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Questions tagged [electrical]

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. Posting photographs of wiring junctions or drawing a wiring diagram and posting it is also highly recommended.

184
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2answers
36k views

What is the purpose of these holes on my wire stripper?

I have been using this wire stripper for a while, but I have always wondered what was the purpose of those holes in the center and above LOOP, and those teeth on the handles.
75
votes
2answers
12k views

Why did my electrician put metal plates wherever the stud is drilled through?

My electrician put the metal plates pictured below wherever he drilled through a stud. My guess is that this strengthens the stud, because it was weakened by the holes he drilled. Studs with metal ...
54
votes
10answers
61k views

When I turn down the dimmer switch on my lights, do I actually use less electricity?

My wife and I have several lights on dimmer switches throughout our home. We generally prefer the ambient lighting provided by dimmed lights. I am curious, though, if we are saving any electricity by ...
51
votes
5answers
164k 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 ...
44
votes
11answers
26k views

Which way is up? (electric outlet)

My house has electric outlets in both orientations. Which one is correct? Should the ground hole be at the bottom or the top? OR
42
votes
11answers
11k views

What are insulated screwdrivers for if you’re not supposed to work on a live circuit?

It’s not just that I’ve been told by some people to never work on a live circuit as an amateur (I know that electricians often do work on live circuits)... but the package itself containing the ...
42
votes
8answers
118k views

How do I run wires for a wall-mount flatscreen TV?

Like a lot of you, we have several wall-mounted LCD HDTVs in the house. The TVs have two wires -- power and HDMI -- running down the wall to the power outlet and cable box. I've historically been too ...
40
votes
11answers
12k views

Is there a way to unscrew a light bulb that has broken?

The recessed light in my bathroom broke while trying to unscrew it, and only the metal collar remains. What is the best way to get that remaining part out?
39
votes
9answers
14k views

Is the Electrician trying to scam me?

I own a home in California and was emailed by my property manager about an electrical problem with an outlet. The outlet was fixed according to the tenant but the repair man through the manager thinks ...
39
votes
3answers
5k views

How can I restore power after a switch was shorted with scissors?

Ok, so I'm a 15 year old kid and my parents werent home, my house is under construction and I wanted to see what would happen if I put scissors to my light switches, so I took the pair of scissors and ...
38
votes
4answers
30k views

How can I pull a wire through a pipe that has too many turns for fish tape?

I need to replace a sump pump, but have run into a problem. The route for the cord goes through a 2" pipe with two 90 degree bends, and fish tape is ineffective. The pipe appears poorly jointed as ...
37
votes
11answers
26k views

Why don't you connect unused hot and neutral wires to “complete the circuit”?

I'm new to home wiring and had a question I'd like explained to me. I removed a vent hood over my oven and I thought I had to complete the circuit so I tied the hot and neutral wires that were ...
37
votes
10answers
51k views

Should old knob and tube wiring be replaced?

I have been doing some electrical work in my house and I noticed it has old knob and tube wiring that is still hot, should this be replaced as found or is it fine to just leave it? It seems really ...
36
votes
5answers
18k views

If a light bulb is dead, does it still consume electricity if the switch is in ON?

It's been a week since a light bulb in the bathroom died. I'm wondering if the bulb is dead, does it still consume electricity if the switch is in ON? The light is completely dead, no light ...
36
votes
10answers
359k 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 ...
35
votes
6answers
168k views

Can Romex (NM-B) be run through conduit?

A few days ago I asked an electrician if I could run Romex through conduit - he gave me a funny look and said "No, Romex is not allowed in conduit." When I searched online, there seems to be a wide ...
34
votes
5answers
15k views

Why does my home's power fade and surge when I plug things in?

I live in Texas. I ran 300 ft of aluminum electric direct-bury 4-4-2 from the pole on street to my new home. The pole is metered and yes, I had my utility's blessing to do so. Everything worked ...
34
votes
2answers
96k views

What does “1 Gang”, “2 Gang”, and so forth mean when talking about electrical boxes?

What does a "1 Gang" mean when talking about electrical boxes? Example: CARLON 1-Gang Metal Adjustable Electrical Box (Lowes.com)
34
votes
7answers
74k views

Are push in connectors up to code?

Just came across a neat product at the local hardware store, but I wonder if they are up to code and safe to use. They are a wire nut that allows you to simply push the wires in, instead of twisting ...
33
votes
4answers
12k views

Is there a way to safely have exposed electrical wires?

We have a dumpster on our property for another home project and are hoping to take advantage of this by disposing of some bathroom lights and a ceiling fan. However, we do not currently have a ...
33
votes
3answers
237k views

How should I rewire a miswired 3-way switch?

I have a 3 way switch that was wired incorrectly when the switches were replaced with a different color switch. Is there a methodical way for me to identify which wires represent which piece of the ...
32
votes
7answers
134k views

Why does this receptacle have the ground tied to the neutral?

I was replacing some outlets in my house with tamper-resistant ones, and came across one where the white and ground were wired together, as seen in this picture. Why? Is that okay or appropriate ...
32
votes
9answers
77k views

How should I go about installing a 12 volt DC residential circuit?

I have a couple deep cycle batteries that trickle charge from a solar panel, for emergency use. Right now the only way I get useful power from them is to use a 12VDC -> 120VAC inverter, e.g. the type ...
31
votes
7answers
8k 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 ...
30
votes
12answers
180k views

Is using 15 amp components on a 20 amp breaker against code?

I have noticed in a few different houses in Oklahoma that 20 amp breakers are used, but all of the outlets and switches only seem to be rated for 15 amps. This goes against everything I know to be ...
29
votes
4answers
2k views

If DC adapters are so prevalent, why is AC used in construction by default?

