As usual, never consider the following commentary associated with these photos as a formal interpretation of the National Electrical Code (NEC). Without criticizing anyone or any product, the following scenarios present us with serious safety questions.
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These service conductors — and the final overhead span — are installed as open conductors. In contrast to the requirement of 225.19(D)(1) and 230.9, they don't maintain a clearance of 3 ft or more from this window, which is designed to be opened. The same clearance rules apply to feeders and branch circuits that run to or from the buildings they supply, or from which they are fed. Although the conductors may be attached to the building, they must also be installed at not less than 3 ft from a window designed to be opened. These same rules apply to doors, porches, balconies, ladders, stairs, fire escapes, or similar locations. An Exception to 225.19(D)(1) allows you to install conductors within 3 ft of the top level of a window. However, this isn't the case in this photo.
A Little Tug Reveals a Big Surprise
The electrical inspector wasn't too sure about this installation, so he gave the grounding conductor a little tug and found that the feeder equipment grounding conductor in this rigid nonmetallic conduit wasn't terminated on the other end. To his surprise, he discovered the same situation at the other end of the conduit. Someone had just stuffed a few feet of cable into the conduit to make it look like it was a proper installation. Per 300.13(A), conductors installed in raceways must be continuous between outlets, boxes, and devices.
It's Not the Pigeon You Should Fear
This installation is located near a bus station in Boston. The first argument I always hear is “This city doesn't have to comply with the NEC.” That may be true in Boston and certain other cities across the country, but that doesn't change the fact that unsafe installations like this one create the potential for dangerous consequences — especially since a lightning storm was pending that day.
These open wires are within easy reach of any person who walks by this area or uses the concrete foundation as a streetside seat. These two innocent young people could have easily been subjected to an electrical shock.
Installation Puts Me on Edge
Nonmetallic-sheathed cables (Type NM-B) must be secured at intervals not exceeding 4 ft 6 in. and within 12 in. of every cabinet, box, or fitting with staples, cable ties, straps, hangers, or similar fittings designed and installed so as not to damage the cable. Flat cables can't be stapled on edge (334.30). In addition, it appears this installation violates the requirements of 300.4(D). When cables and raceways are installed parallel to framing members, in both exposed and concealed locations like joists, rafters, or studs, the cable or raceway must be installed and supported so that the nearest outside surface of the cable or raceway is at least 1.25 in. from the nearest edge of the framing member where nails or screws are likely to penetrate. Where this distance can't be maintained, the cable or raceway must be protected from nail and screw penetration by a steel plate, sleeve, or equivalent at least 0.0625 in. thick.
Found a Code violation? Send your photos to Joe Tedesco at 350 North St., Boston, MA 02113 or [email protected].