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Electrical & Lighting

Frequently Asked Questions

  • How do I replace the end on my extension cord?

    Buy the appropriate type of replacement plug or socket. If the extension cord is a 3 wire type (with grounding connection), buy a 3 pronged replacement. Likewise, make sure that the replacement is rated for the same load as the cord; if you have a heavy-duty cord, ensure that the replacement is rated for heavy-duty loads.

    Cut off the broken plug or socket with the knife.

    Strip half an inch of the outer cord casing from the cable near the cut end. Be careful to cut only the outer casing and avoid damaging the interior wires.

    Strip half an inch of insulation from each of the individual wires within the casing.

    Disassemble the replacement plug or socket. Generally, replacement plugs consist of a plastic outer case that contains screw-down terminals to which the individual wires attach. Some plugs come from the store in a disassembled state, while others require unscrewing a screw or unsnapping a case to access the interior screw terminals.

    Screw the exposed extension cord wires to the terminals inside the replacement plug or socket. If your replacement plug has screw-type terminals, loop wire around the terminal and then screw it down. The green wire is the ground wire, the white wire is the neutral wire, and the black wire is the hot wire. Light-duty interior extension cords often lack the ground wire, but if a ground wire is present, be sure to connect it. Many replacement plugs come with color-coded terminal screws, making connection to the right terminal easy. If in doubt, check the wiring diagram that came with the replacement plug or socket.

    Put the plug or socket casing back together around the terminals. Depending on the exact model you have, this may require snapping a plastic case into place or screwing in a retaining screw. Make sure no bare wire is exposed.

    Check your state and local codes before starting any project. Follow all safety precautions. Every effort has been made to ensure the accuracy and safety of this information. Neither Westlake nor any contributor can be held responsible for damages or injuries resulting from the use of the information in this document.

  • What do the colors of the plastic insulation mean on wires?

    They are designed to indicate their use, but be careful because they are not always hooked correctly. Hot wires, those carrying current at full voltage, are usually black, red or white with black marks. Neutral wires are usually white or gray. Ground wires are usually either green or bare copper.

    Check your state and local codes before starting any project. Follow all safety precautions. Every effort has been made to ensure the accuracy and safety of this information. Neither Westlake nor any contributor can be held responsible for damages or injuries resulting from the use of the information in this document.

  • What are the advantages of solar landscape lighting?

    • The installation is much easier than lighting that requires a transformer and cable.
    • Because there are no cables, you can be flexible in the number of lights you place in your yard, as well as where you want to place them. You can place them in areas of your yard where cabled lights would be impractical or impossible. These include areas far away from your house, which is typically where you’d mount a transformer. (The further out a cable goes into a yard from the transformer, the weaker the current. This isn’t an issue with solar landscape lighting.)
    • They’re energy efficient and environmentally friendly.

    While most solar lights are single-piece lamps, some are available with the solar panel separate from the lamp itself. This configuration is so similar in wiring requirements to that of low voltage sets, it should be viewed as low voltage lighting with the same advantages and restrictions.

    The key to solar lighting is the use of high-efficiency LED light sources. LEDs (with expected lifetimes of 10+ years) give a bright, cool light. The power requirements of incandescent bulbs used in the low voltage systems will deplete the charge of a solar battery too quickly to give all-night illumination. With current technology, if you wish to use solar lighting, you have to use LED light. There are many advantages to using LED lighting.

    Check your state and local codes before starting any project. Follow all safety precautions. Every effort has been made to ensure the accuracy and safety of this information. Neither Westlake nor any contributor can be held responsible for damages or injuries resulting from the use of the information in this document.

  • Which color of wire nut do I need?

    Check the package. It will tell you what size and how many wires each color of nut will hold.

    For best results, make sure you understand how to use a wire nut.

    Check your state and local codes before starting any project. Follow all safety precautions. Every effort has been made to ensure the accuracy and safety of this information. Neither Westlake nor any contributor can be held responsible for damages or injuries resulting from the use of the information in this document.

  • What's causing my fluorescent fixture is hum?

    The ballast probably needs to be replaced. Another sign of a faulty ballast is black tar-like substance oozing from the fixture.

    Check your state and local codes before starting any project. Follow all safety precautions. Every effort has been made to ensure the accuracy and safety of this information. Neither Westlake nor any contributor can be held responsible for damages or injuries resulting from the use of the information in this document.

  • I am running an underground cable in my lawn. What should I use to connect the wires?

    If you don’t have a waterproof box, use waterproof wire nuts.

    Check your state and local codes before starting any project. Follow all safety precautions. Every effort has been made to ensure the accuracy and safety of this information. Neither Westlake nor any contributor can be held responsible for damages or injuries resulting from the use of the information in this document.

  • How should I dispose of my old or burnt out CFL bulbs?

    Because CFL bulbs contain a small amount of Mercury, they must be disposed of appropriately. As opposed to throwing them out, it is best to recycle them. Many Westlake stores offering recycling or you can visit http://www.epa.gov/cfl/ to find recycling locations near you. If you are unable to recycle them, put the bulb in a plastic bag and seal it so as to reduce the effects the mercury could have on the environment. Click here to find out what process to take if your CFL bulb breaks. 

    Check your state and local codes before starting any project. Follow all safety precautions. Every effort has been made to ensure the accuracy and safety of this information. Neither Westlake nor any contributor can be held responsible for damages or injuries resulting from the use of the information in this document.

  • My fluorescent fixture does not seem to be putting out as much light as it used to. Could the tube be failing?

    If the entire tube is dim, it may simply need washing. Try removing it and wiping it with a damp cloth.

    Check your state and local codes before starting any project. Follow all safety precautions. Every effort has been made to ensure the accuracy and safety of this information. Neither Westlake nor any contributor can be held responsible for damages or injuries resulting from the use of the information in this document.

  • How do I connect a wire to the terminal on my light switch?

    Bend a stripped wire 180 degrees by bending it over the tip of needle-nose pliers. Wrap the wire clockwise around the screw so that it will stay in place as you tighten the screw. Don't over tighten and make sure there is no insulation under the terminal. It may also help to view a demonstration to be sure that you are being safe and accurate.

    Check your state and local codes before starting any project. Follow all safety precautions. Every effort has been made to ensure the accuracy and safety of this information. Neither Westlake nor any contributor can be held responsible for damages or injuries resulting from the use of the information in this document.

  • What's making the tubes in my fluorescent light flicker?

    This could be a number of things. First, adjust the tubes to make sure they’re seated properly. If your any of your tubes have darkened or damaged pins, replace those tubes. If your light comes with a starter, you may need to replace that.

    Check your state and local codes before starting any project. Follow all safety precautions. Every effort has been made to ensure the accuracy and safety of this information. Neither Westlake nor any contributor can be held responsible for damages or injuries resulting from the use of the information in this document.

  • What does the new light bulb regulation mean for me?

    While you won’t be required to throw out your existing incandescent bulbs, you may be surprised when trying to find the same replacements at the store. Beginning in 2012, you’ll find that these bulbs are being phased out and have been replaced with more energy-efficient options, such as Halogen, CFL and LED light bulbs.

    Check your state and local codes before starting any project. Follow all safety precautions. Every effort has been made to ensure the accuracy and safety of this information. Neither Westlake nor any contributor can be held responsible for damages or injuries resulting from the use of the information in this document.

  • How do I add new wiring from a junction box

    • New wiring can be tied into a junction box, unless the wiring in the junction box is already at maximum capacity.
    • Before tying in at a junction box, always trace the cables leading to the box to check the voltage. Be sure you are not connecting a 120-volt outlet to a run of wire providing 240 volts for larger appliances.
    • To tie in new wiring at a junction box, first shut off the current at the service panel.
    • Locate the main supply cable coming into the junction box from the service panel. Locate the supply wire by tracing the white wires. All white wires in the junction box will be attached to the white wire on the supply line.
    • Knock out the unused plug on the junction box and run the new line from the box as illustrated (see image). Be sure to use a cable clamp to secure the cable to the junction box.

    Check your state and local codes before starting any project. Follow all safety precautions. Every effort has been made to ensure the accuracy and safety of this information. Neither Westlake nor any contributor can be held responsible for damages or injuries resulting from the use of the information in this document.

  • I want to run a new wire to install some additional outlets. Do I have to run these wires through the wall?

    You can use surface wire channels that allow you to run the wire on the outside of the wall and still maintain an attractive appearance.

    Check your state and local codes before starting any project. Follow all safety precautions. Every effort has been made to ensure the accuracy and safety of this information. Neither Westlake nor any contributor can be held responsible for damages or injuries resulting from the use of the information in this document.

  • Are all CFL bulbs ENERGY STAR certified?

    Only some CFL bulbs are ENERGY STAR certified. Check the bulb’s package to establish whether or not it is.

    Check your state and local codes before starting any project. Follow all safety precautions. Every effort has been made to ensure the accuracy and safety of this information. Neither Westlake nor any contributor can be held responsible for damages or injuries resulting from the use of the information in this document.

  • Do all of the outlets in my kitchen need to have ground-fault circuit interrupters?

    In kitchens, all outlets that serve countertop surfaces should be equipped with GFCI outlet protection. That would include any outlets on walls, behind wet areas (sinks, etc.) that have features such as countertop breakfast bars on them (open counter surfaces above sinks used to sit at on the opposite side).

    That being said, to provide that protection you only need one GFCI outlet as the first outlet of the branch. That would be the outlet that is closest to the serving breaker (not necessarily physically closest but electrically closest), if you can easily identify that outlet. As long as that first outlet is a GFCI, the rest of your outlets on that branch are protected.

    Check your state and local codes before starting any project. Follow all safety precautions. Every effort has been made to ensure the accuracy and safety of this information. Neither Westlake nor any contributor can be held responsible for damages or injuries resulting from the use of the information in this document.

  • What type of switches will I need to turn a light on from two different locations?

    You will need a three-way switch at each location. A three-way switch will have three terminal screws on it.

    Check your state and local codes before starting any project. Follow all safety precautions. Every effort has been made to ensure the accuracy and safety of this information. Neither Westlake nor any contributor can be held responsible for damages or injuries resulting from the use of the information in this document.

  • What is Underwriters Laboratories?

    It is a non-profit organization that tests and approves electrical products. Look for "UL" labels of approval to help ensure appliances are safe.

    Check your state and local codes before starting any project. Follow all safety precautions. Every effort has been made to ensure the accuracy and safety of this information. Neither Westlake nor any contributor can be held responsible for damages or injuries resulting from the use of the information in this document.

  • How do I replace a 220 outlet?

    • Turn off the power to the outlet at the circuit breaker panel.
    • Remove the faceplate of the old outlet.
    • Disconnect the wires from the old outlet.
    • Connect your home’s black wire to the brass screw on the 220 outlet.
    • Connect your home’s white wire to the silver screw on the 220 outlet.
    • Connect the green wire to the green screw on the 220 outlet.
    • Tighten all screws.
    • Set the outlet in the wall and replace the faceplate.
    • Turn the power to the switch back on at the circuit breaker panel.

    Check your state and local codes before starting any project. Follow all safety precautions. Every effort has been made to ensure the accuracy and safety of this information. Neither Westlake nor any contributor can be held responsible for damages or injuries resulting from the use of the information in this document.

  • Is there a light switch that I can use to replace one in my house?

    Yes, but is it a single pole or is it a three-way switch? A three-way switch is one that is used when a light is controlled by more than one switch.

    It's important to be safe and accurate when installing a switch.

    Check your state and local codes before starting any project. Follow all safety precautions. Every effort has been made to ensure the accuracy and safety of this information. Neither Westlake nor any contributor can be held responsible for damages or injuries resulting from the use of the information in this document.

