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#114297 - 02/19/03 12:38 AM Is This a Violation?  
Admin  Offline

Joined: Oct 2000
Posts: 3,458
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Since I didn't have much time to figure out how to post a picture, I thought I would send it to you and see if you (or anyone else) can help me. Sorry for being the newbie and not know how to do this. I promise I will read the FAQ but I wanted to post this before the inspector comes to my house tomorrow (Wed 2/19/03).

This is a picture of my range feeder that I found before the house burned down. The house is 4 years old. The other night, my wife called out that fire was coming out from around the stove. I turned off the breaker (it never did trip) and pulled the stove out. This is what I found. #6 AL wire pigtailed with wirenuts to the copper wire from the range. The sign on back of the range said to only use COPPER wire. The wirenuts are NOT listed for joining cu and al and there was no inhibitor on the joints. I fixed it by installing a CU/AL receptacle and a plug on the range. The weekend before, I found in my attic a 120VAC wire coming off a receptacle that was thrown back onto the rafters. I taped it before I took a picture of it and left it until the AHJ comes and looks at that also. So much for workman-like installation. I think I will do my next house myself.

Bruce Chase

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#114298 - 02/19/03 12:48 AM Re: Is This a Violation?  
pseudonym  Offline
Joined: Dec 2002
Posts: 24
Yes these pictures show a serious violation and the DIY homeowner who did this should have been locked up!

Too many DIY's do this type of work and people like you have to suffer!

How's the rest of the wiring?

I would not be able to sleep!

#114299 - 02/19/03 06:10 AM Re: Is This a Violation?  
bchase  Offline
Joined: Feb 2003
Posts: 12
Augusta, Georgia, USA
Well, sleeping is a small problem, but the much bigger problem is this NOT a DIY. This was done by the EC/Builder of the house. I bought the house during the construction phase and this is STANDARD workmanship. Please understand (I know this won't be popular) I see this kind of stuff out of qualified, trained, well paid electricians. I think laziness, and the almighty dollar come in to play a little too much nowadays. Please excuse my bitterness, when I think that my house could have burned to the ground and even worst case lost my children, I get angry.

#114300 - 02/19/03 06:26 AM Re: Is This a Violation?  
Joe Tedesco  Offline
Joined: Oct 2000
Posts: 2,749
Boston, Massachusetts USA
Will the AHJ go after the EC who did the work?

Can you get a lawyer? I too would be bitter and you have every right to ensure the safety of your family.

Will you take a permit for the new work or does your area allow repairs without a permit?

What's the name of the EC?

Joe Tedesco, NEC Consultant

#114301 - 02/19/03 06:37 AM Re: Is This a Violation?  
bchase  Offline
Joined: Feb 2003
Posts: 12
Augusta, Georgia, USA
I'm not sure if the AHJ will go after them or not. As for the repair, I kind of did it myself and called the AHJ on the following Monday. They will be coming out today to inpsect my work and the other items. As for permit, I don't think it was required for a repair but the AHJ will tell me.

As for a lawyer, that will probably cost me more money than replacing my house. But there are other ways to make my point. Even though they don't have much power the first is the BBB.

After I give them time to respond, I will be talking to most of the builders in this area and notifying them of the type of work to expect out of this company (if I could only be sure this is an isolated case).

Only then would I consider a lawyer but I doubt it will go that far.

Another question that I've seen pop up a couple of times here is how do you join AL wire to a copper wire. Obviously wirenuts don't work. And for the EC to spend $18 extra dollars to put in a recept and plug will be too much (don't want to drive up the cost of a job). Split bolts would take too much room. I guess what I would like to see is AL wire BANNED from the house (except the serive entrance).

#114302 - 02/19/03 10:23 AM Re: Is This a Violation?  
ThinkGood  Offline
Joined: Aug 2002
Posts: 1,081
Milwaukee, WI

Welcome to ECN.

