Wiring an Electrical Box to Support a Backup Generator

Project: Storm-Ready Design, Episode 5, Part 3

Bob is back at the storm-ready house in Punta Gorda, Florida, where the interior work on the electrical system, plumbing, and walls is underway. The outswinging, oversized front door completes the seal on the building envelope. It is installed on a 1¾ inch sill against a pre-cast concrete lip designed to keep the door from blowing in or water from blowing under. As a wind-protection measure, the door swings out so winds won’t force it open, causing wind penetration and pressurization during a storm. Bob checks out the wiring installation and the plumbing work, then reviews his visit to the PGT window factory and the installation of impact-resistant windows and patio sliders. Bob walks through the stepped arch that leads to the open kitchen / family area and the bedrooms beyond. There Thad Goodman of Georgia-Pacific is installing the DensArmor Plus fiberglass wallboard. With no paper or sugars and starches used for binders, this fiberglass-faced gypsum is impervious to mold, mildew, and insects. Keeping a house dry in humid climates prevents damaging mold growth. The Kohler generator and Square D / Schneider Electric panel box will keep the house functioning, cool, and dry in case of a storm or power outage.
Part 1: Installing an Impact-Resistant Front Door, Electric Wiring with Metal Studs, Plumbing with Metal Studs and a Concrete Slab
Part 2: Fiberglass-Faced Wallboard Combats Mold and Moisture
Part 3: Wiring an Electrical Box to Support a Backup Generator
Electrician Harry Cunningham and Kim Hansen of Square D/ Schneider Electric join Bob to explain the electrical box that supports the household power and backup generator. Two power sources feed into the service box—the utility and the generator. There is a safety check in place to prevent the generator from automatically taking over the power load or feeding out into the street to power the neighborhood. The switch in the box must be flipped to protect power from surging through the outlets when work is being performed or the environment is unsafe. The generator allows for flexible power and the opportunity to switch between circuits. The homeowners can decide to power up an air conditioner during a storm, switch circuits to do laundry, or power up the TV and family computer. In an emergency, the system allows homeowners to tailor their energy use to suit the needs of their home and family.
When hurricanes strike again and again, as they did in Florida in 2004, the effects are devastating. Bob Vila and crew work to completely rebuild a damaged house, using new standards for storm-ready housing. Along the way, Bob investigates a home's vulnerabilities in extreme weather and learns why some building systems fail and others succeed.

Also from Storm-Ready Design

  • Episode 1 - Rebuilding to Beat a Hurricane


    Bob is in hurricane battered Punta Gorda, Florida, to build a storm-ready home in Season 1 of Bob Vila. Bob visits two homes in the same neighborhood, one that was completely destroyed by Hurricane Charley in August 2004, the other that was built to exceed hurricane codes and was left unscathed by hurricane winds and water from the same storm. Scott Buescher of Mercedes Homes shows how enhanced building practices and technologies can create a storm-resistant home, while Lieutenant Governor Toni Jennings and Secretary of Community Affairs Thaddeus Cohen discuss rebuilding Florida. Building inspector Randy Cole and Mercedes Homes’ Jesse Gonzalez review the site and watch the pour of a three-stage steam wall that sits below grade and ties the slab foundation to the ground. The resulting foundation will resist water penetration from storm surge by allowing water to move around the foundation without encountering entry points. Bob reviews the house plans with Scott Buescher of Mercedes Homes and learns how the house is constructed as an integrated system. Building connections are emphasized and reinforced rebar and steel mesh are extended from the stem wall to the roof line in preparation for the solid concrete pour that will form the exterior walls.
  • Episode 2 - Building a Reinforced Concrete House


    Bob recaps construction of the stem-wall foundation and integral concrete slab, the vertical steel reinforcing, steel mesh, window bucks, headers, and spacers put in place for the cast-in-place concrete walls. Cameron Parker and the crew of Solid Wall Systems spray the aluminum wall forms with an organic oil spray to prevent adhesion from the concrete and set the forms for the pour. Bob joins Wayne Sallade, Charlotte County Emergency Manager, to review cleanup, demolition, and repair one year after Hurricane Charley. sallade explains that housing built in the 1960s through the 1980s, before the Florida Unified Building Code, had stick framing, gable roofs, and siding. "It didn't stand a chance," he says. Looking at surviving 1920s Florida architecture, it's clear that unified construction, concrete walls, protected windows, and hip roofsare the way to design wind-resistant homes. Back on site, bob watches the pour, learns how the walls and window openings will be vibrated to eliminate voids, and sees the bracing set to hold the walls square before leaving the site to let it cure overnight. Once the forms are removed, Jesse Gonzalez explains how a traditional three-coat Florida plaster job will complete the exterior once the structure has cured for two weeks.
  • Episode 3 - Building a Storm-Ready Roof


    This episode of Bob Vila will focus on roofs, how they are built and tied down to keep structures safe. Leslie Chapman-Henderson from FLASH, the Federal Alliance for Safe Housing, explains how FLASH brings information about safe housing technologies and practices to homes across America, to protect them against floods, winds, hail, and wildfires. Chapman-Henderson explains how a connected house works as a system to beat back the pushing and pulling forces of wind. Randy Shackelford of Simpson Strong-Tie shows Bob the embedded truss anchors that will tie down each truss member of the roof framing, as well as retrofit tie-downs and heavy connectors designed to fight wind uplift forces. Jesse Gonzalez walks Bob through the steel-framed interior that has a master suite and bath, and lots of open space. Bart Cox of Hanson Roof Tiles brings factory-extruded cement clay-look tiles that are pre-drilled for mechanical installation. Dave Peck of D. Peck Roofing explains that stiffer 5/8-inch plywood sheathing, 30 pound felt that is nailed, hot mopped with asphalt, and covered with 90 pound felt makes a strong, water-resistant roof deck for the tiles. Metal nailer boards keep cap tiles in place when wind strikes.
  • Episode 4 - Impact-Resistant Windows for a Storm-Ready Home

  • Episode 6 - Faux Columns and a Gunite Pool

  • Episode 7 - Storm-Ready Stucco Paint, Foyer Tile, and Textured Finishes

  • Episode 8 - Concrete Color Staining, Soffits, and Energy Efficiency

  • Episode 9 - Kitchen Finishes for the Storm-Ready House

  • Episode 10 - Pool Deck, Toto Washlet, and Wind-Proof Garage Door

  • Episode 11 - Sustainable Landscaping, Water Use, and Termite Control

  • Episode 12 - Hurricane-Safe Pool Structures, Pool Mechanicals, and Safety

  • Episode 13 - Surge Protection, Plumbing, Bamboo Blinds and Garden

  • Episode 14 - Completing the Punta Gorda Storm-Ready House



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