Friday, July 30, 2010

Changing light switch with plug to just light switch

Three light switches with exposed wiringImage via Wikipedia

In the bedroom the main light switch also had a plug.plug cover broke off.Want to put just a light switch.But in the box there are four black wires,four white,and 4 ground.One goes to the light mounted on the wall which has a turn knob.and two hanging lights on each side of the room.How do I know which black and white to hook to the switch to make it work.I beleive I'll have to cap a white and a black wire to eliminate plug wires but what do I do.


Hi Alexia,

I will do my best to help you here. This is a good project for a beginner. You should be proud of yourself for taking this on but if you don't feel comfortable it is OK to call an electrician. Better safe than sorry.

OK Here we go.

First, tie all your ground wires together. Put them under one wirenut and use a 6inch scrap ground wire to jump out of the wire nut to attach to the switch.

Second, place all the white wires under one wire nut. Since you will not be using the outlet you will not need to attach any white wires to the switch. In this situation the white wires are being used as the return path for the electricity or you neutral. Push all the white wires to the back of the box.

Third, Put all the black wire together. Turn the power on. The light should go on. Now remove one wire at a time until the light goes off. When you find the wire that controls the light tie the other three wires together and use a scrap wire as a jumper. Put the jumper on one side of the switch and the wire that controls the light on the other. When the switch closes the light will go on an when the switch open the light will go off.

That is all there is to it.

Good luck

Bill Lutz
Generation 3 Electric, Inc.

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Piggyback Plug with Switch


I'm looking for a product exactly like this:

However I need the plugs to be 3 prong instead of 2. I can't find anything like what I have in mind. Have you seen something along those lines or know where I should look? I'm trying to connect a switch to the power strip that's behind my stereo and tv. I've looked at Belkin's remote control power strips, but I'd really prefer a wired solution as I'm aiming more for reliability and low-cost. Thanks,

Hi Jack

That is a good idea. Turning off the power to your electronics is a good way to save power. Most people don't realize how much power is wasted by unused electronics. Here are some web links that might have something that will work for you.

Good Luck,

Bill Lutz
Generation 3 Electric, Inc.

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wiring lights

Ceiling lightImage by Generation 3 Electric, Inc via FlickrQuestion:

Hi Bill,
I am looking to wire a room using 3 different switch points. My problem is in the second switch point. In this gang box I will have one 3 way switch used to light the room and a second single pole switch to light an outdoor patio light.
Currently I have a 14-3 line coming in with power from the first switch, a 14-2 coming in from the patio light and finally a 14-3 line coming/going to the final switch in the room.
The 14-3 line are red/white/black/ground and the 14-2 are white/black/ground. I thought I had it figured out, but the way I currently have it the indoor switch only shuts power off to the other switches and the patio switch will turn on the outside light, but only with the other switch "on".
Any help would be GREATLY appreciated! Thanks!


Hi Ryan,

Great job attempting this yourself. Switch is not as easy as most people seem to think until they get stuck. This is not a beginners project so don't feel bad if you need to call in a pro. Let me see if I can give you some advice to help you out.

I can't see you wire so it is not possible to give you a wire diagram or to tell what goes where.Instead I want you to think abut what you are trying to do. You have a pair of three-way switched and a single pole switch. They are two separate controlling systems.

What I want you to do is find your feed in the 2 gang box and put two jumpers off of it. One for the single pole switch. The other for the three-way switches. Solve them separately. It sounde like you are trying to do it all at once when you really need to be breaking it down into smaller sub-systems.

Good luck,

Bill Lutz
Generation 3 Electric, Inc.

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Standard height of light over bathroom vanity?

There is no standard height for a bathroom vanity. In new construction a loose wire is normally left in the wall space behind the vanity. After the vanity is installed a height is determined by the mirror height and the light fixture style. The a hole is cut into the wall the loose wire is found and placed into an old work box.

Thursday, July 29, 2010

recessed lighting

Category:Electrical Wiring in the Home
Subject:recessed lighting
Question:I have installed 16 recessed lights in my kitchen. We do not have insulation in our attic. When we turn on the lights sometimes 6 may come on, some times 10 may come on, or maybe only 3 will come on.
When I first installed the lights all of the lights were coming on but over the years (3 years) this problem has occurred. I thought the bulbs were just blown, but sometimes one of the lights that was not on, may come on when I turn the lights on again.
Again thank you so much

Answer: Hi Illya,

I'm sorry to hear that you are having this problem. The first most likely cause of this if they were professionally installed would be bad heat detectors from the manufacturer. This happens often if you buy off brands from home centers. They are just not built to last.
The second most likely problem would be bad connections done by the installer. This is a common problem we find do it yourselfers making. Following the directions out of a book is easy for many people. Running wires is not too difficult of a job to learn. The craft of terminating wire safely and in a way that will last can't be learned by reading a book.
I thing you could have a loose connection. This is something to be concerned with because loose connections build up heat as electricity tries to jump or spark across the gap. Loose connections are a huge fire risk. It is for that reason I suggest that you call in a pro to check out this problem.

