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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38
votes
4answers
48k views

How can I fix electrical outlets that don't “hold” plugs that are plugged in to them?

In short, most of the outlets in my house have one working receptacle and one that any cord plugged in will immediately slip out of. Some of my outlets don't have any working receptacles (I hope I'm ...
4
votes
3answers
7k views

Which outlet box should I use for an unfinished basement?

I want to install a 15-amp AC receptacle in my basement between the ceiling joists. The basement's not finished so there's plenty of room to play around. Should I be installing a "new work" new ...
0
votes
1answer
8k views

Why has my garbage disposal started tripping the breaker every time?

I have never had a problem with my garbage disposal or that circuit before, however I am now having issues with it. Every time I turn it on, it immediately trips the breaker. I'm not even sure how to ...
5
votes
2answers
4k views

Is this 2 way light switch wired dangerously?

One of the switches in this 2 way setup has been acting up, I popped it off to replace it and it's wired like this: The only configuration I know of that is like this is the Carter system. Is this ...
4
votes
2answers
3k views

How do I connect to a ground wire with no ends?

Story time: I'm trying to put a new fan in my bedroom where previously there was only a light-fixture. When I take off the light fixture, the light is connected to a brown wire (instead of black) and ...
7
votes
2answers
403 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) ...
1
vote
2answers
8k views

How do I test a furnace limit switch?

When my thermostat reaches the desired temperature, the furnace fan shuts off briefly, then cycles on and off a few times. Several internet posts pointed me to the limit switch, which seems to make ...
3
votes
3answers
3k views

How long will a treated post last in the ground?

The power company says I can put my permanent service entrance on a 6" x 6" pressure treated post. My friend suggested I consider a metal post sunk in concrete, for greater longevity. How long should ...
6
votes
5answers
12k views

Can a mix of receptacles and light fixtures be installed on a single circuit?

A while ago we had some renovations done in our house. After the electrician was done, we realized we now had one light switch in our kitchen that was no longer connected to anything. It is in a ...
10
votes
1answer
2k views

Should I install my own electrical service panel or hire an electrician?

I'm getting electrical service to bare land. This is not temporary service but permanent remote service to a pressure treated 6" x 6" post instead of a building. I already have covered the work to ...
6
votes
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-| ...
5
votes
1answer
19k views

Is it ok to wire light switches and lights with 12/2 cable?

It sounds like light switches and lights are usually wired with 14/2 cable. Is it okay to use 12/2 cable instead? Would I need special switches?
9
votes
5answers
29k views

Why does my shower switch keep burning out?

I have a Mira Shower 10.8 kW. My switch is a 45A switch. I have a 50A fuse for the shower. The shower uses 10mm2 cable. 9 months ago the switch sparked and refused to turn off and the fuse ...
4
votes
1answer
3k views

Is it okay that a Leviton 9860-LHG CFL lampholder has no ground wire?

For code-compliance reasons, I'm planning to replace an old-school porcelain bare-bulb light fixture in a closet with a Leviton 9860-LHG lampholder that I bought a few years ago but never got around ...
2
votes
1answer
383 views

Better life span for halogen bulbs in ceiling lighting?

The halogen bulbs for our recessed ceiling spotlights have to be replaced quite often. Could we be using the wrong transformer/bulb combinations? How would I find out? Does the number of bulbs ...
3
votes
1answer
461 views

new mini CFLs don't seem to fit/work in fixtures?

In our bathroom we have a 6 light bar over the sink, it has 6 standard edison style screw in sockets in brass plated cups, and no shades, just bare bulbs. It's very similar to this light. Not long ...
7
votes
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 ...
4
votes
1answer
241 views

Buzz in the phone

Why do I get a loud buzz in my telephone when the overhead fluorescent lights are on in my kitchen and can it be fixed?
3
votes
4answers
8k views

Why won't my AC system turn off after I flipped the breaker?

We've got a central cooling air conditioner that was installed in 1984 with a thermostat from that same year. We are replacing the thermostat with a new programmable one (which has a 100% ...
8
votes
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 ...
16
votes
4answers
18k views

Is there a way to simply splice in an additional length of 12/2 NM-B cable?

Is there a way without using junction boxes to simply splice in additional length of 12/2 NM-B cable? Can I use twist caps? I'm putting in a dog door and as it so happens, there is some 12/2 right in ...
9
votes
3answers
2k views

Why did my electric bill climb suddenly?

So we had a little mishap a couple of months ago involving some flooding. We had some folks come in and "dehydrate" our house. It involved lots of fans running for a couple of weeks. We expected ...
3
votes
1answer
2k views

How do I differentiate between ground and neutral in black-white-red wiring?

I'm hooking up a dishwasher and failed to check wiring before I removed the old one. Black - Red = 120v Black - White = 120v Red - White = 0v. So obviously Red and white are Neutral and Ground. How ...
3
votes
1answer
133 views

How come the temperature is sometimes not maintained?

First let me come right out and say that I am a software guy and this seems like a hardware problem, so I already feel out of my league. That said, here's the deal: Background: I have two-zone "hot ...
2
votes
3answers
10k views

Is there such thing as a 4-way dimmer?

I have a 4-way switch I want to replace with a dimmer. I understand I can put the dimmer at one of the other 3-way switches, but they're more out of the way. Does such a device exist? If not, what ...
15
votes
13answers
4k views

How do I prepare my home for a power outage?

With several storms in the Northeast United States and more storms predicted this week, there have been lots of extended power outages. What are things to do to prepare your house for a power outage ...
9
votes
5answers
6k 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
11k 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 ...
4
votes
4answers
7k 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
307 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
885 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
3k 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
3k 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
2k 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
3k 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
10k 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
989 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
753 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
5k 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
389 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
5k 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
6k 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
4k 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
349 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
5k 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
707 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
5k 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
9k 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 ...