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.

Filter by
Sorted by
Tagged with
14
votes
5answers
2k views

Should I run 240v for any supported appliances?

I am having my main circuit breaker panel replaced (by a licensed electrician) and he told me I can run new circuits for him to hook up to the new panel. Is there any benefit to running 240v circuits ...
14
votes
3answers
30k views

What are the differences between these two receptacles?

Residential duplex outlets come in a variety of styles. The two most common seem to be: and Does it matter? Is the difference purely aesthetics, or is there any technical difference?
14
votes
3answers
4k views

Why did my leaking pool light trip the circuit breaker, but not the GFCI?

This is, I am sure, an extremely naive question. I hope that's okay (and I hope it can be answered at a level I'll understand). The background: My swimming pool has underwater light fixtures, on ...
14
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 ...
14
votes
3answers
9k views

Is it normal for GFCI receptacles to explode and burn?

I noticed my tooth brush wasn't charging one morning and none of the plugs in my bathroom were getting power, I went down to the circuit box and saw a flipped breaker so I flipped it back and it ...
14
votes
4answers
4k views

Are these pigtails inside the panel and outside a junction box allowed?

I am concerned about a newer electrical panel's installation, where one of the older load wires, at the main electrical panel, appear to be shorter in length, appear not reaching the desired circuit ...
14
votes
3answers
69k views

What's the minimum depth that an electrical box can recess into a finished wall? Does it have to be flush?

Do electrical boxes have to be flush to the finished surface? Can they recess any depth into the wall by as much as 1/8" or 1/4"? Edit: I appreciate everyone offering alternative solutions to ...
14
votes
3answers
3k views

Is it safe if the neutral lead is exposed and disconnected?

I think I’ve found a potential design flaw in an extension cord. It allows you to plug in the hot blade, while leaving the neutral blade out and exposed. Obviously you shouldn’t try and use the cord ...
14
votes
3answers
2k views

What is this electrical cord for?

I found this odd cable while cleaning out the garage of a house I recently bought. It's plugged in to a live outlet but doesn't appear to connect anywhere. It also has some wrapped junction in the ...
14
votes
2answers
12k views

How do I join two cables outside so that they're safe and kept dry?

I have a new pond with a pump but the cable on the pump is far too short. I have some similar cable which will do the job to extend the length. My only concern is the junction outside. I need to make ...
14
votes
5answers
5k views

How do I make this wiring inside cabinet safer?

tl;dr: How do I make this wiring meet code, or at least safer? The pic below is inside one of my kitchen cabinets. Once upon a time the stove was located below these cabinets, and that wire must have ...
14
votes
1answer
2k views

Safety hook on double pole circuit breakers

My home was built two years ago, so I would expect everything to have been done up to code. The problem is that I don't know what the metal ring in this photo is. It loops over the double pole circuit ...
14
votes
3answers
5k views

Can I use old abandoned iron pipe as electrical conduit?

I have an older house (1920) and I have been planning on doing some rewiring to get rid of some k + t stuff. Anyway, I just noticed today that there are some irons pipes that used to be part of the ...
14
votes
6answers
21k views

How can I detect reverse polarity on an ungrounded receptacle?

Recently moved into a 1950s-built house and am swapping out some of the older receptacles. On one particular ungrounded circuit there are four receptacles. The first two are as expected - the two ...
14
votes
1answer
2k views

Is this a fire hazard?

I was going to change a light switch and repair some wall damage. When I started opening up the wall above the switch, I saw the electrical wire clamped to the stud. I noticed black marks around it. ...
14
votes
8answers
114k views

Should I put a dimmer switch on a ceiling fan?

I have a ceiling fan on our bedroom's vaulted ceiling. Since we don't want 7' pull-cords, the speed is stuck at full-tilt, which is no good. The fan has separate switches on the wall for lights and ...
14
votes
1answer
72k views

Can I add a standard receptacle on a GFCI circuit

So, I want to add a receptacle in the bathroom (I tend to run out of batteries on my phone while crapping at the end of the day). There's a GFCI outlet on the other side of the crapper wall that ...
14
votes
1answer
2k views

What are “backstab” receptacles/outlets?

