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Electrical Tip of the Day: Careful getting advice from home store Joe!

So recently I was at a local big box home store in the electrical section and overheard a conversation between a homeowner and the guy working the electrical isle.  It went something like this >>>

Homeowner “I am trying to sell my house and was told by the home inspector that it need to have GFCI’s installed”

Big Box Guy “yup – every outlet within 3′ of water – that is a city code now you know”

Homeowner “oh… OK – can you show me how these things wire up”

Big Box Guy “no problem – just put two of the wires here (points) and two of the wires here (points again)”

Homeowner “does it matter which wires go where on this thing?”

Big Box Guy “not really sure, but I think it can wire either way”

Homeowner “thanks, you have been a big help”

So – there are a couple of points I want to make with this weeks tip.

The first one is – don’t automatically trust the advice you get from the home store Joe’s of the world.  In the case above not only was the employee wrong about the code (it’s 6′ and is actually a NEC code) he also instructed the homeowner to wire the device incorrectly (I was standing right there).  This happens all the time  – we get homeowners that get stuck in a pinch, call us to help, then tell us “but the guy at the home store said this was going to be OK”

A second point is – it takes a long time to get a proper education in the trades.  A good combination of an apprenticeship program,  in the field work, and continuing education is a must.  If you do intend to take advise from the home store folks – ask them about their credentials and the source of their knowledge before excepting it as fact.

Here is another example.  I took this picture a few days ago at a local home store.

photo (19)

It is of a big poster display advertising the manufactures product, snap-and-fit ENT (electrical non-metallic tubing).  IMO this stuff is already a pretty low end solution for most applications, and frankly most electrical contractors won’t use it.  The picture shows a junction box with 4 conduits in it – all wired up pretty and ready for the devices to be put in after drywall.  The display is meant to be a an example of how to use the product and it’s install applications. 

HERE IS THE KICKER – the install as pictured has several pretty obvious NEC code violations.  The conduits are not strapped correctly and the box pictured is too small to be used for the application shown.  A box of that size – per 2008 NEC table 314-16(A) – is only permitted to have 9 wires in it – yet the one pictured clearly has 12 or more (I lost count) – and we have not even accounted for the extra room that is required by the NEC for the devices to be installed.  I can only imagine that this same display is up in every one of this chains stores – and yet, no one in the electrical department of any of these stores has noticed that it depicts several code violations?  Way to go home store Joes!

In the end it is your responsibility to make good decisions about your projects and their level of safety and quality – if you have doubts or concerns about electrical installs please feel free to contact me – always happy to help in any way I can.

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