Electrical hacks = DANGER!

I was recently doing a bid for a deck on a clients house. While inspecting the area I was shocked to find electrical wire buried directly in the soil. In some jurisdictions there are some types of cable that are allowed to be directly buried in the dirt. Neither of those conditions apply in this instance. In Portland, Oregon you are not permitted to bury any type of cable without putting it in approved electrical conduit.

Dangerous electrical work

This got me thinking about all the times I have seen poor, shoddy and outright dangerous electrical work. A few years ago I was on a job where the home owner asked if any of us had electrical experience. I happen to have a great deal. In the past I have assisted and run wire for electricians and I have permitted and wired up my own jobs, I have also spent years studying and asking questions of electricians, however, I am not licensed to do electrical work. I didn't respond to this home owner and I was shocked when a young fellow on the crew said, "I'll give it a try". I was even more shocked when the homeowner said,"You seem like a smart guy, why not?" The "why-nots" are multitudinous. While this fellow was an educated young man and he seemed very confident; he had zero experience wiring a house. He said he would look it up online. Which he did and then he proceeded to make monumental blunders. Overloading circuits, running unprotected wire outdoors, burying Romex in the yard, running cable in and out of metal boxes without the protection of a clamp and finally for some bizarre reason he refused to ground any switches or outlets, saying that he had heard it was unnecessary. Then there was the breaker box. Some electrical inspectors will tell you there is an element of art to wiring up a good looking breaker box, I say it really shows a respect for organization and neatness when an electrician wires up a clean and organized breaker box.

A nice clean breaker panel

  Our friend made a mess of it.

Messy and dangerous

Eventually the homeowner had to replace all of this work, all of it. The home owner said they were just trying to save a few dollars. However, the problem was by saving a few dollars upfront he put the well-being of his family at risk and the work had to be repeated, paying for it big time on the back. What resulted was excessive risk and expense. My advice: Hire a pro. Do it right the first time.  
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