Opinions of this wiring

hippieindenialFebruary 7, 2010


I plan to have an electrician over in a couple months to update some wiring issues in our house. The house was built in 1949 and is 1.5 stories with the only bathroom on the main floor. There is a timer next to the panel that I can hear ticking but I have no clue what it's for...any ideas? We don't have any outdoor lights except an old recessed one in the soffit above the porch. The water heater is electric. Furnace is gas.

I wanted to post a couple pictures to see what you think of the wiring so I can get a better grasp of the type of wires used and how to improve the electrical.

Let me know if you have other questions. Thanks!

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Ron Natalie

From the limited view of the pictures, I don't see anything glaringly wrong. It's actually not too bad for an older house. The timer could be the water heater, some people have one on their electric water heater as an energy saving measure. If you open the door on it, there should be a switch inside...turn it off and see if your water heater (or something else) goes out.

If the stove or some other major appliance goes out, it's quite possible a former resident was an observant jew and this is a "shabbat timer". A device that will turn on the timer without the occupant violating the prohibition on kindling fire.

    Bookmark   February 7, 2010 at 1:06PM
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Another suggestion, one of the most expensive uses of electric is to heat water. Where is your water heater in relation to the gas furnace? Would suggest replacement of the electric heater with a standard 30/40 gallan gas hot water heater or a gas tankless. Re your present situation, the electric hot water heater should be on a dedicated circuit. If this thing shut down for 12 hours for any ones religious experience, think you would notice

    Bookmark   February 7, 2010 at 2:23PM
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Looks like 15 or 20 amp romex heading to the timer is multiple runs. Perhaps multiple outdoor outlets, abandoned post lights, or something outdoors that may not be used any more.

    Bookmark   February 7, 2010 at 3:00PM
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If all of the 'bugs' have been removed from the timer disc (they attach with thumbscrews and do the actual tripping of the switch as the disc rotates), nothing will be turning on and off. Open the timer door and see if this is the case. Then turn off the manual switch to see what, if anything, is deenergized.

    Bookmark   February 7, 2010 at 3:47PM
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It seems to me that the box to the right of the timer holds the secret. The box above the timer seems to be fed by that black cable coming in from the right. Although in the picture it's not really clear but is that some kind of cord rather than cable? I'm wondering if the box above the time is just some kind of distribution point, perhaps when the panel was upgraded, they didn't run the existing cables back to the new panel??

In any case it seems odd that the timer gets fed by the flex (two hots and neutral [those kind of timers need a neutral, right??]) and two hots back to the box above seems more than would fit in the flex. Maybe not. Why then does something come of out the timer to the right?

I'm also curious what is the red cable/wire coming out of the service panel? Is there red NM?

    Bookmark   February 7, 2010 at 8:51PM
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There is a note taped to the bottom of the timer in the pic,what does it say?
Might give a clue to its use.

    Bookmark   February 8, 2010 at 11:36AM
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? WTH?

Okay, first off, I do see one minor issue - and it is, imho, VERY minor - as in, completely meaningless.

The panel is installed sideways. I believe there is actually a bit of code stating that vertically-operated circuit breakers must be UP for ON and DOWN for OFF. One side of a sideways-installed panel violates that.

The second thing that is really puzzling me: Look closely at the panel itself. Doesn't the cover appear to be ... fractured? Like it's the "bottom" section of one panel cover and the "top" section of another? Look closely directly to the left of what we presume to be the main breaker... See that line? What's going on there? Again, minor, but still - am I going blind in my middle age?

    Bookmark   February 8, 2010 at 2:34PM
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actually yea it does look weird,and what looks like the main there, looks to me like 2 single poles.

    Bookmark   February 8, 2010 at 2:40PM
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Hi everyone! Thanks for your messages so far. I appreciate your help! I am a first time home buyer and learning things as I go...first plumbing, now electrical...

