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#185200 - 03/05/09 09:34 PM Safety - Boon or Burden?  
renosteinke  Offline
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A comment in another thread suggested this one to me.

Every few years, every code we can imagine is revised. New codes are written. Rules and requirements are added - the codes never get smaller.

Is this the way to achieve safety?

While each change is argued to increase safety, each additional burden is also an argument to not build anew.

For example ....
My home was built in 1940. One could argue that it can't be TOO electrically deficient, having worked for this long. They were generous; 3-120v circuits and 1-240v for the water heater. A total of 4 duplex and 2 single receptacles in the place. I expect one could completely duplicate this home's wiring today for less than $500.

To build my place today - same size and features - would require considerably more expense; I doubt the place could be wired for less than $5000. That's quite an increase, all due to code changes.

Apply these changes down the line to all the other trades ... and I think it's obvious why there are so many 1940-era homes around, and why no one knocks them down and does it over.

As a result, these code changes have had the unintended effect of ensuring that old homes will continue to be used, and not replaced until there is no possible way to carry on using them.

So my question is this: Have we made a wrong turn on the road to safety?


Arc Flash PPE Clothing, LOTO & Insulated Tools

#185203 - 03/05/09 09:56 PM Re: Safety - Boon or Burden? [Re: renosteinke]  
Yoopersup  Offline
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Posts: 830
Michigan
Ummm Lets Factor in the Cost of Living , New Materials (Must easier to install), All new appliances, Dishwashers, Microwaves, Hairdryers, Garage door openers, Ect Ect . Add GFI outlets (Cost about $5.00 bucks each (How many lives have they saved). Now lets see how good of a deal that 40s wired house is. I have 40s Electrical code I Know!!The house I live in was wired in the late 50s & I hat to rewire it to make it Safe!!! The 40s I think Not!!


#185205 - 03/05/09 09:59 PM Re: Safety - Boon or Burden? [Re: renosteinke]  
WireNuts29  Offline
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Joined: Jul 2007
Posts: 85
Mass, U.S.A.
It seems code making has alot to do with technology. unfortunately the smarter our houses get the stupider we become...It seems as though the nec tries to make all new installations idiot proof, instead of allowing darwins law to work it's magic. I think the main problem with safety laws is it punishes the people who actually pull permits and have inspections. If harry homeonwer calls 2 electricians for prices, and prices are based upon arc fault breakers tamper proof receptacles, and neat and workman like installations. and a 3rd handy man can do the job for half.....guess who gets the work..even though the work may not be "code compliant" it still works so the home owner doesn't care...


#185210 - 03/05/09 10:15 PM Re: Safety - Boon or Burden? [Re: WireNuts29]  
Yoopersup  Offline
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Posts: 830
Michigan
Buy the way just checked on cost of living increses from 1940 to present . What took a dollar to buy in 1940 according to inflation index takes 15.02 to buy in 2009.
so the $500 it cost you to wire that house in 1940 would be the same as $7510.00 in todays dollars. Look it up . Its really cheaper on average to wire a house today & its way better wired.


#185212 - 03/05/09 11:35 PM Re: Safety - Boon or Burden? [Re: Yoopersup]  
NORCAL  Offline
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Posts: 873
I think that Reno is saying it could be replicated for $500.00 today, not that it cost $500.00 to wire in 1940.

Some code changes are strictly for the manufacturers benefit such as AFCI's good idea, just needs to have the bugs ironed out before mandating them.


#185219 - 03/06/09 12:30 AM Re: Safety - Boon or Burden? [Re: renosteinke]  
sparky  Offline
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Joined: Oct 2000
Posts: 5,311
Originally Posted by renosteinke


So my question is this: Have we made a wrong turn on the road to safety?


well it depends on one's point of view Renosteinke, for instance some would say that if any given safety code in our society isn't achievable by all, then it does not benifit the whole of it equally
.......that would probably be the socialist stance

conversley, the libertarian stance would be to subscribe to whatever safety codes they'd wish to , ignoring those that can't achieve them to simply exit the gene pool any way they'd like

the limo liberal approach would be to force all those codes down everyone's throats regardless of their ability to comply

one can read political stripe into safety issues , because they are a socio-political animal, always an inexact 'soft' science (per se') , ergo always debatable

~S~


#185220 - 03/06/09 01:39 AM Re: Safety - Boon or Burden? [Re: Yoopersup]  
renosteinke  Offline
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Y ... you missed my point ... I was thinking strictly in terms of current dollars. That is, I could wire a house like mine, in an identical manner, for $500 today.


#185221 - 03/06/09 01:46 AM Re: Safety - Boon or Burden? [Re: sparky]  
renosteinke  Offline
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Sparky, I appreciate your cares ... but let's try not to get too far off into political territory.

I think it's more of "the path to Hell being paved with good intentions." The vast majority of code rules were proposed with honest intent ... and there has to be some reason an earthquake here kills a dozen, while quakes elsewhere kill in the tens of thousands.

Naturally, there's a real-world event behind my interest. Several, actually. I am actually in the process of upgrading my place, and it has really brought out just how much things have changed over the decades.


#185223 - 03/06/09 02:54 AM Re: Safety - Boon or Burden? [Re: renosteinke]  
gfretwell  Online Content


Member
Joined: Jul 2004
Posts: 9,123
Estero,Fl,usa
My main problem with the code is when it is simply used to sell products that are not ready for the public yet.
I have also said a number of times, the cycle is too short to really shake the bugs out of the language.


Greg Fretwell

#185228 - 03/06/09 07:27 AM Re: Safety - Boon or Burden? [Re: renosteinke]  
sparky  Offline
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Joined: Oct 2000
Posts: 5,311
renosteinke
Quote
Sparky, I appreciate your cares ... but let's try not to get too far off into political territory.


as you wish Renosteinke, so allow me to dwell on the basic economics of the OP here then, safety costs, it's not an inherent right, it's a bought & paid for priveledge in many cases

Quote


I think it's more of "the path to Hell being paved with good intentions." The vast majority of code rules were proposed with honest intent ... and there has to be some reason an earthquake here kills a dozen, while quakes elsewhere kill in the tens of thousands.


yes, yet and how many older homes lack the simplest code jems , such as a smoke detector, or lacked the type S fuses in archaic 'main range & four Wadsworth' services with 30A fuses on older frayed wiring....?

These real world examples often ended up a smoking heap, which used to bug the living s*** outta me as a younger (and very idealistic) firefighter Reno.

but i came to realize that enforcing, imparting, or even begging people to partake in these basics where already having to choose bettween heat and eat here


Quote

Naturally, there's a real-world event behind my interest. Several, actually. I am actually in the process of upgrading my place, and it has really brought out just how much things have changed over the decades.


well, they most certainly have. But your point of it being a detriment to it's own proliferation is more than apparent .

At least in my corner of the country, which is ski bunnyville. The disparity here is obnoxiously stark these days. I regularly go from McMansions that have this millenium's code compliant updates , to say those of 1954 caliber compliance.

ergo, the economics of code(s) boil down to the rich being safe, the poor taking their chances, a systemic failure who's effects are seen all too often, but rarely addressed as such

put the nfpa next to our current health care debacle, and one can't dicern bettween the two in this respect....


~S~

Last edited by sparky; 03/06/09 07:28 AM.

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