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Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays from Ez DIY Electricity

December 25, 2009

Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays As 2009 comes to a close we would like to wish you a very Merry Christmas, a happy holiday season and thank you for your continued support and interest in our site. We have truly enjoyed working with you in 2009 and look forward to continuing our relationship in 2010.

One of the greatest gifts this time of year brings, is a time for reflection on what we have to be thankful for and hope for the coming year. We are truly thankful for all of you and appreciate your continued interest and support in all that we offer. We have many innovative and exciting things in store for you come the New Year. But for now, enjoy the holidays, spend time with your family, relax and recharge.

Q&A About a Treadmill Tripping an AFCI Breaker, Upgrading a Panel and Knob and Tube Wiring

December 18, 2009

Question Bob asks:
I have a new treadmill that trips the AFCI breaker when first turned on but is fine when breaker is reset.

How do you turn this on? Do you turn this on and off by plugging it in? If so, then this is the problem. When you plug the treadmill in, you will get an initial spark. The AFCI breaker is designed to trip immediately when it senses an arc-fault. If this is not the problem, then I need more information.


Steve asks:
I am installing a new load center to replace my Zenco. Problem is that it does not have enough space for the cks I have. The new panel is a Siemens but does not indicate that I can use qt breakers. If I can use 4 20 amp qt breakers it will work. Can I do this. The breakers will fit. I cannot seem to find a tech support on the Siemens web site.

Your breaker box must indicate that it is Class CTL rated. You will typically find this information on the door of the breaker box. If the breaker box is not Class CTL rated, then you may not use the QT breakers. Using the half-sized breakers will overload the breaker box and possibly start a fire. If you are installing a new breaker box, then go get one with enough capacity and leave some space for future circuits.


Dan Rath asks:
I would like to replace a light fixture that is Knob and tube wired with, as far as I can tell, 2 black wires. The Fixture is Powered First with wires then running to the switch. Using a Volt detector I notice that one wire changes (hot/not hot) with the switch. I assume this is the (black lead) and the other would be the White. The thing I don’t understand is when the Light is off, both leads to the fixture are hot and when the light is on only the (white). I would think that it should be the other way around, that with the switch off, there should only be one hot lead. Could you advise what to do.

My first recommendation is to replace the knob and tube wiring. This type of wiring is unsafe because of the cloth insulation. All of the heating and cooling of the wires over the years will cause this insulation to break down and become brittle. You typically find this in lighting fixtures first.

Voltage detectors are OK to check if something is hot quickly, but you should not rely upon them. I recommend using a solenoid tester or multi-meter for a more accurate test. You do not have 2 hot wires in this box. I’m guessing that your voltage detector is picking up some voltage which is being induced onto the other wire. A solenoid tester or multi-meter will show you there is no voltage there.

Another thing to watch out for with knob and tube wiring is switched neutrals. This will hurt you more than a hot wire. Do not rely on the switch killing the power. Go turn it off at your breaker or fuse box and verify that it is off at the light.


Milbank Manufacturing Recalls Single Meter Sockets Due to Fire and Electrocution Hazards

December 17, 2009

Milbank single meter socket



On October 15, 2009 Milbank Manufacturing Co., of Kansas City, MO recalled approximately 1,400 single meter sockets. A short may occur while in use due to an incorrect bridge installed in the product, to which the meter clips are attached. If the manufacturing defect exists, all metal parts of the meter could create a shock or burns can occur if the cover is off and the meter socket is energized. Three incidents have been reported of the unit shorting out. No injuries were reported.

The single meter 200 amp/4 terminal sockets are used for underground utility meter installations. The meter socket is 20 3/4 inches high by 9 inches wide and 4 1/2 inches deep with 1 meter position. It is used by the approving utility to mount their electric meter to measure how much electricity a residence uses. It can be used for an underground residential application. The recalled model number 9090 appears on the right or left side of the installed meter socket. If not installed, model numbers U9090-O or R9090-O will appear on the label on the outside of the box.

Milbank meter socket guts


These units were sold at electrical supply distributors in N.Y., Pa., Vt. and Mass. and at local hardware stores in N.Y. from May 2009 through August 2009 for about $70. They were manufactured in the United States.

You should stop using the recalled product immediately and contact the electrical supply contractor who installed the sockets. Contractors will contact Milbank Manufacturing for a replacement or reimbursement. Milbank will contact all distributors and stores where the recalled product was sold.

For additional information, contact Milbank Manufacturing’s Sales Engineer toll-free at (888) 537-0881 between the hours of 8 a.m. and 4 p.m. CT Monday through Friday, or visit the company’s Web site at http://www.milbankmfg.com/Recall/RecallForm.aspx


Q&A About Electric Baseboard Heaters, Quad Receptacles and Installing New Circuits to Bedrooms and a Family Room

December 16, 2009

Question John S. asks:
Electrician ran wiring for 2 pole baseboard heaters in my basement remodel but no thermostat, and now electrician is in the wind. Looks like he ran wiring for 2 units each on it’s own breaker (I wanted them in tandem) don’t know if they are. Sheetrocks already up. What can I do?

