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Joined: Oct 2000
Posts: 4,116
Likes: 4
I plan to install a GFCI circut breaker in my home. What size wire and breaker is recommended?

I see and hear questions like this most everyday and some days it gets to me more than others... This seems like the asker is concerned enough about safety to want to do something about it, but obviously has no clue how to do it and no fear of immediate or future dangers that may result from attempting to do it themselves.

It really ticks me off to hear questions like this and I think that it points to a much larger problem that may be lost on many. What do you think?


Joined: May 2002
Posts: 1,716
Bill, I agree.

It always puzzels me as to why DIYers will take on wiring the most dangerous part of a dwelling but call a plumber to fix a leak, (I know a leak may be more of an immediate problem) and have no idea of the chance of tradgedy.

With the question you posted, it is obvious that this person has no clue and should not attempt this work.

And even more important, people on this, or any electrical forum should recognize this, and respond in kind,(you need to hire an electrician) or don,t respond at all. This is our responsibility as professionals


Joined: Aug 2001
Posts: 7,520
If in doubt, use #22 telephone wire and a 50A C/B.... [Linked Image]

Seriously though, I know the frustration of running into somebody who just doesn't seem to have any idea.

I do answer questions if it seems to me that the person really does have a good grasp of fundamentals and just needs a "gentle prod" in the right direction. Sometimes it's obvious that he'll go ahead no matter what you say to him (*), so do you try to impart some basic knowledge and hope he'll at least have a chance of getting it right, or do you tell him to leave well alone, knowing full well that he is going to ignore your warnings? Tough call.

(*) In my experience it's always him, not her. Is this some sort of male pride at being determined to show everyone his skills, even though he has none? The ladies seem to have much more sense. (Sorry guys, but I'm not talking about the entire male population of course.... [Linked Image])

Joined: May 2002
Posts: 1,716
Hey Paul.

I actually did go to a service call 12-15 years ago where the circuits to an addition were wired in 16 awg extension cord. (20 amp circuit tapped from the dining room)

The previous owner had done the addition without a permit, and had done this wiring himself. I think he would have back stabbed the connections if the stranded #16 would have penetrated the receptacle.

On the other point, I don,t ask for directions either, much to the wifes dismay. [Linked Image]


Joined: Nov 2001
Posts: 745
I run into this sort of thing every now and then. A friend or co-worker will ask me such a question as was posed to
Bill. Not being a licensed electrician, I refuse to do the work for them, of course, nor do I even try to describe the procedure to them. I do advise them that this kind of work is not within the scope of an average, or even an above average, homeowner and that they would be best served by hiring an electrician and have the work done more safely and efficiently. Hey, in a few cases, they even heed my advice! [Linked Image]

Mike (mamills)

Joined: Jul 2002
Posts: 175
The other day, on "the other forum" a guy who said he was an electrician asked this question - "What are the grounding requirements for a new 200 AMP residential service?"

The only safe response to that question is -
1. Comply with Section 250 as you would for any other 200 amp service, or
2. no response at all.


Joined: Apr 2001
Posts: 449
I have had another electrical contractor in my area ask me what size aluminum conductor he needed for a 100A service risor. When I told him he then asked if 3 of them would fit in 1-1/4" PVC. I instantly wished I hadn't answered the first question.

Joined: Nov 2000
Posts: 2,236
Likes: 1
Meanwhile, on the Brain Surgeon's forum:


I plan to do brain surgery on myself. What scalpel and sutures are recommended?


[Linked Image]

Residential/Commercial Inspector
5 Star Inspections
Member IAEI
Joined: May 2002
Posts: 202
iam an industrial electrical maintenance tech, and i myself sometimes have questions in regard to stuff i do at home to keep with the code since i don't use it much in the residential sector, but i think (this is just my 2 cents so dont get mad) that you guys are being a little hard on some people it is the responsiblity of people like us to help those who need it iam not saying working yourself out of a job by giving advice. but what about the guy who comes on here asking for help because he has 4 kids low income and cant afford to hire a skilled electrician who wont screw him over to fix something that will make it safer for his family. there are alot of people who come to forums like this thinking that people with our education and skill set would be more worried about helping make sure a guy with no money is safe rather than making a buck, we have all been down and out and started at the bottom and needed help so give some people a break and act professional. now for those people who have the money and no electrical knowledge play it safe spend the money and hire a skilled electrician your family cannot be replaced.

Joined: Nov 2001
Posts: 280
Good point where do you draw the line, I ran into one guy who wanted me to draw him a picture of what a service panel should look like when it was all done.
One thing in my area the inspectors are now requiring prospective neo-phyte saturday-morning electricians take a test to gauge there expertise before issueing a permit.
This I think is a good practice.

Oh and Bill Nice article in CEE.

I know your heart is in the right place and you believe what you told the neo-phyte is correct bur are you sure he understands exactly what you told him.
And if his mechanical skills are not what they should be because he has never done the job before, then how safe can he possibly be.
To me I think that if they (DIYers) have never done this and have no training, and have no competance in the field no amount of explanation and councel is going to bridge that gap. HIs idea of safety and yours, ( and yours has been acquired through years of experience) are probably way distant form each other.
So my question to you is this. Would you send an apprentice off to do the same job you just instructed a co-worker to do at home.
Our apprentices are not even allowed to touch a servie panel unless a journeyman is standing right next to him and thats only after hes been on the job for 6 months.
Have these homeowners are not wise enough to be a 6 months apprentice.
Gotta disagree with this.

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