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  1. #1
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    Default Is there a hazard in this panel?

    Another 1960's panel with the nice copper bus bars.
    The sellers had several new circuits installed and were proudly displaying an invoice of 1.2G for electrical work. I pointed out to my client that a grounding wire was in contact with the main neutral.
    It is sloppy, but is there any chance of arcing?

    In Canada, grounds and neutrals are supposed to be on separate buses, even in service equipment. That is why the grounds are stretched way over to the bus on the right. Yes, I saw the twisted pair and the doubles on the neutral bus, too.
    I get new places too, BTW, but they are boring in the electrical dept.

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  2. #2
    Ron Bibler's Avatar
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    Default Re: Is there a hazard in this panel?

    Is that an old ZINSCO panel & Breakers ? With other miss-match breakers ?

    Just as you have pointed out things I would call for an Sparky to clean things up and do further review.

    Best

    Ron
    Santa Rosa California Home Inspection - Exterminating & Thermal Imaging

    Last edited by Ron Bibler; 09-16-2009 at 01:54 PM.

  3. #3
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    Default Re: Is there a hazard in this panel?

    John,

    Yes, that would be a problem as, especially in Canada where the grounds and neutrals are to be isolated from each other in DIFFERENT terminal strips, the grounds are touching the neutrals, whether or not the grounds are landed on a neutral terminal (as those other two are).

    "That is why the grounds are stretched way over to the bus on the right."

    If installed properly, there would be no need to "stretch" the grounds that tightly over the neutrals, they *should have been cut off long enough* to be easily run down and below, well clear of the neutrals terminal bar.

    "Arcing" is not what I would be concerned with, "being too close and even touching" would be what I would be concerned with - because that is "not allowed" in Canada.

    Here in the states the grounds and neutrals would be terminated into the same terminal bar anyway.

    Jerry Peck, Construction / Litigation Consultant
    Construction Litigation Consultants, LLC ( www.ConstructionLitigationConsultants.com )
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  4. #4
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    Default Re: Is there a hazard in this panel?

    The why does the grounding electrode conductor land with the neutrals?

    What purpose does it serve to isolate the ground and neutrals in the service equipment???? This makes no sense.


  5. #5
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    Default Re: Is there a hazard in this panel?

    Quote Originally Posted by Speedy Petey View Post
    The why does the grounding electrode conductor land with the neutrals?

    What purpose does it serve to isolate the ground and neutrals in the service equipment???? This makes no sense.

    Peter,

    I agree, but what can we say ... that's Canada for you.

    Jerry Peck, Construction / Litigation Consultant
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  6. #6
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    Default Re: Is there a hazard in this panel?

    It results in a nice tidy panel with all the neutrals on a bus by themselves. That makes inspecting the neutral connections easy. I don't see that as a dumb idea. But I am bi-assed. BTW, it is a Westinghouse panel.


  7. #7
    Ron Bibler's Avatar
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    Default Re: Is there a hazard in this panel?

    Did it have a requirement for Westinghouse breakers only ?

    Looks like you have other breaker in that panel?

    Best

    Ron
    Santa Rosa California Home Inspection - Exterminating & Thermal Imaging

    Last edited by Ron Bibler; 09-16-2009 at 01:55 PM.

  8. #8
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    Default Re: Is there a hazard in this panel?

    Quote Originally Posted by Ron Bibler View Post
    Did it have a requirement for Westinghouse breakers only ?

    Looks like you have other breaker in that panel?

    Best

    Ron
    I know similar Westinghouse panels would accept GE as well as Westinghouse. The electrician added some breakers. They are possibly new substitutes for old discontinued units. Are you suggesting something is amiss?

    Here's a label on another panel with a damaged barrier.

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    Last edited by John Kogel; 09-15-2009 at 09:59 PM. Reason: Found a label.

  9. #9
    Ron Bibler's Avatar
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    Default Re: Is there a hazard in this panel?

    Use only Westinghouse breakers ? check your chart.

    Best

    Ron
    Santa Rosa California Home Inspection - Exterminating & Thermal Imaging

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    Last edited by Ron Bibler; 09-16-2009 at 01:55 PM.

  10. #10
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    Default Re: Is there a hazard in this panel?

    Quote Originally Posted by John Kogel View Post
    I know similar Westinghouse panels would accept GE as well as Westinghouse.
    John,

    "will accept" and "are allowed" are not the same thing.

