Click Here to Receive Answers to Your Electrical Questions from a Master Electrician


Answers to Electrical Questions About Overcurrent Protection for Cooktops and Ovens, Upgrading an Electric Service and Wiring a Hot Tub

April 19, 2008

Question markGmoney asks:
I found someone’s electric cooktop and electric oven on one 50 amp circuit. Is this okay , or are they required to be on their own individual circuits?

If the cooktop and oven is a single unit, then this is ok. If the cooktop is separate from the oven, then this is not ok. You need to provide overcurrent protection for each unit. The will be a nameplate on each unit with the overcurrent protection requirements. For example, most electric cooktops that I’ve wired are typically on a dedicated circuit rated 30 amps at 220v. This would require a 2-pole, 30 amp circuit breaker.

If the cooktop and oven are individual units, then the single 50 amp circuit in unsafe. The units could potentially start a fire or electrocute someone and the breaker probably won’t even trip. If they are individual units, I would keep the 50 amp wiring and use it for the oven. However, change the circuit breaker to the proper size needed according to the nameplate rating on the oven. This will probably require a 30 amp or 40 amp breaker. Then I would install a new, properly sized circuit for the cooktop.


Dave asks:
I’m needing to change a 100amp service to a 200 amp, how and what do I need to accomidate a 50amp hot tub.

The first thing you need to do is talk to your local power company to find out what their requirements are and get on their schedule. At peak times here in Montana, our local power company may need 2 – 3 weeks before they can be their to disconnect and reconnect your power.

The next thing you need to do is determine if you are legally able to do this work and get a permit. Some areas will not allow homeowners to install / upgrade their electric service. If you are able to do this work legally, then most building codes departments and power companies have created some type of documentation with their local requirements.

Different hot tub manufacturers have different power requirements. I wrote Wiring a Hot Spring Bengal Spa / Hot Tub. This article shows step by step instructions with pictures of 1 type of hot tub installation. Your hot tub may have different power requirements than the one in this article.

Upgrading your electric service and wiring a hot tub are not really projects for beginner DIYers. For beginner DIYers, I recommend hiring a licensed / qualified electrician for this work. That being said, this is not rocket science either. I think that if you do your research, pay attention to the details and get an inspection when the work is completed, these projects can be completed by DIYers of all experience levels.

Heating and Cooling Units Recalled by Goodman Manufacturing Co. Due to Fire Hazard

April 18, 2008

Goodman Manufacturing Heating and Cooling UnitOn April 3, 2008 Goodman Manufacturing Co. L.P., of Houston, Texas voluntarily recalled approximately 1,000 package gas-electric heating and cooling units. The serial plates on the units contain inaccurate information that could result in the use of undersized installation wiring, posing a fire hazard.

This recall involves Goodman single package gas-electric heating and cooling units with model numbers GPG13480901AC, GPG13481151AC, GPG13600901BB, GPG13601151BB, and GPG13601401BB, and with serial numbers beginning 0712, 0801, and 0802. The model and serial numbers are found on the serial plate attached to the control compartment door on the front of the unit.

These units were sold by heating and cooling equipment dealers nationwide from December 2007 through February 2008 and manufactured in the United States.

Goodman is directly contacting consumers with the recalled units to arrange for a free replacement of the serial plates and free inspection of the installation wiring. For additional information, contact Goodman at (800) 394-8084 between 8 a.m. and 5 p.m. CT Monday through Friday or visit the company’s Web site at

Portable Electric Heaters Recalled by Aloha Housewares Due to Fire Hazard

April 4, 2008

On February 20, 2008, Aloha Housewares Inc., of Arlington, Texas recalled approximately 152,000 portable electric heaters. The heaters were recalled because they can overheat and melt plastic parts, posing a fire hazard. Aloha Housewares has received 29 reports of the heaters melting, smoking or catching fire, including 18 reports of property damage. One consumer reported minor burns to the hands and feet.

This recall involves electric oscillating tower heaters with the name “Aloha Breeze” printed on the top. The white heaters have model number 02044 and dates codes 06/06, 06/07, 06/08 or 06/09. Model numbers and date codes are printed on the silver label located on the back of the heater, near the bottom.

