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Frequently Asked Questions

Why is my bill higher this month than it was last month?

There are several reasons a bill may be higher. The number of days in the billing period fluctuate from month to month. The weather conditions vary from month to month which means the heating and air conditioning usage will vary. Additional members in the household or a visitor for an extended period of time will result in additional usage. Additional appliances, changing from gas to electric heat and watering a lawn or garden for the first time will cause bills to be higher.

If I need assistance in paying my bill, what should I do?

Crowley's Ridge Development Council disburses federal assistance for qualified individuals when funding is available. They may be contacted at (870) 935-8610. CWL's Credit Services assists customers in emergency situations by extending the terms of payment.

Why does my water appear milky or cloudy?

A milky or cloudy appearance is usually caused by air bubbles in the water, which pose no health risk. If the water is allowed to sit, the air will dissipate and the water will clear. If the cloudiness does not disappear, please contact us so that we may investigate.

What causes the spots on my dishes?

Spots are caused by hard water, or minerals that remain after the water has evaporated. Spots can be eliminated through use of a dishwasher rinse agent.

Should I buy a water softener?

The hardness of water varies with the water’s source. The choice to buy a softener is an aesthetic one, since hard water is not harmful to health. However, water softeners typically increase the sodium content of the water, a factor that should be considered by people on low-sodium diets.

Should I buy a home filtration unit?

According to the United States Environmental Protection Agency, home treatment units are rarely necessary for health reasons. Most often, water treatment units are used to remove substances that affect the aesthetic qualities of the water. If you do choose to install a home treatment unit, it is important to follow the manufacturer’s maintenance instructions, because improperly maintained units can actually cause water quality problems.

What should I do if my coffee has an oily appearance?

Clean your coffee maker with vinegar and water as directed by the manufacturer.

What causes odor in the hot water?

The most common cause of odor in hot water is the water heater. If your cold water smells fine, check your water heater to ensure that the temperature setting is correct. Water heaters also need to be maintained (see manufacturer’s instructions). Please contact us if the odor persists or if it is present in both the hot and cold water.

What causes some water to be discolored?

Color in water is usually caused by naturally occurring organic matter, minerals, or mineral build-up in the pipes. We flush our water system regularly to clean mineral build-up and other sediment from the pipes. If you receive discolored water, you should let your faucets run until the water is clear. Such substances typically do not pose a health hazard; however, we ask that you please report any instances of discolored water so that we may investigate.

Is bottled water higher quality than tap water?

Tap water providers and bottled water providers must meet the same water quality standards. In fact, tap water providers are required to conduct more frequent water quality testing and reporting than bottled water providers. Some consumers prefer the taste of bottled water, and some choose bottled water because they have special health needs. But tap water is a much better deal at costs of 1,000 times less than bottled water.

Why do CWL employees open fire hydrants?

We conduct regular water system flushing to remove any mineral build-up and sediment from the pipes and also to ensure that water circulates adequately throughout the system. Fire hydrants may also be opened to conduct fire-flow capability tests.

Why does water need to be disinfected?

Disinfectants are required because they prevent the spread of germs that cause diseases. Years ago, before disinfectants were used for drinking water, diseases such as cholera, typhoid fever, and dysentery were common. Drinking water disinfection has vastly improved the quality and safety of drinking water.

Why does my water have a chlorine taste (or smell)?

We disinfect your water to ensure that it is free of harmful bacteria. To reduce any chlorine taste or smell, try refrigerating your water before drinking.

Why is there dirt or sand in my water?

Dirt or sand can occur naturally in groundwater or as a result of a water line repair. We try to reduce the instances of dirt or sand in the water through regular flushing, which improves water quality by increasing the circulation of water in the pipes and removing most of the sediment from the water.

I have an outlet with buttons that keeps clicking off. What's going on?

That outlet with buttons is called a GFCI (Ground Fault Circuit Interrupter). It turns off the outlet if it detects electrical current in the ground wire, which is a possibly deadly situation.

If a device makes a GFCI outlet click off, it's probably faulty and possibly dangerous and should be replaced.

When I turn the lights on I hear a popping/crackling noise. What's going on?

Loose wiring or a damaged switch is causing electricity to arc between exposed contacts. Sparks and very high temperatures accompany the sound, even if it's not where you can see it. The heat can set fire to the walls, ceiling, or floor wherever the wires are exposed.

You should immediately cut power to the area and contact the electric company or a certified electrician in this event.

When I plug a device in it makes a spark. What causes this and is it dangerous?

This is caused by a high-voltage device being turned on before it's plugged in. It's not dangerous unless the sparks are quite large or the outlet or cord ends are visibly damaged or loose. It can also happen when poor quality AC adapters are plugged in or if the outlet itself is loose or damaged.

Always plug devices in BEFORE turning them on.

Should I use a surge protector?

