Hint: Lousy Use of Lamp Cord
One of the violations shown in this photo is the lamp cord being poked through the plate and back into the wall. Instead of hiring a professional electrician to snake the correct type of wiring methods, the renter living in this apartment channeled a small gap in the wall starting from the receptacle, going up the wall, then across the ceiling to a ceiling-mounted light fixture to achieve his desire of having a ceiling light controlled by a switch. The renter then filled in the gap with a layer of joint compound to hide the cord and repair the wall damage. Are you kidding me? The in-line switch on the cord was used for controlling the light. Using a power supply cord as a substitute for fixed wiring is a violation of Sec. 400.12(1). Concealing flexible cables, flexible cord sets, or power supply cords in the wall is a violation of Sec. 400.12(5). Last, but not least, the splices made in this flexible cord violate Sec. 400.13.
Russ spotted this situation in the backstage area of a theater. There are numerous cords, conductors and cables secured to plumbing pipes, electrical metallic tubing (EMT) and other pipes, with the whole messy group going down through a hole in the floor located right near a high traffic entry/exit door space. These cables, cords and other conductors all showed signs of being stepped on, crushed, nicked, and otherwise being beaten up. Section 300.4 simply and clearly states that conductors, raceways and cables must be provided with protection where subject to physical damage. That should apply here, especially after seeing all the damage up close. Securing cables, cords, and conductors to the exterior of the EMT, which is run on the wall, would generally be considered a violation of Sec. 300.11(C). Section 800.133(B) prohibits communication wires or cables from secured, strapped or attached by any means to the exterior of any raceways. Another problem is the plumbing pipes located directly below the panelboard. This space is dedicated for electrical installations and the plumbing pipes being located here violates Sec. 110.26(E)(1)(a).
Hint: Sun- and Water-Damaged Disaster
This installer ignored lots of rules including Sec. 300.3(A), which requires single conductors to be used only when installed in a Chapter 3 wiring method. Section 300.11(D) prohibits cables from being used as a means of support for other cables, raceways or non-electric equipment. Attaching these single conductors to the SE cable on the left violates the intent of that Section. Making splices for SE cable without being installed in an enclosure is a violation of Sec. 300.15. The wire connectors are neither sunlight resistant as required by Sec. 300.6(C)(1) nor are they identified for use in the outdoor wet location as required by Sec. 110.11. The single insulated conductors are also required to be a type listed for use in wet locations as specified in Sec. 310.10(C). Since these conductors are exposed to the sun they must also be listed as being sunlight resistant or covered with tape or sleeves that are listed as being sunlight resistant. If this is a temporary installation, all the rules for permanent wiring installations must be followed as specified in Sec. 590.2(A), unless Art. 590 allows alternatives. None of the rules mentioned here are modified by Art. 590 for this installation.
Hint: Elevator Room Escapades
Who needs an attachment plug cap anyway? Apparently not this installer, since he cut off the cord cap of the air conditioning unit and hard-wired it directly into the outlet box. Misusing the cord-and-plug connection in this way violates the requirements of Sec. 110.3(B), since the air conditioner is not designed to be hard-wired. How can we swap out this unit now if it needs to be replaced? An electrician would need to remove the box cover and disconnect the wiring to allow this through-the-wall unit to be removed. This was not meant to be used in this manner. The lack of a cord-cap also has Russ wondering where the disconnecting means is located for this room air conditioner. Section 440.63 is no longer applicable since the cord-and-plug connection has been eliminated. Section 440.14 requires a disconnecting means to be installed in a readily accessible location within sight from the air conditioning unit. Neither of the two exceptions in Sec. 440.14 would be applicable here. Russ didn’t see a disconnect for this unit anywhere in this elevator machine room. The installer may have also eliminated the AFCI, LCDI or HDCI protection device required by Sec. 440.65, which may have been located in the supply cord or part of the attachment plug.
Hint: A Pedestrian Bridge Over Troubled Water
Russ spotted this broken receptacle box on the side of a pedestrian walkway over a small lagoon area. This is located directly over the water. You can see the cable feeding the receptacle is dangling below the walkway. This cable is just stubbed into a short piece of PVC conduit in the bottom of the box. Although Russ was not able to confirm the type of cable used, his best guess is that the installer used UF cable. The broken/missing cover is a violation of Sec. 406.9(B)(1). An extra-duty rated weatherproof in-use cover would have been an appropriate choice here. Using a weather resistant WR-type receptacle is also required by Sec. 406.9(B)(1) for this outdoor wet location. He was not able to check for GFCI protection, but Sec. 210.8(B)(4) does require GFCI protection for a 15A, 125V rated receptacle in this location. Perhaps the GFCI protection was provided by a circuit breaker or through a GFCI-type receptacle installed ahead of this one. The lack of supports on the UF cable is a violation of Sec. 225.21 and Sec. 230.51(A), which require support within 12 in. of connection to a raceway or enclosure and again every 30 in.
