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Answers to Electrical Questions about Kitchen Countertop Receptacles, 240 Volt Heaters & Grounding Light Switches

August 24, 2007

Randy Says:
I have a two tier island in the kitchen and want to install plug molding for outlets on the lower side. My question is can I run the electrical plug molding continuous past the back of the sink. It sets up 1 1/4? off the counter top to the bottom of the molding and need to have outlets on both sides of sink.

A: I do not recommend this. I think water would splash into the receptacles causing the GFCI to constantly trip. However, you should talk to your local electrical inspector to see if you can get their approval.

Here is what I would do. Cut the plugmold approximately 12 inches bacK from the sink edge. Begin your other run of plugmold approximately 12 inches past the other side of the sink. Now you can use a piece of conduit or some wiremold to connect the two pieces of plugmold; or feed the second piece of plugmold from below (if accessible).

The NEC requires this circuit to be GFCI protected and 20 amp rated with #12 AWG wire.


Duane Stabler Says:
I have a 240 Volt heater wired to a 20 amp circuit. It requires 8 amps to operate. I now have added a 240 volt in floor heating unit that also takes 8 amps. I want to use the same circuit for both. Do I need to wire the two in parallel or in serial to make both operate correctly?


A: You need to wire these in parallel to have one thermostat operate both heaters on the same circuit.


Theo Says:
I recently purchased a house and decided to replace most of the light switches as they were old and starting to become worn out. Of the first three switches I replaced, two did not have the ground wire connected to the switch. I have remedied this when replacing these switches, but am curious as to why the grounds would not have been connected. Also, is this an issue (and why) and should I be inspecting the rest of the switches/outlets in the house to determine if ground is connected to them?

A: The change in the NEC that required grounding of switches was in the 2002 edition I believe. So if your house was wired before 2002 it was not required to ground switches. I recommend connecting a ground wire to any switch that does not have one connected to it; especially dimmer switches.

U.S. & Canada Residents Learn How to Save up to 25% on their Electricity Bill Monthly

August 23, 2007

Imagine a small gray box that fits neatly next to your breaker box, saves you up to 25% on your electricity bill monthly, increases motor and appliance life, eliminates power surges and reduces “noise” in the electrical system. Sound too good to be true? Well, it’s not. Today, I would like to introduce you to a product that I recently discovered; the Power-Save 1200™.

If you say “yes” to two or more of the following, then you need to purchase and install the Power-Save 1200™ to start saving a significant amount of money on your electric bill monthly.

  1. Is your home over 2500 Square feet?
  2. Is your central air conditioner / heat pump unit 3 years or older?
  3. Is your forced air furnace 3 years or older?
  4. Do you have a pool?
  5. Do you have a well?
  6. Do you use an air conditioner?
  7. If your refrigerator / freezer is not EnergyStar rated.
  8. Do you have more than one refrigerator / freezer?
  9. If your washer / dryer is not EnergyStar rated.
  10. Do you have a hot tub or a jacuzzi?
  11. If your dishwasher is not EnergyStar rated.
  12. Do you have several appliances in your home?

There are several scams circulating online regarding similar products that DO NOT WORK. I assure you this is not a scam and the Power-Save 1200™ will save you money on your power bill monthly. I personally installed this on my house 2 weeks ago and I will post monthly updates regarding my savings.

As Seen On TVPlease visit our Power-Save 1200™ web page to see the TV commercial that is running nationally. While you are there, you may also view a demonstration video that will show you how the the Power-Save 1200™ will save you up to 25% on your electricity bill monthly. Additionally, you may download a report from the Department of Energy and a report from the University of Santa Clara California’s Electrical Engineering department’s study confirming the Power-Save 1200’s effectiveness.

You will also learn the answers to several frequently asked questions (FAQs) and see several testimonials from homeowners that are already seeing savings on their power bills monthly on our web page. There is a 60 day money back guarantee on the Power-Save 1200™. Additionally, we are offering FREE S&H to all 50 states and Canada for the first 100 customers. However, these are selling fast so, you need to order your Power-Save 1200™ before the FREE S&H offer expires. Visit http://powersave1200.gilchrist-electric.com/ to get your’s today. 

Wiring a Single Pole Switch, GFCI Receptacle Requirements, Cell Phone Chargers and Extension Cords

August 19, 2007

Will says:
1-how to wire a single pole switch to a light fixture with hot wire comming from panel box there are 3-blacks, 3-whites, 3-grounds type 14-2 wire.

A: There could be many different wiring configurations for these wires. I need more information to properly answer this question. Basically, I need to know where the third cable or set of wires go to.

To make the light work, tie all of the grounds together and leave 1 approximately 6 inches longer than the others. Use either a crimp sleeve or a green wirenut to hold these together. Then fold the grounds into the box. The 6 inch tail you left on the grounds is to connect to the ground screw on the switch. Next connect the white wire that comes from the panel box to the white wire that goes to the light together with a wirenut and fold these into the box. Now take the black wire that comes from the panel box and connect it to one of the brass screws on your single pole switch; it doesn’t matter which screw. Finally, connect the black wire that goes to the light to the other brass screw on the switch.


Suzanne Says:
About when were GFCI circuits in common use/required for residences? We are trying to determine whether the exterior outlets (not GFCI) in our 1980 house complied with code at that time.

