Distribution and use of electricity throughout the home. Electrical standards vary greatly worldwide, so providing your location in your question or your profile helps ensure you get answers that are relevant to you.

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10
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1answer
3k views

What is this drill guide/template used when fixing electrical sockets called and where do I buy one?

My dad used to have one, you use it as a drill guide/template when fixing electrical sockets, but I cannot find anywhere that sells them, and as I don't know the name Google is not much help! ...
10
votes
1answer
71k views

Why is my air conditioner tripping the circuit breaker?

Our air conditioner recently stopped blowing out cold air. When I went to check on it, I noticed that the outside unit wasn't coming on. We had had problems with ants in the contacter in the past, ...
10
votes
1answer
1k views

What are “termination points” and why do I need them on my electrical supply?

An inspection of my electric supply service on the outside of my home in Maryland said I need 3 termination points and two grounding rods. The grounding rods I can get but I have no clue about these ...
10
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1answer
13k views

How many wires is too many for an outlet?

I keep finding outlets in my house that are wired in ways I've never seen. Today's find is an outlet in a bedroom with 4 hots and 4 neutrals. All connected to one outlet using the push-in connectors. ...
10
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3answers
14k views

Why is ENT rarely used for electrical wiring?

As best I can tell, the National Electrical Code 2011 allows electrical non-metallic tubing ("smurf tube" or ENT) to be used for running 120 V electrical wire. But everywhere I look, I see remarks to ...
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2answers
8k views

How should I address my bathroom's flickering lights and GFCI tripping mysteriously? (Schematic included.)

So I inherited a bit of a nightmare for wiring in my bathroom. I'll be calling in an electrician, but wanted to have an understanding of the problem first, as not to be ripped off, lead astray, etc.. ...
10
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3answers
3k views

How can I install a ceiling fan that needs a 4“ box where I only have a 3” box?

As part of a home renovation project I discarded my old ceiling fan and have bought a new one. When installing the new one the electrician tells me that I have a 3" junction box and that I'll need a ...
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votes
6answers
4k views

Can I put an outlet inside of a wall?

I want to mount a tablet to a wall with a charger but I don't want the charger to be visible. Can I put a normal wall outlet in the INSIDE of the wall and just plug in the charger inside the wall? ...
9
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10answers
28k views

How can I get a shock from a circuit when the breaker is off?

While I was replacing an old outlet, I received a shock from something in the box. I think it was the metal box itself. Before I started, I performed the following to ensure the power was out: ...
9
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3answers
2k views

Why did my electric bill climb suddenly?

So we had a little mishap a couple of months ago involving some flooding. We had some folks come in and "dehydrate" our house. It involved lots of fans running for a couple of weeks. We expected ...
9
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8answers
53k views

How can I run Cat5e cable through a completely finished house?

My family and I are interested in buying a house that was built in 2002. This house is two floors on a concrete slab with a finished bonus room upstairs so there is no attic other than above the ...
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6answers
35k views

Why does my shower switch keep burning out?

I have a Mira Shower 10.8 kW. My switch is a 45A switch. I have a 50A fuse for the shower. The shower uses 10mm2 cable. 9 months ago the switch sparked and refused to turn off and the fuse ...
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8answers
3k views

Can I safely run 595 watts of lights with a 600 watt dimmer switch?

I have 7 85-watt lights (a total of 595 watts) that I want to control using a 600-watt dimmer switch. Is that too close to be safe? What if I remove one of the lights?
9
votes
2answers
6k views

Is this fluorescent light fixture a major electrical problem / fire hazard?

(I am a new homeowner.) I went to replace a some fluorescent tubes that looked like they burned out, but after disassembling it a little to get the tubes out, I saw something a little alarming: ...
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2answers
2k views

What are the pros and cons of different types of smart switches (that are on the US market) ?

When putting in a new switch for a light it is often less work to put in a smart switch than run the mains cables. However, how do you choose the type of smart switch to use? See also "What are ...
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2answers
5k views

Is a high electric bill for a pump house caused by a well pump running constantly?

I recently had to turn on the electric for a shared well in my name. I got a bill and it's as high as what my house bill is. The well is the only thing connected to the electric in the well house. We ...
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2answers
3k views

How do I tell if a light switch is live?

