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Electrical Wire and Cable

The Importance of Electrical Cover Plates

Prevent Electrical Hazards by Covering Switches and Outlets – One great safety measure is to simply replace an switch or outlet cover to avoid the exposure of electrical wiring and to keep fingers from coming into contact with energized parts.

Reducing the Risk of Exposure to Electricity
Electrical Safety Question: There is no switch plate over the light switch in bathroom and screws are removed from actual switch. Last night I tried to turn the switch on and  it sparked and power in bathroom, the hallway, and half of bedroom went out. My husband attempted to flip the switch back over in circuit box, but it remained in the middle position, he then proceeded to switch off EVERY Switch within the Circuit box, and apparently he forced over the THROWN switch, he heard a hum and or buzz sound.
Now we have no power within the house, EXCEPT for, Central Heating and Cooling, Stove, Washer and dryer all 240 volt.
What is the issue? How do rectify?

Dave’s Reply:
Thanks for your Electrical Safety Question MEL.
Background: MEL, a Homeowner from Spartanburg, SC

Prevent Electrical Hazards by Covering Switches and Outlets
I believe you have described the problem in your question, as follows:

The Following  will assist you with your Electrical Safety Question:

Electrical Safety

Home Electrical Safety

Electrical Safety Articles covering several topics of home electrical safety and Do-It-Yourself Electrical Safety.
Electrical Safety

Home Electrical Safety

A new approach to keep kids and electricity apart with hopes to prevent children from being injured by electricity.

Electrical Codes

This link is helpful as a Homeowner
Do-It-Yourself Electrical

Make sure not to miss these Resources for: Other
Home Electrical Wiring Resources

» You Can Avoid Costly Mistakes! «

Here's How to Do It:
Wire It Right with the help of my Illustrated Wiring Book

Great for any Home Wiring Project.

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Complete Guide to Home Electrical Wiring

Perfect for Homeowners, Students,
Handyman, Handywomen, and Electricians
Wiring GFCI Outlets
Wiring Home Electric Circuits
120 Volt and 240 Volt Outlet Circuits
Wiring Light Switches
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
NEC Codes for Home Electrical Wiring
....and much more.

Be Careful and Be Safe - Never Work on Energized Circuits!
Consult your Local Building Department about Permits and Inspections for all Electric Wiring Projects.

Question of the Day

Wiring a Switch for an Air Compressor

Wayne asks:
I am wiring my 240volt air compressor using 10/3 to a lighted 30 amp switch to place by exit door to turn off when im away.
My question is: when I wire the switch I will have essentially two hots, do I place both the black and red on one screw and the black and red on the other?
Also its the lighted Leviton 3032-plr, a lot of the comments say I need to use the neutral to operate the light.
I dont know what to do with that.
Thanks for your help.

Dave's Reply:

Wayne, The Leviton 3032-plr switch that you have described is for 120volt applications and will not work on a 240volt circuit.
A typical 240 volt air compressor requires two hots and a ground wire.
A neutral wire is not required.
A 120volt lighted control switch could be wired as an add on control circuit, however this would require a separate 120volt control circuit, a 120volt lighted switch, and a 120volt control relay with 240volt contacts rated for 30amps.

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FAQs Frequently Asked Questions and Comments

2 Responses to “The Importance of Electrical Cover Plates”
  1. Sandi says:

    I have recently removed switch cover plates to remove wallpaper and in my kitchen. Do I need to clean around wiring before replacing the covers after we have textured and painted the room? If so, how do I need to do this? I do realize I need to cut off the power first.

    • Dave Rongey says:

      Hi Sandi,
      Generally a little paint or sheet rock texture is not going to hurt the electrical wiring. However it helps to either cover the opening with masking tape or insert some wadded up newspaper to keep the sheet rock texture out of the box. If the room will be totally re-textured and painted then you may consider turning off the circuit and removing the switches and outlets and filling the electrical boxes with the wadded up newspaper to cover the wiring. This way a wide sheet rock trowel can create a smooth flat surface where the cover plates will be installed, which will allow the cover plates to fit nicely against the wall. Allow the sheet rock compound to dry then gently break away any excess compound. Remove the newspaper after painting then reinstall the switches, outlets and cover plates.
      I hope this helps!

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