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tomapot
Apr 7, 2005
Suppose you're thinkin' about a plate o' shrimp. Suddenly someone'll say, like, plate, or shrimp, or plate o' shrimp out of the blue, no explanation. No point in lookin' for one, either. It's all part of a cosmic unconciousness.




Oven Wrangler

I rewired a ton of stuff in my house last year since I was remodeling my basement and had all the walls and celing open. It is not too hard, got myself one of the electical books from Home Depot to learn the basics. If I ever get caught up I'll post some pics and stuff.

My father-in-law used to work for Con Edison, the electrical utility of NYC, until he retired. When my wife and I bought our house we replaced some old 2 prong outlets with 3 prong. I walked into the room and he was replacing the outlets and I asked if he wanted me to turn off the circuit breaker. He said "No, this would knock you back but to me it feels like a tickle." Bad rear end.

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grover
Jan 23, 2002

PEW PEW PEW







tomapot posted:

I rewired a ton of stuff in my house last year since I was remodeling my basement and had all the walls and celing open. It is not too hard, got myself one of the electical books from Home Depot to learn the basics. If I ever get caught up I'll post some pics and stuff.

My father-in-law used to work for Con Edison, the electrical utility of NYC, until he retired. When my wife and I bought our house we replaced some old 2 prong outlets with 3 prong. I walked into the room and he was replacing the outlets and I asked if he wanted me to turn off the circuit breaker. He said "No, this would knock you back but to me it feels like a tickle." Bad rear end.
dumbass is more like it. 120V can still kill you. Sure, you might get tickled a number of times with no harm, and it's easy to get compacent, but it only takes one bad jolt to end your life.

For example, this guy was killed by 120V. A faulty extension cord and missing ground prong plug (just like the situation you'd get by illegally using a 2-prong adapter for a 3-prong plug) energized the drill he was holding and he received a fatal shock.

grover fucked around with this message at 21:57 on Mar 12, 2009

tomapot
Apr 7, 2005
Suppose you're thinkin' about a plate o' shrimp. Suddenly someone'll say, like, plate, or shrimp, or plate o' shrimp out of the blue, no explanation. No point in lookin' for one, either. It's all part of a cosmic unconciousness.




Oven Wrangler

grover posted:

dumbass is more like it. 120V can still kill you.

Sorry I did not mean to make it sound like I'm advocating rushing out to do something like this. The point was that he was a splicer for ConEd working under the streets of Manhattan and was used to a lot more juice than what runs through a house. He had built up a tolerance from 40 years on the job and was not affected by the couple shots of 120V he got from replacing the outlets.

hobbesmaster
Jan 28, 2008


tomapot posted:

Sorry I did not mean to make it sound like I'm advocating rushing out to do something like this. The point was that he was a splicer for ConEd working under the streets of Manhattan and was used to a lot more juice than what runs through a house. He had built up a tolerance from 40 years on the job and was not affected by the couple shots of 120V he got from replacing the outlets.

You can't build up a tolerance to that. Thinking like that gets you killed.

I guess we can't have a power megathread. Dispatch, arc flashes, all that jazz. I wonder how many power engineers there are even here.

kid sinister
Nov 16, 2002


grover posted:

Nah, they're not overly sensitive at all, and not all that expensive, either! Unless by "overly sensitive" you mean "it trips whenever I get even a tiny shock."

GFCI is the ONLY way to safely and legally put a 3-prong receptacle on an ungrounded circuit. One GFCI can protect an entire string of receptacles, too, which will let you replace them all with 3-prong receptacles (you have to put a GFCI/Ungrounded sticker on all of them)

This will still not provide grounding, but what it will provide is shock protection for you. The GFCI is designed to trip if a ground fault exceeds 6ma, which will protect people from fatal shocks.

If you want surge protection, the best way is to install a whole-house surge supressor on your panel. It won't cost much more than a couple high-end power strips and will do a WAY better job at supressing the surges than a power strip would. Also, power strips that provide line-neutral surge suppression will still work just fine.

They must've gotten better at the false positive trips than I remember. Still, I call 10x the cost of a regular outlet "expensive".

Could you give a link or example of a line-neutral surge suppressor? I've never seen one before.

Three-Phase
Aug 5, 2006

by zen death robot


hobbesmaster posted:

I guess we can't have a power megathread. Dispatch, arc flashes, all that jazz. I wonder how many power engineers there are even here.

Anything under 480/277V isn't real electricity.
I'm not sure if it would be good to have it in DIY - what other forum could we put it in? GBS?

Back to 120V - electricity can be weird. It's not like a bullet from a gun where getting hit in the head will almost certainly kill you. There are a ton of variables that play a part, particularly the path of the circuit and your body's resistance. It's foolish (to a point) to just point at the voltage level. (That point involves safe working and approach distances. Under 1000V the approach distance is simply "avoid contact". At 138,000 volts, no point of your body can be within about 3'6" of the electrified line, and believe me, I'd want to be a lot farther away from a 138K line.)

A simple change in skin resistance from sweating (say working on a 120/240 breaker panel in a cool room versus doing the work in a 110F foundry) could change an irritating shock into something much more dangerous. I've done work on 480V systems up to 4160V systems, but I still show 120V the respect it deserves.

Three-Phase fucked around with this message at 01:46 on Mar 14, 2009

hobbesmaster
Jan 28, 2008


Three-Phase posted:

Anything under 480/277V isn't real electricity.
I'm not sure if it would be good to have it in DIY - what other forum could we put it in? GBS?

[Ask] me about power engineering?

