Illustrated Catastrophes, September 2010

Illustrated Catastrophes, September 2010

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.

Broken Body

This “T” conduit body was installed to protect circuit conductors that power a car lot storage parking lift across the street from a major newspaper building. Although the probable splice in the conduit body may be in compliance with certain rules in Art. 314, my concern is the broken fitting and its entry at the left side of the conduit body, which has led to a lost equipment grounding path.

Section 250.118 of the NEC recognizes electrical metallic tubing (EMT) as an approved ground-fault current path. However, why the original installer chose to add a locknut or “fitting” (as defined in Art. 100) at both entries baffles me. Were they added to prevent the connector from coming loose? If so, it sure didn’t work. Another item to keep in mind is these types of EMT threadless connectors are of early vintage and may not have been designed for a wet location installation.

For all that we see here, I think we can agree there are electrical hazards present — and the Code has rules in place for this type of installation.

Bad Weld

For whatever reason, this exothermic weld used to connect a grounding electrode conductor to an electrode — which was a 10 ft × ¾-in. ground rod — didn’t hold up very well. Although the exothermic welding process is a recognized and approved method by many rules in Art. 250, the initial work performed here was done improperly. Then, someone made things worse by trying to fix the situation with a connector not approved for underground use. A split-bolt connector (aka, “bug”) is not designed for direct burial. This is a clear violation of the Code.

As noted in Art. 100, a grounding electrode conductor is defined as, “A conductor used to connect the system grounded conductor or the equipment to a grounding electrode or to a point on the grounding electrode system.”

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