Every month, we pick the top 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!
Protecting the inside
Whenever I need to be concerned about drilling in a junction box (control wiring, starter or panel-board) and don’t want to damage internal parts or wires, I cut off a connector or coupling of the next larger size and tighten it to my hole saw—for instance, ¾-in. for a ½-in. hole saw. This stops the hole saw from penetrating too deeply and ruining anything inside the box.
Keep on splitting
Have you ever had a nonmetallic box where the 6-32 threads were stripped beyond repair? To solve it, I cut off both ends of a small plastic anchor to reveal the (usually) three sections of thin plastic, and then split them until I have only one sliver of plastic, which may need further trimming to drive into the stripped hole. I do not try to tap this. I only drive in the screw and let it make its own threads. You may have to use more than one sliver. I have found this to work very well on switches.
Forest City, N.C.
Make your own supports
I recently helped a friend put in a new 200-ampere service for a double-wide manufactured home and ran into a problem when strapping the 2-in. RMC to the home’s exterior. The “ears” of the two-hole straps that were provided didn’t completely cover the conduit and reach the surface, thus leaving an unsightly gap and ugly view of lag screw threads. My solution was to cut custom-sized spacers from ½-in. PVC, insert them between the strap and the wall, and put the lag screws through the holes as usual. The ones we needed were just under ½-in. long, but feel free to cut them to fit as needed. They look great and provide excellent support with no more gap or bent straps. I can see many uses for this idea.
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 www.ecmag.com/ideasthatwork.
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 (www.southwiretools.com) 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
• Wire stripper
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.