Episode #125 of the Stack Overflow podcast is here. We talk Tilde Club and mechanical keyboards. Listen now
51

Concurring mostly with Some Guy's answer here -- the reason why I take an aggressive tone in my other answers regarding FPE is because many of the OPs are coming to us because they want to do something to the breaker box, such as adding a new circuit or replacing a breaker that "died". Note also that all of this advice applies to panels labeled "Federal ...


22

Myths abound about K&T, and lots of it is ripped out unnecessarily. The K&T wire is exactly as thick as modern wire, and was installed by skilled craftsmen using bulletproof soldered joints rather than plastic wire nuts. The ceramic tubes will outlast civilizations. With certain important exceptions your K&T will outlast the house itself, ...


22

This happens all the time if an exterior GFCI is not weather-resistant. I've never had a weather resistant GFCI go up in smoke. Yes, they can be in a metal box, but they still should be marked WR (weather resistant) - this means the electronics inside are coated to reduce the chances of moisture causing exactly what happened with your GFCI. If it had ...


20

I'd say it's a mark left by the plumber's torch while soldering the copper pipes rather than an electrical problem.


20

Yes, but negligibly. Any connection increases fire risk by increasing the chance of heat buildup due to resistance, sparks due to arcing, etc. The question is how much, and the answer is not much. Since you already probably have dozens of such connections in your home (including such high-current things as a microwave and kitchen range), and since most of ...


17

You didn't show the ballast, (the black boxy thing with all the wires coming out of it in the fixture) so my guess is that it went bad and some of the potting insulation around the coils of the ballast over heated and melted. (Since I cannot see the whole fixture I'm just guessing about that.) It looks like the black on the cover is a tar type residue but ...


16

To the best of my knowledge, the only fire retardation requirements that exist for a residence apply to slowing the spread of fire between connected units - say in a duplex or row home. In the case of your personal dwelling, there is almost no way to restrict the spread of fire within a residence without making it extremely inconvenient to navigate in your ...


16

In fact, there are UL-listed power strips that provide an octopus of short cords-on-sockets. (by the way it was hell to find a genuine UL-listed unit of good provenance from Stanley; most of the Amazon listings are cheap Cheese junk off the Amazon marketplace.) It depends If it's blocky because it's a wall-wart style transformer, then normal loads simply ...


15

From the Material Safety Data Sheet (MSDS) of Klean-Strip® Boiled Linseed Oil. Flammable Properties and Hazard RISK OF FIRE FROM SPONTANEOUS COMBUSTION EXISTS WITH THIS PRODUCT. Oily rags, waste, and other oily materials can cause spontaneous combustion fires if not handled properly. Immediately after use, and before disposal or storage, you ...


14

There is not a reason to replace the panel in a panic. It has worked this long, there is no reason to expect it to fail. Replace it when you can comfortably afford it. Yes, you almost certainly have FPE breakers. Adding 'New and UL approved' breakers does not improve the safety of the panel ThhreePhaseEle - Knows what he is talking about, I agree ...


11

The trouble with linseed oil, especially boiled linseed oil, is that it generates heat as it dries. If you leave BLO-soaked rags in a pile, the drying process proceeds but heat is trapped. The drying process accelerates as the rags warm up, and the temperature rises to the point of ignition. Spreading the rags out lets the heat escape so that the drying ...


11

Actually, there are different types of sprinkler systems. In lots of residential homes, a personal protection type system are being installed. These systems use existing water pressure and lower flow heads. The heads are not interconnected and only release water if the temp is high enough at the individual heads. The purpose is not to extinguish the fire, ...


11

In a single family residence, with the exception of a garage, I don't believe there are any codes concerning the spread of fire. There are requirements to have smoke detectors to notify you of a fire, and other requirements to avoid creating a fire, but not to stop it's spread. If there were, you'd need fire rated doors that seal to the floor between rooms, ...


11

This can be caused by a bootleg ground together with a poor neutral connection at the service panel. In building wiring, a bootleg ground is an electrical ground that is wired from the neutral side of a receptacle or light fixture in an older 2-wire home. This essentially connects the neutral side of the receptacle to the casing of an appliance or lamp. ...


