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#121668 - 08/05/05 08:17 PM Sketchy Wiring in Rented House  
Admin  Offline

Joined: Oct 2000
Posts: 3,447
Some of the sketchy wiring found in the house I am renting.. I haven't fixed this yet because moving the refrigerator is a RPITA.

Most of the other sketchy wiring was fixed before I bought a digital camera, including a subpanel with no clamps on the romex, K&T brought into the panel thru a knockout w/o any bushings, missing ground bus in subpanel, with ground wires twisted together.

Other problems included a exterior fixture mounted directly to a shed, without a box, flying splice inside to a cordset plugged into a combo siwtch/outlet on a box w/o a romex clamp.

- techie
[Linked Image]

[Linked Image]

[Linked Image]

Tools for Electricians:

#121669 - 08/05/05 08:43 PM Re: Sketchy Wiring in Rented House  
ShockMe77  Offline
Joined: Jun 2005
Posts: 821
Rahway, New Jersey
At least the switch is in the correct on/ off position. The same couldn't be said for the rented house I used to live in. It's scary when you rent because on one hand you know when something is dangerous, and on the other you don't want to do anything unless you're getting paid. If I were this person I would offer the landlord to fix it and have him/ her take the cost of fixing it off the rent.

[This message has been edited by ShockMe77 (edited 08-05-2005).]

#121670 - 08/05/05 10:17 PM Re: Sketchy Wiring in Rented House  
mxslick  Offline
Joined: Oct 2004
Posts: 803
Atomic City, ID USA
Umm, I would think the inevitable fire from the use of the zip cord would be a bigger PITA than moving the fridge... [Linked Image]
Then again, if you'd fixed it, you wouldn't have a pic to share! [Linked Image]
What does that switch control?

I upgraded the wiring in my rental (With the landlord's blessing) because it only had TWO circuits! (One for EVERY recpt. in the place, and one for lights) Oh yeah, it was homerunned with old style romex (1#12[blk] 1#14 [red] 1#12 [wht]; NO ground!)[And no, those sizes are not a typo!] to a recpt. in the small bedroom. A #14-2 branched off from there to feed lights, and #12-2 to recepts.

I replaced all devices (found a few burned/questionable connections, none backstabbed, thankfully), rewired all the lighting circuit with 14-2 with ground, added circuits to kitchen (1 microwave dedicated, and a two-gang with GFI and duplex on load side of GFI dedicated and 20 amp devices) plus a circuit for my sound rack in the living room. All circuits homerun to a 12x12 pullcan in the attic. All romex runs to can marked, circuits color-coded and identified on can cover.

On the plus side, some of the boxes (bedroom homerun, bath, original kitchen) were 4s with mud rings. Bath fixture box also 4s with round mud ring.

Used an 8sp. SqD Homeline (only because it was the only panel that would fit in the exisitng doghouse, plus landlord insisted that I match what the other units are using.)
Main breaker installed. {But the main unit here has an [Linked Image] FPE panel!!} Old school A-base meters too.

My landlord is a friend, which is one reason he approved (and we split the cost, as it was my soundrack which forced the need to upgrade.)

I found the need to upgrade when energizing my rack caused one of the aforementioned connections (The neutral in the home run box in bedroom) to heat up and send the voltage to the rack over 175 volts! Luckily I caught it before any damage was done.

Depending on where you are at, the landlord would be fully liable for fixing this at HIS expense, as it is a serious safety/code issue.

BTW, techie, IIRC didn't you say you work with stage/concert lighting? Do you handle temp show power hookups?

[This message has been edited by mxslick (edited 08-05-2005).]
For spellin
[This message has been edited by mxslick (edited 08-05-2005).]
To add question....and third time for dyslexic spellin again, lol.

[This message has been edited by mxslick (edited 08-05-2005).]

Stupid should be painful.

#121671 - 08/06/05 01:04 AM Re: Sketchy Wiring in Rented House  
techie  Offline
Joined: May 2005
Posts: 246
palo alto, ca usa
The switch controls the kitchen light, and is an extention from the original box, which is now hidden next to the refrigerator. The edge of that box is just visible beyond the second staple in picture #2.

The wiring actually appears to be #14 PVC jacketed hookup wire, not zipcord, and the staples are loose, acting as guide rings.
Fixing this is going to involve pulling the refrigerator, and drilling thru the post that the extention box is mounted to, into the side of the original box. there is not enough clearance for wiremold of any sort between the refrigerator and the wall.

The house is vintage mid-late 1940's, with several additions, and there are still a couple of K&T circuits in the older sections of the house.

My background is theatrical lighting and audio, with the last 7 years spent doing audiovisual production. I've been the business for a bit over 20 years.

I do handle temporary power distribution, tie-ins, generators, etc.. Not on a huge scale, mostly in the 60-400 amp range.

