Wednesday, February 17, 2010


Philadelphia homeowners' electrical work not allowed

It is unlawful for anyone except an individual licensed by the City of Philadelphia to install electrical equipment and wiring. The owner of any property wherein any such installation is discovered shall be issued a violation by the Department of Licenses and Inspections. The limited exceptions include replacing devices and fixtures at existing outlets.
Answer in February 2010 by Jim Miraglia of the Department of Licenses and Inspections.
The Philadelphia amended electrical code could lead one to believe that it applied only to individuals in the business of installing electrical equipment. However, in combination with requirements for permits, this is intended to limit electrical installation to properly licensed persons only.
Homeowners shall not receive an electrical permit.
The cost of a permit to correct the violation issued for not having a permit is double the normal value.
Additionally, there are progressively escalating fees charged by the City of Philadelphia for inspection visits by the Department of L&I inspectors.
Philadelphia Licensed Electrician
Philadelphia License & Inspections Website
Philadelphia Amended Electrical Code


Another homeowner electrical wiring disaster

Robert Wilber
Licensed Philadelphia Electrician
Philadelphia License # 3516 - 16765
Electricity is dangerous!
You can be injured or killed!
Improper installations can cause fire, injury and death!
Are you qualified to do this work?
National Electrical Code definition, NFPA 70 2008 Article 100 I: Qualified Person. "One who has skills and knowledge related to the construction and operation of the electrical equipment and installations and has received safety training to recognize and avoid the hazards involved."
You are more likely to be killed by 120 volts than any other voltage [120 volts creates the PERFECT fatal current through the human body's electrical resistance!]

I have exterior lights blowing a circuit. I have successfully rewired all other wiring, but not this exterior wire. When I hook up the two wires it blows the circuit?? 2 wires positive and negative coming out of the circuit box that feed the entire basement and exterior lights, same as when it was knob and tube. I rewired it the same as it was. Now when I hook up the positive and negative wires it blows the circuit.?? Any ideas??

Sorry you are having such great problems.
You may think your efforts are successful because the light glows. That is not necessarily the case.
A legal, safe wiring system can be relied on because it has been installed in accordance with practices and standards developed and defined over the past hundred years through the cooperative efforts of hundreds of thousands of skilled, experienced electrical workers with the combined practical knowledge of MILLIONS of years of installation experience.
... but I don't think there is anything I can do to alleviate the effect of your actions.
The statement that you "rewired it the same as it was" verifies that the wiring you have installed does not meet these standards.
The product you have created is unsafe and non-functional. And now you ask advice from someone knowledgeable in the subject as to how to mitigate the damage you have wrought.

The only guidance possible is to recommend that:
1] ... you need to learn the rules and practices for properly installing electrical wiring, then remove the deficient segments of your installation and replace them. [Modern wiring practice bears no resemblance to knob and tube practices.] At that point it may be possible to help you fix your existing problem, if it doesn't just get resolved during the correction process; or
2] ... you need to hire someone knowledgeable in the field to do the same thing.

I think the best course is to hire someone who is willing to let you help and who will teach you as they go.

Forgive me if I sound harsh.
I am presently in the process of resolving an installation which was the subject of a violation. It was installed without permit or inspection by an unlicensed individual who was not the homeowner. [Homeowners are not allowed to install electrical equipment in the City of Philadelphia. They are allowed to replace devices and fixtures at existing locations.]
Ignoring these issues, the installation failed acceptability due to the fact that "Handy Jack" installed a receptacle outside using non-metallic sheathed cable [not rated for exterior use], a non-GFI receptacle [GFIs are required to protect personnel for exterior receptacles], a cable connector not rated for outdoor use [which allows water into the enclosure - it was even installed in the top of the box!], insufficient cable support [there is actually a rule about how far apart staples can be] and an improper device plate.
Oh! Wait! That is almost everything involved in the installation!
The biggest impediment to correcting this mess is the owner's frantic need to believe they have derived some benefit from the money they have already expended. I cannot reasonably use the word "invested" here.

I do believe practically anyone can do electrical work, but I do not believe ANYONE can do electrical work without proper training and skills development.

What is true is not that you have exterior lights blowing a circuit, but improper wiring based on inadequate theory causing a breaker to trip

Philadelphia Electrican answers electrical FAQ

Monday, February 01, 2010


Homeowner install. The unknowns fill volumes...

Helping people with electrical problem inquiries can be really scary.
Philadelphia electrician answers electrical FAQ questions
Even the seemingly simplest question raises shadows of a hundred unobserved demons.
Glaring problems that I plainly see are overlooked by the unskilled.
Danger lurks underfoot everywhere!
The most immediate issue in the following question was whether the inquirer knew he needed a fan-rated box!
That is why most of my answers include a substantial warning and disclaimer, and why many people are peremptorily advised to call an electrician.
I am installing a ceiling fan without light that has a remote for 3 speeds. is it possible to use a wall switch instead of the remote? can I bypass the receiver and directly connect the fan to a continuous slide dimmer?
Without more information, I couldn't say whether or not it will work the way you propose, but be aware that you intend to perform an installation of equipment in a manner that may be other than that recognized in the UL or other listing.
National Electrical Code calls for all devices/equipment to be installed according to their listing and or labeling.
If the unit relies solely on the remote to reverse direction, you won't be able to reverse if you use the dimmer and eliminate the control.
If you don't eliminate the control, the dimmer will send varying voltages to the fan [and the control], which may cause component failure in the control, and possibly a fire, depending on the control.
Contact the manufacturer for more information about your application in relation to the exact fan model you are installing.
Further, for safety reasons, never install a ceiling fan on a regular lighting outlet box. Always use a fan-rated box of the proper size for the weight of your fan. If it is a regular box, change it to a fan-rated box, even though this may be more work than installing the fan.

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