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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8
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2answers
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
votes
3answers
24k 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 ...
8
votes
1answer
474 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
votes
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 ...
8
votes
1answer
2k 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?
8
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3answers
3k 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
votes
1answer
642 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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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
525 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 ...
8
votes
4answers
7k 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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3answers
5k 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 ...
8
votes
1answer
3k 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
votes
1answer
4k 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
votes
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
votes
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
votes
3answers
10k 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
votes
3answers
14k 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 ...
7
votes
9answers
15k 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 ...
7
votes
3answers
5k 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
votes
4answers
504 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
votes
6answers
16k 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
votes
2answers
232 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
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6answers
2k 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 ...
7
votes
3answers
2k 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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2answers
694 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
8k 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
1answer
2k 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
4answers
7k 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
votes
4answers
1k 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
2k 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
2answers
7k views

Is it unsafe if some three prong outlets don't properly test as grounded?

It's me again -- the pest ;-) On the general inspection report for the house we're looking at buying, there's a note about the house's electrical: Some three prong outlets did not test properly ...
7
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2answers
653 views

Are two prong metal space heaters safe?

I've had this electric space heater for probably about twenty years. Its one of those long and thin ones that does not have a fan. It is a convectron by slant fin model cve 1500. The plug is two ...
7
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2answers
1k 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
votes
3answers
952 views

What do volts and amps imply for angle grinders?

I have several home improvement projects that would be made enormously easier if I had a decent angle grinder with both grinding and cutting wheels to attach to it. But I've never used or bought one ...
7
votes
2answers
1k views

Is a negative reading from a non-contact voltage detector sufficient?

I'm a beginner at doing electrical work, and I want to make sure I'm not taking unnecessary risks. Let's say that I'm preparing to work on some wiring. I have a non-contact voltage detector that ...
7
votes
2answers
474 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 ...
7
votes
4answers
21k views

Why energy saving bulb flashes when the switch is off?

I have a energy saving spiral light bulb in my kitchen. In exactly every 27 seconds, the first segment of the bulb faintly flashes when the switch is off. And not once, repeatedly every 27 seconds. ...
7
votes
3answers
414 views

What can I do about electric code violations in a rental unit?

My fiance and I are currently renting an apartment in Baltimore, MD and recently we have become alarmed by much of the house's wiring. Things we have seen included: countless wires that are spliced ...
7
votes
3answers
7k 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 ...
7
votes
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 ...
7
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2answers
2k views

Why would turning on one breaker trip another?

Before rearranging the main living room, I replaced two 15A outlets that were previously hidden. (The new outlets are the kind that are hard for kids to jam things into.) After doing this I ...
7
votes
1answer
3k views

What's wrong with my wiring?

I purchased a Hampton Bay remote for our bedroom fan this weekend. I have it installed and mostly working correctly, but there is one nuisance that still remains. We have two switches on the wall, ...
7
votes
2answers
770 views

What does the inspector mean by “Hot and Neutral are not separated”?

In an inspection report on my house, the inspector said "hot and neutral" are not separated. I think he meant "neutral and ground" are not separated. I've attached the picture, is that the case?
7
votes
2answers
3k views

Why is there an arc when I pull a plug out of an outlet?

I notice that, on some of my (self-installed) power outlets, when I pull an appliance plug out of it, there is a small arc. This most frequently happens with an iron, which has no switch of its own ...
7
votes
2answers
10k views

AC/DC adapters making strange buzzing crackling noise in all house, what causes it?

Yesterday all of my AC/DC power supplies began making strange buzzing, crackling noise (quickly and intermittently repeated pops). First I thought that my computer's power supply is dying. So I ...
7
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4answers
8k views

Why would a CFL bulb dim by itself after 60 seconds?

I have some GE Energy Smart CFL bulbs which are advertised as "Bright from the Start". This is true, except within 60 seconds after I turn the bulbs on, they will dramatically and immeidately become ...
7
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3answers
5k views

How can I improve the wiring under the sink for a garbage disposal?

My vegetable sprayer line broke yesterday, which led me underneath my sink. It wasn't until I was kneeling in a large puddle of water with the line draining on me and the floor that I realized how bad ...
7
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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 ...
7
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8answers
30k views

How do I uninstall a receptacle when the wires are stuck?

I just installed a receptacle in my basement and I realized I need to reinstall it someplace else. The leads are inserted into the holes behind the receptacle and I can't get them out! The ...
7
votes
2answers
796 views

Why am I measuring decreased voltage between my dryer's neutral and hot conductors?

At the outlet: 40V - red to neutral (white) 40V - black to neutral (white) 230V - red to black 110V - red to ground 110V - black to ground At the circuit breaker: 230V - red to ...