I don't really know anything about it in the real world as I'm just a student (decided I'm going for my masters because nobody is hiring locally and I attached myself to several research projects). Taking power courses is fun though if only because of the big numbers involved. Of course they had to invent a unit system where all the big numbers got smaller, so a current of 3pu can be as huge as 3A could be in an electronics circuit. Load flow by hand gets really loving tedious really fast. There are computers to do matrices and newton's method, why do professors have to take them away?!

grover
Jan 23, 2002

PEW PEW PEW







Ask me about power engineering, too!

kid sinister posted:

They must've gotten better at the false positive trips than I remember. Still, I call 10x the cost of a regular outlet "expensive".

Could you give a link or example of a line-neutral surge suppressor? I've never seen one before.
I don't really consider a $12 GFCI "expensive," regardless of how many 39 cent receptacles you could have bought for the same money. Especially since you only need 1 to protect several rooms worth of receptacles.

Nearly all commercial surge suppressors go L-L, L-G and L-N on all lines to protect against surge no matter what line is seeing the surge. Many even go N-G just to protect high-impedance neutral-ground bonds. If you're really worried, you can pop open your surge suppressor and rewire the MOV. Honestly, the best thing you can do for your house is to put a TVSS on your main panel, as it will protect everything!

grover fucked around with this message at 14:03 on Mar 14, 2009

Happiness Commando
Feb 1, 2002
$$ joy at gunpoint $$



Can someone recommend a book on wiring that is somewhere between an "Idiots Guide to..." and something for pros? This caught my eye on Amazon but I am not equipped to evaluate it.

grover
Jan 23, 2002

PEW PEW PEW







IfIWereARichMan posted:

Can someone recommend a book on wiring that is somewhere between an "Idiots Guide to..." and something for pros? This caught my eye on Amazon but I am not equipped to evaluate it.
The amazon preview unfortunately doesn't show anything to do with actual wiring. The intro was OK, but looked like it was intended for complete idiots. It's at least up-to-date.

mrglynis
Mar 10, 2009


Anyone got any advice for my situation I posted about at the bottom of the first page?

Temporary Overload
Jan 26, 2005
meh

Three-Phase posted:

Anything under 480/277V isn't real electricity.
I'm not sure if it would be good to have it in DIY - what other forum could we put it in? GBS?

480v three-phase scares me. It's what we use at work to power everything. Not really because I think I'll get hurt by it, but because we have several dumbasses who think they're competent enough to wire up plugs and breaker boxes when they're clearly not. I'm talking, "I cut the ground wire too short to reach the terminal, so I'll just leave it unconnected" and poo poo.

Also, recently our engineering/manufacturing facility sent us a bunch of equipment designed for 440v 3phase, with big signs posted all over it saying "DO NOT EXCEED 440 VOLTS." They're located in texas, we're located in louisiana, and the equipment will be used on offshore rigs in the gulf. Why did they use european motors? Where are we supposed to find 440v hookups?

hobbesmaster
Jan 28, 2008


Temporary Overload posted:

480v three-phase scares me. It's what we use at work to power everything. Not really because I think I'll get hurt by it, but because we have several dumbasses who think they're competent enough to wire up plugs and breaker boxes when they're clearly not. I'm talking, "I cut the ground wire too short to reach the terminal, so I'll just leave it unconnected" and poo poo.

Also, recently our engineering/manufacturing facility sent us a bunch of equipment designed for 440v 3phase, with big signs posted all over it saying "DO NOT EXCEED 440 VOLTS." They're located in texas, we're located in louisiana, and the equipment will be used on offshore rigs in the gulf. Why did they use european motors? Where are we supposed to find 440v hookups?

Just have the guys that do that close some delta connections; nature should take its course!

As for the engineers, obviously they want you to wire your own transformers!

grover
Jan 23, 2002

PEW PEW PEW







Temporary Overload posted:

Also, recently our engineering/manufacturing facility sent us a bunch of equipment designed for 440v 3phase, with big signs posted all over it saying "DO NOT EXCEED 440 VOLTS." They're located in texas, we're located in louisiana, and the equipment will be used on offshore rigs in the gulf. Why did they use european motors? Where are we supposed to find 440v hookups?
440V is a common shipboard voltage. Don't ask me WHY it was chosen, but it's unfortunately ubiquitious in some areas of the industry, which makes it really annoying to have to have a bazillion transformers everywhere to support it when the equipment is on land.

grover
Jan 23, 2002

PEW PEW PEW







mrglynis posted:

I've got an 80yr old Mill House with some Knob and Tube wiring in the attic. Thats the only place its still active. The K&T is used only to power the ceiling fixtures. Here's the thing. The wiring has been illegally spliced into. The K&T doesn't run from the box. There is a "newer" wire type coming from the box into the attic. It then is spliced into the K&T. I put "newer" in quotes because its not romex new. Its rather old in itself, just newer than K&T. I'm not sure exactly what kind of wiring it is. The writing on some of it says: 14-2 Anaconda Dutrex 600V. And theres only 2 wires. Hot and neutral, no ground.

Also at each of the ceiling boxes the K&T is spliced into about 6-8" from the box and that newer wiring is what is actually running into the boxes. Its also whats running down to the switches as well.

Ok, so heres what I want to do. I want all that K&T gone. I have 50 bags of blow-in insulation taking up my whole garage, that I cant install while the K&T is active. Now, what I was hoping to do was to just splice in romex to the "newer" wiring at the point it connects to the K&T and then redo everything. The only snag with that, is that theres no ground wire. I'm therefor assuming that the only reasonable option is to run all new romex all the way from the box, and just replace the whole shebang?

I hope all this makes sense. I took pictures, but I'm having trouble getting them on my computer. I'll update the post if i get them on here.

