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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3answers
3k views

Can ground attached to neutral fool a receptacle tester?

I'm using a basic outlet tester like the one from picture below. Let's say someone wired the ground to the neutral in some outlet, to provide a fake ground. What would the tester report? Would it be "...
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2answers
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Can I use a neutral wire from another outlet to repair a broken neutral?

Recently one wall of outlets quit working. Testing shows the hots are all good and the grounds are all good but the neutrals are all dead. They are all connected to each other but somewhere have lost ...
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3answers
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What is “knob and tube wiring”?

I assume this is some USA wiring system, am I right?
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7answers
166k views

Can I connect copper wire to aluminum wire?

I'm installing additional light bulbs in my basement. I have an older house with aluminum wiring. Can I do this: [new light bulbs]<--copper-->[old light bulb junction box]<--aluminum-->[main ...
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5answers
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What is the industry term for house wiring diagrams?

I am doing electrical work in my own home. Primarily replacing old sockets and fixtures. Through the course of this work I am finding odd, but not unsafe, wiring paths. I want to document these paths ...
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7answers
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Can I run CAT6 FTP cables parallel to electrical cable in the same conduit?

Can I run CAT6 FTP cables beside to electrical cable (220v 1 amp) in same PVC Trunking ?
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3answers
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Is it possible to be electrocuted from a properly functioning GFCI circuit?

It's my understanding the the purpose of a GFCI circuit is to prevent shock by tripping the circuit if there is an imbalance in current in vs. current out. So my question is, if you have a functioning ...
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4answers
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Are rechargeable 9-volt batteries suitable for use in smoke detectors?

Lithium-Ion rechargeable 9V batteries are now readily available. Are they appropriate for use with hardwired smoke detectors, which typically use 9V batteries as battery backups? What about for use ...
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7answers
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Outlet screwed directly into stud

I was replacing old outlet in my house and came across an outlet that is screwed directly into the studs. Also the stud and the junction box were cut to fit the outlet. The new outlet is too big to ...
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3answers
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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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5answers
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Does turning circuit breakers off cause wear?

A comment over on another SE got me thinking. With screw-in fuses, unscrewing it and then later screwing it back in causes negligible wear on either part of the installation. But what about modern "...
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5answers
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Why do my new dimmable CFL bulbs hum?

I just spent $100 upgrading our dining room lighting from regular incandescent bulbs with a dimmer switch to a CFL friendly dimmer switch with specifically marked dimming capable CFL bulbs. At full ...
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7answers
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Is there an NEC-compliant method of repairing minor damage to electrical wire insulation without a junction box?

While trying to pry loose a stubborn cable staple that fastens a 14-gauge electrical cable to a stud, I accidentally tore a very small hole through both the outer jacket and the insulation around the ...
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6answers
175k views

How do I add more circuit breakers once the breaker box is full?

My house was completely rewired by the previous owner. They tore out all the old knob-and-tube and replaced it with modern wiring. I definitely appreciate this, but unfortunately they left ...
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8answers
260k 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 ...
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1answer
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How exactly does a 3-way switch work?

I just finished replacing all of the switches and outlets in my apartment, after fighting a long war with a weird 3-way switch. Needless to say, I won, but I'm still trying to grasp the concept of how ...
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4answers
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How do I use three-prong appliances when my outlets are mostly two-prong?

I am living in a house where most electrical outlets are two prong. There are a smattering of three prong, in particular where an addition was put on. Am I hosed when it comes to where I can plug in ...
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3answers
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What is the proper way to install a junction box above a dropped ceiling?

I'm doing some remodeling in my basement and part of that work involves moving a switch. When I was tracing the wires for the switch I found this above my dropped ceiling: Now, I'm no electrician, ...
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5answers
238k 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 (...
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1answer
654 views

How to make this electrical main safe

An older home has a strung electrical main. The main connects with exposed lugs on the roof above the deck. Not only is the height and location unsafe, while working on the roof today I noticed that ...
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1answer
65k views

How can I install this programmable switch where a neutral is not present?

I'm trying install this programmable switch but the instructions do not match reality. The instructions refer to the existence of a black (load) cable and a white (neutral) cable supposedly coming out ...
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7answers
44k views

Is “don't mix data and power cables” and “don't loop power cables” still valid nowadays?

There are two sayings I keep hearing when talking about wiring e.g. home cinema or computer hardware; Don't wrap data/network cables and power cables up in the same loop because the power cables will ...
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2answers
10k views

Can disconnected knob-and-tube wiring be left in place?

