April 29, 2010
I’m sure a lot of you have noticed that I have made lots of changes to this site lately. I’ve gone through and deleted some old posts with broken links. Worked a little on some design changes and added a few new pages. I’m also starting to experiment and play around with video. I hope to launch my first video soon. However, there is still a lot of work to do.
I’m making all of these changes in an attempt to make this site look more professional and get noticed by some of the “big guys”. Well, it looks like it worked because Brian and Paul from The Handy Guys Podcast invited me to come on their show. If you haven’t heard of them, you should visit their site. They do kind of an online radio show once a week. You can listen to their show online or your favorite MP3 player. It’s a good show. I usually hit their site on the weekend and listen to their most recent podcast in the background while I’m doing something online.
On the podcast we talk about Ez DIY Electricity and the services I offer as well as answer a few electrical questions. Click on the following link to listen to the podcast: The Handyguys and the Master Electrician.
On a side note, I’ve also started writing for one of the “big guys” Charles and Hudson. Timothy Dahl describes his site as “Charles & Hudson is an independent resource for do-it-yourself enthusiasts seeking the latest in home improvement tips and techniques as well as the finest tools and hottest news in the home building industry.”
April 28, 2010
George Mayer asks:
I did away with a hot tub but would like to use the existing wiring. It was 220 and my current need is to convert it to 110. Can that be done easily?
Yes. If your hot tub had a disconnect, then replace the 2 pole GFCI breaker with a single pole breaker and a breaker filler to fill the empty space. In a residential application 240 volts is achieved using a double pole circuit breaker and you get 120 volts using a single pole breaker.
The wiring for 120 volts is 1 hot, 1 neutral and 1 ground wire. However, 240 volts could be 2 hot wires and 1 ground or 2 hot wires, 1 neutral and 1 ground. Your hot tub wiring should be 2 hots, 1 neutral and 1 ground. Essentially, you are converting your hot tub disconnect to a sub-panel and only using 1 hot, 1 neutral and 1 ground.
All outside receptacles are required to be GFCI protected. I recommend using a GFCI receptacle instead of a GFCI breaker for 120 volt wiring because the receptacle is approximately $15.00 and the breaker is approximately $45.00.
Debbie Harris asks:
I have purchased a combination heater/exhaust/light fixture and the three way switch to replace a light with a single switch in my bathroom . How do I run the wire to operate these independently? I have done some diy electrical work before.
The manufacturer should have provided you with instructions for these items. In the instructions there should be a wiring diagram. I really need to see this wiring diagram to give you exact instructions for your application. You could either fax it to me or email me the manufacturer and catalog number of the switch and fan combo unit. My fax number and a way to email me can be found on the “Contact Me” link above.
You should be able to do this with a 3 conductor and a 2 conductor NM cable (romex) with ground if the power supply is in the switch box. If the power supply is at the heater/exhaust fan/light, then you should be able to do this with 2 – 2 conductor NM cables with ground. However, you should confirm the second configuration with the switch requirements. If the switch needs a neutral then you will need to use the same amount of wires as was required if the power supply originated in the switch box.
Gail Kugel asks:
Is it okay to change a hard wired chandelier to a plug-in chandelier by attaching a two-prong plug to the wire?
The chandelier should have a ground wire as well; which would require a 3-prong plug. Other than that, it is OK to convert the chandelier to a plug-in type instead of being hardwired.
Can you simple explain how to convert baseboard heat thermostat from single to double pole? Also if I replace the baseboard itself, is there anything special I have to do… or should it be easier than the thermostat?
I’m going to assume that you have 2 – 2 conductor NM cables with a ground in the thermostat box. One cable is power in or the line side and the other cable is power out to the heater or the load side. The simplest way to determine this is, with the power off, set your meter to continuity and check between the black and white wire in each cable. The one with continuity is the load side; providing that the heater is hooked up and working. Connect the load wires to the load side of the t-stat and the line wires to the line side of the t-stat.
The heater should be straight forward if you are replacing an existing one. If you elect to go with the Cadet SoftHeat unit, then you may have a problem if your existing wiring is on the right side of the heater. Standard electric baseboard heaters can be wired from either end and made to work. However, the Cadet SoftHeat unit can only be wired on the left side of the unit.
April 27, 2010
On October 27, 2009 Belkin International Inc., of Compton, CA recalled approximately 68,700 SurgeMaster™ surge protectors. The molding of the plastic 360 degree rotating plug, which allows for easy cord movement, can crack or detach from the plug assembly, posing a shock hazard to consumers. Belkin has received seven consumer complaints about cracking of the plug molding. However, no injuries were reported.
This recall involves the SurgeMaster™ surge protector, models F9G930-10, F9G930v10, F9G930-10-W and F9G930-10-SN, all manufactured in 2003. The model number and date of manufacture are located on the underside of the unit. Grey models F9G930-10-GRY and F9G930fc10G-CL are not a part of this recall.