One last question. Is it ok to have more that 1 hot wire running into 1 breaker. I ask because 3 different breakers at my box have 2 hot wires running to them. I know that regarding outlets and such you can only have 1 wire per screw. I was wondering if the same rule applies at the box too. Thanks in advance for any advice you can give.

edit:got the pictures here they are:
http://www.imagebam.com/image/a4a70529349599
The main box, highlighted area is where the multiple hot wires are connected under one breaker.

http://www.imagebam.com/image/0100e129349602
This shows the main splice where it connects to the K&T. Red is the main line coming into the attic from the box. The yellow is running off to power the bathroom and 3rd bedroom addition.

http://www.imagebam.com/image/5b2a8629349601
This shows the wiring at one of the ceiling boxes. Yellow is K&T. Blue is the 14-2 Anaconda Dutrex 600V mentioned above. Red is running down to the switch.


Hopefully these pics will make things a little clearer. If you need more pics or info, just ask. Thanks.
Didn't see your photo edit. Sorry to say, but everything you've posted here is wrong. It's not legal to land 2 wires under 1 breaker terminal unless it's UL listed for it (and I doubt it is). Flying splices are illegal, regardless of the setting. Also, grandfathering rules only apply to upstream things. Like, you can add romex to extend a K&T run, but if you replace an obsolete fuse box with a breaker panel, the entire house was required to have been upgraded. So, these are all violations.

The best thing you can do is replace the main panel with a larger one, and bring the whole house up to modern code. It's probably prohibitively expensive, though. Easy ways to fix the biggest safety issues for cheap: pigtail the double-wires under the breakers with wire nuts, and install connection boxes in your attic. It won't make your house completely NEC-legal, but may postpone a visit from your local fire department.

grover fucked around with this message at 23:43 on Mar 25, 2009

Temporary Overload
Jan 26, 2005
meh

grover posted:

440V is a common shipboard voltage. Don't ask me WHY it was chosen, but it's unfortunately ubiquitious in some areas of the industry, which makes it really annoying to have to have a bazillion transformers everywhere to support it when the equipment is on land.

hobbesmaster posted:

As for the engineers, obviously they want you to wire your own transformers!

All of the large drillships and semisubmersible rigs in the gulf use 480v. Stupid thing is, the equipment runs just fine on 480v if you up the varistat breakers from 25A to 30A, but if something breaks while running on 480, it voids the warranty.
We had to spend $12,000 on explosion-proof 480-440v transformers... Idiotic.

Three-Phase
Aug 5, 2006

by zen death robot


Temporary Overload posted:

All of the large drillships and semisubmersible rigs in the gulf use 480v. Stupid thing is, the equipment runs just fine on 480v if you up the varistat breakers from 25A to 30A, but if something breaks while running on 480, it voids the warranty.
We had to spend $12,000 on explosion-proof 480-440v transformers... Idiotic.

I take it that using step-up autotransformers would be against whatever code governs these vessels? I know there are a lot of limitations to residential/commercial/industrial use of autotransformers.

hobbesmaster
Jan 28, 2008


Three-Phase posted:

I take it that using step-up autotransformers would be against whatever code governs these vessels? I know there are a lot of limitations to residential/commercial/industrial use of autotransformers.

Is this because if the insulation fails you have more problems than with a regular transformer? Or is it something else?

grover
Jan 23, 2002

PEW PEW PEW







hobbesmaster posted:

Is this because if the insulation fails you have more problems than with a regular transformer? Or is it something else?
Yep, this.

TheKub
May 11, 2006
like Monkeys
big super monkeys
even when they pinch my arm
zippity bang, orangutans
never did nobody no harm
I like monkeys
punky, funky, monkeys
When they wear bandanas...
I feel overwhelmed

My mother's house has aluminum wiring. She wants me to come over and replace some outlets with GCFI outlets. Is there anything special I need to do or can I just connect the aluminum wiring directly to the new outlets.

grover
Jan 23, 2002

PEW PEW PEW







TheKub posted:

My mother's house has aluminum wiring. She wants me to come over and replace some outlets with GCFI outlets. Is there anything special I need to do or can I just connect the aluminum wiring directly to the new outlets.
Make sure the terminals on the GFCI are rated for Al and Cu (most are, but check the box to make sure.) If they're not, you'll need to get fittings that are, and put on a short copper pigtail. Be careful not to break the Al, it cracks easier than Cu does.

Happiness Commando
Feb 1, 2002
$$ joy at gunpoint $$



Speaking of GFCI, what is the name and size of the loving ring nut that holds a duplex oulet screwed into the box cover? And similarly, what is the name and size of the loving screw that holds a double duplex cover connected to its 4" box. I did a round of installs last week and all the covers have popped off because the screws I used (which came with the cover?) were too small to thread properly and just popped off.

gently caress electrical work.

grover
Jan 23, 2002

PEW PEW PEW







#6-32 I bought a couple packs in varying lengths (1" and 1.25" mostly) after my attempts at perfectly mounting boxes was thwarted by lazy drywallers and an excessively thick layer of plaster. I saved all the "short" screws too, which have come in handy as well, like for hanging light fixtures to boxes that don't come with screws.

You can buy special replacement screws in colors to match your covers; I'm not sure what size off-hand.

Mr. Eric Praline
Aug 13, 2004
I didn't like the others, they were all too flat.


How do you guys manage to fish wires through such tiny little gaps? I'm trying to follow the paths of existing lines, and it's like they were originally fished around all kinds of crazy angles and through tiny little spaces between rafters. Even when I do manage it, the wire's casing is all torn up half the time.

kid sinister
Nov 16, 2002


chryst posted:

How do you guys manage to fish wires through such tiny little gaps? I'm trying to follow the paths of existing lines, and it's like they were originally fished around all kinds of crazy angles and through tiny little spaces between rafters. Even when I do manage it, the wire's casing is all torn up half the time.

