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Electrical Plug Questions

An electrical plug is a device that connects an appliance to a source of power supply. It usually has two metal prongs that can be inserted into a fixed socket. Standard plugs for home wiring come with three wires that are color coded. In a three prong plug, the black color indicates the live wire, white indicates the neutral wire and green indicates the ground wire. The same color codes are used in two prong plugs but they don’t have a ground wire. These wires are connected to corresponding wires of the same colors in the home’s wiring with either commercial-grade electrical connections or “caps” that are small plastic connectors. Many times when electrical plug issues arise, people tend to take on the project themselves and run into complications and have questions concerning electrical plugs.

Listed below are a few questions answered by the electrician Experts on issues related to electric plugs.

How many counter plugs am I allowed to put onto a single breaker and do they all have to be GFCI?

According to code, all counter top receptacles in residential kitchens need to be GFCI protected and there needs to be at least two circuits for small appliances. You are generally not allowed to place anything else on those circuits.

Recently the lights in my garage started smoking and the wall plugs were giving me 220 volts. I replaced the circuit breaker and found that I was still getting over 220 volts from plug ins. How do I fix this?

Start by switching off the power and examine the power that is entering the house. Ensure that there is 120 volts to ground from both phases and 220 volts across both phases. Call the power company if you get readings of 0 volts across both phases. It is possible that your transformer outside may have become faulty.

If all the above readings are okay, examine the wiring that connects the fixtures and devices on the circuit that you have a problem in. Start from the wire that comes in nearest to the panel.

Finally, if everything seems alright, get the power company to check their connections. Sometimes, two wires of different voltages coming into contact with each other can cause the problem.

Two shop lights with built-in plugs need to be wired to plug into an outlet. A single switch that will control the two duplex outlets for each light also needs to be installed. How can I get this done?

To do this, there should be a hot feed to the switch all the time. What you could do is splice the incoming white wire at the switch box to the outgoing white wire. Then connect the incoming black wire to the top screw on one side of the switch and the outgoing black wire to the bottom screw on the other side of switch. Put the switched black wire to the gold screw and the associated white to the silver screw at the first outlet.

If the two outlets are going to be in different boxes pigtail the wires at the first outlet. This means that you should splice the incoming black to the outgoing black, with a short jumper wire in the same splice.

Connect the other end of the jumper to the gold screw on the side of the first outlet. Do exactly the same thing with the white wires and connect the white jumper’s end to the silver screw on the side of the first outlet. In the same way, connect the ground wires.

Can 2 GFCI outdoor plugs be installed 15 feet apart on one 20 amp breaker? And would 12 gauge wire be heavy enough to use if the run is less than 50 feet from the panel?

Using 12/2 wire should be okay if the run is less than 50 feet. And installing two outdoor plugs on a 20 amp breaker should not be a problem either.

All electrical plugs must be checked regularly for signs of faulty wiring or fire related problems. In some cases, although you may not be able to see any damage, you can detect acrid odors near plugs that could indicate that something has burnt out. If you do not have the answers to your questions, the best and safest bet would be to contact an Expert.

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