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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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 ...
7
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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 ...
7
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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, ...
7
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2answers
2k views

How can two different breakers both turn off the same circuit?

I have a 40 yr old home with circuit breakers. While looking for the breaker to turn off a circuit (I was replacing a light switch), I found that two breakers, on the same side of the bus, but ...
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3answers
10k 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
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1answer
828 views

Ceiling fan switch replacements

I have 2 ceiling fans that were in my house when I moved in. Both fans have recently had the pull strings torn out of the switch. I took the fans apart, and wrote down the information on the switch, ...
7
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2answers
389 views

Why only a few volts between the legs of a 240 V 3-wire dryer outlet?

I installed a new dryer in our house. It runs but won't heat. It has a 240V 3 wire connection. There is a 30 amp double pole breaker installed in the breaker box. (the box is very old) I've read ...
7
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1answer
384 views

How should this circuit be properly grounded?

I am hiring an electrician to do the work so my question is more for my education and helping me ask the proper questions to the perspective contractors. Purchased a condo recently and want to put in ...
7
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2answers
399 views

Do I need junction boxes where conduit containing data cables terminates?

I'm going to be running 1" blue PVC conduit from all my low voltage boxes to a structured wiring panel. My wiring panel will chase to the attic where necessary and I was wondering what the best ...
7
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2answers
1k views

Are there energy saving lamps which work with touch/electronic dimmers, timers, etc.?

Dimmable energy saving bulbs are usually labeled as "Use only with standard dimmers. Not to be used with touch dimmers, electronic dimmers, timers, ..." After reading ...
7
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2answers
449 views

What is the best short-term solution for fused neutrals?

I have inherited a house that has been in my wife's family since 1860. I do not know when it was electrified, but it seems to have skipped knob and tube. There is a lot of fabric-covered wire, and ...
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8answers
6k views

Why does my smoke detector chirp when my bathroom lights are turned on?

We have an wired smoke detector that is right outside a bathroom. Often, when we turn on the lights in the bathroom, the smoke alarm will chirp. The bathroom used to have a fixture with 4 40-watt ...
6
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2answers
765 views

How do I run a 3 Phase/1hp TEFC motor off of a regular household outlet?

I recently bought a brand new TECO-Westinghouse Electric motor . 3 phase HP: 1 Volts : 208-230/460 RPM: 1750 HZ: 60 Fr: 56 Cat no: ZA.0014TE2/56 Type : AEFAZA Enclosure : TEFC I would like to run ...
6
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4answers
11k 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. ...
6
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7answers
287 views

Projects to Pursue while Studs are Bare?

I'm stripping my small 950 sq. ft. 1950's-era home to the studs -- walls and ceiling -- so that I can install a vapor barrier and insulation in the walls and ceiling. While I have the studs available ...
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5answers
13k views

Is there an NEC-compliant method of repairing minor damage to electrical wire insulation without a junction box?

While trying to pry loose a stubborn cable staple that fastens a 14-gauge electrical cable to a stud, I accidentally tore a very small hole through both the outer jacket and the insulation around the ...
6
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3answers
578 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 ...
6
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2answers
4k views

Why are my downlights constantly blowing?

I have a strip of 3 downlights in my living room, and I am constantly changing globes. Usually two of the globes blow in the first day or two of use, but the third globe will last much longer (at ...
6
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2answers
767 views

Outdoor electrical outlet exposed to the rain

Besides tripping a circuit breaker, is there any risk created by a 120V electrical outlet getting wet from the rain? The outlet was installed on an outdoor patio by the builder, so it was intended to ...
6
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3answers
700 views

Why is my power flickering across multiple circuits?

I woke up this morning and went downstairs to find that none of the lights would come on (lights were working fine upstairs). My first instinct was thinking that a breaker had tripped, so I went to ...
6
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2answers
4k views

How do I install this flush-mount ceiling light?

I bought a new flush-mount ceiling light and am having a tough time figuring out how to get it installed. The instructions that came with it are completely useless. Here are all of the pieces that ...
6
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4answers
2k views

How Do I Plan for an Intrusion Detection System?

I would like to plan for an intrusion detection system in a home that is currently under construction. The home has a walkout basement that is sloping, shown in the rear elevation picture shown ...
6
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7answers
50k views

How to detect whether there is a signal on TV cable

I'm not receiving TV in my room and the cable guy has determined that there is no signal on my coax outlet in the wall. There is a signal in other rooms, so there must be a broken or disconnected ...
6
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5answers
10k 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 ...
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2answers
4k 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 ...
6
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5answers
750 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 ...
6
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2answers
541 views

Does lamp maximum wattage matter for CF bulbs? [duplicate]

Say I have a table lamp that states (via a slightly scary sticker) that it takes a 60W max bulb. Of course, that was based around incandescent wattages. Is there any risk with putting in a CF bulb ...
6
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4answers
8k 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. ...
6
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1answer
3k views

GFCI outlet won't come on

I have a couple recently installed (By a professional licensed electrician) GFCI outlets outside a barn, both on their own circuit. Both have water trough heaters plugged into them - 1500 watts each. ...
6
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1answer
547 views

What do I need to replace 4 light switches on the same circuit?

