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phantom6294

join:2002-02-27
Abingdon, MD

Home Owner's Electrical Test

I am hoping to finish part of my basement. Work is extremely simple; a couple walls, 15 electrical outlets, 5 light switches, etc. No plumbing work.

So, go in to get the building permit (trying to be legit and all) and find out the previous home owner never had the deck inspected from 1993. Sheesh. Thankfully, it isn't a huge deal, but I do have to dig up about 2 feet around one of the support posts for the inspector. Otherwise, building permit wasn't a big deal.

Then, to get the electrical permit. Well, let me say I have a new found respect for anyone who is a 'certified' electrician and has to deal with the NEC. My county will let homeowners do their own electrical work if they pass a 'Home Owner's Electrical Test.' When speaking with the folks on the phone they said, 'eh, it's easy... no problem.' Well, it's an open book test of questions based on the NEC 2008 Edition. I figured it's open book, couldn't be THAT hard, right? WRONG. I got a 66% and needed a 70% to pass. I'm a little embarrassed since it was open book. I was able to find many of the answers fairly easily using the index and to an extent, the questions followed the first couple chapters. However, there were some odd ball questions thrown in whose answers weren't easy to come by and for which index and the content pages was not helpful. Then, apparently the four most important things on the test are at the end; basically draw some diagrams. I ran out of the alloted time before getting to those diagrams.

The annoying part of course... is 75+% of the questions had NOTHING to do with the work I will be doing and seems a little unfair to dock me points as such. For example, if I don't know the minimum depth a direct bury cable rated for 30 amps has to be... so what? I don't plan on burying any cable.

So, I can take the test again tomorrow... I plan on either buying or accessing the 2008 NEC and reading through the first couple chapters. The diagrams, however, which seem to be so important, didn't seem to be covered -- at least when I flipped through looking for some basic guidance.

So, any advice on the diagrams? Any advice for approaching the test tomorrow?

Thanks!



Rifleman
Premium
join:2004-02-09
p1a

You wanna try the exam for construction, commercial, residential and industrial license.
Just know the index in the book well is all I can say.



nunya
Premium,MVM
join:2000-12-23
O Fallon, MO
kudos:12
Reviews:
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reply to phantom6294

There are very few diagrams in the NEC.
90.1(c) - "Intention. This code is not intended as a design specification or an instruction manual for untrained persons."

I've taken the masters exam several times over the years (always passed, btw). I usually take a CEC review course of the latest revision each time before I sit for the test. Unfortunately, the area where I live has two problems 1) it's bi-state (MO and IL), 2) Each city or municipality has it's own electrical board and testing and licensing procedures. You literally might have to carry 6 or 7 electrical licenses to fully service the metro area.

There have been many revisions over the last few cycles, so it can be hard to keep up. I usually score well over 90% anymore. I don't even get nervous.

Reading the code book is about like reading the phone book. For the test, the most important thing is not knowing the information off the top of your head, but knowing where to find right the information quickly.

By the time you drive around and mess with the tests, you'd probably break even just to hire someone on such a small job.
--
Looks like Reverend Wright got his wish - God Damn America.
Nancy Pelosi - House Minority Leader 2010
Harry Reid - Senate Minority Leader 2010



AVD
Respice, Adspice, Prospice
Premium
join:2003-02-06
Onion, NJ
kudos:1
reply to phantom6294

said by phantom6294:

I am hoping to finish part of my basement. Work is extremely simple; a couple walls, 15 electrical outlets, 5 light switches, etc. No plumbing work.

So, go in to get the building permit (trying to be legit and all) and find out the previous home owner never had the deck inspected from 1993. Sheesh. Thankfully, it isn't a huge deal, but I do have to dig up about 2 feet around one of the support posts for the inspector. Otherwise, building permit wasn't a big deal.

