Home Wiring WTF


  • Discourse touched me in a no-no place

    @Yamikuronue said in Google Permanently and Remorselessly Bricking Hardware Sold in 2014:

    The wiring for home automation is significantly more important to daily life

    Talking of wiring for home, funny story time:

    My light bulb in my home office blew the other day. It was my last remaining incandescent bulb in the house, I've got LEDs on everything else, but my home office has a dimmer switch.

    I try an LED in the socket, thinking I'll just have to live with it on full power unless I want a strobe disco thing going on. Try switching it on and nothing happens. It seems LEDs don't work at all with that dimmer switch, never mind.

    I try an incandescent halogen bulb in the slot, it's more energy efficient than an incandescent, but less so than an LED. The original bulb was 100w and this halogen was 40w. I put it in, switch it on, it works. I turn it up, turn it down, it dims fine, everything is great.

    ** snap crackle fizz fizz **

    "Oh shit, where's that noise coming from? Shit! It's the dimmer switch". I quickly switch the dimmer off, but too late, it's fucked. Never mind, it's over 10 years old, I've had my money's worth out of it.

    So I look online for dimmers, and it turns out that you can get special LED dimmer switches now. They ramp up the current more slowly, which is better for LEDs, so I order one from Amazon. It's a nice brushed steel one, that looks remarkably like the one I've just blown up.

    It arrives the next day, and I isolate the power so I can fit it. I remove the switch to see this:

    0_1459883669263_IMG-20160404-WA0007.jpeg

    That's right, 3 nondescript red wires. No way to tell which is which, so I had to be very careful to unscrew them one at a time when fitting the new dimmer.

    Let's see what these wires are then. Live, live, and neutral. Where's the earth? There isn't an earth wire! Oh dear, my lightswitch is metal... In fact all of the light switches are metal! I quickly check behind the other switches, they're all the same, 3 red wires, no earth.

    :-(

    I clearly need to get the wiring re-done at some point, but for now, I'll have to make do with plastic light switches. I've spent £60 on some today, just waiting for them to come.

    To be fair, I've been living in this house for over 10 years with metal faceplates on the light switches, and nobody has been killed yet (I didn't install them, and I never knew about the earth problem).

    If one goes live now (before I install the new ones), at least I'll know why it's killed me!

    Edit: I've fixed the image


  • Winner of the 2016 Presidential Election

    @DoctorJones said in Home Wiring WTF:

    That's right, 3 nondescript red wires.

    A lot better than at my parents' house, where ground and live have been switched for some reason, because at least you immediately know that you have to be careful.



  • I was going to suggest maybe the wall box is earthed but you can't see it - then I realised the faceplate isn't earthed to the wall box anyway



  • @DoctorJones said in Home Wiring WTF:

    I remove the switch to see this:

    Good thing you see it, because I certainly don't.

    0_1459874889077_Untitled.png

    Suggestion: either upload the image to here or to imgur so I can actually see it.



  • I was expecting a common man's Macgyver story to be honest. Don't electrocute yourself. Hire a plumber for that! :trolleybus:


  • Impossible Mission Players - A

    @anotherusername said in Home Wiring WTF:

    upload the image to here

    Seconded! apparently the domain googleusercontent.com doesn't like hotlinking.



  • @DoctorJones said in Home Wiring WTF:

    Where's the earth?

    It's very common for switches to not have a dedicated ground. Likely, the dimmer was a replacement for the mechanical switch that was originally installed.



  • @Tsaukpaetra said in Home Wiring WTF:

    @anotherusername said in Home Wiring WTF:

    upload the image to here

    Seconded! apparently the domain googleusercontent.com doesn't like hotlinking.

    Tsaukpaetra can close that CLOSED_WORKSFORME. googleusercontent.com is where images are stored when you upload to gmail or any other similar google site. It's authentication protected. So it'll always show for YOU when you link to it. But no one else can see it.


  • mod

    @Lorne-Kates Weird; I saw the image when I first read this thread.



  • I see this:
    0_1459878962902_upload-bcdbc8c4-c445-4ffe-a073-a379017daceb

    :no_entry:



  • @Tsaukpaetra said in Home Wiring WTF:

    Seconded! apparently the domain googleusercontent.com doesn't like hotlinking.

    @Lorne-Kates said in Home Wiring WTF:

    It's authentication protected. So it'll always show for YOU when you link to it. But no one else can see it.

