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babyeatingpsychopath
Oct 28, 2000
Forum Veteran

I've seen a bunch of simple-to-complex home wiring posts pop up in different places. These things will be asked again, so why not make a thread for them?

If you have a question about how to wire a receptacle, switch, dimmer, lamp, ceiling fan, garage door opener, etc., post it here. I'll put up some basic stuff sometime soon.

I'm a professional electrician with the code book on my desk, and I know there are at least a couple of other people with the code book handy, so we won't steer you wrong.

Basic information:
In wiring, white is neutral, green is ground, any other color is hot.

On a receptacle, the long terminal is neutral, the short one is hot.

If you're looking at a device (switch, receptacle, etc) then the brass screw gets a hot wire, the white screw gets a neutral and the green screw gets a ground. If there are two brass screws, either or both could be hot. If there's a black screw, then it may also be hot.

In a lamp socket, the screw shell must be connected to the neutral conductor. If no ground conductor is included in the lamp cord, then any metal parts of the lamp must also be connected to the neutral. This is why polarized plugs are important. If the lamp is wired properly and your plug or receptacle is not, then all metallic parts of your lamp are hot. It's this way with anything that has a two-prong plug; if your plug is messed up, then the metal parts of the whatever may have voltage on them.

Cable numbering! If you see a number like 12/2 or 6/3, then that's the number of "normally current-carrying conductors" in the cable, one of which is the neutral. So, if you cut open a 12/2, you will see a white, a black, and bare copper?! What? Yes, cables today also have a ground, but it's typically not specified in the numbering. So your cable is really a 12/2 w/ground. Sometimes you can get 12/2 w/ insulated ground, in which case you have black, white, and green.

x/2 has black and white. x/3 has black, white, and red. x/4 has black, white, red, and blue. All of these include a ground, typically. Type NM is usually bare, but other types the ground is green.

There are also new strange cable types, like 2-12/2. That's a black, a red, a white, a white with a red stripe, and a green. It's for the new code requiring separate neutrals for each circuit.

If you want to convert old 2-prong outlets to 3-prong without running new wire, install a GFCI. It won't be grounded, but it will prevent lethal shocks. The GFCI you buy will have the stickers you need, "GFCI PROTECTED" and "UNGROUNDED." Don't use cheater plugs.
kid sinister wrote a 3 prong upgrade post that should clear up any confusion.

If you're trying to figure out what circuit something is on, plug a radio into that circuit. Turn it up loud enough that you can hear it from your panel. Turn off breakers. When the radio stops making noise, you've likely found the correct circuit. If doing a large place or somewhere where it's unwise to shut stuff off at random, I use a circuit finder from Harbor Freight. It's not perfect, but it's good enough for $20 (frequently on sale for $10). It will usually get you within a couple of breakers, or at least on the right phase.

How to install a cut-in box:
  1. Buy your box(es). This so you know what size hole you have to cut. Get whatever appropriate connectors are necessary. The blue plastic boxes usually have integral cable clamps.
  2. Figure out where your box is going to go. Pay attention to your studs.
  3. Put your box against the wall and trace around it with a pencil. It's OK if you trace a bit large; as long as your faceplate (or an oversize {or 2x oversize}) will cover the hole, it doesn't matter too much what it looks like.
  4. Cut the hole. Sawzall, that multimaster (or harbor freight equivalent), keyhole saw, dremel, steak knife, whatever. Cut the horizontal first just to make sure you miss the stud.
  5. Slide the box in the hole to make sure it's going to fit, along with your connectors and whatnot.
  6. Run your wire. Leave way, way too much hanging out. Wire is cheap, having to fish more wire because yours isn't long enough sucks. Two feet hanging out isn't excessive.
  7. Install your connectors on your cable, slide the cable into the box, then the box in the wall.
  8. Apply all appropriate fasteners to secure the box. Screw to stud, tighten the screws on the wings, bend the metal tabs, etc.
  9. Install devices.

The 2017 NEC
This is "the code book" everyone talks about when saying something is "up to code." Archive.org lost the NEC codebook, but the NFPA has it available on their site. You do have to register an account to view it though, plus you can't print it. The NFPA sends you junk mail ALL THE TIME, so register with a throwaway email address.
Thanks to kid sinister for the link, and for reminding me that it's been ANOTHER three years on this thread.

babyeatingpsychopath fucked around with this message at 01:55 on Oct 21, 2018

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Temporary Overload
Jan 26, 2005
meh

I like it. We could use an electric (rather than electronic) megathread.

