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Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Homeowners and Electrical Work

Why is it we have all these rules and regulations for electrical work? We require licensing for electricians and contractors, yet any homeowner can do the wiring on their homes.

It is argued that the work will be inspected by an AHJ, so it should be up to code. If this is a valid point, then why do we require licensing at all? Isn't all electrical work supposed to be inspected and shown to meet code?

Electrical work is dangerous to install, to maintain, to use. If it is installed improperly it can cause property damage or loss of life. If we allow unqualified individuals to perform electrical work and something slips by the inspector there could be dire consequences. It may not happen right away either, it could be after the house is sold.

I have an example I'd like to pass along. I was wiring a house for a friend of mine (I am a licensed contractor by the way) and when I returned to wire his stand alone garage, I noticed the sprinkler company had been there. Both pumps that were installed during original construction were wired 220V. The sprinkler company installed a Rainbird system that required 120V supply to a step down transformer with 24V output. They decided to tap off the wiring on the pump pressure switch. They connected the live wire to one of the hot wires and tied the neutral and ground both to the ground lug. This is a very dangerous arrangement. There is now current flowing on the pump casing. If the pump were to leak water all over the floor and a barefoot person walked in, they could potentially be electrocuted.

We have all seen poorly installed electrical work. We wonder how someone could even do such stuff.

What if the do-it-yourself centers no longer sold electrical supplies to homeowners? It would surely limit the number of untrained people trying to wire an addition to a house, or connect a new hot tub, etc. Sure there are books out there that give the basics to residential wiring but how many really buy and read these books? We definitely have enough crackpot electricians working for legitimate companies that we don't need homeowners helping out.