Hint: “A Frayed“ of This Cord
It’s safe to say that this damaged cord violates the intent of Sec. 110.12(B), which states in part that “there shall be no damaged parts that may adversely affect safe operation or mechanical strength of the equipment such as parts that are broken; bent; cut; or deteriorated by corrosion, chemical action or overheating.” The split-open cable jacket and cracked insulation are certainly creating an unsafe condition. A closer look reveals there is bare copper conductor exposed due to the deteriorated condition of this cord. This can create a real shock and fire hazard. If a person were to make contact with the exposed energized conductors, they could receive a deadly shock. The damaged insulation could also cause dangerous arcing, which could result in a fire. This equipment should be unplugged and removed from service until it is repaired or replaced. It’s uncertain if it was gases, fumes, vapors or other agents having a deteriorating effect such as extreme heat that caused the damage to this cord. Whatever the cause, Sec. 110.11 makes it clear that any conductors or equipment must be suitable for the environment in which they are installed.
Hint: Give Me a Leg to Stand On
Wow! Where is all the support for this rooftop disconnect? Section 300.11(A) requires cabinets to be securely fastened in place. This cabinet seems to be floating in air or standing on one “leg.” Per Sec. 358.12(2), the EMT connected to the bottom of the cabinet is not permitted as a means of support. No rules in Art. 350 allow the liquidtight flexible metal conduit (LFMC) entering the back of the disconnect to be considered proper support for this disconnect either. Therefore, this cabinet has zero support. The missing knockout seal at the bottom left of the disconnect is a violation of Sec. 110.12(A). Unused openings like this must be closed. Securing the LFMC to the gas piping supplying this roof top unit is not a good idea. Many inspectors would agree doing this violates the intent of Sec. 350.30(A). This is speculation, but it appears that the disconnect originally may have been secured to a rooftop HVAC unit that was bigger than the one that is presently sitting in that spot. Maybe the HVAC installer did the replacement without contacting a qualified electrician? However, now we can only guess this might be the case.
Hint: Not a Bundle of Joy
This installation is not a bundle of joy; it’s more like a bundle of horrors. There are fire alarm cables, Type NM cables, MC cables, audio cables, communication cables, thermostat cables, and every other type of cable in this messy bundle. It’s also located right next to the entry door for this electric room. The MC cables are not properly supported as required by Sec. 330.30. The unsupported NM cables violate the requirements of Sec. 334.30. These cables are all being used as supporting means for each other, which is a violation of Sec. 300.11(D). One could also make a strong argument that these cables are exposed to physical damage and should be protected as specified in Sec. 300.4. The giant holes punched through the sheetrock and the bricks to run the cables through leaves a gaping violation of the firestopping requirements of Sec. 300.21. Section 760.24(A) requires fire alarm cables to be supported by the building structure in a manner that cables won’t be damaged, including protection as required by Sec. 300.4(D). The Class 2 thermostat cables are required to be installed neat and workmanlike in a manner that they won’t be damaged either. It’s pretty obvious this job needs a complete redo.
Hint: Water Played a Part
Russ discovered this water-damaged GFCI receptacle when a customer called him to see why his Christmas lights had stopped working. The cover that was installed on this outdoor location GFCI receptacle was the type that is weatherproof only when the cover is closed. Unfortunately, the Christmas lights and some other cords were left plugged into this receptacle almost year-round. This meant that the cover was open, which allowed water to infiltrate the enclosure and eventually cause significant damage to the GFCI receptacle. Believe it or not, the circuit breaker for this receptacle never tripped. The conductors feeding this receptacle were still energized when Russ arrived. Of course, the receptacle had stopped working. It’s pretty scary to think what might have happened if the customer did not call when he did. Section 406.9(B)(1) of the 2017 NEC requires weatherproof while in-use covers to be used for 15A and 20A, 125V and 250V receptacles installed in wet locations. The use of a “bubble cover,” as they are commonly called, may have prevented this serious water damage from happening. Listed weather-resistant (WR) type receptacles are also required to be used for wet locations.
Hint: Needs Some Room to Breathe
The flexible duct, the plumbing drain, and the receptacles installed in this location make it appear as though the space in front of the panelboard is going to be used for laundry equipment. Placing laundry equipment directly in front of this electrical panel would be a violation of Sec. 240.24(A) because the overcurrent devices would no longer be readily accessible. Even without the washer and dryer installed, the white PVC piping installed as part of a radon mitigation system is located directly in the working space required by Sec. 110.26(A) for the front of the panel. Leaning over or straddling those PVC pipes while working in the panelboard increases the chances of worker injuries due to being off-balance or working in awkward positions. In addition, the water connections located directly below the panel violate the dedicated space requirements of Sec. 110.26(E). It’s also uncertain if the 125V receptacle below the panel has GFCI protection as required by Sec. 210.8(A)(5).