Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Electrical Questions I’ve Been Asked

How do I become a Master/Journeyman Electrician?

Q.  I'm looking at getting an apprenticeship with this local company. After I'm done with my apprenticeship, what do I have to do to become a Master or Journeyman Electrician? How long would it take? Do I need to go to college? If so, what do I need to major in?
A.  Hey there, depending on your state you may have to enroll in approved courses or take certain exams. But for you to get a general idea, I am posting links to previously asked questions that will hopefully have the answer you are looking for.
Best of luck and please contact me if you have specific questions!
-Mitch Tolbert

Light switches operate plugs. How can I make outlets hot and use the switch to operate a ceiling light?

Q.  My house was built in the 40's and there are no ceiling lights in any room. All the wall plugs are run by the light switches. I would like to rewire the switches so that the outlets are always 'hot' and the switch can then be used to operate a ceiling light, once it's installed. I would like to do this without an electrician.
A.  The good news is that half of your problem is a very easy fix. The bad news is that you are in for some considerable work to accomplish the other half.
Making your outlets constantly hot is the easy part. You simply need to open your light switch outlet boxes. You will find two wires attached to each switch (assuming none of them are 3-way switches). If you have a few other wires stuck in the back of the box that are joined together (taped or wire nutted etc...) you are in business. Those other wires are the so called 'neutrals' and you will need them in order for your new lighting to work. Once you've completed this part of the discovery, you can then plan out the installation. If there are no neutrals inside the lighting boxes, then you will have to provide one at the lighting outlet. You will also need to get wires down to your light switch, from the lighting outlet. The number and task of these wires will depend on whether you find neutrals in your existing installation or if you have to run new circuits to your new lighting outlets.
Try to do some discovery, and then email us directly. I will draw you a schematic of the wiring that you'll need to do, as it's really too complicated to try and type out. I'll scan and email it to you if you'd like. Good luck with this and let us know if we can be of further assistance!
-Mitch Tolbert

How can I tell my girlfriend's parents about electrical code violations without offending them?

Q.  I'm 16, and I'm starting to see a girl who's in a few of my classes at school. I went to her house for dinner with her family yesterday. It was the first time I've been inside her house. I noticed a bunch of electrical code violations, especially in the basement. There are no GFI's in the kitchen nor the bathrooms. There were a few extension cords being used as permanent wiring, when an outlet should be installed instead. I saw a lot of jury-rigged wiring in the basement with a lot of unnecessary junction boxes. The circuit breaker panel is in a room cluttered with a lot of junk and hard to get to.
I didn't want to say anything because I didn't want to offend anyone. But, as an electrician, those things really bother me when I see them in people's houses. Electrical is the very first thing I notice when I visit someone at their home. Is there a way I could bring this up without offending anyone or risking any chances of starting a relationship with the girl?

A. Kuddos to you, young man. It is great to see someone young, sharp, and passionate about our trade. It is also admirable that you feel compelled to address and attempt to remedy severe code violations.
Actually though, it sounds to me like you could turn this into a positive advantage for yourself. Talk to the dad and explain your love of electrical work. Volunteer to "put on your tools" for a weekend's worth of DIY upgrades. An offer to spend a Saturday, helping the father around the house, should be the LAST thing that 'offends' them!
Regardless of the outcome, if you're truly so committed and concerned with these glaring safety issues, you owe it to yourself AND them to say or do something. It should not be a consideration for you to be concerned with how they'll feel about you after it's finished. At the very least you'll have attempted to keep their most valuable things - their lives and their home - SAFE!
-Mitch Tolbert

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Ask us about our Tabbed and Highlighted 2008 & 2011 National Electrical Code book, Study at Home Kits, Index Cheats, MI Stickers, Pass Tabs, Crash Course Books, and 4 hours One on One Tutoring session with our Master Electrician and Instructor Mitchell Tolbert.

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  1. Hello! Thank you so much for sharing this blog post. I'll be looking forward for your other posts as well. You have such a nice page. I'll try to visit this page again some other time. Before electricians are allowed to work without supervision, they are usually required to serve an apprenticeship lasting from 3 to 5 years under the general supervision of a Master Electrician and usually the direct supervision of a Journeyman Electrician. Schooling in electrical theory and electrical building codes are required to complete the apprenticeship program. Many apprenticeship programs provide a salary to the apprentice during training. A Journeyman electrician is a well rounded craftsman who has met the experience requirements for on the job training (usually 4080 to 6120 hrs) and classroom hours (about 144 hrs.); they may also have a two year relevant degree and another two to three years of apprenticeship training and have passed a licensing exam for their jurisdiction, be it state, county or city. They are trained in all phases of electrical construction installation in various building styles (residential, commercial, industrial, basic electronics) and maintenance of equipment after installation. All of their time is well documented under the jurisdiction of the state government in order for their time to be credited. A Journeyman is usually permitted to perform all types of electrical work except the design of electrical systems, although in some jurisdictions a Journeyman may design systems within certain limits. By contrast, a residential electrician is only permitted to work on residential projects with limitations (for example under 4 stories), and apprenticeship is typically four to five years. In certain states like Michigan, to go on to be a Master Electrician and then an electrical contractor, a journeyman has to work another two years past his passing of the extensive exam given and then apply to take the Master's exam which is another very rigid exam. Then they can apply for an electrical contractors license according to the guidelines of that government. McCurdy Electric has over 3 decades of experience and brings those hard-earned skills to every project. Our teams' commitment to outstanding customer service and getting the job done right the first time has helped build a solid reputation among Boxford, MA customers who have asked McCurdy Electric to handle their toughest work. We guarantee excellence, neatness, and professionalism at every step of the process.
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