Category Archives: Electrical

Helping solve electrical issues and repairs.

Testing and Replacing a GFCI

Testing and replacing a GFCI outlet requires a few basic hand tools and an electrical tester.

On the outlet you will see 2 buttons (they can be a combination of colors and sizes) depending on the manufacturer. One will be the test button one the other is the reset button.

A Ground Fault Circuit Interrupters (GFIC) outlet is designed to stop the flow of electrical power when even the slightest issue occurs with the power leaving the device. If electric power is detected passing to ground the device with trip and stop the flow of power. It only takes milliamps to trip the circuit to prevent you from injury or death.

GFCI are required by National electrical codes to be installed all wet locations in the home. These location include bathrooms, kitchens, laundry rooms, unfinished basements, garages and all outdoor outlets.

Testing a GFCI

These outlet should be tested monthly to be sure they are working properly. Use a plug in tester that is designed to test GFCI’s is the best way to test them. You can also plug in a light, turn it on and depress the test button on the outlet, if the light goes out and comes on when you press the reset button the device is working properly.

If the outlet does not respond properly to the test it will need to be replaced.

Head over to the Next Page for instructions on replacing a bad GFCI outlet.


How to Extend an Existing Electric Wall Box

How to use an electrical box extender if you are installing wood, stone, tile or any other material to an existing wall. For a better look and for safety you need to bring the outlets and switches out to meet the face your new wall material. There are numerous ways of accomplishing this, partially depending on the material you’re using.

Plastic box extender

Using a combustible material such as wood or paneling you must use an electrical box extender. The extender will provide protection from a potential fire caused by an electrical short or loose connection.

Although, not required for noncombustible material, it is always best to use a box extender to close the gap between the existing box and the new materials surface.

If your existing electrical junction box is metal, you can purchase a metal box extension. You could use a plastic one, provided the screws go through to the existing box.

One critical point is to cut the hole in your new material the correct size. The tabs on the extension need to sit on the surface of the new material.

While extensions are good, They are not my preference. If you’re covering the wall anyway, I prefer to open it up and install a new adjustable box. Check out the Next Page to see how to do this.


Repairing a Fluorescent Light

Your fluorescent light is not working. The first thing to try is replacing all the fluorescent tubes in the fixture. If the light still doesn’t work, you will want to remove the inner cover that houses the ballast (the big black rectangle thing). Using a power tester and with the light switch on, carefully check for power coming into the light fixture.

If you have power in to the light fixture, you most likely have a bad ballast, or bad socket. Check for loose wiring and if everything look snug and there are no black marks on the sockets, most likely the ballast is shot.

Here is a great video showing you how to replace a ballast in a fluorescent light fixture.


Changing a Fluorescent Light Tube

There are many different types and sizes of fluorescent light tubes on the market. The most common for home use is the 2 pin variety, that comes in straight and looped (U shape) tubes.

When you notice that the light is not working, it is a good chance it’s the fluorescent tube, depending on the light, on some fixtures if one bulb is bad the other will not light because they are wired in a loop so they both need to be working.

Changing these tubes is fairly simple. Remove the lights cover, see if one of the tubes has a black end, this will usually be the bad tube. If you have a 2 or 4 light fixture, I would change them all as they could be the same age, so the others will probably go out in the near future.

If you have a straight version, grasp the tube at both ends and twist the tube 1/4 turn in either direction and the pins will slide out of the socket. Replace the tube by having the pins on the end in a 12 and 6 O’clock positions, making sure the pins slide straight up into the slots on each socket, then twist 1/4 turn until they snap into place.

If you have the U shape version, you will need to just pull down gently on both sides of the tube to remove it from the sockets and the small spring clip on the curved end.

Here is a quick video showing you how to remove a straight 2 pin fluorescent tube.

You may also encounter a round fluorescent light tube. These have a 4 pin socket that just plugs in.


Don’t Be Left in the Dark

When you plug in your appliance and nothing happens, the first question that comes to mind is, why don’t I have power at my outlets? Then you think, I need to call an electrician. Well a lot of the time that is not necessary, as it may be a simple fix. It could take just a little knowledge and a few simple tools to fix the issue.

Here is an article which could help same you the expense of a service call from an electrician.

When the lights go out in one or more rooms or in a series of electrical outlets, the culprit is sometimes a circuit breaker or a fuse has blown. However, in some cases the breaker or fuse may seem fine, and even if you reset the circuit breaker the circuit is still dead. In those cases the culprit might be a GFCI outlet that has tripped.This phenomena can occur in homes that use GFCI (Ground Fault Circuit Interrupter) outlets. The GFCI outlet (sometimes also called a GFI) is like a circuit breaker and can shut off the flow of electricity to the outlet and all outlets, lights and hard-wired electrical devices downstream of the outlet. When the GFCI senses an electrical imbalance it will trip, much more quickly than a circuit breaker. Its purpose is to protect people from electrocution, something the average circuit breaker can’t do.

One thing about GFCI outlets, is that they can control outlets and lights in other parts of the home other than where the GFCI is located. It is quite common for a GFCI to be tripped in a bathroom, kitchen, laundry room, closet or even outdoors and somewhere else in the home is also affected. Don’t assume the GFCI is even on the same floor and the affected area.

GFCI Outlet

How To Reset a GFCI Outlet

Before electricity can be restored, the GFCI must be reset. However, even before you do that, you must take steps to ensure that it is safe to do so. Turn off or unplug all of the devices that are plugged into the circuit. Make certain no dangerous condition exists before restoring power.

