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  • Electrical: how to burn down my garage?

    A neighbor has offered to help me upgrade the electrical in my garage. This is not putting in a separate panel (I read threads on here about that, seems complicated), just some outlets. I’ve been limping along with a 20a 110 breaker for everything in there for years, and he says it’s no problem to install a 220 with a double-pole breaker for one 220 outlet and 3 110 outlets. I’m running a Miller 200 SD and a Hypertherm 380 plasma cutter plus the assorted power tools and a 120v Ingersoll-Rand compressor.

    He wired his own garage and sez he did a lot of electrical work when he lived on a farm. He’s got a lot of wire in conduit, very thick gauge but I didn’t measure it or look for ID on the insulation.

    He says we’ll lead it directly off the box, run the line through the yard 8” deep (about 100’), connect the wires together with butt connectors and encase the spliced areas in garden hose or PVC piping, put the double-pole 40a breaker in the garage, and have an outlet box off that. There will be no breaker at the service panel…that sounds bad.

    Maybe I could just have him do it and then have an inspector come out? I’m going to help him with the install so I’ll see every step of the process.

    I bet this is a stupid question, but what’s the worst thing that can happen here? I have a feeling frazzling my expensive gear or burning down the house is the answer. Maybe both! I’ll appreciate an answer when you can manage to stop laughing.
    Miller Dynasty 200 DX, air-cooled & footpedal
    Hypertherm 380
    Dinky Ingersoll-Rand compr. w/ line filter and condensation filter
    Lincoln O/A
    Electrolytic derusting tank
    Asstd powertools

  • #2
    First, I would recommend you buy and read this book or another like it:
    http://www.amazon.com/Wiring-Simplif...7639930&sr=1-1

    Second, your local city or county (whichever has jurisdiction) will undoubtedly require you get a permit and have the work preapproved and inspected, requiring you to show them a plan before you get your permit. If you have an electrical short resulting in a fire due to faulty wiring (the fire inspector will determine the cause), and you have no permit/inspection on file, the city will ding you and your homeowner's insurance policy will tell you to go fly a kite. In my area, the guys in the garbage trucks get paid a bonus when they turn in somebody doing a construction project without a visible permit. Your trench will be a dead give-away.

    You will really need a sub-panel in your garage with breakers in it, and a heavy enough line to it to support your future needs - more lights, more outlets, bigger compressor, etc.
    I live in my own little world. That's OK, they understand me here.

    Comment


    • #3
      Thanks man. I had a feeling this was not going to be a lark. Someone told me I'd pay upwards of $500 to do this on the up&up, and my neighbor has all the materials and claims to have the skill and would do it for a lot less. But there's too much at risk. "how to burn down my garage" indeed.
      Miller Dynasty 200 DX, air-cooled & footpedal
      Hypertherm 380
      Dinky Ingersoll-Rand compr. w/ line filter and condensation filter
      Lincoln O/A
      Electrolytic derusting tank
      Asstd powertools

      Comment


      • #4
        There is nothing wrong with using your neighbor's materials and labor. Just make sure the job is done to code. If he wants to do something not to code, don't let him.

        By the way, don't use "direct bury" underground cable. Put it in conduit. May cost more, but it's safer and will last longer.
        I live in my own little world. That's OK, they understand me here.

        Comment


        • #5
          He left over 100' of conduit (it's not direct bury it's the heavy insulated wire in gooseneck galvanized), the 40a breaker, and the outlets last night.

          Problem is, I wouldn't know what IS to code, hence your book recommendation. And we probably need a permit first--I don't think you can do this kind of work and then have it inspected for code, though I think previous owner of the house did a fair bit of that (he was a contractor; I bet he didn't get it inspected at all ).
          Miller Dynasty 200 DX, air-cooled & footpedal
          Hypertherm 380
          Dinky Ingersoll-Rand compr. w/ line filter and condensation filter
          Lincoln O/A
          Electrolytic derusting tank
          Asstd powertools

          Comment


          • #6
            Originally posted by bomscho View Post
            He left over 100' of conduit (it's not direct bury it's the heavy insulated wire in gooseneck galvanized), the 40a breaker, and the outlets last night.

            Problem is, I wouldn't know what IS to code, hence your book recommendation. And we probably need a permit first--I don't think you can do this kind of work and then have it inspected for code, though I think previous owner of the house did a fair bit of that (he was a contractor; I bet he didn't get it inspected at all ).

            Well, if you want the city/county to look at the job, it had better be done by a licensed electrician...so pay the Piper!

            If, however, you just want electricity as affordable as possible, let him do it, and DO NOT call in the Gestapo!.

            It almost sounds like you want it super-cheap...but you are a worry wart, and want the Seal of Approval on it from the City...in that case, Pay The Pro, and tell your friend you really appreciate it, but you're going "All In".
            "Good Enough Never Is"

            Comment


            • #7
              Originally posted by Hotfoot View Post
              Well, if you want the city/county to look at the job, it had better be done by a licensed electrician...so pay the Piper!

              If, however, you just want electricity as affordable as possible, let him do it, and DO NOT call in the Gestapo!.

              It almost sounds like you want it super-cheap...but you are a worry wart, and want the Seal of Approval on it from the City...in that case, Pay The Pro, and tell your friend you really appreciate it, but you're going "All In".
              Pull a home owner permit, and just get it done.

              Now on to something else....Hotfoot, what about some sparks from your garage?? We are all waiting......

              Comment


              • #8
                What could possibly go wrong?

