Are my kids (we) grounded?!?

"Wow! Is this guy kidding?" you may be wondering after reading this. But, indeed, no embelishment here, my friends. In fact, I've left some details out. I'll get to my question, shortly, but life is too short to not enjoy its details . . . . and, of couse, laugh at oneself . . . !
Check credentials . . . ? Nahhh!!! What can go wrong . . . ?
[You can skip the (true) story and go right to the questions if you like - just scroll down to "NOW, FOR MY QUESTIONS (4):"]
A "friend of a friend" was recommended to re-do our kitchen: take out an eight foot wide section of wall, and completely replace the cabinets and floor. This included re-routing water, sewage, gas and electrical lines. We were warned that he was not a licensed contractor. When we met him, he said he could competently do all the required work (what else would he say?).
"Buddy" (names have been changed to protect the imbecilic), had me wondering, after having me (not neccessarily in chronological order):
buy three boxes of indoor (sheetrock or drywall?) joint topping compound (two @ home depot [~ $6 a pop], one at the local hardware for $12) then seeing a five gallon bucket for $9 bucks at depot; the two boxes were PLENTY (maybe I SAVED money there - I didn't buy the three $9 dollar buckets to have the compound harden in the containers!)!
Anyhow, it didn't reassure me that he used three times the amount of morter under floor tiles AND (3X) grout needed;
Buy chicken wire just to leave it sit in the garage when re-cement/stucco-ing the outside walls (over where the old windows had been. Those cementing jobs would later all seriously or moderately crack.
I'm not very knowledgable regarding construction matters, so some things I passed off to my ignorance, but when Buddy lay floor tiles perpendicular to one another (NO, the tiles WEREN'T solid colors), I had to ask. Concentrating on the "task at hand" and getting lost in the details is one thing - but experience keeps the big picture in focus. Or so I thought. When I questioned him, he replied "That's the design. Looks beautiful, huh?"
Oooooh - Kay! No big-ee, there. I paid our TEENAGER $50 bucks to re-set the tiles (& told Buddy such, and that HE should be paying for it).
Affter leaving a water line open overnight, under the house's two and a half feet of crawl space, during the course of re-routing them, Buddy, with a straight face, told me he was "trying to keep the dust level low for next time . . ." (should have seen what he looked like the "next time!"),
Buddy fell off the roof (TWICE! I couldn't get a logical answer as to why he was up there ONCE!)
Buddy demolished all our old (ya know - old as in "well made, three quarter inch...) kitchen cabinets and left them as a debris pile in the driveway! Co-oool! (?)
And to think Buddy re-routed GAS(!) lines under the house, too!
But, here I sit, able to laugh about it (errrRRRR!!) and haven't blown up . . . (yet). . . . Pinch me, would 'ya? [Seriously, though - I had the gas lines checked out by the gas company. amazing - they were ok]
In any case, I should have gotten a clue early on when, one morning, after nearly half an hour of quiet, I walked inside to find buddy sitting in the middle of the kitchen floor, nail gun at his side, and yawning. I asked him what he was doing, to which he replied, "Oh, waiting for you. Or somebody." "Waiting for us to what?!" I inquired, wondering why he had a nail gun in the first place. "Help me un-nail myself from the floor," he said as he got up. It was then I realized he'd sunk a (16d?) nail through his boot and (luckily) between his toes, into the floor (joist?) below. "Try taking off your boot," I said, half expecting to hear him ask "Which one?"
I can't help but wonder, "Why isn't this guy a contractor!?!"
***************** ******************
NOW (finally), FOR MY QUESTIONS (4):
Our home (built in august 1941) 's electrical system is housed, or insulated inside a flexible metal ("flex?") conduit. There are only two wires, themselves wrapped (insulated?) in a cloth-like string.
If I remember correctly, the flexible metal housing for the wires, is, itself the ground as long as its continuity is kept by attaching it to each metal (that is, conducting) junction box (?), switch box, wall receptical (outlet), etc., along the way AND, of course, that the whole kit 'N kaboodle is attached, clamped, bolted etc. to a zillion mile long copper pipe pounded all of its length into the "GROUND" before it even enters the home - or was it AT the service entrance panel (AND the cold H2O pipe once inside the home).
Q1: AM I CORRECT ON THAT ???
The reason I ask, is, now, some sixty years dumber, I mean later - my buddy "Buddy" has replaced some outlets and switches in the kitchen with plastic ones, ("It doesn't matter," he tells me, repeatedly: "Your old house isn't grounded, anyway. We'd be wasting our time!") His new wiring is mod, indeed: three wires, the bare ground coming and going nowhere, all nicely insulated in "what all the new houses get," so he says: "modern" non-conductive plastic housing, to "prevent mishaps," to be sure.
Q2: DON'T ELECTRICAL CODES STATE, I THINK(?) THAT: ALL NEW BATHROOM AND KITCHEN WIRING, IF/WHEN BEING REPLACED, BE REPLACED WITH ONLY GROUND FAULT CIRCUIT INTERUPTER (receptacles)???
Q3: WHERE (ON INTERNET?) CAN I FIND OUT FOR SURE?
Q4: MOST IMPORTANTLY, HOW DO I CORRECTLY RE-DO BUDDY'S "WIRING" AND ENSURE THAT IT IS SAFE (WE HAVE KIDS!)???
I think I need to:
1) Attach that presently "useless" ground wire to the last box providing continuity, at the one (older) end, and to the ground wire, or the recepticle's (usually green) ground nut, or, the metal (that is, conducting) base of whatever (new appliance) is at the other "new" end. Right . . .?!? 2) Buy a circuit tester.
Not to mention fire Buddy. But he's done, here. I heard he was sitting on the outside of the cut as he (chain?)sawed through a large, high branch on a tree!
Now THAT one I DON'T beleive. But who knows? Buddy doesn't.
THREE CHEERS AND A MIGHTY "THANKS!!" TO ALL YOU great guys and gals out there paying attention and spending your time and effort HELPING us HAPLESS and helpless DULLARDS not injure or maim our FAMILIES, KIDS, FRIENDS, RELATIONS, etc. through negligence, ignorance, sleepwalking (while awake) and other acts marked by a lacking of intellectual acuity. . . etc. . .etc. . . ad nauseum. . . . .
THANK YOU!!!
Sincerly, the UnHandyman Hirer (UHH?!?)
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Bob, Your story is pretty funny, unfortunately pretty serious also. The following link is for electrical code check booklet. You may want to consider buying or hiring a licensed electrician.
http://amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/1561584088/thedisastercenteA /