Things worth explaining in first post...
Black/White/Green wires, why polar and grounded plugs matter
Gauge romex or w/e to use on lighting, new outlets, etc
Electrical safety, things you shouldn't touch unless you're experienced
Differences between US/UK/etc wiring
Basic load rating guidelines (watts, amps, etc)
Common causes to electrical issues (loose wires, overloads, etc)
What kind of project has to meet code and what doesn't

moana
Jun 18, 2005

one of the more intellectual satire communities on the web


I'd like to know about replacing outlets - we're buying a house with old outlets that are apparently out of date and sagging, so we need to replace them with new GFCI ones. I've found a couple of tutorials (like http://www.easy2diy.com/cm/easy/diy...age_id=35720244) that say we should have a circuit tester to make sure power is off, power works after fixing, etc. How crucial is that? Can't we just plug something in to see if the power is turned off?

grumpy
Aug 30, 2004



I currently have a wall oven and a cooktop. Each has its own 30 amp breaker in the main breaker panel. I am considering replacing both with a free standing range. The ones I have looked at require a 50 amp circuit.

Could I remove both the 30 amp breakers and replace them with 1 50 amp breaker? I know I would need to run new wire to the new range. What size is required by code?

Thanks for the timely thread!

Mordialloc
Apr 15, 2003

Knight of the Iron Cross

If anyone in 'Straya wants any info on wiring I can help. I'm usually here around once a day and you can PM me if you like. I may not be able to answer technical (read: by the standard) questions straight away but I do have all the answers at work.

As a general rule, only qualified electrical mechanics and fitters are allowed to work with 50v+ systems. That does not preclude you from trying to understand how a project may be completed or why something isn't working.

babyeatingpsychopath
Oct 28, 2000
Forum Veteran

moana posted:

I'd like to know about replacing outlets - we're buying a house with old outlets that are apparently out of date and sagging, so we need to replace them with new GFCI ones. I've found a couple of tutorials (like http://www.easy2diy.com/cm/easy/diy...age_id=35720244) that say we should have a circuit tester to make sure power is off, power works after fixing, etc. How crucial is that? Can't we just plug something in to see if the power is turned off?

If a wire is loose then something plugged in won't work, but the power will be on. By ensuring the right breaker is off, you can feel relatively safe, but a tester is so cheap and so worth not setting something on fire or stopping your heart that it's worth it.

grumpy posted:

I currently have a wall oven and a cooktop. Each has its own 30 amp breaker in the main breaker panel. I am considering replacing both with a free standing range. The ones I have looked at require a 50 amp circuit.

Could I remove both the 30 amp breakers and replace them with 1 50 amp breaker? I know I would need to run new wire to the new range. What size is required by code?

Thanks for the timely thread!

Yes. You're going to need 50A wiring, which is #6 AWG copper. The new wire will need (probably) 2 hots, a neutral, and a ground.

este
Feb 17, 2004

Boing!


Dinosaur Gum

This is a very timely thread for me! I've been trying to teach myself the basics of Home Electrical, and it's going decently so far (I'm in the research phase, trying to be diligent).

My house is about 100 years old, and about 50% of the wiring is knob and tube. It's also reaching the end of its life. I want to replace all the knob and tube circuits with Romex, but am not really sure where to begin. Just mapping out where the circuit wires are currently running is a nightmare in itself (it goes all over the place with lots of splices, etc.)

The big question is, how do I pull out the old wire and run new wire without having to cut a trench in my all of my walls / ceilings to access it? My guess is, I can't just *pull* out the old wire, and similarly, the new wire probably can't just be fished in through the walls, it needs to be fastened. Am I correct? This seems like the biggest barrier for me in this project, since replastering (yup, lathe and all) and repainting every room in the house sounds pretty beastly, not to mention far more expensive.

blindjoe
Jan 10, 2001


I got 6 "reno" type halogens from home depot that just mount to the drywall. I have a spool of 14/2 to wire them with, and will get some wire clamps. My plan is to wire into the existing light box (which has 3 halogens on a dimmer), then daisy chain everything around the kitchen. Any gotchas I need to worry about, besides falling through the ceiling?

grover
Jan 23, 2002

PEW PEW PEW







este posted:

The big question is, how do I pull out the old wire and run new wire without having to cut a trench in my all of my walls / ceilings to access it? My guess is, I can't just *pull* out the old wire, and similarly, the new wire probably can't just be fished in through the walls, it needs to be fastened. Am I correct? This seems like the biggest barrier for me in this project, since replastering (yup, lathe and all) and repainting every room in the house sounds pretty beastly, not to mention far more expensive.
In new construction, no. For retrofit work, it's perfectly acceptable to fish wire through walls in whatever way you can. Do you have an attic or crawlspace where you can access the top/bottom of the wall? That's likely the easiest way to do it. Otherwise, there are drilling techniques and long flexible drillbits, but it's tough work.

