Q: My house has aluminum wiring. Can I install standard wiring devices?
No, CO/ALR switches and outlets are required anywhere aluminum wiring has been installed. The terminal screws on CO/ALR devices are made of special materials and designed to grip aluminum wire very tightly. STANDARD DEVICES MUST NEVER BE USED WITH ALUMINUM WIRE. Doing so is a code violation and dangerous because it increases the likelihood of electrical arcing, short circuits, fire and shock.
Q: What do the terms single-pole, 3-Way and 4-Way switch mean?
Single-pole: A standard ON/OFF switch that controls one fixture from one location. 3-Way: A 3-way switch controls one fixture from two locations. For example, a light controlled from either end of a stairway or hallway. In three-way applications, two 3-way switches are required.4-Way: A 4-way switch allows you to control one fixture from three locations. In four-way applications, one 4-way switch and two 3-way switches are required.
Q: I have an outlet with only 2 slots (works with 2-prong plugs only). Can I replace it with an outlet that has 2 slots plus an opening for ground? (works with 3-prong plugs)
You can replace a 2-slot outlet with a grounding outlet only if your home wiring provides a ground connection at the outlet box. A qualified electrician can determine this for you. Otherwise, you must replace a 2-slot outlet with a 2-slot outlet. The National Electrical Code allows you to replace a 2-slot outlet with a GFCI receptacle even if there is no ground connection available. This is a safe, practical solution for upgrading from 2-slot outlets.
Q: Where are GFCIs requried?
GFCI (Ground Fault Circuit Interrupter) receptacles are required by the National Electrical Code (NEC) in kitchens, bathrooms, garages and outdoors. They are also required and in many receptacle locations both inside and outside the home where water is present. A GFCI will detect even a relatively tiny amount of ground fault current and shut off power to its face and any downstream receptacles that are connected to it.
Q: I have an appliance plugged into my GFCI and there’s no power. What do I do?
If your GFCI is working properly, it will shut off power to help prevent a hazardous ground fault condition. First, unplug the appliance from the GFCI. Then, plug in a table lamp or small radio that you know is working properly. Push in the RESET button on the GFCI. The lamp or radio should turn ON. Then push the TEST button. The lamp or radio should go OFF. If both the RESET and TEST buttons are working, the appliance you had plugged in it is previously is damaged and a potential shock hazard. It needs to be repaired or replaced. If you cannot turn the power back ON with the RESET button or if you cannot shut power OFF with the TEST button, you must replace the GFCI.
Q: Can I replace a standard wall switch with a dimmer?
Yes. A dimmer easily replaces a standard wall switch and uses the exact same wiring.
Q: Do dimmers save energy?
Yes. Dimmers do not simply “absorb” power as some people may think. They actually shut off power for a fraction of a second when you dim the lights, but your eyes cannot detect this. Dimming a bulb by 25% uses approximately 20% less energy, and it will help extend bulb life by 4 times as well.
Q: Can a dimmer control a ceiling fan?
No. A dimmer can damage the fan motor. Only use a Fan Speed Control to control a ceiling fan. Fan Speed Controls have special circuitry that will not damage the motor. For ceiling fans with a built-in light fixture, combination Dimmer/Fan Speed Controls are available.
Q: How do I choose the correct plug I need?
NEMA, the electrical manufacturing standards organization, has an established coding system to identify matching plugs and outlets based on their amperage and voltage rating. The NEMA rating is designated on the packaging and the actual plug, connector and outlet. For example, NEMA 5-15 always designates a 15 amp -125 volt rating. Any plug with a NEMA 5-15 rating will fit into any connector or outlet with a NEMA 5-15 rating.