  • How do I troubleshoot a fluorescent fixture that doesn't light?

    It's probably not the bulb because they rarely go bad all at once. Wiggle the tube to make sure it is seated. Replace any damaged lamp holders. Replace the starter. Check the switch and outlet box to make sure it is getting power.

    Check your state and local codes before starting any project. Follow all safety precautions. Every effort has been made to ensure the accuracy and safety of this information. Neither Westlake nor any contributor can be held responsible for damages or injuries resulting from the use of the information in this document.

  • What do numbers on electrical cable mean?

    They refer to the number and types of wire inside the cable. For example, 14-2 means the cable has two 14-gauge wires inside. 12-3 G means the cable has three 12-gauge wires plus a bare ground wire.

    Check your state and local codes before starting any project. Follow all safety precautions. Every effort has been made to ensure the accuracy and safety of this information. Neither Westlake nor any contributor can be held responsible for damages or injuries resulting from the use of the information in this document.

  • How do I install a 3-way switch?

    Installing a three-way switch in a new location requires an intricate knowledge of internal residential wiring, because another “hot” wire has to be run to the switch. If you’re unfamiliar with how to do this, call an electrician to install the switch for you.

    If you feel like you can install the switch on your own, some guidance may be of help for the three-way switch as well as other switches.

    Check your state and local codes before starting any project. Follow all safety precautions. Every effort has been made to ensure the accuracy and safety of this information. Neither Westlake nor any contributor can be held responsible for damages or injuries resulting from the use of the information in this document.

  • Is it all right to replace a fuse or circuit breaker with a larger one to prevent them from blowing or tripping?

    In most cases the answer is no. They are designed to blow at certain levels to protect equipment and for fire safety.

    Check your state and local codes before starting any project. Follow all safety precautions. Every effort has been made to ensure the accuracy and safety of this information. Neither Westlake nor any contributor can be held responsible for damages or injuries resulting from the use of the information in this document.

  • Decorate for the Holidays in One Afternoon

    Holiday decorations have come a long way since your parents used to string those old, clumsy light sets on the bushes. Technical innovations and other improvements in holiday decorations have paved the way for easier options if you plan to decorate this season.

    Although some of the "old standby items" still make the cut for decorating, there are a number of non-conventional items you should consider to adorn your home. Among some of the "trendier" products you'll see on hardware store shelves:

    Rope Lights

    Also known as tube lights, these decorative lights have been around for a few years and just keep getting better. They can take the form of holiday characters like reindeer and Christmas trees, or you can use their unusual yet handy "shapability" to wrap around porch railings and entry columns. Get a little creative with how and where you string them and who knows what you can come up with!

    "Snowflake" Lights

    Somewhat new to the decorating scene are shimmering snowflakes that stand alone or come as part of a longer strand. Sold typically as 10-packs, the individual snowflakes are strung together and can be placed in windows, trees and bushes or tacked onto shutters or lattice work for a "snowfall" effect. Longer strands of icicle lights are also available with snowflakes dangling from the bottom row.

    Pre-Lit Artificial Christmas Trees

    Somewhat commonplace anymore, these trees can be assembled in less than five minutes and, thanks to improvements in quality, look like the real thing. As far as lighting is concerned, the fiber optic trees are fantastic. Some even have revolving color wheels in the base that continually change the light patterns on the tips of the tree's "needles," creating a shimmer effect. Stand back and look hard -- you may be convinced your tree is the real thing!

    Commercial-Grade Light Sets

    Commercial light sets are stronger and can handle more wear and tear, the bulbs burn brighter and up to six strands can be strung together for greater decorating ability. Make this investment now, and your lights will last year after year without having to be replaced as often. Typical commercial-grade sets retail for roughly $10 a strand or less.

    Light Clips

    If you've been living without these for the past few years, I commend you on your work ethic, but it doesn't have to be that hard! To take the strain out of stringing the house with lights, light clips allow for hanging lights off gutters and around window frames without nails. There are even clips for hanging lights off of bricks for masonry homes. The clips are inexpensive and can be re-used, and what's more, when it's time to take the lights down off the house (hopefully not in April), the clear clips can be left on for next year. It'll make your job that much easier!

    Be sure to take safety precautions before you begin your decorating as well as while you install your holiday lights.

    Credit: Lou Manfredini's Tips From the Tool Box, Ace Hardware

    Check your state and local codes before starting any project. Follow all safety precautions. Every effort has been made to ensure the accuracy and safety of this information. Neither Westlake nor any contributor can be held responsible for damages or injuries resulting from the use of the information in this document.

  • What is a voltage tester? How do I use it?

    A voltage tester is an inexpensive tool that could save your life. Depending on the model, you simply plug the voltage tester into a receptacle or touch a screw terminal on the faceplate of a receptacle or switch. If an electrical current is running through the receptacle/switch, the voltage tester will either register volts on its meter, light up or both (depending on the model).

    Find the right voltage tester to fit your needs.

    Check your state and local codes before starting any project. Follow all safety precautions. Every effort has been made to ensure the accuracy and safety of this information. Neither Westlake nor any contributor can be held responsible for damages or injuries resulting from the use of the information in this document.

  • What is a transformer?

    It's a device that changes the voltage. In most home usage, it reduces the voltage for use on low-voltage equipment, such as thermostats, doorbells and low-voltage outdoor lighting.

    Check your state and local codes before starting any project. Follow all safety precautions. Every effort has been made to ensure the accuracy and safety of this information. Neither Westlake nor any contributor can be held responsible for damages or injuries resulting from the use of the information in this document.

  • How do I safely install holiday lights?

    To begin, check the lights to make sure each strand is in good working order. After your lights are checked, connect an extension cord to a 120-volt power outlet. Mark the location where it reaches.

    Next, measure the strands and mark the spots where the lights will hang on the exterior of the home.

    Use a sturdy ladder to help prevent falls. A helper should always be present on the ground for safety purposes.

    Connect the strands of lights. Make sure to connect all strands of lights together before climbing the ladder. Your helper should feed the light strands to you.

    Hang the lights by attaching light clips to the markings made on the house.

    To make your holiday decorating easier, plan ahead and make sure you have everything you need. Be sure to take every safety precaution before installing your holiday lights.

    Check your state and local codes before starting any project. Follow all safety precautions. Every effort has been made to ensure the accuracy and safety of this information. Neither Westlake nor any contributor can be held responsible for damages or injuries resulting from the use of the information in this document.

  • What's the difference between lumens and watts?

    A lumen is a measure of light brightness while the watt is a measure of energy used.

    A standard 60-watt incandescent bulb, for example, produces about 800 lumens of light. By comparison, a CFL bulb produces that same 800 lumens using less than 15 watts.

    So with newer light bulbs designed to use less energy, wattage is no longer a reliable way to gauge a light bulb's brightness. That takes lumens.

    Check your state and local codes before starting any project. Follow all safety precautions. Every effort has been made to ensure the accuracy and safety of this information. Neither Westlake nor any contributor can be held responsible for damages or injuries resulting from the use of the information in this document.

  • Give Your Home a Facelift by Enhancing Your Front Entrance

    If you long to give your home that sought-after "curb appeal," consider starting with your front entrance. Your front entrance is so important when making that "first impression," because it's really the 'face' of your home. So try following these 10 easy improvements to help give your home a facelift.

    1. Repair the Walkway:

    Patch cracks and replace loose bricks and pavers. Rent a power washer or purchase a chemical treatment to clean up embedded stains in concrete, stone or asphalt.

    2. Illuminate the Path:

    Lighting helps ensure guests arrive safely and also acts as a theft deterrent. Clean light fixtures and replace burnt-out bulbs with energy-saving CFL bulbs, replace outdated fixtures and add landscape lighting to brighten walkways and shrubbery.

    3. Use Foliage and Shrubbery:

    Strategically-placed plants can conceal any unattractive aspects of your house or surroundings. Place large pots or hanging baskets around the stoop or porch. Bushes or hedges hide air conditioning units or propane tanks, and flower beds and window boxes will stylize a stark facade.

    4. Prune and Mulch:

    Prune dead branches, trim back overgrown shrubbery or remove obstructive plantings. Spread mulch or bark around trees, shrubs and flowers for a weed-free, well-kept look.

    5. Decorate Your Door:

    Restore the luster of your door by polishing the hinges and knobs. Paint or stain the door with a color that stands out, yet complements, the trim and siding. Hang a pretty wreath to finish the look. If your front door is weak or unattractive, invest in a replacement door or storm door for security and energy efficiency.

    6. Focus on Windows:

    Fix broken windows and torn screens and paint sashes, trim and shutters in a neutral color. Add window treatments and keep the glass crystal clear.

    7. Accessorize:

    Choose a few lawn and garden ornaments. Match a decorative handle, door knocker or kickplate with shiny new house numbers and a mailbox.

    8. Feature Furniture:

    Spray a fresh coat of paint on furniture and replace the cushions. Fill an empty spot on the porch or stoop with a quaint bench or porch swing.

    9. Keep it Clean:

    Sweep the sidewalk and stoop, clear away cobwebs, tighten wobbly railings and repaint posts and supports.

    10. The Finishing Touch:

    Put out a clean, new welcome mat and make sure the doorbell works because you're sure to attract more visitors now!

    By following these 10 simple steps, your front entrance will be beautiful, well-maintained, and most of all, welcoming.

    Credit:  Lou Manfredini's Tips From the Tool Box, Ace Hardware

    Check your state and local codes before starting any project. Follow all safety precautions. Every effort has been made to ensure the accuracy and safety of this information. Neither Westlake nor any contributor can be held responsible for damages or injuries resulting from the use of the information in this document.

  • If there is a short in the line, where should I look for it?

    Search for loose taped wire; also look for worn fabric insulation on old wires and check any terminals that have multiple wires since one of the wires may have slipped off. If you suspect that there is a short, be sure to test it.

    Check your state and local codes before starting any project. Follow all safety precautions. Every effort has been made to ensure the accuracy and safety of this information. Neither Westlake nor any contributor can be held responsible for damages or injuries resulting from the use of the information in this document.

  • I am putting a couple of more outlets in my garage. Can I use 14-gauge wire?

    While 14-gauge wire is the minimum for most house wiring, it can only be used for 15-amp circuits. Number 12-gauge wire is recommended for general home use. There is often a chart on boxes of wire that will show you recommended gauges for specific applications.

    Check your state and local codes before starting any project. Follow all safety precautions. Every effort has been made to ensure the accuracy and safety of this information. Neither Westlake nor any contributor can be held responsible for damages or injuries resulting from the use of the information in this document.

  • How do I know the size ballast I need for a fluorescent fixture?

    You need to know how many bulbs there are and how long they are. However, make sure you check the starter before you change the ballast. In fact, you may want to replace the whole fixture.

    Check your state and local codes before starting any project. Follow all safety precautions. Every effort has been made to ensure the accuracy and safety of this information. Neither Westlake nor any contributor can be held responsible for damages or injuries resulting from the use of the information in this document.

  • How do I install low-voltage lighting in my yard?

    It's a pretty easy task.  Here are some tips:

    • Plan where you’ll place your lights. Use colored stakes or colored flag markers in your yard to mark where each light will go.
    • Make sure your lights are placed away from obstacles, since you’re going to need to get cable to them as easily as possible.
    • Plug your transformer into an outdoor outlet that’s in the middle of your light plan.
    • Dig trenches from the transformer to each light location. Use an edging tool. It’s easy to handle and will get your cable deep enough to be covered once you’re done.
    • Run your cable from your transformer to each light in the trenches you dug.
    • Connect your lights to the cable.
    • Connect your cable to the transformer.
    • Check your lights to ensure they’re on and everything is working properly.
    • Once you’re sure all of your lights are operating correctly, tamp the earth down over your trenches with your feet.

