prevent injuries. Safety devises are becoming safer each year; its up to you to use them correctly. Be aware and be safe.

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Monday, August 4, 2014

Electrical Inspection To Keep You Safe

Electrical Inspections are a must for any building, irrespective of it being a commercial or residential space. It is for the safety of the residents inside and outside the area. Now, there are a number of things which an inspection brings to the forefront. In this field of electrical inspection, experts have put to use a new device called the IR camera. With the help of this device, you can test the electricity distribution in panel boards, transformers, switch boards. The inspectors can find where the connections are loose, which can cause short-circuiting or catch fire and the circuits which due to overloading can cause blackouts. There are various advantages of using this infrared camera.
1. It makes sure that the entire testing process is safe
2. It gives accurate results and is fast
3. They find problems way before any possibility of serious failure like short circuiting
4. It is a part of preventative maintenance and is vital
5. The device is portable and light
Different kinds of electrical inspections use the following details:
1. The place where the electricians have detected the problem
2. A detailed summary of the problem
3. Images are also provided if you use an IR camera
4. Any extra information against precautionary measures
Thus, when at a later point of time, if you decide to sell off your house, then you will be getting a handsome amount. The only reason being you have kept your house safe. Even if there be problems with electrical devices in your house, early detection can help them to undergo a quick fix. Besides, time to time inspections, you can also have security lighting. They are very vital for your building to stay protected. This will not only protect you but also save your costs in the long run.
Another important aspect that comes to feature along with electrical tests is that of earthing. It prevents any kind of shock or electrocution. This system basically connects a part of electrical connection to the earth. It helps to protect a building against lightning, limits any kind of electromagnetic disturbances and so on. It is a scientific fact that human body is a very good conductor of heat. Hence, if proper earthing is not done in the house, then there are chances that electricity can make the human body a medium to pass through and reach the earth. Hence, you must remember that during an electrical inspection, the earthing system must also be examined.

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Friday, August 1, 2014

Electrical Panel: A Faulty Electrical Panel Can Be Deadly

Why is the electrical panel board important? This article will soon answer this question. If you have ever experienced a thunderstorm, natural disaster or otherwise large electrical event, then you have probably dealt with a power outage and needed to visit the electrical panel in your home to turn the power back on. The electrical service panel is what distributes currents of electricity to all of the various rooms and components of your home.
If you have not yet familiarized yourself with it (or even found where it is located) then it would be a good idea to do so, particularly in the case of natural disasters. Having the ability to get to the correct circuit breaker (both for turning power off and on) can mean the difference between life and death. The electric panel is usually located in basements, backrooms and other 'tucked away' areas of the house. Once you open the panel's door, you will have access to all of the circuit breakers or fuses in the house. Usually, there will be one panel for the whole house, but if there were additions to the house or remodeling (such as installing a new kitchen); there may be additional sub-panels for those as well. Because all of the circuit breakers are located in this one spot, this panel may also be referred to as the 'breaker box'. Within the breaker box, the circuit breakers are stacked and a lever that is labeled 'on' and 'off' controls each one.
There is a regulated amount of current that can go through each breaker, so if there is a short or an overload (such as when lightning strikes) it causes the breaker to trip and protect the circuit by cutting the power. In addition to all of the breakers for the individual circuits in your home, there is also a main breaker controlling the power entering your home. Like other circuit breakers, it can be either 'on' or 'off.' If it is not located in the breaker panel, it may be located in a separate panel board elsewhere in the house. In certain homes, you may also have a fuse box with screw-in fuses instead of circuit breakers, but the function and the way it works is basically the same. To see the main breaker, which you will need to do if you plan to add a circuit or replace one that goes bad, you need to take the electric panel cover off.
This can normally be easily accomplished with a screw driver as electrical panel covers are usually held in place with 4 screws, one in each corner. You can easily identify the main breaker because it has two thick black wires feeding into it from the electrical meter and is made of two circuit breaker handles put together. The main circuit breaker also identifies the amperage capacity (how many electrically charged particles flow past a given point on the circuit breaker per second) of the electrical panel and will have a number written on it indicating the number of amps. A 100 amp electrical panel board is the lowest allowed by code today, but 200 amp and even 400 amp panels are also available. The most common is 150 amps. Although we all hope to avoid natural disasters, shorts, or any other kind of potentially bad or dangerous situation, that situation can only be made worse, by not being able to get the power back on when you need it. As such, it is always good to take the time to find, and understand your electrical panel and electrical subpanel making sure you replace any faulty breakers as soon as possible.

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