Well, I had more time on Friday to look at my friend's basement
fluorescent fixture that stayed partly lit when the switch was off.
I was wrong when I said that there was no reason the electrician would
have redone the fluorescent light's wires. I guess because the
light's wires were so short and the box so crowded, he put a nine-inch
piece of romex into the box in place of the light's wires, and then
spliced all the light's wires to the other end of the Romex, using
wire nuts but no box!!!! But at first I assumed my friend had done
that temporarily, because I couldn't see an electrician doing it.
BTW, my friend called the 9-inch piece of romex a pigtail. Is that an
okay term, since it was not just one wire but had 3 wires inside,
black, white, and uninsulated ground? Or maybe it is not a pigtail
because it goes out of the box? I just want to know and teach him
(The electrician had been hired to install a smoke detector nearby,
outside the furnace room, and a CO detector on the wall at the far end
of the house in the family room, and he did these things. He had to
make two or four cuts in the sheetrock, in unobtrusive places, and
snake wires. He saved the cutout pieces so my friend could put them
back in. When called early this past week, he said he hadn't reversed
Checking the voltages on the "pigtail", with the fixture entirely
disconnected, the white was hot measured against the box, even if the
switch was off. The black was never hot. Just like all of you said
in the prev. thread. At that point I stopped measuring.
One of you pointed out that there was a ground fault, but with 5
pieces of Romex and a doorbell in the box, and 3 or 4 (total)
wirenutting places for white and black, and limited time, I didn't
figure this part out.
Inside I identified 6 problems. Six!!
1: the problem just above, reversed wires to the light fixture.
2: since the hot white wire of the "pigtail" was connected to the
white wire that went to the newly installed smoke and CO alarms, that
white wire must be hot too, in violation of protocol and the
3: the "pigtail" romex should have been longer and gone to another
covered box, and the wirenut connections to the fixture should have
been in that box. Instead of out in the air.
4: there were a lot of copper ground wires in the box. The one G from
the new smoke detector etc was wrapped very loosely around another
ground wire a couple revolution, but not touching it at most of that
length, and the end of the G was wirenutted to the ground wire of
something else. There was no other connection for these two circuits
to ground!! Even if pushing the lightly wrapped stuff all the way
into the box made it touch more, doesn't it have to be wirenutted or
screwed down to a ground?
5: the ground screw on the doorbell transformer mounting screw had a
ground wire wrapped more than 3/4 around it but the wire wasn't held
tightly. Is that because that's not actually a ground screw, just a
transformer attachment screw?
6: Oh yeah, there wasn't even a metal plate covering the box with all
these wires in it!!
Am I right about all these, they are all big errors? Six seems like
an enormous number, in a small project. (Not an enormous number if
This guy came highly recommended by a friend or friends and was paid
400 dollars. (Wouldn't 400 be a fair price for a licensed?
electrician, in a middle-priced market like Baltimore?) It must mean
that he is polite and pleasant and arrives on schedule and that his
customers can't tell if he does good work or not**
. I wanted to say
that maybe he had a bad day, but I don't see how anyone with any
training and even a year's experience can have that bad a day.
I don't expect any lawsuits here, but he should fix all this for no
additional charge, right, even though he'll have to provide a box? As
far as labor and parts to install a box, wasn't it his responsibility
to guess that the box was too crowded to add the new circuit and
include that in his quoted price?
What if he called it an "estimate", but then instead of doing the job
right and asking for more money, he did the job wrong and accepted the
400 dollars as full payment?
Bad grounds won't normally be noticable. Reversed black and white
won't normally be noticable. Use of wirenuts witout a box or a box
without a cover might not be appreciated as a violation of code or
noticed by those not accustomed to looking at the basement ceiling.
Right? Don't a lot of people pay and never inspect the work, and
wouldn't know what is wrong even if it is in plain sight?