These units were sold by independent distributors nationwide and the internet by www.belkin.com from September 2003 through December 2007 for about $50. They were manufactured in China.
You should stop using these power strips immediately and contact Belkin for a new replacement unit. For more information, contact Belkin toll-free at 800-952-1465 between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m. PT Monday through Friday or visit their Web site at www.belkin.com/recall.
Should You Install 15amp or 20amp Receptacles, Grounding Ungrounded Receptacles, Circuits for AC Units and Lengthening the Wiring in a Chandelier
April 26, 2010
Don Kispert asks:
I am installing GFI receptacles in my bathroom and kitchen. Should I use a receptacle rated at 15 amps or 20 amps?
You are permitted to use 15 amp rated receptacles in the kitchen and bathroom.
So I cannot put a three prong outlet in place of the two prong,and run a ground to a nearby heating duct? I am only doing this to keep a recently purchased UPS quiet when it detects a “building wiring fault”.
No! If there is a fault on the line your ground wire will carry the current. This means that all of your duct work will be live including the metal grates in each room. I wrote a post a while ago about this. Click on the link below to read this article.
My question is aim going to install 2 wall unit a/c units one in bedroom and the 2 one in the living room can use 30 amp breaker for for both units or dedicate a 20 amp for each unit?
I would install a dedicated 20 amp circuit for each unit. You may only need a 15 amp circuit. Look at the unit to determine what the load is. The manufacturer should also have instructions and electrical requirements for each unit.
Can I lengthen wiring in a chandelier if I’ve cut it too short?
Yes you may. I wrote an article about this subject which includes step-by-step instructions. Please click on the link below to read this article.
Installing a 3-way Dimmer Switch, Terminating a Dryer Power Cord and Supplying Power to a Water Softener
April 23, 2010
Regarding a 3-way dimmer on a four-way circuit, I have a similar issues. My mechanical (standard) switches work perfectly but I can’t get a 3-way dimmer (to replace one of the 3-way switches) to work right. That is, it will not work in all switch positions. According to the vague user information published by the manufacturer (Lutron), it seems you need to use an accessory dimmer with a “Multi-location” 3-way dimmer. This seems completely ridiculous…but it has to be the case. The circuit works perfectly…but not with a dimmer. The dimmer only seems to work with power on the common. When on the runner – no go. Using the same exact wiring with the mechanical 3-way – no problem!
This is very frustrating…I guess I’ll have to buy an overpriced “accessory dimmer”. Unbelievable!!! What a scam.
Eric you don’t need the accessory dimmer. First check to ensure that you wired the new switch correctly. One of the screws on the dimmer is a different color that the other 2. This is the common and you will terminate either the power supply wire or the wire which goes to the light fixture to this screw. The other 2 wires are your travelers. These will connect to the brass colored screws. If you mix up one of the travelers and the common the switch won’t work in all positions.
Lutron also makes a dimmer switch which requires a master and slave combination. This will allow you to install 2 or more dimmers and dim the lights from all switch positions. I believe this is their Maestro series. If you only need to dim the lights from one switch then you may have the wrong Lutron switch. Try their Ariadni or Skylark series. These will work for you.
Randy Kelley asks:
I have a newer home with 4 wire outlet. My dryer played out mom gave me her 3 wire one. I removed my 4 wire cord to put on older dryer. When I removed 3 wire cord the colors are red, white and l blue. Colors on 4 wire plug red, black, white and green. So I guess red to red white to white. Where do black and green go?
The black should terminate to the terminal with the blue wire and the green will terminate to the dryer’s frame. If the neutral and ground or dryer frame are connected on the dryer with the 3-wire cord, then you need to separate them by either removing the bonding strap or the green wire connecting between the dryer’s frame and the neutral position on the terminal block. The article at the link below should be a little more helpful.
John Reiss asks:
I have a 220v well away from my house. The water softener need a 110 volt source to power it. How can I wire 110v off of the 220v pump switch?
You can’t! The 200v pump circuit is probably 2 hot wires and a ground. The 110v circuit requires 1 hot wire, 1 neutral wire and 1 ground wire. You can’t tap 110v off of a 220v circuit without overcurrent protection. The 220v breaker will probably never trip if there is a problem with the 110v line. You also need to be concerned about overloading the circuit by adding the water softener.
If you have 2 hots, 1 neutral and 1 ground and adding the water softener won’t overload, then use the pump circuit to supply power to a sub-panel ahead of the pump and switch. Then use the correct size breaker to re-feed the pump and install a new single pole breaker for your 110v circuit.
If you do not have a neutral or the water softener will overload the circuit, then you need to install a new, dedicated 110v circuit.