Saturday, April 10, 2021

Another example of why you can not trust a Digital volt meter and should have a Solenoid tester if you trouble shoot electrical circuits

 I never trust Digital Meters when it comes to working on live 120 and up AC  Alternating Current  Electrical Circuits .

I especially despise  Auto Ranging Digital Meters like Fluke 113

I like Digital Meters with Fixed scales like my Triplett  780B. so let me tell you why.

I recently had to call power company to a customer site after the B phase of their 120-/208 3 phase service was out .

I verified it with a digital meter and then double verified it with a Knopp Solenoid Tester meter.  This meter has a small coil which energizes and pulls up a marker flag or indicator this way you know you actually have Real electrical Power and not getting a Phantom Reading. can do both AC and DC  at 120  to 600 volts

Various Solenoid testers are available new and used from  Klein who made the famous Wiggy  , Ideal and others 

I have an older Knopp tester my dad gave me when he retired from the mill and bought a new Cat III  protected tester couple years ago .

at Stanton Electric Supply in Wilkinsburg Pa. 

Now I knew that phase was dead so power company trouble shooter shows up with his Fluke 113 meter goes up in bucket says No must be your problem  . so I had to put on PPE and open up the 1200 amp outside load center .

He starts testing and its then after checking a couple more times he was reading his meter wrong when he was getting strange readings on his 113 meter .


what he was reading on his meter was not 120 or 114 he was reading Point .120 point 114 which means the phase was dead.

when i put my knopp on and verified it he was pretty embarrased. 

So no harm no foul. 

He went back up and found where copper and alunimum wire on phase near transformer had gone bad and in 15 minute we had B phase working.

When he saw me pull out the solenoid tester he said your and old school electrician yes I am and my dad taught me the value of these solenoid tester too many times digital meters can throw you off.  

This is why you see old school electricians like myself carry the solenoid testers in industrial settings with 230 and 480 industrial services. So you do not get a false reading the cost around a Hundred dollars but solve troubleshooting issues because you know the power is there or not.



Why are colors being changed to white on UF Underground Feeder Non Metallic cables ?

 Ever since I started doing Electrical Work in 70s  UF Non Metallic Direct Burial and Sunlight Resistant  Cable  used for  swimming pools outside outlets and lighting where Protective Conduit is not required has always been gray .

It was always a way to tell UF from Common" Romex "  a trade mark  NMC  Non Metallic Cable 

as Romex was always white or black if aluminum which ended up banned  but in 90s a company called 

South Wire came out with a color coded romex wire jacket the industry started following and it instantly made it easy for inspectors and contractors alike to tell what type wire was in use .Especially when hard to get to it to read the jacket ID label

Gray UF 14 thru 10 Gauge

White 14# Gauge

Yellow 12# Gauge

Orange 10# Gauge  

So why now is UF coming out white 

It is just going to cause more confusion on job sites especially in residential now inspectors are going to have to make sure they read every label on every wire put in outdoor or in-ground install and unscrupulous contractors are going to cheat and run 14/2 romex instead of UF on jobs and there will be no way to tell unless you physically inspect it. Unlike Gray UF you know its UF when you see it .

Making Freon Refrigerant containers all a Generic White is a very bad Idea

 I have been doing HVAC type work since 70s and Freon and Refrigerant chemical always came in color coded pressurized containers . 

It was always easy to tell from a distance R12, which was white R 22 which was Green R 502 which was Purple Etc. Etc. even as new refrigerants cam on market they had there own colors or banding and could be easily known what it was . Especially  after they have been sitting for long periods tucked away in warehouses and been in service trucks the labels can wear off but the paint never did. 


But that's all gone away .

Tanks are now coming out in Generic White and that can lead to serious issues when a technician grabs the wrong tank because they misread or mistook  the label for what a product is and belive me those of us with Dislexia have a hard enough time as it is with labels.

