Questions tagged [electrical]

Distribution and use of electricity throughout the home. Electrical standards vary greatly worldwide, so you need to provide your location in your question or profile to 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.

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212
votes
2answers
55k 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.
82
votes
2answers
30k 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 ...
55
votes
11answers
79k 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 ...
52
votes
5answers
209k 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 ...
50
votes
10answers
31k 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
50
votes
7answers
361k views

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

A few days ago I asked an electrician if I could run cable 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 ...
48
votes
1answer
13k views

Half my power out, but firing up an appliance turns it back on

Hoping for some much needed help. The other day my lights flickered and half the power and outlets went out in my home. They have gone and off periodically since then, spontaneously shutting off at ...
43
votes
11answers
21k 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
10answers
66k 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 ...
42
votes
8answers
125k 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 ...
42
votes
10answers
580k 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 ...
41
votes
7answers
65k 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 ...
41
votes
11answers
16k 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?
41
votes
7answers
233k 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 ...
41
votes
3answers
154k 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)
41
votes
1answer
8k views

What is this cable in my yard, why is it exposed, and what can I do about it?

UPDATE 5/25 - The electric company spliced and re-buried the cables. It's a 120V line and should have been buried at least a foot below ground. They'll come by again to locate the rest of the line ...
40
votes
11answers
56k 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 ...
40
votes
9answers
15k 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 ...
40
votes
3answers
7k 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 ...
40
votes
12answers
287k 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 ...
39
votes
2answers
11k views

How did a circuit that was shut off at the breaker almost kill me?

I just had a near-disaster while trying to install new smoke detectors. My house has AC hardwire connections for the smoke detectors. I wasn't sure which circuit the smoke detector AC connection was ...
39
votes
4answers
9k views

Why is my voltage dropping with load and why is current flowing on my ground wire?

I am not an electrician, but I've been researching a lot recently to try and figure out why my system is behaving so strangely. Main problem: Lights flickering, sometimes quite severely, and ...
39
votes
3answers
311k 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 ...
38
votes
5answers
36k 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 ...
38
votes
9answers
91k 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 ...
37
votes
10answers
208k 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 ...
37
votes
7answers
127k 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 ...
35
votes
8answers
10k 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 ...
34
votes
4answers
38k 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 ...
34
votes
10answers
11k views

Need to understand my home electrical meter to see why bill is so high and/or if neighbor is on same meter

I would like to know how to understand my digital home electrical meter. This picture shows what my home meter CURRENTLY reads. I intend to unplug everything in my tiny apartment in order to get ...
33
votes
5answers
17k 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 ...
33
votes
7answers
16k views

Are soldered electrical connections code-compliant?

I was changing a switch in my house when I found a number of connections in the electrical box that were soldered rather than secured with a wire nut. The solder joints look very well done, the ...
32
votes
4answers
3k views

Can I DIY fix the broken main feeder support cable?

After trimming the old tree, we found out that the steel cable supporting the main feeder lines is broken: Must have been like that for years. The actual feeder wires are fine, the electricity is on. ...
32
votes
4answers
4k views

Why can I not assemble conduit around cable, but must pull it after assembly?

I have seen a number of answers here from our esteemed electricians about running wiring through conduit, and many of them include a warning similar to: You're not allowed to piece the conduit ...
32
votes
2answers
8k views

Why is my garage grounded ONLY when it rains?

My garage is not connected to my house and it's on a circuit that contains a few outlets inside the house as well. I found out the first time I tried to charge my PHEV that the entire circuit isn't ...
32
votes
10answers
91k 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?
32
votes
8answers
434k 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 ...
31
votes
6answers
30k views

Why am I getting an electric shock from the water in my hot tub?

I have noticed that when I touch the water of my Hot Tub when I am grounded (barefoot standing outside of tub) I am getting a very small electric shock. Using a multimeter it is reading 2Vac between ...
30
votes
10answers
4k views

Is is safe to use LED strips that shine onto stair risers instead of directly onto treads?

I'm planning to mount LED strips under the treads of the outdoor wood staircase to our back yard. I'd like to avoid light shining into peoples' eyes while climbing stairs, so I'm considering mounting ...
30
votes
7answers
99k 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 ...
30
votes
3answers
8k views

Would it be Code legal to have an all-240V house in the United States?

My goal is to have a house where all loads are powered by 240V, that is fully livable in all the normal ways. And this question concerns the hard, in-house, built-in wiring; we will armwave the ...
30
votes
5answers
431k 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 ...
30
votes
2answers
19k views

What is a tandem breaker (aka duplex, cheater, twin, double-stuff, etc.)?

I keep hearing about tandem breakers, and how they won't work with 240V loads and how they should never be used for a multi-wire branch circuit. Aside from those issues... What is a tandem breaker? ...
29
votes
8answers
7k views

LED Light bulbs burning out much sooner than expected

My family at my house use EcoSmart LED lightbulbs that are rated for 9W, and the box says they are replacements for 60W incandescent bulbs. It says have a "long life". However, upon ...
29
votes
4answers
3k 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 ...
28
votes
1answer
5k views

Why is there only one receptacle in this outlet?

This looks like an outlet with only one receptacle, but why? It's mounted about 7' up, in a basement-level room in a school building. It is stamped 15A/125V, but I've never seen something like this ...
28
votes
9answers
118k 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 ...
28
votes
6answers
7k 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 ...
28
votes
5answers
49k 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 ...
28
votes
9answers
275k 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 ...

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