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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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 ...
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3 votes
4 answers
23k 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 ...
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6 votes
4 answers
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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 ...
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43 votes
10 answers
603k 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 ...
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10 votes
1 answer
56k 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 ...
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8 votes
2 answers
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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 ...
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2 votes
2 answers
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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, ...
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9 votes
1 answer
4k 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 +...
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6 votes
1 answer
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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 ...
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5 votes
2 answers
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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 ...
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7 votes
4 answers
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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 ...
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4 votes
1 answer
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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 ...
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6 votes
3 answers
429 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 ...
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5 votes
2 answers
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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 ...
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8 votes
2 answers
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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 ...
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6 votes
4 answers
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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 ...
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5 votes
1 answer
231 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?
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9 votes
1 answer
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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 ...
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7 votes
4 answers
13k 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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9 votes
3 answers
6k 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 ...
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5 votes
3 answers
741 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 ...
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5 votes
2 answers
5k 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. ...
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7 votes
4 answers
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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 ...
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1 vote
2 answers
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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 ...
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8 votes
2 answers
312 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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8 votes
9 answers
75k 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 ...
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4 votes
2 answers
11k 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 ...
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3 votes
3 answers
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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 ...
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6 votes
3 answers
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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 ...
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  • 163
5 votes
4 answers
16k 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 ...
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12 votes
3 answers
10k 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 ...
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1 vote
1 answer
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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. ...
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6 votes
1 answer
1k 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 ...
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7 votes
4 answers
67k 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 ...
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6 votes
8 answers
7k 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, ...
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5 votes
4 answers
3k 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 ...
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9 votes
1 answer
2k 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 ...
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12 votes
8 answers
43k 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 (...
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3 votes
1 answer
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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 ...
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7 votes
2 answers
30k 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 ...
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7 votes
4 answers
30k 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 ...
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  • 5,005
36 votes
8 answers
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 ...
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30 votes
5 answers
445k 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 ...
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10 votes
3 answers
15k 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.. ...
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10 votes
22 answers
2k views

What are some of your previous owner nightmares you have inherited?

Things like picket fences that are screwed and to end and to trees with no posts. Or where there are posts they are sunk 4 inches into the ground with concrete around the top. Or plumbing done with ...
22 votes
8 answers
65k views

Does a homeowner need a permit for electrical work in Massachusetts?

Does a homeowner need to obtain a permit from the town in order to do electrical work on his own house in Massachusetts? The unofficial answers I can find online (e.g., this forum and the websites of ...
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20 votes
4 answers
159k views

What is the proper way to run wires along/across basement ceiling joists?

I want to add an electrical outlet in my unfinished basement. It makes sense to run the wire along the ceiling because that's where all the other wires are. What is the proper way to install NM ...
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6 votes
2 answers
872 views

How do I troubleshoot noisy power lines for power-line networking?

I have some power-line ethernet adaptors that worked great in my previous house. At my new house, they can't get more than a few KB per second because there's too much noise in the line according to ...
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  • 163
4 votes
3 answers
44k views

What electrical requirements does a garbage disposal have?

I just moved into a new house (well, actually it's old - 1920). We don't have a garbage disposal and was interested in in having one installed so I called a plumber. He estimated $650-750 saying ...
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4 votes
3 answers
275 views

Where do I begin finding estimates for problems with my potential first home?

I'm looking at purchasing an older home as a primary dwelling. On going through the house with an experienced Realtor and several experienced DIY people for reference (but not a home inspector or ...
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