Putting the wrong refrigerant in a system will damage and kill the unit. When labels wear off tanks will not be able to identified with out  sophisticated testing leading to tanks with virgin product being sent back for recycling  and refrigerant wasted.

hazmat teams will also now have to take even further safety precautions because they now will not know whats in a tank if label is missing they will not have a clue what they are dealing with 

Generic White Tanks are a very bad idea.

Wednesday, March 31, 2021

Drowning from Electrical Shock it happens in Ponds and pools more than you think . Luckily new technology can alert to this hazard

 A young family on vacation the 2 young girls get on their bathing suits and cant wait to get swimming in the pond  at there rental cottage. they slip into the water off of the dock  and their father who is close by notices one daughter appears to be in distress  . He runs to the dock as he yells to wife to call 911  to find both girls not moving he dives in to save them but his life is alsmost taken as well. 

Hi joints are locking up he can barley move and becomes unconscious luckily the local rescue squad removes him and he is saved but its too late for the girls.

It is later revealed bad wiring at the dock for a light put an electrical charge in water around the dock.

Unfortunately this scenario is playing out all over the country as witnessed in articles below.

Badly installed wiring , faulty and deteriorating wiring  its all over the place I have been warning about this for years. and a Ground fault Interrupter GFCI  will not protect you.

But now there is a product available to prevent this Called Shock Alert which gives  an alarm when it detects electrical current in a water source


It both beeps and gives a visual alert  when it activates  and is simple to deploy and use.

around $200.00 or less  retail  it is now a required item in new electrical installations 

where water is involved .

There is an even more sophisticated unit on market called Dock lifeguard  which warns as well as cuts off the docks power by tripping the GFCI

This silent killer as it is known is only going to get worse as pools and docks and their infrastrutue gets older . 

If your going swimming at a lake or pond  follow following tips

  • Use a plastic ladder, rather than a metal one, so it won’t help transfer electricity into the water.
  • If you start to feel a tingle in the water, swim away from the dock, which is where most electrical issues occur.
  • Check all of the wiring around your dock, including your ground fault circuit breaker. 

Have fun this summer but do so safely 

Monday, March 1, 2021

Fire Departments doing dangerous Practices during Drill nights and then posting them on Social media .

 When it comes to Fire Dept's and Drill Night I am seeing an ever alarming amount of poor and tottaly unsafe practices by these dept's.

Then they post their practice pictures showing serious safety violations  on Social media and think nothing of it .

Take a fire Dept in Beaver County Pa. who where practicing High and  Angle  Rope rescue Techniques in what appears to be a waste water treatment plant .

They have their rescue rope tied off around a large Variable Frequency Drive units .

A serious Major OSHA Violation  due to nature of  This equipment capable of producing hazardous Arc flashes which can explode the requirement you must be properly trained and some time attired with PPE before you even go near it.

Had an OSHA inspector walked in while that drill was going on there would have been hell to pay and plant operator would face hundreds of thousands in fines if not loose operating privileges .

When a Fire dept goes into an industrial setting during drill nights . They must follow all applicable OSHA regulations just like any other employee or Contractor. 

This is not a suggestion its an Order as we are told om job sites and fire dept's better get with it. Before there is a serious accident.

Talking about Accidents waiting to happen check out this picture. I found on a Fire dept's Social media page

What the hell is this fool thinking using a power tool with no safety glasses standing on some type of table .

If he tried that on a job site he would be fired.

I see pictures all the time of jaws of life being used in a game called Junga? where they practice with the tool to remove blocks of wood etc. and no safety glasses as required by OSHA that tool no matter how well built it is can break and splinter and object being cut can shatter and blow debris everywhere .

Where is the safety officer ? 

No wonder so many firefighters get hurt on the job for not using common sense and not following standard safety protocols. Established by NFPA and OSHA

I was recently stuck behind a traffic accident  with a fellow firefighter on I-68 in WV when I finally was allowed thru accident scene there was a fire fighter standing in traffic no safety gear on no flashlight or lights flashing on truck being used to block road.  and it was a very dark scene I stopped got out of truck yelled at firefighter and gave him a reflective vest  I had on truck. again where is the safety officer?

