Follow-up on and questions about fluorescent that won't turn off.


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 proper terminology.
(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 any wires.)
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 electrical code. 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 wiring Denver.)
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?
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Sounds like that if the "electrician" had a license, it should be revokled!!!
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== For that kind of money your friend could have hired a competent electrician. Even a "Reader's Digest" handyman book could have given enough information for your friend to do the work himself. Live and learn, and in this case faulty wiring could have shortened the "live" part considerably. ==
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Should he be responisble for fixing it if your friend asks? I would think so.
Would I let him back in the door if it were my house? No way.
(Assuming that he actually did all of this.)
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