I live in a house that used to belong to a DIY'er. Problem is, there isn't
anything he did right. I am in the middle of fixing his mess in the garage.
HEre is the situation: The main breaker is in the basement .it is a 20 Amp
dual breaker. THere is a subpanel in an upstairs closet (don't ask me why)
with 2 20 Amp fuses. One of the fuses runs to the garage. The garage is
mixed 14guage and 12 guage wiring. The other fuse runs to the family room
where hot and neutral appear to be reversed.
For now I'm doing the garage. First thing: install GFI, Second thing:
simplify the rats nest of wiring (the box going to the door opener has 8
pieces of 12 guage romex going to it),
My question: to resolve the mixed guage issue: Can I just replace the fuse
in the sub panel with a 15 amp fuse? and leave the 20 Amp breaker in the
panel. All that is in the garage is the opener, 2 outlets and 2 lightbulbs.
why would there be a ganged breaker for this circuit? I can only think of a
shared neutral unless one leg goes to the garage and the other goes to the
family room or the guy was a complete doorknob and just put it in. I
probably will get into this when I see why hot and neutral are reversed.
Yes its a clothes closet. Chalk another one up to the idiot. I'm not even
sure why theres a subpanel, its an attached garage. 50 ft of wire would
reach the garage from the basement panel.
arrangement that sounds normal.
A different question. Thru out this whole house, He has taken the ground
wire in the romex and bent it so it was under the box termination clamp (not
sure of the nomenclature). The assumption is that the romex clamp contacts
the ground which than contacts the box by the nut. I'm having a hard time
believing that is code. In several spots he has looped the ground wire thru
a hole in the box and then nailed the box up with the intent that the ground
wire is pinched between the box and the stud. I cringe everytime I fix
On several occasions I have had to explain to trades people that the house
has been sold and I am the new owner before they would come out. It seems
the idiot had a habit of asking for quotes and then asking them lots of
questions and doing it himself. The trades people had him pegged alright.
The ground wires, if more than one, should be connected together under a
crimp or wire nut and attached to the metal box by turning under a machine
screw or by using a listed green grounding clip. What he's done is incorrect
Incorrect by current code, but I know it was common practice from the late
50's (when romex with the bare ground wire came into comon use) at least
until the late 70's. Given how brittle old wire gets, and how seldom there
is any usable slack in the walls, is there any good reason to try to re-wire
old work to meet current practice? All the outlets in this place were wired
that way when I changed them out, and I opted not to disturb the existing
clamps beyond giving the screws a turn to make sure the clamps were snug.
All outlets show 'green light' on the idiot meter, indicating a good ground.
Note that the outlets were not pig-tailed, they were daisy-chained via the
side screws (albeit with the polarity reversed on about half of them.)
The 1962 NEC was the first to require boxes to have a screw for the specific
purpose of attaching that ground conductor. Before that, the conductor was
often cut off, but usually turned back around the cable body and clamped
down by the cable clamp, which actually provided a pretty decent ground
Specifically prohibited under 2005 National Electrical Code, Article
240.24(D): "Overcurrent devices shall not be located in the vicinity of easily
ignitible material, such as in clothes closets."
It's not -- now. Cable clamps, box mounting screws, and the like are not
permitted by the 2005 Code (and, I think, by the 2002 Code) to be used for any
other purposes, including attachment of ground wires. This hasn't always been
the case, though. I'm not sure when these prohibitions entered the Code, but
it's entirely possible that this *was* permitted at the time it was installed.
*That* has never been permitted.
Doug Miller (alphageek at milmac dot com)
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