    Be sure to keep track of the wattage you are using in case you plan on installing more low-voltage outdoor lights.

    Check your state and local codes before starting any project. Follow all safety precautions. Every effort has been made to ensure the accuracy and safety of this information. Neither Westlake nor any contributor can be held responsible for damages or injuries resulting from the use of the information in this document.

  • What is the cost difference between the new light bulbs and traditional incandescent bulbs?

    The initial price of the energy efficient light bulbs is typically higher than incandescent bulbs, but you'll spend less each year to operate them. For example, most CFLs pay for themselves with the energy they save in less than 9 months.

    Check your state and local codes before starting any project. Follow all safety precautions. Every effort has been made to ensure the accuracy and safety of this information. Neither Westlake nor any contributor can be held responsible for damages or injuries resulting from the use of the information in this document.

  • I need to run some wire through my wall. Do you have any suggestions?

    Instead of trying to feed the wire through, use a fish tape. This tool is a small wire on a reel that is easier to feed through. Once you have fed it through the wall, attach the wire and pull the tape back through.

    Check your state and local codes before starting any project. Follow all safety precautions. Every effort has been made to ensure the accuracy and safety of this information. Neither Westlake nor any contributor can be held responsible for damages or injuries resulting from the use of the information in this document.

  • How much energy will these new light bulbs save?

    According to U.S. Department of Energy estimates, U.S households will collectively save close to $6 billion by 2015 as a result of the new regulation.

    You'll save money in three ways: 1) you'll use less electricity to get the same light output 2) since new bulbs emit less heat you'll lower your cooling system bill in the summer and 3) they last longer so you'll have to change them less often.  

    Check your state and local codes before starting any project. Follow all safety precautions. Every effort has been made to ensure the accuracy and safety of this information. Neither Westlake nor any contributor can be held responsible for damages or injuries resulting from the use of the information in this document.

  • What type of wire should I use for a 220-volt outlet?

    The best choice is a three-wire cable with a ground. Also, make sure it's rated for the amperage you need.

    Check your state and local codes before starting any project. Follow all safety precautions. Every effort has been made to ensure the accuracy and safety of this information. Neither Westlake nor any contributor can be held responsible for damages or injuries resulting from the use of the information in this document.

  • How do you figure amperage?

    It's watts divided by volts. For example, a 1500-watt heater (divided by) 120 volts equals 12.5 amps.

    Check your state and local codes before starting any project. Follow all safety precautions. Every effort has been made to ensure the accuracy and safety of this information. Neither Westlake nor any contributor can be held responsible for damages or injuries resulting from the use of the information in this document.

  • Can I put a CFL light bulb in my three-way lamp?

    There are three-way CFL bulbs available for fixtures or lamps that require this feature. Make sure and check the packaging to determine if the bulb is intended for this use. Installing three-way CFLs can require extra effort since they can be slightly larger than their matching incandescents, but they use 1/3 as much energy. This specialty bulb usually comes in the “soft white” color temperature.

    Check your state and local codes before starting any project. Follow all safety precautions. Every effort has been made to ensure the accuracy and safety of this information. Neither Westlake nor any contributor can be held responsible for damages or injuries resulting from the use of the information in this document.

  • What is the difference in CFL bulbs and incandescent bulbs?

    Compact fluorescent lamps (CFLs) are low-energy alternatives to incandescent light bulbs that can save money in energy and replacement costs. Typical CFLs last about ten times as long as incandescent – or “regular” – light bulbs and use about 25 percent of the energy. They produce light from glowing gases, as opposed to the filament used in regular bulbs. The filaments in regular incandescent bulbs eventually burn out. These light bulbs are very inexpensive and last about 1,000 hours.

    CFLs cost about five times more than regular light bulbs, but they last ten to twenty times longer. This makes them more cost-efficient for replacement over the long run. CFLs are also much more energy efficient than regular bulbs, which makes them a much more logical choice for saving energy and money.

    Regular light bulbs can be thrown out in regular household trash in most regions, but CFLs contain a small amount of toxic mercury and should be turned into a recycling center whenever possible. If you break a CFL in your home, the Environmental Protection Agency advises that you open doors and windows and leave the room immediately. This will allow the toxic mercury vapor to dissipate before you clean up the mess.

    CFLs come in a variety of sizes so be sure to find the right one, and let the energy saving begin!

    Check your state and local codes before starting any project. Follow all safety precautions. Every effort has been made to ensure the accuracy and safety of this information. Neither Westlake nor any contributor can be held responsible for damages or injuries resulting from the use of the information in this document.

  • What should I do if my CFL bulb breaks?

    Keep in mind that CFLs contain a very small amount of mercury -- but it is less than 1/100th of the amount in a mercury thermometer. Because of that, there are some precautions that the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) suggests you take, including: air out the room for 5 - 10 minutes; scoop up broken pieces and powder with a stiff paper or cardboard and place in a sealed plastic bag; place debris outdoors in  trash container. For more details, click here

    Check your state and local codes before starting any project. Follow all safety precautions. Every effort has been made to ensure the accuracy and safety of this information. Neither Westlake nor any contributor can be held responsible for damages or injuries resulting from the use of the information in this document.

  • Do you have something I can use to insulate and repair cords and wire with?

    You can use heat-shrink tubing. It's designed to fit something half its size in diameter.

    Check your state and local codes before starting any project. Follow all safety precautions. Every effort has been made to ensure the accuracy and safety of this information. Neither Westlake nor any contributor can be held responsible for damages or injuries resulting from the use of the information in this document.

  • How much energy do compact fluorescent light bulbs save?Green Content

    Most estimates are 70 percent, which means that over the life of the bulb you can save as much as $100.

    There are many benefits to switching to CFLs.

    Check your state and local codes before starting any project. Follow all safety precautions. Information in this document has been furnished by the North American Retail Hardware Association (NRHA) and associated contributors. Every effort has been made to ensure accuracy and safety. Neither NRHA, any contributor nor the retailer can be held responsible for damages or injuries resulting from the use of the information in this document.

    Check your state and local codes before starting any project. Follow all safety precautions. Every effort has been made to ensure the accuracy and safety of this information. Neither Westlake nor any contributor can be held responsible for damages or injuries resulting from the use of the information in this document.

  • What do I need to buy for a basic electrical tool kit?

    We recommend the following:

    • Needle-nose pliers
    • Insulated screwdriver
    • Combination tool
    • Utility knife
    • Keyhole saw
    • Continuity tester
    • Neon circuit tester
    • Fish tape
    • Electrical tape
    • Wire connectors

    Check your state and local codes before starting any project. Follow all safety precautions. Every effort has been made to ensure the accuracy and safety of this information. Neither Westlake nor any contributor can be held responsible for damages or injuries resulting from the use of the information in this document.

  • I have some tools that have three prongs, but the outlet I want to use has only two prongs. Can I safely cut the extra prong off?

    No, the third prong is the grounding prong. If you cut it off or use a plug adapter that is not grounded, you will disable a feature that is designed to protect against electrical shock.

    Check your state and local codes before starting any project. Follow all safety precautions. Every effort has been made to ensure the accuracy and safety of this information. Neither Westlake nor any contributor can be held responsible for damages or injuries resulting from the use of the information in this document.

  • How do I replace my fuses and/or select the right one?

    Here's what to do:

    • To find a blown fuse, look for a blackened area in the glass center of the fuse. If the fuse isn’t too black, you may also be able to see a break in the fuse.
    • Simply remove the fuse and replace it with another fuse that has the same rating as the fuse you’re removing. Never replace a fuse that’s rated differently than the one you’re replacing.
    • Use fuses with inspection windows to make it easier to tell whether or not a fuse has blown.

    When replacing the fuse, be sure to choose the correct size.

    Check your state and local codes before starting any project. Follow all safety precautions. Every effort has been made to ensure the accuracy and safety of this information. Neither Westlake nor any contributor can be held responsible for damages or injuries resulting from the use of the information in this document.

  • What replacement light bulb options are there beyond CFLs?

    LEDs and halogen lighting are the two other options that meet the requirements of the 2012 Lighting Legislation. There are halogen options for nearly every fixture in the home. And GE Energy Smart® LEDs are a great option for accent lighting.

    Check your state and local codes before starting any project. Follow all safety precautions. Every effort has been made to ensure the accuracy and safety of this information. Neither Westlake nor any contributor can be held responsible for damages or injuries resulting from the use of the information in this document.

  • Don't Overlook These Dorm Room Essentials

    Your new college freshman can't wait to bolt from home and begin to enjoy independent dorm life. But in preparing for college move-in day, he or she probably hasn't given any thought to those many "extras" needed to make that spartan room more livable.

    Before leaving for school, a trip to the local hardware store often is essential to stock up on some very important, yet often overlooked items. In addition to the computer, CD player and mini-fridge, try making room in the car for the following:

    Test-Worthy Tools

    • A hammer and a box of nails or drywall anchors make hanging pictures and calendars on the walls easier. Double-sided tape or poster putty makes removal of posters from walls less damaging.
    • A flashlight and multiple packs of batteries come in handy if dorm electricity goes out. Extra batteries can also be used for all those extra electronics.
    • Standard or cordless screwdrivers make putting together furniture easier and help bookshelves and nightstands stay sturdy.
    • Extension cords and multi-outlet surge protectors are a must. Not only do they help expand room layout possibilities, but they also help protect valuable electronics, like computers.
    • A 25-foot extension phone cord allows the phone to be placed anywhere in the room.
    • Electrical wiring, extra cables and splitters are essential for multiple high-tech systems in a room like the stereo, TV, DVD player, computer and video game console.

    Smart Storage

    • Shelf boards and brackets expand storage capabilities and make a small space look larger. Use them to hold books, picture frames and CDs.
    • Large plastic storage containers that fit discreetly underneath the bed are perfect for stowing away clothing and extra blankets.

    A-Plus Appliances

    • Many hardware stores carry small coffee makers, toaster ovens and small microwaves for when hunger strikes during those late-night study sessions.
    • A small desktop or standing fan helps cool off a tiny dorm room.
    • For quick pickup of dry spills, a small cordless handvac that can be conveniently stored against the wall and out of sight does the dirty work.
    • A small reading lamp and extra light bulbs give eyes a break from overhead florescent dorm lighting. For a fun twist, pack some colored light bulbs.

    Extra Credit

    • A long mirror visually makes a small room look bigger.
    • A dry erase board is great for hanging outside on a dorm room door so friends can leave messages. A corkboard also works as a place for posting photos of family and friends, class schedules and notes.
    • A stepstool makes it easier to reach high shelves in typically tiny dorm closets.

    Happy Shopping!

    Credit:  Lou Manfredini's Tips From the Tool Box, Ace Hardware

    Check your state and local codes before starting any project. Follow all safety precautions. Every effort has been made to ensure the accuracy and safety of this information. Neither Westlake nor any contributor can be held responsible for damages or injuries resulting from the use of the information in this document.

  • Do I need a special lamp for this droplight?

    Use a rough service bulb. These heavy-duty bulbs will take rougher treatment and water droplets.

    Check your state and local codes before starting any project. Follow all safety precautions. Every effort has been made to ensure the accuracy and safety of this information. Neither Westlake nor any contributor can be held responsible for damages or injuries resulting from the use of the information in this document.

  • What is a time delay fuse?