I'm not sure if there's a better place to ask this or not. Why, at least here in America, is the standard electrical system set up for alternating current (AC) rather than direct current (DC)? I'm ...
29
votes
8answers
95k views

How to avoid wires when drilling into the wall?

I have to anchor a bookcase to a wall to prevent it from tipping over. When drilling into the wall, how do I make sure I can avoid drilling into the wires behind the wall? I have bought a Stud ...
28
votes
10answers
58k views

Why are “Wire Nuts” not used in the UK?

I have never seen a wire nut used in the UK, but they seem to be very common in the USA, why?
27
votes
5answers
30k views

Is it OK to borrow a ground wire from a different circuit?

I've got a circuit in the basement carrying a handful of outlets. This circuit has no ground wire. I want to add a couple of outlets and want them to be grounded. I may even want gfci outlets on ...
26
votes
13answers
4k views

Locating source of excessive energy use

Background Info: My house is all electric. Last month when I got my electric bill, I flipped. It was triple that of any month prior. Now I know the cold (heating) can affect this so I decided to ...
26
votes
4answers
7k views

Why do I have voltage on a plumbing ground strap, and is it dangerous?

We have been having problems with the lights in our basement for awhile now (few weeks), sometimes they will work, other times they just won't turn on. Today I noticed a thin metal piece in the ...
26
votes
9answers
200k views

How do I install a GFCI receptacle with two hot wires and common neutral?

In my kitchen, I want to replace a regular 120V receptacle with a GFCI-protected receptacle. The instructions describe what to do with a regular 2-wire + ground feed, with and without daisy chaining ...
25
votes
11answers
15k views

Can I replace a 30A breaker with a 40A breaker for a new water heater?

I have a 30 amp circuit breaker installed for my tank type hot water heater. I would like to replace the hot water heater with a tankless hot water heater that requires a 40 amp circuit breaker. I ...
25
votes
3answers
9k views

Can anyone tell me what this little white box on my outlet is?

Recently bought a house that's about 40 years old. The previous owner was clearly very fond of doing the wiring himself and has left me some idiosyncrasies to work out. One is this box in one of my ...
25
votes
6answers
91k views

Extension cord and power strip safety

I've heard that there are some safety and building code issues involved with using extension cords or power strips (surge protectors) for anything other than temporary use. What are the issues, and ...
25
votes
3answers
4k views

Can you cut open a plastic junction box and just lay splices inside?

This doesn't look like it should fly to me, but the "electrician" hired by the seller of this property is arguing that this is an acceptable way to put an open splice into an box. I know this shouldn'...
25
votes
8answers
8k views

Is twisted and taped splice on cable, objectively any less stable than wire-nuts or terminal blocks?

In Brazil, electrical connections are almost always done splicing electrical cables by twisting the strands together and insulating them with electrical tape. Here is a video showing some of the ...
25
votes
4answers
3k views

How can it be dangerous to feed a water heater from two separate panels?

In a recent question, a user asked "Can a water heater be installed between two apartments and wired to both apartments' breaker boxes, effectively splitting the bill between the two?". One of the ...
24
votes
6answers
68k 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 ...
24
votes
5answers
271k 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 ...
23
votes
9answers
10k views

Drilled into studs, light flickered momentarily but everything else seems fine now - should I be worried?

I was installing shelving in my closets, when drilled a hole into studs, the lights flickered momentarily for 2 seconds. I stopped drilling, and everything else seems fine now. The circuit didn't ...
23
votes
4answers
7k views

Why would two circuit breakers be connected inside the service panel?

I was trying to locate the circuit breaker for an outlet in my garage and found a truly baffling setup. Two breakers control the same outlet (both plugs). After some head scratching, I opened the ...
23
votes
8answers
260k views

Why Do 240V Circuits Not Require Neutral?

Someone told me that a 240V circuit does not require a neutral wire in the cable. Can anyone explain this phenomenon from the electricity perspective and generally explain why circuits do and do not ...
23
votes
6answers
5k views

Electric shock - was I stupid, unlucky, or a combination of both?

One of the double sockets in our garage needed replacing (damaged after a washing pole hit it) - a pretty trivial job that I'd done before. So I flipped the MCB for the ring main, used a non-contact ...
22
votes
4answers
78k 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, ...
22
votes
2answers
116k views

How do you plan capacity for electrical circuits?

I'm finishing a section of my basement, which currently only has one bulb for bare light. In planning the electrical arrangement of things, how do I estimate the load of light fixtures or electrical ...
21
votes
6answers
11k views

Is it important not to scratch copper wire when removing insulation?

I use a small cutter made for max 14 gauge wires, but I'm bad at removing insulation, it takes me a bit of time to get it right, so I end up cutting and repeating, because I see scratches on copper ...
21
votes
11answers
6k views

What should we look for when buying a fixer-upper house?

My fiance and I are considering buying a fixer-upper house rather than an apartment when we get married. Obviously things like location, neighbors etc. are important, but; what should we be looking ...
21
votes
13answers
10k views

What items in a house can potentially be damaged by shutting them off at the circuit breaker?

Are there certain items in a house (anything from a computer to a furnace) that can be damaged by shutting off its circuit at the electrical panel? If so, must one avoid turning off that circuit at ...
21
votes
4answers
74k views

Do I really have to fasten interior-wall electrical wire to a stud to keep it from moving?

I am fresh out of cable staples and would rather not go all the way to Lowe's just to get a box. What are the implications of not fastening loose electrical wires to a stud? It's not like there's ...