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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.

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11
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5answers
3k views

How can I secure this metal 1-gang electrical box without creating a bigger hole?

I removed wood paneling in a room to reveal shoddy plaster & lath. I covered it with 3/8 in. drywall. I now need to add spacers to electrical outlets and a light switch. Except for this one ...
11
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3answers
2k views

Can someone explain how this makes sense electrically?

The wiring in my house is... odd. Nearly every pair of outlets has one of the outlets connected to a light switch. Sometimes that switch is quite far from the outlet even when there are other closer ...
11
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8answers
235k 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 ...
11
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7answers
76k views

Why does my shower switch keep burning out?

I have a Mira Shower 10.8 kW. My switch is a 45A switch. I have a 50A fuse for the shower. The shower uses 10mm2 cable. 9 months ago the switch sparked and refused to turn off and the fuse tripped....
11
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2answers
4k views

What are the pros and cons of different types of smart switches (that are on the US market) ?

When putting in a new switch for a light it is often less work to put in a smart switch than run the mains cables. However, how do you choose the type of smart switch to use? See also "What are ...
11
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2answers
41k 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 ...
11
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5answers
22k views

Why would there be a 50 amp plug on a 30 amp appliance?

I have an old conveyor dryer, which my office purchased used some time ago, just sitting in storage. The dryer is for silk screen t-shirts and has a large heating element and a variable speed conveyor ...
11
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2answers
245k views

What do I do with the unused wire for ceiling fan installation?

I recently replaced my bedroom ceiling fan with a newer ceiling fan and with the old fan I could: Use one switch on the wall to turn on/off the light Use the other switch on the wall to turn on/off ...
11
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2answers
13k views

How can I add a circuit breaker when there are no openings available in the neutral bus bar?

I'm trying to add a 20 amp circuit breaker into my existing main panel. The main panel has one vacant slot to put the breaker, but the neutral and ground bars have no more vacant slots. My question is ...
11
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4answers
14k views

Why do my bulbs glow brighter when the microwave is running?

When I run the microwave oven in my rented apartment, the incandescent lights nearby glow much brighter. What sort of mis-wiring could cause this? EDIT: Suspecting a bad neutral connection, I ...
11
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2answers
3k views

Why is it OK to put multiple ground wires in the same bus hole in an electrical panel?

It's not clear to me why ground wires aren't subject to the same rules as neutral wires (one per bus bar hole). What's the reasoning here?
11
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7answers
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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, ...
11
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3answers
281k views

What wire gauge should I use with a 30 amp breaker for a 220V welder?

I am installing an outlet in my garage for a 220v mig welder. The welder specs call for 30A breaker. The outlet for the welder is only 2 feet from the garage sub panel. The wiring refernece charts I'...
11
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2answers
82k views

Is it ok to wire light switches and lights with 12/2 cable?

It sounds like light switches and lights are usually wired with 14/2 cable. Is it okay to use 12/2 cable instead? Would I need special switches?
11
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2answers
4k views

What is this drill guide/template used when fixing electrical sockets called and where do I buy one?

My dad used to have one, you use it as a drill guide/template when fixing electrical sockets, but I cannot find anywhere that sells them, and as I don't know the name Google is not much help! (...
11
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1answer
154k views

What size wire should I use to feed a subpanel in my garage?

My main panel has been upgraded to 100 amps. I would like to add a subpanel in the garage which would supply: 20 amp Mig welder running on 120 volts, but later upgrade to a larger Mig welder as i ...
11
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1answer
1k views

Is it worth it to replace old style breakers with GFCI or AFCI breakers?

I have older wiring on my house (2-wire) BX. And while it's all in good condition, and I do check the outlets monthly to make certain it's still grounded, I'm wary of the BX sheathing as the ground. ...
11
votes
1answer
114k views

Why is my air conditioner tripping the circuit breaker?

Our air conditioner recently stopped blowing out cold air. When I went to check on it, I noticed that the outside unit wasn't coming on. We had had problems with ants in the contacter in the past, ...
11
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1answer
41k views

How many wires is too many for an outlet?

I keep finding outlets in my house that are wired in ways I've never seen. Today's find is an outlet in a bedroom with 4 hots and 4 neutrals. All connected to one outlet using the push-in connectors. ...
11
votes
1answer
18k views

Is it “normal” for a vacuum cleaner to trigger an arc fault breaker?

We recently had our main electric service panel upgraded (from a 50 year old 100 AMP panel to a 200 AMP panel). As part of the upgrade, the electrician installed an arc fault breaker on the bedroom ...
11
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1answer
8k views

How to replace a standard 2-gang light switch with an electric dimmer switch

I'm looking for a some assistance in fitting a new electric dimmer light switch. I'm in the UK if that makes a difference. I am trying to replace my existing two-gang light switch with a LightWaveRF ...
11
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3answers
5k views

What size extension cord should I use for multiple computers?

We're hosting a LAN party (several computers, 50+) and I had some questions about power draw; I hope this is the right place to ask. Currently, we're assuming each PC will draw an average of 3.5 amps....
11
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3answers
6k views

How can I install a ceiling fan that needs a 4“ box where I only have a 3” box?

As part of a home renovation project I discarded my old ceiling fan and have bought a new one. When installing the new one the electrician tells me that I have a 3" junction box and that I'll need a 4"...
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22answers
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 ...
10
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8answers
3k views

Pros and Cons of buildings permits

We live in a single family home and are doing a renovation of our kitchen and adjoining room. We are not making any architectural changes. For the kitchen, we are adding electrical circuits and ...
10
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5answers
40k views

Can different gauges of wire be used on the same circuit?

