The photo on the right shows wiring coming directly through a floor with no raceway or any type of protection. This is a serious violation of Sec. 310.10, which requires these single conductors to be installed in a Chapter 3 wiring method such as electrical metallic tubing (EMT), rigid metal conduit (RMC), or other types of raceways or cables that could provide some protection for the wires. The missing panel cover is a violation of Sec. 110.27.
The photo on the left reveals the aluminum feeder wires were too big for the terminals so the installer trimmed some of the strands. Mixing aluminum and copper in the same terminal violates Sec. 110.14 unless the terminals are specifically designed for it. Installing more than one conductor in each terminal violates Sec. 110.14(B).
Creative Conduit Cluster
Let’s begin with Sec. 300.15, which requires fittings to be used only with the wiring methods for which they are specifically designed. The flexible metal conduit (FMC) connector in the photo is certainly not designed to be used with PVC. The next problem is the use of the FMC connector itself, which is not permitted for this exterior wet location as specified in Sec. 348.12(1). Moving on, note the improper use of the coupling on the PVC pipe to connect to the liquidtight flexible nonmetallic conduit (LFNC). This violates the intent of Sec. 356.42, which requires fittings listed for use with LFNC to be used. Next on the violations list is Sec. 300.12, which requires raceways to be “continuous between cabinets, boxes, fittings, or other enclosures or outlets.” Lastly, the use of LFNC for this specific application is questionable, since Sec. 356.12(1) does not permit it to be used where subject to physical damage. It appears the LFNC has been positioned in an area where it could be stepped on.
“Grounds” for Removal
The most obvious violation here is the way in which the equipment grounding conductors are connected to a piece of wood instead of being connected to the metal box. Section 314.4 requires metal boxes to be grounded in accordance with Art. 250. No bonding or grounding connections to the box can be seen. Section 250.86 requires this enclosure to be connected to an equipment grounding conductor. Sections 250.110(1) through (6) also require exposed, normally noncurrent-carrying metal parts enclosing conductors that are likely to become energized to be connected to an equipment grounding conductor under certain conditions, including (2) where located in damp or wet locations and (5) where using a wiring method that provides an equipment grounding conductor. As for the smaller box on the left, it's questionable whether it is suitable to be used in a wet location. Section 314.15 requires this box to be placed or equipped so as to prevent moisture from entering or accumulating inside of it. It also requires this box to be listed for use in a wet location. This enclosure appears to be a Type 1 general-purpose enclosure as indicated by Table 110.28. A Type 3 or 3R enclosure would be more appropriate in this specific location.
The cover for this panelboard was obviously not designed for a breaker to be located in this position, so the installer took it upon himself to perform a “field modification” to accomplish this task. Unfortunately, this created Code violations and some safety concerns.
Section 110.3(B) has been violated because equipment must be installed in accordance with the listing or labeling instructions. Another violation relates to Sec. 240.81, which requires vertically operated circuit breaker handles to be “up” when in the ON position. The two GFPE circuit breakers on top violate this section of the NEC. At least the installer was aware of the requirements of Sec. 426.28, which requires ground fault protection of equipment for electric snow-melting or de-icing cables.
Installer Should Be Grounded
This overcrowded lug — filled with multiple sizes of both solid and stranded wires — can lead to poor connections and possible loss of grounding and bonding for the equipment. In fact, one of the green stranded wires has actually slipped out of this connector. All of these poor connections can elevate the shock and fire hazard at this location. This job would have been better served by installing an equipment grounding terminal bar, as permitted by Sec. 250.8(A)(2), instead of just cramming all the wires in one footlug, which is not designed for this purpose. Terminals are designed for connection of only one conductor unless identified as required by Sec. 110.14(A). Upon closer examination, you can also see what appears to be a white wire stuffed into this lug. If this white wire is a neutral, then there's a violation of Sec. 200.2(A), since continuity of the grounded conductor cannot depend on connection to a metallic enclosure. If this white wire is being used for an equipment ground wire, then there is a violation of Sec. 250.119, which requires insulated equipment ground wires to be identified with a covering of green or green with one or more yellow stripes.