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Friday, July 23, 2010

Light switch

Category:Electrical Wiring in the Home
Subject:light switch
Question:I have a light switch that has old knob & tube wiring it is hot on one side and dead on the other when the switch is off, like it should be but when the switch is on both sides are dead, the light does work but what do they have going on with it?
Answer: Hi David,

I think you are reading your tester incorrectly. I say this because the light bulb is the simplest of testers. It only works correctly when there is a 120 volt difference between each side of the screw base. I'm thinking that when you switch is closed that you are not getting a reading because the voltage difference is 0 volts. That is as it should be in old knob and tube.

The bigger question is have you consulted an electrician about replacing that knob and tube wiring yet. I is probably about 70 years old now. I don't have anything that is 70 years old that work in a reliable way. You should be putting together a plan for the wires replacement.

Ceiling fan light combo

Category:Electrical Wiring in the Home
Subject:ceilung fan-light wiring
Question:i just fit my nutone 763rln fan and light into my bathroom. there are two cables in the attic space for the unit to attatch to. the first is white and holds 3 wires, (a white one a red one and a black one.) the second cable is white and has two wires in it, (a white wire and a black wire also). both cables have a ground wire also. my new exhaust fan has 2 plug ins, one for fan, one for light. one plug is black with a green ground wire, a black wire and a white wire. the white plug has only a white wire and a blue wire. i have two switches. main concern is what to do with the red wire. thank you
Answer:Hi Tate,

I will try to walk you through this but I can't be 100% sure without a tester and seeing the situation. First thing is the wire all have a white jacket that means they are 14 gauge or 15 amp wires. Now you have two plugs for your fan. One is for the light the other is for the fan. I will have to assume that the 14-2 wire is your feed. That means you should have 120 volts between the white and black wire.

If this is true you will hook the hot black of the 14-2 to the white wire of the 14-3. That will sent the hot down to the switches on the white wire. At the switches the White wire will jump to the bottom of each switch.

At the top of the switch you will attach either the Red wire or the Black wire. You will be making one switch become the controller of the Red wire and the other switch becomes  the controller of the Black wire.

Back at the fan attach the white wire from the 14-2, the neutral to the white wire from each outlet. Then Attach either the switched Red or switched Black to the blacks of one or the other outlets.

Tie all the grounds together and you are done. I know that this could be hard to follow. Switching something like this maybe outside of what most home owner's ability.

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Electrical Wiring in the Home
Subject:switching to GFI outlets
Question:I want to switch some outlets in my kitchen and bath to GFI outlets. When I pulled out the old outlet it has a ground, a red wire attached to the top right side, a black wire attached to the bottom right side and only one white wire attached to the top left side. The white wire is tied into a connector that has two other white wires in it. The instructions for the GFI tell me what to do if there are two wires (one black, one white) and if there are four wires. (two black, two white). What do I do with three wires, one red, one black and one white (other than the ground)? Thanks
Answer: Hi Dennis,

First off it is a very good idea to up date your old outlet to GFCIs in the kitchen and bathrooms.

Your white wires are your neutrals and they attach to the silver screws on the side you your GFCI marked "LINE"

The Red and Black wire are hot wires. Was this 1/2 outlet switched? Normally the Red wire is controlled by a switch and the black wire is hot 100% of the time. On outlets there is a small break away piece of metal between the screws that allows you to control the top and bottom individually.

On a GFCI outlet you will not have that option so you will have to chose to either switch the whole GFCI or have the GFCI hot 100% of the time. This is a job a home owner can do but there is nothing wrong with calling in a pro. Better safe then sorry.

Bill Lutz
Generation 3 Electric, Inc.

wire new central air unit

Questioner: Richard Wencl

Question: What size wire do i need .i think it is #10 %26do i have run a#12 also and can i put both wires in a one inch conduit. i have run about 45 feet.

Answer:Hi Richard

10-2 is the most common wire size for a residential AC unit. You will have to refer to the name plate or instruction manual of your AC unit to know for sure.

It will never hurt to run your wire in conduit but it is often not necessary.

I think that this job is best done by a professional electrician. It is not a basic repair and you could hurt someone if this is not install correctly.

Bill Lutz
Generation 3 Electric, Inc.
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Thank You Card

A thank you card from one of our happiest customers.  She had a big job that took some time and elbow grease from a few of our best technicians.  We're as pleased with the outcome as she is.  Thanks for the card, Jackie!

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Surge protection anyone?

