Shady electrical work?

Discussion in 'Electrical Forum discussion & Blog' started by 1320ms, Mar 23, 2010.

  1. 1320ms

    1320ms New Member

    Messages:
    12
    Location:
    Maryland
    deleted old thread
    Last edited: Jul 11, 2012
  2. nukeman

    nukeman Nuclear Engineer

    Messages:
    711
    Location:
    VA
    The main thing that I see is that you cannot hide junction boxes behind drywall. The box in the ceiling and the ones on the wall would need a blank cover outside of the drywall so that the cover could be removed to inspect/test these splices in the future.

    Where wires or pipes run though the top/bottom plate of the framing, the rest of the hole should be sealed with a fireblocking foam/caulk (normally orange in color).

    The cables should be secured within 8"-12" of the boxes (limit depends on if the box has an internal clamp or not).

    I also see that it looks like he mixed 12/2 and 14/2. I understand that you are not supposed to do this (especially if on a 20A breaker), but I am not a pro.

    Did he pull a permit? Will this be inspected?

    I'm sure the pros will stop in and iron out what additional issues there may be.
  3. 1320ms

    1320ms New Member

    Messages:
    12
    Location:
    Maryland
    there is no 12/2 14/2 mixing going on, the 12/2 splice is all 12/2 wire.

    Not sure whats going on with the junctions, or if he plans on leaving it that way.. what is the correct way of doing that? He will be back tomorrow, want to make sure its all done right
  4. nukeman

    nukeman Nuclear Engineer

    Messages:
    711
    Location:
    VA
    So the white Romex is 12/2?

    For the junctions, you would put them in a box, cut a hole in the drywall, install a cover plate. That wouldn't look pretty, but would meet code. Another option would be to put the box behind the drywall and install an access panel (also not pretty). Best option is to wire it so that there are no splices like that. Keep splices inside outlet/switch boxes so you don't have this problem.

    I did read online (maybe on here) about a lady who almost had her house burn down due to a problem in a junction box. The box was hidden behind drywall, so the electrician had to guess where the box might be, cut a hole, and inspect. If it wasn't there, he had to repeat the process until he found it. He tore up much of the kitchen and of course cost more $$$ in labor/materials since he had to search for it.

    Anyway, that is just what my non-professional eye sees.
  5. Jim Port

    Jim Port Electrical Contractor

    Messages:
    156
    Location:
    Maryland
    Except for the yellow cable not being stapled properly I don't see any issues as long as the splices remain permanently accessible.
  6. 1320ms

    1320ms New Member

    Messages:
    12
    Location:
    Maryland
    nukeman - the white wire connecting to the yellow is 12/2, the 14/2 is also white


    Jim Port - Thats the issue, the splices would not remain accessible, I told him I wanted to avoid having a bunch of blank plates on the ceiling... I was planning on drywalling over all of this and it looks like he planned on me doing that too as the boxes are set back away from the edge of the joist.

    Hmm, looks like this is gonna be a problem
  7. drick

    drick In the Trades

    Messages:
    392
    You cannot bury a junction box so that it becomes inaccessible. The wiring is also improperly secured. This is basic stuff every licensed electrician knows. Are you sure this guy is licensed?

    -rick
  8. Jim Port

    Jim Port Electrical Contractor

    Messages:
    156
    Location:
    Maryland
    Now that you say the splices will be buried you definitely have issues. The splices need to be removed and cables rerun.

    I am now questioning the knowledge or lack thereof. Anyone taking money for this should know better.

    Where are you in MD?
  9. 1320ms

    1320ms New Member

    Messages:
    12
    Location:
    Maryland
    Jim - up in Frederick County

    Had a talk with the guy today, he's not touching anything else on this house
  10. Karl Ess

