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44 votes
2 answers
28k 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? ...
Harper - Reinstate Monica's user avatar
115 votes
7 answers
685k views

How can I add a "C" wire to my thermostat?

So, the spiffy new wi-fi thermostats want power on the C wire from thermostat, but the old thermostat doesn't have a C wire at it. What's the easiest way to add the C wire/24 volt to the thermostat ...
Aaron's user avatar
  • 6,451
50 votes
4 answers
51k views

Are there ways to determine if a wall is load bearing?

Other than looking up blue prints, which many homeowners may not have, are there ways to determine if a wall is load bearing? Methods I can think of might include: Going up in the attic to check if ...
Doresoom's user avatar
  • 15.8k
23 votes
3 answers
3k views

First time changing switches and outlets (receptacles). Anything special I should know?

I am replacing a bunch of switches and receptacles in my house. While I understand the basics, this is pretty much my first electrical project, and I figure there must be some hidden "gotchas" or ...
Harper - Reinstate Monica's user avatar
11 votes
1 answer
5k views

I'm hearing about load sheds aka EVEMS, and the devices differ. What's that about?

There seem to be devices to let you charge an EV on houses that wouldn't otherwise have the service capacity (Electric Vehicle Energy Management Systems). Some of them slow down EV charging, but it ...
Harper - Reinstate Monica's user avatar
30 votes
3 answers
956k views

What wire gauge do I need for a 100 Amp subpanel at the end of a 60' wire run?

I am adding an attached garage to my house. I'm going to be putting in a 100 Amp subpanel which is about 60 feet away and run through the basement joists. What gauge wire do you recommend for ...
Shawn Coleman's user avatar
38 votes
3 answers
31k views

When doing electrical work, what do I use to check wires are safe?

If I am thinking of replacing a light switch, a light-fitting, a socket/outlet or doing other work with household wiring where there may be 120 Volts or 240 volts present ... There is already a ...
RedGrittyBrick's user avatar
32 votes
6 answers
9k 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 ...
user24536's user avatar
  • 321
44 votes
1 answer
207k views

What are the guidelines for holes in joists?

I've been unable to find a good reference for the size/amount/location of holes I can drill through joists. This is mostly in order to pass cabling or pipes through the joist crosswise. Also, what ...
Aaron's user avatar
  • 6,451
30 votes
9 answers
315k 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 ...
Matt Fox's user avatar
  • 485
50 votes
10 answers
72k 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 ...
Tester101's user avatar
  • 132k
33 votes
5 answers
61k 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 ...
Paul's user avatar
  • 2,370
32 votes
4 answers
154k views

Should all Federal Pacific panels be replaced?

I understand that Federal Panel Stab Lok breakers have the potential for becoming stuck, overheating, and starting fires. My home has a Federal Pacific panel but no outward markings of being a Stab ...
STW's user avatar
  • 736
32 votes
5 answers
500k 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 ...
MarkD's user avatar
  • 5,125
25 votes
6 answers
24k views

What benefit do plasterboard/drywall screws have?

I have some plasterboard screws like this: However, without a drill I have a job getting them into the wall. Am I safe to use normal screws on hangings that aren't going to be taking a great deal of ...
Jivings's user avatar
  • 353
44 votes
12 answers
310k 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 ...
Kellenjb's user avatar
  • 2,070
41 votes
9 answers
128k views

Should I use steel or wood studs for basement exterior walls?

Related: When should you use metal studs? I'm planning on finishing my basement. (assuming all water issues are resolved) I'll be putting up a water barrier (tar paper) on all exterior walls, ...
Chris Cudmore's user avatar
30 votes
9 answers
144k 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 ...
snicker's user avatar
  • 567
64 votes
7 answers
506k 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 ...
BlueRaja - Danny Pflughoeft's user avatar
42 votes
3 answers
502k views

Why do my LED lights stay on, even when the switch is off?

I have two LED lamps in my corridor, and when I switch them off, they keep emitting light (not very strong, but it's annoying at night). What can it be? How can I fix it?
opalenzuela's user avatar
5 votes
2 answers
126k views

Unexpected voltage with switch turned off

I am doing some work on a ceiling light and I notice that, even though the light-switch is off, my voltage tester shows voltage present. Answers to other questions (below) explain about phantom ...
RedGrittyBrick's user avatar
20 votes
10 answers
276k 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 ...
hoc_age's user avatar
  • 303
44 votes
8 answers
533k 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 ...
amphibient's user avatar
  • 7,525
13 votes
4 answers
328k 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 ...
Confluence's user avatar
32 votes
8 answers
160k views

How do I rehang a wooden door with worn screw holes?

I have a wood door in one of my rooms where the top screws no longer hold the hinge to the wall because the screw holes have worn loose. I have tried slightly larger screws and filling with wood ...
user avatar
14 votes
4 answers
10k views

Why not use a plastic receptacle box for an outdoor outlet?

This answer says "... it should be possible to cut into the wall and install a metal box (don't use plastic, please) [for an outdoor outlet]." What are the problems associated with using a ...
KJ7LNW's user avatar
  • 1,205
12 votes
2 answers
119k views

How do I identify the C terminal on my HVAC?

How do I identify the C terminal on an HVAC, furnace, or boiler? If the terminals don't have a screw labeled C what should I look for on the wiring diagram? What steps should I take if a wiring ...
BMitch's user avatar
  • 42.9k
3 votes
5 answers
8k views

What to do with a new duplex outlet when the tester says Hot & Ground are Reversed?

