Old Production Takes From an Old Guy

Category: #InstallationFail

#Installation Fail—Wiring

On the heels of my last post on getting installs right, it seemed like it was time to re-visit our old friend, #Installation Fail. It’s been a while since we had some fun with, how shall we say, creative installations. I’ve been collecting these for quite some time now, and I won’t reveal where they came from. Consider this a primer on how not to install cables.

The good news is there’s plenty of cable should the equipment need to be re-located.At least I can’t chalk the above mess to a professional installer. The next photo however…well, it’s just the way the installer left it.

Bushings? We don’t need no stinking bushings. Or the cover for that matter.
Man it was nice of those plumbers to put those pipes there for the cables to run over.And just to prove the A/V guys didn’t favor plumbers over HVAC guys…

We’ve got speaker cables going over HVAC and electrical! Score!!Yes, we’ve seen all sorts of creative installs. This is one of my favorites. Props for using conduit. But feeding an extension cord through it to plug into a dimmer? Hmmm…

Hey, at least they put the extension cord in the conduit…Sometimes however, conduits seem hardly necessary.

This isn’t so much an “installation” as a lack thereof…
I really have nothing more to say about that one.

Remember, if you have any “creative installation” photos, send them along. I’ll happily post them and keep the source secret to protect the, uh, guilty.


Today we have some great reader finds. I won’t give credit, largely to protect the guilty, err… innocent. But you know who you are. Actually, these were all found by people who were just as amused and disgusted at the same time as we all are. Thanks guys for sending them in. Keep ’em coming!

Why try to cram too much into a work box? Why try to cram too much into a work box?This is a classic case of, “Why work hard if you don’t have to!.” I’m not exactly sure how the bolt is connected to anything structural, but I’m pretty sure that little metal dome is not rated for holding a Parnel. And really, trying to stuff all the wires inside the box? Waaaayyyy too much work. Let them all hang out. Keeps ’em cooler, anyway. Nice work, to be sure.

You can use wire nuts for almost anything. You can use wire nuts for almost anything.I love the art of this piece. The interplay of the yellow and blue wire nuts is stunning. The fact that someone took the time to do it is impressive. I’m not sure what exactly the little stub of a RJ-11 may have been plugged into, or how they managed to plug anything in while it was mounted in the wall, but it’s got creativity written all over it. I can’t say for sure, but I’m guessing there was a RJ-11 coupler somewhere in the mix here…

The safety of this device is unquestionable. The safety of this device is unquestionable.Unquestionably bad, that is. I can’t decide which I like more…the duplex outlet with only one leg attached, or the plug end with no backing housing, leaving the hot terminals right out there in the open for all to experience. I’ve seen a lot of sketchy electrical wiring in my day, but this one takes the prize for most sketchiest. I’m not sure what in parallel universe this may be considered safe, but it’s not this one. They could have at least used gaff tape to cover up the hot leads…

Thanks again to the folks who supplied these classical pictures. Again, if you have pics of some shady installations, please send them along. This falls under the scripture of “exposing their deeds to the light.” Mainly so no one else will try it! Now go out there and install something correctly.


Today, we’re starting a new series: #InstallationFail. It’s been inspired by the many, many instances of bad installation practices I’ve seen throughout the years. I’ve been taking pictures and cataloging these for quite some time, and I figured it’s time to share them with the world.

Now, I should point out I’m not publishing these to make anyone feel bad. Though some of you should feel bad for some of these installations. But that’s not the point. The point of this series is to show you how not to do things. My thinking is that many bad installation practices are repeated because someone saw it done that way before and no one told said person it was wrong. Surely, if you knew it was wrong, you wouldn’t do it this way… right?

In that spirit, here we go. Our fist installment is a run of Cat-5 cable. The cable comes up from a lower floor into a pull box; and it comes up in a conduit. That’s where things get weird. I’m not sure if they found pulling the cable through the conduit just too dang much work or what, but instead of continuing on out through the conduit at the top of the box, they punched through the side of the box and tie-wrapped to the conduit. I’m not kidding.

Easier than running through the conduit? Perhaps. Correct? Uh, no. Easier than running through the conduit? Perhaps. Correct? Uh, no.Now, there is a proper way to bring cable in and out of a box without using conduit. Cable clamps and bushings are two such options. Apparently, neither were handy when this cable run was done. And in case you’re wondering what might be wrong with pushing cable through a box in this manner, take a closer look from inside the box.

See those nicks in the insulation? They'll get worse with time as the building vibrates. See those nicks in the insulation? They’ll get worse with time as the building vibrates.Those sharp edges on the box will gradually cut through the cable as the building vibrates. It may take a while, but the wire will eventually be compromised. They also pulled rather tight, which puts pressure on the cable, another no-no.

Finally, after continuing up the outside of the conduit, the wire goes through a fire-rated wall; a big no-no. This is the kind of stuff that will get you shut down if you have a fire inspector with a limited sense of humor.

There are proper ways to go through a fire-rated wall. This is not one of them. There are proper ways to go through a fire-rated wall. This is not one of them.This Installation Fail has a lot going for it (perhaps more correctly, not going for it). The sad thing is that it was installed by a company that does cable installation. Meaning, this was not the work of some well-meaning but uninformed volunteers. Nope, this was a “professional” job. And frankly, that irritates me.

If you have some great pictures of #InstallationFail, please send them along. I will not name names or reveal where they came from. This is a safe place. However, if you recognize your work here, perhaps it’s time for a skills upgrade…

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