|Residential Electrical work can bring you to a Cabin in the woods...|
The Finish Stage has 9 Steps;
1) Acquire Material; Material is purchased or delivered.
2) Distribute Material; Distribute the material (switches, plates, chandeliers, ceiling fans, down
rods...) around the house close to where they will be installed.
3) Install Devices; Switches, receptacles, dimmers, GFIs, plates, phone, TV jacks, floor outlets
4) Install Can Lights; Flat, Cone, Covered and Swivel in 6 inch or 4 inch with bulbs
5) Install Fixtures; Chandeliers, wall lights, ceiling fans, vanity lights, flood lights, post lights.
6) Install Appliances; Install or make electrical connections to hoods, microwaves, cook tops, ranges, wall ovens, dishwashers, furnaces, air conditioners, water heaters.
7) Install Miscellaneous; Door chimes, landscape lighting, media panels, conduit on concretewalls, fireplace blowers.
8) Inspection; Check your work to see what was missed or messed up and then arrange for a
9) Troubleshooting; Fix what doesn't work, correct inspection failures.
First some guidelines to the Finish Stage;
Be tippy toe, white glove, careful; The builder and owners can get very emotional if you damage their finished house.
➪ Don't get mud on the carpet from your shoes or your ladder.
➪ Don't bang or scratch your tools, or your tool belt, against the cabinets.
➪ Don't drop screws or little pieces of your copper wires on the hardwood floor for someone else to step on and scratch the flooring.
➪ Don't set your drink on a wooden desk top to stain a mark.
➪ Don't smoke in the house without permission.
Treat the house like it was yours. If you don't, be prepared for an emotional outburst from the customer.
Work it like it's hot even if it's not.
Make it a habit to always work as though your wires are electrically hot even if it's not. Cut the hot, neutral and ground one at a time instead of all 3 at once. Hold switches and receptacles with out touching the hot terminal. Strip the hot wire without touching the copper wire or the metal parts of your tools. Many electricians work on hot circuits and hot panels.
Trust but verify.
Never believe your boss or anyone else who says the wiring you are working on is dead. It is always your responsibility to test your wires to see if they are hot and to test your tester to see if it works.
Does your work, work?
After you hang a ceiling fan, turn it on to see if it works. Make sure the lights come on and the fan spins. After you install two 3 way switches for a hall light, turn it on and then go to the other switch and turn it off and then come back to the first switch and see if you can turn it on again. When you install a smoke detector, push the test button to see if the other smoke detectors signal an alarm.
Hide and go seek.
Unfortunately, there a times when an outlet (a receptacle box, a light box, a recessed can light) can be completely hidden beneath sheet rock or a cabinet or even wall paper.This can mean that half of a room might be dead until the box is found and the wiring connected together.
Keep control of all the parts.
When you open a box with a light fixture, search through the packaging to be sure that you have all the pieces and parts. If there is any reason that you cannot finish assembling the fixture, put the remaining parts in a safe place; in a kitchen drawer or in the boxes with your other electrical supplies so they do not get thrown away.
When working above a sink, close the drain so you don't lose any parts.
Don't touch halogen flood light bulbs.
The oils from your hand will cause the bulbs to burn out quickly.
Hang chandeliers from their chains not from their wires.
The chain should look tight with the wires weaving back and forth. If the wire looks tight and the chain is weaving back and forth you messed up.
Finish Step 1 Acquire Material
If you only remember one thing about this step then remember this,
Have a constant awareness of missing supplies and have those supplies available before they are needed.
Many beginner electricians have a hard time with this concept. They get so absorbed in the single task at hand that they neglect management, to take a time out, step back and look at the whole project and notice which supplies are about to run out or which specialty parts will need to be ordered. They are surprised when their helpers wait until the last minute to mention that there are no more wire nuts.
Other key points.
Keep a list. As you are working and you notice you are getting low on plastic anchors write it down on a list that everyone can see and have your helpers add to the list.