I switched out a regular outlet with a LeGrand Radiant Duplex Outlet, connecting all of the wires (2 White, 2 Black and 1 Green) exactly as the previous outlet was wired and according to the ...
DBWC's user avatar
  • 31
43 votes
10 answers
299k views

Can I run CAT5/6 cables parallel to electrical cables?

I am building a new house and am planning to hardwire network cables into each room. Can I run CAT5/6 cables parallel to electrical wires without introducing any general safety issues or losing much ...
Martin's user avatar
  • 533
12 votes
5 answers
88k 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 switches and the first plug to make them hot. He then ran 14-2 to feed the rest of the ...
Mikey's user avatar
  • 131
87 votes
13 answers
100k views

How to remove screws with stripped heads?

I have wood screws whose heads are stripped from trying to remove them with a drill. The drill (or screwdrivers) can't grip the heads anymore. What can i use to remove these screws easily?
LordHits's user avatar
  • 1,025
13 votes
2 answers
73k views

Why am I measuring 16 volts on a wire that should be at 0 volts?

I am replacing a power receptacle at my apartment. It has the standard four wires, with one of the two reds going to a nearby toggle switch. I am concerned because when the toggle switch is off, I ...
Philip's user avatar
  • 481
11 votes
8 answers
185k 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 ...
Jimmy Hoffa's user avatar
4 votes
4 answers
52k views

Is it OK to use 1/4" concrete backer board over 1/2" plywood as a bathroom subfloor?

I just bought a house built in 1978 and I'm planning on putting tile in the bathrooms (currently linoleum). The fixtures are removed and the flooring under the linoleum is particle board. I think ...
kinar's user avatar
  • 1,089
38 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 ...
moswald's user avatar
  • 523
31 votes
6 answers
148k views

Where should I NOT use a GFCI or AFCI?

There is a lot of information out there about the benefits of GFCI and AFCI and the places where they must or should be used. But are there any circumstances where you're better off without them? If I ...
dlf's user avatar
  • 647
15 votes
1 answer
9k views

How do I correctly install ceramic floor tile?

How do I correctly install ceramic floor tile? There's lots of talk about using backerboard and waterproofing membranes, what an acceptable floor deflection is, different grout and thinset additives, ...
Mazura's user avatar
  • 13.4k
28 votes
3 answers
8k views

Now I realize I used too many GFCI outlets. How can I reclaim them?

Yeah, so the building inspector redflagged a bunch of outlets for not being GFCI. Before I understood how the LOAD terminals work, I just replaced every single one with a GFCI outlet. Most had a ...
Harper - Reinstate Monica's user avatar
25 votes
6 answers
256k 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 ...
Tim's user avatar
  • 251
22 votes
4 answers
234k views

Should the backer board be in front of or behind the tub flange?

I'm installing a new bath tub and shower. I've removed the old tile down to the studs. Should the backer board be in front of or behind the tub flange? I put it on the rear tub wall from floor to ...
SAM MCKNIGHT's user avatar
13 votes
2 answers
17k 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?
Tester101's user avatar
  • 132k
140 votes
11 answers
122k views

How to prevent heavy rainwater from jumping the gutter?

During heavy rain, the water collects from my second floor roof and runs onto the first floor roof as it should. The problem is that since all this water is now concentrated from the second floor ...
Ryan's user avatar
  • 1,383
41 votes
4 answers
332k 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 ...
Doug Porter's user avatar
35 votes
6 answers
429k views

When should pipe dope vs thread tape be used?

For threaded plumbing connections, you typically use pipe dope or thread tape (aka teflon tape). Are there situations when one is preferred over another? Does the size of the pipe, type of pipe, part ...
BMitch's user avatar
  • 42.9k
25 votes
7 answers
19k views

Panel breakers are alternately 90 V and 140 V

Everything in the house is acting up. The fridge has melted ice, the radio is acting strange, etc. I multimetered the panel box and each breaker is either 90 V or 140 V alternately. I have a plan to ...
drmadef's user avatar
  • 259
17 votes
3 answers
30k views

What is a multiwire branch circuit?

What is a multiwire branch circuit? (also known as "multiwire circuit", "multiwire branch circuit", "split phase shared neutral", "two circuits fed from one 12-3 or ...
Johnny's user avatar
  • 4,855
7 votes
3 answers
105k views

Help with garbage disposal install and high drain pipe

The drain pipe for my sink sits pretty high, and then the sink-bowels holes are pretty close to each other. Below is the best my friend and I could do to make this work, and I just realized we need ...
user18249's user avatar
31 votes
7 answers
102k 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 ...
jrdioko's user avatar
  • 841
30 votes
5 answers
22k views

What is the best method to patch a large hole (2-3 inches) in drywall?

I have a large hole where a TV wall mount once was (I believe the hole was used to run power and coax cable to the TV). I have since moved the TV and would like to patch the hole. What is the best way ...
mmattax's user avatar
  • 401
28 votes
9 answers
257k views

How do I prepare an already painted wall for new paint?

We are repainting a number of rooms in our home, do we need to put primer over the existing paint? Are there any other gotchas that we need to prepare for before repainting the walls?
Noah Goodrich's user avatar

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