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House Wiring Nica Style


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We have flickering lights in the bathroom so I suspect a loose connection but thought I should open panel and have a look. Besides the 4 inch lizard hiding in there I see a couple things that don't make too much sense.

Long story but we only have 120 volt going into panel. Not sure which wires those are yet as I have no tools here to check either (bought a screwdriver and vicegrips lol). But think it's the one side of 60 amp breaker. Then jumped back to other side on the lugs. Not the typical panel I'm used to seeing (industrial 3 phase). 

I believe the 30 amp breaker goes to where the air conditioner should go when we finally get 220 volts into house (not hooked up yet).

Not sure who hooked it up... any insights... as it will remain on 120 volt for a while still.

Thanks,

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7 hours ago, Marc said:

You've issues far worse than just flickering lights. Get an electrician to briefly examine your entire electrical installation.

Marc - he is in never never land!  I suppose he could find one somewhere there, but then who knows how competent!  

 

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I've done a ton of 3 phase work but houses are not my thing and I'm not sure what's considered normal down here LOL! Even in when working in Mexico 25 years ago I could get anything electrical in a day... this place is different.

I found some even more ridiculous wiring issues yesterday... like using an unshielded ground for a hot lead... LOL... I have to laugh. That's what feeds the caretakers place... he has a small 2 breaker box that the ground is hot on. There's actually 2 shielded wires and an unshielded ground but they used one shielded and one unshielded. Nothing is really grounded so it sort of works LOL. I'm not sure how far a ground rod needs to be pounded in this type dry earth/rock to do anything either? Don't see one anywhere yet.

I'm used to seeing a breaker or disconnect up top to turn it all off. Then the red, black and common on the lugs above. I honestly wasn't sure if you could feed the breaker backwards (60 amp) and that was something normally done here (in theory it would probably work). Maybe you don't need a main disconnect and you just switch all the breakers off?

About 6 feet below box there's no#8 wiring connected to what looks like 14 or 16 that feeds into the panel. Looks like I have enough extra #8 wire to bring it into panel but no proper lugs or heavy shrink wrap. The wiring is probably twisted together and then taped (it could be soldered but haven't unwrapped it yet). 

I'm leaving Friday morning so don't know if I have time to fix it better (it will be 120 volt and not quite right for a while yet like everything else down here). My Spanglish is terrible so I have to take pictures off internet and then show them to the hardware store guys to try and get the parts.

Anyway this doesn't keep me awake at night luckily as the buildings are all made of stone/brick/cement lmao.

Everyone down here will tell you they can do something or they know somebody that can but only a few actually know how. For all I know it was one of these characters that are hanging out in our trees that did it. IMG_3617.thumb.jpg.5e5bf927c897219646c0a28e7157405a.jpg

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Here's an image of box in caretakers place. Hard to see but I see green and black wires going to rest of house on the ground block. The unshielded wire on the ground block is one of the hot leads. There's a shielded one tucked in beside the breaker that's not used. Looks like any three prong plug could cause serious issues or shock. Yikes!

 

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Hi Mike, 

It's not unusual to bring power into a panel through a backfed breaker like the one in your first two pictures. In that case, the breaker handle becomes your main disconnect and it should be so labeled. In the US, that breaker would require either a bolt or a clip (depending on the manufacturer) to hold it in place. Otherwise, if it comes loose from the panel you've got a "tiger by the tail" flopping around. 

The single biggest problem that I see in the panel in the first two pictures is the very small wires that feed the panel. That backfed main breaker will allow 60 amps of current to pass before tripping and those wires look like#14 or #12 (maybe #10?) which are far too small to safely carry 60 amps. (I doubt that it's #16) Next time you go down there, replace the main breaker with a 15-amp breaker (if the wires are #14), a 20-amp breaker (if the wires are #12), or a 30-amp breaker (if the wires are #10). Even if you can extend the #8 wires into the panel, I'd replace it with a 40-amp breaker - no more. 

Is this the only electrical panel serving the house, or is there another panel (or even just a disconnect) upstream of it? If this is the only disconnect for the building, then the grounding wires should be connected to the neutral wires. Without that connection, the grounding wires won't do squat. It would be nice if the grounding wires were connected to the earth at some point, but the critical thing is that they are connected to the neutral at the first disconnect. 

Next time you go down there, bring a clamp-on ammeter/multimeter, wire strippers/cutters, a selection of Eaton CH breakers, a bunch of wire in various sizes, wire nuts, screwdrivers, and lots of electrician's tape. With that, you can do almost anything. CATSA will love you. 

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