    Karl Ess New Member

    Messages:
    2
    Location:
    Kingston,NY
    Hey guys & gals. I may be the newbie on this blog, but although retired now I did have my first electrical job inspected in 1957. I suggest that someone
    buy the electrician (whose work was photographed above) a copy of NFPA 70 and send him for a refresher in English.
    Violations that I observe = [1] boxes without covers & possibly inadequate conductor length in the 1 gang boxes. Definitely inadequate length in the
    4" square (the wire length beneath the unstripped cable jacket does not count. [2] the inline splice (near the 3 or 4" DWV pipe) is a definite no-no
    as ALL interior connections must be made in covered boxes. I am surprised that he didn't staple the cables over the top of the bent over nails. Maybe
    he didn't have a pair of sidecutters with which to pull out the unused nails. [3] In final foto he has an unsecured cable that dangles too close to joist
    face, which guarantees that whoever installs the ceiling board will drive a nail or screw through the cable jacket. Boy, that'll secure that loose cable.
    Of course, if he's a volunteer firefighter, he'll have a later opportunity to explain his work to the Cause & Origin (aka arson) investigators.
    Sadly, knowing the difference between a black & a white wire does not make him a electrician. Yesterday I couldn't spell "Electrician". Today I are one.
    Bye now, yuall.
  11. 1320ms

    1320ms New Member

    Messages:
    12
    Location:
    Maryland
    It's all been fixed, friend of mine (who happens to be an electrician) made some time to come over and clean the mess up. The wires in the square box were 1) wire from light switch 2) wire to lights 3) wire running to wall opposite the switch for power. Ran a new wire from the power source to one of the recessed lights, ran a new wire from the switch into the same light, and eliminated the square box all together.

    The two open splices were put into single gang boxes, there will be cabinets in front of them, so we'll just cut a hole out of the back of the cabinet and put a blank plate on. The two single gang boxes where the 12 ga wires were have been removed, ran a new 12ga wire from the washer outlet in the basement to one of the new single gang boxes, and spliced it to the existing 12ga wire in there.

    All loose wires were secured, and all wires stapled within 6-8" of the boxes

    Thanks for the help guys
  12. sbrn33

    sbrn33 Electrical Contractor

    Messages:
    31
    Location:
    Fremont, NE
    if the guy that did the wiring in the pics was really an electrician you should report him to the inspectors in the area. That is some of the worst wiring i have ever seen from an actual electrician. DIY I would understand but a pro, no way.
  13. herrry.james

    herrry.james Guest

    If he doesn't give back the door, I would classify that as theft on the part of the cabinet guy. His getting payment from the contractor is between the two of them, not your problem. As long as you pay the contractor according to the terms of the contract (you DID have a contract, right?) then you are in the right. Also, take pictures and document the fact that the original contractor did not finish the job, in case he comes after you later for the final payment.
  14. junction_expert

    junction_expert New Member

    Messages:
    6
    Location:
    Washington, DC
    Buried junctions (or anything close) should be soldered.

    For safety, keep all junctions in grounded metal boxes and use
    undamaged solid wire of the correct wire guage and use cable clamps
    that fit.

    There are many situations where wiring may be difficult to
    access. Most notably, it is difficult to access the wiring inside the
    junction boxes normally included several inches behind the can of a
    recessed lighting fixture (which itself is behind one or more pieces
    of trim mounted on drywall). As another example, wire splice kits
    labeled "for use behind drywall" are available at Home Depot. Outlets
    in hospitals may be inaccessible due to connected life-saving
    equipment. Traffic sensors are sealed underneath the pavement. In all
    of these situations, splices should be soldered.

    All of these situations can be handled legally and safely. Legally,
    NEC accessibility rules concern structural obstructions. Where the law
    is vague, many jurisdictions explicitly waive NEC accessibility rules
    for light coverings such as drywall, asphalt, etc. As for safety, an
    inaccessible box is generally safer than an accessible one. Especially
    if small children are around. A metal box is more puncture-resistant
    than the cable it replaces, and fire does not care if your box is
    accessible to a human or not. Safety is a non-issue, but legal
    questions sometimes arise. Ask your lawyer to be sure.

    Unfortunately, most electricians only know how to splice wires by
    twisting and nutting. Such junctions operate only through exposed wire
    surface (while solder forms metallurgical bonds). All exposed wire
    surface eventually corrodes. The corrosion is accelerated by sulfur
    gases from drywall which gets through openings in the tape. Some
    quick-connects used in recessed lighting fixtures are better than
    twist-and-nut because they maintain extreme pressure against the
    wires, which cuts through the corrosion. But beyond that, most
    electricians just twist-and-nut.

