Went to check out a service call today. Customer said he had a breaker keep tripping and he couldn't find the problem. They had just came back from vacation and found several breakers tripped. Most of them reset but one or two of them. I go out today and find the typical "do it yourselfer's" thing, you know, the ones who know just enough about electricity to be dangerous. The electrical panel was just about a nightmare with wires doubled up on breakers, with the wires overfused, with at least 2 circuits already in the "melt down" mode. I find the circuits in question are a multi-circuit 14/3 going from the basement to the attic. With the attic full of insulation ( close to 2 ft. deep probably with blown insulation over top of regular lay -in insulation) I decide to troubleshoot by trying to find the middle of the circuit that is not working. First I take down a ceiling fan I find the wires just bent over and taped. Not the problem, but A problem. I then go to the hall light to see what I got there. They have a 4ft. 3 tube florescent light there. No problem. I take down the cover and find there has been some "rigging" there also. Still not finding the real problem. Then I notice a smoke detector that is easy to get to. I check it and find another bent wire and taped joint. After breaking the "hots" I go down and check the bad circuit out with my tester. No short is showing up anymore. I go upstairs expecting to have voltage on one of the wires, but instead I find nothing. After going to check down at the panel again, I find power leaving the breaker, but still no power up in the smoke detector box. I then take me some wire and run me a temporary line up to the "feed outs" in the smoke detector box and "vola" everthing is working. I take a trip back up into the attic and plow through the insulation, and even beyond my expectations, I find the 14/3 burnt to a crisp for about five feet, then in two separate places it is burnt completely into. I trace the wire to where it comes up into the attic, and find a piece of "lay in" insulation, with a charred hole in it about 2 feet in diameter. It so happens that this is the circuit the homeowner put a 30 amp breaker on, because he had wired a detached garage and a barn that is approximately 3 or 400 ft. away on this same circuit, and 15 amp. wasn't holding He has a wife and about 3 0r 4 small children. I showed him the wire and insulation. I think it made a believer out of him, I hope. He did tell me to fix it. So I'm putting the garage and barn on a separate circuit, replacing the bad wire, and straightening out the panel for him. Just another example of people trying to do something,and they don't really know what they're doing. Maybe some things you can get away with like that, but electricity sometimes can be unforgiving Just thought I needed to share that. There may be someone out there it may help, next time they think of doing their own home wiring without at least checking with someone who knows. Thanks for listening... Steve
[This message has been edited by sparkync (edited 07-10-2006).]
Steve: This is a great story to start off the day with .
You did this HO, and his family a priceless service. I dare say that many situations such as this do not have such happy results. Glad you "unrigged" his system just in the nick of time. I hope he will remember you next time there's work to be done, or even better, talk you up to others.
Amazing he didn't come home to an ash-filled hole in the ground.
Not that it makes a whole lot of difference, compared to all of the other serious problems you found, but were the two hot legs of the multiwire connected to breakers on the same panel buss? Just curious...
[This message has been edited by mamills (edited 07-11-2006).]
Mike, I'm not sure whether they were originally on the same buss or not. When I got there, he had been doing his own troubleshooting, and I believe the wires were hanging loose. Very possible that they were, but it was such a mess, it's hard to say. I went back today and started to set junction box in attic, and started to strip the wire out that I thought was still good and found out the insides of it were melted. I ended up fishing a completely new wire all the way down to the panel. After I got it hooked up, and power on it, I took an amp reading with all the load I knew going. Without the microwave it was around 7.5 amps. I turned the micro wave on an it shot up to over 20 amps. He had wired his microwave in on the same circuit, probably on the old hood fan wire. I'm going to pull a new circuit for his microwave also, and stress the fact for him not to upsize on any of the breakers in the future. Just by working in his house, I already see numerous other "death traps"; broken receptacles, loose receptacles, splices without junction boxes etc. I may be here a while. Steve.....
Dave, I did take some pictures today of the wire. I don't have a digital camera, but my son has a scanner. Maybe I can still get it here. I had to take some evidence of it. I have to go back in the attic tomorrow. Maybe I can take some of the ceiling trust it scorched also, if I can stand the heat. I was up and down in it all day today. I was drenched Also Mike, Him and His brother run a barber shop. I've known them for a long time, just not had much dealings with them. May be a good place to get referrals
[This message has been edited by sparkync (edited 07-11-2006).]
[This message has been edited by sparkync (edited 07-11-2006).]
Steve - Just a side note - I don't have a digital camera yet, and I got into the habit of always ordering a picture CD with my prints when having rolls of file processed. It's not too expensive and allows me to post pics on the web or email 'em.
There are 10 types of people. Those who know binary, and those who don't.
When I get the pictures developed, I'll see what I can do to get them posted. I've really been busy on that house the last couple of days. Found other things that are hard to believe someone would do that sort of wiring. As I was trying to fix up his panel mess, I seen he had a big air compressor wire from the panel, using twisted "well wire" with no ground. Not only did it not have a ground, it was run exposed on the beams, down the wall, under a bunch of metal, etc. laying against the wall, then made it's way up to the compressor terminals, which were exposed with no cover on them, and about 6 inches from metal shelving ( 240 volts by the way). It's amazing how some people play around with danger. Their perception of danger certainly isn't the same as mine. He had another circuit leaving the panel going into a junction box that joined to UF cable. The UF cable had it's equipment ground cut out. I thought this wire was going to his pool, but it was going somewhere else. I went ahead and checked his pool switch out anyway, and good thing I did. The ground wire was not connected going to the motor. There's no telling what else is hid around his house and behind the walls. For now I've done what he wanted done. I'm going to try and caution him about watching for flickering lights etc. I think his dad done a lot of the wiring here. His dad passed away several years ago. Sometimes you wonder how places have lasted as long as they have
[This message has been edited by sparkync (edited 07-14-2006).]