Had a phone call from a family member who is a licensed builder. He was building a finished room in the basement and did some wiring. He installed (2) 3 gang boxes with 6 three way switches for lighting in the basement. Help was from a lovely "Wiring 1,2,3" book from the orange roof store. Some of the switches would work part of the time and some would not work at all. Could I possibly come over to see what was wrong?
Well I did go over and got one of the best laughs I have had in awhile. To make a long story short he did have all the right conductors in each box. They just were not terminated correctly. After rewiring all of the switch boxes I made a deal with him. You don't do any wiring and I won't build anything. Hopefully this deal will stay in place.
I guess he at least had the excuse of having three 3-ways in each box, but I can tell of somebody who managed to mix up a simple 3-way switch with only 3-conductors (plus ground) in the box. And he started out with them all in the right place!
It was a neighbor's house that was being completely stripped and refurbished. As the living room has three doorways, I wired the light with two 3-ways plus a 4-way.
Well, his friend came over to help him with the door hanging and trims, and for some reason had to remove a small section of drywall which was already up. It included one of my 3-ways. I wasn't around that day, so this friend removed the switch himself and replaced it afterward, despite my neighbor's reluctance to let him touch the wiring.
Then my neighbor found he could only turn on the light from the other doorways if this switch was in one position. Obviously his friend had swapped over the common and one of the travelers, but apparently he then insisted that this was correct, and that it was impossible to have the light controlled from three doorways in such a way that any switch could turn it on whatever the position of the other two, even though my neighbor told him that that was precisely how it had been working.
You'd think that as he started out with all three conductors on the right terminals that he could have managed to replace them properly.
When I returned home, my neighbor caught me, explained what had happened, and asked me to have a quick look. Imagine the surprise on his friend's face when I just swapped two wires over and it worked as before!
[This message has been edited by pauluk (edited 11-28-2004).]
Re: Family DYI-er#45442 11/29/0409:49 AM11/29/0409:49 AM
Over the years I have found that the shoddiest wiring and the most code violations are in the homes of the electricians.
Now this is a scary statement because I was talking with a JW today who was explaining something he did at home. It doesn't sound right to me, but it's his home (not mine).
He told me that he has a lot of left over extension cords. He uses these to run his basement receptacles off of. He said he has a quad set up and then he will just put a plug and cord on a 1900 (4x4 shallow) box and plug it into the other quad run off of 12-2 extension cord wire. He claims this was just as good as romex and I just looked at him crazy.
He told me his basement only has one GFI which feeds the lights and a single receptacle for a freezer or something of that nature. All the other receptacles he has installed are run with the 12-2 cord. He told me that he feels totally secure with this installation in his house.
Is it me or him who is mis-informed?
I have close to 2 years in the trade and he has close to 25 or more.
"If common sense was common, everyone would have it"-not sure, someone here
Re: Family DYI-er#45444 11/29/0406:27 PM11/29/0406:27 PM
Keep in mind that the JW might have one years experience 25 times, rather than 25 years of different experiences.
Another thing I've noticed about this trade is how many electricians never look in a codebook again once they get their license. It pains me to no end when one of them says "when did they change that?" I have several answers, but they would all start a fistfight.
Few things are harder to put up with than the annoyance of a good example.
Re: Family DYI-er#45445 11/29/0407:29 PM11/29/0407:29 PM
Tom, here in MA to renew your license 15 hours of code review is needed. The guys you are referring to would have to open the book for at least that. It probably will be the only time they do. Very sad.
GA76Apprentice you are not misinformed.
Re: Family DYI-er#45446 11/30/0408:42 AM11/30/0408:42 AM
Many years ago I went to fix a similar 3 way prob at my (auto) mechanics house in exchange for some truck work. He swore he had not touched anything. My clue that he was not totally truthful was the brand new single pole switch and the traveler with the wire nut on it.
Re: Family DYI-er#45447 11/30/0409:19 PM11/30/0409:19 PM
I had a similar experience years ago with a homeowner who told me his living room outlets had just quit on him for no reason while the rest of the circuit remained working. I spotted what looked like a new outlet in the room and while I was removing it to see if the problem started there I was greeted by the homeowners toddler. The kid asked me: "Are you working on that too?" When asked what he ment by "too" his reply was: "Oh daddy spent all day yesterday trying to fix that and just gave up." Imagine the smile I had on my face when the homeowner stepped back into the room
[This message has been edited by fla sparkey (edited 11-30-2004).]