    Time delay fuses are used on circuits where appliance motors have initial surges of electrical power when the motor starts. This initial surge might blow a regular fuse.

    Check your state and local codes before starting any project. Follow all safety precautions. Every effort has been made to ensure the accuracy and safety of this information. Neither Westlake nor any contributor can be held responsible for damages or injuries resulting from the use of the information in this document.

  • How can you recognize a socket used for a three-way lamp?

    This socket will have a regular contact tab inside, which all sockets have, plus another raised contact point.

    Check your state and local codes before starting any project. Follow all safety precautions. Every effort has been made to ensure the accuracy and safety of this information. Neither Westlake nor any contributor can be held responsible for damages or injuries resulting from the use of the information in this document.

  • I need to hook up my television and other video components, what do I need?

    There are many kinds of cords meant to connect your TV and peripherals such as DVD players, Blu-Ray players, cable boxes, gaming systems and stereos. These days, most TVs even have the possibility to connect to your PC.

    For video devices, you’ll need one of three different kinds of cables. The oldest kind of cable is S-Video. These are low-bandwidth cables that transmit video and audio from a VCR, DVD, Blu-Ray or gaming system. S-Video cables usually have a yellow male and female end. They’re often coupled with RCA cords, which are for the left and right channel of stereo sound. RCA ends are also male and female, and they’re usually red and white.

    Some video devices are equipped with RGB cord inputs. RGB cords take the video signal and send it through three cables instead of one. RGB stands for red, green and blue. Each cord carries a single color. When the three signals are combined, they provide a clearer picture than the single-cord S-video. RGB also require RCA cords to transmit sound.

    Finally, there’s HDMI. HDMI stands for High-Definition Multimedia Interface. HDMI chords carry high-definition digital video and audio signals from a video device to your television. If you get a high-definition signal from your cable or satellite provider and have a TV that’s HDMI enabled, using an HDMI cable will give you the best picture and sound possible.

    Be sure to check that you are purchasing the right cords for your devices as you shop. Ask your local Westlake employee if you have further questions.

    Check your state and local codes before starting any project. Follow all safety precautions. Every effort has been made to ensure the accuracy and safety of this information. Neither Westlake nor any contributor can be held responsible for damages or injuries resulting from the use of the information in this document.

  • Is it now required that I use compact florescent (CFL) bulbs?

    No. The new U.S. energy efficiency requirements do not ban the use of incandescent bulbs in your home, nor do they mandate the use of CFL bulbs. However, new energy efficient bulbs like the CFLs, LEDs and Halogen Incandenscents can help you conserve energy, and even help you save money on your energy bills in the long run. 

    Check your state and local codes before starting any project. Follow all safety precautions. Every effort has been made to ensure the accuracy and safety of this information. Neither Westlake nor any contributor can be held responsible for damages or injuries resulting from the use of the information in this document.

  • What are the regulatory changes that will affect light bulb options?

    While the use or purchase of incandescent bulbs will not be banned, the U.S. Energy and Independence Act of 2007 does ban the sale and manufacturing of common household incandescent bulbs that are not energy-efficient. In an effort to help conserve energy, incandescent bulbs must now produce the same amount of lumens (light output) for less wattage (energy). The new legislation mandates that these incandescent light bulbs be replaced by a bulb that uses 30% less energy, but produces the same amount of light output.

    As of January 1, 2012, the maximum wattage allowed will be 72 watts, meaning the 100 watt bulb will become obsolete. Over the next three years, all other wattages will reduce, as well. Refer to the Quick Reference Guide below to view the decreases in wattages, as well as the dates in which these changes will go into effect. 

    Check your state and local codes before starting any project. Follow all safety precautions. Every effort has been made to ensure the accuracy and safety of this information. Neither Westlake nor any contributor can be held responsible for damages or injuries resulting from the use of the information in this document.

  • What are the advantages of LED lighting?

    • They use less power. They use almost a tenth of the energy of incandescent bulbs and half of the energy of CFLs.
    • They last long longer. In fact, you would have to replace an incandescent bulb almost 40 times before replacing an LED.
    • They’re more durable than incandescent bulbs. They use light emitting diodes as opposed to filaments. They’re also less likely to shatter if dropped.
    • They come in a wide variety of colors. These include white, cyan, blue and red.

    If you like the idea of switching to LED lights, shop online and have them shipped to your local Westlake store.

    Check your state and local codes before starting any project. Follow all safety precautions. Every effort has been made to ensure the accuracy and safety of this information. Neither Westlake nor any contributor can be held responsible for damages or injuries resulting from the use of the information in this document.

  • I've bypassed the doorbell button, and the doorbell still did not work. What's the most likely problem?

    Check the transformer. You will have to find it. It might be in the attic, but it can be anywhere. You just need to trace the wire. If it makes a humming sound when the button is pushed, your problem is probably the chime. If it doesn't make a sound, change the transformer to see if that's the problem.

    Check your state and local codes before starting any project. Follow all safety precautions. Every effort has been made to ensure the accuracy and safety of this information. Neither Westlake nor any contributor can be held responsible for damages or injuries resulting from the use of the information in this document.

  • Do CFL bulbs emit the same kind of light as incandescent?

    Today, compact fluorescent bulbs come in a wide variety of colors. To imitate a light similar to incandescent bulbs, choose warm or soft white tones.

    Check your state and local codes before starting any project. Follow all safety precautions. Every effort has been made to ensure the accuracy and safety of this information. Neither Westlake nor any contributor can be held responsible for damages or injuries resulting from the use of the information in this document.

  • How do I know which wire I need? Which gauge should I use?

    Always match the gauge of wire to the capacity of the circuit breaker. In practice, most lighting circuits are controlled by a 15-amp circuit breaker. That means that 14-gauge wire is acceptable. Circuits with power outlets are often controlled by 20-amp breakers and should be wired with 12-gauge wire.

    Check your state and local codes before starting any project. Follow all safety precautions. Every effort has been made to ensure the accuracy and safety of this information. Neither Westlake nor any contributor can be held responsible for damages or injuries resulting from the use of the information in this document.

  • How is UF electric wire different from regular Romex® cable? How do I select the right wire?

    UF (or Underground Feed) cable is necessary any time you’re laying cable underground. The wires in UF are individually insulated. They’re then wrapped together in more insulation for further protection from weather and sunlight. On the other hand, Romex® is wire coated in plastic and is only suitable for indoor use.

    Check your state and local codes before starting any project. Follow all safety precautions. Every effort has been made to ensure the accuracy and safety of this information. Neither Westlake nor any contributor can be held responsible for damages or injuries resulting from the use of the information in this document.

  • What tool should I use to strip the plastic sheathing off wire?

    A combination tool has openings that fit different sizes of wire. When a wire is put into the correct one and pulled, it will remove the covering without damaging the wire.

    Check your state and local codes before starting any project. Follow all safety precautions. Every effort has been made to ensure the accuracy and safety of this information. Neither Westlake nor any contributor can be held responsible for damages or injuries resulting from the use of the information in this document.

  • How do I replace the ballast in my fluorescent light?

    Just follow these steps:

    • Turn off the electricity to the lights at the breaker box. Don’t just turn the lights off at the light switch.
    • Carefully position a step ladder under the fixture.
    • Remove the light cover.
    • Remove the fluorescent tube(s) and carefully set aside.
    • Remove the metal cover in the middle of the fixture.
    • Unwire the hot wire, then the ground wire.
    • Unscrew the ballast and remove it.
    • Replace the ballast, then replace the metal cover.
    • Put your fluorescent tubes in and replace the cover.

    Check your state and local codes before starting any project. Follow all safety precautions. Every effort has been made to ensure the accuracy and safety of this information. Neither Westlake nor any contributor can be held responsible for damages or injuries resulting from the use of the information in this document.

  • How large of a cord should I use when wiring an appliance?

    Use cords with 16-gauge wire for appliances pulling less than 15 amps and 12-gauge wire for appliances pulling up to 20 amps.

    Check your state and local codes before starting any project. Follow all safety precautions. Every effort has been made to ensure the accuracy and safety of this information. Neither Westlake nor any contributor can be held responsible for damages or injuries resulting from the use of the information in this document.

  • 15 Easy Ways to Go GreenGreen Content

    Going "green" in our everyday lives is all the rage these days. From CFL bulbs to organic cotton T-shirts, it seems everyone has some skin in the eco-game. Your family - and in particular your home - should be no different. Below are 15 easy do-it-yourself projects that will save you money, reduce your environmental footprint and have you playing your eco-part in no time.

    1. As the cost of energy continues to rise, there is a way to lower your electric bills. Compact florescent light bulbs, or CFLs, use up to 66 percent less energy than conventional incandescent bulbs and can last up to five years. Replacing the five most-used bulbs in your home can save you up to $60 a year on your electric bill.
    2. Your water heater can do a better job keeping the water in the tank hot if you buy it a jacket. Insulating jackets can be installed on most conventional water heaters and reduce the number of times a water heater "fires" during standby. In fact, 20 percent of your energy cost to heat water is used up during standby!
    3. Fix that leak! Did you know that a dripping faucet or leaking toilet can waste up to 20 gallons of water a day? Repairing these leaks takes just a little time, and a small investment for the parts needed. The payback - both in dollars and for the environment - is huge!
    4. Adding a rain barrel to your drainage system can help you capture some of the water Mother Nature sends us during rain showers. A 1,000 square foot roof can shed up to 650 gallons of water during a 1-inch rainfall. By placing a rain barrel under a down spout, you can use this water for your lawn, garden or even a car wash.
    5. Plant a tree and reduce the carbon footprint of your home. To counteract the footprint from the use of electricity and natural gas or oil in the average American home, you would need to plant 42 trees... while that's a lot of green, start slowly to help shade your home and absorb carbon dioxide from the air.
    6. Using a ceiling fan can not only help you feel more comfortable in your home, both in the winter and the summer, it can also help to lower your energy bills. By circulating the air in your home, your furnace and air conditioner will run less, which means savings for you.
    7. Cutting your lawn just got a lot greener with Earth-friendly mowers. Gas-powered mowers are terrific for larger lawns, but if you have a smaller space to take care of, an electric or new cordless mower can do the trick, and with no fuel or harmful emissions. Mother Nature will thank you!
    8. Composting is a great way to reduce your waste and your impact on landfills. By collecting and placing compostable materials in a collection bin, you can create a super-charged natural fertilizer for your garden.
    9. Natural cleaning products have come a long way. You now have a choice to use products that lessen their impact on the environment. Many of these new cleaning items have natural ingredients and use less water during shipping to reduce fuel use.
    10. Tankless water heaters are here to stay, and are a viable choice when it comes to installing a new water heater in your home. Standby energy use is completely eliminated, and you will never run out of hot water from a properly-sized unit!
    11. Reduce your usage. How many cups of water do you boil for a cup of tea? Do you leave the TV or lights on when you leave the room? Does the water run from the faucet when you brush your teeth? These small changes in your lifestyle can make a difference for all of us!
    12. Did you know that almost 25 percent of water used in the home is for showers, and each member of a family of four taking a 5-minute shower can use up to 700 gallons a day? By installing low-flow shower heads, you can reduce that use by almost half, and with new technology, still feel a brisk force from the water.
    13. Stop all the leaks in your home! Drafty windows and doors can greatly raise your energy consumption. According to the EPA, if you caulk or seal those air leaks with weatherstripping, you can reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 1,000 pounds a year.
    14. Let the sun shine! Not only will it brighten your mood, it will keep you from flipping the switch. In the colder months, the rays from the sun can help to heat your home, and the best part of this tip: it's absolutely free!
    15. Your indoor air is three times more polluted than the outdoor air. While painting is a great way to liven up your living environment, make sure you are not harming it during the process. Low VOC or zero VOC paints work just as well and are a great choice for those with allergies, asthma or homes with young children.

