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Unread 08-21-2005, 04:23 PM   #1
giarc25
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Back Splash Electrical Outlets

I don't know how many of you tile setters out there have been shocked when installing tile onto a backsplash because the electricians have the power turned onto the countertop plugs; however I am here to tell you that there is no reason for it. I would like to offer a suggestion to all of you in hopes that I can help eliminate this problem from happening in the future.

For a very small fee of about $8-$20, depending on brand, you can get yourself a "pen-like" volt tester that will fit in your shirt pocket. Most of these tester have a clip on them that when squeezed will turn the tester on. Upon putting the "end of the pen" into an outlet the tester will either beep, or shine a light indicating that the plug is "hot". If the plug is not "hot" then then tester should not show any activity.

I find the use of these testers a lot easier to carry than that of a full sized meter, and they generally cost less as well. As a tile setter we dont care about how much voltage a plug has going through it, we just want to know if it is turned on or off.

For those of you that use one of these you already know what I am talking about, but for those of you that dont, here is an image of one particular kind made by Gardner Bender, this is the model I use. This particular piece can be had for about $10 at Sears (I think thats where I got it).

PS: Be sure to tel the home owner that you are turning breakers off. Dont want to ruin someones book report they are typing on a computer by accidentally turning off the wrong breaker

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Unread 08-21-2005, 06:01 PM   #2
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Right on Craig. Another tip: always test your tester. I usually hold the clip down, find a live circuit and keep holding it until I get to the one I'm testing. Mine is old and kind of quirky so I'm of the better safe than sorry variety in this case.

Any of you guys been zapped through glass tile? I got a pretty good shock when I was putting some glass tiles on, and another installer near me bumped a live hot terminal into either the (metal) box or the tile, and I think what zapped me was that the current travelled through the wet thinset to me. Or maybe it came through the glass?

One of many odd things that happened that day.
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Unread 08-21-2005, 06:31 PM   #3
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I use a tool called a ticker its about 12 bucks at home repo. I also now use springs to go between the screw and box to help level the switch out. saw a mirror guy using them beat the hell out of hose I was using before.
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Unread 08-21-2005, 06:39 PM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by opiethetileman
I use a tool called a ticker its about 12 bucks at home repo.
A lot of electricians, including myself, call this tool I mentioned a ticker as well.

As for using the springs behind the devices when you are putting them back in, thats a good idea. After having done electrical work for 10 years now, I have come up with several different ways for flushing the plugs and switches out, however it all comes down to - "what do I have handy at the time".

Perhaps it is the union that is in my blood as well, however another thought I have on the matter is this; an electrican should do electrical work, and a tile man should do tile work. This may hold more weight if you were doing tile in a new construction project, however as well all know in remodels it is not always feasable to mention the idea. Sometimes it could be a difference in getting the job or not.
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Unread 08-21-2005, 07:01 PM   #5
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I agree but dude who wants to pay a tile guy and a electrcian to do a backspalsh noone I know. hell its 2 screws and besides if the tile guy doesnt get the cut rite then the electrican cant do his job. I agree with a wire boy to do his job and a tile boy to do his. I know my limits plugs aint it. now wiring and running switchc dude ill call u anytime if u want to come to jax fl.
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Unread 08-21-2005, 07:06 PM   #6
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If you cut the tile to the inside box dimensions on the sides, and just enough to clear the mounting screw holes on the top and bottom, a small nick with a dry diamond blade will give you enough clearance for the trim screws (on a Decora/Gfi plug)

So the mickey mouse ears can tighten against the tile. (provided they haven't been broken off) Snug as a bug, and no floaters.

Mark

EDIT: Klien tools makes a 'multi-tool' avail. at H.D. (about $14.00) that has screw cutters, so you can get the long 6-32 screws and cut 'em to fit, unless a guy prefers to crank/gun em in for ages. They cut 'em nice and clean too. Beats carrying multiple sizes, at least IMHO
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Unread 08-21-2005, 07:09 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by NVC
If you cut the tile to the inside box dimensions on the sides, and just enough to clear the mounting screw holes on the top and bottom, a small nick with a dry diamond blade will give you enough clearance for the trim screws (on a Decora/Gfi plug)

So the mickey mouse ears can tighten against the tile. (provided they haven't been broken off) Snug as a bug, and no floaters.

Mark
I showed my brother this "trick". He was much happier when we got ready to put the devices back in
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Unread 08-21-2005, 07:10 PM   #8
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În Wisconsin, electricians call the tester an idiot stick.
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Unread 08-21-2005, 07:12 PM   #9
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Craig, I agree. Saves a lot of time when it's down to the finish, and no need for fugly oversized plates.

Mark
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Unread 08-21-2005, 07:15 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Mad dog
În Wisconsin, electricians call the tester an idiot stick.
Thats because they are not fool proof. Sometimes they are known to not work properly. Someone earlier in this thread mentioned testing it on a known live circuit first, definitely great advice I should have stated in the original post. I have had the tester going off in mid air sometimes, and other times when on a known live circuit it wouldnt go off. Generally when this happens it goes in the trash and I get a new one.

These tickers, idiot sticks, circuit testers, volt ticks, whatever you wish to call them, are by no means a replacement for a real multi-meter or voltage tester. It is simply a handy tool that you can keep in your pocket that will allow you to do a quick test.
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Unread 08-21-2005, 07:19 PM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by NVC
Craig, I agree. Saves a lot of time when it's down to the finish, and no need for fugly oversized plates.

Mark
Jumbo plates are uuugggggllllyyy. specially when going over a really nice tile job that you just did. Suddenly your tile job doesnt look so good, if you are the one that cause a jumbo plate to be installed. IMO
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Unread 08-21-2005, 07:26 PM   #12
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Yeah, test the tic. I usually whiz mine on my shirt or Levi's and the static will set it off, unless it's humid or I'm sweating like a whore in church. Testing on a known live circ. is the safest bet, and then if it reads dead, touch it again to a live just to make sure it didn't die on the way over.

Even a nice Fluke meter can go south on a guy, safe to test anyof'em . . . particularly with the wet sponge thing. <envisions his obit.> "Although working for years safely in 480 switch gear, he died on a kitchen countertop with a clenched wet sponge in hand"

Mark
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Unread 08-21-2005, 07:47 PM   #13
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Idiot stick huh I have seen some mexicans use a light bulb with wire taped to the side to use as a ligth now thats a stupid stick.
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Unread 08-21-2005, 07:55 PM   #14
NVC
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Hee hee Opie,

A Tijuana electrical meter. And then they still need an Ohm-meter to test the bulb, unless they screw it into another light that is known to be good.

I regret to say, that I've used something similar with a 12volt bulb to do truck electrical when my ice-pick/alligator clip test light died.

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