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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7answers
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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
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3answers
821 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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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?
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7answers
19k 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 ...
7
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5answers
11k 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: ...
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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
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4answers
976 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 ...
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4answers
4k 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 ...
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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 ...
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4answers
16k 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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3answers
633 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 ...
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2answers
418 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 ...
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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
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2answers
604 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?
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4answers
5k 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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2answers
702 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
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2answers
1k views

Is it ever safe to have 14 gauge wire anywhere on a circuit proected by a 30 amp breaker?

I was doing some work in an old house I recently moved into, and found that my dishwasher and garbage disposal (and some outlets near them) are on a 30 amp breaker. However, some of the electrical ...
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2answers
727 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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3answers
4k 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
852 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
21k 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
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2answers
493 views

Why were only some of my tools damaged when connected to a 240V receptacle?

I live in the US and recently bought a home. There are several electrical outlets in my garage. I have recently had two tools that have burned up and gone to an early grave. It turns out that the ...
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2answers
5k 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 ...
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2answers
594 views

Will security system wiring cause interference in data cables?

Is it acceptable to run 22/4 security wire along side Cat6 and Coax cables, or is there any possibility for interference?
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2answers
1k 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 ...
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1answer
21k views

Light switch setup using only hot wire. Is it normal?

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 wire on the back panel. ...
7
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1answer
2k views

What's the difference between a childproof outlet and a normal one?

I was reading the latest entry on this blog and I saw that she'd mentioned that they'd installed some child-proof outlets. But they don't look any different from normal outlets to me! What's the ...
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3answers
2k 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
2k views

How should I go about fixing a faulty 240 V Electrical Outlet

This afternoon, my wife and I noticed a peculiar smell coming from the garage. We localized it to a faulty 3-wire 240 V outlet. Something got really hot resulting in part of the rubber melting on ...
7
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2answers
2k views

How do you protect romex at the end of an EMT run?

Sometimes you need to run a circuit through both protected & unprotected space. For example, you might put a recep in workshop (unfinished walls = unprotected) over a crawlspace (protected). To ...
7
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2answers
8k views

Can I install an additional breaker bus bar on my main breaker panel?

I'm adding several new circuits to my main electrical panel as part of a kitchen remodel. The panel with accommodate the new circuit breakers, but it does not appear to have enough neutral and ground ...
7
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2answers
44k views

What wire gauge do I need for a 100 Amp subpanel at the end of a 60' wire run?

I am adding an attached garage to my house. I'm going to be putting in a 100 Amp subpanel which is about 60 feet away and run through the basement joists. What gauge wire do you recommend for ...
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2answers
1k views

What is a 'grounded neutral' and how bad is it?

I bought an electrical device a few months ago. A few weeks ago, it failed, complete with the release of magic smoke. I contacted the company, and they've had me mail it to them and have been ...
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2answers
1k views

Should switches in a kitchen area have GFCI protection?

Do the switches on the wall and over the counter areas have to be on a GFCI protected circuit? As there is live power at the switch all the time, I would think this to be true, but I'm not sure.
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1answer
2k views

How can I remove a switch and terminate a circuit in its place?

I have a switch that used to control outdoor lighting. It no longer does any more and I'd like to just leave it off permanently. Is there an easy way I can terminate it from within the gang box? ...
7
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1answer
1k views

What is the difference between an electronic and a magnetic ballast?

The ballast in my bathroom burned out (brand new bulb won't light up). Looking online, it seems that there are two different types of ballasts: electronic and magnetic. I recently replaced my ...
7
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2answers
366 views

What should I consider with new electrical lines in an old house?

When I had our breaker box rewired, I had the electrician run a few extra lines (disconnected in the panel into the attic). I now need to run one of them downstairs through a wall. Two questions: 1) ...
7
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3answers
12k 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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3answers
5k views

How do I install a one-way switch w/ pilot light?

I am trying to replace a very old one-way switch with a pilot light (light comes on when the switch is on). The original switch was extremely old, and used quick-install terminals ONLY. Even worse, ...
7
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4answers
3k 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 ...
7
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2answers
2k views

How can I determine if my outlets can easily be grounded?

I'm not sure what to do here. I just moved into a building and my outlets are all 2 prong outlets. Here is what I know of for sure: All the outlets are 2 prong outlets The bathroom outlet has the ...
7
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2answers
386 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
1k 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 ...
7
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1answer
34k 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, ...
7
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1answer
322 views

What are these clips on the wires in my junction box?

Are these clips just for protection? or are they connectors for something?
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2answers
1k views

Are tamper resistant outlets required in a cabinet with child proof latches?

Like many people, I have a dishwasher and a disposer, which are plugged into an outlet in the cabinet under the kitchen sink. Also like many, this is where I keep a whole host of cleaning products and ...
7
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1answer
53k 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 ...
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2answers
5k views

How much should it cost to add a circuit breaker?

In this question, I asked about problems between my circuit breaker for a circuit shared by my microwave and sump pump. The conclusion was that another circuit should be added to support the microwave ...
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4answers
2k views

How can I fill gaps in wall plates on an uneven backsplash?

We're having a new house built, and the kitchen backsplash that was just installed is a tumbled stone, which looks great, but isn't a flat surface. As a result, the wall plates for electrical outlets, ...
7
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1answer
1k views

Any reason not to ground the sheathing of MX wire?

Having recently bought an older house (c1943) I am doing a little work on the place. While rewiring a light switch I noted that there is newer Romex wiring from the distribution panel to the switch, ...