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
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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 ...
8
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3answers
1k 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 ...
8
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2answers
2k 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 ...
8
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2answers
4k 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
4k 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 ...
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2answers
10k views

There are bare copper wires in the light box?

I opened the light switches and electrical outlets on the walls before the painting job and found in the metal casing boxes there were two bare copper wires attached on the same screw, they were laid ...
8
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3answers
5k 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 ...
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2answers
246 views

What is an Arc Fault Circuit Interrupter?

What is an Arc Fault Circuit Interrupter (AFCI) and where should they be used?
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2answers
76k views

What do I do with the unused wire for ceiling fan installation?

I recently replaced my bedroom ceiling fan with a newer ceiling fan and with the old fan I could: Use one switch on the wall to turn on/off the light Use the other switch on the wall to turn on/off ...
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1answer
3k 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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2answers
2k views

How can I ground old 2-prong receptacles? (120V)

I have several old receptacles that are 2-prong. There is armored cable running from the breaker panel to each receptacle. What do I need to do in order to install and properly ground new 3-prong ...
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6answers
61k 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 ...
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2answers
2k 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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2answers
3k views

How do I run a wire underground to an outdoor post lamp?

I live in Geauga county Ohio. My question is three part. First what type of wire do I need to run from the house underground to a post lamp 100 feet away? Second,does it need to be in conduit and ...
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2answers
1k views

Can I plug a workbench mounted double gang outlet into a single gang wall outlet?

I'm thinking about building a workbench on one side of my garage, but I need more outlets for all of my tools. I'm not planning on running everything at once, I just don't want to keep unplugging ...
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4answers
5k views

Is this a “shared neutral” situation?

In 2001, some electricians added two circuits to my house in California. I took a close look at their wiring and had some questions. At the Service Panel, there are two 20-amp circuit breakers on the ...
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3answers
1k 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 ...
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4answers
6k views

Is it safe to touch the ground contact?

When plugging in a device in the dark, or behind furniture, it's hard to get the contacts aligned. It's tempting to put a finger on the end of a contact, use that finger to find the slot in the recep, ...
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1answer
2k 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** ...
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3answers
2k views

What are my options for installing 240v receptacles in an attached garage?

My workshop (attached garage) is currently wired with 120V 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
202 views

How should I route my Romex and Network cables and can I safely drill another hole through this joist?

I am trying to run a bunch of network cables from my network switch in the basement into the attic so that I can disperse them throughout the second floor bedrooms. At the same time, I needed to ...
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3answers
34k views

Does it matter which 3-way switch I put a dimmer at on a 4-way circuit?

I was working a side job today and re-wired quite a few 3 and 4-way circuits. I have a good understanding on how each work, but when I hooked up a 3-way dimmer on a 4-way circuit, the light would ...
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1answer
520 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. ...
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1answer
2k 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 ...
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1answer
4k views

How can I replace 2-prong receptacles in a code compliant way?

I have some 2-prong non-grounding type receptacles, and I'd like to replace them with 3-prong grounding type receptacles. According to National Electrical Code, what are my options?
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3answers
4k views

What happens if I shave a little sliver off electrical wire with a utility knife?

I needed to replace an electrical wire with a longer one so I could move an electrical outlet. When I went to cut away the outer rubber cover of one of the wires with a utility knife (yes, dumb, I ...
8
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1answer
693 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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2answers
692 views

What is the correct way to attach a receptacle to a metal face plate?

4" metal face plates and box are very common for exposed wiring. Receptacles connect to the face plate instead of to the box, which is different than in a house. The face plate comes with a few screws ...
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4answers
2k views

When wiring two circuits through the same conduit, what wire coloring is required?

Problem I am wiring a septic control/alarm box to a subpanel. They are on the same post, so the wire run is through a short stretch of 3/4" flex conduit. There are two circuits required: a 240V for ...
8
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1answer
622 views

What is this thing with wires found on wall inside closet, and how do I remove it?

My 1950's-ish home in Pennsylvania has an addition built off of the kitchen (no idea when the addition was built). In this addition there is a closet I am remodeling. While taking down the wood ...
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4answers
9k views

Acceptable ground to neutral voltage?

First of all I'm pretty sure I know the theory behind the effect. I know about the inductive and capacitive coupling, about 3-phase balance problems and about ground bounce, so this question isn't ...
8
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1answer
4k 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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1answer
5k 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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1answer
114k views

What wire gauge should I use with a 30 amp breaker for a 220V welder?

I am installing an outlet in my garage for a 220v mig welder. The welder specs call for 30A breaker. The outlet for the welder is only 2 feet from the garage sub panel. The wiring refernece charts ...
8
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2answers
1k 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

What wire and conduit is required for an attached-garage subpanel?

To make my garage more usable as a workshop, I'm planning to add a subpanel which can feed a number of additional outlets. 60 amps would be plenty for my current needs, but I'd like to go with 100 so ...
8
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3answers
17k views

Are generator interlock kits permitted in residential applications?

There have been some questions on the site lately, that reference using interlock kits with portable generators. This has inspired me to read through article 702 Optional Standby Systems of the ...
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9answers
21k views

Does one need to be certified in order to do residential electrical work?

I have a Bachelor in electrical engineering, a lot of hands-on experience with electrical work, and I'm very familiar with NEC 2011 and electrical codes. Can I do residential electrical work without ...
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5answers
1k views

Is it possible to convert a switched light into an unswitched outlet?

I am installing an overhead automatic garage door opener. My only power source close to where I will be hanging the motor is an overhead light socket that is operated by a switch on the wall next to ...
7
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5answers
25k views

What types of electrical outlets are found in a typical home in the USA?

I do not live in the USA. If I were to buy a home in the USA, what are the key facts I should know about USA household electrical supply at outlets in homes? E.g. when buying a clothes dryer or other ...
7
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3answers
6k views

I modified a nail-in electrical box to use screws instead of nails. Is there some code that prevents that?

Ever since I dove into the electrical side of things with my project, I've encountered a bunch of code restrictions. One thing that wouldn't surprise me if it was a violation of code is what I've ...
7
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4answers
33k views

How can I tell if a circuit breaker is worn out?

I was installing a light and tripped the breaker (in retrospect, should have turned the breaker off before starting). When I finished installing it I reset the breaker and tried the light switch. ...
7
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6answers
21k views

Can two circuits' neutrals be tied together (not a single neutral wire, but two that have been connected)?

Related to but different from this question, I have two three-way switches in my house, which are in multi-gang boxes at the top and bottom of the staircase and control lights at the top and bottom ...
7
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4answers
635 views

Is Ground plug replacement necessary?

The ground prong on my backpack vacuum came off and stuck inside a wall outlet. Should I replace the plug or does the ground not matter much? The plug itself gets really hot now when I use the ...
7
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2answers
236 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 ...
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6answers
4k views

Nice looking on-wall wiring

I need to run some standard AC wiring for wall lights etc. in the living room and some telephone/broadband wiring too. The problem is I can't do it in-wall for various reasons. The only option I am ...
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3answers
1k views

Why am I getting strange results when using a power meter to measure CFLs?

Over the years we have replaced just about every bulb in the house with a CFL. But here is the problem. Our electric bill is going up and not down. When I moved here 3 years ago we spent about ...
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3answers
3k 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.
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2answers
839 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
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7answers
10k 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 ...