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Old 03-29-2014, 07:38 PM   #1
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Electric Work - Grounding and 20amp breakers


Hi all,

I wanted to get some opinions on a recent visit I had to my home for some electrical work. After the work was done the electrician mentioned a couple other things he noticed in my home that he recommended I get fixed. The first is that the grounding in the basement looks improperly done and part of it is dangling instead of properly pinned to a wall. The second is that I seem to have 12 and 14 electrical wires in a single outlet that is paired with a 20amp breaker. He said since he noticed one outlet with such mixed wiring I should check the outlets associated with a 20amp breaker. Separately he also suggested I install arcfault breakers (a sort of smart breaker as he described it). He said he could properly ground my homes electricity for a couple hundred dollars, check for mixed wires at a rate of $85/hour but that it was time consuming to check each one, and that for converting breakers to arcfault it would be about $60 for parts alone and then probably 20 minutes worth of time per breaker.

Does all this sound reasonable? I want my home and family to be safe but I also don't want to be taken for a ride and do extra costly work if it is unnecessary.

Sam

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Old 03-29-2014, 07:57 PM   #2
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Electric Work - Grounding and 20amp breakers


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Does all this sound reasonable?
Yes it does

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Old 03-29-2014, 08:43 PM   #3
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Electric Work - Grounding and 20amp breakers


Ok, thanks. Also, I noted that some people actually say arcfault breakers sometimes have "false" alarms though proponents of them say it's worth the times they have false alarms for the safety they offer. Do you agree with that?
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Old 03-30-2014, 08:31 AM   #4
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Electric Work - Grounding and 20amp breakers


Think of it this way. If someone gets electrocuted or if a fire starts is it worth it? If there is a mixing of #14 and #12 in receptacles with a 20 amp breaker, I would hire him to check out the whole house. It sounds like some DIY that didn't know about electrical wiring had installed incorrect wires. If this electrician has done good work so far, then let him continue.
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Old 03-30-2014, 08:52 AM   #5
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Electric Work - Grounding and 20amp breakers


I would have the grounding and the mixed circuits looked at. I would not install Arc Fault breakers. It's hard to fault the EC for suggesting arc faults, but they STILL aren't ready for prime-time.
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Old 03-30-2014, 08:27 PM   #6
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Electric Work - Grounding and 20amp breakers


I still steer clear of arc-faults unless they are needed to pass inspection. I had to have them in my last house to pass inspection, and I got sick of them quick because the vacuum cleaner tripped them off. Lots of things (e.g. electric motors) create a small but controlled spark just by they way they work, and this can trip the arc-faults.

The only thing that sounds off to me about what he said is that it would take 20 minutes time/$$$ per breaker. If it takes him 20 minutes he is milking the clock, should be 5 tops.
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Old 03-30-2014, 09:02 PM   #7
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Originally Posted by MrBryan View Post
The only thing that sounds off to me about what he said is that it would take 20 minutes time/$$$ per breaker. If it takes him 20 minutes he is milking the clock, should be 5 tops.
It doesn't matter how long it takes, you are still paying for travel, insurance, overhead, so you will be billed accordingly, get the billed by the minute out of your head, guys in business need to make XX amount per hour to stay in business, bottom line.
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Old 03-30-2014, 11:02 PM   #8
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1 Your grounding must be correct. It is impossible to say if a couple hundred dollars is reasonable, as we don't know what the problem is. It might be.

2 It will take a few hours to check all your circuits for miswiring; maybe more if your wiring isn't laid out reasonably. It is pretty trivial and you can do it yourself. Rewiring to fix problems could be very time consuming. It is impossible for us to tell just how dangerous it is, or whether it will be worth the expense.

3 The AFCI issue is a rather controversial. Most houses don't have them and the number of fires they prevent is small; but not zero. I have had them for 2 years and have never had a nuisance trip; but apparently other people have.

I won't give an opinion on the AFCI issue. The other two are a matter of trusting your electrician to not do unnecessary work. Good luck with that.
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Old 03-30-2014, 11:14 PM   #9
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Electric Work - Grounding and 20amp breakers


Hire another electrician to come in and check the system !
See if he says simulair things !
If so ! go for it !
As for arc fault breakers ?
Whats on the system now ?
If the earthing is suspect, i would think GFCI's
would be a better option !
If not sure ask the electrician to advise why arc faults ?