A: No they did not comply if they were not GFCI protected. I’m not sure when the GFCI protection requirement began. I have National Electrical Code (NEC) books that go back in succession to the 1975 edition. The requirement for GFCI protection for all outdoor and bathroom receptacles is in this edition in section 210-8(a).


Judith Madill Says:
If you leave your cell phone charger plugged in when phone is not being charged-does it still use electricity?

A: Yes. It is converting the electricity from 120 volts to your phone’s charging voltage. Have you ever noticed the charger is warm when it is plugged into the wall and the phone is not charging? That is wasted electricity being dissipated as heat. Please unplug your cell phone charger when not in use.


Jimmy Ivey Says:
I am enjoying reading your responses to some dangerous questions.

I have a problem. I re-sand hardwood floors and have for over 12 years. So far I have not run into this problem…but it is just a matter of time until I do. My sanding machines are 50 years old and they have three wire cables. When I go onsite to work, I unplug the stove or dryer and connect my sander to their 220v. All new construction has 4 wire connections. What is going to be the safest method for me to continue to use my old sanders. I am sure in the near future I will be purchasing one of the new 4 wire sanders…but can’t do it yet. Thanks for your response!!

A: I would make a short cord to use as an adapter between your 3-wire configuration and the new 4-wire configuration. All you need is a short piece of cable (#10 AWG for 30 amps or # 6 AWG for 50 amps), a female 3-wire cord end and a male 4-wire cord end. On the male 4-wire cord end connect the 2 “hot” wires to the brass colored screws. Next, connect the bare ground to the green screw and do not connect anything to the silver screw. 

Electrician Back on Duty after Several Surgeries

August 15, 2007

Hello Everyone. I’m back and I’ve survived several surgeries. To everyone that sent emails, cards and flowers while I was in the hospital, thank you very much. Your support and thoughts meant a lot. To those of you that do not know what happened, I was diagnosed with supraventricular tachycardia about 10 or 11 months ago; and to be honest, it nearly kicked my butt.

So what the heck is supraventricular tachycardia? Well, ironically, it means my heart was short circuiting causing it to beat very fast; a few times over 300 beats per minute. My heart just all of a sudden started to race one day while I was on a jobsite. While my heart was racing, I felt like I was going to pass out. My heart raced three times a day, approximately 45 minutes each time, for the next three days.

Then my wife caught on and forced me into going to the hospital. What a horrifying experience that was. The first visit wasn’t so bad, they hooked me up to a monitor, started an IV, gave me oxygen, took a lot of blood, stuck several patches on me to take an EKG and then a chest x-ray.

From here the doctors recommended I see a cardiologist. The cardiologist took me in the next day and hooked me up to a holter monitor (basically, a portable EKG) that I had to wear for the next 24 hours. In the next 24 hours, my heart “freaked out” more than 40 times. 

I revisited the cardiologist the next day to get the results of the holter monitor’s recording. Two nurses brought me into an examination room. The first nurse took off the monitor, handed it to the second nurse, then the second nurse left the room with the monitor. 

Then the first nurse proceeded to remove all of the patches that were on my chest. She removed the last patch and I was just about to put my shirt on when the second nurse came back into the room. She had a very serious look on her face and she said “the cardiologist wants you to go to the ER immediately”. 

My heart continued to race in the ER and a few times my heart rate went over 300 beats per minute. The doctors became very concerned and a lot of things happened very quickly. One of the nurses came at me with a needle and I wanted to know what was being injected into my body. That’s when the doctor spoke up and said this is going to stop my heart for about 6 seconds to hopefully, get the rhythm back under control and not to panic. They are going to stop my heart for 6 seconds and I shouldn’t panic?

Well, somehow I managed to keep it together. When they injected this stuff (adenasine I think) into the IV, I felt it go up my arm to my shoulder. Then it felt like the blood stopped pumping from my chest to my toes. Six seconds later it felt like the blood began flowing again from my chest to my toes.

From here, the ER doctors had me admitted into the ICU where I stayed for a couple of days. Later that eveing, in the ICU, they got my heart rate under control with this medicine called Procainamide. This worked for about a month, then my heart started racing again.

The cardiologist recommended that I have a catheter ablation. This is where they insert a catheter through an artery in my groin and thread it into my heart. Then they send a radio wave down this catheter to ablate or “zap” specific spots on my heart. The logic is, where they “zap” my heart, scar tissue is created making that spot on my heart non-conductive.

The catheter ablation did not work. The doctors tried several different medications that didn’t work either. Finally, the doctors decided to attach a defribulator to my heart. This is supposed to shock my heart everytime it races to keep the rhythm under control. Hopefully, this was the final surgery. I’ve spent way too much time in the hospital and emergerncy room. The doctors and nurses were all very nice and extremely helpful, but it’s time to get back to work and get on with my life.

I hope to start answering questions again in tomorrow’s post. It looks like there’s a lot of great electrical questions you have asked. It’s going to take me a while to get caught up. So, if you need your electrical question answered immediately, I offer this service for a fee at ezDIYelectricity.com. I charge $17.00 for a 10 minute or less phone consultation. The service is also offer via email for $17.00 per question with up to 3 replies and via instant messenger (IM) for $17.00 for 10 minute intervals.