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What's Wrong Here?

What's Wrong Here?

Hint: Is this meter coming or going?


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

John K. Erickson of J & C Services in Imperial Beach, Calif. found this at a home in La Jolla, Calif. “The owner of this 1920s home was having trouble with the power to her main residence and garage,” says Erickson. “It kept going off and on.”

“When we arrived at the site she told us the local utility company had come out and told her she should contact an electrician,” he says. “We inquired about the old fused disconnect and the way it was wired to the new, but un-metered panel. She said that several years ago she hired an electrician, who is now out of business, to upgrade her service and this is how he did it. We asked if the electrician pulled any permits. She was not aware of any being pulled.”

When portions of electrical systems are abandoned they should be removed, or at the very least made safe. The probability that these open and unused Edison-base fused switches are energized is very high. The evidence of someone’s ‘handy work’ shows in many places, such as in the panel where the taps were made directly to the breaker buss, missing covers, and open holes in the cabinet.

The following NEC rules come to mind here.

110.12 Mechanical Execution of Work. Electrical equipment shall be installed in a neat and workmanlike manner.

“FPN: Accepted industry practices are described in ANSI/NECA 1-2000, Standard Practices for Good Workmanship in Electrical Contracting, and other ANSI-approved installation standards.

“(A) Unused Openings. Unused cable or raceway openings in boxes, raceways, auxiliary gutters, cabinets, cutout boxes, meter socket enclosures, equipment cases, or housings shall be effectively closed to afford protection substantially equivalent to the wall of the equipment. Where metallic plugs or plates are used with nonmetallic enclosures, they shall be recessed at least 6 mm (1/ 4 in.) from the outer surface of the enclosure.

(C) Integrity of Electrical Equipment and Connections. Internal parts of electrical equipment, including busbars, wiring terminals, insulators, and other surfaces, shall not be damaged or contaminated by foreign materials such as paint, plaster, cleaners, abrasives, or corrosive residues. 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.”

408.7 Unused Openings. Unused openings for circuit breakers and switches shall be closed using identified closures, or other approved means that provide protection substantially equivalent to the wall of the enclosure.”

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