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cwbuff's Avatar

Join Date: Mar 2007
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01-31-18, 10:43 AM   #1 (permalink)  

I have an outlet in my garage that's located between the two doors. Yesterday when I pulled a plug out of the outlet the entire box pulled out. It was an old work box and one of the taps as broken off.

No big deal, I dug up another box and killed the power at the panel. The breaker was labeled "receptacles ground floor". I verified that the power was out with a light that was plugged in at my workbench receptacle. I disassembled the receptacle in the old box and replaced the box. When I went to reconnect the wiring I got a shock. The wiring was hot!

When I built the garage I provided a 20 amp circuit for the receptacles in my upstairs workshop and a separate 20 amp circuit for the receptacles in the garage bays. I forgot that I had added the receptacle between the doors a couple of years later (the old work box should have clued me in). It was more convenient to just tap into a nearby J box that fed an outside lighting circuit instead of pulling wire from the existing 20 amp receptacle circuit. The lighting circuit is fed from a different breaker.

Lesson learned - don't believe the breaker box and always check at the fixture being worked on.

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Pilot Dane's Avatar
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01-31-18, 12:37 PM   #2 (permalink)  
It's amazing how that flash of light, "pop" sound and smell of ozone & electrical smoke can jog your memory. Don't feel bad though. I have lost wire cutters to cutting wires that I thought were turned off but were still hot.

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01-31-18, 12:42 PM   #3 (permalink)  
It seems like every time I get a pair of lineman pliers I have to try them out and burn a hole in cutter.

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01-31-18, 01:02 PM   #4 (permalink)  
Don't feel bad but always use a meter.
Your story is better than mine. When I first started working on electric I saw a wire with a black, red and neutral.

Wasn't sure what the red was for so of course I decided to touch it..... Not a real good idea

Norm201's Avatar

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01-31-18, 02:55 PM   #5 (permalink)  
These stories just show that no matter how experienced or careful one might be , accidents can happen.
Glad no one was hurt.
Today a young kid (young to me) wanted to put a 20 amp fuse into a 15 amp circuit because it keeps blowing. He wanted my blessing! I hope I convinced him it was a bad idea. He did buy 15 amp fuses but I told him that won't solve the problem. He needs to find the cause. He said they have gone through about a dozen fuse in the past two weeks.

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01-31-18, 03:14 PM   #6 (permalink)  
Yrs ago I was painting an old church. There was a piece of an extension cord hanging out a crack under the siding. My helper was on a ladder and asked if it would be ok if he just cut it off flush with the siding. I told him to go ahead, there was a flash/pop and his knife landed about a foot from me on the ground with a nice round chunk out of the blade. Who would have ever thought an extension cord with no end hanging out of a gable would be live

retired painter/contractor avid DIYer

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01-31-18, 03:42 PM   #7 (permalink)  
A careless mistake I made was;

While remodeling my home after the 2016 flood, I was updating old 1970's light switches with newer paddle switches. Because I am by no means an electrician, I bet I made 500 trips back & forth to the breaker panel outside in the utility room to each switch in the house to be certain I had all current OFF ... all while using a tester/meter on each switch to ensure the power was off.

I came upon a box with two switches in it. One went to the dining room & the other went to the carport light. As usual, I went out, flipped the corresponding breaker & tested the wiring/switch & sure enough the power was off. I started removing the first switch & suddenly I touched the other switch with my screw driver.... there were sparks & I got a shock. I thought, "what the.....?"

Come to find out, I cut off the power to the dining room thinking both switches were fed from the same breaker. I mean who the heck would wire two light switches in the same box with different breakers???

Lesson learned... always check all switches & outlets ... all of them... every time.

Nobody has to tell me twice....lol

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01-31-18, 04:44 PM   #8 (permalink)  
Was putting up Fiberglass Reinforced Panels (FRP) in a restaurant kitchen behind the sink where they clean off the dirty plates and behind the dishwasher. I had disconnected everything, pulled the sink and dishwasher so I could work behind it. I was covering old tile that was rather unsightly and the FRP would give it a new refreshed look. Was working about 3/4ths down the wall when I got to a section that I had difficulty with. There was a steel conduit coming out of he slab with a 90 degree elbow on it. The elbow was turned so that i was tight to the wall and I couldn't get my panel behind it. There were a couple of wires hanging out of the conduit that I thought nothing of as it was underneath a wet area, I assumed dead. I took a pair of channel locks and was going to turn the elbow 90 degrees so I could get the panel behind it. Grabbed the elbow, started to turn and POW! The blast threw me back against a prep table and down on my behind. I sat there on the floor not knowing what had happened and my vision only saw a bit white circle, like you looked at the sun for a little while. My helper came rushing and made sure I was OK. After a couple minutes I gathered myself and figured out what happened. Turns out that obviously the circuit was live and hot. It was an old line for a steam warming oven that hadn't been used in years. I told the owner in the morning that whatever breaker is blown in the panel to tape it off and mark it as danger. It was a 277volt line I sparked. Told the owner, almost came into work to find a dead body in your kitchen.

Exactly why, to this day, I will never touch anything that has to do with 240 volts or higher. Blew a fantastic hole in my channel locks and I thank god that the handles were insulated or I would have been typing this from the great computer in the sky.

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02-01-18, 05:30 AM   #9 (permalink)  
I learned to respect electricity as a child. I was instructed to clean up my daddy's work bench/area in the basement. I came across a replacement cord plug. My little pea brain said the best place to put it was to plug it in a receptacle - so I did. It knocked me across the room onto the furnace. I got up, replaced the fuse, washed the black off of both my hand/arm and the wall ..... and never told anyone of course I never made that mistake again!

retired painter/contractor avid DIYer

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02-01-18, 06:11 AM   #10 (permalink)  
Have never actually zapped myself, but I've stopped just short (no pun intended) of doing it. One of the best gifts I ever got was my little non-contact tester.

Measure it with a micrometer; cut it with an ax.

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02-01-18, 09:04 PM   #11 (permalink)  
This is the perfect use for a non contact tester..... to let you know there is dangerous voltage in the area.

~ Pete ~

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