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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5answers
4k 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, ...
7
votes
2answers
9k 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 ...
13
votes
7answers
3k views

Is there a wall outlet power meter that I can interface with from a computer?

I'm wondering if there is a wall outlet power meter that I can somehow interface with from a computer. I'm aware of all the google power meter products, but those are for an entire house. I'm trying ...
3
votes
4answers
5k views

What is the proper wiring for a NEMA 14-30 240v receptacle?

We moved into a resale home, the previous owners had a Gas Dryer, we have an Electric. The laundry room has a NEMA 14-30 receptacle installed. I hooked up our brand new dryer and it didn't get power. ...
3
votes
1answer
291 views

Is it safe to simply replace a heating element in an electric water heater?

The bottom element in my water heater burned up. I took the bottom panel off, and everything inside was scorched - the insulation, the plastic cover, the thermostat - even the edges of the panel. The ...
1
vote
1answer
800 views

How practical is it is use a 6 Terminals junction box to extend a ring main?

Logically I can use 2, 3 terminal junction boxes, or a single 6 terminal junction box to extend a ring main (inserting a loop to the new socket(s) I am installing). However are there any practical ...
10
votes
3answers
2k 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.
10
votes
1answer
2k 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! ...
1
vote
2answers
1k views

Is there an easy way to strip twin and earth cable?

It seems whatever method I use I sometimes damage the wire and have to hope I have enough cable to have a 2nd try. Is there a method that works 100% of the time for someone that is not doing it every ...
6
votes
3answers
2k views

Is there an easy way to make a square hole in plaster/brick to put an electrical outlet box in?

I am about to fix a few new sockets, I can run the cables down the back of some built in cupboards, but would rather not use surface mounted sockets. I do not have a SDS drill, just a standard ...
1
vote
2answers
2k views

How do I mount a ceiling box in 4" thick ceiling?

I'm trying to install a ceiling light in two rooms that didn't previously have hard-wired lighting. After cutting a 4" hole for a circular ceiling box (using a hole saw attached to my drill) I'm ...
10
votes
1answer
9k 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 ...
3
votes
1answer
889 views

How do I secure wiring in an exterior electrical box?

When I replaced the GFCI in one of my exterior receptacles, I found that the installer had simply drilled a 3/4" hole through the house's wall and fed the cable through it and through the threaded ...
2
votes
2answers
667 views

Dusk to dawn light goes out when heat pump starts up

My pole dusk to dawn light goes out when my heat pump starts up. The lights in the house will flicker and the outside pole light goes out, then about 5 minutes later it come back on. When the heat ...
6
votes
2answers
4k views

What are the symptoms when 1 of the electric water heater elements goes kaput?

I suspect that something has gone awry with the electric water heater. We do get water that is plenty hot, but it doesn't seem to last as long as it used to. My suspicions are further aroused because ...
2
votes
3answers
4k views

What are some tools for diagnosing powerline networking problems?

We've had problems with a number of devices that communicate over power lines -- both the TED 5000 electricity monitor and most recently a pair of Netgear powerline networking adapters. I've tried a ...
1
vote
1answer
275 views

Repairing a Bosch 400W mixer [closed]

I broke my mixer a few weeks ago while preparing soup -- I guess I went a bit too hard on the motor, and a fuse must have burnt. This is exactly the model shown below over there, except that it's ...
8
votes
6answers
4k 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 ...
9
votes
8answers
5k 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 ...
4
votes
3answers
3k views

Do I need to ground my pool?

I am have a concrete pool installed and the builder attached a ground cable to the rebar before spraying the concrete. He told me it is up to us whether we want to ground it or not. Given the lights ...
4
votes
2answers
335 views

Alternatives to signal on power for home automation systems (such as UBP) - low-voltage circuits, wireless…?

I am kind of averse to using signal on power for home automation systems such as UBP as this seems to be shared with the outside world (I read somewhere that the signal can travel as far as the ...
11
votes
2answers
4k views

Can I change a 1-gang electrical box to a 2-gang electrical box?

I live in a house built in the 50's in Maryland, US. Each bedroom contains 4 electrical outlets - configured in two 1-gang electrical boxes on opposing walls. However, with all the modern ...
3
votes
2answers
603 views

What can I use to automatically turn off a bathroom heater after a fixed time?

I never want the heater in the bath to operate more than, say, one hour straight. I want a way to automatically turn it off after one hour of usage (in case I forget to turn that off), however, I ...
6
votes
3answers
4k views

How do I troubleshoot a water-heater?

