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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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 ...
2
votes
2answers
235 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
1k 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
6answers
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
10k 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 ...
4
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 ...
28
votes
10answers
119k 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
25k 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
2k 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
3k 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
4k 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
369 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
2answers
203 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
171 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
2k 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
2k 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
534 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 ...
5
votes
2answers
2k views

I am removing some Knob and Tube wiring. Can I leave the NEUTRAL wires hanging in the walls?

I am renovating my bathroom. I am bringing in new circuits for all the electrical, and replacing the boxes. I will have no problem capping off/removing the live (black) knob and tube wires in boxes. ...
7
votes
4answers
7k 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 ...
0
votes
2answers
272 views

Furnace control board - interchangeable?

A few months ago, I had someone working on my outdoor a/c unit, and he accidentally shorted out the control board in the furnace (it's a Goodman gas furnace GKS91155DX). He replaced the board, and the ...
7
votes
2answers
232 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 ...
7
votes
8answers
30k 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 ...
3
votes
2answers
4k views

Can I install a 220V chandelier from Turkey on a Canadian 110V circuit?

I got a 70 years old chandelier from Turkey that is wired in 220V. The seller told me that the electric cable has been recently changed and that it will work in 110 or 220V. I'm in Canada where the ...
3
votes
3answers
5k views

Why is my two way dimmer switch not working?

So I am putting in a dimmer switch, replacing a simple single pole switch. It is a simple two way, single pole dimmer, should be pretty easy. The existing switch works fine. AFter installation, the ...
6
votes
3answers
3k views

Is this an acceptable way to add a light to a 3-way circuit?

I have three way switches at the top and bottom of my stairs. There is a light at the top of the stairs controlled by the switches and I wish to add a light at the bottom. A 14/2 runs first to the ...
3
votes
4answers
10k views

How do I install a receptacle box in lath/plaster wall?

I have a room with ungrounded electrical receptacles and I need to install a grounded outlet. The walls are lath and plaster. What I want to do is install a new receptacle box for the outlet. Is there ...
11
votes
3answers
3k views

Is this electrical junction up to code?

I was up in my attic a few days ago, and I noticed a pretty ugly electrical junction that wasn't in a junction box. Here's the pic: Is this up to code? FWIW I live in north Alabama, outside city ...
1
vote
1answer
88 views

Testing a transformer

I have a Comfort home control system. This takes 15V AC via a transformer (from 240V). It's been working for years, but last week the fuse blew. It's a 250mA fuse on the mains side of the transformer. ...
5
votes
1answer
952 views

What's the best/official way to draw a building's electrical system?

We are installing home automation systems, and we have serious problems with electricians. Short: they are stupid and lazy. So, we have to do something. There're some stories: We have a spreadsheet ...
6
votes
3answers
11k views

Can I safely power a three-prong electrical device from a light socket?

I have a covered lampholder (light socket) outside my house that I want to use to temporarily power a plug-in string of indoor/outdoor lights. Using CFLs, the total wattage of the string of lights ...
5
votes
7answers
4k views

How can I create circuit diagrams and what program should I use?

Circuit diagrams are very handy. On this site, they can really help illustrate the problem or solution (see here). They can help you visualize what needs to be changed when doing work on your house, ...
5
votes
4answers
2k views

Is it necessary to connect a boiler and gas meter to the main fuse box?

We are getting a new kitchen fitted. An electrical survey has been carried out by the compnay installing kitchen. they have said that, our brand new and recently fitted, boiler needs a earth wire ...
8
votes
1answer
926 views

Is some asymmetry in a breaker box normal? What about neutral to ground having voltage?

So, next in my quest to evaluate the health of my new home's electrical system, and call in professionals if needed, was some voltage checking of the panels/outlets around the house. What I have is a ...
10
votes
8answers
12k views

Is there any legitimate reason you would NOT connect the ground wire on a circuit?

I've been doing some remodeling on my house and had the need to move some electrical outlets. While doing so, I noticed that the ground wire wasn't hooked up on any of the outlets in the circuit ...
2
votes
1answer
9k views

How can I stop my lights from dimming when major appliances start up?

So it appears that I narrowed down the cause of my Random Flickering- the faulty 20-amp circuit on the detached garage service panel (leaking 60 volts at some point between the breaker and the last ...
7
votes
2answers
7k 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
votes
3answers
3k views

What is the difference between Square D and QP single pole circuit breakers, and can they be mixed?

I just noticed that all of the branches from my upstairs service box are run off of 15 or 20-amp type QP circuit breakers, except for one 15-amp line that is for the hard-wired smoke alarms- it uses a ...
23
votes
6answers
4k views

How best can I discover what is up with my electrical bill?

This might be subjective, I don't know. However, it's a serious problem for me. My electrical bill is outrageous. It's three times as large as my next-door neighbor, and four or five times the size of ...
13
votes
5answers
82k views

Is it ok to have mixed grounds and neutrals on bars in a breaker box?

So to continue my line of electrical questioning (and perhaps narrow down my flickering light problem), I took a look through the two panels in this house. There is a 200amp main service in the ...
10
votes
2answers
7k views

How should I address my bathroom's flickering lights and GFCI tripping mysteriously? (Schematic included.)

So I inherited a bit of a nightmare for wiring in my bathroom. I'll be calling in an electrician, but wanted to have an understanding of the problem first, as not to be ripped off, lead astray, etc.. ...