Wednesday, October 05, 2005

It's Electric

Money pit my ass. Death trap would be too harsh yet hazard would be too soft.

Our suspicions were recently confirmed about our electrical infrastructure. Frankly, in a word, it’s dangerous. Honest to God, could possible burn the place down to the foundation dangerous.

So much for shits and giggles, eh?

Just to give you a brief rundown of the issues, take a gander below:

“The grounding system for the entire condominium association, according to my test equipment, is nonexistent. At no point in the building did my test equipment indicate that there was a required .0250 Ohms continuity.
The wiring methods throughout the building include such practices such as:
(1) grounding the neutral terminal of devices
(2) running circuits through walls without conduit
(3) devices installed in the walls without the benefit of a junction box
(4) junction boxes unsupported
(5) junction boxes containing splices buried behind finished wall (not accessible)
(6) extension rings not added to boxes in set in the wall in excess of 1 1/4 inches
(7) using the stab feature on receptacles thereby causing the device to be part of the circuit,
(8) slaving appliance circuits and appliance receptacles from GFCI receptacles
(9) GFCI receptacles not functioning as a result of improper grounding practices and wiring methods,
(10) the BX conduit system was not removed prior to new construction,
(11) The addition of BX was used extensively during new construction in excess of those amounts allowed for fishing in walls which are inaccessible.
(12) keyless porcelain fixtures with exposed lamps were installed in all closet
All of these items mentioned above are somewhat life-threatening, and all are violations of The National Electrical Code, The Chicago Electrical Code and The National Fire Protection Agencies rules for safe installation of electrical apparatus.”

Well if that isn’t enough to just make you want to kick up your heels, I don’t know what will?

The above passage was taken from a professionally prepared report by a master electrician. We only found him when our board President was going through some old papers and ran across a letter that a former neighbor of ours wrote regarding electrical issues in her unit. She used him to evaluate her electrical and once we found her she gave us his phone number.

As I stated earlier, we strongly suspected that we had electrical problems but because the system was so completely fucked up, no electrician save this one would even begin to document the various issues.

They seemed too afraid that they would miss something and be held liable for any injuries or property damage. In retrospect, I can’t say that I blame them but it left us a jam trying to get a handle on the issues.

So when this master electrician came and thoroughly checked roughly around 10-12 units in our association then gave us the report I felt myself tearing up. What you read above is only the cover letter of a six page detailed report citing everything he could find in our individual units.

His revelations are staggering.

So much so that as an association we may be looking at anywhere between $50,000 to $500,000 to fix the various problems. Of course that’s not just electrical work but replacing the drywall as well once the old BX wire has been ripped out of our walls.

Obviously it would not behoove me to paint anytime soon. Isn’t that just the luck? As soon as I find the perfect color of taupey lavender to go on the walls, I find out that they may burn down.

My sense of timing has never been good anyway.

And as if that weren’t enough, to get competitive bids from other electricians we have to invite city inspectors to come on in and inspect our electrical. For those of you not familiar with the cash strapped City of Chicago’s motto these days it’s fine ‘em, fine ‘em, fine ‘em. It doesn’t matter that we didn’t cause the problem; we will have the city inspectors so far up our collective asses that we’ll be speaking legalese from now until the end of 2006.

The thought makes me shudder.

Unfortunately there is no way around having the city come and give us the business. This is gonna be so bad, I’d rather go and get a---ahem---“yearly woman exam.”

At least the doctor gives you a head’s up before she puts the “duck bill” inside of you and opens you up like the jaws of life.

I doubt I can say the same about the city inspectors.

Right now I just have to trust in God and lay this at his (or her) feet. There’s nothing else any of us can do.

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