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[#] Sat Dec 17 2005 08:41:43 EST from fleeb @ Uncensored

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Well, I don't have a multimeter, and I don't really know that much about electrical wiring.

I can do some of my own work on that sort of thing, but I'm not particularly good at it.  When it comes to a fault, I'd rather get someone more knowledgeable to handle it for me, just in case.  It probably doesn't help that I know much of what goes on in these condominiums, and have grown gunshy.



[#] Sat Dec 17 2005 15:54:37 EST from harry @ Uncensored

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Well, knowing your own limitations and being realistic about them is wise, especially with dangerous stuff like 120VAC electricity.

[#] Sat Dec 17 2005 20:17:21 EST from fleeb @ Uncensored

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That's pretty much how I feel.

I can replace outlets and switches and such, because generally speaking, those are fairly easy.  But finding where a fault has occured doesn't strike me as easy.  I don't have the equipment for it, and people more qualified than I can get to it much faster than I can.  Probably more safely, too.



[#] Sun Dec 18 2005 00:09:56 EST from harry @ Uncensored

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Well, in my experience, if it's outside of the breaker box, I can handle it. I do NOT go behind the panel on a breaker box. So if there's already a breaker in the panel for a circuit, I can take it from there.

As for the testing equiptment, I've found that a simple multimeter is usually sufficient. Radio Shack has some decent ones for cheap.

[#] Sun Dec 18 2005 14:37:22 EST from Monochrome @ Uncensored

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Harry, seriously, what the fear behind the breaker box? If anything it's the easiest part of the deal since most boxes have breakers that simply snap in. Just have to make sure your metal screwdriver doesn't slip since there are some rahter hot bars in there. <G>

[#] Sun Dec 18 2005 16:21:41 EST from IGnatius T Foobar @ Uncensored

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True. As long as the breaker you are installing is in the OFF position, and you observe basic safety common sense, adding/removing circuits is something you can do without an electrician.

The problem in my house is that the panel is full. Some moron installed a 16 position panel, and there's no space left in it. It doesn't even accept the tandem breakers. So I can't add anything else. I even had to give up the dedicated circuit for my computers this past year, because I needed a dedicated breaker for my air conditioner.

Changing the panel would involve working with the main -- HOT. And that's something I'm not comfortable with. The correct thing to do would be to call the power company and have them pull the meter (doing so cuts both legs of the main). Only problem with that ... once you've made that call, they're going to insist on an inspection, and the inspector will want to know who was the licensed electrician who did the work, which kind of makes the whole do-it-yourself thing impossible. Blah.

[#] Sun Dec 18 2005 18:12:45 EST from harry @ Uncensored

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What IG said is EXACTLY why *I* do NOT go behind the breaker panel.

I am NOT licensed to do so.

And it is NOT as safe as other repairs.

[#] Sun Dec 18 2005 21:22:36 EST from Monochrome @ Uncensored

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IG, you could add a second box. Pull a few breakers from the primary and gang a 50-amp break over to a second box. Problem solved.

[#] Sun Dec 18 2005 22:58:29 EST from IGnatius T Foobar @ Uncensored

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At some point I may end up doing just that. My long-term plans include an addition to the house, so we'll need more branch circuits at that point. Of course, the chances of finding a GC that'll let me do my own electrical work and then just have their electrician do the inspection are probably slim.

[#] Mon Dec 19 2005 02:11:56 EST from 2Dog @ Uncensored

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There's a kinda, sorta, not quite the same, situation here. The utililty +/ service poles coming from the street onto this lot are fairly new judging by the looks of them.
Halfway up the lot is a service pole with a feed running directly to the side of the house
where the meter and all the boxes are located. Further on they (the util co.) installed
a second service pole next to the garage. (I'm sure that was some sort of gratis) It has a live
feed that is simply taped off up there (ahem, *thar* for fellow Texans) at the top.

My guess is that the previous owner declined the outrageous "extra-meter-installation-fees"
that they have around here and decided to wire the garage from a box on the side of the house
because, well, that's how it currently (no pun intended) is. And he, or whomever, did a VERY
good job.



16? And it's full? Wow.

My fuse box has exactly six (6) circuit breakers in it; ground floor ring,
ground floor lighting, first floor ring, first floor lighting, kitchen ring
(which used to be the dedicated cooker feed), and attic (which used to be the
dedicated immersion heater feed).