My father-in-law is a builder. He has put in 20 amp and 15 amp breakers, and ran 12-2 as the home runs to the switch's and the first plug to make them hot. He then ran 14-2 to feed the rest of the ...
10
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4answers
4k views

Confusion over 220 and 230 volt outlets

We have a 220 outlet for our A/C. We are shopping for a new unit and all I am see is 230 volts on the units. Will we have to rewire with a new outlet for a new A/C?
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4answers
8k views

3 phase (delta) power to single phase space heater

I bought a 240V single phase, space heater for heating up a warehouse space. The warehouse has 240V power in a delta configuration (no neutral). My understanding is that in a delta configuration, ...
10
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4answers
11k views

What is this copper-looking wire on my light fixture?

I had an electrician install two hanging pendants over a kitchen island. The install went well and the pendants work fine. However, after the install I've had an opportunity to look at the fixtures ...
10
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2answers
4k views

What is this thing on my junction box?

This thing is on my junction box but i don't know what it is or what it's for.
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4answers
5k views

Would running a new subpanel in parallel meet NEC requirements? If not, what should I do?

Background U.S.A. Voltages/power present. My house has a 125A Power Mains breaker at the street. A buried line runs from the street breaker to my main panel on exterior wall outside of house. The ...
10
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8answers
149k views

Do the breaker amp readings sum up to dictate my current panels total / possible amperage?

So I know practically nothing about houses having rented for many years, just bought a house and was told by my inspector the panel is only a 70 amp panel and will need to be upgraded before I go to ...
10
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3answers
4k views

How to bury electrical wiring

I know I can run indoor wire underground as long as it is protected in something, but can I use a water hose to run it through instead of conduit or PVC?
10
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2answers
3k views

WEATHER-resistant GFCI's required in bathrooms?

My new non-WR GFCI outlet says on the back of it... NOTICE:DO NOT INSTALL non-weather resistant devices in wet or damp locations as per latest NEC code. When installing weather resistant devices in ...
10
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1answer
16k views

During a lightning storm, what causes the lights to temporary cut off and on?

I know it is pretty common during a lightning storm for lights to temporary cut off and on, but where and how and why is this occurring? Is the transformer temporally shutting off power to prevent ...
10
votes
2answers
33k views

What does a surge protector do that a breaker doesn't?

The circuit breakers in my home are 120VAC, 15A or 20A breakers. What would a surge protector (e.g. this or a power strip with surge protection) do that a breaker wouldn't do already?
10
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3answers
1k views

How can I cut a metal pipe while preserving the wires inside?

I need to install a dishwasher with a solid bottom into this space, where this solid pipe (green rectangle above) is in the way. How would I remove the pipe, or at least make it level with the floor, ...
10
votes
3answers
43k views

Why is there no neutral in a switch box?

I'm a bit confused about the wiring in a light switch that I changed. I am accustomed to seeing black (hot), white (neutral) and green/bare (ground). This box has TWO black, a red, and a green. No ...
10
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3answers
2k views

Lights are flickering on and off after accidentally bumping into light switch

During the night, I accidentally bumped into my light switch, jamming it in towards itself. Now, the lights in my room will sometimes flicker on and off very quickly when after turning on the lights. ...
10
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4answers
17k views

Is a high electric bill for a pump house caused by a well pump running constantly?

I recently had to turn on the electric for a shared well in my name. I got a bill and it's as high as what my house bill is. The well is the only thing connected to the electric in the well house. We ...
10
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3answers
44k views

Are extension cords safe for permanent use?

I recently learned (via a rant from an electrician's son and some internet research) that the standard buy-anywhere cheapo extension cords are a big cause of electrical fires and are not recommended ...
10
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2answers
2k views

When wiring a switch, should I break the neutral or power wire? [duplicate]

My husband has always wired a switch to break the neutral wire to turn a light on and off. I can remember for 40 years he has said to "break the neutral". However, our son worked as an electrician ...
10
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2answers
3k views

Tandem breaker needs both thrown to break circuit. Incorrectly wired?

I have a tandem circuit breaker in my main breaker box with two 20 amp breakers. To turn off power my wife's office, I need to throw both breakers. I can throw either one and as long as the other is ...
10
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2answers
2k views

What is this thing on my garage wall?

I just bought a house last year and there's this thing with what looks like string in the middle of the electrical system. The two pictures show said thing from a distance and close up. What is this ...
10
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4answers
301k views

Which side of a two-wire cable should be used for “hot”?

I bought a custom length of a 16/2 cable (two 16-gauge stranded wires, individually insulated). The two wires have identical colors and insulation; the only thing to tell them apart is that along one,...
10
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5answers
204k views

Can different gauge wiring be used in the same circuit?

I am extending a lighting and outlet circuit in a basement. The current setup has the following characteristics 15 amp. circuit breaker (200 amp service) 4 existing lighting fixtures using CFL bulbs (...
10
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1answer
50k 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 ...
10
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1answer
5k views

Is this wiring safe and is it according to code?

A single 12-3 cable was run to a double switch to control individual lights. The white is used as a hot, is this wiring correct/per NEC code?
10
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3answers
224k views

Where does the ground wire go in a 3-prong dryer cord configuration?

We moved to a new place where the dryer connection is 3-prong instead of 4-prong. The dryer was originally 4-prong, so we bought a 3-prong cord and installed it. It works fine, except I am not ...