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#38993 - 06/07/04 07:12 AM DIY questions on ECN
winnie Offline
Member

Registered: 09/15/03
Posts: 652
Loc: boston, ma
ECN forums is an open forum on the internet, and I like it that way. _Anyone_ can join, post, read the answers, etc.

As I've said in the past, I am not an electrical contractor nor a licensed electrician. I work in a lab studying and designing high performance electric motors. I've been studying code because I want to know what the view will be like from 'the other side', when my systems will eventually be installed. I've also been studying code because (like many people) I like to do repairs on my own home, and don't want to be clueless about doing so.

One of the useful aspects of this forum are discussion of how to best accomplish various tasks; tips and tricks for mounting equipment, explanations of advanced theory, etc. However these discussion happen in a context that presumes a certain amount of training and knowledge. There might be a discussion as to weather or not MC cable is required in a particular occupancy, but if the conclusion is that MC is required, the discussion doesn't question the details of how to install MC; it is presumed that the questioner knows about proper MC cable clamps, support requirements, etc. If someone _doesn't_ know these details, then they do know enough to ask.

I have been noticing quite a number of 'DIY' questions lately. I have nothing against DIY questions, as mentioned above, I probably ask them myself. Furthermore, I believe that the electrical trade _should_ find a way to educate consumers, enabling people to safely perform limited work while at the same time recognizing their limitations; simply saying 'hire an electrician' is _not_ sufficient, both because of financial reasons and because an educated consumer is an essential part of the safe use of electricity. But DIY questions cannot be answered in terms that presume electrical training.

I would strongly encourage DIY questioners be gently redirected to the various DIY forum sites, for example http://forum.doityourself.com/forumdisplay.php?f=9 . I would also encourage those sparkies who like sharing knowledge to watch/participate in the above forum, rather than doing so on ECN; I believe that this can be a useful community service, but IMHO should be in the context of a forum dedicated to such.

-Jon

(edited because I said 'this' forum, but did not make it clear _which_ forum I meant!)

[This message has been edited by winnie (edited 06-07-2004).]

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#38994 - 06/07/04 07:39 AM Re: DIY questions on ECN
Trumpy Offline

Member

Registered: 07/05/02
Posts: 8540
Loc: SI,New Zealand
winnie (Jon),
While I agree in part with what you are saying.
Electrical advice over the Internet to people that do DIY work is hit and miss, at best.
In any forum, you more or less depend upon the quality of the advice you are given.
ECN here, is made for Professional Electricians, in that I mean, those that do Electrical work, for a living, as a full-time job, it is thier Bread and Butter.
Why then should we be required to give away our earned skills, to those who will never use those skills again after the job is done?.
After all they'll just pass it on to thier mates anyway!.
I'm glad I do HV work.
_________________________
Let's face it, these days if you're not young, you're old - Red Green grin

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#38995 - 06/07/04 08:10 AM Re: DIY questions on ECN
HotLine1 Offline

Member

Registered: 04/03/02
Posts: 6804
Loc: Brick, NJ USA
Jon:
I have to agree with Trumpy on the majority of what he is saying, in the interests of safety and possibly liability issues.

Besides being a Lic. EC, I also am a working AHJ, and an Instructor of Electrical Trades (P/T) at a County Vo-Tech School. With this, I get to "see" many, many versions of "electrical work" by pro's, "amatuers", 'home-owners', and also my entry level students (adults and young adults).

Personally, 'sharing knowledge' is something that I feel most of us here would not object to. It is sometimes in poor judgement, that some, or one of us attempt to "guide" an individual to perform a task that CANNOT be seen (in person), nor can the "results" of said guidance be seen.

I sometimes am tempted to respond to "I bought a switch, and I have 3 wires, but there are only two screws on the switch" type inquiries, but for the most part...better judgement rules.

Sharing knowledge amongst people within the trade, and people who are associated with the trade, is in my opinion the purpose of this forum. In the past I for one thought about e-mailing (privately) responses to the DIY's, but better judgement, and listening to the advice of 'others here' (and other sites) ended that thought quickly.

Off the soap boxes, and back to work...

