What’s Wrong Here? Hint: Shallow Expectations

What’s Wrong Here? Hint: Shallow Expectations

Can you identify the Code violation(s) in this photo?

How well do you know the Code? Think you can spot violations the original installer either ignored or couldn't identify? Here's your chance to moonlight as an electrical inspector and second-guess someone else's work from the safety of your living room or office. It's your turn to identify the violation.


Hint: Shallow expectations

Find the Answer

It's fairly easy to see why these UF type cables feature several splices. They are not buried anywhere near the depth needed to meet Code requirements and keep them out of harm's way.



Section 300.5 of the 2011 NEC requires direct-buried cables to be installed with the minimum cover requirements shown in Table 300.5. For this installation of 208V circuits, the installer should have referenced Column 1. Since the location of these cables is not one of the specific locations described in the lower portion of the Table, we would need to use the top row of Column 1 to determine how deep these cables should be buried.

The minimum depth required for theses UF cables is 24 in. However, the cables in this photo are buried only a few inches below the grass. This lack of depth leaves these cables within striking distance of lawn aerating equipment and gardening tools. These cables are also subject to ground movement from frost heaves and many other possible sources of damage. More importantly, the damaged cables can create a real shock hazard to people walking or playing on the grass in this area.

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