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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3answers
800 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
5answers
2k 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
votes
3answers
3k 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
7k views

How exactly does a 3-way switch work?

I just finished replacing all of the switches and outlets in my apartment, after fighting a long war with a weird 3-way switch. Needless to say, I won, but I'm still trying to grasp the concept of how ...
8
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2answers
3k views

What is the best option for hiding wires to wall mounted TV?

This is similar to this question, but in my case I'm not looking for the easiest solution but the most professional solution. I am torn between modular wall plates, and the type that just have a hole ...
8
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2answers
1k views

What kind of electrical outlet is this, and how do I replace it?

I have an electrical outlet which hasn't been reliable (the bottom one doesn't always have power unless you jiggle the plug), so I want to change it. I've changed a few plain outlets, but I found ...
8
votes
1answer
1k views

Can Romex (NM-B) be run through conduit?

A few days ago I asked an electrician if I could run Romex through conduit - he gave me a funny look and said "No, Romex is not allowed in conduit." When I searched online, there seems to be a wide ...
8
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3answers
2k views

Does the code inspector look at preexisting work, or only at recent work?

I would like to have my service panel upgraded from 50 to 200 amps by licensed electrician, but am worried about preexisting code violations. If I had it upgraded and a building code inspector came ...
8
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1answer
1k views

How can I determine the maximum wattage that I can hook up to a breaker?

All of my heating is on one breaker, 240V on a double pole breaker, each marked 20A (it's a small condo). I wonder how I can determine the maximum wattage I can hook up to that breaker.
8
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1answer
714 views

How do I wire this motor with 240V?

I have 240 plug with a switch dedicated for Air compressor. I have compressor that supposedly can be wired for 240V 2 pictures show sticker and current wiring. How do I update wiring to make it 240V? ...
8
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7answers
3k views

Home light switch circuit with 5 switches

I'm new to the amazing wold of electronics and starting out small. I think... Early 2010 me and the wife bought a house that was build in 1979. Now I started replacing light switches and encountered ...
8
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3answers
1k 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 ...
8
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2answers
999 views

What should I do about this fixture brace?

I'm preparing to hang a ceiling fan fixture in a bedroom. I need to remove an old ceiling light's electrical box and brace first, however I don't see how I can remove them. The brace has limbs which ...
8
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3answers
513 views

Are there any differences in the quality of products sold at contractor's supply store vs. big box hardware stores?

We are in the early stages of building a new house & went shopping for lighting fixtures yesterday. We get an allowance from the builder which we know will be used up very quickly after visiting ...
8
votes
1answer
1k views

Should I install my own electrical service panel or hire an electrician?

I'm getting electrical service to bare land. This is not temporary service but permanent remote service to a pressure treated 6" x 6" post instead of a building. I already have covered the work to ...
8
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2answers
2k 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, ...
8
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2answers
1k views

What are my options for installing 220v receptacles in an attached garage?

My workshop (attached garage) is currently wired with 110V receptacles fed from the main panel in the house by #10/3 with ground (1 black, 1 red, 1 white, 1 ground) attached to a double-pole 30A ...
8
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3answers
2k 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 ...
8
votes
1answer
197 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 = ...
8
votes
1answer
538 views

Can I use Romex in an unfinished basement or attic?

I am asking in reference to articles 382.2 & 382.12 in the 2008 edition of NFPA-70. The following definition appears to me to be describing Romex (NM-type) cabling: **382.2 Definitions** ...
8
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3answers
373 views

How should I rewire this situation?

In my dinning room, I have this: There is a wire run going up through the floor from the basement. It then goes outside the wall, around a stud (or studs, I'm can't tell there is more than one), back ...
8
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1answer
370 views

Is it worth it to replace old style breakers with GFCI or AFCI breakers?

I have older wiring on my house (2-wire) BX. And while it's all in good condition, and I do check the outlets monthly to make certain it's still grounded, I'm wary of the BX sheathing as the ground. ...
8
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1answer
1k views

Is there an average number of outlets that are wired off of one circuit breaker?

I recently demolished my basement to start a reconstruction/improvement project. My first horror was the electrical layout. I've got hidden junctions, mismatched wire sizes, improper junctions and ...
8
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1answer
476 views

Can I have multiple GFCIs on one circuit?

I have a 70s kitchen with a very long countertop. I understand that I only need one GFCI to protect the downstream outlets (for example near the sink). However, I decided instead to install 3 separate ...
8
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6answers
16k views

Can I connect ground to neutral in a 3 wire outlet?

