When you have a problem, do you call a professional or a handyman? Would you be ashamed if a professional contractor looked into your attic? Is your electrical work legal? Would it pass inspection?
I was recently called to a homeowner’s location for a problem. Her home was recently built. So I was surprised when I entered her attic only to find code violations everywhere. In fact, I found so many that I ran for my camera so I could protect myself and my company from any future liabilities. I want to share with you some of her violations so you can see if they are in your house.
Electrical Code Violations
1st VIOLATION: Double wiring. Whoever wired her house put 2 wires in 1 connector that is made for one wire. You can’t double lug. You can’t put 2 wires together in 1 connector that is made for one wire. The way the connector is made is to compress one wire, no matter what size the connector is. Most connections, compression connectors, or mechanical connectors are made for one wire to be compressed. This house had all of her feeders compressed and the load side of it.
What happens if you put 2 wires in 1 connector? Not a lot except that you can’t get enough compression or torque to that one wire that you are supposed to have. One of the wires may come lose because it wasn’t designed for that. Code doesn’t allow it unless the connector itself says it’s designed for double lugging, or 2 wires. I’ve tried it before and sometimes it will push one wire to one side or it tightens on one and not the other. It is very difficult to get wires tight because you can’t over torque them or under torque them. If you over torque them you strip the lug. If you under torque them you make a dangerous situation.
Sometimes when you put wire in place, you may have to move the wire. We used to shake it in the shipyard (where I worked years ago), shake it and re-torque, shake it and re-torque it, shake it and re-torque it. That would show if that wire was not completely situated. But if you take 2 wires and you parallel them together and you shake it and then re-torque it, one of those wires is going to slip from the other.
Now, if they are all made into the same wire, or a single wire, you can keep torqueing it until you have enough torque on it to where they won’t come lose in a period of time. In all my years as an electrician, I have never had anything come lose. Now I use an impact to torque my wires because it puts more torque on it without striping the bolt. It’s much better because it hammers the screw in and it puts more torque toward the screw. It does a better job. The final it out with a torque wrench.
2nd VIOLATION: wire size needs upgrade. This is about the wire to the main panel and the disconnects in the panels that disconnect the load from the house. The transfer switch goes to the disconnects. The disconnects go to the panel. They are all double lugged. The wire they used is undersized. It is less than what is needed for a 400 amp. It needs to be upgraded to handle 400 amps.
You need to have 3 current carrying conductors thru conduit: the homeowner needs to have the conduit upgraded. It should go through a raceway. The wire size should be upgraded. Wire that is not correctly sized could cause an overload in the house.
3rd VIOLATION: The generator installer placed parallel feeders to her generator. When they paralleled the feeders to the standby generator, they paralleled them in aluminum. You will have problems. If you run over 70 feet from the panel to the generator, it will be impossible to get those feeders the exact size together to the exact location. In other words, one must be the exact length of the other. One will carry more amperage than the other and therefore burn it up.
Parallel feeds are good but they must be meticulously installed at equal distance which is almost impossible. Capablilities (what the generator is capable of) is a designated load therefore trying to parallel at a certain distance may cause feeders to melt down.
You may hire a handyman to wire your house but why would you? A handyman may not always be cheaper. In the long run, this homeowner is paying for a state licensed electrical contractor to come back out and fix her problems. Don’t shrimp on wiring. Homeowners want granite countertops and Sub-zero refrigerator, yet they get the cheapest and ugliest wiring there is. What is your house worth with bad wiring?