The ring circuits are 30A, the lighting circuits are 15A. The rings pass
through each of the sockets in their area and then back to the fuse box, in
order to equalise the current loading. The lighting circuits are simple
branching trees.

If I want to add another socket to a ring, all I need to do is to cut the
wire, and insert a socket, making sure to wire it up in both directions. I'm
also allowed to tee off the ring, but this must lead to either (a) exactly
one socket (but may be a double socket), or (b) a fused switch --- in which
case I can do what I like downstream of the switch because the rest of the
ring is protected from overload.

The main advantage of a ring is that they're much simpler to wire and don't
produce nasty uneven loading on your wiring. The main disadvantage is that
you can't put more than 30A on a single ring, but with 230V there's so much
energy that very few devices ever use the full 13A they're allowed to draw
from the socket, so this is very rarely an issue.

You lot use star and hub topology, don't you, where each breaker feeds a
single wire that leads to, ideally, one socket? Would you be allowed to rig
up a ring to make more efficient use of the fuse box space?

[#] Mon Dec 19 2005 07:07:08 EST from dothebart @ Uncensored

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working in the breaker box should one make some preconditions for himself:

* either if its powered or not, work inside that box as if you were eating with chinese food sticks! don't touch any metal! 

* work should be absolutely tidy. Just use 90 degree angles to bend the lines (i've seen professional work that was uhm, HORRIBLE!)

* you should just use plastic armed tools that are certified for a reasonable voltage

* you should disarm all fuses if possible.

* you should cut the wires about a third longer than the length you would think you need. If it's all tidy into the box, cut it in a matching length let's say plus 5 cm

* you should tie up the cables by group: L, N, PE 

* PE should be that long, that if you just take the main line and pour it out the box it is disconnected last

* if anyone uncovers the breaker box, he should see something similar in tidyness of the lines around your cpu on the motherboard.

 

If you do that, and want to be safe that in case of fire or something else Insurance doesn't deny you fee because of uncertified work, try to find a certified person to do the final look. If your work is described as above, and you don't hopelessly overload the above breakers in structure, he will  give you the ok.



[#] Mon Dec 19 2005 07:58:05 EST from "Hjalfi" <hjalfi@uncensored> to "dothebart" <dothebart@uncensored.citadel.org>

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Damn right. I'll add one annotation and two extra piece of advice:

The annotation is with regard to tools, correctly rated ones have plastic arms
on the handles to stop your hands slipping down onto the metal parts. They're
very distinctive.

The first piece of advice is:

BE AFRAID.

Paranoia is your friend. Mains electricity is nasty stuff, even your
watered-down version. If you're working in a small space full of live bits of
wire, sudden muscle spasms are really bad. Check and double check everything.
Don't assume that any wire is safe until you've tested it. Test your test
equipment. I recently discovered that my multimeter, which I had been using
to test whether sockets were live, was faulty --- its 230V range always read
0. This meant that it was testing live wires as being safe. Paranoia was what
saved me.

(Electrician's screwdrivers are handy --- you touch the working end to a live
bit of metal, stick your thumb on a contact plate on the safe end, and a neon
bulb inside will light up. They're a little nerve-wracking to use, but
they're reliable, fail safe, and are just the right size for doing up and
undoing electrical contacts. Plus, they're dead cheap:

http://www.screwfix.com/app/sfd/cat/pro.jsp?id=82680&ts=96858

*Don't* get the ones with LEDs in them. They do something else entirely.)

The second piece of advice is to get some insulating gloves.

http://www.corvib-int.com/catalog/index.php?cPath=29_21

Class 0 or 00 (low voltage, i.e. mains) is what you want. These will protect
you from any accidental shock. Even so, they're not mechanically tough, and
you need to treat the wires with respect --- a stray strand from a live 30A
twisted cable will easily puncture them and ruin your whole day. (Even 120V
will cause muscle spasms that may cause additional shocks, shorts, etc.)

[#] Mon Dec 19 2005 10:06:41 EST from IGnatius T Foobar @ Uncensored

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hjalfi: I've never seen a ring topology in the US, so I"m guessing that it's a violation of code here. We typically have branch circuits of either 15 or 20 amps (at 120 volts) which are wired any way the installer wants to, but they *never* run back to the breaker panel. There are rules about wire sizes, though: a 15 amp circuit must be run on no less than 15 gauge wire, and a 20 amp circuit must be run on no less than 12 gauge wire.