11

Move the GFCI GFCIs have sensitive electronic components, as you found out the hard way. A regular outlet does not. If you can move the GFCI protection to an indoor location and then replace this with a regular receptacle, that would solve the problem permanently while still protecting against ground faults. Two options: Earlier in the chain. If there are ...


9

I had this same situation. I made a (written) list of issues (with pictures) and gave it to the landlord. When it became clear that the landlord would not fix them, I called an inspector. It turned out that there was a completely different department overseeing residential safety inspection vs. building code inspection, but after getting that sorted, they ...


9

The possibility of the natural gas line transmitting the fire is extremely close to zero. Yes natural gas requires air, about 20% mixture of gas and air (more air than gas). Getting that mixture in a closed pipe, along the entire pipe, would near impossible without some pre-mixing first before the fire. Also if fires could be transmitted via the gas pipe ...


7

Assuming you are asking about US residential biphase 240 volt wiring (or equivelant), then there is nothing wrong with reversing the black and red wires.


7

What Danny said - someone didn't use a flame shield while soldering the pipe. The soldering process involves blasting the copper pipe with a hot flame until the lead solder melts: A RESPONSIBLE plumber will use a flame retardant barrier while soldering. Whoever did your pipes just chose not to and nearly burned down your house. Sorry, so to answer your ...


7

The problems of 'greedy' power supplies can be resolved by using power bars which have proper individual sockets for each position. They also tend to have better quality contacts than the cheap multi-way strips. from https://olsondirect.co.uk/oldsite/13a_standard_flat.htm They also do USA standard ones, eg https://olsondirect.co.uk/oldsite/usa_15amp.htm


6

They make Dryer Vent Cleaning Kits for this very purpose: As to why there is water in there - hopefully it's just condensation.


6

to avoid fire you can do a few things: remove fuel: not as easy, but washing the rags and disposing of the waste water properly should reduce the risk here remove air: storing the rags in a sealed can or under sand or submerged in water (you can add detergent to wash them at the same time) will take care of that remove heat: if you keep the rags under the ...


6

If you don't run conduit, you won't be able to pull wires with a pull string going through holes in studs anyway. So you might as well firestop them (or run conduit and firestop around the outside of it.)


6

A gas pipe is filled with nearly 100% flammable gas—at least under normal conditions. Propane and natural gas need to be mixed with air (or oxygen) to be combustible. The ideal combination for natural gas is 1 part fuel (by volume) to 9.7 parts dry air. A mixture of more than 15% (1 to 6.67) natural gas is not combustible! So, no. Under normal ...


6

No. As you seem to be aware, Roxul is a mineral wool product, and mineral wool is fireproof. You're right that it will "trap the heat" but this is exactly what you want and the result will be less heat transmitted to the surrounding wood, not more. Mineral wool is actually one of the few materials you can safely use for filling these kinds of spaces. Proceed ...


5

You should read up on what your legal rights (and responsibilities) are. Most landlord/tenant law in the US is at the state level, but your city and county may have additional rules. Most states have an easy-to-read summary of rental housing laws, and many major cities (including Baltimore, it seems) provide additional protection for tenants. You should also ...


5

You typically don't use domed head screws to mount the receptacle to the box (they stick out too far). You can get away with it if the back of the wallplate has a big indentation for those screw heads, but they usually don't. Those screw heads hold the wallplate away from the surface of the receptacle, so there is a gap between the wallplate and the center ...


5

If I buy a GU24 to E26 adapter and install a 30- or 60-watt incandescent in it: Is there a risk of fire because the fixture can't handle the heat produced by a 14+ watt light bulb? Is there still a risk if I remove the glass fixture and just screw the light bulb into the adapter? Would a 14+ watt light bulb potentially cause overheating in the ...


4

The way fire insert stoves work is relatively simple in conversion. You cut the damper out of the fireplace, run stainless steel pipe (6" dia.) up the inside of the chimney. The lengths are held together with 3-6 sheetmetal screws so this is an actual inside pipe assembly and it hangs off a sheetmetal cap that covers the top of the chimney and is silicone ...


4

NEC Article 362 I've copied the NEC portions that cover corrugated HDPE (High Density Polyethylene) conduit for your reading pleasure. The NEC differentiates between corrugated and non corrugated HDPE conduits by referring to corrugated HDPE as ENT and non corrugated as just HDPE. Non corrugated HDPE is not allowed at all in any buildings, whereas ...


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