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Well you went for cheep, what did you expect?

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That wiring method is commonly called BX. That name was a catalog designation for one company's early cable product. The difference between BX; or it's modern equivalent armored cable; and flexible metallic conduit or flex is that BX is manufactured and installed with the wires already inside the spiral interlocking metal sheath. Neither BX or flex is suitable for use as an Equipment Grounding Conductor (EGC). Armored cable on the other hand has a bonding strip inside the jacket that makes the jacket suitable as an EGC. Your first task is to determine which wiring method your house actually has.

For type AC cable that is correct for BX or flex it is not.

There is nothing wrong with plastic boxes as long as they are used only with non metallic raceway or cable but it is imperative that the EGCs be spliced with each other and bonded to the yoke or strap of every device in the box.

The US NEC does require the protection of all bathroom and kitchen countertop receptacles be Ground Fault Circuit Interrupter (GFCI) protected. Be aware that the protection can be provided by GFCI breakers or by GFCI receptacles that are on the supply side of the receptacle in question.

Will here do. 210.8 Ground-Fault Circuit-Interrupter Protection for Personnel. (A) Dwelling Units. All 125-volt, single-phase, 15- and 20-ampere receptacles installed in the locations specified in (1) through (8) shall have ground-fault circuit-interrupter protection for personnel. (1)    Bathrooms (2)    Garages, and also accessory buildings that have a floor located at or below grade level not intended as habitable rooms and limited to storage areas, work areas, and areas of similar use (3)    Outdoors Exception: Receptacles that are not readily accessible and are supplied by a dedicated branch circuit for electric snow-melting or deicing equipment shall be permitted to be installed in accordance with the applicable provisions of Article 426. (4)    Crawl spaces at or below grade level (5)    Unfinished basements for purposes of this section, unfinished basements are defined as portions or areas of the basement not intended as habitable rooms and limited to storage areas, work areas, and the like Exception No. 1: Receptacles that are not readily accessible. Exception No. 2: A single receptacle or a duplex receptacle for two appliances located within dedicated space for each appliance that, in normal use, is not easily moved from one place to another and that is cord-and-plug connected in accordance with 400.7(A)(6), (A)(7), or (A)(8). Exception No. 3: A receptacle supplying only a permanently installed fire alarm or burglar alarm system shall not be required to have ground-fault circuit-interrupter protection. (6)    Kitchens where the receptacles are installed to serve the countertop surfaces. (7)    Wet bar sinks where the receptacles are installed to serve the countertop surfaces and are located within 1.8 m (6 ft) of the outside edge of the wet bar sink. (8)    Boathouses Copyright 2002 National Fire Protection Association

The method of attachment is important. It can be done with a machine screw or with a listed grounding clip.

You might want to consider renting a Ideal Suretest because it will measure the actual impedance of the EGC pathway.
I hope this is helpful. -- Tom Horne
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bobm wrote:
<snipped>

With friends like that you don't need enemies.
It's a pity "you got old so soon and smart so late" on this project.
But, you show your intelligence by not just saying, "So what", about the defects you've uncovered. And if you, an admitted neophyte about such things, came up with your little list, there are probably lots more things wrong waiting to make your life miserable at a future time.
I suggest you bite the bullet and get a competant lincensed electical contractor in there ASAP and pay them whatever it takes to do things right and to code. You've already started worrying about your kids, and now you should start worrying about what you're going to say to your insurance company (and hope you can pull off) if you have an electrical fire because that ignoranus did more things wrong than you've already noticed.
<snipped>
Happy New Year,
Jeff
--
Jeff Wisnia (W1BSV + Brass Rat '57 EE)

"If you can smile when things are going wrong, you've thought of someone
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