    Credit:  Lou Manfredini's Tips From the Tool Box, Ace Hardware

    Check your state and local codes before starting any project. Follow all safety precautions. Every effort has been made to ensure the accuracy and safety of this information. Neither Westlake nor any contributor can be held responsible for damages or injuries resulting from the use of the information in this document.

  • Will the new light bulbs work in my lamp where my lampshade connects right to the bulb?

    If your lampshade connects directly to the bulb, look for a replacement with a similar "bulb" shape. Even CFLs, with their now familiar curly shape come packaged in "bulb" shapes for that purpose.

    Check your state and local codes before starting any project. Follow all safety precautions. Every effort has been made to ensure the accuracy and safety of this information. Neither Westlake nor any contributor can be held responsible for damages or injuries resulting from the use of the information in this document.

  • Why do some appliances and tools only have two prongs and no grounding prong?

    These products are "double-insulated" and do not need the added protection of a grounding plug. You can plug them into ungrounded outlets and still be protected.

    Check your state and local codes before starting any project. Follow all safety precautions. Every effort has been made to ensure the accuracy and safety of this information. Neither Westlake nor any contributor can be held responsible for damages or injuries resulting from the use of the information in this document.

  • Do I need special tape for wiring?

    Yes, you should use electrical tape. There are many brands of electrical tape, and you can even choose to buy tape for color coding as you complete your project. Shop around to find exactly what you need.

    Check your state and local codes before starting any project. Follow all safety precautions. Every effort has been made to ensure the accuracy and safety of this information. Neither Westlake nor any contributor can be held responsible for damages or injuries resulting from the use of the information in this document.

  • Are there any light bulbs that are exempt from the energy-efficient light bulb act?

    Yes. This act exempts many bulbs, including specialty bulbs, three-way bulbs, chandelier bulbs, refrigerator bulbs, plant grow lights and others.

    Check your state and local codes before starting any project. Follow all safety precautions. Every effort has been made to ensure the accuracy and safety of this information. Neither Westlake nor any contributor can be held responsible for damages or injuries resulting from the use of the information in this document.

  • The dryer plug will not fit the receptacle in our new house. How can I fix this?

    In most new homes, the builders install four-prong dryer (and kitchen range) receptacles. If you have a three-prong power cord, you’ll need to change it to match your four-prong receptacle.

    Be sure to use the proper receptacles for your dryer and kitchen range.

    Check your state and local codes before starting any project. Follow all safety precautions. Every effort has been made to ensure the accuracy and safety of this information. Neither Westlake nor any contributor can be held responsible for damages or injuries resulting from the use of the information in this document.

  • What is a ground fault interrupter?

    It's a safety device that shuts off the power if a wire in an outlet develops a leak that could electrocute someone. This hazard is so serious that the National Electrical Code requires all new homes be equipped with them in the bathroom, kitchen, workroom, outdoor, basement, garage and swimming pool circuits.

    Need to know how to install a ground fault interrupter?

    Check your state and local codes before starting any project. Follow all safety precautions. Every effort has been made to ensure the accuracy and safety of this information. Neither Westlake nor any contributor can be held responsible for damages or injuries resulting from the use of the information in this document.

  • How do I replace a doorbell?

    Cut power to the doorbells at the breaker panel. Then:

    • Detach your old doorbells and rewire your new doorbells with wire nuts.
    • If your new doorbells have a different voltage than your older doorbells, you may also need to replace your transformer.
    • Once everything is wired, turn the power back on and test your new system.
    • If something appears to have failed with your doorbells wiring as opposed to the doorbell unit itself, the easiest way to “fix” that problem is to install a wireless doorbell unit.

    Check your state and local codes before starting any project. Follow all safety precautions. Every effort has been made to ensure the accuracy and safety of this information. Neither Westlake nor any contributor can be held responsible for damages or injuries resulting from the use of the information in this document.

  • How do I install under-cabinet lighting?

    There are plug in light strips that you can easily install in just an afternoon.

    • Plug in the light strip and turn it on.
    • Hold the light under the cabinet to see where you’d like to place it.
    • Mark the placement of the pre-drilled mounting holes of the lighting strip with a pencil.
    • Drill holes into the pencil markings. Make them about ½” deep.
    • Attach the lighting under the cabinet with screws.
    • Tighten the screws with a power drill and a screwdriver bit.
    • Use cable clips or a staple gun to attach the cord to the underside of the cabinet out of view. Be sure the cord is unplugged and be very careful not to pierce the cord with the clips or staples.

    Check your state and local codes before starting any project. Follow all safety precautions. Every effort has been made to ensure the accuracy and safety of this information. Neither Westlake nor any contributor can be held responsible for damages or injuries resulting from the use of the information in this document.

  • Which bulb works best for the fixtures around my home?

    Just like when you purchased traditional bulbs, you need to think about the style that fits in the fixture. For example, recessed cans require different bulbs than floor and table lamps.

    You should also be aware of where you place bulbs in and around the house. Be careful when putting bulbs in areas where kids play around and can easily knock them over. Additionally, there are varied options for outdoor versus indoor lights.

    There is a nice application at EnergyStar.gov to help you determine which bulb is right for you.

    Check your state and local codes before starting any project. Follow all safety precautions. Every effort has been made to ensure the accuracy and safety of this information. Neither Westlake nor any contributor can be held responsible for damages or injuries resulting from the use of the information in this document.

  • I am installing a ceiling fan; do I need a special electrical box?

    Yes, special saddle boxes are designed for hanging heavy fixtures-up to about 50 pounds. Since a ceiling fan moves, these boxes are good for about a 35-pound ceiling fan.

    Check your state and local codes before starting any project. Follow all safety precautions. Every effort has been made to ensure the accuracy and safety of this information. Neither Westlake nor any contributor can be held responsible for damages or injuries resulting from the use of the information in this document.

  • My doorbell doesn't work; do you know what's wrong with it?

    There are three components to the doorbell; the button, the transformer and the bell itself. First, look for any loose wires throughout the system. If all the wires are connected, test the doorbell button by removing it and touching the two wires together. If this makes the doorbell work, you have a bad button that is easily replaced.

    Check your state and local codes before starting any project. Follow all safety precautions. Every effort has been made to ensure the accuracy and safety of this information. Neither Westlake nor any contributor can be held responsible for damages or injuries resulting from the use of the information in this document.

  • I am going on vacation. Are there any easy-to-use products that will turn my lights on and off so it looks as if the house is occupied?

    Yes, there are a variety of timers that simply plug in. There are corded and cordless options to choose from, and there are also timers dedicated to protect your home during vacations.

    There are many other ways to keep your home safe from harm.

    Check your state and local codes before starting any project. Follow all safety precautions. Every effort has been made to ensure the accuracy and safety of this information. Neither Westlake nor any contributor can be held responsible for damages or injuries resulting from the use of the information in this document.

  • How do I test a switch to see if it is working?

    Use a continuity tester. First, turn the switch to the “off” position so that there isn’t any electricity going to it. Remove the switch from the wall (leave the wires connected) and touch the tester’s lead to both of the switch’s terminals. When the switch is in the “off” position, the tester should not register. Now flip the switch to the “on” position. The tester should light up. If it doesn’t, you have a bad switch and need to replace it.

    Check your state and local codes before starting any project. Follow all safety precautions. Every effort has been made to ensure the accuracy and safety of this information. Neither Westlake nor any contributor can be held responsible for damages or injuries resulting from the use of the information in this document.

  • Can I use a regular CFL bulb in my dimmable fixture?

    No. You will want to use a dimmable CFL bulb in dimmable fixtures. Look for CFLs that are labeled “dimmable.” 

    Check your state and local codes before starting any project. Follow all safety precautions. Every effort has been made to ensure the accuracy and safety of this information. Neither Westlake nor any contributor can be held responsible for damages or injuries resulting from the use of the information in this document.

  • I've noticed that some outlets have a T-shaped neutral slot. What does this do?

    It identifies the outlet as a 20-amp grounded receptacle and it should be used only on 20 amp circuits.

    Check your state and local codes before starting any project. Follow all safety precautions. Every effort has been made to ensure the accuracy and safety of this information. Neither Westlake nor any contributor can be held responsible for damages or injuries resulting from the use of the information in this document.

  • How do I hide the wires that I have running to my flat screen television?

    The easiest way to hide cords from a wall-mounted flat screen TV is to purchase a cable management system that covers the cords as they leave the TV and run down your wall. These systems come in a variety of colors to match a wide spectrum of wall colors and do a good job of camouflaging your wires.

    If you’re going to drill holes, first call an electrician and have them install a recessed outlet behind the television so that the TV’s power cord doesn’t show. Once you’ve mounted your television, mark you wall where you want your wires to enter and exit. Make sure your various cables and cords are long enough.

    Cut small holes in the drywall at your markings. Feed the wires into the top hole, through the wall and out of the exit hole. Consider installing covers over the holes you drilled through the wall. You can find these covers at almost any electronics store and in the electronics section of a major retailer. Once your wires are through, connect them to cable boxes, DVD players, gaming systems and stereo equipment. Install the covers.

    Check your state and local codes before starting any project. Follow all safety precautions. Every effort has been made to ensure the accuracy and safety of this information. Neither Westlake nor any contributor can be held responsible for damages or injuries resulting from the use of the information in this document.

  • Is there a special receptacle I should install outside?

    Yes, there is a special box with a cover designed to protect. In addition, the receptacle should also have ground-fault circuit-interrupt protection.

    Check your state and local codes before starting any project. Follow all safety precautions. Every effort has been made to ensure the accuracy and safety of this information. Neither Westlake nor any contributor can be held responsible for damages or injuries resulting from the use of the information in this document.

  • What does gauge mean?

    Wires have size numbers that express their diameter. These are even numbers from 0 to 18, and smaller numbers indicate larger diameters that can carry more power. It is important to know which wire and gauge to use.

    Check your state and local codes before starting any project. Follow all safety precautions. Every effort has been made to ensure the accuracy and safety of this information. Neither Westlake nor any contributor can be held responsible for damages or injuries resulting from the use of the information in this document.

  • Is there a special extension cord for my window air conditioner?

    Yes, you need to use a major appliance cord. A regular extension cord doesn't have heavy enough wire to safely conduct the necessary current.

    Check your state and local codes before starting any project. Follow all safety precautions. Every effort has been made to ensure the accuracy and safety of this information. Neither Westlake nor any contributor can be held responsible for damages or injuries resulting from the use of the information in this document.

  • I have a circuit breaker that tripped. Is this dangerous?

    Usually the problem is simply an overload and you only need to run fewer appliances on the circuit. However, if it is not overloaded and it keeps tripping, you should suspect a short. Also, look for a defective cord, socket or plug.

    Check your state and local codes before starting any project. Follow all safety precautions. Every effort has been made to ensure the accuracy and safety of this information. Neither Westlake nor any contributor can be held responsible for damages or injuries resulting from the use of the information in this document.

  • My extension cords are always getting tangled. Is there anything I can use to store them?

    There are numerous types of extension cord reels for good cord management.

    Check your state and local codes before starting any project. Follow all safety precautions. Every effort has been made to ensure the accuracy and safety of this information. Neither Westlake nor any contributor can be held responsible for damages or injuries resulting from the use of the information in this document.

  • Will new light bulbs be labeled with information so I can compare my options?

