Garage Door Won't Open:

  • Check Breaker box for tripped Breaker. See: resetting a breaker
  • Check to see if the GFCIs are tripped. The GFCI will be located in your garage, or in the basement. If the GFCI has tripped, hit the Reset button on the GFCI and the garage door will work.
  • GFCI won't reset. (Possibility that moisture has made it into the exterior outlets, must wait until dry to reset, contact builder to check caulking on outside receptacles) This happens often after heavy rains, in snow, or when sprinkler systems are too close to Weatherproof Exterior Outlets.


Exterior Lights or Lamp post not working:

  • Check Breaker box for tripped Breaker. See: resetting a breaker
  • Make sure the switch in the home is turned to the on position. Not all posts have a switch, some with photo cells may be direct wired.
  • Check the bulb, replace with a new one if necessary.
  • Check to see if the GFCIs are tripped. The GFCI will be located in your garage, or in the basement. If the GFCI has tripped, hit the Reset button on the GFCI and the lamp post or light fixture will work.
  • GFCI won't reset. (Possibility that moisture has made it into the exterior outlets, must wait until dry to reset, contact builder to check caulking on outside receptacles) This happens often after heavy rains, in snow, or when sprinkler systems are too close to Weatherproof Exterior Outlets.
  • Photo Cell may be bad, the photo cell is the part that lets the lamp post know when it's dark out. To test this during the day, put black tape over the lens of the photo cell.


Exterior Receptacles not working:

  • Check Breaker box for tripped Breaker. See: resetting a breaker
  • Check to see if GFCIs are tripped. The GFCI will be located in your garage, or in the basement. If the GFCI has tripped, hit the Reset button to reset the receptacles.
  • GFCI won't reset. (Possibility that moisture has made it into the exterior outlets, must wait until dry to reset, contact builder to check caulking on outside receptacles) This happens often after heavy rains, in snow, or when sprinkler systems are too close to weatherproof Exterior Outlets.


Interior Receptacles not working:

  • Check Breaker box for tripped Breaker. See resetting a breaker
  • Check to see if GFCIs are tripped. If a GFCI has tripped, hit the Reset button to reset the receptacles. (Only applies to kitchen, laundry, and bath outlets.)
  • Is it a switched outlet if so, is the switch turned on?


Breaker Keeps Tripping:

(Circuit being overloaded, too much on circuit: Could be vacuum, iron, electric heater, electric fireplace, electric blanket. Using only one of these items can utilize up to 83% of the circuit, which does not include anything already in use on the circuit. Breaker can trip when it reaches 80% usage. Reset breaker by turning it completely off, then turn back on) Items Drawing 1200 - 1500 watts (refrigerators, dehumidifiers, space heaters, etc.) must be used on a 20Amp circuit. (20Amp circuits are standard in kitchens, laundry rooms, and baths, sometimes in basements, and garages.)


Resetting a breaker:

To reset the breaker, just push the lever all the way to the "Off" position and then back fully to the "On" position. You will hear it click as it snaps into the "On" position. If the breaker trips again, you need to determine the reason for the overcurrent condition and correct the root cause of the problem. The breaker may be tripping due to excessive amperage in the circuit or may be shorting out. See: Why Circuit Breakers Trip and Fuses Blow.


Outlet won't allow plugs into it:

CODE requires all outlets to be tamper proof, these new outlets are often difficult to plug into. Make sure both ends of the plug are inserted at the same time, the slightest angle will stop the plug from entering the socket. Often when plugging something into a new outlet for the first time you will need to use extra force.


Switch is upside down:

  • Possible 3-way switch. Is the fixture controlled by more than one switch? If so the switch is not upside down, it changes during use.
  • Switch was installed upside down, must be reinstalled.
  • Only switches that have markings of on/off can be installed upside down.

Smoke detector beeping:

Every 6 months, check/change batteries, and clean detector.


Ceiling fan/light hesitate before starting up after switch is turned on:

This is normal, not considered a problem


Light isn't dimming like it's supposed to:

Make sure that bulbs are rated for dimming.


Why Circuit Breakers Trip (and Fuses Blow)

OK, so the circuit breaker tripped. You go to the basement or garage and locate the electrical panel, reset the circuit breaker and "pop", it trips again, or it trips again when you go back upstairs and turn back on what you were using when it tripped in the first place. At this point you need to stop and identify the root cause of the problem making the circuit breaker trip. Circuit breakers are designed to trip (fuses in your fuse box are designed to blow) and turn off power when any of the following dangerous situations occur:

• Overloaded Circuit
• Short Circuit
• Ground Fault

Overloaded Circuit

• An overloaded circuit is the primary reason for a breaker tripping and occurs when a circuit is has more connected electrical load than it is supposed to have. When more current runs through the circuit than the circuit was intended to take, the circuit breaker is designed to, well, "break the circuit."
• Circuit breakers come in different ratings that determine how much current they will allow to flow through the circuit. If a 15 Amp circuit breaker is protecting a 15 Amp circuit, and 20 Amps of current start to flow through it because a hair dryer, TV and small personal heater were all connected to the same circuit and were on at the same time (even if on different outlets) then the circuit breaker trips to prevent overheating of the circuit.

The Fix:

• The most probable reason the breaker tripped is that you simply have too much plugged into one outlet or multiple outlets connected to one circuit.
• Move lamps, heaters, irons, hair dryers and other heavy power consuming devices to a different circuit not being heavily used; or
• Turn off some of the devices on the circuit to reduce the load.
• Loose connections are another possible but less common cause. Have an Electrician check outlets for a loose wire and the electrical service panel hot wire connected to the circuit breaker to see if it has become loose. Retighten the connections if necessary.
• If these suggestions do not solve the problem you may have a more serious problem such as a Short Circuit or Ground Fault.

Short Circuit

The Short Circuit is a more serious reason for a breaker tripping. A short is caused when the hot wire (black) touches another hot wire or touches a neutral wire (white). It can also be caused if there is a break in a wire in the circuit. Shorts are a bit more difficult to diagnose because they can be caused by the wiring in your home or in something you have plugged into an outlet.

The Fix:

• Confirm that power is off at the outlet into which your device is plugged.
• Inspect your power cords for damage or a melted appearance.
• Check your outlets and plugs for the smell of burning or brown or black discoloration.
• Check the insulation on the wires to make sure it is not cracked and touching a black and white wire together.
• If you do not find the problem, repeat the process for all the outlets in the circuit.
• Check for a Ground Fault condition (see next section).

The Ground Fault

A Ground Fault condition exists when the hot wire (black) touches the ground wire (bare copper) or the side of a metal outlet box (because the metal box is connected to the ground wire). The ground fault is a type of short circuit.

The Fix:

• Same as Short Circuit except also check that the hot wire (black) is not touching the side of the metal outlet box or the ground wire.

Is the Short in the Wiring or Something You Turn On?

As mentioned before, short circuits are tougher to diagnose since the short may be in the house wiring or in something you've turned on or plugged in, whether an appliance or light fixture. Here's how to check where the problem lies:

• Turn off all light fixtures on the circuit.
• Unplug everything from the outlets.
• Go to the electrical service panel and reset the breaker.
• If it trips again immediately, the short lies in the house wiring (outlets or switches).
• If the breaker does not trip, proceed back to the area and turn on each light fixture not plugged into the wall (i.e., fixed lighting).
• If the breaker still has not tripped, the short circuit lies in something you are plugging into the outlet.
• Systematically plug each item into the outlet until you find the faulty appliance or lamp and then have it repaired.