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 mudworm 10-17-2011 11:33 AM

Electrician best practice questions

I've read tons of books and online resources online, but when I actually get down and dirty and start pulling wires, I find that many things are never talked about in those resources. I have some best practice questions, and really hope that the electricians here can share some trade secrets with me. (I won't tell anybody. :wink:)

1. When you run a flat Romax cable over a fairly long distance (e.g. 30'), do you untwist them so they lay flat over the girder surface it's attached to? I like to do it because it looks neat that way, but when I tried to do it with a 12 gauge cable, I found that it was a bit hard to get it flat all the way. Do you have any tricks?

2. When I run a long cable, I leave the spool near one end (i.e. the service panel) and take the cable end with me when I drag it to where the cable needs to go (i.e. the first junction box). I make sure it somewhat follows the cable stackers and then I come back to cut the end from the spool. Now, I do another round of the crawling to secure the cable into the cable stackers. The problem I found was: it's very hard to make the cable flat along the way (twisted like crazy) and inefficient. Do you estimate the length and cut the cable first? If so, how do you even measure the right length from the cable spool? Any tricks here?

3. Starting from the service panel, I'll have so many cables coming out. Many of them will following the same directions for quite ways (to the kitchen). I can have four 12-2 cables in one 3M cable stacker. How do you "stack" multiple cable stackers on the surface of a 4x12 girder in order to fasten 10 or so cables? I was going to put one near the top, one diagonally below it, and so on. What's the best way here?

4. I'm using some metal boxes, so I bought a bunch of plastic cable connector (3/8"-1/2"). I thought it says it could accommodate 2 cables (14/2 - 10/2), but I don't seem to be able to push two 12/2 in one connector. :blush:
http://www.bwfmfg.com/images/nmse-24.jpg
My question is: If you have plenty of knockouts, do you always choose to use one knockout for each cable? Or, do you always try to push two cables through one hole to reduce the openings in the box? If the latter, should I just grit my teeth and push harder?

5. If you run two cables up along one stud. One enters a junction box (e.g. for receptacle). The other one needs to go higher up (e.g. to reach a junction box fastened to the same stud). Do you just bend the second cable to loosely go around the lower box, or do you run it across the bay and secure to the opposite stud, go up, secure, and then run it back across the bay to enter the higher box? This is all within the same bay between two studs and no drilling.

I know I'll have more questions once I get down to the crawl space, but I don't know what they are yet. In the mean time, hope to hear some answers soon so I can do my job like a professional electrician does. :)

 gregzoll 10-17-2011 11:41 AM

For me, I at least try to keep it so that it does not twist while pulling. Helps to have a helper. I will pull the run, then estimate at the load center side, by trying to go past about six inches or so where the breaker will be. I go no more than two nm's through a holder, otherwise, only use one per cable. As for the last, that is up to you, as long as you do not create any sharp turns or bends.

 jimmy21 10-17-2011 12:14 PM

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Posted my answers in red. Id just like to add that running cables (or any construction for that matter) is an art. i take pride in making sure they look as good as the possibly can. There are small tricks ive learned over the years to do it efficiently. remember, all wires should make 90 degree turns (not bend sharp to damage the cable, but rather the direction the cable is going) If you needed to run from one corner of your garage to the other, you run across the joists and then with the joists, never run straight from one corner to the other

 gregzoll 10-17-2011 12:46 PM

Jimmy, post the spinner instructions in http://www.diychatroom.com/f98/

 jimmy21 10-17-2011 08:31 PM

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Quote:
 Originally Posted by gregzoll (Post 750582) Jimmy, post the spinner instructions in http://www.diychatroom.com/f98/

will do

 mudworm 10-18-2011 02:05 AM

Long day. Sorry for the belated thank you, Greg and Jimmy! I did check the thread quickly before I turned the house power off and the detailed answers were very helpful. So, I went back to the crawl space and flattened the entire cable run. I already had cable stackers every four feet, but today I added a staple in the middle (not in every bay) to make sure there is no sag in the cable. As for the cables above floor, I made sure they are all flat, bent and secured properly. I can now understand what you, Jimmy, said about taking pride in a good wiring job.