You can abandon the K&T in the wall once it's disconnected.

blindjoe posted:

I got 6 "reno" type halogens from home depot that just mount to the drywall. I have a spool of 14/2 to wire them with, and will get some wire clamps. My plan is to wire into the existing light box (which has 3 halogens on a dimmer), then daisy chain everything around the kitchen. Any gotchas I need to worry about, besides falling through the ceiling?
Make sure it's a 15A circuit and not a 20A circuit! Also, make sure the dimmer is rated for the # of lights you're going to put on it. They all have wattage ratings, and you don't want to exceed it. (You can replace it if necessary.)

grover fucked around with this message at 02:18 on Mar 5, 2009

Zapato
Jun 18, 2004

He'll warn you when danger's coming, fast or slow.

I have a quick question. My living room has a 2 way switch circuit (2 switches SPDT that control 1 circuit). The switches are about 8-10 feet apart on the same wall. Unfortunately, they control every outlet in the room, which means that if we turn off the lights with the switch we also turn off the TiVo. I'd like to take all of the outlets except the one the lamp is on OFF of the switch circuit. Is this possible without ripping the wall open?

I will probably hire an electrician to do this, since I'm not really comfortable with mains power, but I don't think we're willing to lay waste to our living room to do it.

Mr. Eric Praline
Aug 13, 2004
I didn't like the others, they were all too flat.


I'm about to do a complete kitchen renovation, and need to run 3 additional circuits. I'd also like to give the garage it's own dedicated circuit, as well as putting an outlet outside in the sunroom. Garage, kitchen, and sunroom are all adjacent to each other, and on the opposite side of the house from the breakers.

Instead of running 4-5 wires across the entire attic, would it be smarter and/or easier to run one big cable to a new sub-panel in the garage, and then work the new lines from there? Is running a big cable that far (probably 80-90 feet of wire) safe?

I'm pretty confident I can do this all myself. The only thing I'll probably need an electrician for is a heavy-up at the main panel. We've only got 100A service, and I'd like to upgrade that to 250A. I know the panel is rated for 250A, but I was told by my (completely incompetent) home inspector that my meter and service cables weren't. I'm betting that simply upgrading the main breaker is a bad idea.

How much of all this work am I likely to need a permit/inspection for?

Mr. Eric Praline fucked around with this message at 15:20 on Mar 6, 2009

let it mellow
Jun 1, 2000



Dinosaur Gum

Zapato posted:

I have a quick question. My living room has a 2 way switch circuit (2 switches SPDT that control 1 circuit). The switches are about 8-10 feet apart on the same wall. Unfortunately, they control every outlet in the room, which means that if we turn off the lights with the switch we also turn off the TiVo. I'd like to take all of the outlets except the one the lamp is on OFF of the switch circuit. Is this possible without ripping the wall open?



Yes it is, and it is actually quite simple. You'll just need to take the black wire to the outlet off of the switch and pigtail it to the line (incoming power). Probably your line is directly connected to the switch too, so you'll need to put it in that pigtail along with a small jump back to the switch.

quote:

How much of all this work am I likely to need a permit/inspection for?
All of it. If you are asking what you can realistically skimp on, the panel upgrade is a definite permit / inspection and then probably the subpanel, since those need the inspection stickers on them if you are ever planning on selling and getting past inspection - at least in Kentucky they do. I'd recommend pulling a permit for everything and getting it inspected anyway, though - not only will you be 100% compliant, you're paying for them to come out anyway, right? Get your money's worth!

Mr. Eric Praline
Aug 13, 2004
I didn't like the others, they were all too flat.


jackyl posted:

All of it. If you are asking what you can realistically skimp on, the panel upgrade is a definite permit / inspection and then probably the subpanel, since those need the inspection stickers on them if you are ever planning on selling and getting past inspection - at least in Kentucky they do. I'd recommend pulling a permit for everything and getting it inspected anyway, though - not only will you be 100% compliant, you're paying for them to come out anyway, right? Get your money's worth!
Thanks, that's what I figured. My issue with pulling permits is that I worry some inspector will refuse to certify my new work if they come across older stuff that's not up to code. For instance, there are some wires going into junctions just tossed around the attic right now. Nothing's stapled up like it should be. I don't really know how the permit/inspection process works. The place was built in the 50's tho, so nothing's up to current code.

Aside from that tho, my plan does sound reasonable, right? Running the sub panel's a better idea than a bundle of several wires?

let it mellow
Jun 1, 2000



Dinosaur Gum

chryst posted:

Thanks, that's what I figured. My issue with pulling permits is that I worry some inspector will refuse to certify my new work if they come across older stuff that's not up to code. For instance, there are some wires going into junctions just tossed around the attic right now. Nothing's stapled up like it should be. I don't really know how the permit/inspection process works. The place was built in the 50's tho, so nothing's up to current code.

