Friday, February 18, 2011

Electrical Ghosts?


I was recently called by another alarm installer, I help occasionally.
When he developed a large electrical Arc while drilling a ¾” hole in a wooden outside door frame in a house to insert a recessed door alarm switch into. Are you sure it was not a spark from your bit.
No he assured me it was definitely an electrical spark.
I drive down to the job site and he shows me that his drill bit is now burned and shortened by an inch. Which has all the signs of an electrical arc. We look no wires in basement or switches or receptacles near by but when I put my non contact electrical probe near the door frame it lights up indicating voltage.
Something strange was definitely going on here.
We carefully pull the inside trim off of the door and find that some handy man when renovating the kitchen area were this door was had run a wire directly behind the door frame to avoid having to fish behind a ceramic tile wall.
To make matters worse a locksmith while installing a surface dead bolt had also put a screw right thru the wire with out realizing it.
I advised the home owner to get an electrician to run the wiring properly.
Because this handy man avoided following codes he could have cost this family its life from a fire or any repairmen doing work on this particular door.

I then get a call 6 months later a friend is laying new carpet in his newly bought used house and when he went to nail down the tack strip into the Plywood floor he gets zapped.
After we lift up the plywood we again find a romex wire had been run under the floor boards in a chiseled out groove in the floor again a potential shock and fire hazard.
This time the wire was run thru the floor boards because they wanted a outlet in the middle of the floor for a coffee table light.

I had a similar call several years ago when a customer was steam cleaning
An old concrete building to get grease etc off the floors to paint them when
All of a sudden steam and sparks came flying out thru a crack in the floor.
Again we found that a BX cable had at one time came out of the floor and was cemented over and forgotten and power was never turned off.

Now short of having X-Ray vision all 3 circumstances should never had happened
If The national Electrical code had been followed. But we all know short cuts are taken.
And again upon these fires being investigated. The true cause would more than likely be overlooked as wire was run were you normally do not expect to find it.
Remember the old saying “always expect the unexpected” it could save your life.

I then went on to find a dangerous condition at a Food land Supermarket were
The Phone company installer had grounded the Phone system lightning protector on an outside Natural gas Pipe. Instead of a water Pipe.
Had there ever been a need for the unit to activate it could have destroyed the store.
And there have been many supermarket fires in W. Pa. over the years almost every time it comes back to improper faulty wiring .That was added after the store was initially wired by an Electrician.
Bars, restaurants ,Social halls and supermarkets etc is were I always find the most dangerous wiring
I was working in a school church complex which had an outside volley ball court
Which some one rigged the outside lights were on to open wires inside the building and then used 2 male plugs to make it work only problem unplug the wrong end of cord and you have 2 live prongs sticking out at you.
The pastors reasoning for this was to prevent some one from coming up with a normal extension cord and using the lights when they were not supposed to.
Guess he never heard of a reverse adapter .

Yes it is amazing what I come across every day I am on the job even in brand new built construction but this will always be because too many people are in to big a hurry to do it right and just don t care.

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