These units were sold at Wal-mart and small retail chain stores nationwide from August 2006 through November 2007 for between $35 and $45 and manufactured in China.

You should immediately stop using the recalled heaters and contact Aloha Housewares to receive a replacement product. For additional information, contact Aloha Housewares at (800) 295-4448 between 9 a.m. and 4 p.m. CT Monday through Friday, or email the firm at

Portable electric heater


Answers to Electrical Questions About Wiring in Metal Studs, Rewiring Pendant Fixtures, Switches for Garbage Disposals and Rewiring Kitchen Lights

April 3, 2008

Question mark Ron asks: I’m framing my basement with metal studs that are only 2.5? deep and I can’t seem to find cable grommets / bushings for these studs. Isn’t there an industry standard opening size with matching grommets?

Thanks for providing a valuable service.

Answer: Yes, there are 2 common sizes, but they require a stud punch. I recommend visiting an electrical supply house and see what they have in stock.

Patrick asks: I have an old pendant ceiling light that needs rewiring. I can do the wiring easily enough, but don’t know what strength (if thats the correct word) wire to use.

Answer: This depends on the size of the fixture or more importantly, the number of lamp holders with their allowable maximum wattages. Typically, 16 AWG is used for most fixtures and 14 AWG is used on larger fixtures.

Mike asks: Is a garbage disposal switch and a light switch basically wired the same?

Answer: Yes they are Mike. You only need to break the hot or black wire.

Rick asks: I had pendant lights wired in my kitchen, they may have been low voltage they did have halogen bulbs. When I installed the new lights I don’t have power. Is it possible low volt wiring is in the ceiling and now I have to stay with low volt lights or can I switch and does it matter what the old lights were? Thanks

Answer: The existing wiring may be for low voltage fixtures. You need a volt meter to determine this. You can pick one of these up at Radio Shack or your local home improvement center for around $10.00.

What does the wire look like? Is it only 2 conductors (wires) and looks like heavy duty lamp cord or is it romex? If it is not romex, you need to install romex for line voltage (120 volt) light fixtures.

Answers to Electrical Questions About Installing New Lights, Wiring Ceiling Fans and Installing a Receptacle

April 2, 2008

Question Mark Gary asks: I have a question. I currently have one set of lights in the far part of a room on 1 light switch. I would like to add 2 more sets of lights on 2 different switches with all the switched in one gang box. Is this possible? How can I do it with minimal new wiring or will I need to run a new circuit all together? Thanks in advance.

Answer: This is possible providing there is a neutral in the existing switch box. The first thing that you need to do is open up the switch box and determine if there is a neutral in there or not. If there is a neutral in the switch box, then all you need to do is run a cable (12/2 or 14/2 romex – match existing size) to each new light location, increase the box size from a 1-gang to a 3-gang and install your switches.

If there is not a neutral in the existing switch box, then you need to get one there. The simplest way to do this is to install a new circuit.


Winston asks: Please need your answer on I installed 3 ceiling fans using a 16 gauge extension cord ( 2 25 feet and 1 50 feet long) and I plug it in the garage outlet/receptacle to get a power. Is this safe using the extension cord or do I replace it with 14 gauge wire/extension cord?

The 16 gauge is too small. I don’t recommend installing these on extension cords. I recommend installing a 14/2 or 12/2 (match existing cable size) from the receptacle up to new fan rated boxes. You may either use the pull chain on the ceiling fans to control them or install switching for these fans.


Kean asks: Hello, In my garage I have a single light fixture on the ceiling that is controlled by a pull chain. I would like to replace the light fixture with a standard duplex receptical where both plugs are controlled by a single light switch. I have seen plenty of wiring diagrams where one plug is hot and the other plug is controlled by the switch. Is it not possible to control both plugs with a single switch? Thanks for your time.

Answer: This is possible. In your light box there should be black, white and bare copper wires. Connect the bare copper to the green ground screw on the receptacle, connect the white wire to the silver colored screw on the receptacle and connect the black wire to the brass colored screw on the receptacle.

Next Page »