Sunday, February 22, 2009

What The Law Says

In Ontario, all electrical service installations including electrical panels and branch wiring must be completed by a licensed electrical contractor, or a resident of the property at which the work is being completed. In either case, for any electrical installation to be legal, it must be pass an inspection by the ESA (Electrical Safety Authority). When an installation has successfully passed inspection, it essentially means that the Authority has undertaken responsibity for the quality of the work from the person(s) performing the work, and also means that liability is also transferred from the person doing the work, to the Authority, and on to any insurance company providing coverage for the premises.

So if you are going to do your own wiring, find out how to do it properly, and GET IT INSPECTED! I am just making a wild guess here, but I think the inspectors from the ESA would much prefer to visit your place to inspect your job, point out a bunch of deficiencies for you to correct, than to read in the morning paper that you and your family perished in a house fire due to a faulty wiring installation. They are paid decent salaries to do inspections, and the price of an inspection is very reasonable (typically ranging from $75 to $250 depending on the scope and size of job). And yes, the work I do in the Field House will be inspected, and eventually will be issued a Passed Certificate of Inspection.

Friday, February 20, 2009

Before and After, Example 1

I figure I may as well start at a very obvious point, where the power enters the house. The service comes from the hydro pole via an aboveground wire and mast, then down the side of the house and into the basement. Upon entering the basement, it enters a main 60 amp main fuse box, and then directly into a 60 Amp breaker panel. The main fuse may or may not be original, but the breaker panel was probably added sometime in the 'seventies. I have included a picture of it to show those interested what an atrocious mess it is. A hodge-podge of poorly run wires, wires added and marretted (joined) to other wires within the breaker section (a definite no-no!) and even two hots running into a single breaker (another very bad idea, both illegal and dangerous!). This was just a completely ugly mess, a definite instance where Mike Holmes would have wanted heads to roll!

Now I have the new panel in place, as pictured. This is a large 200 Amp combination main breaker / circuit breaker / generator panel. This means that the main service line will come straight into the panel which has a built in 200 Amp breaker, and also all the circuits breakers in one unit. Additionally, it has a sub panel built into the bottom which provides for a generator to be tied in to supply those circuits wired to the bottom portion if the power ever fails. Sweet! Also notice the very nice, consistent wiring inside the breaker area, with hots, neutrals, and grounds seperated, looped and run with sufficient excess to give a nice, neat look. The panel was bought at ROTH ELECTRIC just outside Tavistock, and I am definitely happy with it, as I have completely forgotten what it cost, either $300 or $400, but worth every penny.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Bless Me, For I Have Sinned.....

I will start right off with my first confession, that of wishing very, very, very bad things upon the person or persons responsible for doing some of the electrical wiring in the house. Years ago while changing a light bulb in the basement, I unscrewed the bulb part way, then reached up to grasp it at the metal base to keep turning it out.....BBUUTTTZZZZ my right arm got jolted and went completely numb, the bulb dropping to the floor and shattering. Christ I thought to myself, something is wrong there, as I knew that even having the switch turned off did not mean there was no energy to the light outlet, but there was no way the hot should jump to the screw base of the bulb and electrocute me!

When you look inside a light base, you will notice a metal button right at the back, and a metal ring that the bulb screws into. Wired properly, the metal button at the back is hot (energized), and the ring is ALWAYS neutral (unenergized) regardless of whether the light switch is in the on or off position... Wired backwards, however, and the metal button becomes neutral, and the screw in ring becomes hot, an extremely dangerous sitiuation! Seems someone doing the wiring got mixed up tying in a line to an existing circuit, and wired up a bunch of stuff with the hots and neutrals reversed.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

In The Beginning He Said "Let There Be Light"

....And then He went out and hired a good electrician to wire the place up right!

Welcome to my blog about the complete rewiring of our 1890's Victorian house, the 'Field House'. We bought the house about eight years ago now, and though it was generally in a good state of repair, the electrical system was a mish-mash of original knob and tube wiring, some additional wiring installed in the 'forties and 'fifties, and some complete and utterly garbage work done closer to the 'eighties. In any event, I soon determined that it would have to be completely removed or cut out, and a completely new electrical system installed from the ground up, including a new service panel.

By the time I will have completed this job, I will have installed approximately 100 receptacle outlets, over 60 light switches, roughly 45 octagon boxes for ceiling lights as well as a wireless programmable master control system, in addition to running roughly two kilometres of loomex wire through the walls of the house. I will also have installed a new 200 Amp main service/generator breaker panel, and have had an electrician in to run a new service from the panel back out to the hydro line on the street.