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93
votes
7answers
505k 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 ...
18
votes
2answers
5k 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? ...
30
votes
3answers
16k 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 ...
21
votes
3answers
613k 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 ...
21
votes
6answers
18k 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 ...
26
votes
9answers
212k 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 ...
37
votes
8answers
92k 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, ...
33
votes
1answer
152k 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 ...
26
votes
5answers
302k 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 ...
27
votes
5answers
33k 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 ...
37
votes
10answers
54k 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 ...
23
votes
6answers
5k 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 ...
37
votes
4answers
21k 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 ...
33
votes
12answers
201k 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 ...
25
votes
6answers
75k 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 ...
31
votes
3answers
322k 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?
10
votes
2answers
93k 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 ...
2
votes
5answers
968 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 ...
10
votes
3answers
222k 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 ...
23
votes
3answers
125k 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 ...
8
votes
2answers
44k 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 ...
27
votes
7answers
83k 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 ...
81
votes
13answers
63k 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?
39
votes
7answers
206k views

Can Romex (NM-B) be run through conduit?

A few days ago I asked an electrician if I could run Romex 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 a wide ...
12
votes
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?
10
votes
8answers
148k 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 ...
34
votes
3answers
258k 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 ...
24
votes
6answers
298k 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 ...
27
votes
7answers
93k 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 ...
11
votes
1answer
151k 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 ...
8
votes
1answer
76k views

How do I wire a GFCI/Switch Combo?

I'm replacing an old GFCI/Switch combo. In the old one there are two wires coming into the line side, a hot wire and a neutral. On the load side there is one wire leading up to the lighting fixture. ...
12
votes
10answers
158k 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 ...
9
votes
4answers
117k views

How to properly ground a subpanel in detached building?

I Will be installing a subpanel in a detached garage. The subpanel will be 60 amp. The garage is about 30' from the main-panel in-house, and I will of course get an exact length before selecting the ...
14
votes
5answers
126k 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 ...
11
votes
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 ...
30
votes
8answers
155k 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 ...
26
votes
8answers
295k 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 ...
7
votes
3answers
4k views

Can ground shock me? It's bonded to neutral in my panel

I have no outdoor outlets. I want to install a GFCI outlet underneath my main service panel. Inside the panel there is only one bar with both ground and neutral wires connected to it. If I connect ...
8
votes
3answers
16k views

Can you run a junction inside an outlet or recessed light

I have been working on finishing my basement and am starting my rough in electrical. I am learning as I go and have gotten most of the basics down.. calc load, box size, stapling, supports etc. One ...
8
votes
9answers
181k views

How many outlets can you have on one 15 amp circuit?

In my rebuilding project I have counted 18 outlets and lights on one bedroom circuit that travels through 3 rooms. Is that ok?
55
votes
77answers
46k views

What are the tools that every Do-it-Yourselfer must own?

What are the tools that every DIY'er should have? This is a community wiki as there is no one right answer. Instructions: One item per answer (so they can be voted on - answers with multiple items ...
104
votes
17answers
112k views

When should I not use WD-40?

Looks like WD-40 can be used for lubricating just about any metal parts. Are there non-obvious cases where using WD-40 will be harmful to the stuff lubricated?
56
votes
14answers
404k views

Should I set fence posts in dirt, gravel, crushed rock, or concrete?

I have received conflicting advice about how to set wooden fence posts. Many web sites suggest setting them in a concrete cylinder. Someone at the local hardware store had seen posts set in concrete ...
42
votes
8answers
118k views

How do I run wires for a wall-mount flatscreen TV?

Like a lot of you, we have several wall-mounted LCD HDTVs in the house. The TVs have two wires -- power and HDMI -- running down the wall to the power outlet and cable box. I've historically been too ...
23
votes
2answers
120k views

How do you plan capacity for electrical circuits?

I'm finishing a section of my basement, which currently only has one bulb for bare light. In planning the electrical arrangement of things, how do I estimate the load of light fixtures or electrical ...
31
votes
7answers
8k 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 ...
26
votes
5answers
11k 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 ...
32
votes
12answers
265k views

How much weight can screws in drywall hold?

I've always had the question of how much weight can a single screw into a drywall withstand? For instance, I would like to do things like this: It's hung with 5 screws. The whole thing weighs ...
27
votes
5answers
203k views

What kind of lubrication should I use for a lock?

I recently made the Yale lock on my front door much easier to open by spraying some WD-40 in there. However, I just saw this question on WD-40 not being a “true” lubricant, and wondered whether it ...
16
votes
6answers
184k views

Can I connect ground to neutral in a 3 wire outlet?

I have a 3 wire outlet with the entrances for hot, neutral and ground. But I know that the ground entrance is not really grounded, so in effect useless. Now, since the neutral is grounded, could I ...

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