Aside from that tho, my plan does sound reasonable, right? Running the sub panel's a better idea than a bundle of several wires?


I haven't had to deal with your first issue, but I believe that anything connected to the new/upgraded panel will have to be brought up to current code. Based on that, it may be simpler to get a second service - someone smarter than me and/or with experience dealing with that scenario can probably comment on this one, though.

For your other question, yes and no. Yes, running one wire is simpler than a bundle, but you'll need much thicker wire depending on what service you rin to the panel (I believe #4 for 60 amp and 3 #2 wires plus ground for 100 amp), and those are much less flexible and more unwieldy than #12 (for 20 amp) or #14 (15 amp). So it really depends on what you have to go through.

Ahz
Jun 17, 2001
PUT MY CART BACK? I'M BETTER THAN THAT AND YOU! WHERE IS MY BUTLER?!

I have a basement I want to finish and the builder left it with steel studs surrounding the foundation walls, insulated and sealed off with vapour barrier. Now I want to run electrical before I put drywall up. It's not a large basement, only 26'x26' square, but I figure I have three options ahead of me, which do you think would be easiest? FYI, I already have about 200' of romex 14/2 wire that I have leftover from finishing the garage. FYI, there's no code here requiring conduit of any fashion inside the home.

I can use my existing 14/2 romex and run it through my ceiling and for every recepticle I can run it down the stud and then back up into the ceiling to get to the next recepticle or switch. Are there any code issues with this? I believe this would mean the wire is just floating / falling down the side of the steel stud and getting clamped off at the recepticle box. I wouldn't actually be stapling the wire to the stud in any way since I don't want to rip down the vapour barrier if I go this route.

I can buy shielded 14/2 cable and somehow route it horizontally through my steel studs rather than wasting wire by travelling down 7ft and back up again for every run. Though now I would have to buy shielded cable and cut my vapour barrier at various areas to fish it through all my studs.

I can rip down the vapour barrier and install guards to prevent any cutting hazard in all the stud holes so that I can use regular romex horizontally run through the studs. But then I would want to try reusing vapour barrier, or would I have to buy new stuff?

Or maybe I rip down all the lovely steel studs and reframe with timber and start fresh, reusing my batt insulation?

Opinions?

RedReverend
Feb 15, 2003



Ahz posted:

I have a basement I want to finish and the builder left it with steel studs surrounding the foundation walls, insulated and sealed off with vapour barrier. Now I want to run electrical before I put drywall up. It's not a large basement, only 26'x26' square, but I figure I have three options ahead of me, which do you think would be easiest? FYI, I already have about 200' of romex 14/2 wire that I have leftover from finishing the garage. FYI, there's no code here requiring conduit of any fashion inside the home.

I can use my existing 14/2 romex and run it through my ceiling and for every recepticle I can run it down the stud and then back up into the ceiling to get to the next recepticle or switch. Are there any code issues with this? I believe this would mean the wire is just floating / falling down the side of the steel stud and getting clamped off at the recepticle box. I wouldn't actually be stapling the wire to the stud in any way since I don't want to rip down the vapour barrier if I go this route.

I can buy shielded 14/2 cable and somehow route it horizontally through my steel studs rather than wasting wire by travelling down 7ft and back up again for every run. Though now I would have to buy shielded cable and cut my vapour barrier at various areas to fish it through all my studs.

I can rip down the vapour barrier and install guards to prevent any cutting hazard in all the stud holes so that I can use regular romex horizontally run through the studs. But then I would want to try reusing vapour barrier, or would I have to buy new stuff?

Or maybe I rip down all the lovely steel studs and reframe with timber and start fresh, reusing my batt insulation?

Opinions?

I would have to imagine that replacing your barrier is cheaper than wasting copper wire by going up and down at every stud. I'd just go horizontally through your wall, and deal with the vapor barrier.

let it mellow
Jun 1, 2000



Dinosaur Gum

I did my first basement with steel studs and there were holes predrilled into them. Then you just bought grommets to hold the wire in the holes without coming into contact with the studs. Here's an example, but I just bought them at home Depot and they were cheap.

Edit: It was 6 or 7 years ago, but I think they were the ESG1 grommets.

let it mellow fucked around with this message at 18:47 on Mar 6, 2009

optikalus
Apr 17, 2008


I recently moved into a new place, and replaced all the outlets / switches with new leviton decora units. Added GFCI to the outlets next to the sinks. Added a few dimmers. All went great up until the four-way in the hall.

So there are three switches -- one four-way and two three-way switches.

The hall is in the shape of a T, with the hot coming in on the top-left three-way, the four-way is at the bottom, and the other three-way is at the top-right.