    Even worse, many electricians will use a very narrow definition of
    "buried box" which excludes anything that you might be willing to pay
    for (like recessed lights, so that they can steal your business
    without soldering), but includes anything that would save you lots of
    money (like repairing a small segment of a long buried cable). Report
    unscrupulous contractors to all applicable agencies.

    When I hire electricians, I first ask if they do high-reliability work
    for hospitals. If they say yes but they don't solder, then I just call
    their bluff (the county licensing department usually gets very
    interested).

    - junction_expert
    25 years electrical AND electronics experience
  15. sbrn33

    sbrn33 Electrical Contractor

    Messages:
    31
    Location:
    Fremont, NE
    I have yet to see any N.E.C. code that would allow you to bury those J boxes in drywall. I am going to call your bluff and ask for the code reference on this one. I could be wrong, have been before but there is a big difference between under asphalt or earth and under drywall in a home.
    I would not be able to work for you.
  16. junction_expert

    junction_expert New Member

    Messages:
    6
    Location:
    Washington, DC
    buried box NEC code section

    > I have yet to see any N.E.C. code that would allow you to bury those J boxes in drywall.
    > I am going to call your bluff and ask for the code reference on this one.

    Take a good look at the junction box in a recessed lighting fixture available at Home Depot. It is NEC compliant. It is behind drywall and difficult to access. No opening in the drywall directly in front of it. Therefore it is a buried box. Therefore I require reliable connections.

    If you don't want to call that a buried box, then I won't be calling you either.


    > I would not be able to work for you.

    Nor would you be able to work for a hospital, or any place that requires reliable junctions. Not my problem.
  17. drick

    drick In the Trades

    Messages:
    392
    We're still waiting for that code reference sbrn33 requested....

    A recessed light jbox is NOT a buried box. It is not difficult for an electrician to access a jbox on a recessed light without damaging anything - sheet rock, the fixture, etc. It takes maybe two minutes to remove the bulb, the trim , and three screws. It is more difficult to access the wiring in a four gang switch box.

    Also the jbox on a recessed light cannot be accessed from an opening directly in front of it as the boxes are only accessible from the sides. And conveniently there is an opening in the sheet rock to the side of it.

    -rick
    Last edited: Apr 9, 2010
  18. jadnashua

    jadnashua Retired Defense Industry Engineer xxx

    Messages:
    22,015
    Location:
    New England
    A lighting fixture can be removed, reveiling the junction box and making it accessable. Burrying one in a closed space means nobody would know about or expect one to be there. Your argument is invalid.
  19. junction_expert

    junction_expert New Member

    Messages:
    6
    Location:
    Washington, DC
    Call it want you want, it's still a buried box

    Just because you can access it by removing several components
    before getting to the box cover doesn't mean it's not a buried box.
    You just don't want it to be called a buried box because you don't
    want to admit that it needs to be more reliable than a normal
    junction box.

    On the one hand the electrician assures us that his splices are the
    most reliable available, and on the other he ignores a significant
    body of scientific evidence pointing to a high failure rate for
    twisted wire junctions. Then, when the drywall exhibits normal
    outgassing that makes his junctions fail, he blames the drywall, not
    the junctions.

    Solder all cables that must be perfectly reliable. By "perfectly
    reliable" I mean any situation where the junctions are expected to
    perform nearly as reliably as the cables themselves. If you know how
    to solder correctly, you will not be disappointed with the reliability
    or performance.

    In any situation that involves considerations of reliability, cost,
    performance, etc., hire an engineer, not an electrician. To be fair,
    there are a few electricians with engineering skills, but not many
    large firms.
  20. drick

    drick In the Trades

    Messages:
    392
    We're still waiting for that code reference sbrn33 requested....

    >>You just don't want it to be called a buried box because you don't want to admit that it needs to be more reliable than a normal junction box.
    No, I don't call it a buried box because in the electrical trade a buried box has a specific meaning. Generally it implies that a box is not accessible without damaging other building materials to gain access to it.

    >> In any situation that involves considerations of reliability, cost, performance, etc., hire an engineer, not an electrician.
    This is a DIY forum. We have trouble getting people to hire an electrician.

    >>To be fair, there are a few electricians with engineering skills.
    And there are few engineers with the skills of an electrician.

    Good Luck!
    -rick
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