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Joined: Apr 2002
Posts: 257
Here's the situation,

Back when I was in business for myself my brother-in-law worked for me off and on for a couple of years. He wasn't an electrician but he helped pull wire, install receptacles, install light fixtures, etc... all under my close supervision.

Since I have been out of business, for about 2 years now, he decided to start doing electrical work "on the side". (He has a steady day job at a saw mill (not as an electrician) Since he is going to do it anyway, I try to advise him on jobs that I know about but he does work that I don't know about also. Thats what scares me. I know that he doesen't know enough to know what could go wrong. In other words, he knows just enough to be dangerous.

Just today I went out (for the second time)to inspect a 200A service that he installed.

First of all I met him there before he ever started the job to "advise" him on what to do. And I was pretty specific.

Went there the first time to inspect the job and there was a number of things wrong. (Clearance in front of the panel, Grounding, Bonding, color coding, etc.)

I made him move the panel, explained where the ground rods got connected to, (he had a #4 copper running from the ground rods to the water line), etc...

When I arrived today I seen that he did move the panel as we discussed. Corrected the color coding issue (you know, the "white is always neutral" thing)But when he ran his #4 wire to the water line he ran it diagnally across the basements open joists to about 10' from where the water line enters the house (to be within 5' here) and he used a 2" 90 sweep to enter the house from the meter socket outside.

The 2" PVC (not glued)came down on an angle from the meter socket about 3' then entered the house through the 90. ugliest thing I ever saw but electrically OK.(I did make him glue the PVC)

I am afriad that he is going to damage someones property by either a voltage problem or, God forbid, a fire and I pray that no one ever gets hurt.

What should I do? What would you do?

keep in mind that in this part of PA there is no licenses required. Anyone can do electrical work.

Joined: Mar 2004
Posts: 98
Ask the same question to the local building code/electrical inspector. Im sure he would give you some good words of advice.Here in Oregon he would would get a very large fine.
If the guy does not have a licence,he should stick to cleaning toilets.

Joined: Feb 2004
Posts: 133
Well, if a license is not required I guess you can't do anything to stop him. Make sure he has liability insurance and LOTS of it.

Joined: Apr 2002
Posts: 257
This is SW PA,

There is no building inspections.

A permit is not required, Yet...

I am the electrical inspector and I run across this situation a lot but it isn't just my brother-in-law.

There is no state certifications.

Joined: Nov 2001
Posts: 328
Is your BIL a reasonable man? Does he have both the common sense and compassion that would respond to the honesty you've just shared here? If so, tell him that you've waited until the right words might come but they rarely present themselves easily... the bottom line is that safety might be compromised as a result of work done which doesn't incorporate all the necessary safety measures. When safety is compromised there is a burden of liability and the possibility of regret that you'd rather him not have to face.

Joined: Mar 2004
Posts: 98
SW PA needs to take a look at changing there ways with inforcing electrical codes.
I would start with the chief electrical inspector.Or is there one?

Joined: Oct 2000
Posts: 4,061
Likes: 3
Tell him you are concerned for his liability for things he may not be aware of. Find him a code course and strongly suggest that he take it. (or if he's got a Birthday coming up how about buying him a good book?)


Joined: Jul 2002
Posts: 8,419
Likes: 3
I realise that you are between a rock and a hard place.
Regardless, I'd just tell the guy, before he costs someone thier life.
As cold as it sounds, this may be the truth!. [Linked Image]

Joined: Dec 2003
Posts: 751
Sign him up in night school.

Joined: Jan 2001
Posts: 1,044
Tom Offline
If I'm not mistaken, you, as an inspector, have to be licensed (if all the mail I'm getting from the home office in PA is right) but the electricians don't?

That's about as good as here in the Mountain State where all 44 of us licensed inspectors have to go to continuing education classes. The electricians, most of whom don't own a code book, nevermind actually reading one, have no requirement for keeping their license other than coughing up $50 a year.

Anyhow, since he is your brother-in-law, it is probably impossible to charge him for every trip. That is how I usually get this point across.

Good luck, I think you'll need it.


Few things are harder to put up with than the annoyance of a good example.
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