I have a light switch that I want to get rid of. I don't know if it is active or not. I want to wallpaper the wall. How do I tell if the circuit is "live" and if so how to turn it off so it is safe ...
9
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2answers
7k views

How can I add a circuit breaker when there are no openings available in the neutral bus bar?

I'm trying to add a 20 amp circuit breaker into my existing main panel. The main panel has one vacant slot to put the breaker, but the neutral and ground bars have no more vacant slots. My question is ...
9
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4answers
38k views

How do I troubleshoot power receptacles?

I just bought a recently renovated house and the house inspector said that all the plugs in the basement worked. Well... I plugged in several devices into the plugs and they don't power on. If I use ...
9
votes
8answers
8k views

Home light switch circuit with 5 switches

I am new to the amazing world of electronics and am starting out small. I think... Early 2010, the wife and I bought a house that was built in 1979. Now I started replacing light switches and ...
9
votes
4answers
27k views

Why are homes wired using solid wire rather than stranded?

If stranded wire can carry more power for a given wire gauge, why are homes typically wired using solid? If solid wire is less expensive to make, that provides a compelling reason why solid is used, ...
9
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3answers
3k views

There's a difference between hot/neutral AC lines in a plug, but does it matter?

Saw the good answer to this question: Is there a difference between the two conductors in 120VAC wiring? But I'm wondering as a followup, since the two primary prongs in an AC mains plug are ...
9
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1answer
527 views

What does this device on my new furnace do?

Can someone please tell me what this is? I had a 35-year old oil furnace replaced recently and the new furnace is obviously more complex and has many safety features the old one didn't. I've looked it ...
9
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6answers
56k views

Do the breaker amp readings sum up to dictate my current panels total / possible amperage?

So I know practically nothing about houses having rented for many years, just bought a house and was told by my inspector the panel is only a 70 amp panel and will need to be upgraded before I go to ...
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4answers
6k views

Why do my bulbs glow brighter when the microwave is running?

When I run the microwave oven in my rented apartment, the incandescent lights nearby glow much brighter. What sort of mis-wiring could cause this? EDIT: Suspecting a bad neutral connection, I ...
9
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1answer
22k views

How can I determine circuit breaker requirements for an electric range?

I recently had a new range installed and when an electrician was visiting, he pointed out that the circuit was over capacity because the range was rated at 12.2KW at 240V. He said 12,200 W / 240 V = ...
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votes
5answers
8k views

Why is there so much metal-clad wiring in my house?

My house was built in 1893. I was recently doing some electrical work in the attic, adding some light fixtures. While doing that, I noticed that several of the upstairs outlets were wired with old, ...
9
votes
4answers
14k views

Why does my microwave keep throwing the circuit breaker?

I have a circuit that powers several things in my house: Kitchen microwave Basement lights Basement sockets Sump pump Recently, this circuit has been thrown with alarming frequency when I use the ...
9
votes
3answers
8k views

Can I use a UPS as a Voltage Stabilizer?

I need a voltage stabilizer for my refrigerator. Can I use a UPS for this? I own an APC Back-UPS marked "Output: 230V~, 2.6A, 50/60Hz...". The label on the fridge says "220V/50Hz". Can I use this UPS ...
9
votes
3answers
3k views

Is an ungrounded GFCI outlet safer than a plumbing-grounded non-GFCI outlet?

I'm in the United States. I have a handful of three-prong outlets that have been grounded to the underground water main just as it enters the crawlspace. All of the ground wires are home runs to the ...
9
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3answers
7k views

What to do with an apartment with only 2-pronged outlets

I just rented an apartment (Colorado, for what it's worth RE code) that has 2-pronged outlets throughout the place except for two GFCI's, one in the bathroom and one in the kitchen. I bought the ...
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2answers
4k views

Is there a minimum, NEC-compliant distance that an electrical outlet can be off the floor in my home?

If I am able to lower an electrical box by a few inches, I will have enough wire to avoid having to use a junction box to splice a nick I made in the insulation of the neutral wire. It's only a ...
9
votes
1answer
3k views

Is there a difference between the two conductors in 120VAC wiring?