Trace the wiring. The safest way to do this is to turn off the power and verify that it is off at the heater. Disconnect the heaters from the electrical wiring. Go to the second unit and wire nut the 2 hot wires together. Go back to the first unit and check for continuity. You should have continuity on the set of wires going from the first heater to the second heater. Go back to the second unit and separate the wires. Go to the first unit and check for continuity. You shouldn’t have continuity on the set of wires going from the first heater to the second heater.

Since there is no wall-mounted thermostat, I recommend installing a unit-mounted t-stat on each heater. There should be 2 sets of wires at the first heater. Connect both of the black wires together and to one of the line side wires on the t-stat. Connect both of the white wires together and to the other line side wire on the t-stat. Connect the heater to the load side of the t-stat. At the second heater, the wires coming from the first heater connect to the line side and the heater connects to the load side. Close everything up, turn on the power and test.


Doug asks:
I was wondering if the quad outlets could overload a circuit and if it would be better to run romex from two different circuits, one to each outlet.

It depends on what you are going to plug into the outlets. In a residential application this should be fine because you typically do not use everything plugged into a circuit at the same time. I recommend installing a dedicated circuit if the load on your quad receptacles will consume 60% of the circuit’s capacity or more.

Tip You are only permitted to fill a circuit breaker to 80% of it’s capacity. 15A breaker = 12A load maximum. 20A breaker = 16A load maximum.


Alvin Fitterer asks:
I have three bedrooms and family room on one breaker is there any way to split them up. All rooms are finished.

If there is attic space above or an unfinished basement or crawl space below, then you can fish some wires through these spaces. You may also surface mount conduit or wiremold. Another trick is to lift the carpet and cut the sub-floor to access the joist space and fish wires through here. However, I do not recommend this is there is a hardwood or other type of finished floor below the carpet.

I recommend installing 2 new circuits. Place the family room on a dedicated circuit, the largest bedroom on a dedicated circuit and the 2 smaller bedrooms on a circuit. This should give you plenty of capacity for anything you want to do in these spaces.


Leviton Compact Fluorescent Keyless Lampholder with Pig Tail Leads and Optional Polycarbonate Lamp Guard

December 15, 2009

Leviton compact fluorescent keyless lampholder I learned about a new product from Leviton today. They are now making a compact fluorescent keyless lampholder. The cool thing about this lampholder is the optional polycarbonate lamp guard. This means that you may use these in a clothes closet and place them a minimum of 6 inches away from the storage space. I like these because they are going to be quick and easy to install.

I typically install a recessed can, a compact fluorescent lamp with a shower trim in clothes closets that I wire. This configuration costs me approximately $15.00 for the can, lamp and trim. However, it takes about 1 hour to install the can, wire it, install the lamp and trim. The compact fluorescent keyless lampholder costs me about the same money but, I can install one of these in about 30 minutes. By switching to this product I can be more efficient and complete my projects quicker. Plus, I can offer an energy star compliant fixture for a reasonable price.

Leviton states that these can be used in closets, garages, basements, utility rooms and attics. However, I wouldn’t install these anywhere except for closets. You can get a regular keyless lampholder for about $1.25 and a compact fluorescent lamp for about $2.50 at your local home improvement store. However, if you are making your home energy star compliant, then I recommend installing these fixtures in garages, basements, utility rooms and attics.

Here is the item description taken from Leviton’s website –

Compact Fluorescent Keyless Lampholder with Pig Tail Leads Polycarbonate Housing, COF WHITE, 13 Watt CFL Lamp Included. Rated 120 V 18 Watts Max, Two 8-32 Mounting Screws.

Features and Benefits

  • 13W GU24 Base Lamp
  • Keyless Bi-Pin Compact Fluorescent Lampholder
  • Impact resistant thermoplastic construction
  • Optional polycarbonate lamp guard available
  • Pigtail leads provide easy installation
  • Knockout holes on box enable multiple configurations
  • Thread-cutting screws facilitate installation of lamp guard
  • Warranty : 2-Year Limited
  • Lamp Output = 900 lumens
  • Lamp Color = 2700 K
  • Installs in closets, garages, basements, utility rooms and attics
  • Suitable for indoor use only
  • Use with standard wall switch

Catalog number – 9860-LHG

Purchase your Leviton Compact Fluorescent Keyless Lampholder with Pig Tail Leads Polycarbonate Housing on Amazon today.

I haven’t used one of these yet, but I will on my next project. What are your thoughts? Will you install these in your home?


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