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Old 23rd February 2007, 09:20 PM   #1
pjpoes is offline pjpoes  United States
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Default House Wirering and Outlets-Helped a friend out, might be useful to some of you

Hey guys, I was rewirering a friends room and replacing all the outlets and light switches for him, as he just bought a new house. None of the outlets were grounded, nor the switches. However, thankfully the house was new enough to be wired with grounded wire, and I didn't have to run too many new lines to the breaker box.

I ran One dedicated line divided into 2 4-plex Hubbel outlet boxes on the stereo end of his room. Those lines were given brand new wire, obviously, a 20 amp breaker, and a brand new ground was isntalled for the whole house.

As I was going around I found that many of the old lines, installed in the 60's had basicly turned black, along with the plugs. As I mentioned earlier, all the boxes were grounded, but none of the outlets were. Half of the outlets were very poor quality grounded outlets that didn't have the grounds connected. They had plastic ears, so these were not grounded at all. The contacts were of poor quality and plugs would just fall out. I installed mostly Cooper plugs, good for the money if not being used for stereo equipment, much better contacts than the ones in the house.

Having found so many corroded outlets made me think, man how many of us Audio guys have houses with very bad house wirering, which would probably negativly impact the sound of the stereo. I also had an electrician friend of mine run a load test on the old lines, and most of the old lines were below spec, incapable of delivering anywhere's near the 15amps they should have. Many of you with older lines probably would also have that problem. Also many of the outlets were run in series, which is just lazy.

For those of you with brand new houses in new developments, be careful. I am not sure what actual code is, but I think it just requires that you run 12-2 grounded wire from the box to the room, and then you can use 16 or 14-2 from there. I have helped friends with brand new million dollar homes in new developments which had the outlets wired in series. Had 14 and even 16 guage wire strung between the outlets, but then the 12 guage run from the breaker box to the room. I have seen rooms with every single item in that room and others on one breaker. Oh the old house I was working on today had every outlet in the house wired to two fuses, which were on each phase seperate, but strung together. This caused 17 volts on the neutral all the time. I had to rewire his outlet switches, fan, and the breaker box to fix that screw up. Many of you might have these same problems lurking in your own home, and I can only imagine what its doign to the sound of your stereo. We aren't even talking about esoteric issues like the difference between brand new properly run 10 guage vs 12 guage, or cryo treated wire, or shielded, or anything. This is simply incorrectly wired homes, or old aged wires that wont even pass a load test anymore. All of this will have an effect on the stereo.

Another thing I noted was that all the very corroded outlets weren't showing the right voltage, I was measuring around 117 volts on each of them. When I changed them with new outlets and cleaned up the wire ends, I then read 119 volts, a two volt increase just from getting rid of that oxidation.
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Old 23rd February 2007, 09:35 PM   #2
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Default Re: House Wirering and Outlets-Helped a friend out, might be useful to some of you

Originally posted by pjpoes
I am not sure what actual code is, but I think it just requires that you run 12-2 grounded wire from the box to the room, and then you can use 16 or 14-2 from there.
Nope, that's not right. Frankly, you are describing a nightmare to me. Don't know what the US laws are like, but if an unqualified person does major electrical work in a home in Canada, and that work causes any damage such as fire, the insurance company does not have to pay out.
The whole problem with the world is that fools and fanatics are always so certain of themselves, and wiser people so full of doubts. Bertrand Russell
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Old 24th February 2007, 01:31 AM   #3
pjpoes is offline pjpoes  United States
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yeah I looked into code, it requires 14 guage be run to the room and then to each outlet. I probably haven't then seen 16 guage becuase I would guess unless its really old that they don't make it. However it also requires no more than 8 duplex, so 16 outlets on one line. Imagine that for a stereo, that is far too many. I think given the draw we put on cuircits there should be no more than 4 duplex's per cuircit, and amp cuircits should have no more than 2.

Though I consider what I have seen nightmares as well, we aren't talking about unqualified people. These housing developments are using certified electricians to install everything, but since they are corporate planned communities, everything is about saving money. They use inferior quality everything. I even noticed that 12 guage aluminum wire and copper coded aluminum is legal, and I wonder how many of these places use that, especially given the rising prices in copper.

Oh just FYI in both Canada and America, I looked into this, you can do electrical work yourself and then have an inspector write it off in order to ensure coverage by your insurance company. There is normally a small fee for this, but even a qualified electrician can do this usually, so if you know one, you might be able to save some money that way. This is how I handle all my own stuff, I simply have our work electrician write it off, and then I send that into the insurance company. Also, I was told by my friend at the insurance company that you are legally allowed to change out things like outlets with identical ones, as long as you are changing anything. For instance, you can't install a grounded outlet if the previous outlet wasn't grounded, unless you get it inspected. However, you can replace a grounded outlet with a new grounded outlet.
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Old 24th February 2007, 02:55 AM   #4
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Yup - law and problems are pretty much the same over here, only worse. I live in a city that got bombed flat in WW II and in order to get a roof over their head people would use any material they could lay hands on and anybody who would string a wire. Underdimensioned wiring stapled to wooden rafters and plastered over? Be quick while nobody is looking. Grounding? Grounding is what you do when you fall out of the window. Was OK when two 60W bulbs per appartment were sheer luxury, but with the ampères a modern household draws...shudder. Makes you think training as a firefighter might be a good carreer move - and oh yes, forget HiFi.

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Old 24th February 2007, 04:03 PM   #5
KBK is offline KBK  Canada
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Just last night I spent about two hours cleaning and resetting all the connections in a friend's electrical box and wiring to his audio system.

This audio system AC is run with 'locomotive cable'. I am still undecided whether this is good idea or not. He complains of a certain upper mid-lower treble harshness..which is..just about the identical sound known to reside in the use of a 12g stranded speaker cable! Which is basically what the locomotive cable is.

And yes, you can do the electrical work yourself and have it inspected, in both the US and Canada. This means, if the house is new, you can't put the wall coverings in (drywall) until the inspector sees the work. If you plan to do this sort of thing yourself, please get and read the local electrical code books, if you have no familiarity with such things. And remember (or be aware) that the perfect frequency for stopping the human heart is about 0.1% away from 60hz! So be careful with that 120VAC-RMS, as it is actually about a 340V p-p waveform, with a ton of current behind it. There is no room for mistakes and error here.

When the inspector comes, have a blueprint (layout) of the entire electrical system of the house laid out clearly, on a clipboard for them. Every bit of it, from pole/panel to every single outlet and power connection. This will make their life easier and they will be far easier on you, if they find error. Be professional.
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Old 25th February 2007, 03:25 AM   #6
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I was lucky.. there was a storm that took out the power from the transformer to my house. after they fixed it a strange clicking i would sometimes hear has gone.
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Old 25th February 2007, 09:57 PM   #7
pjpoes is offline pjpoes  United States
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yeah I had a flood that took out my electrical box, which allowed me to get a brand new box. It leaked in through the outside service, so I had that replace with new too. The transformer was new because a rodent had taken it out earlier.
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