    Yes. The Lighting Facts label clearly provides the lumens, or brightness, of the bulb, the estimated operating cost for the year, the life expectancy of the bulb and the color of the light (from warm/yellowish, to white to cool/blue). Below is a sample of the new label.


    Check your state and local codes before starting any project. Follow all safety precautions. Every effort has been made to ensure the accuracy and safety of this information. Neither Westlake nor any contributor can be held responsible for damages or injuries resulting from the use of the information in this document.

    Check your state and local codes before starting any project. Follow all safety precautions. Every effort has been made to ensure the accuracy and safety of this information. Neither Westlake nor any contributor can be held responsible for damages or injuries resulting from the use of the information in this document.

  • What is the easiest way to test an outlet?

    Use a receptacle analyzer. Don’t shut off the power, but unplug everything from the outlet. Plug the analyzer into the outlet. The analyzer’s light sequence should tell you whether or not the outlet is working, as well as whether the outlet is wired correctly.

    Check your state and local codes before starting any project. Follow all safety precautions. Every effort has been made to ensure the accuracy and safety of this information. Neither Westlake nor any contributor can be held responsible for damages or injuries resulting from the use of the information in this document.

  • What type of energy-efficient light bulbs are available?

    In addition to incandescent bulbs, there are several other types of bulbs from which you can choose:

    Energy Saving or Halogen Incandescent Bulbs -- Halogen incandescent bulbs look and work similarly to standard incandescent light bulbs, but last two to three times longer and use about 25% less energy. They are available in a wide range of shapes and colors, and can be used with dimmers.

    CFLs -- Compact florescent bulbs (CFLs) use 75% less energy and last 10 times longer than incandescent. They come in both compact bulbs (used for recessed downlights, wall sconces, close-to-ceiling fixtures and track lighting) and screw-in bulbs, which can be used in place of incandescent bulbs in standard lamp sockets. Some CFLs are dimmable.

    LEDs -- Light Emitting Diodes (LEDs) use 75% less energy and last 25 times longer than incandescents.

    Check your state and local codes before starting any project. Follow all safety precautions. Every effort has been made to ensure the accuracy and safety of this information. Neither Westlake nor any contributor can be held responsible for damages or injuries resulting from the use of the information in this document.

  • My dusk to dawn light doesn't go off and remains on all day. Do I need to replace it?

    First find the sensor and see if it is being obscured by something. If not, you can probably just replace this sensor.

    Check your state and local codes before starting any project. Follow all safety precautions. Every effort has been made to ensure the accuracy and safety of this information. Neither Westlake nor any contributor can be held responsible for damages or injuries resulting from the use of the information in this document.

  • Will the new energy-efficient light bulbs dim?

    Halogen incandescents dim in the same way as their incandescent counterparts; however, using dimmable CFLs and LEDs are necessary in fixtures or lamps requiring dimmer switches. Not every bulb is dimmable, so you should check the bulb’s packaging. These special lights work differently than incandescents; dimmable CFLs, for example, maintain light color more consistently than incandescents and dim to 10%-40% of their original brightness.

    Check your state and local codes before starting any project. Follow all safety precautions. Every effort has been made to ensure the accuracy and safety of this information. Neither Westlake nor any contributor can be held responsible for damages or injuries resulting from the use of the information in this document.

  • What is the difference between an extension cord rated for outdoor use and a standard one?

    Outdoor extension cords are wrapped with heavier insulation to resist weather and sunlight.

    Check your state and local codes before starting any project. Follow all safety precautions. Every effort has been made to ensure the accuracy and safety of this information. Neither Westlake nor any contributor can be held responsible for damages or injuries resulting from the use of the information in this document.

  • How do I tell which breaker controls an outlet or switch?

    Draw floor plans of your home or business and mark the location of all lights and electrical receptacles. Remember to label the garage and any outdoor areas.

    This is a two-person job. Each of you should have a handheld radio so that you can communicate with one another during the task.

    Turn on the lights in every room of your home so that your helper can more easily identify which breaker you have turned off. Remember to turn on switches that are connected to electrical outlets.

    Give your helper the floor plans, a pencil and a small appliance (such as a digital clock) to plug into receptacles to test for power.

    Open the door of your breaker box and begin with the first breaker at the top of the row. Communicate to your helper, via radio, that you are going to flip the first breaker. Ask your helper to tell you the location of the light or lights that went out. Your helper will also need to test each outlet in the room by plugging in the small appliance. Have your helper write a "1" on each light and receptacle in the plans that is connected to breaker No. 1.

    Tear off a small piece of masking tape and place it next to the breaker and write the location that is connected to the first breaker with a permanent marker. You can also write directly on the breaker box if you don't want to use tape.

    Switch the breaker back to the "on" position. Your partner can turn out any lights in the room once they’re marked on the plans.

    Continue flipping breakers and labeling them as your helper identifies where the power has been suspended. If your helper can't readily identify a location that’s connected to a breaker, mark the area next to the breaker with a small dot. Come back to it after you have finished identifying the rest of the circuit breakers. You can then look at the plans and figure out what location goes with the breaker in question.

    Check your state and local codes before starting any project. Follow all safety precautions. Every effort has been made to ensure the accuracy and safety of this information. Neither Westlake nor any contributor can be held responsible for damages or injuries resulting from the use of the information in this document.

  • Is it okay to use an extension cord with a fuse on it rather than a surge protector for my computer?

    No, a surge protector has components that trip before a spike in electricity damages your electronic equipment. For this reason, a surge protector is the best option.

    It is important to keep your electonics protected so put some thought into choosing the best surge protector for your electronic devices.

    Check your state and local codes before starting any project. Follow all safety precautions. Every effort has been made to ensure the accuracy and safety of this information. Neither Westlake nor any contributor can be held responsible for damages or injuries resulting from the use of the information in this document.

  • Do I need to buy a special bulb for my garage door opener?

    It's best to use a rough service bulb.

    Check your state and local codes before starting any project. Follow all safety precautions. Every effort has been made to ensure the accuracy and safety of this information. Neither Westlake nor any contributor can be held responsible for damages or injuries resulting from the use of the information in this document.

  • Simple Tips for Staying Cool & Saving EnergyGreen Content

    Summer is here! Follow these tips to keep cool while keeping your home energy costs to a minimum:

    Basic Strategies to Keep Cool

    • Close blinds and drapes or cover windows during daylight hours to keep the sun off the glass.
    • Keep your house closed during the day to keep heat out and ventilate it well at night to let cool air in.
    • Close doors leading to uncooled parts of your home. If you have central air conditioning, close off vents to unused rooms.
    • Turn off the lights in unoccupied rooms. Turn off or unplug unnecessary electronics.
    • Dress for the weather. Wear lightweight, loos fitting clothing on hot days to help keep cool.
    • Drink plenty of cold liquids.

    Habits that Save Energy

    • Skip the dishwasher's drying cycle. Air dry items instead.
    • Dry laundry on a clothesline.
    • Set your A/C thermostat to 78. You can save up to 5 percent on your air conditioning costs for each degree you raise the thermostat.
    • Place heat-producing appliances such as lamps and televisions away from the air conditioning thermostat to prevent inaccurate temperature readings.
    • Cook more meals in your microwave or grill outdoors. This will cook your food instead of heating your home.
    • Save jobs that produce moisture -- like mopping, dishwashing and washing clothes -- for early morning or night-time hours. The humidity from these activities can make homes uncomfortable.
    • Use ceiling and other fans to provide additional cooling and better circulation.

    Investments That are Worth It

    • Shade your air conditioner; make sure it has good airflow on all sides.
    • Add insulation if needed to stay warmer in winter and cooler in summer.
    • Good attic ventilation keeps your house cooler. Keep attic vents clear and attic fans functioning properly.
    • Install awnings or plant deciduous trees to shade windows on the south and and east sides of your home.

    Check your state and local codes before starting any project. Follow all safety precautions. Every effort has been made to ensure the accuracy and safety of this information. Neither Westlake nor any contributor can be held responsible for damages or injuries resulting from the use of the information in this document.

  • What type of switches will I need to turn a light on from three different locations?

    Two of the locations will use a three-way switch and the other location will need a four-way switch.

    It can be helpful to have some guidance when installing new switches.

    Check your state and local codes before starting any project. Follow all safety precautions. Every effort has been made to ensure the accuracy and safety of this information. Neither Westlake nor any contributor can be held responsible for damages or injuries resulting from the use of the information in this document.

  • Will a three-pronged plug adapter protect me against electrical shock when I use it in a two-prong receptacle?

    Only if the wall plate screw is grounded.

    Check your state and local codes before starting any project. Follow all safety precautions. Every effort has been made to ensure the accuracy and safety of this information. Neither Westlake nor any contributor can be held responsible for damages or injuries resulting from the use of the information in this document.

  • Will CFL bulbs work in my fixtures?

    Yes, CFL bulbs can replace incandescent bulbs in standard light sockets. However, some ENERGY STAR CFL bulbs cannot, so it’s important to check the packaging before purchasing.

    Check your state and local codes before starting any project. Follow all safety precautions. Every effort has been made to ensure the accuracy and safety of this information. Neither Westlake nor any contributor can be held responsible for damages or injuries resulting from the use of the information in this document.

  • Is there a tool for removing the outer sheathing on cables such as Romax?

    A utility knife will work, but an inexpensive cable ripper is designed for the task and will not damage the wires inside.

    Check your state and local codes before starting any project. Follow all safety precautions. Every effort has been made to ensure the accuracy and safety of this information. Neither Westlake nor any contributor can be held responsible for damages or injuries resulting from the use of the information in this document.

  • What are the most common places where air may be leaking out of or in to my home?

    You may already know the obvious places where air leakage occurs in your home, such as an under-the-door draft, but if you take a little time you may discover a lot of smaller leaks that really add up to a big hit to your wallet.

    On the outside of your house, inspect all areas where two different building materials meet, including:

    • All exterior corners
    • Outdoor water faucets
    • Where siding and chimneys meet
    • Areas where the foundation and the bottom of exterior brick or siding meet.

    Inside your home, inspect around the following areas for any cracks and gaps that could cause air leaks:

    • Electrical outlets
    • Switch plates
    • Door and window frames
    • Electrical and gas service entrances
    • Baseboards
    • Weather stripping around doors
    • Fireplace dampers
    • Attic hatches
    • Wall- or window-mounted air conditioners.
    • Cable TV and phone lines
    • Where dryer vents pass through walls
    • Vents and fans

    Also look for gaps around pipes and wires that enter your home, as well as foundation seals, and mail slots. Make sure exterior storm doors and primary doors seal tightly. Inspect windows and doors for air leaks. See if you can rattle them, since movement means possible air leaks.  If you can see daylight around a door or window frame, then the door or window leaks. Shut a door or window on a dollar bill. If you can pull the dollar bill out without it dragging, you're losing energy. You can usually seal these leaks by caulking or weather stripping them. Check any storm windows to see if they fit and are not broken. Inspect any existing caulking and weather stripping to make sure it is applied properly and in good condition -- leaving no gaps or cracks. 

    Check your state and local codes before starting any project. Follow all safety precautions. Every effort has been made to ensure the accuracy and safety of this information. Neither Westlake nor any contributor can be held responsible for damages or injuries resulting from the use of the information in this document.

  • How many lumens is equivalent to a 100 watt light bulb?

    The current 100-watt incandescent bulb is the equivalent of about 1600 lumens.

    According to new U.S. energy efficiency requirements, beginning January 1, 2012, all across the nation, companies will no longer be able to sell or manufacture 100 watt light bulbs. You will no longer be able to find or buy 100 watt bulbs. Instead, the highest you will find is 72 watts. In addition to this change, you will now find that light bulbs will no longer be categorized by wattage, but rather by lumens. A 72 watt bulb will now be referred to as a “1,500 lumens bulb" or a “2,600 lumens bulb.” Here's a quick reference guide to see all bulb conversions.

