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Old 01-11-2009, 06:09 PM   #16
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Unfused connectors MELTED House wires WHAT TO DO???


Those findings make sense to me. I was trying to understand why a ground cable short to ground would burn up branch circuit wiring. I makes sense that a cable run beside the ground cable would burn up along with the ground.
The water pipe probably heated enough to melt the solder and let the water pressure blow the line apart.
Any chance you could post some pictures of this?


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Old 01-11-2009, 06:49 PM   #17
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Unfused connectors MELTED House wires WHAT TO DO???


Pictures would be nice.

Maybe this happened. Sorry for poor drawing.
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Old 01-11-2009, 07:07 PM   #18
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Unfused connectors MELTED House wires WHAT TO DO???


Jamie.,

I send you a PM to let you know that I am still in Paris France right now until end of this month.,


Now let get to the situation you have there .,

WOW.,, your papa is lucky he did not have the house burn down yet.

If I was still in Wisconsin., For sure I can zoom over and help ya.

that was pretty strong short current that make the copper solidering melt and BTW the soilder it will melt about 600~750F depending on the " tin " itself.

Most POCO transformer can able crank out about 4 to 12 Kamps depending on size of transformer on resdentail area however in commercal the SCA { short circuit amps } it will be much higher it can have much as 30K or more depending on the size.

speaking for rest of wires IMO the best way is megger it.

I know not all electricians will carry this tester with them.
One thing I know with most homeowner insurance I am sure they have something to cover the damage but how much that part I don't know it pretty much up to them what they written in their policy but I am pretty sure they will cover most of the repair as need to.

I will start at the panel and work it way out after you check all the conductors to make sure they are not damaged at all or any burnt mark on them.

If you have any gas fired devices like furance , waterheater dryer etc etc check the gas system very carefully to see any burnt mark as well especally with SSCT { stainless steel corrated tubing }.

Merci,Marc
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Old 01-11-2009, 07:12 PM   #19
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Unfused connectors MELTED House wires WHAT TO DO???


Homeowners should NOT be messing around in their panels.

I have to say that I really have a new perspective now that I didn't have before and I have to kind of agree with you. Even my old Pushmatic panel wasn't bad at all compared to my dad's mess and I've seen photos of worse. You have to be carefull enough in a good clean panel, but if there is stuff out there like my dads panel wow, you have to have some serious attention to detail to work in a live panel like that.

I am glad that Dad is OK but...... what a dumbass.
I don't want to say that you encouraged him because of your new interest and experience with electrical but....

Your right, he would not have been messing around in there if I hadn't pointed out that his ground wires in the house were ENERGIZED and that's why my mom was getting that little tingle when she touched the switch. So yes, I am responsiable for it in the sence and do feel bad that I was the one who pointed this stuff out. On the other hand one if one day my mom was walking in bare feet and the floor was wet when she touched a switch... It could have easily been much worse than what happened.

I am so lucky that he was using my pair of Klien insulated pliers or he very likely would have been electrocuted.


Again, I'm glad he's OK. Just have him call/pay someone to take care of his electrical. It aint rocket science but you NEED to know what you are dealing with.

I think that your assesment of the damage was probably correct. Tell Dad to do whatever it is that he does so he can be here to enjoy his grandkids.

That's kind of the problem with my dad, he has been a handyman his whole life and has always felt like he could do things like electrical himself. (he spent a lot of his life in construction, but is really too old to keep up with any larger construction jobs anymore). His work is normally very high quality, but He is very impatient and gets easily frustrated. I am on the other hand obsessive about the details, check everything atleast 3 times, and if I don't know how to do it, I ask / check on it.

I don't think I mentioned this before, this whole thing just scared the $*%# out of me. When this happened, (with the main out), I had a tone generator clipped onto the neutral bar in his panel, the other lead was clipped onto a branch circuit. I was in a upstairs office, At the exact moment this happened, I had just stuck the end of my metal probe on my tone generator into the hot side of a outlet, with the speaker on high. Man did that freak me out, I almost droped dead on the spot, (I thought how the is there this horriable loud booming voltage hum when I have the main pulled, I thought, my dad knew very clearly not to put the main back in, what the $%* ) it was one horrible humming buzzing noise. I am really lucky that the wires that he burned through and shorted out in the panel were not the wires I had the probe on or I could have been electrocuted with my probe... Yet another good lesson, always tag and lock out your work if your counting on it being de-energized. I knew he was not going to put the main back in, he knew I was testing.

He has an insurance adjustor comming out tommrow, and they are hopefully going to pay for someone to come and clean up this whole mess for him.

Jamie
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Old 01-11-2009, 07:20 PM   #20
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Quote:
Originally Posted by rgsgww View Post
Those nasty service conductors...always watch what your doing!
I do watch what I am doing very carefully and can't imagine I would have made a mistake like this.

If they would only require fused Disconnects at the meter this kind of thing would NEVER happen.

