Has anyone ever gone into a house to trouble shoot something, look around and walk out? The other day this guy calls and says his bathroom has no power. Ok, so I go there and check it out. This place was a mess. Some of the worst wiring I have ever seen. Thhn strung all over the attic, open grounds everywhere,flying splices and romex where there should be emt. I mean for liability reasons how can you fix something that isn't wired right without replacing or redoing the whole thing. I told this guy you don't have enough money. Does finding stuff like this make anyone else steeming mad,(stupid)some people think that our jobs are so easy and simple, anyone can do it. The thing that makes me the angriest is this guy is selling this house and someone is going to be living in a dangerous crap hole because he was "smart enough" to do his own wiring. I don't know how he can sleep at night.
Jesus may have been a capenter,but God was an electrician.Genesis1:3
Maybe he did have enough money. At least I'd leave with an unsigned Service Work Order to prove I didn't have anything to do with it and brought it to his attention. Maybe a phone call to the local building department is in order...and a CYA letter to the homeowner.
Anybody remeber the "Midas" touch, well we use to call these kinds of jobs the "SADIM" touch. Because every thing that we touch would turn into SH**! A DIY person thought that they knew as much as we did, and asked us for help when something went wrong. Then we would have to come into the job and try and correct everything that the DIY worked on. Of course we were in the wrong because the new HO would think that we were making up these problems in order to pad our bill and get more money.
hey bot, i had one of those calls b-4 i relized all the crappy wiring. i added two circuits in a house as agreed per our contract one for the dish and one for overcab lights. during the process of adding circuits i noticed lots of code violations which i pointed out to this guy...he asked if i could fix them, which i said i could but it would be extra. to make a long story short he felt he had paid me enough already and that i should fix violations on my own nickel after he reversed the charges on the visa card for the work(spelled out to the letter) on a signed contract. i informed the local ahj about these violations and the fact that he had some handy man do all the things i wouldn't do(i.e.change an existing light for a new one...problem is no jbox knob and tube to name a few)but the ahj said he cant open up boxes or fixtures because that could be considered harrasment and only wrote up one violation that was visable (handy man used a surface mounted box and exceeded box fill). which was written to my company and i had to write a letter to the state informing them that this work was not done by me. and to rewrite the correction to the homeowner. i was disappointed that the state(wa) holds legal electricians to the code, but homeowners or handy hackers a free ride. now i have learned to be more careful about work i accept...
If every electrician walks away from a liability trap like that, he'll obviously have no choice but to do it himself, whether he's smart enough or not. Hopefully, the buyer will be smart enough to get a pre-close inspection.
Last week I had a job similar to your post bot540. There was unsupported UF strung though the air between light fixtures, Lamp cord stapled to joists between light fixtures, a broken a-type meter socket, overfusing in the panel, a circuit tripping the breaker, etc.
I left the repair & called the guy at his office. I told him "Sorry about the bad news, but you need a total rewire." I didn't know if he had money or not for the project.
I got approval for it and it'll be a good project, just the kind of project I look for.
I've only ever walked out of one job, but it was a job like that.
Multifamily home with a live-in landlord. The guy was a retired EE (which should have raised some flags), and he'd gotten his hands on a code book (I should've run for my life). He'd come to the conclusion that the only "safe" and "code compliant" method for wiring devices was to have every single receptacle on a dedicated circuit, in a dedicated single-gang box. Three switches at a door? Better have three boxes for 'em.
Someone had already done a ton of this work for him, and his basement was just bundles of MC as thick as my leg. It was a nightmare trying to trace anything. The circuits ended in absolutely stuffed 12x12 j-boxes, where they were all piped into this tiny little sub-panel. There were breakers with three and four wires under the terminal, and they weren't even designed for two.
Add to this the fact that this was a turn-of-the century home and was still full of knob-and-tube and ancient BX, all of it in serious, and sometimes imminently hazardous state of disrepair.
The irony was, the landlord thought he was picking the "easiest" and "safest" route by doing all the work his way, when in reality it made it so much more complicated that it was inherently more dangerous to anyone who ever had to trouble-shoot it, because you never had any idea what was actually going on.
There was no way I could do work like that, especially not when there were obvious, legitimate hazards that weren't being addressed. I told the mechanic I was working for that I couldn't do it in good conscience. He said "Fine, get yourself another job." But, if I had to do it over again, I would still make the same choice.
[This message has been edited by BigJohn (edited 03-12-2006).]
I had a job like that once. I was called to an industrial rental unit because the heating unit wasn't working. Housekeeping issues aside, it was clear that the tenant had been into virtually every box, and it was also clear that the space was being converted into living quarters. Those with memories will recall the pics I posted here....romex to a pottery kiln, extension cord wire used for water heater, etc.
I disconnected everything that wwas not a proper circuit; when I left, the only thing left hooked-up were the air compressor and the new circuit I had run for the heater.
A few months- and an eviction- later, I returned to clean up this mess. I found the reason the original heater circuit had failed; he had messed with a connection box, then had buried the box in a wall.
When you encounter something like this, "run" is only part of the solution. You certainly must try to make things "safe" (at least the really big things), document the heck out of the job, and take follow-up steps to see that the proper authorities are notified.
My particular walk away had only one problem but it was one I couldn't leave alone. The landlord had bridged two receptacles with a suicide cord to restore power to a portion of the home following a partial circuit failure. There were small children in that rental unit. All one of those kids had to do was pull the wrong plug out of a receptacle and it would be tiny casket time. I told the landlord that I would have to inform the AHJ because it would be more than my liability insurance would cover to leave small children exposed to such a hazard. He became furious and accused me of just drumming up work through the AHJ. I told him that if I had to report it I would not be doing the work. I asked him to get another electrician to repair the circuit and just allow me to remove and destroy in his presence the suicide cord. He told me to get out and I called the AHJ from the curb. The AHJ recorded my telephone report and sent the POCO to deenergize the building because they could reach the scene faster than he could. When they called me for directions their supervisor asked if I had access to the service disconnecting means. I told them I had been ordered off of the property and the service crew of three outside wiremen arrived within half an hour. When they pulled the meter the landlord was trying to order them off of the property. They then cut the drop free from the low lines on the pole. The POCO had the crew sit on the site until the Public Service Commission Inspector arrived. The AHJ was already there waiting for sheriffs office to deliver a public safety inspection search warrant pursuant to the Cea V Seattle, Camerra V San Fransisco decision of the US supreme court. Once the Sheriff's Deputy arrived with the search warrant every thing was sorted out very quickly. The landlord had called his attorney and his lawyer took him aside and told him he was being a dammed fool. Since the AHJ was on scene I had left. The landlord professed shock that I would not return and do the repair. He ended up using one of the areas largest service companies and I know what they charge for emergency service calls. I hope he learned something but I made it clear to him I would never do any work for him again. All I could think of was trying to defend my self from a manslaughter charge because of something else that landlord might do and then blame on me. -- Tom Horne
"This alternating current stuff is just a fad. It is much too dangerous for general use" Thomas Alva Edison