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Old 01-19-2009, 10:25 AM   #16
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Copper can expand up to 67,000 times its original size in an arc flash when it goes from a solid to a plasma. Think about that! That can result in burns, shocks, and shock wave injury such as collapsed chest/organs (on larger arc flash explosions).

Thats why you want to watch out with unfused service conductors!

To electricians out there...remember to wear your ppe!

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Old 01-19-2009, 10:50 AM   #17
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Originally Posted by xamplesample View Post
even if the light switch is off in that room, and it's the light fixture i'm snipping?
Just because the light goes out does not mean all the wires are dead. Most of us will turn off the circuit breaker for that switch and light. And then use a voltage detector to make sure there are no conductors from other circuits involved. 120 volts can and does kill people. Rubber handled tools are not protection. Do not work on live circuits.
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Old 02-17-2009, 11:26 AM   #18
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A long time ago, I was mildly shocked when I ignorantly worked on a light with only the switch off. The two wires that shocked me was neutral and ground. Needless to say, I finished the job with the breaker off.

Here is my curiosity question: since a breaker switch only disconnects the common, how is that better than a light switch that only disconnects the common?

Thanks for your answer, this has been bugging me for years.
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Old 02-17-2009, 11:29 AM   #19
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Originally Posted by veloci1 View Post
A long time ago, I was mildly shocked when I ignorantly worked on a light with only the switch off. The two wires that shocked me was neutral and ground. Needless to say, I finished the job with the breaker off.

Here is my curiosity question: since a breaker switch only disconnects the common, how is that better than a light switch that only disconnects the common?

Thanks for your answer, this has been bugging me for years.

Actually the breaker opens the hot, not the neutral aka common. Same for switch.
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Old 02-17-2009, 11:32 AM   #20
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Good way to make homemade wire strippers
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Old 02-17-2009, 11:46 AM   #21
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Originally Posted by veloci1 View Post
A long time ago, I was mildly shocked when I ignorantly worked on a light with only the switch off. The two wires that shocked me was neutral and ground. Needless to say, I finished the job with the breaker off.

Here is my curiosity question: since a breaker switch only disconnects the common, how is that better than a light switch that only disconnects the common?

Thanks for your answer, this has been bugging me for years.
It should be off either way if it is wired correctly.* However people do things wrong and mistakes are made, hopefully not very often. The ground could be not properly bonded at the panel and is being energized at some point from another circuit, this could be part of a multiwire branch circuit and the other circuit is energizing the neutral, etc. Many things could be going on.

If your not completely certain you understand your wiring and that it is correct, (and it is dead when you turned the breaker off) then I would use a meter to make sure it is dead.

Personally, I either use a meter on it if I am unsure or handle it as if it where live, which I don't recommend anyone here do. When we started working on my parrents house last month, there were grounds that were not connected / bonded to the panel and they had become energize somehow. So it took extra care to ensure that something was really dead. My dad and I are just about finished rewiring the entire house. I didn't shock myself at all, nor have I shocked myself on myown electrical work. My dad stuck his hand into a metal box with a live switch in it the other day, But he is fine. Use care, those shocks can easily do more than just cause pain for a few minutes.
Jamie

*I did forget to mention (and this was stupid of me to forget to mention this because I have installed a number of these recently), if this is a switch loop with power from the light, one of the wires would still be energized with only the switch off.
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Old 02-17-2009, 12:24 PM   #22
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For linemen a rubber glove can kill. These are tested frequently...

Care and use of electrical protective equipment...
http://www.cbs.state.or.us/osha/educ...es/203xm6.html
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Old 02-17-2009, 01:44 PM   #23
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Don't do it. I cut through a live cable once (thought the breaker was off). The result was a big blue flash and a loud boom (like an m-80), I was seeing spots and my ears were ringing for quite some time. I was lucky that was all that happened.
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Old 02-17-2009, 02:02 PM   #24
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OP: to answer your question as succinctly as possible: Probably.

It takes less than 2 seconds to turn off a breaker. It can take up to half an hour or more to get feeling back in your fingers if you clip a live wire. Electrical shock can also cause serious health problems. It is safer to turn off the breaker and then check for voltage on the wire you want to cut. Once you're certain it is safe, then cut the wire. You'll be glad that you took the time to make sure it would not hurt you.
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Old 02-17-2009, 02:18 PM   #25
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The OP is asking if it is OK to cut the wires to a light fixture with just the switch off. A properly wired light fixture should be safe to be disconnected if the switch is off.
Not if the wire he is referring to is a switch loop cable with ground

My answer. You can cut thru a single wire using insulated cutters if the metal part of the cutters do not touch grounded metal (like the box or conduit).

Remember, electricity will not go into you, it will however pass thru you. If you are insulated from any "ground", you could cut the wire with uninsulated cutters.

My first shock came from incomplete information. I installed lawn sprinklers and my buddy was an electrician. I asked him how to hook up the 120V power to a timer. In the discussion he told me that if I didn't touch the black and white at the same time, I wouldn't get shocked.

He left out the ground part and I got drilled.
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Old 02-17-2009, 02:49 PM   #26
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Not if the wire he is referring to is a switch loop cable with ground

My answer. You can cut thru a single wire using insulated cutters if the metal part of the cutters do not touch grounded metal (like the box or conduit).

Remember, electricity will not go into you, it will however pass thru you. If you are insulated from any "ground", you could cut the wire with uninsulated cutters.

My first shock came from incomplete information. I installed lawn sprinklers and my buddy was an electrician. I asked him how to hook up the 120V power to a timer. In the discussion he told me that if I didn't touch the black and white at the same time, I wouldn't get shocked.

He left out the ground part and I got drilled.
When I am working on something that may come in contact with live parts, I use a fiberglass ladder, safety glasses, and insulated Kliens that are rated for live work up to 1000v. The main time I am working on something like this where I feel there is more risk, is when I am doing panel work in a old panel that is a mess, like my parents panel. I did a lot of clean up and removal of the old wires and adding in new wires from the top of the panel, right next to live service cables. The old AL cables didn't have a nice thick coat of insulation like THHN does, and you need to really be careful.

There are not that many reasons I can think of that most home owners needs to be working on things without opening the breaker first.

Jamie
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Old 08-06-2009, 11:03 PM   #27
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T
Quote:
o electricians out there...remember to wear your ppe!
What is ppe?
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Old 08-06-2009, 11:27 PM   #28
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T

What is ppe?
Personal Protective Equiptment.
Goggles, Glasses, Insulated gloves, fire resistant clothes, gloves, etc.
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Old 08-07-2009, 02:59 AM   #29
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As a DIY'er I try to know my limits, and to continually expand them through trying new things. One thing I do and don't try to expand on - I always drop the main breaker when doing any work. Sure, I could just drop the CB on the circuit being worked. Sure, if it's on a light switch ciruit and properly wired I could probably do it with just the switch off. But I also know my limitations - one being that I don't understand all about house wiring, so I drop the main breaker... Just to be sure.
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Old 08-07-2009, 08:00 AM   #30
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I had a nice jolt about a year ago. My push-a-matic breaker box doesn't have a main for the service box, just a main for the 120v bus bars. When I was installing some 6-3 for a sub panel using the breaker right next to the service lugs I had some issues getting the wire to feed into the breaker. So I pushed on it with both thumbs.. slipped off the wire and put one thumb on a hot lug, and the other on the other hot lug. Shocking experience! Heart was racing and everything.

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