We need more info, to be more specific.
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Old 03-31-2014, 12:48 PM   #10
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Hi everyone,

Thank you **very** much for all the responses. I really appreciate the input. I bought the home 3 years ago and I think it was flipped before we bought it because though it was/is a good home choice for me and my family we have also come to realize the degree to which so many things were done hastily and cheaply. So, quite honestly I was not surprised to hear this electrician say he had concerns regarding the mixed 12/14 wiring in the house and how the grounding was done. Anyhow, the electrician has only been here once but I liked him and he comes from 3 generations of electricians so his family business has been in operation continuously since the 1940's. However, I do take heed that one response said it never hurts to get a 2nd opinion/quote so I may consider doing so.

So, I am thinking to go ahead and do the work on the grounding and the mixed wiring (not to mention not a single breaker is labeled! so he also suggested that we take the time to label them all while he does his work here next time). I do have a question from the last post where someone said something about a "GFCI" -- what's that? THe electrician said arc faulting would be good to be on the safe side. I live in a cold part of the nation and we were using space heaters in different rooms. The reason he came out is because our space heater melted our outlet and started sparking when my husband by chance saw it and unplugged it -- otherwise we may have had a homefire. He said with arc fault breakers we wouldn't have that kind of situation because the "smart" breaker would have cut off electricity to that outlet before it got to that point. In that outlet he found mixed 12/14 wiring. Sigh.

I think I will not move forward with the arc faulting at this time given all the responses you all provided. Maybe I'll wait for technology to improve a bit and not have the false alarm issue as frequently.

Oh, also thank you for the input about length of time for the work and opinions about costs electricians incur just to get to the work site. There are indeed a number of things to take into account for pricing and I appreciate people raising a variety of issues for me to consider. I do live in an extremely pricey part of the country so hiring people for just about anything is expensive.

Thank you again!!!!!! Owning a home can be so stressful and I've got a huge learning curve for just about every home repair/improvement task we are undertaking.

Last edited by sam21; 03-31-2014 at 12:53 PM.
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Old 03-31-2014, 12:55 PM   #11
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Electric Work - Grounding and 20amp breakers


Did you have an inspection before your signed?
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Old 03-31-2014, 01:08 PM   #12
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We 100% did have an inspector (a highly recommended one) provide a report on the home that we signed. Actually he provided a 20 page report that seemed quite thorough at the time and made no mention of any of the issues I am raising here. I had a baby the day we had the house inspected so my husband was trying to keep track of everything by himself and neither of us are very handy or have experience with doing home repairs but we tried hard to take all the appropriate steps when purchasing a home.

The electrician said he was shocked the inspector missed this kind of thing. And actually the electrician complained about a couple of other things the inspector should have noticed that I won't even get into in these posts. Since it was 3 years ago in the city I live I have no recourse or mechanisms to file a complaint. I think you can do so within one year in this area.

Actually the reason we used space heaters in the first place is because they did a poor job of installing a furnace in our attic (we have a 2 story house) and the 2nd floor gets heated adequately but not great and there's a bathroom on the 2nd floor that has no vent so it stays freezing and the entire 1st floor in the winter is practically unlivable cause so little heat gets pushed down there. So while I'm doing this electricity work I'm also researching furnaces so we can install a separate system in the basement to heat the first floor.

...so....it's a lot we're figuring out and we're trying hard to educate ourselves and make good decisions, good investments, etc. But we are in fact also finding that undoing shoddy work is harder and more expensive than just doing something right the first time around.
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Old 03-31-2014, 02:12 PM   #13
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Electric Work - Grounding and 20amp breakers


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So while I'm doing this electricity work I'm also researching furnaces so we can install a separate system in the basement to heat the first floor.
I would recommend that you hire an HVAC company to do an inspection/analysis of your system. Furnaces heat air. Ducts distribute it. In many cases the duct system (including return air) is the source of the problem.

Adding a second system to an inefficient primary system doesn't make any sense to me.
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Old 03-31-2014, 03:47 PM   #14
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Thanks for the note about checking with HVAC specialists. We've had 2 companies come out and they both said the only/best option is a separate system. I wish it weren't so! It's expensive (one quote came in at $8,300 and the other at $10,500). Actually shortly I'll probably start a separate thread about a question I have about this too. I think part of the problem is their ability to add ductwork to the 1st floor, their just isn't space for them to do it I think.

Anyhow, I wanted to thank everyone for their opinions and input. I really appreciate and it helped me come to a decision about how best to move forward! Thanks!!
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Old 03-31-2014, 07:54 PM   #15
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Can you post some pictures of the areas of concern?

The #14 is an issue on a 20 amp circuit.

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