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March 2009
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Remodeling Don’ts – Electricity

I have done a lot of remodeling over the years. I have done some crazy things like the 6 ceiling repair, the turkey feather floor,  the garbage disposal toilet adventure,(tales for another day) and some other remodeling disasters. I have seen some things that defy belief as well as gravity and or common sense.

My brother sent me a series of photos that are making the rounds, showing some really bad and some cases dangerous remodeling. I have no idea where they came from, but will be happy to credit the photographers.

Make no mistake, I have a healthy respect for electricity. If I can't find the breaker for a circuit, I will pull the main. Healthy. Probably dating back to the time I was doing a gut job and trying to remove a stand up air conditioner that had only three wires holding it in place, so I took my pliers and snipped the wires,(220V) resulting in me being blown across the floor and ruining a expensive new set of pliers. In reality the closest I like to get to electricity is the molded rubber plug that goes into the outlet.

Here are some images of really bad and dangerous electric work.
This is a main panel somebody thought would be a good place to store tools and stuff.Electricnightmare3-1
TIP: Electric Panels are for Electric things only. Period. Full Stop!

Electric junction boxes come in many sizes and styles, depending on application. There is an electrical code that lays out the maximum number of wires/conductors in a box. There are 2 main reasons.
1. Heat. Copper wire gets hot when electricity runs through it. Boxes are sized, by cubic inches, which is either marked on the box or on the label at the store. The number of wires allowed insures that there is air flow in the box, to avoid an electrical fire. Electric fires are terrifying because they will burn for a long time before you notice smoke or it breaks through your walls.
2. Space. This is related to heat above, but is far more practical in being able to physically close up the box after you have made your connections.

Here is an electric box with way too many connectors. How the hell do you find anything in this mess? Junction3-1

Here is where somebody ganged together a bunch of boxes to make a turn. Junction2-1

According to the email, the pipe next to this connection is carrying fuel oil for the heater. Electricnightmare5-1

Speaking of Plugs here is an interesting switch concept.

Maybe it was for this bath fan?

Electricity is deceptively simple on the residential front. Some boxes, some romex, devices and covers. It is not rocket science, but does require some serious thought to do right.

5 comments to Remodeling Don’ts – Electricity

  • No wonder the cause of many house fires is due to electrical wiring.

  • Mu hubby hates electrical too but these are hilarious. I had those lights in my bath until a few weeks ago when he replaced them.

  • irishgirl

    These are from the This Old House – Home Inspection Nightmares web pages. Photo credits are listed there. Check it out.

  • we have a 5 year old General Electic air conditioner at home, GE makes some of the finest air conditioners out ther.-~.

  • Mark

    I’m in the process of buying a house. The home inspection revealed a few no-no’s. First, someone wired a ceiling fan with an extension cord plugged into an outlet in the garage. Second, someone (without a permit, of course) installed a hot tub on a deck not designed to hold a hot tub, and then proceeded to wire a 220v circuit to it from the panel on the opposite side of the house. Of course, knowing code, any circuits above 20A have to be wired with individual conductors and run in conduit. I guess they figured just draping them across the cellulite insulation in the attic was good enough. Guess what I’m taking out ASAP after closing. Thankfully, they at least had the good sense to have the breaker off.

    I’ve seen more houses with stupid wiring than houses wired correctly. I walked away from a house where the basement was obviously finished by someone without a clue how to run wires. Who knows what else was behind the walls.