    I tried going to the URL directly and it asked me to sign in to Google. So yeah... apparently it's just for him, if he's logged in.



  • @anotherusername oddly, it is working for me.

    0_1459880849772_Home Wiring WTF - What the Daily WTF- 2016-04-05 14-26-47.png



  • @CHUDbert not here. Even when I'm signed in with my Google account, I just get what @hungrier posted.



  • @CHUDbert WOMM too.



  • I'm not a certified electrician, but I know a thing or two about how those things are connected. I haven't seen earth on a switch or dimmer before, so that's not much of a problem.

    The colours of those wires, on the other hand...
    man, man, man...  no chance



  • I am guess the light circuits were originally installed before 1970?
    I am also guessing this light fitting also has two on/off switches ?

    It is possible to leave them un-earthed as long as there is a note in the consumer unit to state that they are, and all light fittings and switches are class II insulated (unlikely). Newer standards will ensure the circuit is on an RCD. Most electricians will want to upgrading the wiring to include earth before making any changes to the circuit, just 'cos it's the right thing to do in the long term. Some will insist it must be (which it doesn't) but will not state why (that some light fittings look not class II, i.e metal).


  • Winner of the 2016 Presidential Election

    @AlexMedia said in Home Wiring WTF:

    The colours of those wires, on the other hand...

    A common-ish exchange:

    Hey, Onyx, I shouldn't touch these wires, yes?
    Well, technically you can touch the blue one but...
    There's a red one and a striped green-yellow one
    ... step away from the wires, please



  • @AlexMedia said in Home Wiring WTF:

    I haven't seen earth on a switch or dimmer before, so that's not much of a problem.

    In the UK at least, light switches with metal faces are supposed to have them. Plastic ones, not so much.


  • Winner of the 2016 Presidential Election

    @loopback0 said in Home Wiring WTF:

    In the UK at least, light switches with metal faces are supposed to have them.

    Never saw it done myself, but sounds reasonable.

    Also, may I mention, big fan of your plugs. If you leave the EU, can you at least make them switch everyone to those as a last act of... umm... dunno, we'll make it sound defiant somehow...



  • UK plugs are weird. They have oddly placed pins, for some reason there is a fuse in the plug (which might be a good idea) and why on earth are there switches right next to each and every single socket?

    On the other hand, it does give Chinese manufacturers the ability to produce killer travel adaptors:

    Dangerous Mains Travel Adaptors – 33:43
    — John Ward


  • Winner of the 2016 Presidential Election

    British Plugs Are Better Than All Other Plugs, And Here's Why – 04:26
    — Tom Scott

    The thing he doesn't mention that I love is that, unless the wiring is wrong, you're guaranteed to know which wire is live. Meaning, those little nightlights and such small devices can reliably always break the circuit on the live wire, meaning that the chances of you getting shocked by accident are minimal. Granted, new Schuko ones have that too, but since the earth pin is not required on them for like lamps and shit you can get those shitty two-pronged ones and then all bets are off.



  • @AlexMedia said in Home Wiring WTF:

    why on earth are there switches right next to each and every single socket?

    You can get them without switches, but people like being able to switch plugs off individually.
    I think I only have one double socket with switches in my house, the rest don't have them.



  • @AlexMedia said in Home Wiring WTF:

    They have oddly placed pins

    Which means it's impossible to plug them in the wrong way round.

    @AlexMedia said in Home Wiring WTF:

    for some reason there is a fuse in the plug

    It's primarily so a faulty device trips the fuse instead of the circuit breaker, for which there's typically one per floor.

    @AlexMedia said in Home Wiring WTF:

    why on earth are there switches right next to each and every single socket?

    So you can isolate the plug from the mains supply before you disconnect it.

    Basically, it's all in the name of safety.



  • @RaceProUK said in Home Wiring WTF:

    circuit breaker, for which there's typically one per floor

    In a house?! I don't think I've ever seen more than one per house.



  • @loopback0 My parents' house is a pretty typical two-storey four-bed detached, and it has several circuit breakers in its fusebox: there's at least ring main upstairs, ring main downstairs, oven, and of course one for the whole house. I'm sure there's at least two more, but I can't remember what they are.

    Edit: I forgot about the lights; IIRC, that's also one circuit breaker for upstairs, one for downstairs.