John
_________________________
John

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#38996 - 06/07/04 09:51 AM Re: DIY questions on ECN
Trumpy Offline

Member

Registered: 07/05/02
Posts: 8540
Loc: SI,New Zealand
John, I must say I agree with you.
If any advice comes from a website that causes some persons house to be burn't down, because they took the given advice the wrong way, or the advice was wrong in the first place.
Who carries the can for that?.
Is it the member/new member that posted the said information?.
Nope, it is the Web-master, that may be why DIY people are turned away from here.
And the note: Get a Licenced Electrician ,ring on!.
_________________________
Let's face it, these days if you're not young, you're old - Red Green grin

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#38997 - 06/07/04 10:05 AM Re: DIY questions on ECN
winnie Offline
Member

Registered: 09/15/03
Posts: 652
Loc: boston, ma
Guys, thanks for the comments. I've edited my opening post above, because what I'd intended was to suggest that ECN was not the place for 'DIY instruction', but at the same time suggesting that DIY instruction was a good thing, and pointing out a different forum where it 'belongs'.

As I non-electrician, I feel a certain level of responsibility posting here...if I have a question, I feel obliged to crack the code book, do my own research, and then ask detailed questions based upon a certain amount of education, because I don't want to waste your time. I also feel obliged to contribute, and on the physics side of things I believe that I do offer something back to the community.

I entirely agree that there are real concerns associated with DIY work.

In response to Trumpy's question of 'Why then should we be required to give away our earned skills, to those who will never use those skills again after the job is done?.'

IMHO you should _not_ be required to give this stuff away. This is _charity_, and without limits and consideration it is dangerous. One of the things that frequently gets said on 'DIY.com' is 'Don't wait. Turn off the circuit breaker and pick up a phone and call an electrician _now_.' In limited doses, sharing this sort of knowledges can be good for your business. Someone who knows how to change a receptacle, and understands with their own hands the concept of 'workmanlike', but who also _knows their own limitations_ will be more likely to call a properly trained electrician rather than call some random 'handyman'. Such a person is also more likely to keep things fair for the professional electrician, by not putting up with shoddy work from electricians who shave dimes by being rather less than professional. (Personal example: in my lab space, the 'professional' electricians installed the EGCs for several new circuits by using a sheet metal screw to anchor a lug to the panel case, and then stuffing a number of wires into the lug. They didn't even bother sanding the paint off below the lug. Needless to say, this 'electrician' is not going to be hired here again...and there is a MA licence number on the van; this was not a 'handyman' job.)

-Jon

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#38998 - 06/07/04 11:13 AM Re: DIY questions on ECN
Webmaster Offline

Administrator
Member

Registered: 10/07/00
Posts: 3142
Loc: NY, USA
For the record, this web forum is not for DIYers. There are many reasons for this and it has been debated before so there is no need to repeat it here.

No position is being taken that a DIYer should or shouldn't be doing their own Electrical work. That question has too many variables to consider.

Participants should have some level of skill and understanding. Additionally they should show a willingness to learn. A clueless person looking for a quick answer to get something working and a lazy Tradesman that wants someone to lay out all the rules for a Swimming Pool installation are equally out of place here.

Back to the DIYer issue. With no judgements being made, this Forum is simply not meant for them. I regularly refer people (via email) to other websites that cater to, and therefore may be better suited to their needs.

The focus of this website is on helping the Electrician, and others related to the Electrical Industry. IMO the Electrical Industry has no responsibility to educate the consumer on how to perform Electrical work.

Personally, I think the Educational (School) system has a responsibility to better educate everyone to the dangers in the improper use of Electricity. Knowing these dangers, if the consumer still wants to undertake Electrical work on their own they should seek some type of training or, at the least, a good Book that is geared towards their skill level. Expecting to get correct (and complete) instructions on how to do Electrical work from a web forum is naive at best. In the worst case, someone could become a statistic because of it.

Bill

(winnie, this was written before seeing your second post)

[This message has been edited by Webmaster (edited 06-07-2004).]

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#38999 - 06/07/04 11:48 AM Re: DIY questions on ECN
winnie Offline
Member

Registered: 09/15/03
Posts: 652
Loc: boston, ma
Bill,

Thanks for the above comments, as well as for building this 'neighborhood'

I made the mistake of forgetting that questions might be answered (or redirected to a more appropriate venue) in e-mail. You do alot for this place, apparently quite a bit behind the scenes!

-Jon

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