Thinking of beginning electrician courses in 2018? Getting ready to upgrade your skills or switch careers path this year?
Your first step will likely be a pre-apprenticeship program, where you’ll learn the theory and practical skills needed to excel in an electrician apprenticeship.
An important part of that training will be learning how electrical systems actually work, common troubleshooting and maintenance procedures, and how to stay safe when performing installations and repairs.
Get a head start by testing yourself on these 7, very common electricity myths. Which of these misconceptions have you bought into over the years?
Myth #1: When you turn off an appliance, it stops using power
Most people believe that when they switch off their coffee maker, television, or microwave, the appliance stops using power all together. Why would it continue to consume energy if it’s switched off, right?
Not exactly. Many types of appliances draw power while in stand-by or “sleep” mode—up to 50 watts of power, depending on the device.
During electrician training (and out in the field), you’ll hear this phenomenon described with many names, such as “phantom load”, “vampire energy”, and “electricity leak”.
Myth #2: Wood & rubber will protect you from electrocution
The truth is, wood is not a conductor of electricity on its own. It’s the moisture found in some wood that may conduct electricity.
So, using a wooden ladder to perform electrical jobs can be risky, particularly if you’re working in damp or wet conditions. You’re better off with a fibreglass ladder.
In terms of rubber, it’s true that pure rubber will insulate you from electric shock; however, very few household rubber gloves are pure. Most have other ingredients in the mix.
In order to stay safe on the job, electricians use totally insulted gloves, hard hats, sleeves, hoods, blankets, etc.
Myth #3: It’s normal for outlets to spark a little sometimes
Have you ever plugged in a lamp, power tool, or computer charger and seen a little spark emerge from the outlet? Thought it was no big deal?
Actually, outlets that deliver a spark or a shock are a sure sign of bad wiring, and could signal bigger problems behind the scenes—like a short circuit—which could lead to a fire.
All too often, homeowners dismiss these symptoms as “static” or simply ignore them.
Myth #4: LED lights cannot be used with dimmers
It’s a popular myth that LED lights can’t be dimmed. You can tell your future clients that many manufacturers produce dimmable LEDs, but they shouldn’t try to use varieties not intended for dimming.
Doing so puts stress on the internal electronics, and can cause the system to fail prematurely. Energy efficient bulbs must be paired with the appropriate, certified dimmer switches. Using the wrong type of switch can lead to over-heating and other problems.
Myth #5: Most power lines are insulated to protect against shock
Unfortunately, this is very far from true. Many outside power lines (up to 90% of them, according to some sources) are actually totally bare. Others may have a weather coating—but that won’t protect against shock or electrocution.
Even lines that are insulated can suffer wear and tear over the years, making the protective outside layer far less effective.
Bottom line? Most overhead lines are live, and carry currents ranging from 1000 to 700,000 volts. Electricians must always approach power lines with extreme caution.
You’ll need to wear specific safety gear—and follow the procedures taught in electrician courses—before handling or even working near power lines.
Myth #6: It’s normal for lights to flicker or buzz once in awhile
A flickering light, or buzzing sound coming from an outlet, is always a sign of something wrong. The usual culprits include out-dated wiring, an over-loaded circuit, or loose wires.
Noisy, uncooperative lights are more than just a nuisance. Ignoring them can lead to bigger problems, like a house fire, so it’s key to have a licensed electrician deal with the issue as quickly as possible.
Myth #7: It’s always safe to use extension cords
We’ve all used extensions cords to make up for a lack of electrical outlets in our homes or offices. But far too many people use these extensions as permanent wiring solutions, rather than calling in an electrician to install more outlets.
Known as the “octopus problem”, these tangled webs of wires can overload a single outlet, are likely to kink and knot, and often pose a serious tripping hazard.
It’s ok to use extension wiring for temporary projects—like holiday lights—but they should never be implemented as a long-term solution.
And there you have it! Seven very commonly-held beliefs about the nature of electricity and its application in our daily lives.
Consider the Construction and Maintenance Electrician Training delivered by the Pre-apprenticeship Training (PAT) Institute—with classes available in Toronto and Cambridge.
Click below to learn more about this Ontario electrician program, browse courses, explore career paths, or chat live with a friendly advisor. We’re here to help!
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