Then, to get the electrical permit. Well, let me say I have a new found respect for anyone who is a 'certified' electrician and has to deal with the NEC. My county will let homeowners do their own electrical work if they pass a 'Home Owner's Electrical Test.' When speaking with the folks on the phone they said, 'eh, it's easy... no problem.' Well, it's an open book test of questions based on the NEC 2008 Edition. I figured it's open book, couldn't be THAT hard, right? WRONG. I got a 66% and needed a 70% to pass. I'm a little embarrassed since it was open book. I was able to find many of the answers fairly easily using the index and to an extent, the questions followed the first couple chapters. However, there were some odd ball questions thrown in whose answers weren't easy to come by and for which index and the content pages was not helpful. Then, apparently the four most important things on the test are at the end; basically draw some diagrams. I ran out of the alloted time before getting to those diagrams.

The annoying part of course... is 75+% of the questions had NOTHING to do with the work I will be doing and seems a little unfair to dock me points as such. For example, if I don't know the minimum depth a direct bury cable rated for 30 amps has to be... so what? I don't plan on burying any cable.

So, I can take the test again tomorrow... I plan on either buying or accessing the 2008 NEC and reading through the first couple chapters. The diagrams, however, which seem to be so important, didn't seem to be covered -- at least when I flipped through looking for some basic guidance.

So, any advice on the diagrams? Any advice for approaching the test tomorrow?

Thanks!
is it take home? If so post the questions here.
--
standard disclaimers apply.


nunya
Premium,MVM
join:2000-12-23
O Fallon, MO
kudos:12

I seriously doubt that.



Msradell
P.E.
Premium
join:2008-12-25
Louisville, KY
reply to nunya

said by nunya:

By the time you drive around and mess with the tests, you'd probably break even just to hire someone on such a small job.
Maybe so but it's like buying tools to do the job. Once you have them or this case the certificate it will help you in the future. There's also the satisfaction factor of passing the test and for doing the work yourself! It's certainly a lot more satisfying than just writing a check.


49528867
Premium
join:2010-04-16
Fort Lauderdale, FL
kudos:3
reply to phantom6294

said by phantom6294:

IThen, apparently the four most important things on the test are at the end; basically draw some diagrams. I ran out of the alloted time before getting to those diagrams.
What where the diagrams based on, that is to say what did the test ask you to draw?

We could be talking something totally outside of the NEC and based on the basics of electricity.

Please provide a description of what you where asked to do and I am sure the answer can be provided.

Wayne
--
Certified Kwanon fanboy since 1971.


49528867
Premium
join:2010-04-16
Fort Lauderdale, FL
kudos:3
reply to Msradell

said by Msradell:

There's also the satisfaction factor of passing the test and for doing the work yourself! It's certainly a lot more satisfying than just writing a check.
And if the rules are followed there is also the assurance knowing the job was done properly.

Wayne
--
Certified Kwanon fanboy since 1971.


John Galt
Forward, March
Premium
join:2004-09-30
Happy Camp
kudos:6

1 recommendation

said by 49528867:

And if the rules are followed there is also the assurance knowing the job was done properly good enough to pass the inspection.
A common misconception is that a project that complies with the Code is "done properly".
--
The Truth is the foremost enemy of the State now.


49528867
Premium
join:2010-04-16
Fort Lauderdale, FL
kudos:3

said by John Galt:

A common misconception is that a project that complies with the Code is "done properly".
While I totally agree with that statement on many levels when drilled down to the homeowners level the “code” is almost an overkill.

Wayne
--
Certified Kwanon fanboy since 1971.

phantom6294

join:2002-02-27
Abingdon, MD
reply to phantom6294

Folks, appreciate the replies so far. Combined my response to several posts into one reply to my original:

said by nunya:

By the time you drive around and mess with the tests, you'd probably break even just to hire someone on such a small job.
I had to drive to get the building permit, to get the electrical permit I walked 30 feet to another room to take the test. It turns out the previous home owner never had the add-on deck inspected from freaking 1993, so they put my new permit on a temp hold until the deck is inspected. I have to go back to pick up the actual permit anyways, so I am not making any additional trips plus the test is free. I would hire someone but I have zero extra cash right now. My wife's parent are picking up the tab for the materials for a birthday present for us. In fact, my father-in-law would be doing most of the electrical work anyways (nobody tell though!) IMHO, the need for this complicated of a test is a bit absurd for the exceedingly simple work we'll be doing. I have the utmost respect for the code itself and those who 'live' by it... but again, adding a handful of electrical outlets, switches, maybe change out light fixtures, all to an existing system... it just seems like overkill to expect a home owner to have such intimate knowledge of the NEC.

said by AVD:

is it take home? If so post the questions here.
I wish... but no. Open book, 2 hour test, 40 multiple choice questions, with 4 wiring diagram questions. That's under 3 minutes a question which isn't much when you've never seen the NEC before and have no idea where to start.

