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How To Install an Outside GFCI Receptacle – Step by Step Instructions with Pictures

January 29, 2008

This past week was a nightmare for me. My wife flew to upstate NY (approximately 2,000 miles east of here) to visit her sister in the hospital, where she stayed all week. The dishwasher quit Tuesday night and when I got home from work on Wednesday, the furnace was not working.

The dishwasher not working was not too big of a deal, but the furnace not working sucked. It got down to 18 degrees below zero fahrenheit Wednesday night here in Bozeman, MT. Fortunately, we have a wood burning fireplace. I also decided to do the laundry Wednesday night so I could use the dryer for heat as well. I disconnected the flexible hose at the wall and stretched it around to the outside of the dryer and put a pair of my wife’s panty hose over the end to catch the lint. This worked well; between the fireplace, the dryer and a couple of space heaters, I was able to keep the house at 64 degrees fahrenheit all night. The furnace was fixed Thursday morning, thankfully.

At any rate, because it was so cold all week, I received several service calls to install outside GFCI receptacles to plug engine heaters into. Friday afternoon was considerably warmer and I installed one about a mile from my house. So, I ran home first and grabbed my camera. I thought I would take advantage of the opportunity and create a blog post about this installation.

The instructions and images below will walk you through step by step on how to install an outside GFCI receptacle. Click on any of the images for a larger view.

The tools you need for this installation are:

  • Tape measure
  • Pencil
  • Razor knife
  • Wire strippers
  • level
  • Phillips screwdriver
  • GFCI receptacle tester
  • Safety glasses
Hand Tools
You are also going to need something to cut the hole for the receptacle box. I definately prefer the Roto Zip for this. It’s small, light weight, easy to handle, easily adjustable cutting depth and with the wide variety of bits, it can cut through just about anything. As you can see, mine is pretty beat up. I use this tool on a daily basis. I usually burn out 1 to 2 Roto Zips per year, but I use it to cut through everything. In my opinion, this is one of the best tools ever invented. Roto Zip
The materials you need for this installation are:

There is a receptacle on the backside of this wall approximately 2 1/2 feet above the new GFCI I was installing. Typically, I would tap power from this receptacle. However, this garage was a little bit of a wiring nightmare. There were open splices everywhere, including at this receptacle (see image below) and nothing was GFCI protected. I talked to the homeowner about repairing these fire hazards, but they did not have the money now. Fortunately for me, there is a 100 amp breaker box that is properly grounded and there are spaces available. So, I elected to supply a dedicated circuit. This way I wouldn’t have to touch or be responsible for any of the existing wiring.

Code Violations

So, let’s get started installing an outside GFCI receptacle.

Step 1 – Determine and mark the location for your receptacle. Measure
Step 2 – Place the front of the remodel box against the wall and level the box. Level Box
Step 3 – Use a pencil to trace around the outside of the remodel box. Ensure you only trace around the areas that need to be cut. Note the top and bottom of the box. There are “ears” here that prevent the box from falling into the wall; do not cut out for these. See the image to the right for what the outline should look like and note the image in step 5. Outline of box
Step 4 – Cut along the inside of the line to remove the siding and create an opening for the electrical box. Cut the hole
Step 5 – Install the GFCI receptacle box. Install the GFCI receptacle box
Step 6 – Install the NM cable (romex). Install the NM cable (romex)
Step 7 – Staple the NM cable (romex) within 12 inches of the box and approximately every 3 feet thereafter. Staple the NM cable (romex)
Step 8 – Install the GFCI receptacle. Install the GFCI receptacle
Step 9 – Install the weatherproof gasket. Install the weatherproof gasket
Step 10 – Install the weatherproof in use cover. Install the weatherproof in use cover
Step 11 – Turn on the power and test the GFCI receptacle.

 

Whole-House Exhaust Fan Electric Motors by A.O. Smith Recalled Due to Fire Hazard

January 23, 2008

On January 10, 2008, A.O. Smith Electrical Products Co., of Tipp City, Ohio voluntarily recalled about 6,300 whole-house exhaust fan electric motors. The fan’s electric motor can be miswired and overheat, posing a fire hazard.

The recalled electric motor is part of a residential whole-house exhaust fan that is typically mounted on the floor of an attic. The shutters of the fan are visible on the ceiling of the floor beneath the attic and must be opened and closed by the consumer. The motors were included with exhaust fans manufactured and distributed by Air Vent Inc. and Triangle Engineering of Arkansas Inc. “A.O. Smith,” the model number, and the service date code are printed on the rating plate of the motor. The recall includes model numbers S56A30A54 and S56A30A97, and service date codes 032076M – 334076M, 03207JY – 33407JY, and YB07 – YL07. Units that have a sticker indicating that the unit has been rewired are not subject to this recall.

