ACI Northwest Blog : Archive for August, 2013

Sounds that Indicate a Need for Water Heater Repair Service

Wednesday, August 28th, 2013

Your water heater gets a ton of use every single day providing you with the hot water that you need for showering, laundry and cleaning. This daily use can lead to a variety of common problems that require water heater repair services. One of the most common ways that people discover that their water heater is in trouble is that it starts to make an unusual noise. ACI Northwest is proud to provide our customers with fast and reliable water heater services and we wanted to share a few of the sounds to watch for that could indicate that you need to give us a call.

Spokane Water Heater Repair Tip: Sounds to Listen For

If you start to hear any of the following sounds you should probably call for water heater repair services.

  • Rumbling – If your water heater is rumbling it is usually caused by the build-up of minerals or sediment on the bottom of the tank. This is often the result of your home having hard water that is full of excess minerals like calcium and magnesium. It could also be that there is a leak in your water supply line that allows sediment to get into your water heater. This issue can usually be resolved by draining the tank and washing out the deposits.
  • Hissing – If you have an electric water heater then you may hear it start to make a hissing noise. This is usually also the result of mineral or sediment build-up on the bottom of the tank.
  • Creaking – If you hear your water heater making creaking sounds like the inside of a submarine then it likely means that there is too much pressure inside the tank. This can eventually lead to leaks in the tank which is an expensive issue to resolve. The cause of this problem is likely a faulty pressure relief valve that may require repair or replacement.

If you need any type of water heater repair services, call the the Spokane, WA water heater specialists at ACI Northwest today.

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How Does Electricity Work?

Wednesday, August 21st, 2013

When you need any kind of electrical services in Spokane, make sure that you call the professionals electricians at ACI Northwest. We often hear about customers attempting to do it themselves and either injuring themselves or damaging their home’s electrical system. We wanted to explain, very briefly, about how electricity works to that our customers can understand it better and also understand why it is so dangerous to work with. Call our Spokane electrical technicians if you need any kind of services for your home’s electrical system.

What Is Electricity?

Electricity is the flow of electrons. If you remember seeing a picture of an atom in your science classes you may recall that there was a ball at the center comprised of protons and neutrons, and there were a bunch of swirling spheres around the outside: these are electrons.

Different materials easily give up these electrons: these are called conductors. In order to generate a flow of electrons you need a material that easily absorbs and then passes on electrons. Water and various metals like copper and gold are very good conductors. If you had a copper wire and you sent an electron from one end to the other it would get there very quick because copper atoms are very good at giving up electrons.

Obviously, we need more than one electron in order to power things like our computers, our homes and our cars. We need a constant current of electrons. This current of electrons is measured in Amperes. A typical home wall outlet is rated for 15 amps while a 9 volt battery can have .5 amps.  The speed or force at which electrons travel on a current is described by its Voltage.

How is Electricity Generated?

There are a couple different ways to generate electricity. The first is through chemical reactions. The interaction of certain chemicals and metals will generate an electric current which is how car batteries work.

Another way to generate electricity is with magnets and wire. If you pass a magnet by a coil of wire you can induce an electrical current. This is how power plants work. Nuclear power plants use nuclear energy to generate heat which turns water into steam that powers giant generators that contain magnets and wires.

If you have any questions about electricity or if you need any kind of electrical services, just call the Spokane electrical technicians at ACI Northwest.

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How Does a Circuit Breaker Panel Work?

Friday, August 16th, 2013

The circuit breaker controls the flow of electricity into your home, ensuring that you can access electrical power safely and securely. Without it, we wouldn’t be able to use the lights and appliances that define our modern world, and places like Spokane would still be conducting logging operations in the dark. But while most of us know how to check the circuit breaker panel when the electrical power goes out somewhere, comparatively few of us know how the circuit breaker panel actually works.

Electricity arrives from your city’s local power grid into the breaker box via a main circuit, which consists of a number of smaller circuits. The hot wire, on one end of the circuit, carries the electrical current, while the neutral wire is grounded in the earth.  Normally those two wires never come into contact with each other. When they do, they create a huge charge in the wires, which can cause them to overheat and start a fire.

The circuit breakers halt that process before it reaches dangerous levels. Older homes used fuses, which would get blown whenever the current rose too high and open the circuit. That kept the wire from becoming damaged and the surrounding materials from catching fire.

Fuses, however, had a one-shot shelf life and couldn’t be re-used after they were blown. The circuit breakers worked along the same principles, only they won’t disintegrate the way the fuses would. The breaker contains a switch, connected to an electromagnet, with the hot wire linked to the switch’s two ends. When the current gets too high, it magnetizes the magnet, which pulls on the switch, breaking the circuit and shutting off the electricity.

Circuit breaker panels work that way to keep your home safe. While you can check to see if they’ve been triggered and reset them if the power goes out, it pays to contact a professional Spokane electrician if you need to conduct any more in-depth operations. The electricians at ACI Northwest can handle electrical issues with your circuit breaker panel in Spokane and throughout the surrounding communities. Contact us today to set up an appointment.

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What Could be Wrong with Your Generator

Wednesday, August 7th, 2013

Do you have a whole-house generator? Does it fail to back up your electrical supply during a power outage? Has it become unreliable over the years? Whatever the cause of your generator problem, you need to make sure that you get it sorted out sooner than later. The entire point of having a generator is that it functions like a practical insurance policy, protecting your home against the discomfort and inconvenience of losing power during a storm, blizzard, or flood. But like any other mechanical system, problems can develop over time. Unfortunately, because we use our generator only from time to time, we may not realize something is wrong until too late. Call ACI Northwest for quality electrical repair services.

So, what could be wrong with your generator? That depends on the symptom. While a generator problem requires professional, hands-on diagnosis by an electrician to figure out the cause, let’s take a look at a few potential issues:

  • Generator won’t start up. If you have an automatic standby generator, then it should start up immediately once it has detected a loss of incoming power at the service panel. A manual backup generator will have to be turned on by switch. In either case, if your generator won’t turn on, the result can be frustrating, especially in the dark. It may need to be reset if it has suddenly shut down, but if it won’t start up at all, there could be a problem with the fuel supply or the wiring itself.
  • Generator keeps overloading. When it was installed, your technician likely advised you on what types of appliances you can operate with your generator. Only high powered units are able to handle major appliances like dryers, HVAC systems, and dishwashers, so make sure you know what and what not to turn on when your generator is running.

When it comes to the reliability and integrity of your generator, you need to make sure that you’re doing everything you can to make sure it works in the event of an outage. Pro installation is the first step, but ensuring that the unit receives routine maintenance is also important. Call ACI Northwest today if you’re having generator problems and you need electrical repair services in Spokane, WA.

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