I consider myself fairly intelligent person, and for many of the questions I was doing fine, just spent too much time having to flip around from the index to pages, check maybe one of two spots, find an answer and move on. I imagine when I take it tomorrow, the easier questions will take no time at all, now that I've seen the NEC and have a better idea of where to look for answers. This will give me more time to focus on the more odd-ball questions and the diagrams.

said by 49528867:

What where the diagrams based on, that is to say what did the test ask you to draw?

We could be talking something totally outside of the NEC and based on the basics of electricity.

Please provide a description of what you where asked to do and I am sure the answer can be provided.

Wayne
The first diagram was something along the lines of 'Draw a diagram showing three switches controlling one 300W lamp.' The second I am drawing a blank on (no pun intended!. The third was something to the effect of 'Draw a diagram of how to hook up a volt meter and in-line amp metere (without clamping on)' and the last diagram was a diagram of the work I'll be doing. I guess what threw me most was is there some official 'icons' for switches, lights, etc they are expecting me to use or or labeled boxes indicating what's what good enough? It was annoying that these of so important diagrams are at the end... and no one mentioned how important they are.


John Galt
Forward, March
Premium
join:2004-09-30
Happy Camp
kudos:6

said by phantom6294:

It was annoying that these of so important diagrams are at the end... and no one mentioned how important they are.
One of the first things that electrical students are taught about "taking the test" is to scan the test immediately and make a determination of what is most important.

You need to understand what particular weight is given to each question. If the weight is the same of all questions, do the easy ones first and leave the hardest ones for last.
--
The Truth is the foremost enemy of the State now.

phantom6294

join:2002-02-27
Abingdon, MD

said by John Galt:

One of the first things that electrical students are taught about "taking the test" is to scan the test immediately and make a determination of what is most important.

You need to understand what particular weight is given to each question. If the weight is the same of all questions, do the easy ones first and leave the hardest ones for last.
Yeah... it's been far too long since I last took a 'test'. Unfortunately, the folks were not real specific about the weight given to any particular questions. They said 'these diagrams are really important' but didn't really say if they were worth more points or not.

Basically, doing the math backwards, assuming equal weighting, I needed only two more right answers to get a passing grade of 70%. I already found an answer to a question I had to guess on, so if I can maintain my right answers, and add a few, I think I'll be in the clear. Alas, I'm still going to scan through the NEC copy I have to have a better feeling of where information is. I'm also working on two of the diagrams


John Galt
Forward, March
Premium
join:2004-09-30
Happy Camp
kudos:6

1 edit

If it is any consolation, professional electrician students spend the last year of their apprenticeship learning the Code and how to take the test.

So given what you are facing, and the amount of time that you have to study it, your effort is admirable.

So hang in there!


--
The Truth is the foremost enemy of the State now.



disconnected

@snet.net
reply to phantom6294

said by phantom6294:

It turns out the previous home owner never had the add-on deck inspected from freaking 1993, so they put my new permit on a temp hold until the deck is inspected. I have to go back to pick up the actual permit anyways, so I am not making any additional trips plus the test is free.
Don't feel bad.. I have a major electric service situation that a fire marshall from an adjoining town reported, and I can't even get a building permit to do the necessary upgrade to a permanent service because I am behind on property taxes.