I'm basicly a Jack-Of-All-Trades, dealing with projection, lighting, audio, computer networking, radios, rigging, control systems, power distribution, and Unix, with a little carpentry thrown in for good measure.

Until I left my previous job, I was the main power guy in our shop. The campus electric shop wanted to charge us 4 hours, to do a tie-in that took me 10 minutes, and their work was nowhere near as clean. I've had to clean up their work (and that of hotel "electricians") before I was able to use it safely.

I've also been the master electrician for a local opera company for the last 18 years, holding the longest tenure of any member of the production staff.
It is important to note that the title "Master Electrician" has a slightly different meaning within the theatrical community, than it does in the EC community, but the idea is the same.

What do you have in your rack?

[This message has been edited by techie (edited 08-06-2005).]

#121672 - 08/06/05 02:08 AM Re: Sketchy Wiring in Rented House  
mxslick  Offline
Joined: Oct 2004
Posts: 803
Atomic City, ID USA
techie: That's some list of experiences. We have similar backgrounds..I worked for a sound company in Nor Cal doing monitor mix systems and lighting, plus power hook-ups. Biggest nightmare was those who tried to "help" when they didn't have a clue. Like our one roadie who started to disconnect the feeder cam-loks ground first!! [Linked Image] I caught him just as he was about to pull the neutral. Oh, and the dimmer rack and my monitor board were still powered up at the time. Would've made some nice expensive fireworks for sure.

In fact, I'm gonna start a new thread about temp power hookups. Here it is:

My rack has from top to bottom:
FurmanPL-Plus line conditioner, AMX AXCESS control system card cage with 4.2 amp P/S, Mitsubishi SAT Rcvr, Dolby CP-200 Cinema Processor, Ultra*Stereo CM-80 booth monitor, SIMA A/V auto switcher, Sherwood A/V rcvr [does the Dolby Digital and DTS digital from sat and DVD], Custom made 5" LCD monitor, Dual power supplies for the CP-200, APC 250VA Rack mount UPS [for Sat, AMX and CP-200], one QSC Series one 1100 amp [house audio] one QSC DCA-1644 Digital Cinema Amp (4ch, does l-c-r-sub) and one DCA-1622 Digital Cinema amp (L&R Surrounds). Amps are about 250-300 watts/ch for a room 12x15 feet.
Subwoofer is 18" EV TL-3512 [makes a great end table], surrounds are JBL 8330's from a theatre I upgraded. L,C,R are Cambridge Soundworks Ensemble, now about 23 years old!!

I also have a complete 35mm film projection system which is portable, I have lamphouses for 1-2Kw and 3-4.5kw xenon. I have a 35/70mm projector which I'm rebuilding.

Email me if ya want to know more!

Back on topic, now I can see the switch box in #2. Yeah, that would be a hard thing to fix with surface mount hardware. But if that is a faux brick finish, I would carefully pull it off the walll, cut in a run of romex to an old work box for the switch and replace the brick panel.

And your landlord should pay for it, no doubt. The install pictured is very unsafe and could leave him liable if anything should happen, say someone getting shocked from the ungrounded metal Wiremold box....

If you live in Orange county cali though, good luck. The landlords there have all the judges in thier pockets, they're never wrong.. [Linked Image]

[This message has been edited by mxslick (edited 08-06-2005).]

Stupid should be painful.

#121673 - 08/06/05 09:26 AM Re: Sketchy Wiring in Rented House  
jdadamo  Offline
Joined: Nov 2004
Posts: 37
Calgary, AB, Canada
My last apartment had pretty bad wiring, but nothing like this; although probably just as dangerous.

It was in a 25 storey high rise built in... wait for it... wait for it... the early 1970s. (I'll get back to this...but you guys already see where this is going I bet).

When I first looked at the suite they had a couple of plates off for painting. I glanced at them and noticed something I'd never seen in person before... aluminum wire. One of the visible boxes had two old GE rocker style switches and the connections looked good. This must've been original, so I figured it was okay. Another open box had a reasonably new CO/ALR switch in it and the connections also looked okay. The suite was a good size and price and what I had seen of the wire looked like it was in good shape.

So I signed the lease...

After taking posession of the place I went to work examining the rest of the system. I got out a flashlight and started popping off the plates and looking around at the connections.

I started with the devices that seemed the newest/most recently replaced. Except for ONE, none of them were CO/ALR!. Out of all of the replaced devices, they all had some problems:

1) One outlet in the bedroom had the worst connections I'd ever seen. It appears that whoever replaced it stripped off new wire and inserted it STRAIGHT into the screw terminals and tightened without any wrapping. Oddly enough, no signs of scorching or overheating. Even in the time I lived there, it never heated up and I used to check it a lot. The TV/Stereo/etc was downstream of this connection.