Several questions and answers on the site mention electrical outlets or receptacles with "backstab" holes (just a short while ago, here). I'm sure people in the US find that description to ...
14
votes
3answers
3k views

Can I safely use a switch rated for “1A at 125V” with 240V, assuming I stay below 125W?

I recently purchased a foot switch for a standing lamp. The switch is rated for 1A at 125V. I would like to use this switch with a low energy lamp (typically 10W or below) but with a 240V supply. Is ...
14
votes
5answers
3k views

I tripped a 20amp breaker but didn't feel a shock - why?

I was stripping a hot ungrounded conductor while a 20A breaker was on by accident. When my wire strippers pierced the sheathing, a large spark blew out and tripped a breaker, but yet I felt nothing. ...
14
votes
2answers
2k views

How many power cables can a coaxial cable cross?

I am running coax RG6Q to my FiOS box. I know to cross electrical cables perpendicular, but is there a limit to how many wires I can cross in a short area? See my picture: the coax is the black line ...
14
votes
6answers
154k views

What is the proper 'per code' method for running nonmetallic sheathed cable above a ceiling in the attic?

Can the wiring be run over the top of the ceiling joist, or must it be run through bored holes when running perpendicular to the joists? This is a non-habitable space, will have an attic entrance ...
14
votes
1answer
19k views

How do I know if my wiring is aluminium or copper?

In this answer, Chris has mentioned that, before replacing a worn-out electric outlet, it is important to know whether the building has an aluminium or copper wiring. How can I get this information? ...
14
votes
1answer
2k views

Can cable splice devices be concealed?

Devices exist that claim to be able to splice nonmetallic sheathed cables together outside of a box, and in concealed locations. Are these types of devices allowed by National Electrical Code? Here's ...
14
votes
1answer
5k views

What are the disadvantages of having electrical conduit penetrate my foundation below-grade?

I'm having an electrician wire a lamppost in the backyard. His initial proposal was to do something like this picture shows: (The diagram is from this article.) The conduit's rise from the ground and ...
13
votes
9answers
4k views

Should I solder stranded wires when connecting them to a plug?

I'm about to perform a few electrical changes in my house in order to be able to control lighting fixtures (230V, 30 to 200 mA) from a PC. I have some doubts about the way stranded wires should be ...
13
votes
3answers
2k views

Running Service to Outbuilding

We just built a house and wanted to run 400 amp service to the house to keep options open down the road, but I fear my contractor didn't account for my future plans and did what easiest vs what I ...
13
votes
6answers
3k views

GFCI outlets - can they be repaired? Are they really needed at the end of a circuit?

My house just went through a flood and there was 7 feet of muddy water on the first floor, so all the AC outlets were underwater. After the water receded, all the unprotected outlets continued to ...
13
votes
5answers
14k views

What kind of gloves should I wear during electrical work?

What kind of gloves should I wear during electrical work? I need to know which glove material is most suitable for this kind of work, as I wish to purchase the proper gloves.
13
votes
6answers
10k views

Identifying Wires behind Light Switch

I am trying to upgrade my rocker switches to Smart Switches and ran into a problem identifying wires behind the old switches. It seems that the old switch is connected with a ground and 2 white ...
13
votes
4answers
5k views

How much weight can a light bulb socket hold?

I'm working on a thing in which I mount a few pounds of weight to one of those light-bulb-to-wall-socket adapters and I'm curious if there's a posted weight limit on hanging something from just the ...
13
votes
7answers
4k views

Why does my old table saw power switch cut both hot and neutral?

I am refurbishing an old Craftsman 10" table saw that has been collecting dust in the back of my shop for years. I don't remember exactly how I acquired it, but to my recollection the one time I ...
13
votes
4answers
3k views

Can a GFCI outlet intentionally and explicitly be used as a switch without violating code?

I'm working on adding several outdoor outlets in the eaves of my roof for holiday lighting. I have a switch in my garage for these outlets right next to the garage light switch. Thing is, I keep ...
13
votes
4answers
17k views

Why is this shared-neutral wiring bad?

