Standards …. And Practices

I had been working for one particular General Contractor for awhile, when he decided to build his own house.

He had put up the structure, but had delayed pouring the concrete slab for the basement floor.  The weather had not cooperated with his building schedule.

The weather had produced copious amounts of rain and then turned freezing cold.  The basement floor was made of frozen mud.  He waited on the weather for some time, hoping it would warm up, thaw out and dry.  Finally he purchased a used commercial heater, suspended it two feet above the mud and turned it on.  Full blast.

We let it run day and night until the mud was thawed and dried out.

As you know, heat rises.  I was concerned that we might burn the whole house down before the mud was dry.  It was an unusually cold winter, getting down to 20 degrees below zero.  Surprisingly the plan worked!  Sometimes practical people are smarter than engineers.  He was able to pour his basement floor.

The General Contractor didn’t know what to do with his furnace after he finished his drying out season, so he gave it to me.  What would I do with it?

I put it in a protected area and 28 years later I still don’t know what to do with it.

He eventually sold the house and moved to the East Coast.  The house still stands there as good as ever.

Another way of doing something a little bit different involves gluing PVC conduit.  Many times when electricians glue PVC pipe together, they will spread glue on the inside of the coupling and the outside of pipe.

This practice will cause the glue inside the coupling to squeeze back and form a ring inside the coupling.  When the same is done on the other end of the coupling, you now have two rings of hard glue constricting the available conduit fill space.

One of my helpers on one of my jobs was not experienced in PVC conduit gluing.  He used plenty of glue.  It wasn’t until after he went on to another job that I was set to pull wire through the conduit he had run.  I could get my fish tape through, but I could not get the wire to go through the conduit.  The extra glue he had used so constricted the available fill capacity the wires were blocked.

The area where I was working was in a parking lot.  I attached my fish tape to the back bumper of my car and slowly pulled away.  The wire slid through with no difficulty.  When I felt the wires after being pulled through the conduit, they were quite warm to the touch.  I suspect it was the friction of passing through the constricted connectors.

The electrical inspector on that job did not see this happen, so I don’t know what he would have said.  However he had told me before that when I used PVC conduit, I should install steel sweeps at the bottom of a conduit run.  His theory was that the pressure of the fish tape pulling up would cut a PVC sweep.  I argued that it was not in the code.  He said; “It will be!”

I changed them out to steel sweeps to keep him happy, but the requirement never did appear in the code.