A.O. Smith Whole-House Exhaust Fan

The recalled motors, included with the exhaust fans, were sold at home improvement stores nationwide or by professional installers or builders from February 2007 through November 2007 for about $3,000 and manufactured in Mexico.

Consumers should stop using the recalled unit immediately and contact A.O. Smith to arrange for a free inspection and repair of the motor. For additional information, contact A.O. Smith toll-free at (866) 567-3878 between 8:30 a.m. and 7 p.m. ET Monday through Friday, or visit the firm’s Web site at www.aosmithmotors.com.

L G Sourcing Torchiere Lamps Recalled Due to Fire Hazard; Lamps Sold Exclusively At Lowe’s Stores

January 18, 2008

On January 10, 2008, L G Sourcing, Inc., of North Wilkesboro, N.C recalled approximately 90,000 portfolio incandescent torchiere lamps due to a short circuit in the lamps’ wiring that can pose a fire hazard to consumers. L G Sourcing has received two reports of lamp fires. No injuries have been reported.

The recalled lamp has a black steel frame and a bowl-shaped light fixture. The item number 179878 is printed on the packaging and the bottom of the base of the lamp. Only lamps sold between March 2005 and October 2007 with UL listing number E246506 are included in the recall. Lamps marked “ETL listed” are not included in the recall.

The lamps were sold exclusively at Lowe’s retail stores nationwide from March 2005 through October 2007 for about $17 and they were manufactured in China. What’s up with China?

Consumers should immediately stop using the recalled lamps and return them to any Lowe’s retail outlet to receive a refund. For additional information, contact L G Sourcing toll-free at (866) 916-7233 anytime or visit www.lowes.com.

L G portfolio incandescent torchiere lamps

Grounding Receptacles in a Garage, Changing a 220 Volt Receptacle to 110 Volts and Wiring a Dimmer Switch

January 17, 2008

Doug Asks:
I am trying to update my 1960 outlets from the 2 prong to a grounded 3 prong and not having much luck. The 2 cables that go to the boxes (outlets) are three conductor (red, white , black). 2 cables go to each outlet and no ground wire is present. I believe I need to install GFCI’s but how are these wired? Currently the neutral side is easy but the black and red are both hot and the original install has the reds going to the top terminal and then the blacks going to the bottom terminal. Given this how do I wire the load and the line? Thank you, Doug

Wayne’s Answer:
It sounds like someone wired your receptacles for 2 circuits at each location. What do you have for voltage between the black and red wires?

If you don’t have an existing ground wire, then you have a few options.
1. Install a ground wire back to the ground bar in your breaker box.
2. Install a GFCI receptacle, then you may use 3 prong receptacles, but they won’t be grounded
3. Disconnect the red wire in the breaker box and make it a ground.

If you do not need 2 circuits in your garage, then I recommend option # 3. Remove the red wire from the breaker, wrap some green electrical tape around it and terminate it to the ground bar. Then go to each receptacle location and wrap some green electrical tape around the red wire and connect this to the ground screw on the receptacle.

The garage receptacles are required to be GFCI protected. It sounds like your only option to do this is a GFCI breaker. You can’t use GFCI receptacles because of the way it is wired. To use the GFCI receptacles, you need a hot and neutral coming into the box and a hot and neutral going out of the box.

 

Maher asks:
I have a 220 receptacle for my convection oven. I purchased a new range and it has a 110 plug. Can I replace the 220 receptacle with a 110 receptacle? if I can, how is it done? thank you

Wayne’s answer:
This can be done, but I don’t recommend doing this. I would install a new circuit for the 110 receptacle. If it is for a gas stove, you can get power from the closest receptacle. A gas stove typically only needs power for the igniter which uses very minimal power.

 

Toby asks:
I bought a dimmer switch it has 2 black wires coming out of the back and a green wire. I took the wall plate off and there is a black and white wire how do I hook the dimmer switch?

Wayne’s answer:
If there is only a black and white connected to your existing switch, then the first thing you need to do is correct the previous person’s mistake that wired the switch. In a switch in a residential application is the only time a white wire can be used as a hot wire. However, the white wire needs to be identified as a “hot” wire and it must be the power supply. To identify it as a hot wire, you need to either mark it with a black permanent marker or wrap black electrical tape around it.

Now just connect the green wire from the dimmer switch to the bare copper wire in your switch box. Next connect one of the black wires from the dimmer switch to the black wire in the switch box. Finally, connect the other black wire from the dimmer switch to the white wire that you just identified as a “hot” in the switch box.

