18,359 reputation
34497
bio website gregmaclellan.com
location Canada
age 33
visits member for 4 years, 8 months
seen 5 mins ago

Started working for my dad's water treatment company in my teens, installing and repairing pumps and water treatment systems. Later worked on automated monitoring and control systems for small water treatment systems, including PLC programming, panel design, systems integration, and designing and building our own SCADA software package. Currently employed as a senior software architect at a print software company.

Renovations around my houses have included installing complete bathrooms (both reno and adding new), complete basement gut and reno, and all types of electrical, plumbing, and ethernet/video/audio cabling. Also have a particular interest in home automation -- my current house has several rooms controlled using Insteon gear.


1d
comment How can I run USB to every room in the house?
If you are concerned about network security, avoid any products with "cloud" features/connectivity (or be sure to turn it off). For the most part, if you don't open firewall ports on your router, and you don't have equipment making outbound connections on its own (to a "cloud" system), there's not a lot to worry about. You can also just not connect it to the internet. Don't forget about local access: either by wifi or by some random person plugging in (though this is mostly a concern in offices where there are often active, unsecured ethernet ports in reception or meeting rooms).
1d
comment How can I run USB to every room in the house?
You commented you want "cameras, sensors, and light controllers". Unfortunately there is no one unified system to do this today. IP Cameras are widely available, as are lighting systems (search for: Z-wave, Insteon or Zigbee). "Sensors" is a bit open-ended, but there is lots of off-the-shelf gear for monitoring server rooms, for example. A RaspberryPi or Ardunio is also a good solution to interfacing with random sensors, and both can be connected back to ethernet or wifi.
1d
comment How can I run USB to every room in the house?
The complexity of custom code running on kit hardware to hack a protocol that's not designed for networking or distance work to network your house is going to far exceed the complexity of running an "IP stack" (which consists of .. plugging in a $50 router).
Mar
23
comment light and fan. together but separate
Seconded @Ecnerwal's suggestion. I have 2-5-10-15 and 5-10-15-30 minute switches on all my bathrooms, depending on if they have a shower (30m) or not (15m). Great to leave on after leaving the room if there's any steam/humidity or odors..
Mar
13
comment Three hot wires,1 neutral on a switch
Non-contact is great tool for general use, such as verifying a wire is not live before you cut or work near it, finding the breaker for a circuit, etc. I always have one in my tool bag if not my pocket when doing any type of reno work. However, they're not appropriate for actually doing electrical diagnostics, because they too easily give false readings. You should really get a multimeter for testing actual voltage, and at this point, knowing the voltages is the only way to help you out.
Mar
13
comment Three hot wires,1 neutral on a switch
What do you mean "test hot" -- how are you testing? Neutral to ground should be 0V, hot to ground and hot to neutral should be ~120V. If you are seeing different (such as non-zero voltage on neutral to ground) then something is wrong.
Mar
12
comment How to turn off all power to the electric panel?
Also a bit overkill, IMHO. Really, how often do you need to do work between the panel and the meter that would justify the cost of installing an extra weather- and vandal-proof switch outside? Sure it would be nice now if it was already in place, but are you planning on replacing/upgrading/moving your main panel again in the next, 5, 10, 20 years? At the end of the day, it's your money to burn, should you choose to do so.. I'm sure the electricians/suppliers/inspectors/etc won't have a problem taking it ;)
Mar
11
comment How to turn off all power to the electric panel?
If there is an extra switch, what do you do if you need to replace that switch? Have another switch for the switch? :) There has to be a demarcation between owner and utility at some point -- and that point is the meter.
Mar
11
comment How to turn off all power to the electric panel?
Just anecdotal: I do a lot of stuff myself, but I paid an electrician to replace my panel at a previous house. He knew the hydro crew and inspector on a first-name basis. The inspector was in and out in all of 5 minutes, and when ready, called one of the hydro crew guy's cell phones directly and they basically showed up a few minutes after the inspector left. Cost me a few hundred dollars, but the whole thing was done in an afternoon and power was back on before my wife was home from work.
Mar
10
comment Should vented soffits be used under a second floor room?
Usually soffit vents vent outside air across the bottom of the roof deck to prevent moisture build up, and keep the warm inside air that escapes into the attic space from melting snow on the roof and creating ice dams. You seem to be describing some type of vents/holes from the garage to the space between the garage ceiling and upper floor, can you clarify (A picture may help here)? Is the garage heated? What type of insulation and how much is in there? Do the pipes extend out past the front of the garage, or are they only inside the garage area?
Mar
10
comment Will I get electrocuted if I contact a live wire on an earthed appliance?
To clarify: The ground protects being shocked by the device if there is an internal wiring fault: instead of becoming energized waiting for a path to ground (eg, you) to come along, the chassis is already grounded and the resulting current flow will trip the breaker immediately. If you are touching a grounded appliance and then grab a live wire with your other hand, it's much, much worse: you'll form a really good path to ground that involves electricity travelling across your chest/heart, and there's a very high chance you'll be dead within a couple seconds.
Mar
6
comment What should I do with an unused C wire when installing a thermostat?
I would also put a small wire connector or piece of electrical tape over the end of the clipped wire (if left energized). There's still a (small) chance the blunt end of the wire making contact with something and causing problems.
Mar
5
comment How to re-insulate between roof and top floor?
What's in there now? Is there soffit venting in place?
Mar
5
comment Do I have to run new wire when replacing my electric oven?
Per questions below: what type of wire? Copper/aluminum, PVC/cloth covered? If you can read markings on the wire and/or take a picture both are helpful, and will help people give advice on using it beyond just if the conductor size is adequate.
Mar
4
comment Why doesn't cold water stop when the valve is turned off?
The water stops, but also keeps going? Must be Schrodinger's shower.. Really though, can you better describe the problem, and maybe take a picture of the plumbing?
Mar
3
comment Shallow well with two pressure tanks
Note that this won't make the pump run less, it will just make it come on less often. When it does run, it will have to run long enough to pump an additional ~40 gallons to fill that new tank.
Mar
2
comment Reverse wiring basement lights
Where the heck does referring to conductors as "rope" come from?? I've never heard that before, either on this site or from any actual contractor or electrician I've worked with.
Feb
27
comment How can I extend an old ceiling box to fit a SmartHome relay?
That is a dual-band module.. In fact, I'm fairly certain the only practical difference is the load rating (15A vs 20A). Full manual. You can actually even wire a normal SPST switch to the "sense" wires on this thing (provided you have the wiring to do this) and it'll actually function as a 3-way switch. I do this with my kitchen range hood: it's controlled via an Insteon keypad, or via the switch on the hood itself. (The "on" and "off" labels on the hood switch are no longer meaingful, but that's only confusing the first time)
Feb
27
comment How can I extend an old ceiling box to fit a SmartHome relay?
Not sure if it makes a difference, but Insteon makes a much smaller version called the Micro on-off module that is better suited to installing in junction boxes like yours. Depending on existing space, it may even fit without modification.
Feb
24
comment Converting 4 wire supply to 3 wire outlet
Likewise, normally if someone says "3 wire outlet" I would think a 4-prong 240V stove or dryer plug, but in this case I'm not sure exactly what you mean, eg: a standard 120V receptacle or a p3-prong dryer outlet](i.stack.imgur.com/rHbwr.jpg) or similar. Is there a double-pole breaker feeding this circuit? Is it a kitchen, garage, or workshop area? It's common to have a receptacle in those locations split with each half on its own circuit, to handle multiple high-current appliances and tools.