I have a 3 wire outlet with the entrances for hot, neutral and ground. But I know that the ground entrance is not really grounded, so in effect useless. Now, since the neutral is grounded, could I ...
8
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4answers
3k views

Is “don't mix data and power cables” and “don't loop power cables” still valid nowadays?

There are two sayings I keep hearing when talking about wiring e.g. home cinema or computer hardware; Don't wrap data/network cables and power cables up in the same loop because the power cables ...
8
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3answers
993 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 ...
8
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1answer
467 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?
8
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1answer
1k views

How can I trace cable through floors and walls?

How can I work out where an electrical cable runs through walls/floors? I am building a circuit map of a 1941 house with unfinished basement. I shut off all circuits at the main service panel, switch ...
8
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2answers
673 views

Large voltage swing on incoming main hot line- definitely outside?

So for much of last fall, I had an issue of flickering lights in my house (half of the house seemed to flicker in unison). Back in December, I called the electric company, who came out, and claimed ...
8
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1answer
2k views

Can I extend an electrical ground wire with a copper wire crimp?

I am working with an electrical socket and I need extra length on the ground wire. It doesn't seem unreasonable that I can attach an extra three inches to the existing one and attach it with a copper ...
8
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3answers
4k 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 ...
8
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2answers
428 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 ...
7
votes
10answers
11k views

When wiring outlets should I use pigtails or both sets of outlet screws?

I'm replacing the outlets in our house and pulled out one that had two black and two white cables. My first thought was that it was two circuits, one of them being switched, but then realized the tab ...
7
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2answers
3k 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 ...
7
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2answers
212 views

Is it a good idea to chisel out the edge of rafters for wires?

I am wondering if it is a good idea to chisel out the edge of rafters for wires? We want to floor our garage attic, and there are wires criss-crossing on top of the rafters. Update: These are regular ...
7
votes
2answers
405 views

How do I upgrade a conventional switch to a dimmer?

I have a single pole light switch (I guess that means 1 switch controls the light?). The top switch turns the light on, the bottom switch turns the fan on. I bought a dimmer, that has a black screw, ...
7
votes
7answers
4k views

How is it that two breaker switches control the same things?

Forewarning: I don't know that much about electrical terms, so please excuse any mistakes I've possibly made. I recently moved the TV in my living room and ran a new line for the electricity to the ...
7
votes
3answers
413 views

What is my dryer's fourth prong for?

We just moved and had to change plugs on the dryer from 3 prongs to 4. What is the fourth prong for? I know about positive, negative and ground, but I can't think of why a fourth would be needed.
7
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1answer
1k views

Why would a single electric receptacle stop working?

A single receptacle suddenly stopped providing electricity in my living room. It is not a GFCI. The other outlets work fine and the circuit breaker didn't trip. Any ideas?
7
votes
5answers
7k 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: ...
7
votes
1answer
11k 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 ...
7
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4answers
941 views

Is a timed electrical switch causing vent fan to run slower / with less power?

I bought this timed electrical switch and used it to replace a standard switch that turned on my bathroom vent fan (I'm always forgetting to turn it off and it often will run all day.) after the ...
7
votes
4answers
772 views

What should I do with a double gang box if I no longer need two separate switches?

We're relocating our TV to a side of our living room that has a power outlet controlled by a wall switch. The switch is part of a double gang box (1 switch controls the porch light, the other ...
7
votes
4answers
3k views

Can I replace an outlet that uses knob and tube wiring with a grounded outlet?

Can I replace an outlet that uses knob and tube wiring with a grounded outlet? Obviously the best choice would be to replace the old wiring. Is there a standard way to ground these outlets? Do I need ...
7
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3answers
9k 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 ...
7
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2answers
954 views

Are there any “easy” ways to trace a home electrical system?

We bought a home a few months ago, and the electrical panel (and subpanel) are completely unlabelled. We have no way, short of flipping breakers, to know what breaker powers which fixtures. Is there a ...
7
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3answers
379 views

How can I ensure portable generator success during a long natural disaster?

I live in the SF Bay Area. My house is blocks from the Hayward Fault, where a large earthquake is likely during my lifetime. Along with the usual disaster-prep things (water, food, etc.) I'm ...
7
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3answers
2k views

Can I use two wire nuts instead of one to connect 6 wires inside a 3-gang box?

Is it considered acceptable practice to use two wirenuts in a situation where it is possible to use only one but may be easier to use two? I have a three-gang box with six cables coming into it. The ...
7
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2answers
382 views

What could be causing this electrical issue?

The problem occurs within one particular unit of an apartment complex. All other units are fine. The problem has gradually gotten worse. All electricity within the house will flicker on and off. It is ...