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I think the on;y job I refused was for a guy who was a hoarder. For some reason he wanted me to add a few receptacles. I yold him to move everything off the walls so I can get to it and call me.... I knew that would never happen.

I went to a long-time customer's house who had males cats. They would get up on the counters and spray the wall where there are receptacles. I did change it out but I told her next time I want hazardous pay...
 

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Many years ago as an apprentice I worked in a few houses that I was happy to have the dog run in behind the appliance I was moving and snatch whatever it was that I didn't want to see. I've also done work in restaurants that made me decide to never eat anything from in the future.

But I'm actually sitting here dumbfounded at my new knowledge of cockroaches in Canada! I had no idea. I've lived in every province in western Canada at one point or another, and visited all but Newfoundland, and this is the first I've heard of cockroaches in Canada. Never heard of, or even imagined you could find them here. I always thought they were only found in warmer climates.

Really? Cockroaches?:eek:
 

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Elechicken!
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I always thought they were only found in warmer climates.

Really? Cockroaches?
I thought the same thing at first. Then we discovered them a number of years ago an learnt a lot about them. Now I have an arsenal of chemicals to fight them off... But in my case, I cannot eliminate them without taking the same measures in EVERY apartment of my building, which is impossible.

They DO freeze though.
 

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I've worked at a few hoarder houses, but they werent smelly hoarder houses. Just piles of stuff.

Farms are the worst of what I've seen. Rust, water, manure, you name it. Pig farms in particular.
 

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I worked on a house for a little old lady that was bad . could barely walk in her home . Helper went outside and tossed his lunch twice but I got her power working . Left a told the shop im never going back . Boss ask what did you charge her . Nothing I won't bill a lady on a fixed income that obviously has no money . I just wanted to help her and get gone . Boss says that is very noble of you .

Two weeks later my boss gives me a check for 1500 bucks . I ask what's this for ? Working on the nasty house . Then my boss tells me she is worth roughly 450 million .
 

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If there is a possibility that I'll breathe mold, or poisonous fumes, I'm not doing it.
If there is a possibility that I'll be touching feces or dangerous chemicals, I'm not doing it
If I have to move more than 1/2 dozen obstacles to get to the problem, I'm not doing it.

I'm not going to risk my health, because someone lives in dangerous conditions.
 

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Elechicken!
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If there is a possibility that I'll breathe mold
Mold is common.
old spores are present in all indoor environments. There is no way to prevent spores, and they can persist in conditions where mold itself cannot grow.
Mold is something an N95 respirator will take care of if you have to work around a source of it. Even thru this pandemic, I have only used 1 of my N95 masks because they're hard to find, but I only use them were it is necessary, and most situations with mold do not count. If all the walls are covered in mold, yeah I'm gonna refuse, but if there's only some mold around a water pipe or something I'm not gonna run for the hills...
poisonous fumes, I'm not doing it.
I think everyone would agree on this one, with some exceptions (skating rink refrigerant systems, oil refineries, etc)
If there is a possibility that I'll be touching feces or dangerous chemicals, I'm not doing it
Sewer treatment plants and septic tanks need electricians... dangerous chemicals it would depend on what they are and the possibility of contamination or equivalent. Something as simple as chlorine can be a dangerous chemical... Yes, you can turn down these jobs as YOU deem it a health and safety issue, and that is your right. I'm not saying I'm gonna be the first one to jump at fixing a septic tank pump, but if it pays well, I'll do it.
If I have to move more than 1/2 dozen obstacles to get to the problem, I'm not doing it.
I get paid by the hour, I'll move the stuff. I get paid by the job, someone has to move that stuff. Results may vary...
I'm not going to risk my health, because someone lives in dangerous conditions.
No one should have to risk their health because an individual lives in dangerous/unhealthy conditions.
 

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I've had a couple experiences from my early days in the business that I wouldn't take on now. One was a PLC-based veal-calf feeder. A friend of mine built it for the farmer where ten calves had about a 20' by 20' pen with a bowl and ten teats coming out of it with dry powder and water mix. The stench of ten calves crapping and peeing at will was overbearing and my clothes held the smell.
But probably a worse experience was doing electrical design for an existing screen room at a wastewater treatment plant. It screened the raw sewage at the inlet :cautious: completely disgusting. I'd run in and snap pictures and run back out gasping for air. I'm 62 years old now and I'd have to turn that one down.
 

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My father-in-law was a plumber, and he used to carry a bottle of cologne in his lunch-box. He would dab some under his nose before going into a place he knew would be particularly fun.

