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Basic house wiring

basic household circuit
Maximum 12 boxes per circuit
Illustrated above is typical single-phase circuit found in homes and business
Notice the white neutral wire runs continuously throughout the circuit... neutral wire is never connected to a switch
Notice the bare copper ground wire connects to each device and to each metal box... ground runs continuously through circuit
Notice the Black Hot wire is connected to each switch... each box has 1 Hot wire that can be traced from box to box back to circuit breaker
Each box has a Hot wire from 1 breaker ... by code, a box cannot have Hot wire from another breaker

How to find ground fault in household electric circuit

Troubleshoot loose wire, ground fault, or short

Each 120 volt electric circuit can have maximum 12 boxes.
The 14-2 or 12-2 with/ground cable has black-white-and bare copper wires. Black wire connects to the circuit breaker, White wire to the neutral busbar, and ground wire to the ground busbar.

How the circuit is wired:
The 14-2 or 12-2 cable leaves breaker box and travels to a junction box. For example the ceiling box in the nearest room is normally used as the first junction box.
From the ceiling junction box, the cable splits off, and travels to each of the other boxes in the circuit.
Any box can be a junction box where the circuit splits and carries power to another box.
So a junction box can have several cables.
The first junction box will usually be nearest to the breaker box.
For example, if first junction box is bedroom ceiling box, there will be cables that travel to other boxes, and one cable might travel to next bedroom ceiling box. And so the next bedroom also has a ceiling junction box.
But each box in the circuit will have only 1 cable that connects back to breaker box.
When the cable arrives inside a duplex outlet box for example, another wire will leave the outlet box and travel to the next outlet box, and then travel to next outlet box or next switch box, until the last box is reached.
So each box will have 1 or more cables, and the last box will have just 1 cable.
However, each box has only 1 hot wire, and 1 neutral, and 1 ground that connect back to breaker box.

Troubleshoot steps:
Turn off circuit breaker and identify which boxes are connected to that breaker.
Select one of the outlet boxes with more than one cable. Identify which cable has the Hot and Neutral. Disconnect the other cable so boxes farther from breaker are disconnected from the circuit. Turn power ON, and see if fault is still present.
If fault is still present, then choose another live box that has two or more cables that is closer to breaker box, and repeat test.
Process of elimination will narrow the search.
The test might reveal that fault is inside a light fixture.
Disconnect that light fixture and repeat test.


Microwave oven must be on a dedicated circuit

One breaker supplies power to outlet where microwave plugs inDedicated breaker for microwave oven
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Orange 10 gauge 30 amp

Orange/ #10 gauge for for 30 amp circuits including water heater
10-2 gauge/ 30 amp
10-3/ 30 amp

NMB is house wiring
UF is underground

Yellow 12 gauge 20 amp

Yellow/ #12 gauge wire for 20 amp
12-2 gauge/ 20 amp
12-3/ 20 amp

NMB is house wiring
UF is underground
White 14 gauge 15 amp

White/ #14 gauge wire for 15 amp
14-2 gauge/ 15 amp
14-3/ 15 amp

NMB is house wiring
UF is underground
Circuit breaker boxmain breaker box
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Circuit breaker box

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Basic electric book

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basic electric wiring
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Basic household electric wiring
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Switch boxes are 50" from floor
Outlet boxes are 16" from floor
Basic household electric Run wire down center of 2x4 to avoid nails
Apply cable staples to secure wire to 2x4

Set switch or outlet box out from 2x4 to match thickness or drywall

Nail staple down snug against wire.
Make sure the staple does not cut into the wire.
The wire should not be able to move after staple is applied.
Staple is not nailed down hard... just snug.

Keep wire in middle of 2x4 wall.
Staple wire every 3 feet or so.

protect electric wires Protect electric wires from nails

Apply metal plates over places where wire passes through 2x4

Drill hole through middle of 2x4
Test wires electric tester
How to test for Hot and Neutral wire:

Turn power off
Separate all wires for testing except ground wires.
Turn power on.
Tape tester leads to wood sticks for safety.
Keep hands away from power.
Test each wire to bare ground wire.
Tester lights up on Hot wire.
Hot wire should be black (except 3-way switches)
Test Hot wire to all other wires except ground
Tester lights up on Neutral wire.

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Outlet polarity on outlets
Hot and Neutral must be correct on outlet
Hot wire connects to brass-colored screw
Neutral wire connects to silver-colored screw
Ground wire connects to green screw


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Remove cable staple
Use end cutting pliers to remove staple & nails
Good tool for electric work and construction
front cutting pliers
Crescent-brand end cutting nipper at Amazon
End cutting nippers at Amazon
strip wire Carefully slice through coating on wire
Cut down middle of cable over the ground wire
Use sharp blade
Utility knife
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Wire stripper
Terminal crimp tool

Wire strippers at Amazon

Color code for wire
circuit breaker

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circuit breakers are warm

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Move wires to different same-size breaker and see if problem continues Resources:

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Bond solar panel to ground rod

Ground wire

All phone, satellite, pool equipment, solar systems and electric pnaels must be grounded. Check local electric codes.
What does this mean? Drive ground rod 8-10 feet into soil. Bond #6-8 bare copper wire to ground rod and to solar panels and pipes on roof.
Do NOT ground electric system to water pipes. Ground must be connected to ground rod. Stray current corrosion can cause pipes to deteriorate. Uncertain bond to ground because of plastic pipes.