Well, when wire is put in, there usually isn't drywall already up, so you can use your hands to pull wire through several studs and joists at a time. Don't try to pull the entire length of a cable run in one go, you're just asking for trouble. Instead, break it down to something like "pull enough slack thru these 3 joists, then turn the corner, pull enough up the wall and through these 2 studs..."

grover posted:

Make sure the terminals on the GFCI are rated for Al and Cu (most are, but check the box to make sure.) If they're not, you'll need to get fittings that are, and put on a short copper pigtail. Be careful not to break the Al, it cracks easier than Cu does.

Isn't there all kinds of code for pigtailing copper to aluminum, or more specifically you need special connectors to connect them and tools to put them on?

grover posted:

You can buy special replacement screws in colors to match your covers; I'm not sure what size off-hand.

Aren't faceplate screws also 6-32? Grover's right, they come in all kinds of finishes and paint colors. Just tell the guy at the hardware store that you need faceplate screws, and he should know which drawer to pull for you.

kid sinister fucked around with this message at 21:16 on Mar 16, 2009

grover
Jan 23, 2002

PEW PEW PEW







kid sinister posted:

Isn't there all kinds of code for pigtailing copper to aluminum, or more specifically you need special connectors to connect them and tools to put them on?
Yes, you need to use a connector with fittings that are specifically listed for this. For example, I used a couple Al/Cu-rated split bolts to extend the Al line for my stove with Cu cable to the new location.

Three-Phase
Aug 5, 2006

by zen death robot


hobbesmaster posted:

Is this because if the insulation fails you have more problems than with a regular transformer? Or is it something else?

Sort of. A transformer with two separate windings has intrinsic isolation - the transformer's core limits the amount of energy that can pass through if there's a fault on the secondary side. You don't really get that with an autotransformer.

I believe that you can use autotransformers for a few things, like if you have a building that's got 120V/208V (4-wire three phase) power system and you need to power an air conditioner that runs off of 240V, you can use an autotransformer to step the 208V to 240V.

(Also, the NEC says you cannot derive a branch circuit from an autotransformer. I need to check some details as to what's OK with the NEC and what isn't. Sadly my codebooks are at work.)

hobbesmaster posted:

There are computers to do matrices and newton's method, why do professors have to take them away?!

I've used SKM Power Tools - you can do stuff like arc flash analysis, fault currents, and my favorite, breaker/fuse coordination studies. It even makes those nice trip curve diagrams.

Three-Phase fucked around with this message at 01:50 on Mar 17, 2009

hobbesmaster
Jan 28, 2008


Three-Phase posted:

I've used SKM Power Tools - you can do stuff like arc flash analysis, fault currents, and my favorite, breaker/fuse coordination studies. It even makes those nice trip curve diagrams.

We actually did a lot of stuff in the aforementioned power class with SKM Power Tools. We just had no aids on tests, which screwed me over royally at midterm. I wanted to go back to the lab after the class was over and play around with it to try more stuff, but apparently the licenses for the program were only active while the class was running. Stupid $8k/seat engineering software...

And the stuff about autotransformers makes sense. They're really useful; especially variacs.

GreenTrench
Jun 19, 2004

Has anyone seen me?

Three-Phase posted:


(Also, the NEC says you cannot derive a branch circuit from an autotransformer. I need to check some details as to what's OK with the NEC and what isn't. Sadly my codebooks are at work.)


You freaked me out a bit since I install battery-backup solar electric systems with autotransformers so I looked this up;

210.9

"Branch circuits shall not be derived from autotransformers unless the circuit supplied has a grounded conductor that is electrically connected to a grounded conductor of the system supplying the autotransformer." (I'll ignore the exceptions).

Essentially, you can't run two hots without a neutral on either side of the autotransformer.

mrglynis
Mar 10, 2009


grover posted:

Didn't see your photo edit. Sorry to say, but everything you've posted here is wrong. It's not legal to land 2 wires under 1 breaker terminal unless it's US listed for it (and I doubt it is). Flying splices are illegal, regardless of the setting. Also, grandfathering rules only apply to upstream things. Like, you can add romex to extend a K&T run, but if you replace an obsolete fuse box with a breaker panel, the entire house was required to have been upgraded. So, these are all violations.

The best thing you can do is replace the main panel with a larger one, and bring the whole house up to modern code. It's probably prohibitively expensive, though. Easy ways to fix the biggest safety issues for cheap: pigtail the double-wires under the breakers with wire nuts, and install connection boxes in your attic. It won't make your house completely NEC-legal, but may postpone a visit from your local fire department.

Thanks for the reply. I really do appreciate it. I pretty much anticipated everything you said. I had an electrician come out to talk to me today. Where do I begin?
The power coming from the street doesnt come down into a box. The ground is essentially non-existent. The wiring is exposed coming out of the meter and into the crawlspace(ie:no conduit). Aside from the aformentioned problems in the box, The main neutral wire is exposed. There's no sheathing on it. Theres no grounding bar in the box. Neutral and grounds are together on the neutral bus bar. The box itself is more than 5 feet away from the meter. Meaning theres no shutoff between the meter and the box in the house.The box is mounted on the wall as opposed to recessed into it. There is an 8 gauge wire for the range run up through the floor and into the bottom of the box. Its run in some plastic conduit that isnt secured to anything. The main supply is aluminum wiring. They tied copper wires under the main to run to a sub-box for the dryer. I think that might cover all the major problems.