We Don't Support This Support
Liquidtight flexible metal conduit (LFMC) simply cannot be used as a supporting means for a box. Rigid metal conduit (RMC), on the other hand, could be used to support boxes (if done correctly). Sec. 314.23(E) permits an enclosure not larger than 100 cu in. to be supported by RMC or intermediate metal conduit (IMC) where the conduits are threaded wrenchtight into the enclosure and secured within 3 ft of the enclosure or within 18 in. of the enclosure if both conduits enter on the same side of the enclosure. This installer used RMC on one side and LFMC on the other. This means that this box is essentially unsupported and can flop around. This could put strain on the conduit coming out of the roof and cause the pipe to bend or break under the right conditions (e.g., heavy snowpack or high wind conditions). It also appears as though the LFMC is not supported correctly because Sec. 350.30(A) generally requires LMC to be securely fastened within 12 in. of each box, conduit body, or cabinet.
Scary Sauna Switches
Circuit breakers were certainly not designed to be installed or used in this manner. Therefore, this installation clearly violates Sec. 110.3(B). It's also questionable whether these installation methods are recognized as suitable by the Code, as indicated in Sec. 110.8. The lack of mechanical continuity of the raceway creates a violation of Sec. 300.12. Section 348.30 requires this flexible metal conduit (FMC) to be securely fastened in place. This FMC is just flapping in the wind. In addition, these circuit breakers are not protected from damage by being installed in an appropriate enclosure, cabinet, or assembly, as required by Sec. 240.30(A). These circuit breakers should have been installed in a panelboard or a switchboard rather than just sticking them in a plastic box designed for yoke-mounted devices such as a receptacle or snap switch.
Someone Had a Screw Loose
This installation should have had an equipment grounding conductor (EGC) installed in the raceway instead of relying solely on the flexible metal conduit (FMC) as the only equipment grounding conductor. Section 250.118(5) does permit FMC to be used for equipment grounding purposes where listed fittings are used, and the circuit is protected by an overcurrent device with a rating of 20A or less. The combined length of FMC or flexible metal tubing in the circuit must also be limited to a maximum of 6 ft. Where flexibility is necessary for minimizing vibrations or for movement of the equipment after it’s installed, Sec. 250.118(5)(d) requires an equipment grounding conductor to be installed. If you look closely at the photos, you may notice that there is no equipment ground wire installed, and the FMC has completely separated from the EMT changeover fitting — essentially leaving this motor without an EGC. Section 348.60 similarly requires an EGC to be installed where flexibility is needed in the FMC to reduce transmission of vibrations or to allow movement of the equipment. Motors like this will have some slight twisting movement when they start and stop, which could cause strain on the FMC connectors and loosen the screws.
Sleeve Me Alone
The most significant safety concern here is the lack of firestopping around the MC cable and EMT where it has penetrated this fire-rated wall. Section 300.21 requires electrical penetrations through or into fire-rated walls, floors, or ceilings to be firestopped using approved methods in order to maintain the fire resistance rating of the assembly. The Informational Note for this Section provides guidance on where to find more information about maintaining the fire-resistive rating for various assemblies, including building codes and construction material directories. The next violation is the coil of communication cable that is taped to one of the EMT sleeves. This is a violation of Sec. 800.133(B), which prohibits communication cables from being “strapped, taped, or attached by any means to the exterior of any raceway as a means of support.” In addition, if you focus on the background of the photo, you’ll see several MC cables and a box that are not properly supported. Section 330.30(B) generally requires MC cable to be secured at intervals not exceeding 6 ft. MC cables of 10 AWG and smaller must be secured within 12 in. of each box. Boxes must also be supported in accordance with the requirements of Sec. 314.23.
Damaging Effects of the Sun
According to Sec. 300.6(C), nonmetallic equipment such as raceways, boxes, couplings, supports, and support hardware must be made of a material that is suitable for the environment in which it is installed. Where exposed to the damaging rays of the sun, Sec. 300.6(C)(1) requires nonmetallic equipment to be identified or to be listed as sunlight-resistant. As this photo shows, five of the six “not-so-sunlight-resistant” clips for the PVC service raceway have failed because they were installed in a sunny location and eventually became brittle and cracked, causing the entire raceway to sag and break apart. This installation is now in serious peril of having a catastrophic failure. The horizontal run of pipe would also benefit from the use of an expansion fitting as required by Sec. 352.44, since it is very likely that this length of pipe would have experienced a change in length of at least ¼ in. or more due to thermal expansion and contraction. This type of PVC clip may have instructions that say “for indoor use only.” If so, it would also violate Sec. 110.3(B), as the clips would not have been installed in accordance with the instructions included in the listing or labeling.