Jamie
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Old 01-11-2009, 07:24 PM   #21
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Quote:
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Those findings make sense to me. I was trying to understand why a ground cable short to ground would burn up branch circuit wiring. I makes sense that a cable run beside the ground cable would burn up along with the ground.
Tthe water pipe probably heated enough to melt the solder and let the water pressure blow the line apart.
Any chance you could post some pictures of this?
I am sure it would have all clicked for me much sooner if I had not been so freaked out by the whole event. As you can see in post #19, I explained in more detail where I was when this happened, and how it was a rather close call for me.

I did shoot some photos with my dad's camera last night, but left it over there, and there is no internet access or computer up and running yet. They are just using extension cords off of the utility outlet I installed late last night for them. (The licensed electrician was just going to leave all the branch circuits on that didn't have direct shorts on them - that scared me).

But will swipe his camera or memory card so I can get some posted in the next day.

Jamie
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Old 01-11-2009, 07:31 PM   #22
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jamiedolan View Post
I do watch what I am doing very carefully and can't imagine I would have made a mistake like this.

If they would only require fused Disconnects at the meter this kind of thing would NEVER happen.

Jamie
Don't take it wrong, it wasn't directed at you, or anyone. It was just advice for the next reader.


Jamie, I don't think you would ever make a mistake like this.

Scary stuff, you guys are lucky.

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Old 01-11-2009, 07:41 PM   #23
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Quote:
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Pictures would be nice.

Maybe this happened. Sorry for poor drawing.
That does look like a accurate diagram of what happened. I will get some photos posted.

Thanks for the drawing.
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Old 01-11-2009, 07:56 PM   #24
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Unfused connectors MELTED House wires WHAT TO DO???


We all make mistakes including the pros. Don't be to hard on your dad, I am sure he was pretty upset at what happened. Your Dad is Ok, the house did not burn down and you are OK. Many DIY's work on their panel and know what they are doing including myself.
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Old 01-11-2009, 11:12 PM   #25
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Hi Marc;
I send you a PM to let you know that I am still in Paris France right now until end of this month.,
Thanks for sending me the message.

that was pretty strong short current that make the copper solidering melt and BTW the soilder it will melt about 600~750F depending on the " tin " itself.

Never have I seen a meter spin so fast. It ran like that for a hour. I wonder what the power bill is going to be!!! since it was unfused, I suppose it could have been well over 200 being used. ouch!

Most POCO transformer can able crank out about 4 to 12 Kamps depending on size of transformer on resdentail area however in commercal the SCA { short circuit amps } it will be much higher it can have much as 30K or more depending on the size.

He is over off Wisconsin, In neenah, just a block from down town. So I am not sure what size transformer he would have.

speaking for rest of wires IMO the best way is megger it.

I know not all electricians will carry this tester with them.
One thing I know with most homeowner insurance I am sure they have something to cover the damage but how much that part I don't know it pretty much up to them what they written in their policy but I am pretty sure they will cover most of the repair as need to.

He is talking to the insurance in the AM. If they decide it is covered, he has up to 240,000 to cover damages.

I suspect that someone will come in and megger for him due to the situation. However, I'd like to get myself a megger. I posted a message about a couple models I am looking at.

Do you have a megger you use?

I will start at the panel and work it way out after you check all the conductors to make sure they are not damaged at all or any burnt mark on them.

If you have any gas fired devices like furance , waterheater dryer etc etc check the gas system very carefully to see any burnt mark as well especally with SSCT { stainless steel corrated tubing }.

Merci,Marc

All black iron, no signs of damage there. (one whip upstairs on stove, i'll double check that one for safety) HVAC guy was out and went over it, it had stopped working. Turn out the only problem was that when my dad wired the furnace to the extension cord for a temp hook up, he reversed the polarity on the connections. For some reason this a problem for the furnace and will not allow it to start. But the HVAC guy went over all the furnace stuff and connections and I inspected the rest of the gas pipe.

I wanted to get in there more today and pull more stuff apart and look at more things, but my dad needs to wait till tommrow to see what decisions the insurance adjustor makes about the damage and what they are willing to pay for.

Thanks Marc.

Jamie
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Old 01-12-2009, 09:38 AM   #26
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A book by Ray C. Mullin on resi. wiring puts the impedance at the panel at 1 milliohm. Maybe this was a typo.
I guess I'll measure it sometime.
We would need the whole paragraph mentioning this impedance to understand the significance. For example if we are talking about voltage drop imposed by the panel, an impedance of one milliohm from the hot service feed for the main breaker through to the hot lead out of a branch circuit breaker would mean unmeasurable voltage drop.

There may be some concern about deterioration of the service pipe from the house to the water main. Considerable current from this short circuit will have gone to ground that way returning to the pole transformer secondary via the ground system and ground wires on the poles . A process called electrolysis, which literally makes the metal (pipe) dissolve, occurs when electricity flows through pipes and into surrounding moist earth. In addition, there may be better conduction to the earth at a few points along the pipe and increased current flow and arcing and melting of the pipe could have occurred underground. Not much you can do about something like this now but don't be surprised if in a few years you have a leak up into the front yard.