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Bonding lugs

Bond all ground wires together to help prevent surge & lightning damage

Bonding all grounds together will help prevent damage from lightning strikes beyond 100' away...
Strong lightning strikes within 100 feet must be handled by lightning rod
Local code requires bonding: this includes all ground rods for satellite, TV, phone, solar, electric panel, subpanels (within 100 feet) etc must be connected together and bonded to main electric panel ground rod driven into soil at correct depth to meet local code. Consult local electrician.
Codes for grounding depth vary: loose rocky dry soils are less conductive than dense wet soils
No system other than lightning rods will protect against direct lightning strike or strike within 100 feet.
Move indoors and do not stay on roof, or move metal ladders, or touch anything made of metal when lightning is within 1 mile or can be heard or seen.
Why ground wire is needed
Linesman pliers Linesman pliers
Use to twist wire
Use to cut wire
linesman pliers
Linesman pliers

How to twist wire
wire nut assortment Wire nuts are used to join wires
Make sure all copper is covered
Make sure wire nut cannot come off

Wire nut assortment at Amazon

How to select and install right wire nut
Push on wire connectors Push on wire connectors
Push on wire connectors
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Red 3P connector (shown) for 10-14 gauge wire
Electric safety when wiring timer
30 amp safety cut off
Safety switch
Fusable pull out
Fusable pull-out

Pull-out disconnect -or- Non-fusable Safety cut off 

for outdoor installation:

Locate cut-off next to electric equipment ... or short reach away... within sight of appliance.
Purpose to protect anyone working on electricity ... so person knows power is OFF, and power cannot accidently be turned ON.

How to wire safety switch

Residential information: varies by state and locale
Non-fusable safety switch required on outdoor installations, and high-voltage indoor applications such as 90 amp tankless electric water heater where breaker box not in plain sight of equipment.
Fusable vrs non-fusable: Non-fusable means there is no breaker or fuse inside the cut-off box. Non fusable is manually-operated on-off switch for safety.
Fusable means there is a fuse or breaker that trips when detecting high heat.

How to wire safety switch
Pullout Disconnect at Amazon
Fusable pullout disconnect
2-pole 30 amp fusable safety switch/ power cut-off
2-pole 60 amp non-fusable safety switch


Test for breaks in wire/ Test for voltage
Most appliance require 80% rated voltage to function correctly
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Safety when testing wires:
Never touch wet or previously flooded appliance.
Never stand on wet surface when working on electric.
Never stand on bare soil, put down dry boards.
Tape tester leads to wood sticks to keep hands away from power.
Use non-contact voltage tester before touching wires.
Never touch or lean into any made of metal.
Remove metal objects from pockets.
Do not use oxygen or fuel accelerants in same room as electrcial repairs

Basic house wiring

Non-contact voltage tester

Test for power without touching wire nuts
NEVER assume power is OFF

Non-contact voltage tester Amazon
Electric testers at Amazon

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How to install terminals


Terminal kit
Blue for 16-14 wire
Yellow for 12-10 wire
Read about terminals
wire nut assortment

Wire nut assortments

Do not reuse old wire nuts

Wire nut assortment at Amazon
Wire nut assortment at Amazon

How to select and install wire nuts
Weatherproof wire nut

Weatherproof wire nut

Wire nut cavity is full of silicone
Built-in cover keeps silicone in place
Protect from water, dust etc
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Push on wire connectors

Push-on wire connectors in place of wire nuts

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Red 3P connector for 10-14 gauge wire
Lever nuts for stranded wire at Amazon
add solder to stranded wire

Turn stranded wire into solid wire

Add solder to 1" length of tightly twisted stranded wire to make into solid wire
Heat wire. Touch solder to wire. Let cool. File away over-solder.
soldering guns

Timer caught fire

linesman pliers
Buy tools:
Wire strippers at Amazon
Linesman pliers
Utility knife at Amazon
End cutting nippers at Amazon

Fire inside timer caused by stranded wire
Keep enclosure door closed at all times

Fire caused by stranded wire

Do not use stranded wire under screw plate

Applies to timers, switches, outlets, pumps etc.
Small devices, with small loads, such as lamp socket, stranded wire is fine
Add solder to 1" length of tightly twisted stranded wire to make into solid wire
Heat wire. Touch solder to wire. Let cool. File away over-solder.
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