We often get asked why it is important to hire a licensed and insured electrician instead of a "handyman". After all, aren't handymen usually less expensive than electricians?
In this instance, the handyman had run non-metallic cable (often referred to as "Romex" which is a brand name, not a wire description) on the surface of the wall where it was exposed and subject to damage. The wire was pinched into place on the wall using common deck screws.
The handyman had then made a "ceiling medallion" out of plywood to cover the hole in the ceiling. A pancake box which was not fan-rated was attached to the medallion with deck screws, allowing no strain relief for the wire. The wire was not protected from the metal edge or from movement and the wire was ran underneath the box, pinching the wire between the board and the metal box.
Our electrician cut the power to the circuit and removed the pancake box and medallion. The junction box used in the joist space had been cut in half which is not allowable by code. Boxes offer fire protection by containing arcing.
As our electrician worked at diagnosing why the fan/light was not working, he received an electrical shock. How was this possible as he had turned off the circuit and it was not "hot"? Electrical shocks as little as 10 milliamps can cause cardiac arrests.
The electrician was able to use a tool to take a picture inside the ceiling to discover why he was receiving a shock from a dead circuit. The picture revealed that the spreader bar attached to the remodel box inserted into the hole by the handyman had made contact with old, uninsulated knob and tube wire in the joist space, energizing the box.
CWC Electric, LLC replaced all the incorrect boxes and ran the wire in wiremold so it was protected. The circuit had been mis-wired in addition to being incorrectly installed.
While it is tempting to use unlicensed and uninsured handymen to save money, we encourage you to think of the consequences to your family's safety and to the safety of other workers. The most dangerous situations our electricians have encountered have been the result of other people's poor work.
Need a qualified, licensed & insured electrician whose prices won't shock you? Call CWC Electric, LLC at 785-215-8775.