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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4answers
37k 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
23k 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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9answers
887 views

Does a receptacle have to supply the max current that it is rated for?

Suppose you come across a L5-30R (120V, 30A receptacle) somewhere. By spec, can you assume that there will be 30 amps at it? Follow up: if you come across a L6-30R (250v, 30A), does it have to ...
7
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4answers
1k views

Reverse polarity on outlets, any negative side-effects?

I've lived in a variety of different places where polarities have been different on a per-outlet basis, ie the neutral is where the hot should be. I've never noticed any ill effects from this. Are ...
7
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3answers
10k views

Does turning circuit breakers off cause wear?

A comment over on another SE got me thinking. With screw-in fuses, unscrewing it and then later screwing it back in causes negligible wear on either part of the installation. But what about modern ...
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4answers
723 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
241 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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5answers
65k views

Can different gauge wiring be used in the same circuit?

I am extending a lighting and outlet circuit in a basement. The current setup has the following characteristics 15 amp. circuit breaker (200 amp service) 4 existing lighting fixtures using CFL bulbs ...
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6answers
6k 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
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3answers
2k 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 ...
7
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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
897 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
11k 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
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4answers
9k 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
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4answers
3k 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
3k 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 ...
7
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5answers
42k 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. ...
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4answers
2k 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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2answers
11k 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
747 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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3answers
3k 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
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1answer
5k views

How to open NM box knockouts?

I've found the knockouts in NM boxes hard to fully open. I've had trouble with both Carlon boxes and Madison Smart Boxes. The plastic molded to make the knockout is very resistant to actually being ...
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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
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2answers
546 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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3answers
2k 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 ...
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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
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1answer
4k 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
987 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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2answers
5k 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
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1answer
6k 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) ...
7
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2answers
14k 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
10k 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
3k 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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3answers
6k 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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9answers
37k 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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4answers
3k views

How to hang modern fixture over old square recessed box?

I purchased a home built in 1958 and a few rooms have these square recessed light boxes. I would like to hang a larger diameter modern flush-mount fixture over them, but I'm not sure what the way to ...
7
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1answer
32k views

Why did my electric range wiring burn out at the terminal block?

Turned on our 2 year old stove (Whirlpool Gold) and heard fizzing noises, then smelled electrical burning. Went downstairs and shut off the breaker (40 amp). That was the only way to get it to stop ...
7
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2answers
1k 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 ...
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2answers
935 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 ...
7
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3answers
3k 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 ...
7
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2answers
1k 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?
7
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3answers
3k views

Is it ever safe to have 14 gauge wire anywhere on a circuit protected 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 ...
7
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1answer
23k views

Why doesn't my GFI receptacle reset?

I have a GFI receptacle in my kitchen that feeds four other receptacles. It tripped the other day and I cannot get it to reset. All of the other receptables on the circuit are not functioning which ...
7
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1answer
3k 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 ...
7
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2answers
2k views

Why is my light switch leaking electricity?

I have a home built in 1950 and a laundry room added sometime in the unknown future. There is a light switch that seems to be emitting electricity according to my Fluke voltage tester. I noticed it ...
7
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2answers
14k views

Why does my fluorescent light fixture take minutes to turn on in high heat and humidity?

Our kitchen fixture won't come on for 3 to 5 minutes when the temperature goes over 90°F (32.2°C) and 90% humidity. It flickers and only reaches 80% brightness after that. It will occasionally ...
7
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2answers
4k 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
13k 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
4k views

Can an electrical subpanel go underneath plumbing?

I was about to wire up my new basement subpanel when I realized I had put it directly under a toilet. I don't think this is a code violation. I can relocate it with some difficulty. I'm also ...
7
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1answer
11k views

How many cables are you allowed to run through a single hole in a wooden floor joist?

How many cables are you allowed to run through a single hole in a wooden floor joist? For example, could I run five 12-2 cables through a 1-1/8" hole? I know they physically fit, but is there a code ...