I see dept's that do it right and I see too many who do not . 

Its time for dept's to wake up and get proper safety training and safety  officers in place .

I see all too often firefighters not in reflective gear working  traffic or a scene both day and night  

and if you do get hit by a vehicle and not properly attired you are in for serious trouble. 

You failed to follow safety rules you can be denied insurance coverage  for the accident .

Your dept could have its insurance dropped .

Do we need a Safety Stand down and Review in Pa. and WV definitely



Thursday, January 21, 2021

Before you hire that Amish Crew to do the Remodel project on your home Know the risks. You could end up losing your home

 Yes the Amish are known for quality work at a great price but this is not always the case and there are major reasons why they can do it cheaper which could see you sued and loss of your home.

When hiring an Amish Crew you must do Due Diligence and realize the following.

 1. They do not pay their crews Social Security Taxes  . Amish are exempt from it as community takes care of their own

2. The Amish Crews do not follow OSHA  Occupational Safety and health Administration  Codes that's why there are deaths of Amish on jobs every year higher than standard crews. 

3 . They are not covered by Workmen Disability Compensation/.

4. They often do work without getting proper permits and inspections as my Penn Hills Neighbor found out they had to rip off his new porch and rebuild it properly with thicker collums.

So as you can see all the above regulatons allows them to offer a lower price but you do not always get quality work.

Typically an outsider hires them and then offers their services to you he brings them to jobs etc.

Not the way you want to do it you want to deal directly with the Amish.

Know that if one of the Amish workers gets hurt on your property and its serious you can get stuck paying all their medical and disability expenses and your home owners insurance can deny your claim

 Because you did not properly hire a registered crew working with permits. The Amish take care of their own but not always . Their are some phony Amish crews out their  as well

Plus their are Ex Amish and Mennonites doing work  who do not qualify under the exemptions and must follow all rules of a conventional contractor.

 Before you hire any Amish crew  check with you local code authority's and check with your home owners insurance to make sure your covered if something goes wrong.

Friday, January 1, 2021

BEWARE UV-C Ultraviolet Light Disinfection Bulb Scam during Covid19 Scare- It could hurt your health

 With Covid 19 Scare now going on around the world Be-aware there are now all kind of Dubious and Scam Products and Gimmicks  on the market that claim they disinfect Surfaces and Air around you.

The problem is to properly disinfect a surface you need a UV-C or B  bulb and have to be shield from it while it is running  up to 60 minutes or it can destroy and damage your skin and eyes and possibly cause cancer.Plus the debate is still being studied of it even thoroughly kills Covid 19


So when you see adds just change a light bulb and disinfect the air that's a real beware to the consumer

You can not just put a UV-C bulb into a lamp and use it it must have a guard around it or otherwise be encased  .

In some cases bulbs being sold as UV-C type are actually nothing more than black light  bulbs you see at Halloween party's they do absolutely nothing .

and forget the wands you just wave over items they are just as useless it takes several minutes of concentrated light to properly disinfect.

I recently purchased 2 products to try the Phone Sanitizer from Sharper Image actually works you put your phone in and takes 6 minutes a side you can also disinfect small items like keys as well.

you can actually smell ozone the bulbs produce . At $50.00 its not cheap but it works beware cheap imitators

  I also purchased an area sanitizer made by Globe Electric that appears to work and have not received tests back yet but when tested on ultraviolet rocks gives off correct shortwave  color compared to a black light. and it is EPA registered 

when you turn it on it has a 10 second delay so you can get away  and is rechargeable and works up to 2.5 ft  and takes 60 minutes to disinfect surfaces like a work station.

For now its Caveat Emptor Buyer Beware  do your research and choose wisely.