Ahh, the joys of service work.
Vicks VapoRub works well too
 

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Trying to retire or at least slow down a bit, but life not cooperating
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I've had a couple experiences from my early days in the business that I wouldn't take on now. One was a PLC-based veal-calf feeder. A friend of mine built it for the farmer where ten calves had about a 20' by 20' pen with a bowl and ten teats coming out of it with dry powder and water mix. The stench of ten calves crapping and peeing at will was overbearing and my clothes held the smell.
But probably a worse experience was doing electrical design for an existing screen room at a wastewater treatment plant. It screened the raw sewage at the inlet :cautious: completely disgusting. I'd run in and snap pictures and run back out gasping for air. I'm 62 years old now and I'd have to turn that one down.
Sewage plant in Calgary did a major expansion.
One phase was the inlet area and they lowered the level of the tank to do some work
When they opened the gates and the incoming flow stirred up the stuff in the bottom of the tank, guys were literally jumping out the windows. The stench was overpowering!
 

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Worst for me was my first real job. HVAC/SCADA automation company.

I was in Whitby, and we were automating the sewage plant. One of the RTUs (remote terminal unit) was in the 'dewatering room'. One walk in the door, and the puke reflex hits you ... over and over.

Later I moved to a job at the water plant. I would NEVER go back to that kind of work !
 
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Sewage plant in Calgary did a major expansion.
One phase was the inlet area and they lowered the level of the tank to do some work
When they opened the gates and the incoming flow stirred up the stuff in the bottom of the tank, guys were literally jumping out the windows. The stench was overpowering!
You beat me to it !

Overpowering is an understatement !!
 

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I thought the same thing at first. Then we discovered them a number of years ago an learnt a lot about them. Now I have an arsenal of chemicals to fight them off... But in my case, I cannot eliminate them without taking the same measures in EVERY apartment of my building, which is impossible.
Did you ever try boric acid? This can actually reach out past the area you can treat. It's also non toxic.
 

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I work in a prison, and I used to work for a class 1 railroad. Nothing grosses me out more than a dirty house. That rotten food and dirty laundry smell mixed with a kitty litter box that's over full makes changing a light fixture in a prison shower seem like a good day! Now working on a locomotive that hit a cow, that's another kind of gross!
 

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Have 2 fun ones for this.
First was going to a service call, first thing in the morning (of course) at a trash to energy facility. Basically a 4 story trash pit, with 2 giant cranes (like the arcade cranes), and they scoop trash and burn it at crazy hot temps to produce steam for power. You walked into the pit area, and it hit you like a sack of bricks. Spent two hours there that day, called boss to tell him I was going home to change and shower (~hour and half away), he starts bitching. I drove to the office and walked into his office, he told me to go shower and change on the clock. Kept working there, but always either full day, or end of day from that point on. Stripped in the yard and hosed the clothes down before going inside as well (no garage, or neighbors, at that time).

second was a typical hoarder. Piles to ceiling, small walkways to walk thru. Luckily I was there for the doorbell not working (don’t know how he knew, guarantee he had no visitors, and I did not see a pizza box pile anywhere), and the transformer was in a small closet attached to the walkway. I don’t get how people live like that.
 

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I came close to walking one time. 300# hoarder cat man wearing boxers and a wife beater. The cat stench was brutal. The mess was more of a nuisance.

It was an emergency call to replace a breaker for his A/C. It was 110 plus and my conscience pushed me through. 99.9% of our panels are outside in AZ but this one was inside, next to the washer and left-handed.
 

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I would go as far as to refuse the job and call out a social worker to help get that person out of that living condition.
There is no excuse for allowing a human being to live such filth.
That whole trailer needs to be removed and burned to the ground or whatever they do with them.
I will work in dirty and disgusting commercial operations but to see someone living in such filth is a whole other level of responsibility. The OP mentioned the customer's doctor called about the customer not eating due to the stove. I would call their office and describe the living conditions and demand they take more action than calling out an electrician.
I had the very same thought... that definitely needed to be reported.
 

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When I was a green apprentice I was watching as my JW sawzalled a 1' x 2' square out of a ceiling. As soon as he finished the cut it came down like a ramp to his face and 30 yrs of mouse nest/poo hit him in the face. I laffed, he was a real Richard.

I worked in a Dr's home that had cat and dog poo everywhere and stunk to high heaven. His wife who was home acted like everything was normal. I'd refuse now as a business owner.

I also did a job upgrading an OLD Denver 8 unit apartment building that was occupied by drug addicts. Needles, spoons and empty dope bags scattered around. Opened a few closets to find homeless people hiding/sleeping, scared the jebus out of me. I was petrified of bed bugs on that job and would strip down on my doorstep, in the city nonetheless.

I'd turn down that work now as well.
 
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