Wednesday, April 28, 2010


Homeowners doing electrical work risk disaster!

People scare me silly!
I get requests ALL THE TIME for support from people who SHOULD NOT be doing electrical work.
Yesterday, I told another electrician how resistant some people are to my advice to hire a professional electrician.
He suggested I ask them to take out an insurance policy with myself as beneficiary.

Today, I received the perfect example request showing why people need to hire professionals. My answer follows and contains the question.

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."
Always check with the local “Authority Having Jurisdiction” for an official interpretation before making installation decisions.
In Philadelphia, it is unlawful for anyone except an individual licensed by the City of Philadelphia to install electrical equipment and wiring.
Homeowners are not allowed to install 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.
Contact the Department of Licenses and Inspections for more information.
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!]
This information is provided for the use of parties as they see fit!
I am not responsible for the application of this information by any party, including those lacking sufficient skill or knowledge to perform these steps safely and any hazard created is the SOLE responsibility of the user.

I am installing a new outside light fixture at my front door. There is a hole in the siding where a light fixture was before and a white and ground wire only in the wall. Fixture has a white, black and ground wire. A co-worker said to connect the black fixture wire to the white wall wire, white fixture to ground wall wire, and fixture ground to green screw on fixture. Any advice?

Not only are you are the most recently discovered victim of "Handy Jack" but it appears he works with you!
Handy Jack is my less than affectionate moniker for the representative of that class of lummox who think that they have "discovered" a newer simpler solution to an electrical condition that is so much more reasonable than the process followed by the literally millions of obvious idiots working in the electrical trades, including construction, engineering, design and manufacturing and possessing the combined knowledge derived from tens, if not hundreds, of BILLIONS [I am an electrician, not a mathematician. There are roughly 600,000 electricians who clock 2,000 to 3,000 working hours each year and have, in increasing numbers, for the past 100 years!] of hours of exposure to, and contemplation of, the safe and useful application of electrical energy as we understand it.
Jack, of course, can see clearly where we have all overlooked the apparent, simple solution....

[BTW-Handy Jack also does plumbing, carpentry, roofing and siding, replacement window installation, auto repairs and brain surgery...]

Now, to YOUR problem.

1] There should be an enclosure [box] behind your fixture.
2] You will have to make the hole bigger to get the box in, so it will make it easier to find the end of the cable and the black conductor, which should be the hot. If you cannot find it, you will have to remove the switch for the light and open the wall inside to follow [and possibly replace] the wire to the light. [Why in the world would you connect the Black fixture wire to the White conductor and the Ground to the White?]
3] I question whether you should be doing this yourself and highly recommend hiring a professional electrician. Watch what he does so you will see how this should be handled and possibly develop some insight into the process so you might have some solid foundation on which to begin to build personal skills in this area. [Maybe you could have pulled this off if there were not so many issues and the original installation were done properly.]


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