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Ask The Electrician – Electrical Questions and Answers Database

By Dave Rongey - Summary:

Troubleshooting and Repairing Electrical Wiring Problems: Licensed Electrician shares the Methods of Electrical Wiring that are used to solve the majority of home electrical wiring problems, and shows how home wiring projects are performed.

Over 3100 Electrical Questions and Answers

You are invited to learn about the methods and techniques of electrical wiring. Electrical questions and answers are categorized and easy to find, and whats best of all is there is no charge or fee to access this information.

Visit the home page of ask the electrician, or simply use the search tool which will help you locate information to that will assist you.

Learn How to Wire it Right with my
Complete Guide to Home Electrical Wiring
Perfect for Homeowners, Students,
Handyman, Handywomen, and Electricians
Wiring GFCI Outlets
Wiring Home Electrical Circuits
120 Volt and 240 Volt Outlet Circuits
Wiring 3-Wire and 4-Wire Electric Range
Wiring 3-Wire and 4-Wire Dryer Cord and Dryer Outlet
How to Troubleshoot and Repair Electrical Wiring
Wiring Methods for Upgrading Electrical Wiring
Electrical Codes for Home Electrical Wiring
....and much more.

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FAQs Frequently Asked Questions and Comments

34 Responses to “Ask The Electrician – Electrical Questions and Answers Database”
  1. Dave Rongey says:

    Hi Dave,
    A voltage tester is always the best way to check circuit voltage and wiring. If the hotplate is not warming up all the way then the wiring should be checked to ensure proper voltage. It would be good to check to make sure the control switch is functioning correctly as well.
    Thanks for sharing your electrical question with us,

  2. Dave Labs says:

    Hi, Dave
    As a handyman I replaced a small hotplate in a Defy hob. The same size as before, 3 white wires from the switch to 4 points on the plate. Connected the new plate the same as the old one which had burst the surround ring. The new plate only warms up, and does not get hot.
    Without a voltage tester, can I establish which should be earth? Do I need to?

  3. Dave Rongey says:

    Hi Larry,
    Before going straight into the construction process of the kilns you may want to examine traditional kilns to identify their various components and how they operate. Achieving the correct temperature and then regulating it will most likely be the key for the success of your application. The materials and construction methods of the kiln will have alot to do with energy efficiency and optimal performance. The overall concern is of course safety, which covers all aspects of the unit and the various phases of operation to achieve your final product.
    The electrical components will be based upon the required temperature. The voltage and amperage will be essential for sizing the components, many of which will be rated for the heat within the unit.
    The higher the voltage the better the performance and efficiency, for example 240volt rather than 120volt.
    Over current circuit protection as well as thermostat control and high limit safety sensors or switches should be incorporated into the design as well.
    Also be aware of environmental or location concerns where the unit will be installed and operating. Addressing safety issues such as work space and ventilation will be a factor.
    Search for a popular brand kiln and download the operation and maintenance manuals for more information that may be helpful for your project.
    I hope this helps,

  4. Larry Kueneman says:

    I want to build a couple of electric kilns for the fusing of glass. The construction details are a snap, but I need to understand how to design the electrical part. Do you have guidelines or a reference?

    Thanks for your time.

  5. Dave Rongey says:

    Hi JP,
    I am not aware of any specific codes for receptacles in a kick space, however codes for the specific room or area will apply, such as in the kitchen area where receptacles must be GFCI protected.
    Note that receptacles have been installed into baseboards mounted at the floor level without any problem.
    I hope this helps,

  6. JP says:

    Are there any code requirements that pertain specifically to outlets installed in a cabinet kick space?

  7. Meg says:

    These are great DIY guides, very detailed and quite informative as well as concise and straight forward.

  8. Dave Rongey says:

    Hi Brandon,
    If you have installed a Twin or Tandem circuit breaker then the circuit breaker will only produce voltage from the same buss on the panel, because that is the construction design for most twin or tandem circuit breakers. Either a full size 2-pole breaker must be installed or if the panel does not have enough free space then a quad breaker may be installed if permitted for that panel.
    When using a 2-wire cable for 240 volts you must code the white wire either black or red because it is no longer being used as a neutral.

  9. brandon says:

    I bought a air compressor it’s says on the tank 240v/15a/60hz. The tank is only 20 ft from the box I ran 10 gauge wire. I installed a Double Click 20 amp breaker, then attached the black wire to one side of the breaker and the white to the other and same to the pressure switch and it wouldn’t run right. I then test the voltage and only have 110. It’s a square d box how do I get 220v?

  10. Dave Rongey says:

    There are many other 240 volt circuits that require specific circuits and wire sizes, but as for the general purpose 120 volt circuits, yes – they may all be wired using 12 gauge Type NM Cable where permitted, however I think you will find that 14 gauge is much more versatile for lighting circuits and even some receptacle circuits, and it will save on wire cost as well.
    Each project should be considered for the best method to use, but above all the wiring must be installed with a permit, according to code and inspected.

