Jun 10, 2007, 10:08 PM
Post #4 of 5
Tony, A fire in a cement or masonry house may be close to non-existent, but they do happen. A masonry house will burn just as well as a steel ship does. It is not the masonry or the steel that burns, but the paint and furnishings.
Two years ago a house burned down just across the street and a half a block from our house. The flames leaped so high that they burned through the electrical power lines, and they fell to the street. We were without any electrical power for a day, and full power wasn’t restored for two days.
No one has ever admitted what caused that fire. They cooked and sold quesadillas, and sopes from that house. It may have been an electrical fire, or a charcoal fire may have caused it. I don’t think the bomberos have any fire investigators to determine the exact cause of any fire here.
At any rate, the house was largely destroyed. It has been rebuilt, and is now an auto electric repair shop. The Mexican people don’t want to hear us say it, so I never do, but they really need some zoning laws here.
Our house is only four years old. An amateur wired it. There are two electrical outlets above the countertop where the stove is, plus an exhaust fan and light. I haven’t been able to determine if anything else is in that same circuit. Sometimes, if the microwave and the coffeemaker are running at the same time, the breaker will trip. It seems to trip very quickly though. The wiring in that circuit is nowhere near 12 gauge, which it should be for a power circuit. It looks smaller than 16 gauge to me, Which is used normally only for lighting circuits, on top of that it is stranded wire which is totally unsuited to use for house wiring, although it is commonly used by the “electricians” down here.
Some of the “electricians” down here will try to tell you that a certain size of stranded wire is the equivalent of a solid wire. They are full of crap. No stranded wire is ever suitable for substituting for solid wiring in a building. The wire gauge size will be marked on the wire’s insulation jacket every couple of feet. Accept no substitutions. Solid wire is harder to work with than stranded wire is. So what? The goal is to get a proper job done.
My advice to anyone that is going to have a major wiring job done, like a new house, is that if you don’t have a good understanding of how to do a wiring job, get some how-to books before the job is even started. The US National Electrical code would be good, but it is probably too technical for the average layman to understand it. There are other good general knowledge books on wiring (and plumbing) available though.
Write a contract for the work and have the contractor sign it before the work begins. Specify the wire gauge sizes, solid wire only is to be used, maximum number of outlets or fixtures in each circuit, and specify that no lighting fixtures are to be in the same circuit as a power circuit, and no wire splices are to be made anywhere except in a J-box (junction box), splices are to be made using wire nuts, no twsting of wires together to make a splice will be permitted, unless the spliced wires are soldered together and properly insulated after the splice is made. Also specify that no fuses are to be used, only breakers. Because of heat build up, there are maximum numbers of wires that may be used in a given size of conduit in The US national Electrical code. I have no idea of how the maximum number of wires can be calculated to use in the plastic conduits used in México. I would pick an arbitrary number, like no more than 8 wires to be used in any conduit.
The contract of specifications, code requirements, and mandatory field inspections by the building inspectors will assure you that you will get a safe, functioning system in The US and other countries. In México, the contract is probably all you will have, and it may not be enforceable in court. Visit the job every day, and if you see anything counter to your written specs, have the contractor stop all work until it is corrected to meet your specifications. Prepare to have the electrician get mad at you.
"The supreme happiness of life is the conviction that we are loved" - Victor Hugo