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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I had a handyman come do some work for me and I just wanted to confirm what he did was acceptable. In my attic I have a pull chain operated light fixture that gets power from the furnace. Currently there is an attic exhaust fan wired to this light fixture for power. I wanted to install a fluorescent light in the attic so he wired the new fluorescent light to the same pull chain light fixture. So essentially I'm viewing it as one point of power output powering 3 things (pull chain light, exhaust fan, and fluorescent light). Here is my really bad diagram of what I'm talking about.

There were no other easy ways to get power and the attic fan is on the opposite side of where the fluorescent light will be, so he didn't "daisy chain" by pulling power from the attic fan.

Does this seem okay?
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
It is a problem if they are on the furnace circuit. The furnace circuit is supposed to be dedicated.

I would stop using a handyman for electrical work.
Yea I was thinking about that too.. but he said since it is a gas furnace the only power draw is the blower and theoretically shouldn't be able to use that much power to cause a problem...
 

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Craigslist? He may have been correct depending on the draw but code is code.Everyone is always blowing off code but in the long run it is the minimal accepted standard for the application. (my words not theirs) Who in the world would want their house to be below that??
 

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My house from the '40s has the furnace on the same circuit as the bedrooms. It's never been a problem and running a new circuit would be a huge PITA. Would also have cost the OP more money.
 

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Wiring practices and codes differ greatly from the 1940s. Simply because it works does not mean it is safe or code compliant.
 

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If your asking a handyman to wire your house, depending on his expertise and coughing on his price, you're asking for trouble.

In my last house, electricians were required to be licensed within the town in addition to the state. Any work, even a single outlet, done by a licensed electrician must be inspected by their underwriter.

House wiring is not rocket science. I suggest you learn how do it right or pay someone who's licensed to do it right. Yes, that's expensive, but not as expensive as a fire.
 

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In my last house, electricians were required to be licensed within the town in addition to the state. Any work, even a single outlet, done by a licensed electrician must be inspected by their underwriter.
Sounds like your town have more regulations than it needs, you must be near Chicago! Is it still possible for a homeowner to do their own work such as replacing an outlet or does everything have to be done by an electrician?
 

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Here's the thing: it's not inherently unsafe if it's done safely (connections are done well, etc...), but we have no way of knowing whether it's done safely. The fact that he didn't do it to code--that he didn't even *mention* the code issue with having it on the furnace circuit--means he either doesn't know what he's doing or he's unwilling to tell you there is a code issue.

Either way, it means that even if you're comfortable having a handyman do work that legally and for insurance reasons needs to be done by a professional, *this handyman* is not someone you want to trust with this kind of work. Guilds often limit the labor pool irrationally, but they *also* provide some standards and knowledge that are important. The worst electrician isn't better than the best handyman, but on average an electrician's electrical work is a *lot* better than a handyman's, and that becomes more true as the electrical task becomes more complex.

The electrician also has liability insurance if your house burns down because he messed up. And is less likely to burn your house down.

Final point: the more things are on a circuit, the more likely you are to have a problem with it. You don't want to have a problem with the circuit for the furnace.
 

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So now if the pull chain light, florescent light, or attic exhuast fan short out, you have no heat.
 

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I guess the handyman should have disconnected the existing light and exhaust fan, then told you it's not allowed.

Then you could call in an electrician that would have more likely than not, put it back the way it was, and told you "That guy was an idiot.".


Seen it before.

Just because a guy holds an electrical license doesn't mean he will follow the code.

It's easy to sit on the interenet and talk about how ALL electricians are doing the job to code, and ALL the handymen are not.

No doubt that since he's only a handyman, he doesn't know how to use wire strippers, wire nuts, etc, etc. After all, he's just some dumb ass handyman.
 

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It doesn't matter how a handyman or a hack electrician would do it. It doesn't matter how safe you think it is. This site only offers info that is code compliant.
I missed the fact that the furnace was on the circuit when I said it was OK.
 

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Just because a guy holds an electrical license doesn't mean he will follow the code.

It's easy to sit on the interenet and talk about how ALL electricians are doing the job to code, and ALL the handymen are not.

No doubt that since he's only a handyman, he doesn't know how to use wire strippers, wire nuts, etc, etc. After all, he's just some dumb ass handyman.
Nobody but you said any of that. People overwhelmingly recommended using an electrician, some because of code or insurance reasons and some because electricians are much more *likely* to do electrical work correctly. It's their job and they've done it for many thousands of hours. A lot of handymen can do simple electrical correctly too, although usually it's illegal for them to do so professionally and/or insurance won't cover their errors. Even more can do electrical that works but isn't correct.

But a lot will also have electrical be just this small thing they sometimes do that they figured out how to do when doing a job for an old lady a while back, so they use backstabbed receptacles or splice a wire in a closed wall without a junction box or they extend a two-wire circuit or they upsize a breaker without upsizing a wire or they replace a bathroom receptacle with a non-GFCI. It doesn't mean they're not smart--it means they don't know a particular rule that someone who spend time working in the trade or researching a particular problem knows.

I've had electricians make silly mistakes--the electrician who wired a hot water heater timer to get its power from the timed side of the circuit (so the timer clock turned off whenever the hot water heater did) and then didn't believe that I'd had to fix it comes to mind. And I've known of others who did much worse--I remember hearing of an electrician in Ontario who stole a bunch of an old couple's equipment and leave a job site unfinished. But there's at least a guild for reporting that kind of behavior.

So of course a given handyman can be better than a given electrician. Don't assume we're all just hating on handymen. Some handymen can be amazing--especially at things they do a lot of, like adjusting an old door to hang properly, which can be really surprisingly hard if you haven't spent a lot of time doing it. I wish I knew a good handyman around where my mother is, since the guy we knew just moved away from there and didn't know *anyone* in the area who was good enough to recommend, despite knowing everybody.

Finding good handymen is hard. Finding a good electrician is hard. But choosing between an untried handyman v. an untried electrician, the electrician is likely to be technically better for (and legally permitted to do) electrical work, especially if there's new wiring involved.

And nobody sane is going to recommend to strangers on a web site that you use a handyman they don't know for electrical work, which is usually illegal and creates the risk of having uninsured electrical work on your house. Because if you get a hundred K in damage saving $40/hr to use someone who turned out to be the wrong handyman, on the advice of person X online, you or your insurance company will probably be suing both your handyman and person X.
 
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