Home » Electrocutions/Shocks » Iraq Electrical Wiring Method Quiz #1

Iraq Electrical Wiring Method Quiz #1

This wiring method was such a common occurrence used by Iraqi and Turkish subcontractors that I had totally forgotten about it until someone sent me a photo. I thought it would be fun to have a quiz. So…tell me what’s wrong with this installation!!

This is a standard 230 volt switched receptacle….It is equivalent of our 110 volt receptacles in the States.

Quiz rules:

In the comments section put your username in the username section. In the email section put Quiz1@mssparky.com (this will keep the comments hidden until I approve them) I will post the comments when I send out my next newsletter, approx 3-4 days, so sign up for my newsletters. I will put my answers in the comments as well.


Ms Sparky

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  1. Comment by Jupe Blue:

    1. No connector at box.
    2. Cable not protected from physical damage.
    3. Box not properly secured to wall.
    4. Not an approved or listed male plug.
    5. No electrical grounding conductor in cable that is plugged in.

    Loved the strain relief, using a non-secured cable to support the cable that plugs into the box. Would love to see the inside of the box also.

    Ms Sparky’s Response: Very Good

  2. Comment by Jupe Blue:

    Are those scorch marks I see on the face of the receptacle?

    Ms Sparky’s Response: Probably

  3. Comment by Dale:

    That looks totally normal, like something we would do at the farm to keep the air compressor or the conveyor motor running. Probably couldn’t find a plug to put on the end of the wires, Well, maybe thats why the barn burned down? You don’t want the wires pulling out and your table saw shutting down so it needs to be tied to something, if not the other wires how about a nail? Who needs a bushing or a strain relief where the wires enter the receptacle, those are extra costs? The nail that is holding the box in place is slowly giving way but it will be ok this year.

    Ms Sparky’s Response: We must have grown up on the same farm!

  4. Comment by kenny:

    typical wiring job in Iraq ~!

    Ms Sparky’s Response: I have to say…I’ve seen it alot.

  5. Comment by David L:

    No box connectors
    No approved male plug
    Using one cable to support another
    Whatever they are trying to feed is not grounded.
    I’ll bet you $10 bucks the grounds are cut off inside the box!!!

    These were everywhere. Not just Iraqi’s were doing this. Americans were to. I promise you there are no wirenuts inside that box. Just twisted and MAYBE taped. And the grounds are cut off.

    Ms Sparky’s Response: I’ll bet your’re right about the grounds on the inside.

  6. Comment by MrMann:

    What in the hell is that? Deb did you do that? The outside is obvious to most of us – connectors, cord cap, no ground, cable supports. What is the voltage on that? What are those wire colors? Blue and Brown? I want to see what’s on the inside of the box.

    Ms Sparky’s Response: No I didn’t. Voltage is 250 and black and blue are neutral over there. Really threw me off at first.

  7. Comment by unionguy:

    No cable connectors.
    Wire being used as support.
    Conductors inserted into plug.
    No support on top wire.
    No ground.
    And i think polarity is reversed.

    Ms Sparky’s Response: IF they are using the blue as neutral, it’s right…but who really knows. Reversed polarity was a huge problem. One of my worst shocks over there was due to reversed polarity! Got a nasty burn out of it.

  8. Comment by caltheaviator:

    So, is this a bad thing?

  9. Comment by In Iraq:

    You people don’t seem to understand….KBR doesn’t give us shit over hear. My manager is not an electrician. He’s not smart enough to think…OK…we ordered outlets, maybe we should order cord caps and connectors to. Half the crap we do order comes in wrong or doesn’t come in at all.

    I’ve had to do this. I’m not going to apologize for it.

    Ms Sparky’s Response:
    I have done stuff over there that was illegal in the States, because of lack of material or tools. But I never did anything that wasn’t intrinsically safe and mechanically sound. If I couldn’t achieve that, I wouldn’t do it. My biggest issue here is no ground.

  10. Comment by Stardawg:

    Ya gotta do what ya gotta do. No ground though. Big problem.

  11. Comment by David Buckley:

    The real issue that no-one has picked up on is that 13A plugs which mate with this socket have integral fuses to protect the cable and the downstream appliance, and just jumping cables into the socket eliminates that protection. The fuse will have a maximum value of 13A. That socket may be protected by a 32A breaker. Thus the cable may have no protection against serious overload.

    The colours are correct: live (a/k/a ‘hot’) is brown, blue is neutral, and live is on the right, and neutral the left of the socket.

    There will be no wirenuts in that box; wire nuts are a strange thing used in America only.

    What is moderately interesting is that 13A sockets are designed to prevent this type of abuse. There are shutters that cover the live and neutral holes preventiung the insertion of things. Some 13A sockets use an earth pin detector, so you open the shutters by shoving a screwdriver in the earth hole. But these old style sockets have now largely disappeared from manufacture. Modern sockets require equal pressure in the live and neutral holes to open the shutters, and these are really hard to open with screwdrivers and the like.