Visualize working on your task and note what supplies or tools you will need. Tomorrow you will go back to a new house to connect the 3 air conditioners. Make a list as you visualize doing the task "OK so I'll need 3 AC disconnects. Oh and that was brick so I will need an anchor kit and a hammer drill. After I mount the disconnects I'll need to run the wiring so I'll need some wire, sealtight, a few one hole straps to support the wiring, some sealtight connectors... etc
Order what the customer/builder wants not what you want. You may assume they will like white switches but they might demand light almond instead. Don't waste time installing the wrong color.
If the customer or builder is to supply an item, inform them that you need it now.
If you go to a store to pick up an order, do not leave the store until you open the box and check the order to see if all the parts are there and correct. You will look foolish if you call in an order, go to pick them up and wait to open the box at the job site only to discover that they gave you the wrong items. Now you have to go back to the store and waste a lot of time.
Did they give you one 4 gang box instead of four 1 gang boxes?
Did they give you 14/2 instead of 14/3?
It is important to know if something is missing. If you can't work without it, you may have to visit another supplier before you return. Why is there no PVC glue? "Oh we forgot to tell you we are out" Since you can't install PVC without glue you will have to go to another store. You will save time if you discover a missing item while you are at the store rather than back at the job.
Supplies for the Finish work can be ordered based on the work done in the "Rough In" Stage 2
If you ordered 50 recessed can lights in the "Rough In" you will need 50 trim and lamps in the Finish.
The most difficult thing about shopping for the electrical finish is determining which items the customer will buy and which your electrical company will buy and which options the customer wants. Options like;
- The devices color; ivory, white, light almond, brown...
- The devices style type; standard or Decora.
- Bulb or lamp types; fluorescent, halogen, incandescent, frosted or clear.
- If the customer wants dimmer switches and where they want them.
- Which style of recessed can light trims they want; flat, cone or something else.
A good experienced helper will inform their supervisor when supply items are running low and be prepared to answer when asked "Do you need anything?"
Finish Step 2 Distribute Material
Distribute the material around the house in places where it belongs. ( in rooms where the painting is complete.)
The first thing to do when arriving at a residential electrical finish is to get everything unpacked and ready for installation. To prepare for installing you have to distribute the material (receptacles, switches, plates, ceiling fans, down rods...) close to where they will be installed, just as we did during the Rough in when we distributed supplies around the house before nailing them in place.
To begin distributing material, you take a bunch of receptacles and receptacle plates and walk around the house placing one of each below those wall boxes where the receptacles will need to be installed. You continue distributing receptacles and their plates until you have one at every location including hidden locations like the disposal receptacle under the kitchen sink. If you get to the garage and it is crowded with painters and carpentry gear, count how many devices will be needed and lay them by the door. While you are distributing receptacles, someone else can be distributing the switches, placing a switch on the floor or on a counter top near each box where the switches will be installed. The goal of distributing materials is to have the supplies handy at each place where they will be installed so that you can work your way around a room installing devices without having to stop and go fetch something.
So, for example;
- Receptacles and a receptacle plates are laid on the floor or counter top below the receptacle wall boxes.
- Switches and a switch plates are laid below switch wall boxes.
- A dimmer switch is laid below the box for the switch for the living room lights that the customer wants to dim.
- The ceiling fan for the master bedroom is set on the floor in the master bedroom.
- A special light kit and down rod for the master bedroom ceiling fan are placed on the floor next to the ceiling fan box.
- The dining room chandelier is placed on the floor in the dining room.
3 good reasons for distributing material throughout the house;
❶ To ensure that the correct items will be installed in the proper locations. It would be a waste of productivity if you install a ceiling fan with the 4 inch down rod that comes with it and then, later on, find a 12 inch down rod that the customer specifically ordered for that fan.
❷To give an early indication of supplies that are missing or incorrect and need to be ordered. A customer might see the ceiling fan they ordered sitting on the floor in the bedroom and suddenly realize that when they changed the wall paint color they forgot to reorder a fan that would match.