  11. robert says:

    Except for the major appliances like dryer, and the oven can i wire my whole house with 12/2

  12. Dave Rongey says:

    No this does not sound right at all.

    The first thing I would do is contact your electrical utility company and have then come out and perform a few tests to see if the problem is on their side of the electrical service.

    If the utility service proves ok, then there is most likely a problem in the electrical service panel. I do not recommend homeowners to work in their electrical panels due to the dangers, and this is even more serious when there is the possibility of damaged electrical components. The problem is best identified and repaired by an experienced licensed electrician.


  13. Jim Halk says:

    With it on..My main breaker in the house has only one positive wire showing 110, the other shows nothing. With the main breaker off….I touch both positive feeds and together they are only showing 110….but tested individually using a ground….each shows 110 individually. I have been told the wires may be melted together in the conduit to the house? Does that sound right? What other possibilities might there be. I replaced the main breaker in the house and everything worked for about a week then one pole went dead again killing part of the house outlets….can you help?

  14. Dave Rongey says:

    Hi Julie,
    Typically the loss of power to an outlet circuit is because one of the wires of the circuit has lost connection. This may be due to the neutral wire that is burnt or loose at the circuit breaker panel, or the problem may be found at the first outlet box where a splice or connection has been lost. When power is lost to a circuit it requires testing and inspecting all of the affected circuit components starting at the electrical panel, which I highly recommend contacting a licensed electrician who will diagnose and repair the problem.

  15. Julie says:

    I own a 4 family home. In one of the apartments, ALL of the 110 volt outlets stopped working suddenly. The 220 volt still work. No breakers were tripped, though we turned them off and back on to reset anyways. I am baffled. Any thoughts on why this could have happened and what I should do? I don’t want to call in an electrician unless I have to and know what’s going on. Thanks.

  16. Dave Rongey says:

    Hi Ron,
    Typical home electrical services are 120/240 volt and anywhere from 60 to 400 amps, depending on the size, the age and the actual connected circuit loads of the home. The electrical utility company overhead service drop is usually good for services up to 200 amps, however this is a matter the electrical utility company must decide, and they will have a few factors to consider.
    Whenever an electrical service is upgraded a permit and inspections will be required. Hiring a good licensed electrical contractor will be beneficial for you because they will help determine exactly what size service you should install, and evaluate your present and future electrical circuit requirements.

  17. Ron Walls says:

    I want to put new panel in and take out the old fuse box. Putting in 200amp service. Do I have to have the electric company do anything or is the service coming in already good enough to carry my new 200amp service? If i am thinking right it should be 480 coming in for 200amp service. Am I right? If so i can answer my own question by checking the load coming in. If it is only 240amp then the electric company will have to come do there thing. Am i thinking right?
    Thank you!

  18. Dave Rongey says:

    The bridge on the outlet should be removed in order for the switch to control the bottom portion of the outlet.

  19. Mike says:

    The switch box at the front door has two switches. One does the outside porch light and the other is presumed to an outlet on the wall in the living room. The porch light does not work and the outlet is hot all the time. The switch box has two Romex cables, one with white, black, and ground and the other has white, black, red, and ground. The black in the four wire cable goes to the outlet switch (top) as well as the red wire (bottom same side). The black then loops over to the porch light switch (top) and then the black wire from the three wire cable hooks to the bottom. The white from both cable are soldered together and are taped with electrical tape. Over at the outlet, again two Romex cables, red is hooked on the bottom right, black on the top right and white on both top and bottom on the left. The bridge on the outlet appears to be still on the outlet.

  20. Sherri says:

    I have 3 outlets in a parallel circuit and somewhere in between them is a short that keetps kicking my breaking. Outlet A ohmed out with no resistance, as did outlet C. Outlet B only hit 10-11 ohms. By running wire from A to C and disconnecting B, thought the problem was solved. NOPE. Breaker still kicked off. Any ideas what the problem might be and how to fix it?


    Sitting in the dark
    (AKA Sherri)

  21. Robert Tilton says:

    My water heater is on a 25 amp circuit breaker. My dryer is on a 30 amp circuit breaker. They are not wired together in the panel or at the appliance connections. Yet, the dryer shows no electric power unless water heater is also on. As it is now, the dryer just barely hums and does not come on or run. The dryer receptacle checked 12o and 123. There was zero reading at switch.

  22. My water heater is on a 25 amp circuit breaker. My dryer is on a 30 amp circuit breaker. They are not wired together in the panel or at appliance. Yet, the dryer shows no electric power unless water heater is also on. As it is now, the dryer only barely hums and does not run.

  23. Dave Rongey says:

    Ok James – now it makes sense. The NM B designation refers to the typical 90 Degree Centigrade specification, a very commonly used cable for home electrical wiring. James, if the cable is in good shape then I do not see any reason why it could not be installed according to code.

