Home Renovation Rage

It’s not often I really lose my temper or get drastically upset, and I didn’t do that yesterday, either. However, work began again on the construction project above my garage, and in the course of figuring out where to begin, I found out something that made me see red.

Last year, back when my heroin addict wife beater of a contractor was working on my house, we had him do electrical work. The circuit breaker on our microwave kept going off, and we wanted that fixed. He swapped out electrical panels and upgraded everything, and after that, it stopped going off. Problem solved! Yay!

Except when I went back after the fact (once I began to suspect the guy had been taking us for a ride) and investigated, nothing seemed to add up. He was supposed to separate out all the different circuits onto different breakers, but that wasn’t the case. New electrical work was hooked up onto the same breakers as old work. There didn’t seem to be any rhyme or reason. Nothing alarming, just disappointing.

Yesterday, when I asked my new contractor about it, he went and looked at the breakers himself, which led him to say, “Whoever did this to you should be shot.”

Here’s the deal: when they “fixed” the breakers, all they did in reality was replace each 15 amp breaker with a 20 amp breaker. Easy peasy! No more tripping, no more worries.

Except that’s not how breakers are supposed to work. Wires in your home are rated for a certain amount of electricity, depending on their size. 14 gauge wire can take 15 amps. It’s the most common wire, as it’s thinner and cheaper than lower gauges. 12 gauge can take 20 amps. When you run too much electricity through a wire, it heats up too much, potentially causing the plastic around it to melt and, you know, light your house on fire.

Circuit breakers are designed to stop this from happening. When more electricity goes through a wire than it can handle, they flip that electricity off to keep things safe. If you switch from a 15 amp breaker to a 20 amp breaker, you should only do so if you’ve upgraded all the wire on that breaker from 14 gauge to 12 gauge.

Make sense?

So with the “fix,” my microwave no longer flipped the breaker, because it wouldn’t stop the electricity unless it got to 20 amps. 5 amps higher than what the wire on that breaker is rated for. In a nutshell, my house has been a fire hazard for the past year or so.

What really drives me wild is that this was completely unnecessary. We bought all the breakers new. He could have bought 15 amp breakers, but he chose to buy and install 20 amp ones instead. Why? I’d like to assume it was just ignorance. I’m just shocked someone could have so little regard for a person’s life. Honestly, stealing $3500 from me was one thing. This is so much worse. How do I feel about it?

Sigh. So guess what I’m doing today when I get home? Going down with my new contractor, who’s going to walk me through the process of swapping out all the 20 amp breakers with 15 amp breakers Denisa went out and bought today.

Good times.

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