Today's job included connecting the home run cable to the service panel, adding a GFCI receptacle 12" off the floor, and running cables from this outlet to a vanity light switch, a 2nd receptacle (connected to the LOAD side of this one), and a junction box in the attic that connects to the ceiling fan, ceiling light, fan switch, and light switch. Except for the 1st receptacle, all other outlets are pre-existing, thus with small boxes, but I did upgrade the vanity light switch to one with night light. The outlets were preexisting, but the wiring sequence was different (the previous feed was coming from knob and tubes to the ceiling junction box, then the upper receptacle, and then the vanity light switch). That's why I had to rewire to these outlets. What made it more challenging was only the back side of the wall is open. It took me ALL DAY to finish this ONE circuit! But in the end, we have a bathroom that's on a dedicated 20Amp circuit. Whoohoo!

I didn't know it before, but wiring takes core strength! I found that out when I tried to connect four cables and a receptacle in that low (12" off floor) box on my knees, when I did stapling and drilling in the attic on my stomach, and when I did cable work in a half sit up position in the low crawl space. And boy, 12-gauge wires are tough!!!

What tool do you use to grab 12-gauge wires (for bending and pushing)? I only had a pair of needle nose pliers. For fear of damaging the wires, I put tape over the pliers. There has to be a better way, right?

My major goof up today: after all the above was done, I got ambitious despite it getting late. I decided to change our ceiling fan switch to a 60-30-20-10 countdown timer switch. The switch is in an unopened wall, so it was a retrofit job. I took the old switch out, took the old shallow box out, used the wood chisel to loosen the backing wood block, and used a little hack saw blade to cut the two screws that were holding the backing wood block side ways. Lots of work there. I then put my new plastic old-work deep box in and pushed the cable through. Okay, now I was ready for the new switch. I opened the box and was puzzled by all the wires reaching out from the switch body. I was dumbfounded to read ON THE BOX that "neutral wire is required", which I don't have! That was a hour and half wasted! I wasn't too proud when the hubby came home to all my mess while I was closing up the switch -- the old switch -- in frustration. I learned a big lesson: read the manual before starting the work!

Oh, that wire spool looks cool. My old bicycle wheels come to mind. Maybe I can use one of them. Look forward to seeing your instruction, Jimmy. I still have 10+ new circuits to run.

 frenchelectrican 10-18-2011 03:00 AM

Sorry little late to join in however my answer will be in bleu so you will know my respondé is.

Quote:
For 4 inch round plastique box the tip is just before you bring any cable in there grab a lineman pliar and pull the tab a little from inside that will help you to guide the cable in but just remember to staple them down 8-12 inches from the junction boxes.

If you have more question just holler one of us will help you.

Merci,
Marc

 SD515 10-18-2011 09:25 AM

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Ever use one of these for romex??

 mudworm 10-18-2011 09:48 AM

Thanks Marc for the blue answers.

I still have lots of work ahead of me including wiring 3 way lights on dimmer. It'll be fun. Will have to wait until weekends though. It's not like I can tell my boss everyday I'm taking a day off due to home repair emergency. Yesterday, I did because otherwise our only bathroom would be in dark. My hubby said he could live with it (and wait until next weekend), but I couldn't.

Ha, all kinds of ideas for the cable spool. I just saw a 16" lazy susan on Craigslist not far from me. May go check it out. Love straight and flat cable runs.

Under the same subject for best practice: Can you use a plastic wire connector (image in the first post) to seal a no-longer-used punch out hole in a metal box? What do we have to seal a box for? My guess is to prevent critters from getting in, so that connector should do the job. But again I have a feeling that I can't get off easy like that and will need to go buy the dedicated seal for it. Do you need to seal any unused square punch out hole/flap in a plastic box?

 gregzoll 10-18-2011 09:55 AM

My fingers. I use Lineman's pliers, not needle nose, when working with electrical.

 jimmy21 10-18-2011 10:45 AM

39 Attachment(s)
Quote:
 Originally Posted by mudworm (Post 751085) Oh, that wire spool looks cool. My old bicycle wheels come to mind. Maybe I can use one of them. Look forward to seeing your instruction, Jimmy. I still have 10+ new circuits to run.

here you go
http://www.diychatroom.com/f18/how-b...pinner-120436/

 mudworm 10-19-2011 04:23 PM

Good stuff. I'll see if I can put one of the old wheels to use although I may run into some resistance from the hubby because those are his treasures.