    Thanks for the kind New Year wishes, and a Happy New Year to you and your family as well.
    We just returned form a Christmas marathon trip traveling a few hundred miles that took us to several locations, visiting both sides of the family and by golly, now were back home to have Christmas with our children. It has been quite a journey a great time with our families.
    I see I’ve received a lot of blog posts and website questions, so I’ll be catching up while I sip some more eggnog and munch on more cookies and holiday goodies.


  24. James says:

    Sorry Dave, of course you need the size…
    The cable printing is: E18679 (UL) AWG 12 CU 2 CDR with AWG 12 Ground Type NM-B 600 VOLT.

    So my wife just read this off to me and with her much better eyes she pointed out that it IS NM-B and not as I had read NM-R. No wonder I could find nothing on on NM-R.

    Is it still safe to use 25 to 30 year old cable??

    I apologize for bothering you on Christmas.

    Have a great New Year!!! James Shaw

  25. Dave Rongey says:

    James, what it the size of the NM-R cable and how many conductors does it have ex:12/3 with ground.
    I will look into this and reply to your post.

  26. James says:

    Have about 100′ of NM-R cable that’s probably 25 years old. I cannot find any info on the web about NM-R cable. First: is it safe to use? Second: does anyone know anything about NM-R cable?

  27. Dave Rongey says:

    Ed, NEVER increase the size of the circuit breaker because that can lead to a house fire. The circuit breaker is doing its job, you need to find out why the arcing is happening. I’m wondering if the switch box is metal and the screws are making contact with the ground wire or possible the side of the metal box. Wrapping the screw terminals with electrical tape will help with this type of problem.

  28. Ed Loven says:

    I added about 900 sf to my house by connecting the four car garage and converting part of the garage to a bedroom and bath. I simply tied in to existing electrical lines and had no problems. Recently, the light switch in the new bath started arcing when you turn it off. I thought it was just a matter of a bad switch so I purchased a new one, installed it and now it is kicking the circuit breaker. It did not kick the breaker before, only after I installed the new switch.

    I thought about just upping the circuit breaker amperage but now realize that could be a potential risk if the wiring is not the proper level. I live in rural east Texas don’t know what to do from this point. Advise?


  29. Dave Rongey says:

    Mark, personally, I see that there is a small gauge wire used on my 12 car battery charger, looks like a 16 gauge wire, but even that size sounds larger than what you need for your application. I would not use 22 or 24 gauge telephone wire, But heck, all your doing is charging a few 1.5 volt batteries. Hobby project wire for kits like this are usually 16 or 18 gauge wire.
    Let me know how it goes.

  30. Mark L. says:

    I have a very simple wiring diagram to recharge AAA batteries – up to 9 Volt batteries. I bot the parts at Radio Shack. 2 diodes, 1 transistor and 2 resistors and alligator clips to attach to the “spent” batteries.
    (1) I don’t know what gauge wire to use to hook everything up ?
    (2) although the diagram looks very simple – I’m perplexed ?
    (3) the transistor has three leads coming out of it – which of the three do I use ?

    Can I fax the diagram to you so that you may be able to assist me ?

    This probably requires the IQ of a gnat, but, ya got me !!!!!!!!

    Thanks, Mark

  31. Shannon says:

    I went to make my daughter something in the microwave. As soon as I pushed start the microwave went out. i thought it was just the microwave at first, but a basement light wouldn’t work, my computer on the second floor and a couple of ceiling fans. it seems as if everything on that circuit alone will not work. all the circuits in the breaker box were fine, but i switched them all off and back on just to be sure. the microwave will work with an extension cord going to another outlet. had a friend that is a handyman check it out and could not find theproblem but noticed a few hazardous burnt wires along the way and replaced them. What could this be if its not the breaker switch?

  32. Richard says:

    I am trying to replace a 2 prong recepticle with a 3-prong receptacle; the existing wire is 12-2, I removed the old outlet and installed a new one ,connected the wires and the ground. when I turned the power on my detector sensed power throughout the whole receptacle but when I plugged into the outlet I could not get power through the outlet into the device I plugged in. ( device aka shop-vac). what did I do wrong and is there a way to correct it ?

  33. Dave Rongey says:

    Hi Georgia, great quick question about connecting a dryer and water heater onto the same circuit. The simple answer is no, you cannot do this and the reason why is because the first time the water heater and the dryer were to come on at the same time it would trip the circuit breaker. The 220 volt dryer and the electric water heater typically are on 30 amp circuits, so when both the dryer and water heater come on this has the potential of requiring upwards of 60 amp combined. Now some may ask if they can increase the size of the circuit breaker from a 30 amp to a 60 amp and the answer is absolutely NOT. The reason why is because the circuit breaker is designed to protect the wire and circuit components from overloading and possibly causing a house fire. In this type of situation when a larger circuit breaker is installed where a smaller circuit breaker should be used it will definitely have the potential of overheating the circuit wire to the point of melting the insulation thereby causing a house fire.
    Thanks for your question, and I hope this helps.

  34. Georgia says:

    can a 220 wire be spiced for a dryer and a water heater