  • @RaceProUK Oh, the individual switches on the consumer unit. I misunderstood - my bad.
    It's more than one per floor, in that case.


  • Impossible Mission Players - A

    @loopback0 said in Home Wiring WTF:

    In a house?! I don't think I've ever seen more than one per house.

    One circuit breaker for the house? Now that's ridiculous! This isn't the 40's anymore!

    FWIW, I have a total of about 16 circuit breakers (off memory) or so. Lets see (cache enumeration in progress):

    1. Primary grid breaker
    2. A/C unit
    3. Stove
    4. Panel 2 (Add-on panel because we ran out of room IIRC)
    5. Front room South
    6. Laundry Room (No Gas)
    7. Front room North (and kitchen)
    8. Dining room
    9. Backyard
    10. Bedroom 1
    11. Bedroom 2
    12. Bedroom 3
    13. Bathrooms
    14. Bedroom 4
    15. Front yard
    16. Panel2.Pool pump
    17. Panel2.RV Mains
    18. Panel2.Jacuzzi Mains (Not connected, Repod :sadface: )

    I guess if each room had their own fusebox or something...
    Maybe I'm just privileged? Though my house was built in the 70s I think...



  • @Tsaukpaetra said in Home Wiring WTF:

    One circuit breaker for the house? Now that's ridiculous!

    @loopback0 said in Home Wiring WTF:

    I misunderstood - my bad.



  • My apartment has two light switches, one on each end of the corridor, that are wired AND instead of XOR :scream:

    So turning the lights on can take up to 2 trips up and down the corridor (which could be reduced to 1 if I could remember which position means "on" and which one means "off").


  • Impossible Mission Players - A

    @anonymous234 said in Home Wiring WTF:

    My apartment has two light switches,

    Uh huh...

    @anonymous234 said in Home Wiring WTF:

    one on each end of the corridor,

    Indeed....

    @anonymous234 said in Home Wiring WTF:

    that are wired AND instead of XOR

    :scream: :scream_tone1: :scream_tone5: :scream_cat: ....
    Actually that's not too horrifying. Just extremely annoying.

    For all that, you might as well leave one of the switches (the one least likely to be used for a majority of the time) and just pretend it doesn't exist and use the other one.


    Filed under: WTF, why does :scream_cat: look like it's singing sadly?


  • mod

    @Tsaukpaetra said in Home Wiring WTF:

    One circuit breaker for the house? Now that's ridiculous! This isn't the 40's anymore!

    @loopback0's in the UK. .. something something ring mains something ... That's different.



  • At a previous house, I had a hall light that was fed by two different circuit breakers. After diagnosing, I figured out it was wired something like:

    0_1459913581213_Screen Shot 2016-04-05 at 8.27.51 PM.png

    The three-way switch normally worked as one would expect, with the four possible configurations being off, on, off, on. Why, I'll leave as an exercise for the reader.

    If only one of the circuit breakers was turned off, however, the four possible configurations were off, off, dim, on. "Dim" because the hall light was then in series with everything else on the open circuit breaker.


  • Winner of the 2016 Presidential Election

    @Greybeard Surely that violates some kind of electrical code? Jeeeez



  • @sloosecannon said in Home Wiring WTF:

    @Greybeard Surely that violates some kind of electrical code? Jeeeez

    Ya think?

    I asked an electrician for a quote for fixing it. He just couldn't understand my diagram or explanation of what was going on. "I'll just drop a new circuit for it." Time and materials. On second thought, no thanks.

    Not long after, I got a job in a different state and sold the house.


  • Winner of the 2016 Presidential Election

    @Greybeard well he clearly didn't understand it because "surely nobody would be that stupid!"

    Yeah, that's impressive...



  • @Greybeard This violates at least (german) code. You can not be sure that both on the same potential. e.g. id one is -220 ( on L1) and the other is +220 ( on L2 f.E.) you may get a nice BOOM out of it. Otherwise as far a I remember the UK has only a single Phase ( L1 / N / PE) System right? So this may at least work without shorting out.

    Saftywise it is still dangerous, because you might switch of the breaker, while one of the switches is in the correct position and the light is not on, but everything is live...


  • Impossible Mission Players - A

    @Greybeard said in Home Wiring WTF:

    dim

    Can you imagine this? Now I know why certain movies had flickering lights and sh*t, they could easily be wired for this!