The problem is that it only works reliably when the top-left switch is in the down position. If the lights are off with that switch in the up position, the other switches won't turn on the lights consistently. If you press hard on the four-way switch, they'll flicker on briefly.

Obviously they're wired incorrectly, but I toned the wires out and wired them according to the diagram on the box.

Any ideas where I should start with this one?

grover
Jan 23, 2002

PEW PEW PEW







optikalus posted:

The problem is that it only works reliably when the top-left switch is in the down position. If the lights are off with that switch in the up position, the other switches won't turn on the lights consistently. If you press hard on the four-way switch, they'll flicker on briefly.
I'd start by replacing this switch with one that isn't broken. When the switch is flipped, it should either turn on or off, but should never flicker.

optikalus
Apr 17, 2008


grover posted:

I'd start by replacing this switch with one that isn't broken. When the switch is flipped, it should either turn on or off, but should never flicker.

That's what I thought, but it works normally as long as the top-left switch is in the down position.

Its like a $25 switch, so hopefully it is just a wiring logic problem.

grover
Jan 23, 2002

PEW PEW PEW







optikalus posted:

That's what I thought, but it works normally as long as the top-left switch is in the down position.

Its like a $25 switch, so hopefully it is just a wiring logic problem.
A 4-way switch? More like $2.50. No "wiring logic" problem is going to cause the lights to flicker.

optikalus
Apr 17, 2008


grover posted:

A 4-way switch? More like $2.50. No "wiring logic" problem is going to cause the lights to flicker.

The leviton decora 4-way is way overpriced.

The lights don't flicker constantly, a more appropriate word would be blink. So, if the top-left switch is up and the lights are off and you hit the 4-way, the lights blink on and immediate shut off. If you press hard on the 4-way, the lights will stay on, but shut off as soon as you let go. It seems to me like pressing down makes a different contact path and completes the circuit, but it otherwise isn't wired the way it should be.

MizterD99
Apr 12, 2003

"Ohhh, I just ate a whole bathtub full of cherry cobbler.. it was delicious."

We've been in our house a little over a year now and there are a few electrical items I'd like to take care of and I'd appreciate any advice.

There are a few switches around the house that I have no idea what they control. Additionally, there are a couple outside outlets that don't work. (Who knows, maybe they're related?)

What's the best way to map out what does what? I have a cheap-o light up tester and I've seen those circuit tracer dealies; are those the way to go? Would it be worth my while to just hire someone? Would any of this information be on file somewhere? (The house was build in 1956 and a large addition was added on 2002.)

grover
Jan 23, 2002

PEW PEW PEW







chryst posted:

I'm about to do a complete kitchen renovation, and need to run 3 additional circuits. I'd also like to give the garage it's own dedicated circuit, as well as putting an outlet outside in the sunroom. Garage, kitchen, and sunroom are all adjacent to each other, and on the opposite side of the house from the breakers.

Instead of running 4-5 wires across the entire attic, would it be smarter and/or easier to run one big cable to a new sub-panel in the garage, and then work the new lines from there? Is running a big cable that far (probably 80-90 feet of wire) safe?

I'm pretty confident I can do this all myself. The only thing I'll probably need an electrician for is a heavy-up at the main panel. We've only got 100A service, and I'd like to upgrade that to 250A. I know the panel is rated for 250A, but I was told by my (completely incompetent) home inspector that my meter and service cables weren't. I'm betting that simply upgrading the main breaker is a bad idea.

How much of all this work am I likely to need a permit/inspection for?
Simply upgrading the main breaker without doing anything else is a serious fire hazard because the wiring in your walls isn't rated for that current. And, oh by the way, your insurance company won't cover it if the fire inspection uncovers that you did the illegal mods that caused the fire.

You are going to need permits and inspection for ALL of it. Your "service" is a technical term describing the amount of power that's entering your home. It unrelated to how big the panel is, and is entirely dependent on the size of the meter and how much power the power company is providing you. Generally, this is reflected in the size of your main breaker, but not always. You'd have to call the power company to find out what your service actually is. If it is only 100A and you need more (do you REALLY need more, or is 100A OK? If you don't have electric heat, 100A may be OK.), they will have to upgrade it. This may be free to you, but you'll have to pay to upgrade the feeder cabling from the meter to your panel, and to replace the main breaker. If it is rated at 250A (and it's not at all unlikely), it will say so on the panel. Otherwise, you'd have to replace the whole panel. There should be information on this on the sticker in your panel saying what it's rated for and what breaker(s) you'd need to order. You'd REALLY be better off letting a professional electrician do this part, even if you do the rest yourself.

