Thursday, May 17, 2012

Troubleshooting Electrical Circuits

Troubleshooting Electrical CircuitsUnderstanding electricity is key to being a good troubleshooter. Knowing how circuits work, the operation of the individual components, and how it all fits together are the basics of troubleshooting. But there is more to it. You need to ask questions. When did the trouble start? What was happening at that time? Were there any other problems that occurred? Is there any new equipment that was brought in around the same time? Was there a storm recently? Sometimes just speaking with the occupants can start us off in the right direction. We don't need to start at point A and work through the entire circuit.

I'd like to pass on an experience we had recently at one of our new projects. We had just finished installing the parking lot pole lights and were power checking them. As soon as the breaker was turned on it tripped out. The electrician assigned to the task of troubleshooting decided to start at the panel checking for shorts. He then moved to the lighting contactor, then the electronic time clock before he moved to the first pole. He spent 4 hours taking off covers, checking, replacing covers and moving on before he finally found the problem in the first light pole. A good place to start would have been at the first pole. He would have isolated the interior section of wiring from the exterior section. It would have cut the circuit almost in half. Even if the problem had been in one of the other poles he wouldn't have wasted all that time removing and replacing covers.

Troubleshooting should be looked at in a logical manner. What is supposed to be happening? What type of problems could cause this not to happen?

Having the proper testing equipment will also save you time and more importantly keep you safer. I was reading on another forum about an old school electrician that uses a homemade buzzer with a 9 volt battery for a continuity tester. What happens if he were to place his tester on a live circuit by mistake? Chances are it would blowup in his hands. Today's meters are built to stringent standards to comply with not only the technical specifications but the safety specifications too. Having the right type of meter will also make your job of troubleshooting easier.

Here is another example. We received a trouble call from a new client. He had been using one of our competitors for quite some time, but they were swamped and not able to take care of this call. This customer had some nice accent lighting in their display room. It uses a transformer converting the 120V to 24V. It is connected to 2 wires that are run exposed 6" below the ceiling on insulators spaced 36" apart. The light fixtures lay on the two wires and set screws clamp the fixtures to the wires. The problem they were experiencing was the transformer kept going bad. The previous contractor had replaced it twice at a cost of $300 each. We counted the number of fixtures, calculated total watts, checked the transformer output. Everything was correct. We used an ammeter to check circuit amps. It was higher than the calculated load. We removed all the fixtures (there were 8). We used a true RMS DMM (digital multimeter) to check continuity of the two 24V wires. They tested fine. We used the same meter to test each fixture individually. They tested fine also. I decided to bring in the megohmeter and retest the fixtures. We found a high impedance short in one of the fixtures. We ordered a new fixture and the circuit has been trouble free since. Would we have figured this out without the megohmeter? Probably not. Would we have figured this out if we hadn't known to check for a high impedance short? Definitely not. Schooling, equipment, trade experience, interviewing are all necessary parts to becoming a successful troubleshooter.

Sunday, May 13, 2012

Simple IOS Troubleshooting: Updating and Troubleshooting Issues With iPhone, iPad and iPod Touch App

Simple IOS Troubleshooting: Updating and Troubleshooting Issues With iPhone, iPad and iPod Touch AppSimple iOS Troubleshooting: Updating and Troubleshooting issues with iPhone, iPad and iPod Touch Apps

Your iPad will let you know if there are any available updates to the Apps you have installed on your iPad. You should always update applications when an update is released. Developers release updates to introduce new features and to fix known issues with the apps. In General you should never have to pay to update an application. Although Apple has been known to charge rarely for their iOS updates for older devices.

On your device, a notification will appear over the App Store or the folder the App Store is located in. It will be a little number inside a red circle. The number represents the number a]of updates available. Another way to see if you have any updates available on your computer is to check in the Apps section of the library in iTunes. It will also notify you if you have updates.

Update from your computer

Do as Follows:
To see which apps have updates available, click on the apps section of the library in iTunes. It will show you a list of apps that have updates available. You will have the option to update an app by itself or update all of them at once. Your iPad apps will be up to date on the iPad the next time you sync your iPad with iTunes.

To update your Apps from your iPad

Do as follows:
Tap the App Store and then click on the updates section. Tap the name of the app that needs an update. Or you can update all.

Your iPad will prompt you for your Apple ID. Enter it and the application should update shortly. You should be connected to WIFI when you do this to avoid charges and because it is probably way faster.

You really shouldn't be having many issues with your iPhone or iPad apps but from time to time issues do happen. There is definitely some troubleshooting you can do with apps but it is limited to about three things.

When things do go wrong:

Check for Updates. Developers will release Beta versions of Apps and correct them later with updates to make money.

You should first turn your iPad off and back on. Sometimes when installing something you just have to do a restart. Just like a computer in a sense.

If the Issue continues the app might have become corrupted, you should delete the application and re download it from the app store. As long as you are signed in to the same Apple ID you should not have to pay again.

Check out: "Simple iOS Troubleshooting: A Guide to the Most common issues with the iPhone, iPad and iPod Touch"

I am technician with years of experience with the iPhone, iPad and iPod Touch. I have an excellent skill set troubleshooting the iPhone, iPad and iPod Touch.

