Ideas That Work: Spill Avoidance, GFCI Tip and Dollar-Store Solution

Every month, we pick the top Ideas That Work submitted by you, ELECTRICAL CONTRACTOR readers. These ideas can't be found in any code or guidebook and are only learned or devised through years of experience and thinking, "There's got to be a better way to do this!" Please remember, the ideas presented in this article are for consideration only. Before using such ideas, make sure codes and safety standards have been fully adhered to.

Now, without further ado, here are this issue's Ideas That Work!

Less mess, less fuss

These days, the slightest petroleum spill is often an issue when threading conduit, even on big industrial sites. The oil-soak pads and kitty litter trays of the old days just don’t cut it anymore. We still end up tracking oil into the field. An ordinary, heavy-duty, plastic 27-gallon storage tub filled with kitty litter placed under a 300 machine or vise can hold a pony motor and spare dies, and it is easily tucked away for storage at day’s end.

Jeff Geken
Fairmont, W.V.

Installation shortcut

As we all know, when installing a ground-fault circuit interrupter (GFCI) outlet, you have to ensure you properly put the line- and load-side wires under the correct screws. Instead of totally removing the little yellow sticker tape that covers the load-side screws, just pull the yellow strip back far enough to uncover the screws and install the load-side wires. If you remove the strip, you have to turn the outlet and find which screws go to the line or load. By leaving the yellow strip partially on the back, it is easy to see which screws go to the load side.

Kim Duersch
Salt Lake City

A ‘decorative’ filling method

When filling some explosion-proof fittings, it’s hard to pour the cement into the 3/8-in. hole. My solution: get a cake-decorating bag from the dollar store. You might have to snip the end, but it helps to make a fairly neat job. It creates no waste, and you get most of the cement right in the hole.

Michael Ziegler
Keyport, N.J.

IF YOU HAVE AN IDEA that has saved you time or money on the job, ELECTRICAL CONTRACTOR ­readers would like to hear about it. Be sure to include a good photo of your idea—hand sketches are often hard to interpret. Note that some similar ideas are submitted by more than one person. In these cases, the one that is more clearly written and includes a photo is given precedence. Send your letter and photo to Jack Pullizzi, Ideas Editor, ELECTRICAL CONTRACTOR, 3 Bethesda Metro Center, Suite 1100, Bethesda, MD 20814-5372, e-mail, or use the online submission tool at

CASH AND TOOL PRIZES FOR WINNING IDEAS Each published author in Ideas That Work receives a $50 American Express gift card from ELECTRICAL ­CONTRACTOR. In addition, Southwire ( will send the following set of electrician’s tools to each month’s first-place winner:

• Cable cutter
• Fish tape
• Long nose pliers
• Side cutting pliers
• Diagonal cutting pliers
• Pump pliers
• Screwdriver
• Wire stripper
• Crimpers
• Multimeter

DISCLAIMER: The ideas presented in this article are for consideration only. Before using such ideas, make sure codes and safety issues have been fully adhered to. ELECTRICAL CONTRACTOR disclaims any liability from your use of these or any other ideas. ­ELECTRICAL CONTRACTOR reserves the right to reprint the words herein at its discretion.

Stay Informed Join our Newsletter

Having trouble finding time to sit down with the latest issue of
ELECTRICAL CONTRACTOR? Don't worry, we'll come to you.