You Could Be Electrocuted.

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DJ Extraordinaire
Aug 13, 2007
I was having the discussion about Improper Wiring at Venues from which I learned many interesting things. I hope what I am going to share will be helpful to those who may want to take notice. Folks who don't do Site visits and do not check the Outlets that they will be using beforehand may be especially vulnerable to this circumstance. Do with the information as you please.

As for me, I have a Gig pending where this may be a deal breaker if the problem does not get rectified. I am willing to walk away from a $1,250.00 Payday as I am not willing to gamble my life for that price. If you all recall, I recently posted that I did a site visit and found that one of the outlets had a Hot/Neutral reversed. The other outlet had an Open Ground. This is what I used to detect these faults.

I am not an Electrical Engineer so I sought advise from people who are and do this kind of thing for a living. I was advised to get one of these to place between the wall outlet and my Furman Plug. Shield 2 ft. 12/3 Ground Fault Circuit Interrupter Extension Cord


Musician's have been Electrocuted by faulty wiring. What may have seemed normal in the past at the venue may change when it is your turn to plug in. Do you really want to be blamed for starting a fire or best yet do you want to return home safely to your family? Have you ever seen on the news that a House or building was burned down when there was nobody in it due to an Electrical problem/short circuit etc? Improper wiring is the kind of thing that can cause these mishaps.

I was also advised to not perform there unless the problem was rectified because if something was to occur while I had equipment plugged in that they may try and pin the blame on me and for the very least I may be a suspect. This is why Insurance is so important. Insurance or not, I do not want to be the one at fault.

Having someone tell me that everyone before me has performed there, using the same circuit without a problem is no consolation for me. That does not remove the risk. Those people are lucky to have come and gone.

This again is directed to the following:
Those who want to be thorough and are concerned about their own safety and that of others.
Those who do not do Site Inspections which include testing the Circuits they are going to use.

If one finds a problem like I did and are scared to speak up for fear of "rocking the boat" then that is their call. Like I said above, walking away is always an option for me. I am not that hungry for a Gig. Remember that if an incident happens and the finger gets pointed at you and word spreads then your reputation is at stake, especially if you live in a small town.

Here is another article worth reading. you can do your own research or talk to qualified personnel in your area. You do not have to take my word for it!

Older and converted buildings are more suspect.

Here is another important piece of Equipment to have:

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Well, my theory is if you can detect it - than you can correct it.
For you that may mean insisting that the venue do repairs. For me it might simply mean calling it to their attention, and then applying an appropriate work around. While I'm not going to re-wire their receptacles - I could simply use a different one, make my own polarity changer, or provide my own power. We don't live in a perfect world and boycotts aren't always the best way to effect change. Usually - when a venue sees that you are compensating for something they lack - they are interested in getting up to speed. Being the quiet and professional example can be more effective than walking away in a huff.

After a handful of high profile gigs at a temple where power was always a problem and I ran extensive amounts of specialty cables - the Temple actually brought me in during a renovation to consult on the electrical plans for their event space. They did the same with other aspects of the renovation as well. They saw an opportunity to make their space more suitable for the kinds of events they were hosting and remembered the kinds of things vendors were doing to compensate for deficiencies in the space. No one demanded anything - they just took note and remembered who had demonstrated knowledge and ability they could use to make the space better equipped.
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@ Proformance. I met with the client this evening and told them about the problem. I also told them that I would handle it for them and not to worry. I will meet with the venue again and hopefully they will fix it before the date. In the meantime like you said. I will have my own workaround. The reason for bringing it to their attention is that if something was to go wrong, fingers won't be pointed at me.
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LOL. Where would one look to find any evidence of this discomfort you have with fingers pointed at you? :) :) :)
They probably won't see me anyway with the lights out! ;):
This is what can happen when things are wired incorrectly. Photo borrowed: 4eqyheny.jpg
Years ago when I lived in VA, there was an older rented venue that was quite popular. It had a 120 vac outlet by the stage that was miswired for 240 volts. I was an electrician by trade and always used the little tester Canute shows in his first post at any venue I was new to.

All three lamps lit - an indication of a 240 volt source. Checked another outlet on the other side of the stage, it was OK so I used that instead.

It's easily enough done - move the white wire from the neutral bus to another breaker. But that doesn't make it safe or right.

Came to learn later that the outlet had been miswired on purpose at the request of a band that used to play there often. My guess, they were using the ground conductor as a neutral to get two circuits from one outlet.
Maybe Dan would make this topic a Sticky as the information would always remain pertinent. One of the most Prestigious and Largest Pro Sound Group on the Internet has.
This might be the best thread in a long time so I took your suggestion and stickied it Canute thanks for the info it could be a lifesaver for some
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This might be the best thread in a long time so I took your suggestion and stickied it Canute thanks for the info it could be a lifesaver for some
Thank you and since it is a Sticky would you please delete any posts in it that are not directly related or are contributing to the information? Thanks. I would hate to see it turn into a heated pissing match.
It also worth mentioning that the use of poorly maintained electrical cords and other accessories can, in certain circumstances, render a GFCI outlet ineffective at detecting imbalances in current flow, therefore rendering them useless. You MUST use proper, undamaged extension cords to keep yourself protected. By the way, I love the GFCI cord shown in the original post.
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That's why I only touch my lappy -- it's plastic and 12 V DC.

I do use the Kill-A-Watt meter in house, because I can see all the info. Handy little device for about $20.

It's a real old house, so I also installed Tripp Lite systems on all the major outlets, which shows me the grounds, and will shut down auto if there's a problem with under/over voltage of amps.

What I can't control, is when a severe t-storm hits, and the lightning comes right through the back door, and hits the cast iron sink. We hide then... :)
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There is another video at the NoShockZone that shows the importance of using the pen shaped tester -


A few extra things to check - the "let's talk voltage regulators" thread got me thinking. If your house or the venue your playing at has blinking lights, or other seemingly weird electrical things going on, one of the first things that needs to be checked is the circuit breaker panel.

All the wiring inside the panel goes to bus bars and circuit breakers with "screw" connections. They get loose. You need an electrician to fix this. There are YouTube videos for fixing it yourself, I'm suggesting you (or the venue) get an electrician.

Next, outlets. The typical wall outlet was not designed for repeated plug insertion/removal. This one is -



This is what is known as a "Hospital Grade" outlet, most easily identified by the green dot. Grips the plug a little tighter so Grannies oxygen machine keeps working, and tolerates repeated cycling of plugging in and out. The orange colored ones are probably the most common, but they can be found in normal colors. Also, when you "back-wire" these, the wire is actually going under the side screw, which you then tighten, so it has the same mechanical integrity as "side-wiring".
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one thing I am glad of.............

Living in a Country that has constant voltages and without problems
unless there is no power what so ever...

ours is 240v and thats what we use for ALL gear
so one plug outlet in a venue is all we require..
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