I didn't notice the aluminum ground wire at first...the burn marks were what caught my eye.

I'm no electrician, but c'mon! Even the DIY books warn about mixing Al and Cu without proper terminations. You have the right to be much more than bitter, my friend. If this EC wants a Darwin award , that's his own folly--but not at the expense of others! Did he run out of cable staples in the attic or something?

Was that cable in the attic aluminum as well?

Is aluminum wire still sold (smaller than service entrance)? I realize that there are existing installations from years back, but new construction 4 years ago!?

Scroll down to the Al/Cu connectors--second photo --I don't know when these entered the market. Does anybody on the board use them? (I just realized--the conductors, in this case, are too large for these connectors anyhow.)

Also, you mentioned that the breaker did not trip. What brand panel and breakers?

Are your circuit breakers rated for Cu/Al? (Is that something that is standard?)

We've discussed here before--many fire departments have thermal imaging cameras. There sure was reason enough to call 911 for an emergency response by the FD. That j-box must have been hot! I'm glad that nobody was injured.

Hopefully you won't find any other problems. (I would want to have the entire electrical system inspected by a "qualified person" after seeing something like this!) Make sure you have your camera ready to go so you have good documentation, and of course, so you can share the photos.

[This message has been edited by ThinkGood (edited 02-19-2003).]

#114303 - 02/19/03 01:50 PM Re: Is This a Violation?  
bchase  Offline
Joined: Feb 2003
Posts: 12
Augusta, Georgia, USA
I'll try to answer all the questions/comments.

No, the wire in the attic was not AL (this would be against the code). And I'm sure that (this is what I believe) what happened was the EC was daisy chaining the receptacles and when he got to the last one, he didn't have anyplace to terminate it so instead of removing it from the push-in part of the receptacle (which is a pain anyway), he just threw it in the back and thought no one would notice.

The panel is CH and so is the breaker, but I don't know why it didn't trip. As for thermal imaging (IR scans) this would not have helped since it was under the drop in range of the cabinets. I had to pull the stove out to get to this. By the way, I use an IR camera at work and have found many problems with it (mostly OL panels), but that could be a different discussion.

As for finding a qualified person to inspect this, I really am quite disillusioned. I'm not sure that I can trust anyone since time and money seem to drive this industry.

#114304 - 02/19/03 02:06 PM Re: Is This a Violation?  
resqcapt19  Offline
Joined: Nov 2000
Posts: 2,148
It does not appear that the juction box was bonded so there was no fault clearing path to cause the breaker to trip. The high resistance connection was producing high heat but not pulling enough current to open the overcurrent protectiive device. These types of problems will not trip the breaker until they burn off enough insulation to become a ground fault, or a short circuit and only at this point will the overcurrent protective device open the circuit. If the box had been bonded to the equipment grounding conductor, then when the wire nut insulation melted, then might have been enough contact between the hot wire an the box to trip the breaker.


#114305 - 02/19/03 02:15 PM Re: Is This a Violation?  
bchase  Offline
Joined: Feb 2003
Posts: 12
Augusta, Georgia, USA
Wow, I missed that! Thanks for pointing that out. I should have realized that the grounding was not there and there was no return path. I just wonder, would an AFI breaker caught that (being no ground return path)?

#114306 - 02/19/03 03:56 PM Re: Is This a Violation?  
cubby964  Offline
Joined: Oct 2002
Posts: 67
In response to your question about the purple AL/CU wire nuts: I have used them with great success.
One inspector even commented to the home owner that it was rare that an EC knew about them, much less used them.
The drawback is cost - about a dollar apiece, versus pennies. This is why most don't use these.

On a separate note, was in an attic over the weekend to fix some flying splices made 8 odd years ago by a homeowner. They had removed a wall and thrown the extra wire into the attic. The splices were twisted and bare - that's right, no wire nuts or even tape. They were all live and in use. Sorry I didn't have a camera with me.

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