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#38007 05/13/04 02:39 PM
Joined: Mar 2001
Posts: 345
tdhorne Offline OP
Took a trouble call to a home with "a breaker that won't reset." Those always worry me because I wonder if the engine company will beat me in to the clients home. The bathroom fan light was wired with 14/2 NM. In order to provide continuous power to the receptacle by the basin the bare EGC had been sleeved at each end and used as a current carrying conductor. In order to ground the receptacle a single bare number sixteen wire had been run from the receptacle to the water pipe supplying the toilet. The receptacle outlet was a GFCI that had the supply wiring connected to the load terminals with the line terminals unused.

Of course the client was unhappy that I couldn't get it "working like before." I just told him that the wiring of that circuit almost arose to the level of attempted murder. If I can devise a way to fish it I will be pulling in new cable for the supply to the light / fan so that they can be individually switched. Wish me luck.
Tom H

Tom Horne

"This alternating current stuff is just a fad. It is much too dangerous for general use" Thomas Alva Edison
#38008 05/13/04 02:52 PM
Joined: Sep 2003
Posts: 38
I have been on a few service calls to find that the eg of a 14-2 had been taped so it
could be a traveler on a 3-way circuit. It is hard to explain why you cant just change the brown switch to white without rewiring the circuit.

#38009 05/13/04 03:48 PM
Joined: Oct 2003
Posts: 152
Tom, that is pretty extreme. Almost hard to believe someone when to that much trouble to devise something that risky. Did you by any chance take any pictures??

#38010 05/13/04 09:28 PM
Joined: Dec 2000
Posts: 218
On an upgrade last Friday, I found an electric range and cooktop each fed by 14-2/G and the bare was used as the grounded conductor. Made the HO real happy when I told them I couldn't hook up the stove and it was going to cost more.

#38011 05/13/04 09:28 PM
Joined: Aug 2002
Posts: 47
I went to a couple's house to rewire the ceiling fan in the bedroom. They were selling the place and the new owners had a home inspection done.

The inspector found the wire to the ceiling fan had a burnt place in it in the attic. The fan had been wired with 12-2 romex, but the light and fan were on seprate swithces. Whoever wired it used the ground as a hot wire, one of the staples in the attic had pierced the insulation in the wire and shorted to the neutral.

The rafter had a black charred place behind where the wire was. I pulled in a new 12-3 to the fan and told the homeowners just how lucky they really were that the house hadn't burned down.

#38012 05/13/04 11:55 PM
Joined: Feb 2004
Posts: 1,438
Just curious how many of you have opened a 3 wire dryer or range outlet to find that the installer had "grounded" the neutral to the box! [Linked Image] instead of wiring the outlet with the requisite 2 hots & a neutral... they thought it was 2 hots & a ground! I've found that at least 5 times! 4 of them were on service calls of a conduit arcing at the panel!! [Linked Image]


#38013 05/14/04 03:44 PM
Joined: Apr 2002
Posts: 7,333
Likes: 7
Quite a while ago......
Trouble call, 'funny smell' in a retail store
Had a thru-wall ac unit; put my hand on the was hot (temp). Shut off AC; removed male cap, opened the 4" sq.
One conductor on the brass terminal of the recept; silver term had a short piece of #12 to a sht metal screw that also secured the box.

Guy works fine, but occasionally it shuts down. Checked the EMT, ss conn were loose and had arc marks all over.

I went to the panel and cut the 120 feed (30 amp cb) Replaced the whole thing!


#38014 05/16/04 09:24 PM
Joined: Dec 2003
Posts: 524
...Thats some "good stuff"..I recently responded to a call for ..."bathroom outlet quit working"..Opened up the box to find a metal 2-1/2"Gem box missing a side,and the wires brought in from there,as well as 2-Bx 14-2-wires,each conductor coming thru a different clamp knockout..NO GROUND at all..
Then to top it all off, the vanity light bar was wired to this same 12-2 Rx,and again not grounded..the splices were horrific,and I asked the H.O. who had done this..?? "A handy-man" she replied.I then told her that it was a pretty big job to get this working correctly,and that because it (the outlet)was in tile,I would probably have to open the rear adjoining side of that wall in order to replace the broken box with one of more volume capacity, and terminate the wiring going into it properly...Her response..."It worked ALL these years,could it have started a fire"???I replied "Yes,and she's lucky her tenant wasn't injured,,or worse"....
Handy-men are my nemesis!!! They're like my arch enemies!! They have no business taking chances with other peoples safety and health!!
OK,I'm off my soap-box now..

.."if it ain't fixed,don't break a Licensed Electrician"
#38015 05/16/04 10:10 PM
Joined: May 2004
Posts: 13
I used to be one of those so called "handy men"...I, like those people you are refering to, used to attempt jobs that I had no business fooling with ! in particular comes to mind as it was my only attempt at unqualified electrical work, but it's a doozie and anyone considering doing the same should beware !!!

The guy owned a gift shop downtown in a heavily populated strip on the main drag...lots of older buildings,and terrible electrical panels...anywho, they told me that they had bought several sticks of NEON from another store owner and would like it hung around the front of the building. Well, I knew everything so I said I could do it. I went to work that day by running down the street to see how others had their neon hung and went to get the needed supplies. I bought stand-offs, caps and wire. I began mounting the stand-offs (or insulators) and neon sticks, wired all of the sticks in series and capped the ends like the folks down the street. I must have made a mistake in measuring the needed wire to make the circuit because I found my self 3 feet short of the other side of the neon transformer which I mounted on the the open overhead protection, box or insulation underneath. The owner stated that he had some more neon hook-up wire in the store and gave it to me along with a wire nut !!!
Well since I knew everything, I wire nutted the 3 foot piece of wire in and connected it to the transformer. I laid the wire on the old flat roof and went down to screw in the 60A fuse...waa-laa !!!...worked like a champ !!!...
Until the first rain storm...the owner called me and told me that during the day it rained, the neon was flickering and making a loud buzzing noise then just stopped working after about 4 hours !
I was in the area that day and stopped by to see the most incredible electrical display that I have ever seen...the bright blue and white light comming from the rooftop was amazing !...the wire had burned in half at the wire nut, (due most likely to the inch of water on the roof) and the wire end was arc welding what was then, a 6 inch hole into the top of his store !!! Thanks to the higher power of your choice, that place didn't burn to the ground and no one was injured. I learned alot that day and never forget to admit when I don't know what I'm doing...a lesson that could have killed someone !!!

Just a reminder to those who think they know "everything" I did..or in this case didn't ! How much will your next mistake cost ?

Be safe and work smart !!!


...Despite all my RAGE, I am STILL just a rat in a cage...
#38016 05/16/04 10:28 PM
Joined: Dec 2003
Posts: 524
...Don't get me wrong,Mike,..being a handy man is a good job,and I'm sure there are many guys out there that could teach me a thing or two,..but the likes of this guy,and many more like him, that I've encountered drives me nuts..First, because it's dangerous to those who hire him,and secondly,it makes a real mess for me to clean up once he's gone and moved on to the next abortion..and try tellin' the H.O. that the guy they hired and paid good money to, almost cost them their homes,...or their lives,...and then, that you're gonna have to charge them a premium rate to undo the horrible spit and earwax job they already did and got paid for...It's a losing battle,..I always get the haggling and the passing of the buck,..It's enough to drive ya to drink!! [Linked Image] [Linked Image] [Linked Image] [Linked Image]

.."if it ain't fixed,don't break a Licensed Electrician"
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