    Check your state and local codes before starting any project. Follow all safety precautions. Every effort has been made to ensure the accuracy and safety of this information. Neither Westlake nor any contributor can be held responsible for damages or injuries resulting from the use of the information in this document.

  • I need to install a receptacle for my kitchen range. Is it okay to use one designed for a dryer?

    No. These two receptacles may seem similar, but they’re very different. Before you install either, make sure you check the manufacturer’s label to ensure it’s rated for the proper amperage.

    Be sure to follow the correct procedures when installing a GFCI receptacle to ensure safety. 

    Check your state and local codes before starting any project. Follow all safety precautions. Every effort has been made to ensure the accuracy and safety of this information. Neither Westlake nor any contributor can be held responsible for damages or injuries resulting from the use of the information in this document.

  • How can I easily detect air leaks that might affect my energy use?Green Content

    Test your home for air tightness. On a windy day, carefully hold a lit incense stick or a smoke pen next to your windows, doors, electrical boxes, plumbing fixtures, electrical outlets, ceiling fixtures, attic hatches, and other places where air may leak. If the smoke stream travels horizontally, you have located an air leak that may need caulking, sealing, or weather stripping.

    • Caulk and weather strip doors and windows that leak air.
    • Caulk and seal air leaks where plumbing, ducting, or electrical wiring comes through walls, floors, ceilings, and soffits over cabinets.
    • Install foam gaskets behind outlet and switch plates on walls.
    • Inspect dirty spots in your insulation and check the surrounding area for air leaks. Seal leaks with low-expansion spray foam made for this purpose.
    • Look for dirty spots on your ceiling paint and carpet, which may indicate air leaks at interior wall/ceiling joints and wall/floor joists, and caulk them.
    • Cover single-pane windows with storm windows or replace them with more efficient double-pane windows. 
    • Use foam sealant on larger gaps around windows, baseboards, and other places where air may leak out.
    • Cover your kitchen exhaust fan to stop air leaks when not in use.
    • Check your dryer vent to be sure it is not blocked. This will save energy and may prevent a fire.
    • Replace door bottoms and thresholds with ones that have pliable sealing gaskets.
    • Keep the fireplace flue damper tightly closed when not in use.
    • Seal air leaks around fireplace chimneys, furnaces, and gas-fired water heater vents with fire-resistant materials such as sheet metal or cement board and furnace cement caulk.

    Check your state and local codes before starting any project. Follow all safety precautions. Every effort has been made to ensure the accuracy and safety of this information. Neither Westlake nor any contributor can be held responsible for damages or injuries resulting from the use of the information in this document.

  • Will the new light bulbs fit in my older lighting fixtures?

    The newer energy-saving bulbs will work with conventional, medium screw-based sockets. Manufacturers have worked to build products that are about the same size as the bulbs they are replacing to make it easy on consumers. If in doubt, take the bulb you are replacing to the store and ask for assistance.

    Check your state and local codes before starting any project. Follow all safety precautions. Every effort has been made to ensure the accuracy and safety of this information. Neither Westlake nor any contributor can be held responsible for damages or injuries resulting from the use of the information in this document.

  • How do I check the starter in the fluorescent fixture?

    Older, delayed-start fluorescent lights flicker when they first light up. If this lasts more than a couple of seconds, make sure the starter is seated by pushing it in and turning clockwise. If the ends of the tube light up and the middle does not, the starter is bad. Remove it by turning counterclockwise.

    Check your state and local codes before starting any project. Follow all safety precautions. Every effort has been made to ensure the accuracy and safety of this information. Neither Westlake nor any contributor can be held responsible for damages or injuries resulting from the use of the information in this document.

  • I think there is a short in a wire running to one of my rooms. Is there some way to test it to find out?

    A continuity tester will let you know if there is a short. It is a tool that includes a battery so that it can supply a low-voltage current to devices and wires to see if there is a complete circuit.

    Check your state and local codes before starting any project. Follow all safety precautions. Every effort has been made to ensure the accuracy and safety of this information. Neither Westlake nor any contributor can be held responsible for damages or injuries resulting from the use of the information in this document.

  • How do I select the right surge protectors vs. a power strip?

    First, not all power strips have surge protectors. If you’re not worried about electrical appliances or equipment being harmed by a sudden surge of electricity, a normal power strip will work fine. However, look for the words “surge protection” on the packaging of power strips if you have expensive electronics that you want to protect from surges (which can easily damage or ruin the delicate circuitry of electronics such as TVs, computers, stereos, etc.).

    Think about the electronics you want to protect and make sure you choose the best surge protector to fit your needs.

    Check your state and local codes before starting any project. Follow all safety precautions. Every effort has been made to ensure the accuracy and safety of this information. Neither Westlake nor any contributor can be held responsible for damages or injuries resulting from the use of the information in this document.

  • What is the difference between a floodlight and a spotlight?

    The floodlight will have a broader light pattern, while a spotlight will focus on a more narrow area.

    Check your state and local codes before starting any project. Follow all safety precautions. Every effort has been made to ensure the accuracy and safety of this information. Neither Westlake nor any contributor can be held responsible for damages or injuries resulting from the use of the information in this document.

  • What do I look for when shopping for new bulbs?

    Starting in 2012 packaging on energy-efficient bulbs will provide helpful information on how an energy efficient bulb’s light output compares to traditional incandescent light bulbs. Click here to view a watt to lumen comparison chart.

    Packaging will include the number of lumens the bulb gives off and an estimate of how much money can be saved per year by using the bulb. Click here to view a sample package label.

    If you want the equivalent light of a 100-watt bulb, look for a bulb that provides 1,600 lumens of light.

    If you want the equivalent light of a 60-watt bulb, look for a bulb that provides 800 lumens of light.

    Check your state and local codes before starting any project. Follow all safety precautions. Every effort has been made to ensure the accuracy and safety of this information. Neither Westlake nor any contributor can be held responsible for damages or injuries resulting from the use of the information in this document.

  • I have low-voltage outdoor lighting. Can I add additional lights?

    You will have to look at your transformer to determine what its maximum wattage is. Most bulbs are 4 watts, but they come in different wattages. You will have to add up what you are currently using.

    Before installing the new lights, be sure that you follow the correct process. If you find that you are unable to install new lights, you may want to consider solar lights. Solar lights require no wiring and come in various designs.

    Check your state and local codes before starting any project. Follow all safety precautions. Every effort has been made to ensure the accuracy and safety of this information. Neither Westlake nor any contributor can be held responsible for damages or injuries resulting from the use of the information in this document.

  • Are incandescent bulbs banned?

    No. You can still use and purchase incandescent bulbs. The new light bulb law does, however, ban the selling and manufacturing of common household incandescent bulbs that are not energy-efficient, which is why you will no longer be able to find 100 watt incandescent bulbs as of 2012. In January 2013, 75 watt bulbs will be phased out. In 2014, the 60 and 40 watt bulbs will be phased out.

    Check your state and local codes before starting any project. Follow all safety precautions. Every effort has been made to ensure the accuracy and safety of this information. Neither Westlake nor any contributor can be held responsible for damages or injuries resulting from the use of the information in this document.

  • I have some slots left on my circuit breaker box that do not have breakers in them. Can I add more circuits?

    You need to see how many amps your box is rated for and then look at the existing circuits to see how many total amps are already being used. If you have not reached the maximum, it's possible to add more, but it's best to have a professional do the work inside the box unless you have the specific knowledge.


    Check your state and local codes before starting any project. Follow all safety precautions. Information in this document has been furnished by the North American Retail Hardware Association (NRHA) and associated contributors. Every effort has been made to ensure accuracy and safety. Neither NRHA, any contributor nor the retailer can be held responsible for damages or injuries resulting from the use of the information in this document

    Check your state and local codes before starting any project. Follow all safety precautions. Every effort has been made to ensure the accuracy and safety of this information. Neither Westlake nor any contributor can be held responsible for damages or injuries resulting from the use of the information in this document.

  • What is the advantage of a halogen bulb?

    It provides brighter, cleaner light. However, it consumes lots of electricity and gets very hot. You should ensure that it stays away from draperies, bedding, clothing and hanging plants. 

    Remember to be safe if you choose to use a halogen bulb.

    Check your state and local codes before starting any project. Follow all safety precautions. Every effort has been made to ensure the accuracy and safety of this information. Neither Westlake nor any contributor can be held responsible for damages or injuries resulting from the use of the information in this document.

  • What is a polarized plug?

    One prong is bigger than the other. This feature is designed to make sure that a 110-volt plug is never put into a socket that is not a 110-volt outlet.

    Check your state and local codes before starting any project. Follow all safety precautions. Every effort has been made to ensure the accuracy and safety of this information. Neither Westlake nor any contributor can be held responsible for damages or injuries resulting from the use of the information in this document.

  • What kind of saw do I need to cut a hole in my wall for a new electrical box?

    A keyhole saw.

    Check your state and local codes before starting any project. Follow all safety precautions. Every effort has been made to ensure the accuracy and safety of this information. Neither Westlake nor any contributor can be held responsible for damages or injuries resulting from the use of the information in this document.

  • How do I install a single pole switch?

    The simplest switch system-the single-pole toggle switch is illustrated here.

    • The ordinary single-pole toggle switch provides a means for breaking or feeding electrical current to a light, appliance, etc.
    • The single-pole toggle switch has two brass terminal screws. One wire (usually the black) is cut, then is connected to the two brass terminals.
    • The other wire (white) is uninterrupted from the power source to the light or fixture.
    • When connecting a wire to the terminal screw of a switch, always turn the loop on the end of the wire in the same direction as the screw threads, as shown in the illustration below. If the loop is turned in the opposite direction (B), tightening the screw will loosen the loop.
    • If the wire connects to the terminal screw and then runs on, cut and strip the wire on both sides of the cut. Using a 6" piece of wire with both ends stripped-sometimes called a pigtail-and a wire nut, fasten the three wires together. Connect the pigtail to the terminal.
    • Use wire nuts or screw-on connectors to save time and effort when you must make a splice in any electrical wire.
    • Always cover any soldered connection with insulating tape. If soldered sections are rough, apply an extra layer of tape. Insulate the wire an additional inch or two beyond the soldered connection in each direction.
    • White wires should generally be attached to light-colored terminal screws such as silver. Black wires should generally be attached to dark-colored screws such as brass colored. If the terminal screws are the same color, either wire can generally be attached to either terminal. Green terminal screws are for grounding wire.


    Check your state and local codes before starting any project. Follow all safety precautions. Information in this document has been furnished by the North American Retail Hardware Association (NRHA) and associated contributors. Every effort has been made to ensure accuracy and safety. Neither NRHA, any contributor nor the retailer can be held responsible for damages or injuries resulting from the use of the information in this document.

    Check your state and local codes before starting any project. Follow all safety precautions. Every effort has been made to ensure the accuracy and safety of this information. Neither Westlake nor any contributor can be held responsible for damages or injuries resulting from the use of the information in this document.

  • How do I use a wire nut?

    Strip off about 1/2" of insulation from the wires you want to connect. Hold these wires next to each other and twist clockwise. Screw on the wire connector using only your hand strength. Make sure no bare wire is exposed.

    Check your state and local codes before starting any project. Follow all safety precautions. Every effort has been made to ensure the accuracy and safety of this information. Neither Westlake nor any contributor can be held responsible for damages or injuries resulting from the use of the information in this document.