Press the “Test” button. If it does not click, then the ground fault interrupter has tripped. Pressing the “Reset” button until you feel it click should restore power to the outlet and all lights and outlets downstream from this outlet. If it does not reset, the problem that caused it to trip may still exist. Turn off all light switches and unplug all electrical devices on the affected circuit, then try resetting the GFCI again. If the GFCI does not reset, try turning off the circuit breaker for the affected circuit, then reset the GFCI, then turn the circuit breaker back on. If the GFCI fails to reset or immediately trips again, the outlet may need to be replaced or a more serious electrical problem may exist and may require the assistance of a licensed electrician.

Follow this link for more information about GFCI Outlets

Article courtesy of:

Now that you have some learned about GFCI’s it will make it easier the next time you find yourself in the dark.

Stay tuned for more enlightening articles!

USB Outlet Chargers

In this fast changing world of technology, with all the cell phones, tables and other gadgets we have now using USB technology, find a place to plug then in is getting harder.

Manufacturers are starting to make many different types of USB outlets you can install where you currently have electric outlets. You can install them in a new location if you are handy.

With so many devices using USB to charge the batteries, the new USB outlet will really make life more convenient.

Put them in your kitchen so you have recipes handy on your tablet.

Kitchen Outlet


Not sure how to change an outlet, just plug this in to an existing one.

Plug in USB

When you travel, take a power cube with you, for where ever you need a USB outlet.

Power cube




Need more space behind your furniture, Installing a recessed outlet panel can help, Configure the plugs any way you want.

Recessed Electric panel




Install one of these on the floor under a desk, on top of a desk. Install one on the kitchen counter top.

Pop up Floor outlets

The Brushed-Stainless Pop-Up Floor Box from Garvin Industries includes (2) pre-installed, 20 Amp receptacles and (2) USB Receptacles. The kit also includes a 4″ square adjustable-height wiring box that allows outlets to be mounted in locations where wall outlets are not available. These kits are great for use in conjunction with electric furniture (like heated recliners or power-assisted lift chairs), countertops, office furniture, laboratory tables, etc. or anywhere AC power is needed. The unique pop-up feature allows users to access receptacles only when needed. The cover snaps closed when not in use, reducing the above-floor height to only 5/16″.


Head over to the Next Page for instructions on changing a existing wall plug to add USB charging ports.


Step by Step Video How To Rewiring A Lamp

You know that favorite antique lamp that you are afraid to use because it makes crackling noises when you turn it on, or the lamp cord is all frayed and looks dangerous?

Maybe you have a lamp that just stopped working.

Rewiring a lamp is a simple DIY task that you can do in about 20 minutes once you have all the parts you need. If you are doing a complete rewire you will need:

Straight slot and Phillips screwdrivers and wire strippers  and cutters

A lamp socket, 6′ of lamp cord and a plug.

This video gives you step by step instruction on how to accomplish this task and get your lamp working again.

Repairing an Extension Cord

Extension cords are a must for any homeowner. They are needed to temporarily extend power to tools and lighting inside and outside of your home. On occasion they will wear out, break or get cut and need repair. Extension cords are expensive to replace these days, so to save some money you can just repair it yourself.

Replacing either the  male or female end of the cord is quite simple, you can pick up a new end at your local hardware store for a few dollars and have your cord safely back in service in about 5 min. If your cord is broken in the middle,

Technically, you’re not supposed to splice extension cords. Even if you solder the wires, wrap each wire with electrical tape and encase the whole splice in heat shrinkable tubing, it still won’t have the abrasion resistance of a new cord. Plus, it’s not permissible under the National Electrical Code.

Instead, if both sections are long enough to be worth saving, just buy a high-quality plug and receptacle and make two cords out of one. Be sure the new ends are rated to carry the same load as the old cord and that both have built-in strain relief clamps. Otherwise, just buy one end and accept the fact that your 100-ft. cord is now only 92.56 ft.  Family Handyman

This video is a quick guide on replacing the end of your extension cord.

Remember for your safety only use extension cords for temporary power, if you are installing something permanent, install a new outlet in that location.




Understanding a 4-way Switch

A 4-way switch allows you to turn on or off a light from multiple location, so you don’t have to be in the dark. The 4-way switch creates a way to have a switch at all entrances of a room or garage with 3 or more entrances or a long hallway with many rooms off of it.

If you have a basic understanding of a 3-way switch, then adding a 4-way switch in between is fairly simple to understand also.

Check out our article on understanding a 3-way switch if you need help with that.

The 4-way switch basically breaks the one traveler an sends current down the opposite traveler causing a current flow change in the power to the 3-way switches.

This great video explains how it all works.


You now understand how a 4-way switch works, but sometimes the person before you didn’t use standard wiring practices and you may see wire colors that make it hard to figure out. If you are just replacing a switch it is best to draw a diagram and mark the wires so you can put them back the way they come off the old switch. Although it is good to note that some manufactures use a different screw pattern for their switches, go figure.


Understanding a 3-way Switch

You flip the switch at one entrance and the light goes on, flip another switch at another entrance and the light goes off, pretty cool! A great convenience until you flip a switch and nothing happens. To trouble shoot this issue you need to understand how a 3-way switch works.

Here is a great video on how this switching system works.


Now you know the secret of a 3-way switch, but what happens when you add another switch in between? You then need a 4-way switch to get it to work. Click Here to see how this works.