Building a new deck #6: Finishing the deck surface and fixing the electric problems

Blog entry by Karson posted 05-01-2008 04:47 AM 4626 reads 0 times favorited 4 comments Add to Favorites Watch
« Part 5: Treated Wood Part 6 of Building a new deck series Part 7: The first bench is done »

Well I finally got the electric problems taken care of and so i screwed down the last two deck boards. These boards butt up against the two light poles. And I did the finish cutting of the curve.

So here are the details:

I mentioned earlier, I believe in the first blog of this series that I installed a GFCI circuit breaker in the fuse panel and i was having problems where it kept tripping whenever i put a load on the circuit. Even a load as small as a Dusk to Dawn switch with nothing else.

LumberJock Richard Williams stated that he wished that he was closer so that he could find my problem. Without me paying his plane fare from Las Vegas I did the next best think. I asked him for his phone number so I could call. He replied. I called.

I told him all of the things that I had tried and that had failed. He suggested a couple of things to try. Verfy that the bare ground wire was not touching the white wire anywhere in the circuit. (I didn’t think I had that problem) Replace the buss bar that was in the circuit sub panel. (Mine was very rusty). This discussion was going on in a 3” rain storm, so I was not too interested is stepping outside at that moment.

The next day I was returning home from taking my son to school, and I was running the circuit through my mine. One of the things that Richard has said was that a GFCI breaker is measuring the amount of current that was going through the black (hot) wire and then checking that the reverse of that was going through the neutral wire (white) of the other wave of the alternating current. (These are my words and not necessarly his exact words). I was wondering in my mind about how that was working on the circuit that I had installed.

I then realized that I might have hooked it up incorrectly. (I had never read the instructions, Because I assumed that it was hooked up the same as a regular circuit breaker.) I had hooked up the black wire to the GFCI breaker. I was suppose to also hook up the white wire to another terminal on the GFCI breaker. I had failed to do that. So what was happening was that any load that I put on the black wire was not being offset through the white wire, because I had not attached it to the GFCI breaker.

When I removed the white wire from the buss bar and attached it to the correct terminal on the GFCI breaker, my circuit worked as designed. The Dusk to dawn switch does not trip it, a light bulb does not trip. (I have not put my finger across the terminal to see if it does trip it. Like a SawStop you hope it works)

Once I got all of the electric wiring problems I screwed down the final two deck boards

I cut the angle off the deck to match the sidewalk around the Solarium.

I measured the curve for the end of the deck. I found that it was a 22’ radius. So I had my wife hold the tape measure and I inscribed the curve with a pencil. I then used my Bosch Jigsaw to cut the curve to the line that I had drawn.

We set up a table and chairs and had supper tonight on the deck. It was chilly but we didn’t care.

The supervisor checking to see if we left any scraps on the deck. (As if anything would get as far as the deck surface when he’s hanging around)

So now on to the benches.

-- Retired in Delaware

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4 comments so far

View Dadoo's profile


30 posts in 5661 days

posted 05-01-2008 09:13 AM

You know Karson, this deck turned out real nice. I really like the lamps as well. Time to open a cold one and fire up the grill! Enjoy!

-- Dadoo!

View Joey's profile


82 posts in 5659 days

posted 05-01-2008 03:41 PM

Nice Deck Karson, I hope you have many relaxing evening on it. I really like your jig saw technique, if that chair would of had wheels on it you would of been in business.

-- Joey ~~ Sabina, Ohio http://sleepydogwoodworking.wordpress.com/

View Dan Lyke's profile

Dan Lyke

331 posts in 5661 days

posted 05-01-2008 07:16 PM

Nice! I’ll second Joey’s comment about making sure you’ve got wheels on that chair next time…

On GFCI breakers, as I understand it…

If you wrap a coil of wire around another piece of wire, current in the other piece induces a current in the wire. If you put a small resistor in that coil, you can measure the voltage across the resistor, and therefore measure the current induced in the coil, from there you can figure out how much current is flowing through the other piece of wire.

If you do this on two wires, say your hot and your neutral (black and white, as your description above), you can then compare the voltages across the resistors to tell if more current is flowing through one wire than the other.

I believe that this could be as simple as tying one side of the resistor on each coil together, and using the other side to control a normally closed relay: If the current imbalance gets to be too high, there’s a voltage difference between the untied side of the resistor between those two coils, and when enough current flows through the relay, it opens and breaks the circuit..

I think modern GFCI breakers also have some smart electronic to do filtering so that they don’t trip on all the wacky currents that something like a motor start can induce in the circuit, but essentially that’s what a GFCI breaker is.

(Note: If you decide to experiment with this on your own with a voltmeter and a few hand wrapped coils, be very sure that the coils are loops closed with a fairly low value resistor (ie: 5 ohms) until you get a feel for what’s going on. A couple of turns in that coil and you could easy build a few thousand volts in potential across the open leads. Very little current, so that resistor will dissipate it just fine, but even if there’s not a lot of current, lots of potential can be hazardous.)

-- Dan Lyke, Petaluma California, http://www.flutterby.net/

View tenontim's profile


151 posts in 5661 days

posted 05-01-2008 08:28 PM

This turned out real nice Karson. Since you live in the North Country, you’ll have to plan a place for one of those out door fireplaces or gas patio heaters. Got to be able to enjoy that deck before the bugs come out. Thanks for the post/series.

-- Tim

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