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Old 03-12-2008, 03:35 PM   #1
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Tell us your horror stories


I thought it might be fun for people to talk about things they have come across... inspired by the post with the pic of the jbox with a bizillion conductors in it.




When we were tearing out the subfloor in one of our bedrooms, we came across a wire in the floor, just laying there, LIVE. No wire nuts on the ends or anything. Turns out it went to a light in the dining room below at one point, and whoever rewired that light just shoved it out of the box and left it there. Luckily the stripped ends were far enough apart that they didnt arc.


What about everyone else?

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Old 03-12-2008, 04:09 PM   #2
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Originally Posted by CowboyAndy View Post
I thought it might be fun for people to talk about things they have come across... inspired by the post with the pic of the jbox with a bizillion conductors in it.
I once was called in by a guy who was remodeling his house. He needed a bunch of stuff added. Well, I gave him a price. He was cool with it. Then he ripped up his kitchen floor down to the joists. He called me in to look at the no-less-than 27 junction boxes buried in the kitchen floor/basement living room ceiling.

All plastic nail-on boxes, no covers, wires going every which way. It was as if someone had a large collection of 6' pieces of 12-2 and 12-3 and some boxes. They didn't want to buy whole lengths of wire so they pieced every thing together. Home owner asked me what we could do. Well, rip it all out and re-feed everything, of course. How much? Original job double. OK, he says, what else can we do? "Well, you could always just throw your floor back down and pretend like we never saw it, cause I ain't touchin it unless we completely redo it". Turns out I didn't do the original job either.

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Old 03-12-2008, 06:45 PM   #3
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It was as if someone had a large collection of 6' pieces of 12-2 and 12-3 and some boxes

I worked on that job but the boxes were in the attic/soffits and mostly handy boxes and 3/0, 4/0.


WTF???? Another JB???? 12" and here is another. Mix in some UF, some 3 wire using red and white????

Freaking old guys with too much time on their hands.
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Old 03-12-2008, 08:07 PM   #4
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Buddy bought a place that had some issues. Live wires capped off over the shower, buried J-boxes, switched neutrals, the works. I then discover that the ENTIRE 2 bedroom apt. is on a 30 amp breaker. This was the time that I got hit on an open neutral while fiddling around in the bathroom. OMFG it hurts something fierce.
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Old 03-12-2008, 08:39 PM   #5
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In an industrial building, I opened a 480/277 3 phase panel and found a note on the inside cover saying "be careful someone used a green for a hot in here." Sure enough there was a green wire on a 20 amp breaker for a lighting circuit.

The note was written by the ace maintenance electrician in the compound. I chuckled wondering what would happen out at the other end or in between when some poor shmuck cut what he figured was a equipment grounding conductor and finding 277 volts the hard way.

I got permission from the maintenance supervisor to replace the wire. It ran through a 50 foot run of conduit and 4 j-boxes and powered a single light fixture for a night light. There were no notes in any of the j-boxes it passed through.

I kept the little note for my collection of mementos.
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Old 03-12-2008, 09:05 PM   #6
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Walked into a customers basement to troubleshoot a faulty circuit. As I'm heading over to the panel I look up and notice there's phone wire going everywhere, A LOT! I get to the panel and to my amazement a dozen or so runs of phone wire are fished in through the top knockouts of the panel. I pull the cover off knowing what I'm about to see and there they are...all landed on breakers throughout the panel, and me with no camera. I put the cover back on without breathing, and told the homeowner I couldn't help her.

Another quick one....had the meter cover off to tighten up a loose lug that was arcing and the old asian homeowner comes out and decides to clean all the cob webs out with her bare hands. She was actually mad when I grabbed and pulled her back.
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Old 03-12-2008, 09:09 PM   #7
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Not a hack story per se, but inspired by the green hot wire.

I had two Croatian journeymen borrowed from another company helping out on a retail store remodel. We were replacing the old lowbay MH lights with enclosed decorative "fishbowl" MH lights. Well, I had my two favorite Croatians in the lift finishing the last two lights behind the sales counter. The lights were arranged in rows (duh) of about 9 lights per circuit. All the rows were lit by now, and the MC whips for the last two lights were capped in a j-box. It never occurred to me to tell these guys the circuit was hot. Hell, the whole place was lit, and they are journeymen with more time in the field than me!

So, I'm doing my own thing when the prettiest blue flash outshines the rest of the store for a split second and a row goes dark. Sparks showering the IT guys pulling network cabling, a hell of a *bwzzzzzzzshshsh*.

The lift starts coming down, the big burley guy's face is red as a fire hydrant, and the other guy is blinking like crazy. In his broken english the big guy says

"You no tell me was hot! I have kleins for 9 years, now junk!"

