Ideas That Work: Locating Boxes, Trimming Carefully and More

By Feb 15, 2014
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Every month, we pick the top four Ideas That Work submitted by you, ELECTRICAL CONTRACTOR readers. These ideas can't be found in any code or guidebook and are only learned or devised through years of experience and thinking, "There's got to be a better way to do this!" Please remember, the ideas presented in this article are for consideration only. Before using such ideas, make sure codes and safety standards have been fully adhered to. Now, without further ado, here are this issue's Ideas That Work!

Marking boxes during rough-in
When roughing in residential builds, I mark box locations on the floor directly beneath each with a spot of marking paint. I use black for receptacles and orange for switches. For special boxes, I use white with the height above the floor written in Sharpie. This idea saves a lot of time and effort locating boxes that have been accidently covered by drywall when doing trim-out, and it reduces the number of “missed probes” that need patching. It also helps in contractor relationships from frayed nerves and call-backs over dead circuits resulting from a missed box.

William Eades
Tallahassee, Fla.

Press-and-seal protection
To keep devices clean when trimming out in new construction, instead of taping plastic over the device, we use press-and-seal plastic wrap. It is easy to put on and easy to pull off without damaging the wall.

Bob Pasheilich
IBEW Local No. 131
Portage, Mich.

Preventing PVC stickiness
When bundling PVC conduit for transport or storage with tape, reverse the tape so that the sticky side is out. This will prevent the glue from the tape from sticking to the conduit in hot weather. This also works on service cable. Ask your supply house to do this, so you don’t have to clean the cable or the PVC (when exposed) at the job site.

Sam Rosenfeld
Atlantic City, N.J.

Washers in a pinch
When breaking off duplex receptacle ears because they are not needed for a gem box, do not discard them. Save them. They can serve as washers in a pinch, and they can work with all kinds of screws. Just be careful with any rough edges.

Ron Giambron
Old Bridge, N.J.

IF YOU HAVE AN IDEA that has saved you time or money on the job, ELECTRICAL CONTRACTOR ­readers would like to hear about it. Be sure to include a good photo of your idea—hand sketches are often hard to interpret. Note that some similar ideas are submitted by more than one person. In these cases, the one that is more clearly written and includes a photo is given precedence. Send your letter and photo to Jack Pullizzi, Ideas Editor, ELECTRICAL CONTRACTOR, 3 Bethesda Metro Center, Suite 1100, Bethesda, MD 20814-5372, e-mail [email protected], or use the online submission tool at

CASH AND TOOL PRIZES FOR WINNING IDEAS Each published author in Ideas That Work receives a $50 American Express gift card from ELECTRICAL ­CONTRACTOR. In addition, Southwire ( will send the following set of electrician’s tools to each month’s first-place winner:

• Cable cutter
• Fish tape
• Long nose pliers
• Side cutting pliers
• Diagonal cutting pliers
• Pump pliers
• Screwdriver
• Wire stripper
• Crimpers
• Multimeter

DISCLAIMER: The ideas presented in this article are for consideration only. Before using such ideas, make sure codes and safety issues have been fully adhered to. ELECTRICAL CONTRACTOR disclaims any liability from your use of these or any other ideas. ­ELECTRICAL CONTRACTOR reserves the right to reprint the words herein at its discretion.

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