Summary: I have this wiring situation in my home. I gather it's not up to modern code, and I experienced why it's bad (got shocked), but I don't understand why (physics/electricity) it happened. In ...
13
votes
11answers
81k views

How can I get a shock from a circuit when the breaker is off?

While I was replacing an old outlet, I received a shock from something in the box. I think it was the metal box itself. Before I started, I performed the following to ensure the power was out: ...
13
votes
2answers
4k views

What could cause halogen bulbs to explode?

I changed several halogen spotlight bulbs and after less than one hour, one exploded. See image. It's an Osram Decostar, 35W. Although the bulb doesn't carry a "CE" mark, the box did. We regularly ...
13
votes
3answers
24k views

How do I install this lamp on my ceiling?

I'm a big time novice but determined not to hire an electrician for what is probably a simple job. This is embarrassing, I think. Here is an exposed light fixture that I have in my attic I want to ...
13
votes
6answers
151k views

How can I stop my lights dimming when my Air Conditioning turns on?

I have no noticeable problems with my house's electricity, but when my Air Conditioner kicks in (and here in Central Texas, it kicks in year round) my lights dim for a second or so and then run ...
13
votes
10answers
123k views

How can I run Cat5e cable through a completely finished house?

My family and I are interested in buying a house that was built in 2002. This house is two floors on a concrete slab with a finished bonus room upstairs so there is no attic other than above the ...
13
votes
2answers
2k views

What range of heights are allowed for wall receptacles?

I need to mount a receptacle on a basement wall. If I can mount it high enough, it can go on the wood cripple wall instead of having to drill into the concrete and risk the excellent watertightness ...
13
votes
4answers
371k views

What do I do if there are only two wires coming from my ceiling electrical box?

I'm about to install several Hunter ceiling fans. The instructions that came with the fan show three wires coming from the ceiling box for a single switch light. When I remove the light, there are ...
13
votes
8answers
271k views

How to detect whether there is a signal on TV cable

I'm not receiving TV in my room and the cable guy has determined that there is no signal on my coax outlet in the wall. There is a signal in other rooms, so there must be a broken or disconnected ...
13
votes
4answers
1k views

GFCI Breaker - Good or Bad?

I have a GFCI circuit (GFCI breaker in the breaker box). If I attempt to test this circuit by plugging in my GFI Tester into a standard outlet that is on this GFCI circuit, the GFI Tester lights ...
13
votes
3answers
54k views

Is there any code for running Ethernet cable (through attics)?

We have an unfinished attic - the insulation-everywhere, step-in-the-wrong-place-and-fall-through-the-ceiling kind. I'd like to run Ethernet cable through the attic. I know for Romex, I'd have to ...
13
votes
10answers
205k views

Why would a GFCI trip on refrigerator circuit?

My refrigerator is tripping the GFCI on the socket into which it is plugged. Searching about this topic seems to indicate that this is a reasonably common complaint. However, I can't find any ...
13
votes
3answers
25k views

Can I use two wire nuts instead of one to connect 6 wires inside a 3-gang box?

Is it considered acceptable practice to use two wirenuts in a situation where it is possible to use only one but may be easier to use two? I have a three-gang box with six cables coming into it. The ...
13
votes
4answers
64k views

How do I troubleshoot power receptacles?

I just bought a recently renovated house and the house inspector said that all the plugs in the basement worked. Well... I plugged in several devices into the plugs and they don't power on. If I use ...
13
votes
7answers
99k views

Why is it safe to use 15 A receptacles on a 20 A circuit?

OK, the one answer I got was way off target, and another commenter couldn't figure out what I was asking, so I'm restating the question... Are 15A 3-prong grounded outlets actually rated to 20A, ...
13
votes
4answers
27k views

What do I do with receptacles behind built-ins?

When installing built-in furniture, what should I do about the receptacles on the existing bare wall that will be covered up by the built-in? How would I handle a receptacle covered by a bookcase ...
13
votes
5answers
941 views

Installed Electric Tankless Water Heater - Internet loss when active

I installed an Ecosmart 27kw tankless water heater yesterday and as far as heating the water goes, everything works perfectly. The issue is when the water heater is running, I lose internet! Specs: ...