Rifleman
Premium
join:2004-02-09
p1a
reply to phantom6294

Apprentices in canada have 9000 hours and 32 weeks of intensive college to be eligible to write the exam.



nunya
Premium,MVM
join:2000-12-23
O Fallon, MO
kudos:12
Reviews:
·Charter
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·surpasshosting

Here, it varies. A licensed EE PE can sit for the exam after 2,000 hours practical hours (1 yr.). A regular EE can sit after 4,000 hours (2 yrs.). It varies after that depending on schooling and military service (with a related MOS). An uneducated Journeyman would have to wait 12,000 hours.
The electrical boards around here are known as some of the most strict in the country. There's a "Chicago-like" atmosphere of corruption when it comes to the building trades, but it seems to be fading a little.
--
Looks like Reverend Wright got his wish - God Damn America.
Nancy Pelosi - House Minority Leader 2010
Harry Reid - Senate Minority Leader 2010


horsemouth
Please Clarify My CSP
Premium
join:2002-03-13
canada
reply to phantom6294

said by phantom6294:

I am hoping to finish part of my basement. Work is extremely simple; a couple walls, 15 electrical outlets, 5 light switches, etc. No plumbing work.
Am I the only one who finds this odd?


AVD
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join:2003-02-06
Onion, NJ
kudos:1

1 edit

I probably have as many in my "basement", including attached garage, and it about 20x35'.
[edit] and I'm not growing anything down there (intentionally anyway)

--
standard disclaimers apply.


horsemouth
Please Clarify My CSP
Premium
join:2002-03-13
canada

How many walls do your basement and garage have?



AVD
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Onion, NJ
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1 edit

hallway, den, small office (actually space for optional powder room), closet, stairway, utility room and garage.
--
standard disclaimers apply.


horsemouth
Please Clarify My CSP
Premium
join:2002-03-13
canada

Sounds like more than 2. Now think about all the wire that is in your walls and move into 2.



AVD
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Onion, NJ
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You are taking the "couple of walls" literally. Could be some existing walls and a very large footprint. (Don't forget he's trying to downplay the scope of the work in order to justify his doing of the work as opposed to a professional contractor)
--
standard disclaimers apply.


horsemouth
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join:2002-03-13
canada

Yes...The possibilities are endless.



John Galt
Forward, March
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Happy Camp
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reply to AVD

said by AVD:

You are taking the "couple of walls" literally. Could be some existing walls and a very large footprint. (Don't forget he's trying to downplay the scope of the work in order to justify his doing of the work as opposed to a professional contractor)
Your assertion is baseless.
--
The Truth is the foremost enemy of the State now.


AVD
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Onion, NJ
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said by John Galt:

said by AVD:

You are taking the "couple of walls" literally. Could be some existing walls and a very large footprint. (Don't forget he's trying to downplay the scope of the work in order to justify his doing of the work as opposed to a professional contractor)
Your assertion is baseless.
I don't think I asserted anything in the quoted post.
--
standard disclaimers apply.


John Galt
Forward, March
Premium
join:2004-09-30
Happy Camp
kudos:6

said by AVD:

said by John Galt:

said by AVD:

You are taking the "couple of walls" literally. Could be some existing walls and a very large footprint. (Don't forget he's trying to downplay the scope of the work in order to justify his doing of the work as opposed to a professional contractor)
Your assertion is baseless.
I don't think I asserted anything in the quoted post.

--
The Truth is the foremost enemy of the State now.

Bobcat79
Premium
join:2001-02-04

1 recommendation

reply to horsemouth

said by horsemouth:

said by phantom6294:

I am hoping to finish part of my basement. Work is extremely simple; a couple walls, 15 electrical outlets, 5 light switches, etc. No plumbing work.
Am I the only one who finds this odd?
I thought that the 15 electrical outlets were a tad excessive.


Msradell
P.E.
Premium
join:2008-12-25
Louisville, KY
reply to horsemouth

said by horsemouth:

said by phantom6294:

I am hoping to finish part of my basement. Work is extremely simple; a couple walls, 15 electrical outlets, 5 light switches, etc. No plumbing work.
Am I the only one who finds this odd?
Not really, especially if it's going to be a workshop. I had that many in a 12x28 workshop I built. Never can have too many plugs in a workshop. I had 6 above a 12' bench on one end.

horsemouth
Please Clarify My CSP
Premium
join:2002-03-13
canada

Correct me if I'm wrong...I don't think anything was said about that