I love this video. I remember watching this as a child. Now, I think about how much times have changed. Since I'm an electrician I really think about how much differently we use electricity and that it is my job to help people realize that they need to upgrade their electrical system before they run into real problem. Problems that could cause huge losses of money or even place them in danger. Let us help you keep current.

How to chose an outdoor ceiling fan

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Better then builder quality

here aren't many inexpensive upgrades you can add that are as easy to install and effective as a Power Port .

Everything in our AV systems needs power to operate.

The quality of this power is directly related to the performance of our equipment.

Getting the power out of the home's AC receptacle is the first place we should concern ourselves with proper connectivity.

Most homes have a $0.99 "contractor's special" installed in the wall socket. While these are perhaps adequate for a toaster, a lamp or a bathroom utility, they are hardly appropriate for a high-end stereo or video system.

Typical contact materials found in 99% of all home electrical systems are brass which can and does lose connectivity over just a few months.

Power Ports replace these sub-standard power connections and can contribute greatly to the performance and long term reliability of your AV system.

Customers who have installed Power Ports report nearly unanimous praise for their results.

'For me the Power Port's $49.95 x 3 is the best money I have ever spent for audio or video gear. Bar none. '

Why risk poor connectivity?

'I received the Power Port I ordered from PS Audio on Friday. I replaced my existing receptacle and plugged in my ATI 2505 power amp. The amp is on a dedicated 20-amp line. I powered up the system and turned on the TV as a test. My wife happened to be walking through the living room at the same time. She stopped and asked me what I had done to the sound on the TV. She was amazed. 'It's sounds clearer, like you took a blanket away from the speakers. '

We would recommend replacing every AC receptacle in your home that has any form of audio/video equipment connected to it. Use a lamp to test and make sure the power

The list would include power amplifiers, preamplifiers, digital source equipment, televisions, RPTV's, projectors, receivers. In short, any piece of home AV equipment you care about should be connected through a Power Port.

Installing a Power Port couldn't be easier

We estimate the average time to install a Power Port is approximately 15 minutes or less.

We replaced 5 sets of duplex sockets in the PS Listening room on a Saturday morning in about one hour.

After the Power Ports were installed we reconnected the equipment, let it warm up for another hour and were simply stunned at the level of improvement.

Step one

First things first. Make sure the power is off to the receptacle you want to replace. This is really easy to do.

Perhaps the quickest method is to plug a lamp into the receptacle and make sure the lamp is illuminated.

Have a friend watch the lamp while you go and find the circuit breaker that is powering the receptacle.
As soon as the lamp goes out, have the friend make sure it does not power the lamp in either the top or Remove the wires from the old plug bottom plug.

Step two

Remove the cover plate.

This is achieved by simply removing the small screw in the middle of the plate and pulling the cover off, thus exposing the old receptacle.

As an added precaution, if you have one of the AC noise sniffers we recommended in the PS Tips section , place this inside the receptacle area just to make sure the power is completely off. These AC noise sniffers are readily available at any hardware store.

Now, remove the top and bottom screws of the receptacle to move it from the wall.

Step three

Remove the wires from the old receptacle.

Using a Phillips screwdriver, remove the white wires from the old receptacle, then the black wires, and then the ground wires. Actually, you can do this in any order you wish just as long as you keep track of the wire colors. Black is hot, white is nuetral, and green should be ground.

Step four

Remove the Power Port from its package and attach the wires to the Power Port.

The Power Port is marked "white" and "black" so you know exactly where to place the wires and keep the polarity correct and safe. Look closely at the front of the Power Port and you'll notice the nomenclature that tells you.

Simply attach the wires in the proper place, screw them down tightly.

The ground wire goes on the green screw on the side of the Power Port.

Step five

Place the Power Port back into the wall cavity.

Position the Power Port so it lines up with the female threads of the wall box and use the two included screws to re-attach it to the electrical box.

Basically just reverse the procedure used to remove the original receptacle.

Once the screws are in place, line up the Power Port so it is straight.

Step six

Replace the cover plate and you are done!Replace the black wires on the Power Port

Now, continue replacing each receptacle associated with any AV equipment in the same way and you will be guaranteed a perfect connection every time you use your equipment.

That's about it!

As we said, it doesn't get a lot easier when it comes to making a serious improvement to your AV system.

Power Ports are affordable, they provide an excellent long-term level of connectivity to your system and are fully UL approved.

If you have any questions our customer service people stand ready to help.

Why depend on an aging and corroding brass receptacle to power your equipment?

We realize that there will be those skeptics in the audience that don't really believe this will make much of an improvement. Certainly that is one of the reasons we offer a full money back promise on the Power Port.

Perhaps it is time we spend as much care with our AC power connections as we do with our AV signal connections. It isn't hard to imagine the need for a quality interconnect cable and equally it should not be difficult to imagine the benefits of properly connecting your equipment to its source of power.

