Electricity plays a big role in our lives, and yet we often take it for granted because the system that carries it is hidden behind our walls and ceilings. When we renovate our home, we often focus on the aesthetics, such as the right paint colors or furniture. But taking care of the basics—those things that are important but cannot be seen—should always come first. These include the electrical system of the house: the wires, switches, outlets, circuit breakers, and panel boards. Since we can’t see what’s wrong with it, we assume that it’s okay. But it may have wires that are a step away from a short circuit or overload, which is very dangerous. That is why it’s important to get the advice of professionals who know what to watch for for.
Read what professional electrical engineer Cesar S. Bravo, has to say about giving your electrical system a checkup.
Keep these terms in mind when consulting with an electrical engineer:
1. CIRCUIT - Route around which an electrical current can flow.
2. CIRCUIT BREAKER - A device that can automatically stop the flow of electricity in a circuit if there is too much current to operate safely.
3. FUSE - A safety device containing a piece of a metal that melts if the current running through it exceeds a certain level, thereby breaking the current.
4. GROUNDING - A conductive connection between electrical circuits or equipment and the earth or ground.
5. LOAD - Any device to which electrical power is delivered, such as lighting or appliances.
6. PANEL BOARD - A box, often fitted to a wall, containing circuit breakers that protect all the electrical circuits in a building.
7. SAFETY SWITCH - A box, often fitted to a wall, containing fuses that protect all the electrical circuits in a building. This is usually used in old homes in lieu of a panel board.
8. SERVICE ENTRANCE - An electrical facility that includes the main feeder wires, conduits, and fittings usually located outside the building and joined to the overhead service wires coming from the local utility company.
9. SHORT CIRCUIT - A failure in an electrical circuit caused by an accidental connection of two live wires such as when there is a break in the insulation, across which an excessive current can flow.
10. SURGE - A sudden and temporary increase in electrical current or voltage, such as that caused by lightning.
Read these articles for more safety tips:
- How to Prepare Your Home against Earthquakes
- FN Survival Guide: What to Do in a Flood
- Chin-Chin Gutierrez's House Burns Down Again + How to Fireproof Your Home
(First published in Real Living, Decorating section as “Renovators Diary: Are You Wired Well?” in March 2006; photo by Ocs Alvarez unless otherwise noted; adapted for use in Female Network)