Which wire is hot, black or white? Is the black wire hot?

Which wire is hot, black or white? Is the black wire hot?

If you don’t do electrical work very often, it can be confusing and can lead to questions. Is the black wire hot? Which wire is hot, black or white?

The first rule is there are no rules. So if you see lots of different colors in an electrical box, you probably need to call an electrician. But if you see three or four colors, you can probably figure it out.

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Prong stuck in an outlet? Here’s the fix.

Prong stuck in an outlet? Here’s the fix.

The other day we went to unplug a lamp so we could plug a vacuum cleaner in. But something didn’t quite feel right. When we looked at the plug, we could see why. One of the prongs was missing. When we looked at the outlet, the prong was still there. There’s some bad, or at least time-wasting, advice out there on how to fix a prong stuck in an outlet or socket. Here’s how we fixed it.

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Cleaning N64 games

Cleaning N64 games

Cleaning N64 games is a controversial topic. It doesn’t have to be. There are some techniques floating around that can be harmful. But I also bristle when I see people say there’s one and only one right way. Here are some techniques for cleaning N64 games, based on my decades of experience fixing computers and game systems.

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Add an outlet to a light switch line

For any number of reasons, a lot of rooms, especially bathrooms, don’t have enough electrical outlets. Those rooms probably do have light switches, though, and that’s good news. It’s possible to add an outlet to a light switch line. The better news is there’s usually more than one way to do it. Here are some options.

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Wiring an old house for Ethernet

Wiring an old house for Ethernet can be challenging but offers real benefits. Wired Ethernet is faster and more reliable than wireless, so devices that have a wired connection can take advantage of it. Having wired connections also allows you to distribute wireless access points throughout your house for better, faster coverage.

So you even if you’re a heavy wireless user, there’s a lot to gain from having good wired connections. Believe it or not, you can do it with simple tools and very little tearing into your walls.

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Lionel CW-80 vs vintage transformers

Someone asked me recently about the Lionel CW-80 and how it compares vs older transformers. That’s a fair question, and one that tends to stir up a lot of emotions on train forums. So I’ll try to present the pros and cons in a fair manner.

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I replaced an outlet with a GFCI and my light switch quit working

I once had an electrical outlet with a light switch next to it, in a bathroom. When I replaced the outlet with a GFCI, the light switch quit working.

When you have a GFCI and a light switch is involved, you have to wire things a bit differently so it all works.

Here’s how I fixed it, using a length of wire (use black, or if you only have white wire, put some electrical tape on it) and a wire nut.

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How to replace a Lionel transformer power cord

When using vintage Lionel transformers, it’s important to make sure the power cord isn’t broken or frayed to avoid the risk of electric shock or starting a fire. If yours is, here’s how to replace a Lionel transformer power cord.

Replacing a power cord safely is a lot easier than most people make it sound. It’s possible to do the job safely with simple tools and a few dollars’ worth of parts from the nearest hardware store.

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