❸To make a faster, more productive installation. It is faster to have items nearby as you install them without having to stop and go fetch something.
Limits to distributing material.
There are times when spreading your supplies through out the house can cause problems and you may have to limit your distribution to smaller sections of the house.
You might have to stay out of a basement that the painters are still painting. You might have to stay out of the upstairs bedrooms that the carpet layers are working on. When this happens, distribute supplies in a smaller, less busy section of the house.
When the house is a giant mansion, it is best to work one section of the house at a time.
Distribute all your supplies in the upstairs area and then begin to installing. When finished, move to another level. The smaller the house, the faster it will be completed and the sooner you need to know which items are missing.
The "Finish" Stage
Install can light trims
Finish Step 3 Install Devices
Install switches, receptacles, phone, coax TV jacks and plates.
6/32 screws are used on rectangular boxes for devices like switches and receptacles.
8/32 screws are used on round boxes for lights. 8/32 screws are thicker than 6/32
Foreign made light fixtures often supply mounting screws that are metric and will not fit an 8/32.
Install a Receptacle
Test the wires to make sure the power is off.
Is this box for a receptacle or something else?
First you have to find which boxes are receptacles and which are switches or GFIs. Switch boxes are normally near doors, sinks, beds or the ends of counters. GFIs are in garages, outside and near sinks. Recep boxes are found low on room walls, on counter tops, inside cabinets and on garage ceilings. A receptacle box will have one or more black, white and bare copper ground wires. GFI receptacle locations should have some type of identification like "Line/Load" written on the wires or twisted wires or GFI written inside the box.
Connect the wires
When you have determined that the box you are at is for a receptacle and not a GFI or a switch then connect the wires. Wires can be connected directly to the receptacle or they can be wire nutted together with one "Pigtail" wire that connects to the recep. Black and white wires are connected to a recep by wrapping around a terminal screw or by "stabbing" the wire into a small round insert on the back of the device. Find out if your company policy requires pigtails on all receptacles or only when necessary and if they make connections by terminal screw or stabbing into the insert.
A 15 amp... 20 amp... and decora style duplex receptacle.
Parts of a Receptacle
Take a close look a your nearest wall receptacle. Notice that there is a tall slot for the neutral, a short slot for the hot and a round hole for the ground. These different sized slots are called polarized and will only allow a polarized cord to be plugged in correctly. This set of 3 holes, a hot, neutral and ground, is called a single receptacle. Most receptacles have 2 sets of holes, one above the other. This is called a duplex (dual) receptacle.
Inside the duplex, the 2 ground holes are connected to each other, to the mounting strap, the plate screw socket and to the green ground screw at the bottom of the device. The 2 taller slots are connected to the silver neutral screws and a piece of metal jumper tab connects the 2 silver screws together on one side of the duplex. The 2 shorter hot slots are connected to the gold screws with a metal jumper tab connecting the 2 hot wires together. These jumpers can be removed for special situations like a half switched duplex receptacle. By connecting a hot black wire to any one of the gold terminal screws it will make both gold screws and narrow slots hot because of the jumper. Connect the white neutral wire to any one of the silver screws and the ground to the green screw on the bottom.
Mount the receptacle to the box
Screw the receptacle's top and bottom 6/32 mounting screws into the wall box. Some boxes have a special feature that allows you to push the mounting screw all the way in without turning your screw driver. Electricians in the Northern US tend to install receptacles with the ground down. Electricians in the South tend to install receptacles with the ground up. The correct way to install receptacles is the method that you are told to do. If you are working with me it would be with the ground down towards the ground where it belongs. The debate here is that those who prefer the "ground up" say it is because if a metal plate comes loose and falls down on a plug the ground will prevent the plate from shorting out on the hot plug slot. Unfortunately, because it does not short out it leaves the breaker in the on position creating a more dangerous situation of a grounded metal plate hanging loosely waiting for someone to bump it over into the hot plug slot. All of this seems unlikely to happen but if it does it seems best to have it trip the breaker quickly rather than have a metal plate hang so close to a hot plug slot.