Heres what he proposed:
Install main ground systyem -$518.00
Install cold water ground system - $349
Install outside electrical sysyem - $1986
Install service mast - $845
Install SER Cable - $1251
Install 200 Amp Panel - $1986
Inspection Fee - $150
TFS charge - $9.75

Total - $7094.75

My plumbing system includes plastic piping, so the cold water ground system is out. All of the above is just to update and fix the outside power and the box. That would give me a box with power outside, and a box inside. It DOES NOT include updating the wiring in the house. Seeing as all the wiring is pretty much 2 wire it all needs to be replaced. Rough (non written) estimate is ~$3-400 per circuit, just for the "home-run". That doesnt include running to all the additional outlets.

Anyways, I just wanted to give an update on my situation. I'll probably get a couple other quotes at least before I green light anything. (not to mention going to the bank). Thanks again for you reply Grover.

To anyone out there planning on buying an older home. HIRE A loving ELECTRICIAN TO INSPECT IT!!! Do not rely soley on the general home inspector. You may or may not end up with a hack like me. Just for laughs heres what my inspection report says:

ELECTRIC SERVICE:

The overhead electric service wire entered the home on the right side wall. The electric meter was located on the exterior wall. The service wire entered a General Electric service panel, located on the rear pantry wall with a 100 amps and 120/240 volt rated capacity. The branch circuits within the panel were copper and aluminum in the 240 volt circuits.
These branch circuits and the circuit breaker to which they were attached appeared to be appropriately matched. The visible house wiring consisted primarily of the Romex type and appeared to be in good condition.

A representative number of installed lighting fixtures, switches, and receptacles located throughout the home were inspected and were found to be functional. The grounding and polarity of receptacles within six feet of plumbing fixtures, and those attached to ground fault circuit interrupters (GFCI), if present, were also tested. All GFCI receptacles and GFCI circuit breakers should be tested monthly. There were GFCI protected circuits located in the bathroom. The present and tested GFCI's were not functional. The G.F.C.I. outlet in the bathroom is not grounded and will not trip during an over current. The outlet must be grounded.

The electrical service appeared to be adequate. Alarms, electronic keypads, remote control devices, landscape lighting, telephone and television, and all electric company equipment were beyond the scope of this inspection. There were no major visual defects observed in the electrical system.

grover
Jan 23, 2002

PEW PEW PEW







mrglynis posted:

Thanks for the reply. I really do appreciate it. I pretty much anticipated everything you said. I had an electrician come out to talk to me today. Where do I begin?
I want to comment on a few of your comments. You will want to get another electrician to come out and take a look, a number of things this guy said aren't quite accurate:

The power coming from the street doesnt come down into a box.
How does it come down? There are approved methods for transitioning from the aerial wire to SE that don't need a box. (Mine is just spliced to SE in a little hood below the peak of the roof.) Usually, the power company owns the line from the street to the meter, if I'm not mistaken.

The ground is essentially non-existent.
This is a BIG problems and needs fixed!

The wiring is exposed coming out of the meter and into the crawlspace(ie:no conduit).
What kind of wire is it? Some times of wire (SE, for example) is perfectly fine like this.

Aside from the aformentioned problems in the box, The main neutral wire is exposed. There's no sheathing on it.
This needs to be fixed, but it;ts not quite as dangerous as it seems, as the neutral wire is grounded in your panel and grounded at the pole. Return current is flowing through the neutral, the ground wire, and the dirt beneath your feet. Theres' really not much difference electrically between any of these wires. The poco rarely sheathes the neutral aerial wire.


Theres no grounding bar in the box. Neutral and grounds are together on the neutral bus bar.
This is fine for the main panel. The neutral must be bonded to ground at one point, and it's the ground bar. (Subpanels must have separate ground and neutral bars.)

The box itself is more than 5 feet away from the meter. Meaning theres no shutoff between the meter and the box in the house.
This isn't a problem; it's normal design. The main breaker in your panel is the service disconnect. The meter serves as the disconnect if you need to service the service conductors. I could be mistaken, but I'm pretty sure the code never mentions 5' or sets any distance- they just don't want you putting the panel on the opposite side of the house and running unfused service wire where it can get damaged.

The box is mounted on the wall as opposed to recessed into it.
Perfectly acceptable. Simple an aesthetic choice.

There is an 8 gauge wire for the range run up through the floor and into the bottom of the box. Its run in some plastic conduit that isnt secured to anything.
The conduit should be securely fastened, but this doesn't seem like it's necessarily a violation aside from that. (We'd have to know more)

The main supply is aluminum wiring.
Not a problem IF it's done right, using UL fittings approved for use with Aluminum.

They tied copper wires under the main to run to a sub-box for the dryer.
Does the main breaker kill power to the dryer, too, or did they tap off of the feeder side of the bus? This *may* be OK, but there are some specific rules for this that might not have been followed.

The G.F.C.I. outlet in the bathroom is not grounded and will not trip during an over current. The outlet must be grounded.
It will trip on a ground fault regardless of whether it's grounded or not, the ground wire is not required for it to function. I concur that it must legally be grounded, but it will still trip and save your life if there's a ground fault.

Good luck on getting some better bids! How much of this are you up to try to fix yourself? If you get the power company to come and pull the meter base, it will remove power to your house and let you safely work on the system. (The electrician would have to do this, too.)

grover fucked around with this message at 00:06 on Mar 26, 2009

Nnep
Jun 17, 2007

3-2 2-0


This seems like a great place to post what i was going to make a thread for.