I took some more pics of the area and opened the timer. To my surprise there was a note inside the timer that says "for bedroom switch set 10 hrs after living room shut off". I also see that it's in the "off" position....should it still be ticking? Also...I have no idea what bedroom they are talking about! Guess the electrician will have to help me figure that one out. There is one outlet in the room we are using as the living room that doesn't work.
The note on the outside of the timer box says something like "when out of kilter, turn timer all the way around"

I think the red wire goes to the water heater...I've attached a picture from when we first moved in that shows the old galvanized pipe and laminate floors that have since been replaced.

    Bookmark   February 8, 2010 at 5:13PM
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That cover is kind of interesting but I don't have a lot of experience with Siemens panels. From the way the metal is stamped, it looks like it was made that way. Interesting anyway.

Looks like some kind of odd timer arrangement. Perhaps when the previous owner was on vacation.

    Bookmark   February 8, 2010 at 8:54PM
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Hopefully there is not much load on the horribly notched joist in the second pic.

That is way to much to remove from the bottom edge of a joist.
It is likely compromised and needs to be sistered with either a like size piece, or have smaller sisters placed on both sides and flush with the bottom of the joist.

The sideways panel is an issue, but it is not very hard to rotate it.

Any cables that are short can be spliced and extended in a JB if they will not make it into the panel with enough length to work.

    Bookmark   February 9, 2010 at 9:43AM
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My area of interest is more electronics than electrical - and that timer has me intrigued, to say the least!

There is/was something in a bedroom that was supposed to operate from 8:30pm to 10:30pm exclusively of a presumably-related item in the livingroom?

hippieindenial, any chance of carefully removing that cardboard cover so we can see where the actual wires inside the timer go?

also, for kicks, turn the timer on and see if that one non-working outlet in the livingroom springs to life.

I'm thinking inventive DIY climate control, personally...

    Bookmark   February 9, 2010 at 10:44AM
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Here is a picture of the wiring in the timer. Sorry that it's not the best quality.

This weekend I will turn the timer on and see what happens.

    Bookmark   February 9, 2010 at 5:44PM
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Brickeyee has not lost sight of the forest for the trees.

    Bookmark   February 9, 2010 at 6:23PM
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Thinking there is more to it in the junction box to the right, perhaps some time delay device or contactor. Need to take the cover off of it as well.

    Bookmark   February 9, 2010 at 6:27PM
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I"m guessing it had to do with cycling lights on/off around the house for security while on vacation.

    Bookmark   February 9, 2010 at 8:51PM
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This appears to be a 110v Intermatic(brand name) timer. It appears that the mechanism in the top right corner of the timer may be firemans switch of some sort. A firemans switch in the swimming pool biz tuns the heater off 10 to 15 minutes prior to pump going off. It is a normally closed switch, I suppose this one could work normally open. The odd looking wide tripper may only activate what I am calling the firemans switch. It appears that is set about 10 hours prior to or after the other trippers which may make sense with that note. The other trippers activate the timer terminals when they reach the bottom of the clock where the silver pointer is. If you want to reset the time on this clock you pull the entire yellow dial out towards you about a 1/4 inch and it will free spin. These timers can be 110v or 220v, this one appears to 110v.

The wire going to the hot water heater should be protected by flex or some sort of conduit

Good luck.

    Bookmark   February 13, 2010 at 2:35AM
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Ron Natalie

A pool heater that doesn't disengage with the stoppage of water flow is ILLEGAL.
It should not rely on some independent timer.

The wire going to the hot water heater should be protected by flex or some sort of conduit

Not strictly required by the NEC, but it ought to be more securely attached to the building structure than it appears to be in the picture.

    Bookmark   February 14, 2010 at 10:59AM
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Legal notice: I am NOT a licensed electrician.

That main panel looks pretty neat actually. It appears to be designed so that you can shut off the main breaker and then remove the cover for the branch circuits (which are now presumably safe), while the wiring for the main breaker (which is still live) is still covered and protected from accidental contact.

    Bookmark   February 14, 2010 at 1:13PM
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I was trying to help the poster. For your info all pool heaters do have a water pressure switch as part of their safety circuit, the fireman switch ensures that the heater turns off before the timer so the heater may cool down, I never said that the timer is what you use to turn the heater on or off. I know a little something about intermatic timers and I just wanted to help.

    Bookmark   February 16, 2010 at 9:36PM
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