Screw on the plate
Pretty simple, just make sure you have the correct plate color. Almond and light almond look similar. After the plate is on, you might need to level your receptacle if it looks crooked. Apply pressure with your fingers on the top of one side of the plate and bottom of the other until the plate and receptacle spins into a more straight position.
Installing a GFI receptacle.
Test the wires to make sure the power is off.
Determine which are the Line and Load wires.
A ground fault circuit interrupting GFCI or ground fault interrupter GFI receptacle is a special receptacle that "interrupts" or turns off the power to GFI and anything plugged into the front and wired into the back of the GFI receptacle.
The GFI receptacle has 5 different terminal screws;
❶ The hot Line gold colored screw
❷ The neutral Line silver colored screw
❸ The green colored ground screw.
❹ The hot Load gold colored screw
❺ The neutral Load silver colored screw
The first 3 terminals must have wiring connected to them in order for the GFI to work. They are the hot, neutral and ground coming from the panel or another power source. The 4th and 5th terminals are optional connections for any other wiring in the box that needs to be protected by the GFI like a second standard receptacle on a kitchen counter.
First connect the ground, that's the easy part. The grounds are either green wires or bare copper wires or both. All the ground wires and a "pigtail" (6 inch piece of wire of matching color) are twisted together and capped with a wire nut. The other end of this ground pigtail is connected to the green ground screw on the GFI.
Now we have to determine which pair of wires (black + white in same sheathing) are the "line" and which pair are the "load" The line provides power and the load uses power. Think of the line as coming in from the outside power line and the load as something that uses power like a load of laundry spinning in a clothes washer. If you know that one set of black and white wires have a voltage between them, then you know that they are the coming from the power line and not the clothes washer. These hot wires are the "Line" wires. (Turn power off) Connect this black to the gold line terminal and this white neutral wire to the silver line terminal screw. The remaining "Load" wires were dead because they are continuing on to a load, like the laundry, but more likely a bathroom vanity receptacle. Connect the black load wire to the gold load screw and the white neutral, that it is paired with in the same sheathing, to the silver load terminal.
The most common mistake in wiring a GFI is to mix up the white neutral wires. These neutrals are not interchangeable. As mentioned above the neutral Line is different from the neutral Load . It is easy if you only have one pair (black+white) of wires entering the box because then you only have one white neutral which belongs on the neutral Line terminal screw.
The hard part is when you have 2 pairs of wires (2 blacks+2 whites) entering the box. Now you have 2 white neutrals and you will have to determine which is a neutral Line and which is the neutral Load.One way to check this is to look deep into the box to see which white wire
is in the same sheathing as the hot Line black wire and that white wire would also be a Line wire; the neutral Line. Another way to check is to use a voltage tester. There will be voltage between the energized hot Line black wire and its paired neutral Line white wire but no
voltage between the energized hot Line black wire and the other neutral Load white wire.
Mount the GFI to the box
Screw the GFI's top and bottom 6/32 mounting screws into the wall box.
Screw on the plate.
Test the wires to make sure the power is off.
Do You have the Correct Color?
Ivory, white, almond, light almond and brown are the most common.
Determine which type of switch S1, S3 or S4.
Again, you have to be sure the box you are working on is for a switch and not a receptacle. Switch boxes are normally near doors, sinks, beds or the ends of counters. The number of wires that will connect to the switch gives you a clue to which type of switch you will be installing. A single pole switch (S1) has 2 terminal screws for 2 wires. A 3way switch (S3) has 3 terminal screws; 1 common screw and 2 traveler screws for 3 wires. A 4way switch (S4) has 4 terminal screws; 2 " in" screws and 2 "out" screws for 4 wires. So if you know that the box you are working on is for a switch and it has 2 wires then you know you are to install a S1. If you have 3 wires, then a S3 will be installed. 4 wires, a 4way.