    Ms Sparky’s Response:
    Thanks for the detailed thorough comment. Sounds like you’ve been there!

  12. Comment by alexlu309:

    I have been a electrian for 22 years.I was on a service for 5 of those years.My Dad and his Dad were electricians. I have seen some wild stuff.If this is the norm then I am glad you doing what your doing.The Troops have enough worry about,LIKE BEING SHOT AT.Our kids are dying.KBR should be the ones being shot at. Thank you, Alex LOCAL #309 I.B.E.W

    Ms Sparky’s Response:
    Alex…thank you for your comment and support. I shoot at them every chance I get from this blog!!! For every new person that knows, that’s one less person that can be fooled.

  13. Comment by Joe Cash:

    For the most part I agree with 99% of the comments. No materials nor proper tools . KBR is so afraid to say NO to the Military on anything , they commit to do a project not having the tools or the eq. on hand to do it with and the electrician is forced ( in a KBR way ) to get the job done , just make it happen .No leadership from the Top all the way down the ladder.Irresponsible people put in positions they have no business being in , this also places people at a higher risk for harm and cost the American tax payer a large sum of money that is just wasted. Three and half years over there , I’ve seen it & heard it all . Like any where else most of the electricians want to do the right thing and safe . KBR Management always talk a good line when it comes to information for the military

    Ms Sparky’s Response:
    Couldn’t have said it better myself.

  14. Comment by Baboo Remembers:

    Joe Cash has it right…Afghanistan wasn’t much better in early days…same level of unqualified folks. Not all KBR talent was bad but never any 3rd party inspection, materials or tools.

    I heard a couple of KBR guys (a former Superintendent and Sr. Designer) built a 500 facility at Camp Eggers in 90 days for 1.5 mil.while overseeing Afghani warlord contractors. Hmm.. KBR needed 6 mil and 9 mos. and didn’t get the job.

    Ms Sparky’s Response:
    KBR has been skimming the same LOGCAP gene pool for years. It wasn’t until July 2008 after the Senate and House hearings on solider electrocutions that KBR was forced to dive a little deeper into said gene pool and started requiring electricians to be qualified. Personally I think it’s time to throw some bleach and start over!

  15. Comment by Baboo Remembers:

    I have noticed KBR never made an effort to keep the top talent or “skims the cream off the top” to maintain those who are at best marginal.

    Baboo does remember everyone thought they were an expert and everyone wanted to be the boss. I always assumed they were hired on false pretense. It would take more than bleach to clean that mess..more like a skip loader going to the dump.

  16. Comment by Ex-Expat:

    Was that wrong? Should I not have done that?

    Reminds me of the shock I got from our TMP building at Ramadi. I was installing a new network switch. Holding the switch prior to mounting it, hand touched the metal wall of the trailer and YEOWCH! Nobody wanted to believe me until one of the only good electricians we had found that someone had wired a hot to ground on that building.

    Ms Sparky’s Response:
    That happens more than one would think. Glad you are OK.

  17. Comment by Ksniper777:

    that is a nice job of a receptable, and you guys said KBR installed this? Well like i am saying i have never seen anything installed like this, now the military does it all the time if they don’t have a cord that fits they will do this. Using pictures like this is absurbed. Well it seems to be working KBR is losing parts of it’s contract and those folks who are working there will soon be jobless. Oh well as long as KBR comes down that is the point correct folks. I am glad you all are very happy and make sure you jump on the whistle blowers band wagon as well i am sure there are folks out there trying to make a buck and those who are doing a honest days work will end up with the short end of the stick because of some scabs who are trying to make a quick buck. Yes unfortunate things do happen in Iraq and afghanistan and KBR is not always the blame. Ms Sparky you are an electrican and i respect that but using a rigged up photo to implicate that KBR installed this is wrong. From the looks of that picture this was done in a building needing another socket or who ever took this picture can he prove in the court of law that KBR did this type of work if so then he is a rich man or if not then whereever the ax falls.

    Ms Sparky’s Response:
    I think I very clearly said Iraqi and Turkish sub-contractors.

  18. Comment by Ksniper777:

    Ms Sparky can you kindly delete my comments i think from now on i will just read this stuff because who knows what next will be dreamed up and i do not want to be part of this mess. Thank you for providing a forum for those to make us aware of there concerns.


    Ms Sparky’s Response:
    You comments add a lot to the conversation and there are too many other comments that refer to yours.

  19. Comment by Electrical Rewiring:

    Thanks for sharing this post

  20. Comment by Sydney Electrician:

    I find the picture very interesting and amusing. I have sent a link to this page to my electrician friends so they can work out what is wrong with the picture as well. Thanks for the post.

  21. Comment by corky bates:

    Obviously your readers are as ignorant as you are sparky………No NEC references? You’re trying to copy a certain article in a magazine that I know of. You need to have a little knowledge if your going to try to even compare to a real electrician.
    OK I’m finished with your stupid ass. It is clear to me that there is nobody here worth my time and knowledge.
    A bunch of cry baby wanna be’s.

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