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Electricial segment issues

The electrical segments that are part of Ask This Old house shows sometimes have problems I think. On a recent episode the host showed how to convert an old kerosene lantern to electricity. Fine, except he never mentioned the issue that there is a hot and neutral lead and they need to be connected to the correct terminals on the lamp to meet code and maximize safety.

In another episode he used metal boxes but never mentioned the issue of grounding the boxes.

In another episode he installed a panel in an out building and he didn't mention an earth ground connection to the panel. I believe that in addition to the ground wire that comes from the main panel an earth ground connected to a grounding rod or other allowed grounding technique is required. I'm not an electrician but the book I have on electrical codes seems to suggest that this is the case.

Overall the ATOH electrical segments are often seriously incomplete IMO. It is possible that the problem is caused by the producers that want to restrict the amount of time available for the segment. If that is the case they should consider not doing the segments at all if there is inadequate time available to cover critical issues. It is also possible that the problem is with the host. Perhaps he is not thinking enough about which issues are important if somebody is trying to learn how to do something based on his instructions.

Re: Electricial segment issues

I haven't been watching ATOH lately so I can't really address all these issues. However, as for grounding an outbuilding, there are a lot of misunderstandings.

First off, if the panel in the outbuilding is being fed from the main electrical panel in the house, both a ground (Equipment Grounding Conductor) and a neutral wire must be present in the circuit to the outbuilding. The ground and neutral are bonded together in the main panel, but they MUST NOT be bonded in the subpanel. If they are bonded in the subpanel, you can end up with current flowing on the ground wire, and current isn't supposed to flow on the ground wire except in the event of a fault so that safety devices (circuit breakers, GFI) will trip.

As for a ground rod at the outbuilding, I believe one (actually, two) is indeed necessary, even if there is a grounding conductor going back to the main panel. This is necessary to protect against lightning strikes -- energy from the lightning strike needs to shunt to ground rather than feed into other buildings.

On the other hand, much of the stuff you suggest was left out may have indeed been done, but either not discussed due to the time limits of the show, or was cut out in the final edit. Unfortunately, the editors of the TV show aren't experts in construction, and often cut out details they figure will bore the viewer.

And, by the way, NO ONE from either the TV show or the magazine ever views these forums.

A. Spruce
Re: Electricial segment issues
Fencepost wrote:

And, by the way, NO ONE from either the TV show or the magazine ever views these forums.

From the show, no, the magazine watches this forum religiously for magazine fodder, and has on many occasions asked us regular contributors for permission to use posts and such that we've offered here to the DIY contingent.

Personally, I think that it's a shame that the show doesn't have a presence here, whether it is one of the on camera personalities or one of its minions, someone who can address the inconsistencies that are often pointed out here about the show's content. There have been multiple complaints by viewers on electrical issues shown on the program, whether it be unsafe practices or code violations being done by the very contractors that are supposed to be knowledgeable about such things.

At the end of the day, the show IS NOT about DIY work, it is about whatever the project du jur is. You can thank Bob Vila for changing the show from a DIY info source to the deep pocketed client hiring all manner of contractor/tradesmen to get the job done.

If you want a good DIY based show, look up Home Time. Not sure if it's still around, but it was an even better version of what TOH used to be in its early days, all about helping homeowners doing their own projects and teaching them when and how to hire a pro when they needed help.

Re: Electricial segment issues

I rarely get this far down the forum list, so I just saw this. Indeed the show does not show everything and some of what they do show is questionable. I like to look in the background of the site-shoots where you'll see all manner of things done poorly or wrong.

I watch mostly to see new innovations and inventions though. Hometime seems to have stalled at showing more generic remodels repetitively with little to endear it to me. I get more out of a Woodwright's Shop re-run most of the time and as I don't have cable or sattelite TV I don't have much else to look at or recommend. Nobody gets down to the 'guts' of things anymore; they all show only the spectacular, massive, or shiny.


Re: Electricial segment issues

The electrician they are using is new to the show as far as working with the DIY public. Like many professionals he has a tendency to skip fundamental information and concentrate on the witch craft and magic of his profession.


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