Yes, especially on high-value electronics. They protect against voltage spikes caused by lightning strikes and electrical malfunctions.

In addition to the surge-protecting power strips you can buy at the store, you can install a whole house surge protector which is installed in the main electrical panel and requires 2 available circuit spaces. Some whole-house surge protectors come with a warranty that will pay for damaged electronics as a result of surge protector failure.

My house has aluminum wiring. Should I be concerned?

Aluminum branch circuit wiring was used in the 1960s and 70s, but was banned due to its potential as a fire hazard.

Some symptoms of immediate problems with aluminum wiring are lights flickering or plugs that will not work even with all the circuits turned on. Almost all insurance providers will require that a home with aluminum wiring be inspected and certified by a licensed electrician. This involves physically inspecting all of the connections, installing approved connectors, using approved aluminum devices or copper pigtail wiring and using an anti-oxidant compound. If your original installation was done to the highest standards or if the wiring has been inspected and certified then the aluminum wiring system will outlast the other systems in your home.

Aluminum is still in widespread use today for distribution wiring. It is an excellent conductor, lightweight, strong and much more cost effective than copper. Almost the entire power grid outside your home is made from aluminum. Aluminum is used within apartment buildings, condominiums and townhouses to bring power from the main service to the individual units. It is also used within houses to bring power from the main electrical panel to sub-panels, stoves or other large loads.

I have an old electrical panel. Should I replace it?

If your electrical panel has the old-style, screw-in fuses you should replace it. If you have a Square D XO style electrical panel it should also be replaced as it has been recalled by its manufacturer.

If you have water or oxidation damage in your electrical panel it should be inspected and replaced if necessary

Generally, if your panel has circuit breakers and was installed by a licensed electrician and is properly maintained, it will generally outlive the other systems in your home.

When I turn more than one appliance on, the circuit trips. What causes this?

Not having adequate circuits in your kitchen. Going back 20 or more years ago electrical appliances were not as commonplace as they are today. The electrical codes of the time did not require the amount of circuits that are required in homes today.

You can try moving your appliance plug from the top half of the outlet to the bottom half. Many kitchen outlets have one circuit for the top half of the outlet and another circuit for the bottom half (split circuit plug). This may solve the problem. The issue could also be "breaker fatigue" and the circuit breaker will need to be replaced.

My light-bulbs burn out too often. How can I prevent this from happening?

Make sure there is no damage to the light fixture, use long life bulbs (6000hr 125V or 130V rating) or use compact fluorescent bulbs. Having loose wiring, either at the switch or at the light fixture can also cause bulbs to burn out quickly. Low voltage on the circuit will also reduce bulb life.

Some of my dimmers get hot. Is this something I should be concerned about?

It is normal for a dimmer to be warm to the touch. They should never be hot. Count the total wattage of the bulbs the dimmer is controlling (i.e. 9 bulbs at 65 watts each is 585 watts) to confirm that the dimmers' rating is not being exceeded. The most common rating for a dimmer is 600 watts. We recommend using a 1000 watt dimmer if you are exceeding 500 watts. If dimmers are grouped together in one switch box their wattage ratings must be reduced as well. Dimmers have some great features such as reduced energy consumption; also, a bulb dimmed to 90% will last twice as long. Do not use a dimmer with compact fluorescent bulbs unless they have a dimmable ballast and a compatible dimmer.

I want to install a hot-tub but there is no more room in my panel. What do I need to do?

Hot tubs need either 2 or 4 circuit spaces in your electrical panel. Existing breakers can sometimes be replaced with a narrower type to free up the required space or a sub-panel may need to be installed.

I just want to install a new light. It’s not really that dangerous is it?

If you see something in the instruction manual that says anything like "This fixture must be installed by a licensed electrician in compliance with all national and local electrical codes and regulations" then you need help from a professional electrician. There are many potential hazards involved in the simplest light fixture installation, including an electrical shock or a fire caused by improper installation.

I have some outlets that don’t work. What can I do about this?

Check that all your circuits are ON. Before making a call to an electrician, systematically go through your electrical panel and turn all circuits completely off then back on again. Even though a circuit is tripped it is not always obvious that it is not in the ON position.

Some outlets are controlled by a switch. Either the entire outlet or just the top or bottom. Make sure all switches are turned on.

My circuit breakers keep tripping. What does this mean?

Generally one of two things: 1) Breaker fatigue, internal weakening of the circuit breaker causing it to trip before maximum load, or 2) the breaker is simply doing what it was designed to do: interrupt the flow of current before it reaches a dangerous level.

You may also have a "short circuit". If the breaker trips immediately or if a flash or sparks are visible at the panel when you attempt to reset the breaker then this is the case. Try unplugging all devices and turning off the light fixtures in the affected circuit. If the problem persists then the issue is with the electrical circuit itself.