He held up his kleins to show me the large chunk blown out of them. I told them they were experienced journeymen, and that they should have checked the circuit before just chopping into the whip. Besides, every other light was on, that should have been somewhat of a clue. Still, he says "You are foreman, you tell when circuit is hot". No, you are journeyman, you check when circuit is hot.

He said "I need smoke", walked out the door and threw his kleins in the trash can outside. I didn't think I'd ever stop laughing. A 30 A 277 volt circuit makes for one hell of a klein melting bang. It's only funny cause no one was hurt.

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Old 03-12-2008, 09:29 PM   #8
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I'm still thinking about how funny that is. What is it about rows of lights that wouldn't tell you it was hot?


And PHONE wire in a panel? My God!
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Old 03-12-2008, 10:35 PM   #9
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I do alot of comm'l/industrial work, some of it at power plants.

I was terminating some 15KV cable in the back of a 12.5KV switchboard at a power plant one day (this isn't just strip it back and shove it under a lug, it takes an hour or so to do one).

This switchgear is about 8' tall, about 60' long, and about 6' deep. The controls and stuff is in the front, and the high voltage terminates in the back. I was working at one end, and had the breaker racked out and locked.

A couple of maintenance guys came in, and were going to re-pull some 15KV wire that went to a transformer just outside. They turned the breaker off, racked it out (these breakers are about 3'X3'X3', and are on rails so they can be removed, 'racked out', for servicing), and came around back to take the cover off.

Just as they were removing the last few screws, it occured to me that they seemed a bit close to the end of the switchgear. I mentioned this, we measured it, and they were working in the wrong section. The one they were about to work in was hot. I don't mean just hot, but HOT! 7200 volts to ground.

You only get one shot at it with this voltage, there won't be a second chance. Still makes the hair stand up on the back of my neck every time I think about it.

Rob.
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Old 03-12-2008, 10:58 PM   #10
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A picture is worth a thousand words.

120/240 3 phase 800 amp section.

120/240 1 phase sub panel fed from this 100 amp switch.

A phase load terminal/lug gets cooked somehow so some rocket scientist moves it to B phase placing 200 plus volts on one leg of the single phase sub.

Then he completes the project by making some nice fuses.



I started troubleshooting this thing from the opposite end, about 500 feet away. I am getting 200 something volts on one leg, scratching my head wondering where the hell this panel is fed from.

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Old 03-13-2008, 05:44 AM   #11
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The best I can come up with is I went out on an old house that was chopped up into 3 apartments once. One apartment had a constant high electric bill, and other weird problems. Wires were going every which way. I found a old romex 20 amp home run thrown on the dirt floor, and was actually buried under about 4 inches of damp mud. It was hot, and was thrown there about 10 years before when they repaired the back foundation.... I got nailed by 600 VDC focus voltage from a radar display when I was in the military. Some dumbazz missions officer turned on the circuit breaker. We didn't mark them back then, we just trusted people not to turn on something they didn't understand.

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Old 03-13-2008, 09:48 AM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by BrntWS6 View Post
Walked into a customers basement to troubleshoot a faulty circuit. As I'm heading over to the panel I look up and notice there's phone wire going everywhere, A LOT! I get to the panel and to my amazement a dozen or so runs of phone wire are fished in through the top knockouts of the panel. I pull the cover off knowing what I'm about to see and there they are...all landed on breakers throughout the panel, and me with no camera. I put the cover back on without breathing, and told the homeowner I couldn't help her.
Now tell us you didn't just walk away without explaining to the owner that she was living in a house fire waiting to start.

I would have tried to turn that situation into money. In my bank account.
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Old 03-13-2008, 11:52 AM   #13
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I was wiring houses back in the 80's. We were doing a model home. We had finished all the wring and had made all the joints in the boxes. After the Sheetrock was installed, the builder blocked the attic access hole right by my sub panel. All the home runs went over the attic access.(was not on the plans) They made me cut all the home runs and put junction boxes in the attic. they would not remove the sheetrock. Did the best I could but I would not want to live in that house.
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Old 03-13-2008, 05:57 PM   #14
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Nothing to match the industrial comments, but in the room just down the hall from the original jbox......The room had tall window that sat low to the ground. Outlet 1 on the right side of the window......outlet 2 on the left side. Hmmmm wire routing tough.....I know, just lay the 12/2 on 2x4 rough framing for the window. The window sill will cover the wire. Carefull now with the finish nailer installing the window sill......oooops. Yep nail through the 12/2.
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Old 03-13-2008, 07:46 PM   #15
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Nothing to match the industrial comments, but in the room just down the hall from the original jbox......The room had tall window that sat low to the ground. Outlet 1 on the right side of the window......outlet 2 on the left side. Hmmmm wire routing tough.....I know, just lay the 12/2 on 2x4 rough framing for the window. The window sill will cover the wire. Carefull now with the finish nailer installing the window sill......oooops. Yep nail through the 12/2.
Oh don't you just hate it when that happens? Good one.

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