If you are interested in outfitting your listening room or AV room with a great receptacle, we would encourage you to consider the Power Port.

Would you like to try one in your home?

Ordering a Power Port is easy.

First, determine how many receptacles in your home have items like a television, a computer, surround sound system, audio or video sources or AV equipment of any kind attached to it.

Second, click here and order the number of Power Ports you are interested in.

Again, we suggest one Power Port replacing each of the duplex sockets in your listening room, extension strip, AV room or anywhere you are concerned about the quality of the connectivity of your equipment.

Once ordered, the Power Ports will arrive in a few days and you are good to go.

Simply follow the simple instructions on the back of the Power Port package, download the same instructions here , or follow the easy step by step instructions on this page.

It is truly one of the easiest and quickest upgrades you can make to your system and it's an upgrade that will last the lifetime of your home.

Don't compromise the qualtiy of your power.

Get it right in the first place with a Power Port!

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Ceiling mounted Rain Shower head and NuTone Fan/Light combo in Honed and Filled Travertine Shower with Venetian Plaster ceiling

MasterBath 72“ Bow-Front Vanity, New Venetian Gold Granite with Ogee edge, Kohler Undermount Sinks, Graff in wall faucets, Venetian Plaster and 8” Crown.

Recessed lights ready to pop in! (Center hole is for ceiling fan)


StarCrete* Stone Fireplace, Venetian Plastered walls, Recessed accent lighting, New Baseboards, re-finished Hardwood Floors.

Recessed Lighting, Gallery Pendent Lighting, Over, Under and Inside cabinet lighting, GFCI outlets, power to all appliances and island.

Install GFI outlet & switch

Side view of GFCI Receptacle.

I removed the cover.

Back of the GFCI Receptacle. In my experience Federal Pacific and Zinsco Circuit Breakers do not trip quickly when 'shorting.'

New electric panel with surge protection

03/06/07 - Triplet in Living Room (cable, phone, electrical)

Mountain Home

Mountain Home

This is the master breakered disconnect that is needed to meet code while keeping the service panel in the same location. The wire on the left comes directly from the meter. The wire on the right feeds the panel.

It looks crazy. The old meter and active cable is on the left. The new meter box and new cable are on the right. The Power Company will make the switch over and remove the old meter box and cable leaving just the new. In about 6 to 8 weeks.... we hope.

Pepco live power up top. The house's service entrance below. The meter bridges the gap and reads current flow.

No electrical service- No electrical meter

A client asked us to have the power turned on to this house. The electric company told him that he needed to call an electrician before they would restore power. This type of request is normally done by an electrical underwriter. Electrical underwriters inspect and home for the electric company and act as a third part to insure the house is safe enough for the electric company to supply power. 

This house was not safe and we were called in. We found the house with an open meter socket. The top of the socket was connected to the live PECO power grid. This exposed anyone who would be foolish enough to put their hands in the meter to electrocution, or at least a bad shock. 

The meter box was too corroded and the service cable is no longer insulated.  This home will need a new electrical service before electric PECO will be able to restore power this home. 

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New Electrical Work in Bathroom

Bathroom GFCI outlet

Hair dryerImage via Wikipedia

Older bathroom don't always have outlets in them. There two ways to add a new outlet. The best way would be to run a new circuit from the main electrical panel. This way there will be no problem when using hair styling appliances like curling irons and hair dryer. Remember anything that produces heat or cold with electricity uses a lot of power.

This bathroom was only a powder room. The purpose of the outlet is general utility. For that reason the outlet was added off of the lighting circuit. A new wire was ran to the light switches. This supplies the new GFCI outlet 120volts of power. This outlet will be used for a night light and an air freshener.

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Open splice in the basement.-Dangerous!!

Here is an example of improper electrical work. This is called a flying splice. There could have been a light here or a carpenter damaged a wire.  Instead of calling an electrician they simple tied the wire together and through it in the ceiling. This is actually how electrical work was originally done when everything was wired in knob and tube. Only knob and tube was more secure then this sloppy junction. 

So, why don't we still make connections like this? The main reason is that we all make mistakes. Even the best electrician will make a bad junction once in a while. A junction box is there to protect us from ourselves. When an electrical connection goes bad it can shoot out sparks. It is the sparks that start fire. A junction box trap the sparks and greatly reduces the risk of house fire. 

This is just an example of why you want to hire a professional and reputable electrician and not the gut who does electrical work. There is a reason for the difference in price. In the long run you are not saving any money when you have poor quality work preformed.

Open junctions and flying splices are also a good reason to update knob and tube wiring in your home. The wire junctions are not all covered in this style wiring. They are all aging now. Existing knob and tube is anywhere between 60 to 100 years old. Sooner or later every connection will fail. Open splices are more likely to cause a fire then splice in junction boxes.

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