I recently moved into a new townhouse and replaced the lovely typical ceiling light with a track light. I switched off the breaker, connected the ground, neutral and live wires, attached wire nuts and taped them up. Now the section of the townhouse for that certain breaker has completely shut down. I've tried messing with the box a few times to no avail, i'm having a hard time believing a light i installed (i hope) correctly knocked out a part of my electric.

What did i do?

mrglynis
Mar 10, 2009


grover posted:

I want to comment on a few of your comments. You will want to get another electrician to come out and take a look, a number of things this guy said aren't quite accurate:

The power coming from the street doesnt come down into a box.
How does it come down? There are approved methods for transitioning from the aerial wire to SE that don't need a box. (Mine is just spliced to SE in a little hood below the peak of the roof.) Usually, the power company owns the line from the street to the meter, if I'm not mistaken.

The line comes straight down into the meter. Out of the bottom of the meter the wiring comes down and shoots into the crawlspace, where it runs along the joists to the other side of the house where the box is. I'll try and take pictures tomorrow when I get home from work.

The ground is essentially non-existent.
This is a BIG problems and needs fixed!

Agreed big time!

The wiring is exposed coming out of the meter and into the crawlspace(ie:no conduit).
What kind of wire is it? Some times of wire (SE, for example) is perfectly fine like this.

I'll try to take pics tomorrow.

Aside from the aformentioned problems in the box, The main neutral wire is exposed. There's no sheathing on it.
This needs to be fixed, but it;ts not quite as dangerous as it seems, as the neutral wire is grounded in your panel and grounded at the pole. Return current is flowing through the neutral, the ground wire, and the dirt beneath your feet. Theres' really not much difference electrically between any of these wires. The poco rarely sheathes the neutral aerial wire.


Theres no grounding bar in the box. Neutral and grounds are together on the neutral bus bar.
This is fine for the main panel. The neutral must be bonded to ground at one point, and it's the ground bar. (Subpanels must have separate ground and neutral bars.)

I think maybe the problem is that since the whole system is essentially un-grounded that it might be more of an issue.

The box itself is more than 5 feet away from the meter. Meaning theres no shutoff between the meter and the box in the house.
This isn't a problem; it's normal design. The main breaker in your panel is the service disconnect. The meter serves as the disconnect if you need to service the service conductors. I could be mistaken, but I'm pretty sure the code never mentions 5' or sets any distance- they just don't want you putting the panel on the opposite side of the house and running unfused service wire where it can get damaged.

I wasnt aware there was any type of shut off at the meter itself. If there isnt then unless the power company shuts off the power there will always be a hot line between the meter and the box running through the crawlspace.

The box is mounted on the wall as opposed to recessed into it.
Perfectly acceptable. Simple an aesthetic choice.

I understand this point, and I agree, but for aesthetic choices I personally would prefer it recessed and have all the wires running through the wall.

There is an 8 gauge wire for the range run up through the floor and into the bottom of the box. Its run in some plastic conduit that isnt secured to anything.
The conduit should be securely fastened, but this doesn't seem like it's necessarily a violation aside from that. (We'd have to know more)

I dont think he mentioned it as being a violation so much as just kinda lazy work. They just drilled through the floor and ran it up as opposed to fishing it in the wall.

The main supply is aluminum wiring.
Not a problem IF it's done right, using UL fittings approved for use with Aluminum.

The main being aluminum isnt a concern for me. Its the part below, with having the copper wires under the same breaker screws.

They tied copper wires under the main to run to a sub-box for the dryer.
Does the main breaker kill power to the dryer, too, or did they tap off of the feeder side of the bus? This *may* be OK, but there are some specific rules for this that might not have been followed.

The G.F.C.I. outlet in the bathroom is not grounded and will not trip during an over current. The outlet must be grounded.
It will trip on a ground fault regardless of whether it's grounded or not, the ground wire is not required for it to function. I concur that it must legally be grounded, but it will still trip and save your life if there's a ground fault.

This part is quoted from my home inspection report, not from the guy I saw today. I understand though, that it will still trip.. Kinda all semantics since the whole house isnt grounded. Needless to say, that news didnt particuarly brighten my day too much.


Good luck on getting some better bids! How much of this are you up to try to fix yourself? If you get the power company to come and pull the meter base, it will remove power to your house and let you safely work on the system. (The electrician would have to do this, too.)

All the stuff involving the grounding, installing new boxes, running new mains, is something I'm not comfortable with. Now running the new circuits, fishing wire, hooking up outlets/switches; thats definetly in the realm of DIY for me. I imagine I could run the circuits, label them clearly and then just have a pro come and hook them up to the box for me. It would certainly save me a wad of cash doing it that way.

Thanks again for the info. I really do appreciate it. I do plan on getting some other opinions/bids. It'll be next week before I have time to do that though. In the meantime I'm gonna hit up the bank tommorow to see what they'll do for me. Anyways, I'll try and get some pics up tomorrow.


edit: screw sleep. heres some of the inside pics:

http://www.imagebam.com/image/80a1f230824047
This is a shot of the un-sheathed neutral

http://www.imagebam.com/image/72ee8d30824048
A shot of the main breaker with the dryer wires running to it.

http://www.imagebam.com/image/d7d18730824051
The sub-box for the dryer

http://www.imagebam.com/image/43349230824053
The neutral bus bar

http://www.imagebam.com/image/aa91c030824054
The lazy plastic conduit running the 8ga wire.

http://www.imagebam.com/image/929c0430876007
A full shot of the service where it hits the house

http://www.imagebam.com/image/c79c3b30876009
The exposed cable

http://www.imagebam.com/image/6497bd30876010
The "grounding" system

http://www.imagebam.com/image/6d5aee30876011
Showing where the service hits the house

http://www.imagebam.com/image/7898e130876014
The SE cable running through the crawlspace.

mrglynis fucked around with this message at 18:45 on Mar 26, 2009

let it mellow
Jun 1, 2000



Dinosaur Gum

Nnep posted:

What did i do?