As to the subpanel, there's nothing wrong with that, and it's very common. A small 60A 240V panel should be plenty for all this, and you can get 60A NM-B so you don't have to mess with conduit. Of course, there's nothing wrong with pulling all the circuits back to your main panel if you have room for the breakers; this way, you don't have to mess with adding a new panel. If you plan on doing this work, make sure you get a book that tells you how to do it properly, or else you're going to find yourself ripping half of it out and doing it over when it fails inspection. Protip: don't mess with #14 (15A) at all, pull all the new circuits in with #12 (20A) and use 20A breakers.

Edit: or what you COULD do, is put in the new panel yourself, and wire up everything in your kitchen, and hire an electrician to review your work and do all the work in your existing panel. If you work it out in advance, you may even be able to hit him/her up for advice along the way

grover fucked around with this message at 19:23 on Mar 7, 2009

grover
Jan 23, 2002

PEW PEW PEW







Ahz posted:

I have a basement I want to finish and the builder left it with steel studs surrounding the foundation walls, insulated and sealed off with vapour barrier. Now I want to run electrical before I put drywall up. It's not a large basement, only 26'x26' square, but I figure I have three options ahead of me, which do you think would be easiest? FYI, I already have about 200' of romex 14/2 wire that I have leftover from finishing the garage. FYI, there's no code here requiring conduit of any fashion inside the home.

I can use my existing 14/2 romex and run it through my ceiling and for every recepticle I can run it down the stud and then back up into the ceiling to get to the next recepticle or switch. Are there any code issues with this? I believe this would mean the wire is just floating / falling down the side of the steel stud and getting clamped off at the recepticle box. I wouldn't actually be stapling the wire to the stud in any way since I don't want to rip down the vapour barrier if I go this route.

I can buy shielded 14/2 cable and somehow route it horizontally through my steel studs rather than wasting wire by travelling down 7ft and back up again for every run. Though now I would have to buy shielded cable and cut my vapour barrier at various areas to fish it through all my studs.

I can rip down the vapour barrier and install guards to prevent any cutting hazard in all the stud holes so that I can use regular romex horizontally run through the studs. But then I would want to try reusing vapour barrier, or would I have to buy new stuff?

Or maybe I rip down all the lovely steel studs and reframe with timber and start fresh, reusing my batt insulation?

Opinions?
#14 is only rated for 15A. You cannot put a 20A breaker on any circuit run with #14 wire.

You don't have to buy shielded cable, you can get grommets to go in the metal studs, they're very cheap. If the walls are accessible, you are required to fasten the cable without 6" or 12" of every box (depending on whether there's a clamp on the box or not) and every so often in between. If the cables are fished behind a finished wall, well, first of, it's a REAL pain in the rear end, but you're not required to secure them, they can be loose.

Are you just talking about plastic vapor barrier? Don't even worry about that, just tear if down and replace it, it will save you a TON of labor and a TON of cable costs. 25-50 cents a foot adds up when you're running an extra 10' for every run! You can reuse the vapor barrier if it's not torn, or patch it with tape if it is. (FYI, you have to use special tape.)

grover
Jan 23, 2002

PEW PEW PEW







MizterD99 posted:

We've been in our house a little over a year now and there are a few electrical items I'd like to take care of and I'd appreciate any advice.

There are a few switches around the house that I have no idea what they control. Additionally, there are a couple outside outlets that don't work. (Who knows, maybe they're related?)

What's the best way to map out what does what? I have a cheap-o light up tester and I've seen those circuit tracer dealies; are those the way to go? Would it be worth my while to just hire someone? Would any of this information be on file somewhere? (The house was build in 1956 and a large addition was added on 2002.)
Good luck, heh. No, there's not likely to be any records whatsoever beyond what's labeled on your electrical panel. There are tools you can rent/buy, cable tracers, but they're expensive and still rather difficult to use effectively. You can do a lot with a simple voltmeter, though. Don't mess with the light-up tester; definitely buy a real multimeter if you don't have one, it's well worth the $15-20.

Chances are good that there is a tripped or defective GFCI for the outside breakers. I'd look for that first. I'd also open up all the receptacles and lights that aren't working, and see if there is power going to them- bad connections in an outlet box are very common, too, but difficult to troubleshoot. The light switches may be controlling outlets, not lights.

Daddyo
Nov 3, 2000


What's the easiest way to add another switch to a ceiling fan? I've got attic access to the entire setup, and I know the fan has separate power leads for fan/light control. When I hung the fan I just followed the instructions for one power input and wired it all together, but I'm thinking I'd rather run a new connection to the switch.

grover
Jan 23, 2002

PEW PEW PEW







Daddyo posted:

What's the easiest way to add another switch to a ceiling fan? I've got attic access to the entire setup, and I know the fan has separate power leads for fan/light control. When I hung the fan I just followed the instructions for one power input and wired it all together, but I'm thinking I'd rather run a new connection to the switch.
First, kill the breaker and verify the power is secured; you're going to be working with a hot lead and NEED to do this.