Is it a Dimmer or Fan Control?
Before installing standard S1 or S3 switches, you need to know if any fan speed controls or dimmers are to be used instead. Ceiling fans can be turned on with a standard S1 switch but some customers might want an S1 fan speed control. They might also want an S1 or S3 dimmer to control the lights.
Connect the wires to a single pole switch
Landing the wires on a single pole switch is easy; just 2 terminal screws for 2 insulated wires and it doesn't matter which goes where except, of course, for a 3rd wire the bare copper ground wire which goes on the green ground screw. The color of the 2 insulated wires is normally black and occasionally red. Once in a long while it might be a white wire. White wires are normally neutral but they can be used as a hot under certain conditions including marking the white with a piece of black tape.
More information about single pole switch wiring;
> Single pole switch wiring methods http://singlepole.blogspot.com
Connect the wires to a 3 way switch
3 ways are a bit more tricky. You are looking for 3 wires; a pair of wires called "travelers" and a single wire called a "common" The travelers connect two 3 ways together. The common is either feeding power into the 3 way or passing power out to the light. The wires might be black, red or white. The wire color does not identify what it is, a common or a traveler. Some identify the travelers by twisting them together others identify the "common" by stripping the end of the wire or putting a curl in the wire. Most will wrap the individual common around the pair of travelers.
3 way switches will have 3 terminal screws and a green ground screw. One of the terminal screws will be a slightly different color to identify it as the "Common" terminal. Sometimes it is also identified with the word "common" written near the screw. Attach your common wire to the common screw terminal. Attach your bare copper ground wire to the green ground screw. Attach one traveler wire to one traveler screw and the other traveler wire to the 2nd traveler screw. It doesn't matter which traveler wire goes on which traveler screw. Traveler wires can be swapped with each other but not with a common.
More information about 3 way switch wiring;
> 3 Way switch wiring methods http://s3switch.blogspot.com
Connect the wires to a 4 way switch
4ways do not have a common, they have 4 wires all called travelers. The wires might be black, red or white. The 4 wires are divided into 2 separate pairs. One pair of S4 travelers connects to the S3 at your left and the other pair of travelers connects to the S3 at your right. Most electricians twist together the 2 traveler wires coming from one 3way to identify and separate them from the 2 travelers in the 2nd pair coming from the other 3 way. You can also identify the separate pairs by looking at the sheathing. One pair will be together inside one sheathing and the other pair in another sheathing.
On the 4 way switch the 2 pairs of terminals are given names; one pair of terminals is called "IN" and the other pair is called "OUT" The 2 terminals that we call "IN" are for the 2 traveler wires that are coming in from one of your 3 ways. It doesn't matter which one. The other 2 terminals that we call "OUT" are for the 2 traveler wires that are going out to your other 3way. The idea is to connect one pair of traveler wires, say the pair coming from the 3 way at your left, to the "IN" terminals and the other pair, from the 3 way at your right, to the "OUT"
What you don't want to do is take the pair of travelers coming from one 3 way and put one of the pair on the "IN" and the other wire from the same 3 way pair and put it on the "OUT"
So to review how to wire a 4 way, connect any traveler wire to one of the "IN" terminals and it's paired wire to the second "IN" terminal. Connect the 3rd traveler wire to the "OUT" terminal and it's paired wire to the second "OUT" terminal.
More information about 3 way switch wiring;
> 4 way switch wiring methods http://s4switch.blogspot.com
Mount the switch to the box
Make sure your S1 is right side up. Beginners make this mistake often. An S1 should say "ON" not "NO" When all the switches throughout the house are in the down position, all the lights should be off. If a light is on and it is controlled by a couple of S3s and S4s, unscrew one of these switches from the box, spin the switch around 180 degrees and screw the switch back into the box. Now install the switch plate