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Dismal Household Wiring Practice

  1. Jan 2, 2007 #1


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    I am just about fed up with whomever was contracted to do my house's electrical rough in. I have, since moving in, been going through the process of replacing all of the 1960's era outlets and switches. No problem, right? Wrong. Every single switch and outlet has absolutely ZERO slack in the wire. It's almost impossible to get the outlets/switches out of their boxes. It's like they installed them and then went to the other end of the run and pulled the wire tight. This has got to be the most moronic practice I have ever seen. Did they used to teach electricians to install wiring like this?[/rant]

    To get around this, I am, most likely, breaking a bunch of NEC regs by splicing in extensions on each conductor. My only saving grace is that the junction is still inside the box. Does anyone have any suggestions of what to do other than rerun every wire run in my home? Does anyone happen to know if the extension leads I am having to use are agains code (I know codes differ from area to area)?
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  3. Jan 2, 2007 #2


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    I'd stop by your local city Building Permit office and talk with one of the building inspectors. At least in my city, they're pretty nice folks to talk with, especially since you're the homeowner and not some big contractor. The inspector will be able to tell you what your options are for fixing the problem and staying within code.

    And at least when I learned how to wire junction boxes, we were taught to leave the service loop and jam the mess into the box. I agree that it's dumb to leave no service loop at all.
  4. Jan 3, 2007 #3
    It is a requirement in my location to wire an outlet that is mid-run in a circuit using wire nuts and use ONLY one set of screws on the outlet. This is so it is easy for the homeowner to replace the outlet and only have to deal with one set of screws instead of two. In your case I would say it would be more advisable to add on with a short chunk of wire inside the box than to attempt to attach very short lengths to the outlet/switch. I've noticed in conduit runs it is very common to have less than adequate length in the boxes. This is I believe due to finishing one box and then going on to the next and pulling for more wire. Installations that do not use conduit there is no excuse for it. The cable should be stapled in at least one spot between boxes. Using plastic boxes it needs to be stapled within a foot of the box since there is no clamp on the box. Most of the time a decent electrician will leave plenty of wire at each box and have all runs installed before they go back and install receptacles and fixtures. However, nowadays with drywallers commonly using what is known as a rotozip some electricians probably leave less wire than they should to avoid the bit of the rotozip cutting the bunched up wire in the box. All wire nuts and connectors other than the outlet/switch itself should be installed before drywall is put on otherwise it is difficult to tell how to hook everything in the box without using a continuity meter.
  5. Jan 5, 2007 #4


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    I had a little talk with our master electrician. He shook his head when I told him what was going on. He said the only thing I could do is what I did (which makes perfect sense). It wasn't a big deal to do other than fitting all of the wire nuts in the old box because newer switches/outlets are physically larger than they used to be. But, I made extra careful that everything was insulated from each other and shoe-horned everything in.

    I am still debating about going to the local inspector's office and reading them the riot act. How that passed inspection is beyond my comprehention. It would be a losing battle on my end and I'd probably be put on a list for "extra special attention" for anything I do in the future, so discretion is the better part of valor in this case.
  6. Jan 5, 2007 #5
    How it passed inspection is simple. Or at least in my local. There are generally 2 steps to an inspection on new construction. The first is when all the boxes are attached to the framing and all wires are run but the ends are hanging out of the boxes unattached. This is so that if the inspector decides there are not enough outlets, there are switches in the wrong places, etc., it can easily be changed. There is no sense in wiring any farther if the inspector makes the electrician start changing things. At this point the inspector may ask about various rooms, what they are to be used for and mention anything that they think the electrician could overlook in the future, just plain offering up advice that could come in handy. It would be a good time for any questions the electrician has for the inspector to be asked. The next stop the inspector makes is when everything is finished. Outlets, switches, lights and everything else are installed with cover plates on. He will go around checking outlets to make sure that there aren't any with hot and neutral reversed. The inspector will also check GFCI outlets. The inspector will probably have a look at the service panel and put an inspection sticker on it. That's the end. Inspectors cannot be taking the time to pull stuff apart and inspect wire lenghts.
    Fred, in your case I guess it wouldn't hurt to talk to the inspector about it but chances are it is a different inspector from when the house was built and whether or not the electricians that wired it are still around is anyones guess. I wouldn't get to harsh with them. That would imply a lack of knowledge of how the whole inspection system works which implies a lack of knowledge about residential wiring in general. You don't need them to think that.
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