                Click image for larger version

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                • #9
                  If somebody told me they would put wire nut splices in a garden hose, I wouldn't let them on the property.

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    yeah, there's proper ways of doing underground connections, but I don't recall "garden hose" being in any code I've seen.

                    Be sure to take pics, both after the electrical is done and also as the house/garage is burning down. We likes action pics.
                    Last edited by calweld; 05-21-2012, 11:54 PM.
                    *** Disclaimer ***

                    As I have no wish to toy with anybody's life, I suggest you take this and all other posts with a certain amount of skepticism. Carefully evaluate, and if necessary, research on your own any suggestions or advice you might pick up here, especially those from my posts, as I obviously haven't the skill and experience exhibited by some of the more illustrious and more successful members of this forum. I'm not responsible for anything I say, as I drank toxic water when young.

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      LOL my shop would roast up a lot better than that. Couple cylinders, a lot of styrofoam in an all wood structure, it'd be like a burning tree with rocket fruit landed on a parade float.

                      Sandy, calweld, he first suggested PVC pipe, then said he had a garden hose when I was too lazy to find any pipe (I have some, somewhere...). Dunno if PVC is any better.

                      Here's a pic of the conduited wire he brought over. Maybe this is an even worse redflag than the garden hose and I should run screaming like everything's already on fire.

                      Click image for larger version

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                      Miller Dynasty 200 DX, air-cooled & footpedal
                      Hypertherm 380
                      Dinky Ingersoll-Rand compr. w/ line filter and condensation filter
                      Lincoln O/A
                      Electrolytic derusting tank
                      Asstd powertools

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        buried wire 8" deep does not meet code for 110 or 220 service.

                        He is going to come off your current service panel without breakers? I hope you misunderstood.

                        Perhaps you misunderstood him, but I wouldn't allow him to help.

                        "Simplified Wiring" I didn't realize that was still around. It was a very good book 50 years ago, I would expect it still is.

                        Oh, BTW, with that setup, I would also be worried about him burning down your house, not just your garage!

                        It's good that you realize enough to come here and ask. Your gut feelings are right.

                        Ken

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          That wire is NOT for exterior or for underground use. Eight inch deep burial is nowhere near deep enough to bury electrical wiring even if the correct wiring is used. This wire is also not heavy enough for operating a welder of any reasonable size to be used 100' away from your house electrical panel. DO NOT allow this "farm hand" neighbor to do this. He will burn your house and garage down. He does not know how to do electrical work safely. He may know enough be able to hook everything up, but it will be extremely unsafe. He isn't even close to being right.

                          Have I said enough? I don't think so, but will stop here.
                          I'm a retired EE and licensed electrician.

                          Charley
                          ______________________

                          Miller MM 252
                          Miller Bobcat
                          Miller DialArc HF TIG / DIY Cooler
                          2 Victor Torch Sets
                          2 Miller Digital Elite helmets
                          3 misc. helmets
                          Milwaukee -
                          Dry Cut Chop Saw
                          Dry Cut Circular Saw
                          4-4 1/2" Grinders
                          9" Grinder
                          5 Ton Wallace Gantry
                          Misc. benders, etc.
                          Lots of tools

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                          • #14
                            First, you should buy a book that illustrates wiring to code in your area (usually available in all the big hardwares) and plan out what you need for a sub-panel in your garage, checking to see that your present home service is adequate. Then go to your municipal authority and pick up whatever they have on regulations regarding the work that needs to be done. (I found about 10-15 pamphlets regarding inspection and requirements for the work). Get together with your friend and find out what materials he has that meet requirements, and then pull a permit.

                            What I did after that, was to go ahead and "rough in" to code, taking all wires to sub-panel but not connecting them, being very neat and imitating work quality and materials on the house end (if good). Your trench will probably require an open inspection, and might be done as a separate stage, and later inspectors might require you to open anything you have closed up at random, or may require you to leave everything open. Finally, I called in an electrician for a 1/2 day to inspect what I had done and connect the panel. Everything was done to, or above, code at about 1/2 normal cost, the inspector passed it with one minor fault correction, and I learned a lot in the process.

                            That way, you could take advantage of your friends offers and supplies, and end with a high quality inspected system, and there are several licensed electricians on this board that will assist you if you have questions.

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              He pitched me on this wiring idea when I was in the middle of grinding and polishing a big project that had been kicking my *** for days: you know when your wife or kid comes out and is like “Can we have filet mignon for dinner?” or “will you buy me that truck?” and you say “yeah sure” so you can finish what you’re doing b/c you’re only half-listening anyway? Well it was like that. Only when I was done and thought about what he’d suggested, and looked at the stuff he’d left, did the lights start to go off. Or actually burst and smoke.

                              Ken, he was going to put in one breaker, at the garage. No breaker at the panel, which seemed dicey to me. A wire direct from the main that is live no matter what? Even I know that is no bueno.

                              Thanks Charley and Ken for telling me that wire is no good for burial. That I couldn’t have guessed at. Though I imagined it in all that dirt and moisture and it made me nervous, hence the reassuring garden hose

                              And Northweldor, that sounds more like what I could hope to do. I’m gonna tell him this should be inspected and up to code, it'll probably scare him off. I’m not so concerned about what the city would think as I am about what my insurance would say IF something happened, because it wouldn’t be something small.
                              Miller Dynasty 200 DX, air-cooled & footpedal
                              Hypertherm 380
                              Dinky Ingersoll-Rand compr. w/ line filter and condensation filter
                              Lincoln O/A
                              Electrolytic derusting tank
                              Asstd powertools

                              Comment

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