The house I recently bought (over 100 years old) has had almost all of its wiring replaced with a new elctrical board. However, in two cases the new wiring has been connected to existing knob-and-tube ...
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7answers
93k 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, ...
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2answers
5k views

Was it ok to add an outlet on a home run in the attic?

I had the following setup for a room, running on 15A breaker with 12/2 I wanted to add an outlet in the attic above this room so I did this: There was enough slack in the wire, so I added the outlet ...
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2answers
2k views

Is it acceptable to have two circuits with a shared hot but different neutrals?

I am working on cataloguing the hodge podge electrical system in my old house. There is an old fuse box that was converted to a junction box when they put the breaker box in. Inside this box there is ...
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1answer
85k views

How many cables are you allowed to run through a single hole in a wooden floor joist?

How many cables are you allowed to run through a single hole in a wooden floor joist? For example, could I run five 12-2 cables through a 1-1/8" hole? I know they physically fit, but is there a code ...
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3answers
517k views

How to connect multiple light fixtures to one switch?

I am remodeling my basement, currently I have 5 light fixtures and each one has its own switch. I would like to make it so when I turn on the switch at the bottom of the stairs all the lights turn on....
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2answers
15k views

How can I replace 2-prong receptacles in a code compliant way?

I have some 2-prong non-grounding type receptacles, and I'd like to replace them with 3-prong grounding type receptacles. According to National Electrical Code, what are my options?
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2answers
8k views

Can I change a 1-gang electrical box to a 2-gang electrical box?

I live in a house built in the 50's in Maryland, US. Each bedroom contains 4 electrical outlets - configured in two 1-gang electrical boxes on opposing walls. However, with all the modern appliances,...
12
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1answer
13k views

Running cat 6 networking cable in the attic: what is up to code?

I plan on adding a Cat 6 network in my single-story detached home. It would consist of home runs from each of the 3 bedrooms + TV room to a central patch panel in the garage, which is close to the ...
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1answer
15k views

How can I trace cable through floors and walls?

How can I work out where an electrical cable runs through walls/floors? I am building a circuit map of a 1941 house with unfinished basement. I shut off all circuits at the main service panel, switch ...
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8answers
22k views

Can I put an outlet inside of a wall?

I want to mount a tablet to a wall with a charger but I don't want the charger to be visible. Can I put a normal wall outlet in the INSIDE of the wall and just plug in the charger inside the wall? ...
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5answers
35k views

How can I trip a breaker from the outlet

One time at my job we had some electrical work that needed done. The electrician had a small homemade switch box with a 120v mains plug running out of it and a switch on the front. The device ...
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3answers
36k views

Turn one light bulb ON and another OFF at the same time with one switch

I am trying to operate two AC current light bulbs with one switch so that while the switch is in the OFF position, bulb B1 is OFF and bulb B2 is ON, and while the switch is in the ON position, bulb B1 ...
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8answers
3k views

Are 6 volt fluctuations in a 120 volt home outlet harmful to equipment?

I live in an older house in New England. I bought an UPS (uninterruptible power supply) to plug my computer into. This particular UPS has an input and output voltage reader on it. I notice when my ...
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3answers
4k views

My 15 amp hair dryer has a 20 amp plug. Can I put a 15 amp plug on it?

I have a 14.85 amp portable air dryer with a 20 amp plug - vertical/horizontal prong. Can i replace this plug to standard 15 amp both vertical prongs, and use safely on a 15 amp circuit? Assuming it ...
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8answers
31k 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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5answers
52k 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 ...
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10answers
79k views

Does one need to be certified in order to do residential electrical work?

I have a Bachelor in electrical engineering, a lot of hands-on experience with electrical work, and I'm very familiar with NEC 2011 and electrical codes. Can I do residential electrical work without ...
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1answer
3k views

How to clean a burnt wall socket?

I had a dishwasher plugged into the wall. The dishwasher plug has always been a little iffy but we have never had a problem with it before. It shorted while the dishwasher was running and I caught it ...
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7answers
26k views

Why do electricians prefer not to use the push-in connections on receptacles?

Why do electricians prefer not to use the back-stab or quick connect holes on switches and receptacles? If these were unreliable do you think they would be allowed by the NFPA and NEC?
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3answers
2k views

Getting a power pole moved

Anyone ever had this done? What does this kind of thing typically cost if I have to pay for it? The utility cooperative here won't tell me anything without first paying hundreds of dollars for a "tech ...
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8answers
158k 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 ...
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5answers
5k 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 ...
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4answers
6k 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 ...
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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 ...
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3answers
5k 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?
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2answers
36k 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?

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