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It is currently 19 Apr 2021, 17:14

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PostPosted: 07 Oct 2018, 18:27 
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Location: US Pacific Northwest
So I have to ask a question. In all seriousness, is there, in the United States today, a significant shortage of qualified electricians? How about an inability to look up a "How To" video on YouTube?

Allow me to explain. My house is undergoing some relatively serious renovations (I'm getting a new kitchen). I purchased the home a little over a year ago. It's about 30 years old so there are some maintenance items that I've been a little slow getting to. So while my contractor was off today, I was taking the opportunity to do a little electrical work while various circuits were turned off. Little things like replacing some light switches, old plugs, and the like.

It seems every thing I look at scares me, just a little bit. Not horrible problems, but just things that are a bit off. Things like unconnected grounds, neutral side switching, missing anchor screws, too small (under capacity) wire nuts, and the like are REALLY common. As I look back, it seems that every time I help out someone with electrical work (I get asked a lot because in addition to being an Electrical Engineer, I am a fairly handy amateur electrician) I run into the same items. It's like the general attitude is, "If the light goes on, it must be ok". The very same people that would never dream of touching a gas line, seem to think that hacking at the electrical service is no big deal. Don't they realize that many more house fires and deaths are caused by faulty wiring than ever occur due to gas leaks and the like?

I'm sorry. I just needed to rant a bit. Has anyone else experienced this type of problem?

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PostPosted: 08 Oct 2018, 17:26 
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Location: Arizona, USA
Hi, I have seen the same thing. Either ignorance or a don't care attitude seems all to common. I found a number of wiring issues in my house and the one my daughter got (about 30-35 years old) was horrible. Nearly every outlet, switch and much of the actual wire was not up to code. Really bad things like splicing (with wire nuts) 12 gauge wire to 14 gauge so it would fit in the contacts of switches and receptacles. You know the kind you stuff the wire into a hole in the rear of them. Quite dangerous. Lack of any grounds in some outlets, reversed polarity in others. Ugh! :firefighter:

Good listening
Bruce

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PostPosted: 23 Nov 2018, 16:47 
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The "electrician" usually has a helper whom on the trim out will do plugs and switches while the "electrician" does the more the tech stuff (range, fancy lighting, main panel, etc.)


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PostPosted: 28 Jul 2019, 09:43 
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I worked as an electrician trainee for about 2.5 years in the Washington DC area and a member of IBEW local 26 IIRC. You need to work 4 years and take a test to be a licensed electrician. There were all kinds of people working in the trade from 8th grade dropouts to college graduates, from murderers to people who go to church on Sundays. The attitude of a lot of them was that it was construction and if you knew anything that you wouldn't be working there. A lot of the work was boring and repetative. Over time you tended to get tendinitis and other problems from constant physical work. It seems that most people don't want to do this type of work. Is this the type of attitude that other people have about construction trades in other parts of the US or the world?


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PostPosted: 17 Aug 2019, 09:51 
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There is a difference,

Between an "Electrician" and an electrical engineer.
The Electrician is a very broad term, is this someone who works with electricity? Or is it someone who installs wires and cables? Or is this someone who fault finds on PLC logic and control systems?

Its a bit like someone asking an Electrician to repair a TV etc.
Normally someone who hauls in heavy HV cables in factory roofs is a different guy to the one connecting it all up.
Its so varied these days and the constant changing regulations put most people off wanting to do the job.
In house wiring you need to be a jack of all trades from hammering walls and channelling cables to plastering.
If you go into the electrical trade then even fault location tends to be on shift work, who wants to do it these days?

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M. Gregg

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PostPosted: 22 Aug 2019, 17:15 
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Firesign Theater - Waiting for the Electrician or Someone Like Him (1968) (Complete Album)
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2I2PjLna4C0 :beerchug:


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PostPosted: 12 Mar 2021, 19:53 
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Joined: 24 Nov 2010, 14:39
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Location: California
I realize that this is an older thread, but I just stumbled across it. Having been an electrical contractor for many years, I can offer a little insight.
mike567 is right on the money. Many electricians use helpers to do the final trim. Unfortunately their skills often are lacking. This is one reason the push-in terminations on receptacles and switches (we call them back-stabs) became so popular. Fast and easy. Usually the equipment ground connection was still a screw terminal. The lack of complete skills becomes evident when you find the ground wire wrapped in the wrong direction under the screw, the screw not tightened, etc. I remember some guys that screamed bloody-murder when back-stabs got restricted to 14 gauge wire only...which is why you see hacks like what Bruce mentioned - #14 wire pigtailed to #12 so it will fit the receptacle. Definitely not right! The only real function that the back-stabbers have is they guarantee service calls for some electrician in the future to come out and replace the junk. Probably the best solution is to use the receptacles and switches that wire from the back but use a screw and pressure plate to clamp the wire. These are excellent, and are good for either solid or stranded wire. But they cost more and cut into the profits, so.....
Part of it is simple consumer economics. If I were to bid a job and figured in $2.00 each receptacles, and my competitor comes in lower because he is going to use the 20 cent each ones, guess who will likely get the job. Many skilled electricians, myself included, tended to shy away from residential work and focused on commercial and industrial jobs instead. The money is better and generally the customer is more focused on function than aesthetics.
I'm essentially retired now. Occasionally I may do a troubleshoot and repair type job. And I still shake my head at some of the things I find.

Jim


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PostPosted: 13 Mar 2021, 21:23 
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Joined: 19 May 2011, 05:38
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Used to be "electrician" helper many moons ago. Switched to HVAC work after company folded.
You think stab back plugs are bad. Try 10kw heaters (residential) on 10-2 romex and try to explain to the customer why they need an electrician. Some customers actually get offended....I don't know what I'm talking about. Their friend, relative, neighbor knows more I do.
Getting tired and will be retiring soon after 47 years in hvac.


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PostPosted: 14 Mar 2021, 00:10 
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I hear you Mike - there is always some "expert" around to argue with an experienced professional.
My most memorable? I was doing a service call at an elderly lady's house. The house had a Zinsco brand (a.k.a. "Never-trips") loadcenter and breakers. I repaired the immediate problem (failed connection at a back-stab receptacle - my favorite) but also mentioned to the homeowner that she might want to consider having the panel replaced, as that brand has proven to be unsafe over the years. She kind of frowned but said nothing. Later that night I received an irate phone call from her next-door neighbor (obviously the neighborhood expert), berating me for trying to sell "unneeded work". "She has never had any trouble with her circuit breakers, I have the same ones in my house and never had any trouble. What kind of low-life tries to rip off an elderly widow?" Sigh.....

Jim


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PostPosted: 14 Mar 2021, 12:23 
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Location: Arizona, USA
Hi, So true. Everything works perfectly...until it doesn't. I over build electrical circuits and the various electronic designs I post. I really don't like smoke, arcing and fires. :hot:

Good listening
Bruce

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