With DC wiring, there is an obvious, positive 'hot' wire and negative/ground wire. In AC wiring is there still such a concept as a single 'hot' wire? If yes, why is this since either wire will be at ...
9
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1answer
3k views

What type of connector is this and how do I remove it?

I was trying to install a ceiling fan in my apartment and came across these connectors when removing the light. What is this and how do I take it off?
9
votes
1answer
945 views

How do I get to the wall cavity above a double floor joist from below?

I am running some new romex for a couple of electrical outlets. One of the outlets is on one side of a wall in one bedroom and the other outlet is on the other side of the wall in another bedroom. ...
8
votes
3answers
6k views

How do I install an electrical outlet on a live circuit?

In my dorm room closet, there is a junction box with a blank plate (no outlet). Inside there are three wirenuts (hot, neutral, ground). I know it is generally unsafe to do any work on a live ...
8
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5answers
19k views

What are the different gauges of electrical wire available?

What are the different gauges of electrical wire available for homes and how do you determine which gauge you should be using? If it helps, I'm wondering specifically about recommendations as I finish ...
8
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5answers
3k views

Why do electricians prefer not to use the push-in connections on receptacles?

Why do electricians prefer not to use the back-stab or quick connect holes on switches and receptacles? If these were unreliable do you think they would be allowed by the NFPA and NEC?
8
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4answers
1k views

How can I automatically disconnect a coffee maker and space heater without tripping the building's 20A circuit breaker?

My small office has a 20A breaker and we have to run a space heater in the winter or else we freeze to death. Whenever someone turns on the coffee maker, the office circuit breaker trips and ...
8
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5answers
1k views

Can I replace my ungrounded / two prong outlets, or should I have a professional do this type of a thing?

They're all two prong except a select few in the kitchen. Is this a project I could take on with NO electrical experience other than minor soldering, or is this something I should not attempt? ...
8
votes
2answers
4k views

How can I stop bulbs from buzzing when dimmed?

I've got some hanging lights with "Fat Albert" bulbs that are plugged into a dimmer switch. When they're dimmed to certain levels, the bulbs make a soft buzzing sound. The buzz is amplified and ...
8
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3answers
640 views

Is a GFCI receptacle device a circuit breaker? [duplicate]

I have been told that a GFCI receptacle is a "circuit breaker" in the sense that it will trip under overload. Everything I know, have been told, and have read from experts to manufacturers says this ...
8
votes
7answers
24k views

Is there an NEC-compliant method of repairing minor damage to electrical wire insulation without a junction box?

While trying to pry loose a stubborn cable staple that fastens a 14-gauge electrical cable to a stud, I accidentally tore a very small hole through both the outer jacket and the insulation around the ...
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6answers
6k views

Should I switch from propane to electric heat?

After a downright frightening heating bill, I am thinking of switching to electric heat. I want this to be as little impact to the house as possible. I currently live in a 1100 sq ft manufactured home ...
8
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1answer
1k views

Is some asymmetry in a breaker box normal? What about neutral to ground having voltage?

So, next in my quest to evaluate the health of my new home's electrical system, and call in professionals if needed, was some voltage checking of the panels/outlets around the house. What I have is a ...
8
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3answers
11k views

Are extension cords safe for permanent use?

I recently learned (via a rant from an electrician's son and some internet research) that the standard buy-anywhere cheapo extension cords are a big cause of electrical fires and are not recommended ...
8
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4answers
9k views

Is an LED light strip safe to use under a bed?

I see a lot of RGB LED light strips being sold on sites like Amazon etc. The lights appear to be of decent quality, run off of 12V but do need up to 5-6 Amps to power. This is a lot of current, so ...
8
votes
1answer
31k views

How can I make an outlet switched?

I thought all I had to do to make an outlet switched was to break off the tab between the hot wires. Needless to say when I did that, the fan previously controlled by the switch quit working all ...
8
votes
1answer
50k views

Is it normal to have a light switch setup using only the hot wire?

I was changing the light switches around the house when I came upon this setup. The two switches to the right are all wired using the hot wire (black) from the two electrical wires on the back panel. ...
8
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3answers
1k views

Wall dimmer switch is warm to the touch after leaving the light on - cause for concern?

Our house is about 25 years old, though we have lived here less than 2. Our master bath has a dual light switch, one for the main light bar over the sinks and one for the lights above the shower ...