Short Circuits

Short Circuits

Everyone makes mistakes. Some are just funnier than others.







False Arrester

I had just finished the electrical trim-out on a new Habitat for Humanity house and called for the final inspection when I noticed that I'd forgot to install the surge arrester on the outside distribution panel. I got to work wiring it in, and I finished just as the electrical inspector rolled up and asked me to hot wire the house from the temporary pole so he could check out all the devices. About two minutes after he started his inspection, we heard what sounded like a recoilless rifle going off. We ran outside to see what was happening, and there on the side of the house next to the panel was a large black spot where the surge arrester had been located — I forgot to wire in the neutral. The GC still hasn't let me live that one down.
Chris Randolph
Winter Park, Fla.

A Job Well Done

While cleaning the roof vents at a local restaurant, a cleaning crew inadvertently pulled down and disconnected some EMT that ran to a control panel and controlled four different ventilators. We were called in and instructed to get them running ASAP and then rewire the control panel. We successfully got three running, but when we connected what we thought were the start leads for the fourth vent, I started to hear a hissing noise. We soon realized it was the sound of the CO2 fire suppression system emptying into the kitchen. By the time we made it past the fleeing staff and into the room, it was filled with a cloud that looked like plumes of white smoke the space shuttle makes when it takes off.
Rich Kuklewicz
Turner Falls, Mass.

Illustrations by Clint Metcalf

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