Open up your light switch box. Verify that there is a spare light switch, and that there are there black and red wires coming from the fan coming into the box. unscrew the switch that's currently connected, and pull it a few inches out of the box so you can work on it.. Disconnect the incoming "hot" wire, and pigtail it using a wiring nut (yellow or red are OK) and two 6" pieces of wire. Bend a loop in these two pigtails using a needle nose pliers, and screw it down. (Loop it clockwise so that it pulls in closer when you tighten the screw. Now connect the red wire to the spare light switch. Bend the wires in a Z so they'll push back easy, and reinstall the switches and covers.

Take down your fan. There will be two leads in your fan, one for the light and one for the fan. They're normally labeled which is which. Attach one to the red and one to the black. You're done!

Mr. Eric Praline
Aug 13, 2004
I didn't like the others, they were all too flat.


grover posted:

Edit: or what you COULD do, is put in the new panel yourself, and wire up everything in your kitchen, and hire an electrician to review your work and do all the work in your existing panel. If you work it out in advance, you may even be able to hit him/her up for advice along the way
Thanks, that was the plan. I've got a couple books that came highly recommended, and I'll be studying them pretty closely before I do anything.

Any recommendations for getting the parts, or is Home Depot the place to go?

grover
Jan 23, 2002

PEW PEW PEW







chryst posted:

Any recommendations for getting the parts, or is Home Depot the place to go?
Lowes/Home Depot is fine for this stuff. You might have to go to a specialty electrical supplier for the #6-3 NM (for a 60A panel; larger for a larger panel), but everything else is readily available in the big box. They may even have this at HD (the ones near me have a motorized rack with all sorts of cable), but you'll have to ask. It's really not a big deal to hit up an electrical supply house for bits of cable. BTW, do yourself a favor, and wire up the new panel as 240V.

grover fucked around with this message at 15:55 on Mar 8, 2009

forestboy
Aug 30, 2005


grover posted:

Lowes/Home Depot is fine for this stuff. You might have to go to a specialty electrical supplier for the #6-3 NM (for a 60A panel; larger for a larger panel), but everything else is readily available in the big box. They may even have this at HD (the ones near me have a motorized rack with all sorts of cable), but you'll have to ask. It's really not a big deal to hit up an electrical supply house for bits of cable. BTW, do yourself a favor, and wire up the new panel as 240V.

The Home Depot near me didn't have any 6-3 NM, but Menard's had a supply of it. If you happen to live in the handful of states where Menard's operates, I'd recommend giving it a try. They tended to be a little cheaper on all of the wire I've needed to buy so far.

AustinJ
Jul 12, 2006

You can't take the sky from me!

I've got an older house with all 2-prong outlets, no ground. I like all my flashy electronic gizmos, and I fear for their safety living in an ungrounded world. What are my options?

No ground bascially means that surge protectors don't actually work as anything more than a power strip, right? Is a UPS a better option, or is it similarly crippled in this case? Am I correct in assuming that a GFCI outlet will not help protect against power surges?

Is it possible to ground 1 or 2 select outlets or am I stuck with essentially re-wiring the whole house, and running a proper ground back to the panel?

kid sinister
Nov 16, 2002


The first thing to do would be to turn off the power, unscrew an outlet from its box and peek inside with a flashlight. Hope against hope that it has a grounding wire. In old homes with steel outlet boxes with a ground, they sometimes liked to ground the box itself by bending the wire back where it would get clamped down by screwing down the wire clamp.

You're right, no ground = no surge protection. The same goes for UPSs, their surge protectors built in would offer no protection without a ground.

Now you could use a GFCI to protect your 3-prong devices. However, they're expensive and they're notoriously overly sensitive, i.e. they would trip under normal use. You would also need to put the "not a grounding outlet" sticker on the outlets to be up to code.

grover
Jan 23, 2002

PEW PEW PEW







kid sinister posted:

Now you could use a GFCI to protect your 3-prong devices. However, they're expensive and they're notoriously overly sensitive, i.e. they would trip under normal use. You would also need to put the "not a grounding outlet" sticker on the outlets to be up to code.
Nah, they're not overly sensitive at all, and not all that expensive, either! Unless by "overly sensitive" you mean "it trips whenever I get even a tiny shock."

GFCI is the ONLY way to safely and legally put a 3-prong receptacle on an ungrounded circuit. One GFCI can protect an entire string of receptacles, too, which will let you replace them all with 3-prong receptacles (you have to put a GFCI/Ungrounded sticker on all of them)

This will still not provide grounding, but what it will provide is shock protection for you. The GFCI is designed to trip if a ground fault exceeds 6ma, which will protect people from fatal shocks.