  • Winner of the 2016 Presidential Election

    @anonymous234 said in Home Wiring WTF:

    My apartment has two light switches, one on each end of the corridor, that are wired AND instead of XOR

    When I moved into my house, the living room hadn't previously had a ceiling light, but the landlord had just fitted one.

    Over the first few weeks, the light would randomly sometimes work and sometimes not. I tried switcihing the bulbs around but they were never busted, always worked in other fittings and known good ones would still not work, except when they did.

    We called the landlord in to look at it, and of course it worked fine when he was there. A couple of weeks later, the in laws were visiting and tried to help troubleshoot. At one point, my FIL asked if the lights in the next room worked, so I turned them on and, lo and behold, the living room light came on. Somehow, it had been wired so it only worked if the light in the next room was on, but this didn't affect the other room's light so we never noticed. I'm not really sure how that worked.


  • Discourse touched me in a no-no place

    @DieWaffel said in Home Wiring WTF:

    the UK has only a single Phase ( L1 / N / PE) System right?

    Usually, yes. Very high power devices might be done differently (though our oven isn't) but those would have their own dedicated circuit. I guess the usual idea is to distribute the phases over the neighbourhood rather than within each house.



  • @Greybeard If you had the breakers wired to different phases (as is not unusual here) you'd had off, on, burn, on as combinations, as long as both breakers are on. Would make switching lights kind of an adventure.


  • Discourse touched me in a no-no place

    @anonymous234 said in Home Wiring WTF:

    My apartment has two light switches, one on each end of the corridor, that are wired AND instead of XOR

    That's easy to fix, your switches will have 3 inputs, L1, L2 and C (Load 1, Load 2 and Common). From your description it sounds like, on both switches, you have two inputs into L1, whereas you need one input in L1 and one in L2. You should only have both L inputs in L1 when the switch is for a light in 1 location.

    Two way switch

    A two way switch (for switching a light from two different locations like in a hallway) has a common (C) a L1 and an L2 terminal. L1 is off when L2 is on and vice versa depending on the switch position.

    Just make sure you isolate your power before you start ;-)



  • @DoctorJones it would be cheaper to change the metal switches for plastic ones, if you're short on money


  • Discourse touched me in a no-no place

    @fbmac yes, that's what I've done, I've spent £60 on some plastic ones from Amazon. I'm just waiting for them to arrive, they should be here today.

    I'm on solid fuel heating at the moment, and plan on upgrading to gas in the next few years. When we do it'll mean overhauling the entire heating system, so I may as well re-wire at the same time. Until then I'll have to make do with plastic switches.



  • @DoctorJones said in Home Wiring WTF:

    I've spent £60 on some plastic ones from Amazon.

    Jesus!

    They're like $0.50 at Home Depot. Was the plastic studded with emeralds?


  • Discourse touched me in a no-no place

    @blakeyrat Don't know how many he's purchased or whether any are fancy ones, but I'm seeing £2.40 as a unit price in Amazon (so £2 plus tax).



  • @dkf You know, sometimes when I type stuff like that, I'm not actually looking for someone to reply with documentary proof of the price. I could have looked that up myself, had I cared.



  • @DoctorJones said in Home Wiring WTF:

    I'm on solid fuel heating at the moment, and plan on upgrading to gas in the next few years. When we do it'll mean overhauling the entire heating system, so I may as well re-wire at the same time.

    I'm glad that when I switched from oil to gas it wasn't that complicated, though I still hate having steam radiators. Though the house is probably from around the 20s (I think), so it'd be an ugly hackjob or a complete internal refit if I wanted to go to something like forced air, so knocking, loud radiators it is...


  • Discourse touched me in a no-no place

    @blakeyrat Looking the price up was far more fun than grokking this shitty-ass API I'm supposed to be looking at today…



  • @loopback0 said in Home Wiring WTF:

    You can get them without switches, but people like being able to switch plugs off individually.

    It's useful to have at least one of those in a room for lighting but having them on everything just sounds like a recipe for frustration and inadvertently turning things off that really shouldn't be.


  • Discourse touched me in a no-no place

    @boomzilla It's not that big a deal in practice. We just have a set of electrical standards that were developed by safety freaks rather later than many other places (because raisins) and so were over-designed in many ways. Inflates some costs, but maybe has fewer problems with house-fires…


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