Friday, May 11, 2012

7 Portable Troubleshooting Tools You Can't Do Without

7 Portable Troubleshooting Tools You Can't Do WithoutAny professional in any industry will tell you that before you solve a problem or build a new system you need to have the proper tools. These tools differ from industry to industry, but most are physical hardware. In the computer world, most tools are in the form of software. Some of this software is expensive, but there is a wide variety of software out there for the new computer techs and home users. Many computer techs have a number of USB thumb drives, and at least one of them contains a large amount of portable software for troubleshooting and problem solving purposes. I am going to show you many of the tools I use for troubleshooting and basic problem solving. All of these tools have a portable version and can easily fit on a USB stick, and will only take up around 6 MB's of data.

Ccleaner: This tool is one of a few developed by a company called Piriform. All their tools are free for personal use, and they are very well built. The program Ccleaner is designed to clean up your PC by removing temporary and unnecessary files. Ccleaner also has a function for getting rid of broken registry keys, and allows you to backup your registry.I use this tool on my home computers and when I am fixing a computer, and its very effective for removing all those annoying temporary files.

Speccy: Another tool by Piriform, Speccy is a system information tool. It will quickly display all you need to know about the computer you are on so you don't have to search through all of those pesky settings to find a little bit of information.

FixWin: is a powerful Windows tool designed to fix the more common Windows errors and problems. It even lets you do stuff like creating a restore point. This is a must have if you are working on Windows computers. FixWin has a very simple, straightforward interface.

ClamWin: This is a lightweight portable anti-virus software. This tool is useful especially when you can't install anti-malware software on your clients computer because of all the problems. You still need to update ClamWin by downloading an updated version of its virus definition database. This should be done before you go to fix a computer.

Codec Tweak Tool: We all have had codec problems, but there isn't much you can do except reinstall and hope for the best. The Codec Tweak Tool is a lightweight version of the tool that comes with the K-lite Codec Pack. This is handy if you are having problems playing audio or video files on a computer. This program will scan your codec's and try to fix any problems it finds.

Recuva: I know, it might seem like I am promoting Piriform, but I'm not. Their tools are very widely used and accepted in most tech circles as some of the best free software out there.
This tool, Recuva, allows you to recover deleted files. If you have ever fixed computers before, you know this one is a life saver. There is nothing quite like the look on a customers face when you do the impossible (for them), such as recover their data or bring their PC back to working order. Recuva is unique in that it has a deep scan tool, which will find deleted data that most other tools can't.

Hijack This: This is an advanced troubleshooting tool for professionals. This tool will do a system scan and generates a log file of registry values and common software settings that malware uses so you can analyze and troubleshoot your computer. This is considered an advanced troubleshooting tool because it does not differentiate between malware and regular software so you need knowledge of the inner workings of your computer to be able to use this tool properly.

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Troubleshooting Water Heaters

Troubleshooting Water HeatersGas or Electric Heater Fails to Heat Water

If your gas heater isn't getting the water up to the right temperature try the following simple steps:

• Check that the gas is switched on. Move the gas control to 'pilot' to ensure that the burner doesn't ignite whilst you're inspecting the interior. Take off the metal cover from the bottom of the heater and see if the burner or pilot light is lit.

• If the pilot light is not lit, relight it. It's possible that the inlet valve for the gas has been closed partway or completely. If this is the case, turn the handle parallel to the line and re-ignite the pilot light. If you can't get the pilot to light, it could be the thermocouple that's damaged and you should give up your DIY troubleshooting of the water heater and phone the gas utility company or a plumbing repair person.

• If the burner is not lit, put back the metal cover and check that the thermostat is set at approximately 120ºF. If not, reset it and turn on the hot water tap for a couple of minutes to check if the burner ignites. If it doesn't, leave the hot tap running and try moving the temperature dial down and then up to make the burner ignite.

• If it's the burner lights, put back the cover and set the thermostat to a suitable temperature. However, if it doesn't ignite, stop all water heater troubleshooting activities and get an expert repair person to look at it. It's possible the thermostat is defective. Replacing a thermostat is a job for an expert in this type of plumbing problems.

• Sniff the air for any traces of gas. If you detect a garlicky smell, turn the gas valve control to 'off'. Do not relight the pilot light until the smell of gas has completely disappeared. If the smell of gas is strong and doesn't diminish, turn the gas supply valve off straightaway, open windows and doors and leave the building. Contact the utility company from a location away from your home and leave the water heater troubleshooting to the experts.

If your Electric Water Heater isn't getting the water up to the required temperature it means that the power supply to the heater has been interrupted or you have a problem with heating elements or controls.

• Check that the electric current to the appliance is working. Look at the water heater's main switch and check the circuit breaker serving the heater. If the circuit breaker has been tripped, you can easily troubleshoot the water heater. Reset it by moving it first to the 'off' position and then the 'on' position.

• If you've got a blown fuse, put in a replacement of the same rating. In circumstances where you get repeated blown fuses or tripped circuit breaker, phone a qualified electrician to repair the circuit. Always make sure that the water heater doesn't share the circuit with another appliance because it takes too much power when heating up the water.

• Take a look at the high temperature cutoff in the heater. Open up the panel and press the reset button. If you don't hear a click or you continue without power after pressing it, this means that the high temperature cutoff is probably broken. Contact an electric water heater repair person.

• If you see water inside the panel it may be that which has made the thermostat stop working properly. If there is a water leak then you'll have to replace the heater and no amount of water heater troubleshooting will save it!

• If these suggestions don't lead to a solution of the problem it may be that there's a problem with the heating elements. If you know what you're doing with this type of repair, troubleshoot the water heater yourself by following the manufacturer's instructions on how to replace heating elements. Otherwise, contact an electric water heater expert.
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