 

Safety Tip to Everyone:
Make sure you turn off the power before working on any electrical circuit.

Step by Step Instructions on How To Wire a Bathroom and Hall Lighting

January 15, 2008

Hello,

I need some help for the following.

From Electrical Panel – 15 amp breaker
14/2 from breaker to bath light box #1
from bath light box #1 to bath light box #2 with 14/2
from bath light box #1 to bath double gang box with 14/3

from bath double gang box to bath exhaust fan with 14/2
from bath double gang box to hall light box #1 with 14/2
from hall light box #1 to with 14/2
from hall 3 way switch #1 to hall 3 way switch #2 with 14/3

in bath Double gang box there are two single switches
switch #1 will control lights in both bath light box #1 and bath light box #2 switch #2 in bath double gang box will control the bath exhaust fan hall 3 way switch #1 and #2 will control light in hall light box #1

I attached a schematic.

Hopefully this is wired ok. I already wired it. If not, please let me know what I missed and of course, how to make all of the connections.

By the way, the first room I wired per your instructions worked perfectly. I will have another room after I get this bathroom and hall complete.

Thanks,
Ryan

Bathroom and Hall Lighting Diagram

Yes Ryan, everything is wired correct. Good job!

So, let’s start terminating the wires in the hall light 3-way switch # 2 box.
1. Connect the bare copper wire to the ground screw on the 3-way switch.
2. Identify the white wire as a “hot” (use a black permanent marker or wrap it with black electrical tape” and connect it to the odd colored screw on the 3-way switch.
3. Connect the black wire to either one of the brass colored screws on the 3-way switch.
4. Connect the red wire to the other brass colored screw on the 3-way switch.
5. Install the 3-way switch. 6. Install the switch cover plate.

Now let’s go to the hall light 3-way switch # 1 box.
1. Connect all of the bare copper wires together and leave a 6 inch pigtail to connect to the ground screw on the 3-way switch. 2. Identify the white wires in both cables as a “hot” wire, connect them together, place a wire nut on them and fold these into the back of the switch box.
3. Connect the bare copper wire pigtail to the ground screw on the 3-way switch.
4. Connect the black wire in the 14/3 cable to either one of the brass colored screws on the 3-way switch.
5. Connect the red wire in the 14/3 cable to the other brass colored screw on the 3-way switch.
6. Connect the black wire in the 14/2 cable to the odd colored screw on the 3-way switch.
7. Install the 3-way switch.
8. Install the switch cover plate.

Next, let’s go to the hall light # 1 box.
1. Connect all of the bare copper wires and the ground on the light together.
2. Connect the white wire in the 14/2 cable coming from the bathroom double gang box to the white wire on the light.
3. Connect the black wire in the 14/2 cable coming from the hall light 3-way switch # 1 box to the black wire on the light.
4. Identify the white wire in the 14/2 cable coming from the hall light 3-way switch # 1 box, as a “hot” wire and connect it to the black wire in the 14/2 cable coming from the bathroom double gang box, place a wire nut on them and fold these into the back of the light box.
5. Install the light.

Now let’s go to the bathroom double gang box.
1. Connect all of the bare copper wires together and leave two – 6 inch pigtails to connect to the ground screws on each switch. 2. Connect all of the white wires together, place a wire nut on them and fold these into the back of the switch box.
3. Connect the black wire in the 14/3 cable coming from the bath light # 1 box to the black wire going to the hall light # 1 box and connect two
– six inch pigtails to this bundle. The pigtails will connect one to each switch to supply power to the switches.
4. Connect the ground pigtails, one to each switch.
5. Connect the power supply pigtails, one to each switch.
6. Connect the black wire in the 14/2 cable going to the exhaust fan to one of the switches.
7. Connect the red wire in the 14/3 cable going to the bath light # 1 box to the other switch.
8. Install the switches.
9. Install the switch cover plate.

Next, let’s go to the bath light # 1 box.
1. Connect all of the ground wires together.
2. Connect all of the white wires together.
3. Connect the black wire in the 14/2 cable coming from the panel to the black wire in the 14/3 cable going to the bath double gang box, place a wire nut on them and fold these into the back of the light box.
4. Connect the red wire in the 14/3 cable coming from the bath double gang box to the black wire in the 14/2 cable going to the bath light # 2 box and to the black wire on the light.
5. Install the light.

Now wire up the exhaust fan and bath light # 2; connecting the wires together color for color (ground to ground, white to white and black to black) at each location. Finally, go connect the wires in your panel, turn on and test. Remember to use extreme caution when working in your panel and turn off the power to the panel before working in it; if possible.

I hope this helps. If you need further assistance, please post your questions in the comments section of this post.

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