    Each manufacturer only tests, lists, and labels their panels for use with their breakers.

    Thus, only their breakers are allowed to be used within their panels, otherwise the panel is not being used as it was listed, which is a NEC code violation. The Canadian electrical code probably has something similar in it.

    The electrician added some breakers. They are possibly new substitutes for old discontinued units.
    Yep, done all the time.

    Nope, not right.

    There are some breakers which is "Registered" with UL as replacements for other breakers, which is all well and good for the breakers, however, it does not affect the listing of the panel, which means one is not allowed to use those breakers in the listed panel.

    It is simply the result of the listing of the panel.

    Safe or not, the listing of the panel does not allow it.

    Jerry Peck, Construction / Litigation Consultant
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  11. #11
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    Default Re: Is there a hazard in this panel?

    Jerry, I have to disagree here. The breakers in question are called "Classified" breakers. They ARE listed for use in other panels and are legal to use.

    If a panel is "listed" for use with GE breakers for instance, and a different company makes a breaker that is "classified" AS a GE breaker then it is legal to use in a GE panel. That breaker basically becomes the breaker it is classified as, regardless of who made it.
    If not than what the heck is the point of a classified breaker???


  12. #12
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    Default Re: Is there a hazard in this panel?

    Quote Originally Posted by Speedy Petey View Post
    Jerry, I have to disagree here. The breakers in question are called "Classified" breakers. They ARE listed for use in other panels and are legal to use.
    Peter,

    Sorry about the brain fart with the "Registered" bit, I knew that did not sound right. (Mental note to self: remember "Classified".)

    However, while you are correct on the breakers, you are incorrect on the panels.

    I stated that the breakers were (changing my term here) "Classified" for use in those other panels.

    The panels, however, listed previous to, and with no "classified" breakers on the market, ARE ONLY listed for use with their own breakers, not with any breakers which are "Classified" for use with their panels.

    If a panel is "listed" for use with GE breakers for instance, and a different company makes a breaker that is "classified" AS a GE breaker then it is legal to use in a GE panel.
    And GE will wash their hands of it because the panel is no longer listed. The NEC REQUIRES that all listed and labeled equipment be "installed" "and" "used" in accordance with *ITS* listing ... not with something else's listing.

    This discussion has gone on many times in many circles and there are always those who state that a more recent "Classification" overrules the original "Listing", and is does not, as stated by those who follow what is written.

    Unless that breaker is listed for use in that panel by that panels listing instructions AND LABELING - that is what the code calls for, then those "Classified" breakers are not to be used in those panels.

    That breaker basically becomes the breaker it is classified as, regardless of who made it.
    Not according to the listing and labeling of the panel, which is what rules the installation and use of the panel.

    If not than what the heck is the point of a classified breaker???
    I don't know what to heck if the point of a classified breaker? I don't know. Because it allows manufacturers to make them and sell them?

    If you go by the original listing and labeling, which is what is required to be followed, then THE ONLY breakers listed for use in that panel will be listed on that label. If the breakers are not listed on that label, you void the UL listing by installation those breakers, which creates a violation of NEC 110.3(B)

    110.3 Examination, Identification, Installation, and Use of Equipment.
    - (B) Installation and Use. Listed or labeled equipment shall be installed and used in accordance with any instructions included in the listing or labeling.

    No ifs, ands, buts, or otherwises in there. Plain and simple. If those other breakers are listed on the instructions or the label, those breakers are not allowed to be used.

    ~~~~~~~~~~~

    To repeat one part of the above:
    If not than what the heck is the point of a classified breaker???
    I don't know what to heck if the point of a classified breaker? I don't know. Because it allows manufacturers to make them and sell them?

    Jerry Peck, Construction / Litigation Consultant
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  13. #13
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    Default Re: Is there a hazard in this panel?

    Quote Originally Posted by Jerry Peck View Post
    John,
    "will accept" and "are allowed" are not the same thing.
    Each manufacturer only tests, lists, and labels their panels for use with their breakers.

    Thus, only their breakers are allowed to be used within their panels, otherwise the panel is not being used as it was listed, which is a NEC code violation. The Canadian electrical code probably has something similar in it.
    Yep, done all the time.
    Nope, not right.
    There are some breakers which is "Registered" with UL as replacements for other breakers, which is all well and good for the breakers, however, it does not affect the listing of the panel, which means one is not allowed to use those breakers in the listed panel. It is simply the result of the listing of the panel.