If you want surge protection, the best way is to install a whole-house surge supressor on your panel. It won't cost much more than a couple high-end power strips and will do a WAY better job at supressing the surges than a power strip would. Also, power strips that provide line-neutral surge suppression will still work just fine.

grover fucked around with this message at 10:36 on Mar 10, 2009

IsaacNewton
Jun 18, 2005



Can someone fill me in on why the hell don't dishwasher come with a wire / plug? Pretty much every appliance but that one come with one, is there a reason we have to make our own?

ibpooks
Nov 4, 2005


IsaacNewton posted:

Can someone fill me in on why the hell don't dishwasher come with a wire / plug? Pretty much every appliance but that one come with one, is there a reason we have to make our own?

Because dishwashers are often hardwired into the premises wiring. Adding a $10 cord and plug would be a waste for those installations that don't need it.

Daddyo
Nov 3, 2000


grover posted:

First, kill the breaker and verify the power is secured; you're going to be working with a hot lead and NEED to do this.

Open up your light switch box. Verify that there is a spare light switch, and that there are there black and red wires coming from the fan coming into the box. unscrew the switch that's currently connected, and pull it a few inches out of the box so you can work on it.. Disconnect the incoming "hot" wire, and pigtail it using a wiring nut (yellow or red are OK) and two 6" pieces of wire. Bend a loop in these two pigtails using a needle nose pliers, and screw it down. (Loop it clockwise so that it pulls in closer when you tighten the screw. Now connect the red wire to the spare light switch. Bend the wires in a Z so they'll push back easy, and reinstall the switches and covers.

Take down your fan. There will be two leads in your fan, one for the light and one for the fan. They're normally labeled which is which. Attach one to the red and one to the black. You're done!


This is what it's wired like right now. Couldn't I just run a new romex from the switch to the fan and install a separate switch for the fan/light? Or is that just over complicating the whole thing?

let it mellow
Jun 1, 2000



Dinosaur Gum

You're over complicating it. The red wire makes another run unnecessary, and then you just need to either replace the switch box with a double gang one or just buy one of these.

grover
Jan 23, 2002

PEW PEW PEW







You only need 3 wires. The white wire (neutral) is shared; you don't need to mess with it at all, just leave it entirely alone. You only need to separate the red and black wires. If you already have these 3 wires, you don't need to pull anything else.

If your box only has room for one light switch, you can get one that actually has 2 switches built into it over/under style

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mrglynis
Mar 10, 2009


I've got an 80yr old Mill House with some Knob and Tube wiring in the attic. Thats the only place its still active. The K&T is used only to power the ceiling fixtures. Here's the thing. The wiring has been illegally spliced into. The K&T doesn't run from the box. There is a "newer" wire type coming from the box into the attic. It then is spliced into the K&T. I put "newer" in quotes because its not romex new. Its rather old in itself, just newer than K&T. I'm not sure exactly what kind of wiring it is. The writing on some of it says: 14-2 Anaconda Dutrex 600V. And theres only 2 wires. Hot and neutral, no ground.

Also at each of the ceiling boxes the K&T is spliced into about 6-8" from the box and that newer wiring is what is actually running into the boxes. Its also whats running down to the switches as well.

Ok, so heres what I want to do. I want all that K&T gone. I have 50 bags of blow-in insulation taking up my whole garage, that I cant install while the K&T is active. Now, what I was hoping to do was to just splice in romex to the "newer" wiring at the point it connects to the K&T and then redo everything. The only snag with that, is that theres no ground wire. I'm therefor assuming that the only reasonable option is to run all new romex all the way from the box, and just replace the whole shebang?

I hope all this makes sense. I took pictures, but I'm having trouble getting them on my computer. I'll update the post if i get them on here.

One last question. Is it ok to have more that 1 hot wire running into 1 breaker. I ask because 3 different breakers at my box have 2 hot wires running to them. I know that regarding outlets and such you can only have 1 wire per screw. I was wondering if the same rule applies at the box too. Thanks in advance for any advice you can give.

edit:got the pictures here they are:
http://www.imagebam.com/image/a4a70529349599
The main box, highlighted area is where the multiple hot wires are connected under one breaker.

http://www.imagebam.com/image/0100e129349602
This shows the main splice where it connects to the K&T. Red is the main line coming into the attic from the box. The yellow is running off to power the bathroom and 3rd bedroom addition.

http://www.imagebam.com/image/5b2a8629349601
This shows the wiring at one of the ceiling boxes. Yellow is K&T. Blue is the 14-2 Anaconda Dutrex 600V mentioned above. Red is running down to the switch.


Hopefully these pics will make things a little clearer. If you need more pics or info, just ask. Thanks.

mrglynis fucked around with this message at 18:51 on Mar 11, 2009

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