Exceptions exist, of course, in buildings whose wiring pre-dates the newer code. For example, Ford's house has a 30 amp breaker labelled "MAIN LIGHTING CIRCUIT" which presumably runs to all of the lights on the main level of the house.

My house is old too but the wiring is a bit newer than that. Most of the lights and outlets in the original section of the house are on the same three or four circuits. Someone came along later and ran dedicated circuits for all of the major appliances.

Newer homes are better in this area. The builders know that technology dominates our modern lives, so they put in large panels (40 or more breaker positions) and ideally, run no more than one or two lights or outlets per breaker. Conservatively, they'll go with one per room.

Oh, and since our electricity isn't actually 120 volts, but rather "single phase split 240" with the neutral being a tap in the middle (I still think this should be called "two phase" but it isn't), when we want to run a 240 volt circuit, it requires a double-pole breaker which spans two positions in the panel.

[#] Mon Dec 19 2005 11:30:04 EST from Ford II @ Uncensored

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this is why i prefer to work on cars.
and ask ig to work on my house wiring.
I turned off that 'main lighting' breaker exactly once. when I first moved in.
I didn't have much plgged in around the house but I think everything went off. Like the entire house. But I don't quite remember.
I know the basement l,ight went off, and that the basement is also on another breaker.
I haven't had a need to turn off all hour wiring so I dunno, and expect and hope I never will....

[#] Mon Dec 19 2005 12:11:11 EST from IGnatius T Foobar @ Uncensored

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Any significant electric project in your house would probably require a major overhaul of the wiring, starting with a complete replacement of the breaker panel, followed by a divestiture of that "main lighting circuit." At that point you'd probably also replace some of the older wiring too.

As I mentioned earlier, replacing the panel is something you *can* do if you have some way of shutting off the power to the panel. If there's a main switch upstream from the panel, then you're good to go; otherwise you've got to pull the meter.

[#] Mon Dec 19 2005 15:26:19 EST from dothebart @ Uncensored

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hehe...  such mainlightswitches just exist as burnable fuses, they are bariers to sub breaker boxes...

i think most of the american wiring is at least horrible... and seing that, i get to value the vde and stuff...

http://www.vde.com/vde/

and the germans as the top regulators did a real great job in creating a cool architecture...

;-) 



[#] Mon Dec 19 2005 17:31:41 EST from curly surmudgeon @ Dog Pound BBS II

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Got the brick pump house built last Saturday, well pump installed and working today. Tomorrow we clean the well and water tower then chlorinate.

On Wednesday I'll have running water!

Today I had two propane tanks (full) delivered and installed, now have a working stove and, theoretically, water heater.

Gee, electricity, gas, and now water. Pretty soon I'll have to shave...

[#] Mon Dec 19 2005 21:43:20 EST from harry @ Uncensored

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Congrats, Curly.

As for the stuff behind the breaker panel, I just DO NOT go there. My personal choice. I just prefer to give that over to a certified/licensed electrician.

But if there's an existing breaker for a circuit, then I just flip off the breaker and go for it, while remaining cautiously paranoid and testing before touching. :-)

[#] Tue Dec 20 2005 14:16:47 EST from Ford II @ Uncensored

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Woke up this morning to the sound of loud screeching of something mechanical.
I figured it was just another cpu fan.
Fllowing the noise to the basement it turns out to be the brand spanking new hot water pump.
argh.
So I call the company that installed it and they're like "what do you want US to do?"
"Fix it? Or do you want to wait until it completely seizes up and overheat and start a fire?"
"How are we supposed to come up there if you cancelled your account?"
"With a truck? You guys installed it didn't you? Don'tyou warantee your work?"
"It's covered under the service contract, you cancelled your service contract with us, call your new oil company."

Okay, so I was in thw wrong on this one, but silly me for thinking that the people who installed the equipment might somehow be liable for its warantee repair.
What I'm really waiting for is this:
When I got the water heater put in, none of it was covered by my service contract. So I don't see how repairing the water pump would be now.
I expect they're going to tell me it's not part of the boiler and I have to call the installer.
I'm feeling slightly better today so I can make some reasonable phone calls, but still in enough pain that I'm going to give anybody who slightly disagrees with me a hard time.

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