    Safe or not, the listing of the panel does not allow it.
    This may shock you, JP, but my clients are not about to pay out +/-$3000 for a new panel unless this old one is unsafe or can cause possible damage to the home. The sellers have just had the panel worked on and except for the nitpicky item of the grounding touching the grounded, which will be fixed, there do not appear to be any concerns here. The new breakers fit tight to the copper bus bars.
    I could recommend a larger service and a roomier panel, that's a recommended upgrade.
    Telling them it is safe, will not cause damage but is "wrong on paper" seems like a waste of air. I have to pick and choose the important issues, thus my original question - Is there a hazard?


  14. #14
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    Default Re: Is there a hazard in this panel?

    This may shock you, JK, but *I* never cared what my clients were, or were not, going to fix, *I* wrote down everything *I* saw and explained what I could to them, and they and the seller negotiated to what money changed hands.

    As shocking as that seems, all over home inspectors were, and are, doing the same thing.

    And, even more shocking is that buyers and seller are negotiating what to fix or what money to exchange hands. Without the home inspector involved - Quite Shocking! Indeed.

    Is it a hazard? All the rules, old rules and new rules, are put in place TO REDUCE the HAZARD as best possible, so, is it a hazard? Very well COULD be.

    Jerry Peck, Construction / Litigation Consultant
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  15. #15
    Ryan Stouffer's Avatar
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    Default Re: Is there a hazard in this panel?

    What about all of those conductors coming into the side of the panel? Is the panel rated for that?


  16. #16
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    Default Re: Is there a hazard in this panel?

    Quote Originally Posted by John Kogel View Post
    This may shock you, JP, but my clients are not about to pay out +/-$3000 for a new panel unless this old one is unsafe or can cause possible damage to the home. The sellers have just had the panel worked on and except for the nitpicky item of the grounding touching the grounded, which will be fixed, there do not appear to be any concerns here. The new breakers fit tight to the copper bus bars.
    I could recommend a larger service and a roomier panel, that's a recommended upgrade.
    Telling them it is safe, will not cause damage but is "wrong on paper" seems like a waste of air. I have to pick and choose the important issues, thus my original question - Is there a hazard?

    Hey John I had a home just the other day and the only thing that was wrong with the panel was they had non Westinghouse breakers in it. they fit just fine and if you were to go to any Elec. Supply store thats what they would sell you.

    But as for me and my report. I called it out as a defect. they Need to fix.
    The Electrical contractor that is going to get the call to fix it is going to say its fine. Thats his problem now not mine...

    Now if that home has a problem no one is going to call me on the phone.

    Best

    Ron


  17. #17
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    Default Re: Is there a hazard in this panel?

    Quote Originally Posted by Ryan Stouffer View Post
    What about all of those conductors coming into the side of the panel? Is the panel rated for that?
    Sure it is. Why would you think this is a problem?


  18. #18
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    Default Re: Is there a hazard in this panel?

    Quote Originally Posted by Jerry Peck View Post
    Is it a hazard? All the rules, old rules and new rules, are put in place TO REDUCE the HAZARD as best possible, so, is it a hazard? Very well COULD be.
    Thank you Jerry and Ron.

    At least one of the offending breakers is a Cutler-Hammer. Both CH and Westinghouse are owned by the Eaton axle company. It stands to reason that the breakers are now interchangeable and only the labeling is different. They look the same and fit the same. These new breakers are superior to the obsolete designs of the 60's, so going back to old stock could do more harm than good. In 1964, Cutler-Hammer breakers would probably not fit, but now they do. Maybe the paperwork should be updated?

    BTW, shock therapy is said to be benificial for some.

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  19. #19
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    Default Re: Is there a hazard in this panel?

    Thats all good and fine. John the only problem with that is if that home had a problem and some attorney was to get hold of this information. He would have you in an odd position. That why this is what it is. I'm going to stick with the label and not try to adjust my program. Because the buyer or seller is not going to replace the panel.

    Thats the way I look at it. It protects me and my company and it protects the buyer and seller.

    Best

    Ron


  20. #20
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    Default Re: Is there a hazard in this panel?

    [quote=Ron Bibler;101601]some attorney would have you in an odd position.

    [quote]OK, so there IS a hazard, but it is for me in a courtroom. .........
    I tend to rely on the electrician taking the flak for possible wrongdoings in the panel, but if he is bankrupt or can't be found, yeah I suppose the HI's next in line.
    Thanks, everybody.


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