What happens when you flip the breaker back on? Does it immediately trip, only trip after you turn that light on, etc?

Mr. Eric Praline
Aug 13, 2004
I didn't like the others, they were all too flat.


I've been taking the advice you guys gave after my post on page 1. I've been working out the plan and budget, and going over the books I got, and I want to run it past you guys as a sanity check, and make sure I've got a couple details straight.

Basically, the plan is to bring the current system up to code myself, then run the new sub-panel myself, then have an electrician inspect, pull permits, and do the final wiring at the main panel. This way there's no hangups when the new kitchen is installed.

1. Step 1 is to make sure the current system is wired ok. It's not too bad right now as far as I can tell.

* I've got several 3-prong receptacles without a ground. My plan is to replace the leading receptacle on each branch with a GFCI, rather than running all new wire. They're all in bedrooms, so I only really need the 3 prongs for power strips, and don't absolutely need equipment ground. - Any problems with this?
- Is there a way to easily find the first receptacle on the branch without manually disconnecting it and seeing if the rest of the load drops?

* The wiring in the attic is just run where it needs to go. It's not secured to anything. I'm assuming I need to staple it to the beams, and drill through the rafters as specified in my book, right?
- I'll need longer wires to run it in new places, and all the splices have to be in junction boxes, right?

- Any other things I need to look out for in step 1? I've checked, and everything is currently #14 wire, and 15A rated, except the kitchen which is #12 and 20A rated.

- One other thing with the existing wiring: The panel's sticker says it's 125A rated, but the installed main breaker is 100A. Is it possible to replace it with a 125A breaker to get a mini-upgrade without needing a whole new panel?

2. Step 2 is to run the new sub-panel into the garage.

* Install 60A/240v breaker in the main panel (Possible future 240v tools.)
* Run the correct size wire across the basement, through the attic, and down to the garage wall.
-I'm having trouble determining what size wire to use. It seems like a #6 is enough for 60A, but it runs through the attic, which gets really hot in the summer (120F+, I'd guess). Should I use a bigger cable due to the heat? What size? Do I need 4 conductors for 240v? (want to make sure I buy the right stuff the first time)
* Mount the new 60A panel in the garage, and wire that end in.
- I'm having trouble figuring out exactly what panel to buy. Most 60A rated panels seem to be meant for air conditioning disconnects. Is it OK to buy a 100A panel, and put a 60A breaker into it?

3. Step 3 is to run the circuits from the new panel.
* All these 20A/120v.
* 3 circuits to the kitchen: Fridge, Microwave, other appliances. Leave current circuits in place for receptacles.
* 1 circuit with a branch to the sunroom, and a branch to garage.
* 1 circuit to an outside receptacle.


Also, unrelated to my project, I found this, which is educational. I seem to get the general ideas right, (even if I couldn't cite the specific codes myself or anything) and it seems to me that most code violations are pretty obviously out of place.
http://ecmweb.com/nec/whats_wrong_here/

Mr. Eric Praline fucked around with this message at 17:38 on Mar 26, 2009

Menekali
Jul 21, 2008


Great thread! I've learned a bit so far and, I've always had issues trying to understand anything remotely electrical.

I do however, have a question. I loaned my truck to a friend recently (1994 Ford Bronco XLT). Comes back with a flat 37" wheel (YAY!) but the real issue, is none of the dome, or door lights would turn off. Essentially thrashing my battery. Apparently he fooled around, and tried to tune some poo poo up on the truck (wasn't needed anyway, it JUST had it's tune up).

Essentially, where the gently caress do I start? I have no idea where or how to go about tracking down what might be causing the lights in the cabin to stay on even after the doors are closed. I'm clueless here!

Mr. Eric Praline
Aug 13, 2004
I didn't like the others, they were all too flat.


Menekali posted:

Great thread! I've learned a bit so far and, I've always had issues trying to understand anything remotely electrical.

I do however, have a question. I loaned my truck to a friend recently (1994 Ford Bronco XLT). Comes back with a flat 37" wheel (YAY!) but the real issue, is none of the dome, or door lights would turn off. Essentially thrashing my battery. Apparently he fooled around, and tried to tune some poo poo up on the truck (wasn't needed anyway, it JUST had it's tune up).

Essentially, where the gently caress do I start? I have no idea where or how to go about tracking down what might be causing the lights in the cabin to stay on even after the doors are closed. I'm clueless here!
I've got a lot of experience with auto electrics, tho certainly not a pro. Not sure this is really the thread for it tho.

I'm guessing he broke the switch. Try completely removing it, and see if the lights shut off. (Or connect the + and - wires, and see if they shut off. Might be a normally closed type switch. Actually, if it's this type, he may have just cut one of the wires somewhere, and you'll have to find the break.) If it's not the switch, then put the it back on and pull the fuse. Does that shut off the lights?

If not, then he's rewired it to a constant, and you'll need to find the splice. I'd start at the switch, and look around to see if there are wires missing from there. If not, try it from the fuse block. Most people wouldn't re-route too far from the original. If you can't find it, you'll have to trace by hand, which is a huge pain in the rear end.

Did he put a new stereo in? Maybe check behind the stereo. He may have tried to wire it into the dome light's switched power and used the wrong wire.

(Edit: I'm also assuming he was mucking with the interior wiring on purpose for some reason. There are very few things in the engine compartment that could cause this.)