Meanwhile back in the house, objects not in contact with both electricity and plumbing should not have suffered damage. For example dryers and non-electric (clockless) gas stoves. Grounded conductors (ground wire in Romex cables, BX cable sheaths, etc.) between any association with plumbing and the main panel are the vulnerable items. You may want to make a sketch of the plumbing to get a better idea of the higher priority places to look.

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Old 01-12-2009, 02:44 PM   #27
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Update: The insurance will pay for damages, however, they don't want to pay to bring stuff up to current code. i.e. rewire circuits with a ground. What an expensive mess this is going to be. I hope that if anyone reads this they will think twice about working around unfused service if they are not absolutely certain they know what they are doing and the risks of that kind of work.

He found an electrician that will megger the wires, and should be coming out tomorrow. Then we will find out for sure how extensive the damages where.

I have my camera and the car and will snap some more photos when I go over and post them later on.

Thanks again guys.

Jamie
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Old 01-12-2009, 02:51 PM   #28
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We would need the whole paragraph mentioning this impedance to understand the significance. For example if we are talking about voltage drop imposed by the panel, an impedance of one milliohm from the hot service feed for the main breaker through to the hot lead out of a branch circuit breaker would mean unmeasurable voltage drop.

There may be some concern about deterioration of the service pipe from the house to the water main. Considerable current from this short circuit will have gone to ground that way returning to the pole transformer secondary via the ground system and ground wires on the poles . A process called electrolysis, which literally makes the metal (pipe) dissolve, occurs when electricity flows through pipes and into surrounding moist earth. In addition, there may be better conduction to the earth at a few points along the pipe and increased current flow and arcing and melting of the pipe could have occurred underground. Not much you can do about something like this now but don't be surprised if in a few years you have a leak up into the front yard.

Meanwhile back in the house, objects not in contact with both electricity and plumbing should not have suffered damage. For example dryers and non-electric (clockless) gas stoves. Grounded conductors (ground wire in Romex cables, BX cable sheaths, etc.) between any association with plumbing and the main panel are the vulnerable items. You may want to make a sketch of the plumbing to get a better idea of the higher priority places to look.
Allan,
A plumber came out today to make the repair. It appeared that the failure point was in the coupler that goes from the copper to the lead pipe. I am not positive, now was the plumber if the failure was a solder joint on that coupler or where it met up with the lead. Water has been on for a couple hours with no signs of leaks. Visual inspection has not revealed any other damage to the water pipes. Hopefully he is in the clear with the water pipe system, but I have warned him about the possibility of hidden damage that may cause a leak at some point in the future.

I also did pass along your information about double checking the gas pipe and any flex whips (to the oven). I believe that the oven would have been the only gas appliance with a csst whip. Only other gas is the h20 heater and the furnace, which are both plumbed with black iron.

The electrical service was not directly bonded to the gas pipes, but I am sure it could have easily made the connection via other electrical systems once things had become energized.

It would be very interesting to see how electricity flowed in a situation like this, and what was energize and with how much voltage. Of course it would have to be done in a lab for obvious safety reasons.

Thanks again
Jamie
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Old 01-12-2009, 03:23 PM   #29
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Update: The insurance will pay for damages, however, they don't want to pay to bring stuff up to current code. i.e. rewire circuits with a ground.
Since it is impossible to repair without meeting code I suspect they are actually financially responsible for whatever expenses are required to repair the damage including anything required to meet your local codes that are in force for the type of repair work being done.

For example, if your local code allows 2 wire romex to be used for repair of existing 2 wire circuits then the insurance company could limit their financial responsibility to that (I doubt your code allows that). But if your code requires that all circuits being repaired be upgraded to current codes then I think the insurance company is responsible for that entire cost.

You might want to push back at the insurance company.
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Old 01-12-2009, 03:41 PM   #30
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>>> ... why a ground cable short to ground would burn up branch circuit wiring.

One example:

Let's say the water heater has an electronic ignition or an electric vent damper. It is served by a branch circuit with ground wire connected to its chassis. Then fault current flows through the water pipes, reaches the water heater, and uses that #14 gauge or so ground wire to get back to the panel ground. That part of the branch circuit in question back to the panel is now fried by the overloaded and therefore overheated ground wire.

Current is not going to flow through all the pipes, just those between the energizing point (the clamp) and where there is existing metal to metal connection to a ground such as described above. But a voltage "potential" does exist throughout the plumbing system. A person touching any water pipe, faucet handle, etc. and whose other hand or feet, etc. are grounded can be electrocuted.

Since a pipe joint melted open, that is evidence a lot of current went "thataway".

By the way, the voltage involved was 120. Only one of the unfused terminals of the 120/240 volt service was touched by the #4 wire.


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