So we have a single light in our living room that can be turned on/off from four different switches at various entrances to the living room. We're currently replacing all the switches in our house as ...
6
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3answers
8k views

What could be causing GFCI breakers and receptacles to trip?

I have a two wire system and after installing GFCI outlet in kitchen I realized there is a problem with some type of inconsistancy causing the GFCI to trip as soon as power is sent to it. Thinking the ...
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3answers
2k views

Can I run a ground wire of a single circuit to the panel outside the house?

This is a follow-up to this question. I am adding (outlets) on to a 2-wire 12AWG (no ground) circuit and I want the new outlets grounded. Can I run a ground wire to the panel along the outside of ...
6
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7answers
4k views

How important is circuit breaker breaking capacity?

All else being equal circuit breakers can have different "breaking capacity" - it's the maximum current which the breaker can disconnect and it's typically several thousand amperes. The idea is that ...
6
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3answers
2k 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 ...
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2answers
1k 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 ...
6
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2answers
2k views

Why does using a dimmer with this ceiling fan and lights cause energy saving bulbs to flicker?

At a hotel I manage we purchased 34 ceiling fans with two integrated light sockets that operate on a dimmer all controlled by a remote control. Obviously using a dimmer with fluorescent bulbs won't ...
6
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2answers
2k views

How do I install a new exterior GFI outlet?

I have an interior outlet. I would like to place an exterior (GFI) outlet in approximately the same position on the outside wall. How should I do that? approx. loc. of desired outlet-| ...
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1answer
3k views

What is a split bus panel, and how do I recognize it in the field?

I'm having trouble identifying a split bus panel. I design and install Solar systems, and lately (after Mr Wiley gave a few seminars to local inspectors) the local authority having jurisdiction (AHJ) ...
6
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2answers
1k views

How do I fix my double tapped outside electric panel?

I recently had a 4 point inspection and the inspector detected an electric hazard. As shown on the picture the power line goes from the meter to the panel with the main switch and from there into the ...
6
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2answers
4k views

Blown fuse replaced, still no power

Yesterday a contractor was doing work in our bedroom. At one point he plugged in a hammering drill and when he used it it blew the fuse. We confirmed the 15amp fuse was dead but I didn't have a ...
6
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2answers
7k views

Are electrical outlets usually positioned on studs?

I lack a studfinder at the moment, and I'm considering getting a wall lamp that I think is just too chic. However, I live in an apartment, meaning any holes that I drilled would need to be filled in. ...
6
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1answer
3k views

Insufficient voltage to dryer receptacle; what next?

I just moved into a home and I am hooking up a used dryer (which I'm told works). The dryer spins, but I get no heat. I bought a multimeter, and it tells me that the receptacle provides insufficient ...
6
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4answers
13k views

Why are homes wired using solid wire rather than stranded?

If stranded wire can carry more power for a given wire gauge, why are homes typically wired using solid? If solid wire is less expensive to make, that provides a compelling reason why solid is used, ...
6
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1answer
933 views

What causes a partial blackout?

Last night, my neighborhood had a blackout, but for some reason, only half of the electrical circuits in my house went out. I was under the impression that there was only one main electrical feed ...
6
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1answer
2k views

What is a ring main?

What is a ring main and why are they used in the UK but not elsewhere?
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1answer
237 views

Is it okay two breakers are controlling the same outlets and appliances?

To be specific, we recently had some electrical work done. The electrician added a second panel. He left without labeling anything. So today I've been testing outlets and switches trying to figure out ...
6
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5answers
8k views

Why would my TV image turn black when electrical appliances turn on?

I have my computer connected to my TV via HDMI. Every time something electrical happens (fridge turns on, stove sparks, etc), the image on the TV goes black for a second and then comes back on. And ...
6
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1answer
469 views

Is it reasonable to create a 30amp branch circuit for the purpose of feeding the panel from a generator?

I recently purchased an 8kW generator (Briggs and Stratton). It has a 4-wire twist lock outlet that can handle 30 amps. Suppose I were to: Run a 10/3 NM cable from the panel in the basement out to ...
6
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2answers
1k views

Is a special outlet or wiring needed when replacing an electrical outlet under a gas fireplace.?

The outlet under our gas fireplace that runs the blower fan has a short in it, and needs to be replaced. I have replaced a few standard wall outlets and was thinking of doing this one myself too, but ...