Lately our hot water has been running out very quickly, a lot quicker than it used to. I have an Whirlpool electric water heater with 2 elements with the top element has a reset switch. I followed ...
13
votes
6answers
6k views

What is the right way to strip power wires?

I've been working with electrical circuits as a DIYer for years, including electronics and powerline work. But one thing I always feel like I do a terrible job at is stripping wires: both the outside ...
2
votes
2answers
233 views

What the heck is/was this keypad for?

I recently noticed this keypad on our front porch. As far as I can tell, it's not connected to anything. Does anyone know what it was for? A security system perhaps? Garage door?
12
votes
7answers
952 views

What's the least intrusive way to find out what's in a wall?

I'm getting ready to mount a flatscreen TV on our living room wall and would like to route various cables through it (e.g. surround sound speakers, HDMI, etc). I appreciate the AWESOME tips here, but ...
5
votes
3answers
3k views

How can I run an additional electrical circuit to a wall mounted TV?

I am in the in the planning phase of mounting my 50" plasma in my living room. The wall the TV is going on is an exterior wall (it should have insulation) and the interior side is already finished so ...
3
votes
4answers
4k views

How do I diagnose voltage fluctuations that affect my receiver?

I recently moved into a town house and have noticed that my home theater, in particular the receiver seems to freak out and show only snow when I turn on and off fans and other electrical appliances. ...
4
votes
4answers
2k views

Customizing christmas light strings

Generally, when hanging my christmas lights, I run a line around the gutters on my second floor. From there, I drop down and put a string across the roof line on the front porch of my house. This ...
3
votes
4answers
8k views

How do I protect a coax cable junction from outside weather?

I'm planning to re-arrange some coax cable lines in my house which will effectively require me to connect them to a 4-way splitter. The wifey would prefer these connections to take place in a ...
3
votes
3answers
2k views

Can I move the main breaker and the electrical meter?

I feel this is a no-brainer (in that I should probably get someone more qualified in to do this) but I thought I'd ask some opinions. I've just moved into a new place and one of the rooms is just big ...
26
votes
10answers
86k views

How long should I wait before plugging in a new refrigerator?

Today I received my new refrigerator, and I've been told not to plug it in until a couple of hours have gone by. Some people told me a couple of hours was enough, but others have told me up to 12 ...
8
votes
1answer
19k 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
votes
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 ...
2
votes
2answers
1k views

Does it matter where my furnace condensate pump gets power from?

The existing condensate pump for my furnace recently died. It was hard-wired directly into the electrical panel of the furnace but I was able to disconnect it. However, when looking for a new pump, ...
9
votes
1answer
2k 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 ...
5
votes
1answer
1k views

What is the primary function of the main breaker in a breaker box? How does it differ from other breakers?

Location: California | United States I'd like to better understand the roles of main breakers and sub-breakers. Why are there multiple levels of breakers? I suspect that sub-breakers are intended to ...
5
votes
2answers
2k views

Why doesn't the main breaker shut off power for house?

Location: California | United States I'm certain I'll need a licensed electrician for this but wanted to get thoughts on what could be going on. I recently noticed that power remains on in my house ...
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 ...
3
votes
1answer
3k views

Why is a light switch is buzzing at audible volume?

just noticed that a light switch (mechanical, not a dimmer; 220v 50hz) is buzzing at audible volume (can hear in 20cm), when both keys are on (first: traditional lightbulb, second: 23w energy saving ...
5
votes
3answers
350 views

What level of electrical service should I order, for new construction?

Starting from scratch here. A transformer on the street, no buildings on the land yet. I want to order temporary electrical service now, for use during construction. So we don't have to dig the ...
5
votes
1answer
166 views

Should I install tamper resistant receptacles

When changing out receptacles should I be installing tamper resistant receptacles? It seems that the 2008 NEC requires these devices to be installed for any new install, should I be installing them ...
8
votes
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 ...
5
votes
4answers
2k views

Are receptacle surge protectors a practical solution?

After mounting my television on the wall, I would like to put a receptacle behind it so the power cord will be hidden. While planning this I was trying to figure how to get a surge protector to be ...
5
votes
1answer
161 views

How do you replace a ballast?

We have fluorescent lights in our office and someone said that the ballast was bad. How can you replace a ballast?
8
votes
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 ...
7
votes
4answers
1k 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 ...
8
votes
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 ...
5
votes
3answers
514 views

What is a UFCL brand circuit?

I'm shopping for a combination vent fan/light for a bathroom, and some of the ones I've found state this: UL Listed for use over bathtubs and showers when connected to a GFCI protected branch ...