  • How do I install a motion detector?

    Selecting the Sensor

    • Survey your home and determine where you intend to put a motion sensor. Choose areas where an intruder is likely to go. Common locations are in a hallway or stairway.
    • Remember that a passive infrared motion sensor detects heat. Eliminate spots where you must aim at heat vents, radiators, open windows where sunlight shines through, or windows where car headlights often shine through at night.
    • Choose a dual technology sensor that includes both microwave and infrared elements if aiming the sensor is a problem.
    • Select either a hard-wired or wireless motion sensor, which will depend on whether you have a hard-wired or wireless security system.
    • Drill holes in walls and route wires in and out of walls to the control panel if you have a hard-wired system.
    • Access a power source for a wireless motion sensor. Some infrared and dual technology motion sensors, however, come with a lithium battery that supplies power.

    Installing the Sensor

    • Read the installation instructions that come with the sensor. Take into consideration the instructions and how you intend to aim the sensor.
    • Mount the sensor to a wall using the drill and screws. Remember to aim a passive infrared motion sensor away from a heat source.
    • Route the wire of the sensor (if it is a hard-wired sensor) along the baseboard and/or through walls to the control panel.
    • Connect the wire to the proper input. If you are using a wireless motion sensor, you may only have to route a wire to a power source. If the wireless sensor also includes a lithium battery, you will not have to route any wires at all.
    • Adjust the microwave element if you are using a dual-technology motion sensor that includes microwave and infrared.

    Check your state and local codes before starting any project. Follow all safety precautions. Every effort has been made to ensure the accuracy and safety of this information. Neither Westlake nor any contributor can be held responsible for damages or injuries resulting from the use of the information in this document.

  • Is replacing my thermostat an easy project?

    Yes. It's one of the easiest projects there is. It's as easy as flipping a breaker, using a screwdriver and disconnecting/connecting a few wires. Read the instructions on your new thermostat for a step-by-step guide.

    Changing your thermostat is one way to cut energy expenses, but consider other changes that could cut energy expenditures.

    Check your state and local codes before starting any project. Follow all safety precautions. Every effort has been made to ensure the accuracy and safety of this information. Neither Westlake nor any contributor can be held responsible for damages or injuries resulting from the use of the information in this document.

  • Is it easy to replace a faulty plug?

    Yes, start by snipping off the original plug. Slide the cord into the new plug, strip the wires and connect them to the proper terminals. For lamps and small appliances there are quick-connect plugs. The snipped wire is inserted and a small lever is closed, which holds and pierces the wire to make the connection.

    Check your state and local codes before starting any project. Follow all safety precautions. Every effort has been made to ensure the accuracy and safety of this information. Neither Westlake nor any contributor can be held responsible for damages or injuries resulting from the use of the information in this document.

  • Playing It Safe - Seasonal Safety Guide

    Fruitcake isn't the only holiday health hazard lurking in your home. Here's a seasonal survival guide.

    As the holidays near, we scramble to buy last-minute gifts, decorate the house, and plan parties and get-togethers. In the rush, however, many of us abandon our sense of safety. Who among us, for instance, hasn't stood on their tip-toes on top of a rickety ladder to hang lights? Or strung strand after strand together until we've overloaded an outlet, which can start a fire?

    This season, let's help everyone be a little safer around the home. Let's start with ladders; which pose the greatest risk of all, especially as we hang lights and decorations inside and out. Last year, there were an estimated 171,000 ladder-related accidents in the U.S., according to the American Ladder Institute, which is an astounding number. We're not always careful with them, to say the least, and think nothing of using old relics that have been handed down to us from our parents, broken rungs and all. It's time to put this foolishness to an end:

    • Position extension ladders correctly. For stability, an extension ladder has to be planted with its feet one-quarter of its extended length away from the house. This is not tricky to calculate. If you've got a 12-foot ladder, it has to be positioned 3 feet from the house.
    • Don't carry a ladder upright as you move it. This is a maneuver best saved for the clowns at the circus. You could easily lose control of it in this position, crashing furniture inside, and smashing windows, gutters and even power lines outside. Instead, lower it and carry it parallel to the ground.
    • Make sure the ladder is positioned on a level surface. Don't try to use rocks or bricks to prop up one side of it; those will surely pop out as you're climbing up.

    OK, so now you won't end up as a Ladder Institute statistic, but don't celebrate with the eggnog just yet. We've still got the lighting issue to address. The key here is not to overload an electrical outlet, especially if you have only a single outdoor outlet that you use to power a dozen strings of lights and a few spotlights. Attempt this, and the result will be more like the Fourth of July than Christmas, as sparks and smoke fill the night sky. To do things right:

    • Follow the instructions on the strands of lights. These will tell you how many can be connected together and plugged into a single outlet. This is typically only two or three, not 10 or 12.
    • Make sure outdoor lights are plugged into a GFCI receptacle. That's the one with the reset button in the center for safety. If you don't have one outdoors, have the outlet replaced or purchase a "plug in" adapter. This cord system is about 2 feet long and will protect against electrocution if there's a short circuit.

    One other thing: Be careful with lit candles. Don't put them near combustibles, such as that evergreen spray in the center of the dining room table. And remember to blow them out when the party's over. A trick my wife and I use to remember this is to set the timer on the stove to go off just around the time when we think the party will have ended. This reminds us to extinguish the candles before we go to bed.

    Credit: Lou Manfredini's Tips From the Tool Box, Ace Hardware

    Check your state and local codes before starting any project. Follow all safety precautions. Every effort has been made to ensure the accuracy and safety of this information. Neither Westlake nor any contributor can be held responsible for damages or injuries resulting from the use of the information in this document.

  • Tips to Tighten Up Your Home's Security

    It only takes one unlocked window to invite a thief into your home. And, although nearly 2.5 million burglaries occur each year, a new study by Ace Hardware reveals 79 percent of people feel "very safe" in their homes. This last statistic breeds a false sense of comfort and suggests there is more homeowners should do to defend their dwellings.

    Follow these tips for tightening up your home's security:

    Door locks are deterrents

    Many would-be burglars won't hesitate to use the front door, so turn them away with a good deadbolt. There are two types of deadbolts, single cylinder and double cylinder. Single cylinder locks are keyed on the outside with a thumb-turn knob on the inside and are good for general entry doors. Double cylinder locks are keyed on both the outside and the inside and are good for entry doors flanked by windows.

    Security that makes the grade

    The American National Standards Institute (ANSI) uses a grading system to gauge the safety and security of door locks. Grade 3 locksets are the most cost-effective and provide low-level residential security. Grade 2 locksets meet light commercial building requirements and provide medium safety at a medium price. Grade 1 locksets, though somewhat more costly, meet stringent commercial building requirements and provide maximum residential security. Generally, a Grade 2 lock is sufficient for most homes.

    Windows and patio doors

    Some of the easiest entry points into the home are windows and patio doors. Make sure these are always shut tight and locked, especially if they can be accessed from the first floor. For single- and double-hung windows, make sure the sash locks work properly. For sliding windows and patio doors, consider installing a security bar to prevent unwanted opening of the unit.

    Security lighting

    It's hard for thieves to use the cover of darkness when they can't find any, so keep the areas surrounding your home well-lit, especially around points of entry. Decorative lighting around the perimeter of your home serves a dual purpose, while motion activated lights on the side of the house and near the back door keep the darkness, and the burglars, away.

    Shrubbery

    Make sure bushes and tree branches are trimmed to prevent the landscaping from serving as a hiding placed for burglars.

    Having a secure home doesn't require unsightly barred windows or solid-steel entry doors. Choose security options that fit your home's décor. Interior window locks as well as light fixtures and door handles are available in a wide variety of styles and finishes to suit your needs.

    Tightening up your home is an investment in the safety of you and your family. Spend a little time and money upfront to prevent having to make up for damages and lost property later.

    Credit:  Lou Manfredini's Tips From the Tool Box, Ace Hardware

    Check your state and local codes before starting any project. Follow all safety precautions. Every effort has been made to ensure the accuracy and safety of this information. Neither Westlake nor any contributor can be held responsible for damages or injuries resulting from the use of the information in this document.

  • Can I add additional outlets to an existing circuit?

    You need to figure the current circuit load in watts to see if it can handle additional use. The National Electric Code is 20 percent less than maximum. This means a 15-amp circuit has a safe capacity of 1,440 watts. A 20-amp circuit limit is 1,920 watts, a 25-amp circuit's limit is 2,400 watts and a 30-amp circuit has a safe limit of 2,880 watts.

    Check your state and local codes before starting any project. Follow all safety precautions. Every effort has been made to ensure the accuracy and safety of this information. Neither Westlake nor any contributor can be held responsible for damages or injuries resulting from the use of the information in this document.

  • How do I install a GFCI receptacle and when do I need to use one?

    GFCI – or Ground Fault Circuit Interrupters – are receptacles that stop electricity flow when they detect energy leakage, which prevents electrocution. You can tell a GFCI receptacle from a normal receptacle, because a GFCI has two buttons, one marked “Test” and one marked “Reset.” They also have a light indicator on the receptacle that designates when current is reaching the receptacle. To install a GFCI:

    • Turn off the power to the receptacle at the circuit breaker panel.
    • Remove the faceplate on the old receptacle.
    • Disconnect the old receptacle and remove.
    • Use wire strippers to cut off the ends of the old home wiring and expose fresh wiring for your new receptacle.
    • Cut 6” of 12/2 NM cable in each color (black, white and green) and strip away the insulation from the ends.
    • Loosen the two exposed screws on your new GFCI receptacle (leave the two taped screws intact).
    • Attach your strips of 12/2 NM wire to the receptacle around the color-coded screws. (The green wire goes under the green screw. Black goes under black. White goes under white.) Tighten all screws so that there is a secure connection.
    • Attach the color-coded wires to the color-coded wires coming from the wall box with wire nuts.
    • Place the receptacle into the wall. Replace the faceplate.
    • Turn power to the receptacle back on at the circuit breaker panel.
    • The light on the GFCI receptacle should be on indicating that the receptacle has been “tripped.”
    • Press the reset button to reconnect the receptacle to the electrical current and prepare it for use.

    Be sure that you know where you need to install GFCI receptacles before you begin this process.

    Check your state and local codes before starting any project. Follow all safety precautions. Every effort has been made to ensure the accuracy and safety of this information. Neither Westlake nor any contributor can be held responsible for damages or injuries resulting from the use of the information in this document.

  • When my house was built, they did not install a doorbell. Is there an easy way to solve this?

    Yes. You don’t need to wire your home for a doorbell if one isn’t installed;  simply purchase a wireless doorbell from your local Westlake store.

    Check your state and local codes before starting any project. Follow all safety precautions. Every effort has been made to ensure the accuracy and safety of this information. Neither Westlake nor any contributor can be held responsible for damages or injuries resulting from the use of the information in this document.

  • Do 4-foot fluorescent fixtures come in different wattages?

    Yes, the most common are 25-, 34- and 40-watt bulbs.

    Check your state and local codes before starting any project. Follow all safety precautions. Every effort has been made to ensure the accuracy and safety of this information. Neither Westlake nor any contributor can be held responsible for damages or injuries resulting from the use of the information in this document.

  • How much money will I save when I switch to the new energy efficient light bulbs?

    Upgrading 15 traditional incandescent bulbs in your home with energy-saving bulbs could save you about $50 per year.

    Check your state and local codes before starting any project. Follow all safety precautions. Every effort has been made to ensure the accuracy and safety of this information. Neither Westlake nor any contributor can be held responsible for damages or injuries resulting from the use of the information in this document.

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