Contractor Responsibility?

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Old 09-10-02, 05:53 AM
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Contractor Responsibility?

Hi all. I've been doing alot of reading here and I think I am in the right, but I want to check here too.

Last year I bought a house built in 1949. The outlets in the house were all two-prong polarized outlets. Fuse box in the basement. I had a contractor come in and I asked for a couple of new grounded outlets installed in the finished basement, outlets switched out to GFI in the kitchen, and an outlet to be grounded in the finished attic in what was to be the computer room.

The quote that I signed and the work was based off of states "Ground outlet of walk up attic"
It further states changing exisiting outlets to GFI in the kitchen.

Well, I wanted to change another outlet to 3 pronged this year so I was reading here and found out that if there was no ground wire I would need to use a GCFI and put a sticker on it stating "No Equipment ground."

The problem is that I realized that the contractor had put in a GFCI in the computer room. I pulled it out, and in fact, there is nothing attached the ground screw.
I called him up and he is going to look at it on Saturday to see what is involved in putting a ground in. He briefly argued with me stating that a GFI is an acceptable subsititution when no ground wire is easily available. I told him that I understood this but I had requested a ground outlet and that is not what I got. One of the apprentices there had done the work on that outlet and they had not even put a sticker on stating No Equipment Ground.

I figured enough of you have dealt with stuff like this. Am I within my rights to expect him to properly ground the outlet free of charge.
It's about a year after he did the work but I just now realized what was done.

Thanks much.
 
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Old 09-10-02, 06:22 AM
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If the contract specifically states that the contractor was to install "grounded outlets" then you are well within your rights to expect that he would provide a remedy free of charge.
However, you may have to check the local laws of your state as to how much time you have to find fault and defect with respect to the work performed. This tends to vary from state to state.

You are absolutely correct, the contractor, no matter how long it's been since the work has been done, should come back and make it right. If for no other reason than to have a satisfied customer.
 
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Old 09-10-02, 06:27 AM
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I assume the house has "ROMEX" wiring, and not metal conduit wiring. A separate ground conductor is not generally required if all wiring is inside metal conduit (either flexible or rigid).
 
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Old 09-10-02, 06:36 AM
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Well, actually. I was in my attic running some cable and I think that the wiring may be contained within metal conduit. I was reading another site and it said

"Some homes without the ground wire, may be wired with BX or armored cable. This is the cable with the flexible metal casing around the wire. If this is the supply to your outlets, and it runs from your metal boxes all the way to your entrance box (where your fuses are), you are in luck. The outer casing of this wire can serve as the ground. For you to use this as the ground, your entrance box should be connected to ground (it usually is) and the BX cable connected to metal receptacle boxes in your walls. You should test this first be verifying that the voltage between the hot lead and the box is 110 V. The new grounded outlets should be wired from the green ground screw to a screw into the metal receptacle box."

Does this sounds like an accurate test. I've got a voltage tester so I can give this a try. If this is the case though, shouldn't the GFI they installed have been wired from the ground screw to the box?

Thanks for the help. I've done many projects around the house thus far but I'm still very new to the electrical and am being very careful to do things right.
 
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Old 09-10-02, 06:39 AM
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If these new outlets that were installed do have a ground run with the circuit conductors, the code requires that the receptacle ground screw be tied to the metal of the box.
 
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Old 09-10-02, 06:40 AM
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Great! I'll test it tonight. Hopefully it will just be a matter of connecting it to the box.
 
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Old 09-10-02, 09:43 PM
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How did this miss inspection?
 
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Old 09-11-02, 05:07 AM
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The electrical work was done after the home inspection for sale. I'm not sure why the contractor didn't go back through to make sure everything met code though.

I tried testing the voltage between the hot lead and the box last night and unless I was just doing it wrong it doesn't look like I'm in luck. I only got a reading of 9.8.
 
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Old 09-11-02, 07:29 AM
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Even if your measurement from hot to the metal box provided you with 120V, I do not think the style of AC (armored cable) bx that you have (1949) is considered as an equipment grounding conductor. Current style bx is, but not the older style. I think the major difference is a metal strip inside of the AC cable. I open to other opinions.
 
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Old 09-11-02, 08:20 AM
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the contractor in this case may of assumed the electrical inspector looked at the work and if he didn't get anything back from him saying anything was below code he would of assumed the work was completed correctly. the inspectors don't always see everything and sometimes items are missed that should never be. Unfortunatly that is human nature. If your contract stated to ground the receptacle then you have a case to get him to fix the problem but if the contract stated to provide and acceptable ground for the receptacle then the code allows the GFCI and all the contractor would have to do is put a sticker on it.
If he is interested in keeping his good name then he will most likely fix the problem without any further problems
 
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Old 09-11-02, 03:09 PM
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Easy. Ask him to fix it or call your local AHJ (authority having jurisdiction).

And tell him you are going to call the "AHJ".

If he does not know what that is call immediately.

Mike
 
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Old 09-12-02, 12:25 PM
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Conduit as Equipment Grounding Conductor

Originally posted by trinitro
"I assume the house has "ROMEX" wiring, and not metal conduit wiring. A separate ground conductor is not generally required if all wiring is inside metal conduit (either flexible or rigid). "

Rigid yes flexible no. Flexible conduit more than six feet in length is generally unsuitable as an Equipment Grounding Conductor (EGC). After being in place for a relatively short time the spiral tape that forms the conduit corrodes open between the turns of the metal tape it is made of turning it into a very long coil around the normal current carrying conductors. This raises the impedance of the conduit to too high a level to be an effective EGC. Longer runs of spiral tape types of conduit and cable armor or cladind require a bonding conductor to keep the impedance of the EGC pathway to an exceptably low impedance.
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Last edited by hornetd; 09-12-02 at 12:43 PM.
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Old 09-12-02, 01:03 PM
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Thanks for all the info. If I run into any problems with him when he comes to look at it on Saturday I might be back to see where to go from there.

I guess I do have one more question. If it does not look like I am going to get a ground in there easily, is my computer equipment in danger. I've got a surge protected power strip plugged into the ungrounded GFCI. Some of the computer equipment does have grounded plugs (main CPU and monitor).
If my equipment is safe, I may just ask for a refund of the money I paid for that specific work (since the work done doesn't match the quote) and make sure he puts the sticker on. If not, I'll fight to get the ground put in.
Thanks again.
 
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Old 09-12-02, 01:29 PM
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Originally posted by Dustpup

"Thanks for all the info. If I run into any problems with him when he comes to look at it on Saturday I might be back to see where to go from there.

I guess I do have one more question. If it does not look like I am going to get a ground in there easily, is my computer equipment in danger. I've got a surge protected power strip plugged into the ungrounded GFCI. Some of the computer equipment does have grounded plugs (main CPU and monitor).
If my equipment is safe, I may just ask for a refund of the money I paid for that specific work (since the work done doesn't match the quote) and make sure he puts the sticker on. If not, I'll fight to get the ground put in.
Thanks again."

Let me suggest another alternative. Ask the electrician for a price on the installation of a Transient Voltage Surge Suppresser (TVSS). Good quality ones will protect your entire home wiring system from any surge or spike that originates outside the home. In order to do this they are installed at your home electric service equipment and your telephone and cable are brought to that one device that provides protection to all three in one assembly. These units retail for approximately four hundred dollars not including installation but the supply houses discount them pretty steeply. The only way any surge or spike protector can be effective is if there is a low impedance Equipment Grounding Conductor to connect it to that runs back to a low impedance grounding electrode system.
--
Tom
 
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