I'm planning to do some extensive wiring this weekend. Would really appreciate some more pointers:
1) Can you use a plastic wire connector (image in the first post) to seal a no-longer-used punch out hole in a metal box? Do you need to seal any unused square punch out hole/flap in a plastic box?
2) If you need to have two cables coming up sole plates between two studs and they go to two boxes one on each stud (still within the same bay). Do you drill one hole in the middle to pull the cables through? Or, do you drill two holes so each cable is somewhat straight up to its box?
3) Do you always having CAT5e cables and outlets in a different bay from any electrical outlet, let alone running the cables together (e.g. using the same cable stackers)? Is it enough to separate them just by one stud?
4) Is there any general guidelines in labeling outlets so that the labels show the topology of complex wiring? I was thinking about labeling my outlets like A-1, A-1-1, A-1-2 to indicate the circuit ID and the sequence of wiring. But I'm not sure what to do with a closed circle like in a multi light multi switch situation. Anyway, just wonder if there is a "best practice" here.
5) Do you think a surge protector at the panel is useful at all? If so, do you have any protector that you would recommend (and that I can find in store or online)?
6) We are putting in an expensive induction cooktop (240V 50Amp). I've read stories how the delicate computer console tends to fail. Should I put a surge protector circuit protector for it?

Anything else I forgot to ask? ;)

 jimmy21 10-19-2011 06:24 PM

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Quote:
 Originally Posted by mudworm (Post 752188) Good stuff. I'll see if I can put one of the old wheels to use although I may run into some resistance from the hubby because those are his treasures. I'm planning to do some extensive wiring this weekend. Would really appreciate some more pointers: 1) Can you use a plastic wire connector (image in the first post) to seal a no-longer-used punch out hole in a metal box?no, get a real KO seal. Do you need to seal any unused square punch out hole/flap in a plastic box? No, don't worry about it 2) If you need to have two cables coming up sole plates between two studs and they go to two boxes one on each stud (still within the same bay). Do you drill one hole in the middle to pull the cables through? Or, do you drill two holes so each cable is somewhat straight up to its box?Im not really following what you are asking, but 2 cables can go in a single hole. I usually bunch 2 cables together when stapling on a stud. As long as they are both flat. Id probably need a picture, to actually see what your talking about. 3) Do you always having CAT5e cables and outlets in a different bay from any electrical outlet, let alone running the cables together (e.g. using the same cable stackers)? Is it enough to separate them just by one stud? I think they recommend 12" of clearance between low voltage signal cables and line voltage, in parallel runs. Its ok if they cross paths, but if they are running parallel to each other, try to keep them 12" apart at least. Having wood in between does not make a difference to your 12 inches. 4) Is there any general guidelines in labeling outlets so that the labels show the topology of complex wiring? I was thinking about labeling my outlets like A-1, A-1-1, A-1-2 to indicate the circuit ID and the sequence of wiring. But I'm not sure what to do with a closed circle like in a multi light multi switch situation. Anyway, just wonder if there is a "best practice" here. Usually just circuit numbers are marked, so that if you need to shut off the circuit, you know which breaker to flip. If you want to keep track of where your wires go, make a blueprint and draw your cables in. If you want to keep track better than that, take pictures before you drywall 5) Do you think a surge protector at the panel is useful at all? If so, do you have any protector that you would recommend (and that I can find in store or online)? Never used one 6) We are putting in an expensive induction cooktop (240V 50Amp). I've read stories how the delicate computer console tends to fail. Should I put a surge protector circuit protector for it? I can't really comment on that much, i have no idea. Id imagine they would fail anyway. I believe surge protectors are mostly used for lightning strikes. Not a common occurrence, but again im no expert on surge protectors. Only time i use them in my own house is where i need more receptacles and i place one of those stip surge protectors there with 8 receptacles or whatever. Like behind my entertainment center Anything else I forgot to ask? ;)
my responses are in red

 mudworm 10-20-2011 11:46 AM

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Thanks Jimmy for the red answers. :)

I'm surprised that whole house surge protectors are not that popular. I wanted to do it since we are upgrading our panel -- might as well do it now than later. But I have no idea what would be a good choice. A quick google search shows Leviton 51120-1 at the top for around \$170+. I do use an APC at the computer desk and a surge protector for the entertainment center. Edit: I just found Home Depot sells Eaton Complete Home Surge Protection. It's much cheaper at \$55. Hmmm... decisions decisions.

The 2nd question can be illustrated with the attached image. Do you prefer the left or the right approach?

 Jim Port 10-20-2011 06:20 PM

On an interior wall I would use one hole. If the wall was to be insulated I would use two hole so the insulation will fill the cavity better.

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