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What's Wrong Here?


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. Joe Tedesco, who has a knack for finding shoddy electrical work, did the dirty work and found this mess. Now it's your turn to identify the violation.

Find the Answer

Gary Parker, a professional engineer with Burns & McDonnell in Centennial, Colo., sent us this photo of a circuit breaker panelboard installation that has obviously gone through some changes that do not comply with the NEC.

“We found this installation on the exterior of a water storage tank,” says Parker. “The interior cover of this cabinet was nowhere to be found. It was probably lost when the "pigtail" cord and cap was added. These circuits supplied 120V power to the tank’s cathodic protection rectifier and level transmitter. When you look close at the bottom of the panel, you can see the terminal bar with grounded (neutral) and grounding conductors connected together.

“I am sure the wasps enjoyed their warm home on top of the circuit breaker. We’re currently removing and replacing this setup with all new Code-complying equipment and wiring methods.”

Hey Gary, I think the cover is over there near the pile of trash buried under the leaves. These exposed conductors are readily accessible; just have to open the door! I see that they didn’t even run an equipment-grounding conductor from the cord, probably because it didn’t have one.

The method used here to supply the cord cap pigtail from this location is not one that is recognized by Art. 400. I imagine it was only meant to be “temporary,” and just overlooked; however, this would not meet the requirements listed in Art. 590 either.

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