Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Electrical service burnt out

 Here is a part of the cable that caught fire because the cable rotted away.

This meter socket is made out of Aluminium. This type of meter was stopped being made in the 1970s. That makes it 40 years old. It needs to be updated.

The breaker box is no longer in good condition. It looks to be 40 years old as well.

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Home inspection

The home has three metered electrical service. There are many problems with this service. It is over loaded and installed in an unprofessional manner. All of which would be corrected with an electrical service upgrade. All the boxes here can be combined into one meter and panel. The intended use of the home will be as a single family. Setting up the service to match the usage will correct these problems. 

There were many points in the basement where junctions were not installed correctly. These wires should be re-junctioned and boxes covered. The wiring is a hazardous to be left this way. The corrections needed to repair this wiring are minor

There was a sub-panel on the second floor that is over loaded and rusting. This panel should be replaced with a newer larger sub-panel. Electrical panels should be replaced every 30 to 40 years. This panel is about that age. The wiring in the panel is modern wire with grounds. It looks to be in good condition.

All the outlets that we were able to test were correct. There was on outlet on the first floor by the bathroom that was missing a ground wire. There was also this box on the second floor that we were not able to access. Everything in the house was working at the time of testing. The only issue is that there were long areas of walls that had no electrical outlet. 

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Friday, December 9, 2011

How to install recessed lights in a living room

Living room lighting with recessed lights.

Wiring recessed lights

Here we are cutting the hole that are needed to add the lighting can into the plaster ceiling. There are hole made at every floor joist in order to run the wires across the living room ceiling. We try to keep the hole small so that they patch easily.

Fishing wires

Thursday, December 8, 2011

PECO's power line going bad

No Power in the house because of Service Cable.

This is a video of a house that lost power. The cable outside that attached to the PECO power lines has rotted away. The outside cable looks to be about 40 to 50 years old. The outer jacket of the cable is is no longer intact. The sun and weather has washed away the jacket exposing the the wires on the inside of the cable. There are three parts to this cable. A Black wire, A Red wire and a bunch of Aluminum that wrap around the the cable.

The RED&Black wires delivers 120volts to ground or 240 volt between each other. The Aluminum wires warping the cable is the ground. After the jacket of the cable weathered away the Aluminum ground became exposed to the elements. The ground wire is the return path for your power. When that dissolved in the weather the cable started to smoke and power was lost to this house.

On the inside we can see the fuse panel that is attached to the cable that failed. This electrical system should have been updated years ago. Letting your electrical equipment get this old is like driving a car on bald tires. Your car will run fine until the tire pops. Most of the time you will get lucky and have no real problem just a flat. Occasionally you could find yourself stranded. On rare occasion this lack of maintenance end in a tragic accident.

This client was just left stranded. They did not plan on this unexpected expense when they lost their power. They were very inconvenience and has had no power for several day. I think that they were lucky. This problem could have cause a house fire. They could of ended up with no electricity and no house.
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Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Trouble shooting an AFCI outlet circuit

The power stopped work on this bedroom circuit. This is how I trouble shot the circuit.

The first step was to open up a wall box and take a look at the wiring. This outlet had a loose ground. This made me believe that the electrician who wired these outlet was only a helper and not highly skilled. Lose ground connections are too common and can cause problem with your electronics.

To find the circuit that has lost power I tied the neutral and ground wire together. This should never be left this way. This is only done as a test. Tying this neutral and the ground together will create a continuity in the circuit back at the panel. In a normal circuit the ground and neutral would not touch.

Back at the panel, I know that the circuit is one of two AFCI circuits because the loss of power occurred in a bedroom. Starting in 1999 Arc Fault Circuit Interrupter (AFCI) breaker have been required for all bedroom circuits. AFCI are designed to turn circuits off by detecting non-intended arcs. Arc faults in a home are one of the leading causes for household fires.
To test which circuit is connected to the outlets that are not working. All I needed to is see if there was continuity between the neutral and the ground. The circuit with continuity is the circuit that I put the ground and neutral together.

Now, that I know what circuit breaker is controlling the outlets that stopped working. I note everything in the house that is working. Then I turn off the circuit breaker that is controlling the bad circuit. With the circuit breaker off I then look to see if any of the outlets that were “on” turned “off “ when the breaker is off.
This time one did. Opening the outlet I found a bad connection in the back of the outlet. Power was getting too this outlet but not leaving it.

The stab-locks on the back of outlets fail too often for my liking. They are used in new construction because they are the fastest way to install outlet. They can also be installed by unskilled helpers. They are not the best way to install outlet. I do not let my technicians use the stab lock. We install outlet by using the screws on the side and making pig tail connections. These types of connections are much better. Connecting your outlets this way will improve the overall condition of you power.

The best way to wire an Outlet

This is the outlet with the pigtail connection. The wires are connected to the outlet on the screw terminals. The wires that go "IN" then "OUT" are connected at the pigtail. This outlet can be change without affecting the power anywhere else in the house.
If the first contractor wire the outlets this way they would have never failed
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