Mr. Eric Praline fucked around with this message at 19:47 on Mar 26, 2009

Menekali
Jul 21, 2008


chryst posted:

I've got a lot of experience with auto electrics. Not sure this is really thethread for it tho.

I'm guessing he broke the switch. Try completely removing it, and see if the lights shut off. (Or connect the + and - wires, and see if they shut off. Might be a normally open type switch) If it's not the switch, then put the it back on and pull the fuse. Does that shut off the lights?

If not, then he's rewired it to a constant, and you'll need to find the splice. I'd start at the switch, and look around to see if there are wires missing from there. If not, try it from the fuse block. Most people wouldn't re-route too far from the original. If you can't find it, you'll have to trace by hand, which is a huge pain in the rear end.

Did he put a new stereo in? Maybe check behind the stereo. He may have tried to wire it into the dome light's switched power and used the wrong wire.

Thanks. Yea I realized after making the post, the difference between home, and auto electrical engineering must be pretty substantial, however I also figured someone would be able to answer heh.

Thanks. When you say switch, do you mean the actual switch that gets pushed in when the doors are closed? I've looked at them, and neither one looks to be broken, but I'll go back over them, pull them out and take a look. If that's not the switch, excuse my ignorance, I just don't know, switch could possibly be a technical term in electrical engineering for something else?

No stereo was installed, and as far as I know, no serious changes were made. It could be a coincidence also that it happened when he had the truck. I don't think fooling around and attempting a 'tune-up' would cause this sort of behavior.

grover
Jan 23, 2002

PEW PEW PEW







Menekali posted:

Great thread! I've learned a bit so far and, I've always had issues trying to understand anything remotely electrical.

I do however, have a question. I loaned my truck to a friend recently (1994 Ford Bronco XLT). Comes back with a flat 37" wheel (YAY!) but the real issue, is none of the dome, or door lights would turn off. Essentially thrashing my battery. Apparently he fooled around, and tried to tune some poo poo up on the truck (wasn't needed anyway, it JUST had it's tune up).

Essentially, where the gently caress do I start? I have no idea where or how to go about tracking down what might be causing the lights in the cabin to stay on even after the doors are closed. I'm clueless here!
Try the dimmer switch on the dash first; he might have bumped it to full on. Look for switches on the dome light, too, there might be switches you don't even know about One of the microswitches that sense the doors are open might have failed, too; those are difficult to troubleshoot for, though. In the meantime, you can pull the fuse or pull the bulbs so you don't drain your battery.

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grover
Jan 23, 2002

PEW PEW PEW







mrglynis posted:

edit: screw sleep. heres some of the inside pics:

http://www.imagebam.com/image/80a1f230824047
This is a shot of the un-sheathed neutral
The unsheathed neutral looks fine. If it makes you feel better, it's absolutely identical in my panel.

http://www.imagebam.com/image/72ee8d30824048
A shot of the main breaker with the dryer wires running to it.
This is wrong! There's a way to do a bus tap, but this is NOT that way! What SHOULD have been done is a new subpanel should have been installed where the dryer box is, a couple existing breakers moved from your panel to the new box, and a new breaker installed in your panel to feed the new subpanel. (This subpanel would need separate neutral and ground bars, btw.)

http://www.imagebam.com/image/d7d18730824051
The sub-box for the dryer
Looks OK, aside from the way the feeder is tapped. No telling what's inside, though...

http://www.imagebam.com/image/43349230824053
The neutral bus bar
This looks fine.

http://www.imagebam.com/image/aa91c030824054
The lazy plastic conduit running the 8ga wire.
That's actually good stuff- nothing wrong with liquidtight conduit, it just needs some support straps. You can pick 'em up at Home Depot.

http://www.imagebam.com/image/929c0430876007
A full shot of the service where it hits the house
Looks typical. Not ideal, but not terribly dangerous. Code requires conduit where it's liable to be damaged; I'd strongly recommend coming out the bottom of your meter pan with conduit to protect against weed whackers and suck. This is a subjective code, though.

http://www.imagebam.com/image/c79c3b30876009
The exposed cable
Is that just paint flaking off, or is the cable degraded? The latter is most certainly a problem.

http://www.imagebam.com/image/6497bd30876010
The "grounding" system
I really can't see what's going on here. Is there a thick copper cable inside the sheathing, and is is solid and connected solidly to your ground rod? How badly is it corroded? What's that little wire wrapped around it, is that grounding the cable/phone stuff?

http://www.imagebam.com/image/6d5aee30876011
Showing where the service hits the house
Looks typical.

http://www.imagebam.com/image/7898e130876014
The SE cable running through the crawlspace.
Looks a little longer than normal, but it doesn't matter that it's "exposed", the installation looks fine.

If you do have your electrical system upgraded, one thing you can do that might save some labor is to instead of putting a new panel outside your house, put a service disconnect there- basically just a main breaker in a box. Then it doesn't matter where your actual electrical panel is located, the 5' distance is N/A, etc. (This will make replacing your panel a lot cheaper if you don't have to splice or replace as much of the inside cabling.) When you have it done, I'd recommend having a generator manual transfer switch (MTS) installed, too; it'll be cheap compared to everything else, and they sure make life a lot more pleasant! (The MTS lets you swap your house from utility power to generator power during a big outage. They're legally required to prevent accidentally backfeeding the high-voltage lines through the utility company's transformers and giving line workers repairing the power lines a 7000V surprise.)

If you're feeling up to it, you can even have the electrician stop at the new service disconnect, and you can safely wire the rest up yourself. Just make sure to read up like chryst did, pull all the necessary permits, etc.

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