2) One recept. was replaced by someone who must've heard of "pigtailing." Except they did it all wrong. First off, they pigtailed the ground in a CONDUIT system. Why not just take off the aluminum ground jumped to the box and replace it all together? Next, they must've used whatever wire they had around because each neutral was pigtailed to red wires. The hots were pigtailed together to a single black pigtail. I don't understand the inconsistency with the pigtailing. Anyways, both of those neutral pigtails you could literally see (with a flashlight) how the white wires slowly gradiated to a dark black as they approached the wire nuts--ordinary yellow marrettes.

3) Another receptical was on a multiwire branch circuit and whoever replaced it did not pigtail the neutrals (maybe this was a blessing??). I can only assume that as the connection to this non co/alr device starts to take its toll on those connections that the neutral connection may suffer and cause a voltage imbalance on the rest of the circuit. I was sure to plug in only lamps downstream of that.

4) There were quite a few lampholders in the suite with fancy bulbs/coverings. I don't know of any rated for aluminum wire, so they were either directly attached or pigtailed. Either way I bet they weren't too safe. I wasn't dumb enough to try to examine them in any way. I didn't want to disturb this mess.

5) No electrical disconnect means within the suite. I beleive (but never determined for sure) that the disconnect was in a locked closet in the hallway. They told us if we tripped a breaker after 8 pm that they couldn't do anything about it until the next day.

The original switches were GE rocker style, which I've seen in a lot of homes here built in the 60s. They have brass screws terminals and no properties that I feel would be suited to aluminum wire. They were, however, clearly the original devices, and showed not a single sign of failure/overheating.

The original recepticals were extremely interesting. They were old Smith & Stone "CU-AL" rated devices. And odd they were because they had no conncetion method except back stab. Yet they displayed "CU-AL" loud and proud on the mounting strap (now I understand "CU-AL" devices are the OLD style, but I never expected to see back stabbing anywhere near aluminum!). None of them (including the original refrigerator receptical) showed any signs of overheating. Except a few of the recepticals showed significant conductor sticking out from the back. I am not sure if they were wired that way or if it is the typical case of the wires actually creeping out of the backstab holes over the years. One of them was showing at least 3/4 inch of conductor so I wonder what was left inside!

I sent both the leasing office and their head office a list of these problems and asked them to have a qualified electrician do the repairs. I never heard back. Figures.

Needless to say we moved out after the lease was up.

The company that built/owns this building owns other complexes with aluminum wire as well. Some friends of mine have lived in them and I noticed it. I wonder if they were so cheap that they spec'd aluminum wire to be installed in all of their properties while it was available. I know two out of.. maybe twelve isn't a great sample, but I have to wonder. I'd never even heard of AL in highrises until then.

We moved to another highrise down the street... it was built in the 60s... renovated completely in 1999. All copper wire; although there is a single run of BX in the suite (i literally mean BX... with the cloth wire and everything) to the bathroom light. They pulled new wire through the pipes to give the fridge and dishwasher separate circuits. You can tell because the newly pulled wire is, get this, No. 14 STRANDED thhn/thwn. (No. 14 is the general purpose wire size here... No. 12 is pretty rare even in new construction.). Needless to say, I feel a lot safer because you can tell the work was done by professionals and it looks clean and workman like.

I got all of this information with a flashlight and some removed plates.

[This message has been edited by jdadamo (edited 08-06-2005).]

#121674 - 08/06/05 02:35 PM Re: Sketchy Wiring in Rented House  
renosteinke  Offline
Cat Servant
Joined: Jan 2005
Posts: 5,316
Blue Collar Country
We can write all the codes we want- but the most effective form of enforcement is to "vote with your wallet." That is, find a more deserving owner to rent from.

#121675 - 08/07/05 06:56 AM Re: Sketchy Wiring in Rented House  
Trumpy  Offline

Joined: Jul 2002
Posts: 8,217
SI,New Zealand
Good call John,
That's one thing I like about not doing Domestic work anymore.
Doing work in Rental accommodation can really get quite depressing after a while, especially when you have to constantly explain why things "cost so much".

Let's face it, these days if you're not young, you're old - Red Green grin

#121676 - 08/08/05 02:08 AM Re: Sketchy Wiring in Rented House  
Hemingray  Offline
Joined: Apr 2005
Posts: 199
Lehigh Acres, FL
No. 14 STRANDED thhn/thwn. (No. 14 is the general purpose wire size here... No. 12 is pretty rare even in new construction.).

Our house (built in 2002) is wired almost entirely with 12/2 w/g romex. lighting circuits have 12/2 leading in with the usual 14/2 exiting to the fixtures. whatever electrician my uncle hired, was a total boob. I opened the 2g switch box next to my door to install a new Skylark fan/light control & decora duplex outlet, to be greeted with just about the whole damn works pigtailed. I corrected this to where all #12 enters/exits at the outlet, and no. no backstabbing required, you can slap me for this one, but i did kinda double-terminal one neutral, but this was the #12 to the closet light switch, and the #14 to the light/fan. I should have taken a picture of this ridiculous pigtailing though! :\


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