Posts Tagged ‘Monticello Indiana Electricians’

Electrical Tip of the Day – don’t use the “stab in the back” connections!

February 24th, 2011 No comments

Ask any well trained journeyman electrician who has done service work about “stab in the back” outlets and switches and you will be in for an ear full.  We jokingly call them back stabbers or service call generators, because that is exactly what they do. We get a least a call a week one these from someone, usually in one of the newer track homes built in the last 20 years, that has lights flickering or an outlet that seems to have quit working.  On the more dangerous end of the spectrum we get those frantic calls about how an outlet or switch just seemed to MELT in the wall.

Let me introduce you to  “stab in the back” switches and outlets – one of the most dangerous installs methods we find used in the electrical trades:

stab in the back switch

These devices rely on small metal pinchers recessed in holes in the back of the plastic case to hold the wire contentions in place.  They are very poor quality connections and make even worse junctions for feed thru wiring methods (daisy chaining from outlet to outlet to outlet).  Most reliable companies will not even allow the use of this method and require their employees to use the proven method of pig tail wiring:  Wire nuts for pig tailing multiple wires together, and the biding screws on the devices for the final mechanical connection of conductors to the devices.

Here is a picture of properly secured wire on an outlet by use of the binding screws to get an idea of what the difference looks like:

side wired outlet

Next time you have a screw driver handy go take a cover plate off any device location in your home, might need a flash light to look in the box, but you will be able see  right away of the installer used the binding screws or not.  If they did not consider giving us a call to talk about some options on replacement or re-termination of the existing devices.

Remember – don’t get stabbed in the back!

When terminations go bad…

December 15th, 2010 No comments

Found this mess in a lighting control panel last week. These type of crimp on terminal connectors don’t work on solid wire.

12 unit meter bank change out

December 15th, 2010 No comments

We just completed this project last week. Retro fit of a new 800 amp service on a 12 unit building. The old service was not installed correctly and failed due to water and rust.

Artisan Electric launches MonticelloElectric.Com

December 14th, 2010 No comments

2010 has been a banner year for us marked by some signification changes in how we do business and interact with our clients.  Despite the soft economy and all the doom and gloom coming out of Washington we have had a considerable amount of growth this year.

Looking forward into 2011 we are pleased to roll out the next phase of our targeted web development plan – MonticelloElectric.Com. This web site will be a mini version of our standard site with a focus on the unique skills we can bring to the Monticello market.


Here are just a few of the things we can do for our Monticello Clients:

  • Historic re-wires
  • Service upgrades
  • Boat Dock electrical systems
  • Boat lift motor service
  • Pump motor service
  • Home theater and audio distribution
  • Computer networks
  • TV Cable / HD antenna systems
  • Deck and Landscape lighting
  • Custom kitchen and bathroom projects
  • Those “unique” and “difficult” projects
  • Commercial business service and fit-outs

Artisan Electric – “doing the right things, the right way, period”

Electrical Tip of the Day – Fall outdoor light fixture maintenance

October 13th, 2010 No comments

Its that time of year again and (gasp) bad weather will be upon us soon.  This weeks tip is a simple one… it will save you a bundle to deal with outdoor light fixture repairs before the snow flies and things freeze… in some case, like in ground landscape lighting, if a problem occurs after it has hard frozen for the winter we have little choice but to put the repair work off until spring thaw

In other areas, like commercial parking lot lights, wall packs, those pesky motion detector sensor lights – getting fresh lamps in and checking out the systems before winter is money well spent.  Things break when it gets cold, and planning for bucket truck / large ladder use during those bad winter months will always cost more then doing the same work during favorable weather.

And of course – PLANNED maintenance is always more cost effective then emergency or unplanned repair work!

Knob-and-tube wiring, what you should know

October 20th, 2009 No comments

Electrical Tip of the Day: Knob and tube electrical wiring was installed in homes from the 1920’s to the mid 1960’s – later in some rural locations.  As indicated by the name the instillation method used a combination of porcelain “knobs” and “tubes” as insulators to install the wire.  Here are the basic characteristics of a knob and tube wiring system:

  • No ground: Only a hot and neutral wire are used… the circuit does not have a ground conductor
  • Wire insulation: Electrical wires are wrapped in a rubberized cloth or ascroll fiber insulation.  In some cases a second rubber / fiber insulator was also slid over the primary conductors.
  • Connections or splices were made outside of electrical junction boxes, typically by twisting the wire at a “tap” point, soldering the connection, and insulating it with tape.
  • Hot and Neutral conductors separated on framing member:  Hot and neutral conductors were not in a common cable like modern romex wire.  They were separated onto opposite sides of framing members.


What you should know.  Currently the NEC code and most local jurisdictions do not specifically say that knob and tube wiring is illegal, however they do have some very specific requirements if it is to be left installed and in use (NEC 2008 – article 394). Here are the basic guide lines that must be followed:

  • Over current protection to be on hot conductors only
  • Over current protection not to exceed 15 amps
  • No open splices – original splices may remain if soldered and insulated with tape
  • New extension wire connections to be made in junction boxes
  • Knob and tube wiring to be supported only by non-conductive stand off supports – it may not be secured in contact with combustible materials
  • Knob and tube wiring is only rated to be used in free air, un-insulated spaces.  It is not permitted to have knob and tube wiring covered or concealed by insulation of any kind


So what makes knob and tube such a major safety concern today?   What it really comes down to is that it does not have a ground, the age of the conductor insulation, changes to the building or original installation (such as the way it has been spliced), and the addition of building insulation over or around the knob and tube.  Here are the key concerns:

  • No electrical ground: The circuit is only comprised of a “hot” and a “neutral” conductor – making it less safe than a modern grounded electrical circuit.  Devices that use a grounded plug (three prong) should not be connected on an un-grounded circuit, specifically appliance loads.
  • Damage : In most cases knob and tube is past the “safe” useable life span. Heat damage, cracked and rotten insulation, exposure to leaks, cracked or missing insulators, chewing rodents, or damage from being steeped on all add up over time.  We don’t find much knob and tube that is in safe useable condition.
  • New work and open splices: We often find improper “new” extensions added to original knob and tube circuits.  Electrical splices are to be made in an approved junction box per NEC code.  The very basic reason for this is to contain a fire if the junction fails.
  • Building insulation: The fire safety of knob and tube wiring relied on the fact that the wires were typically separated on framing members, suspended in free air between knobs, and passed thru combustible materials in ceramic tubes. Where original conductors were installed in walls or in attic floors, and where then later covered in building insulation, the knob and tube wires then no longer meet code.  They can become hotter than intended, and may be a fire hazard due to the proximity to combustible materials.
  • Switched Neutral: It was the excepted install practice at the time to switch the neutral conductor on a knob and tube circuit.  It poses a increased risk for homeowners to have switched neutrals.  A switch can be in the off position and still have full voltage at the load (like a light fixture). Switched neutrals on a circuit can also cause voltage irregularities that can effect today’s sensitive modern electronics.
  • Homeowners insurance: Most homeowner’s insurance policies have specific language regarding knob and tube wiring.  Is some cases they call for its removal in order for the policy to be valid.  In other cases there may be increased rates and/ or changes in coverage.  If your home has knob and tube wiring you will want to specifically ask your insurance agent how this affects your coverage.

So, that was a lot to digest.  If you have questions or concerns about knob and tube I would be happy to answer them for you.  Contact me here or thru the Artisan web page.