Thursday, August 25, 2011

Electrician on Monday

TJ Jones (the son) of John Jones Electric, my preferred electrical contractor, came out and did great electrical work on Monday.

The first priority, the Pass & Seymour 5262-A outlet was installed.  He said it was better if you did not remove the outlet screws, fortunately he could use the two remaining untouched screws since this outlet was at the end of the circuit.  He made a wire hook and slid it under the cover and tightened very tightly.  Making the right sized hook takes someone with knack like a professional electrician.  I chose to have him use an oversized Nylon unbreakable outlet cover with thermal insulator underneath.  The result, shown above, is a beautifully functional outlet.  The white plate matches the wall nicely.  The whole thing doesn't need to look fancy because it is normally under the table.

The second priority was the installation of the security camera facing gate and fence on north side of house.  He said it was better if outlet box was installed with plate screws attaching to that (unlike the way cable guys just drill hole in wall) so he did that.  (In retrospect, I'm not so sure, a small hole in the wall might have been better in terms of thermal performance, the box required a large square hole in the interior wall.)  The camera was mounted on the exterior wall at the same position as the box (in fact, a conduit sized hole, which looked larger than necessary, was drilled from the inside to be sure it lined up. The Swann 580 camera was then mounted on the exterior wall with provided screws and anchors.  The electrician felt the gasket on the camera mounting bracket sealed sufficiently tightly to the wall, and caulk sealent would just mess it up.  There was a hole in the gasket (for when not running the wire through hole in back) which was pointed downwards, which he said was a good idea for draining off any accumulated moisture.  Also, the camera is mounted high and not far below the eaves, providing further protection from rain infiltration.  A cable plate was chosen for the inside with the camera wires run one by one through the hole.  Another thermal insulating pad was used, the blank kind with hole punched through the middle.  The creation of the inside hole released a lot of sheetrock which he (mostly) vacuumed up.

The third priority was the installation of a GFCI outlet to provide GFCI for all kitchen outlets.  He guessed the first outlet in sequence was one of the two on either side of the sink.  His hunch was that it was the one on the left side of the sink, but he started by cutting the leads to the outlet on the right side of the sink.  Then he got a shock from that outlet because it turned out it was not even on the same circuit as the other outlets, apparently it is on the Refrigerator circuit.  The correct outlet then turned out to be the outlet on the left side, as his hunch had told him.  He installed a nice Cooper GFCI outlet (which he provided) with a synthetic stone outlet cover (gold color) which I provided.  To replace the outlet on the right side, I provided a Hubbel industrial outlet (which some audiophiles use but IMO are no where near as good as the Pass & Seymour version). and another synthetic stone cover in slightly different color (Travertine).  I only remembered they were different colors afterwards.  I would have gotten Travertine for both, but the were not in stock for both Decora and traditional outlets at the Home Depot I went to a few days before.  Anyway, the two colors are very similar and the outlets are widely spaced with the gold one in a shadow so you probably wouldn't notice the difference until after being told of it.

He suggested that although the code now requires all GFCI in kitchen, it generally wasn't a good idea to put GFCI on refrigerator circuit because GFCI could trip while you were on vacation and then you would come home to spoiled food.  But I wonder now if GFCI outlet couldn't be used putting refrigerator on non-GFCI branch.

I got estimates for both the installation of the new security lamp on the north side and a dedicated audio circuit for the master bedroom.  Both looked reasonable but he didn't have time to do them right then.  Actually I may add  some additional details, such as isolated ground, 10G wire, and indoor switches for the north and south side security lamps.

After TJ left, I first decided the new Hubbel outlet cover didn't look exactly straight, so I loosened the screw and straightened it.  Subjective judgement was required because when I put the outlet cover perfectly straight it simply showed how everything else wasn't straight.  A particular compromise position made everything look right to my eyes.  I tighted the cover screw very tight to get it straight also, though I'm a little worried I tightened it too tight the cover being stone didn't crack like cheap plastic might have.

Then I thought the security camera wire plate didn't look right either.  There was a visible hole above the cover, and there was also a gap along the side.  I tried simply tightening the cover but that didn't help the gap, so I loosened the cover and scraped the bumps off the sheetrock (my interior sheetrock has those faux plaster bumps which I hate) and that made it possible to tighten the cover nicely with no visible gap.  Then I used white caulk to cover the hole on top.  The result looks perfect, and also eases my concerns about sheetrock silica being blown through into the kitchen air (the A/C airflow can be felt blowing in that general area).  I also discovered TJ had left a bit of sheetrock dust on the cabinet top (though he had used his dust buster on it, he hadn't done perfect job), rest of cabinet, and a lot of sheetrock dust on floor.  I vacuumed it all up perfectionistically.

All in all I think TJ did great work and I was grateful to get him to install the camera at all (he might have simply refused if he had been like my plumber).  But I didn't think he was quite as perfectionistic as his father John.  I've never found that I needed to do any cleanup or anything after John, who always seems to have a better eye for slight defects and messes than I do.

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