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  1. #1
    Bill Chester's Avatar
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    Default Exterior main disconnect cover screwed closed

    It looks like it's my turn. I've followed the post on this site for a long time and appreciate the information. See what you guys know about this one. I called the city inspector and he did not know the answer.
    The home inspected is new construction located in Middle Ga. The main disconnect is on the exterior of the home next to the meter and the distribution panel is located in the garage on the opposite end of the home. Instead of having a hinged cover for the main disconnect there is a cover that slides into place and is held closed with a screw. This panel is on the right side of the meter in the photo. You can not see or quickly access the disconnect with the cover installed.
    My last few hundred exterior disconnects all had hinged covers with a latch on the bottom. I saw this one and from somewhere in my memory, came the thought that the main disconnect had to be accessible without the use of tools. The screw makes no sense if this is to be used as an emergency disconnect.

    Any help is appreciated!

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  2. #2
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    Default Re: Exterior main disconnect cover screwed closed

    Bill
    Good to see another local here.


    I did not find any restriction to securing the cover with a screw.
    Was the enclosure marked as "Service Equipment"?

    ' correct a wise man and you gain a friend... correct a fool and he'll bloody your nose'.

  3. #3
    Bill Chester's Avatar
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    Default Re: Exterior main disconnect cover screwed closed

    Rick,
    It was marked as service equipment. I could not find a restriction either.

    Thanks
    Bill


  4. #4
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    Default Re: Exterior main disconnect cover screwed closed

    Did you open it up and find the main breaker in there?


  5. #5
    Bill Chester's Avatar
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    Default Re: Exterior main disconnect cover screwed closed

    After I walked around a few minutes to figure out where that main got off to.
    I just attached a picture of the inside of the box.

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  6. #6
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    Default Re: Exterior main disconnect cover screwed closed

    Recommend upgrade to location of main breaker at main panel, or installation of proper panel cover to allow access to main breaker.


  7. #7
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    Default Re: Exterior main disconnect cover screwed closed

    If those live buss bars are exposed once the exterior cover is removed, that is a stupid installation. There should be a dead front that allows the operation of the service disconnect without exposing the operator to an electrical hazard. Was there another main at the interior panel?

    Jim Luttrall
    www.MrInspector.net
    Plano, Texas

  8. #8
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    Default Re: Exterior main disconnect cover screwed closed

    The NEC requirement for a service disconnect is that it be accessible, not easily accessible. There is no requirement for access without tools, and in fact it is legal (and common) to padlock a service disconnect. This is legal if the service disconnect feeds another panel and the service disconnect enclosure doesn't contain any branch circuit breakers.

    A service disconnect isn't defined as or required to be an "emergency" disconnect but is there to allow work on load side equipent without power being present on the load side.


  9. #9
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    Default Re: Exterior main disconnect cover screwed closed

    That can't be right. Main disconnect should be accessible. Might be an incorrect panel cover.

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  10. #10
    Bill Chester's Avatar
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    Default Re: Exterior main disconnect cover screwed closed

    No main on the interior.
    There was a dead front cover that I had removed to see how the main was wired.
    It's still a stupid installation in my opinion because there's no easy access to the main. "Honey there's smoke coming out of the wall in the kitchen! I'll call 911 while you look for your screwdriver!"

    I guess this goes back to the purpose of the main disconnect. I was under the impression that the primary reason for a single disconnect was to be able to shut off all power if there was an emergency and the secondary reason was to be able to shut off power during repairs or as a convenience.
    I understand as an overload protection device it protects those long service entrance cables (in this case) and protects the garage panel that was rated at 200 amps.


  11. #11
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    Default Re: Exterior main disconnect cover screwed closed

    Quote Originally Posted by Gunnar Alquist View Post
    That can't be right. Main disconnect should be accessible. Might be an incorrect panel cover.
    I had the same first thought. A modified or incorrectly used box. I've never seen a shut-off housing that needs a tool to access or one in which the service feeder connections are exposed when the shut-off is accessible. Something there doesn't smell right.


  12. #12
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    Default Re: Exterior main disconnect cover screwed closed

    Been looking for this for a while. Hope JP checks-in while he is on vacation. It's going to be a long week.

    Looks to me like you can hide the main disconnect can be hidden. Seems stoopid to me.


    230.92 Locked Service Overcurrent Devices. Where the
    service overcurrent devices are locked or sealed or are not
    readily accessible to the occupant, branch-circuit
    overcurrent devices shall be installed on the load side, shall
    be mounted in a readily accessible location, and shall be of
    lower ampere rating than the service overcurrent device.

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  13. #13
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    Default Re: Exterior main disconnect cover screwed closed

    Well... Maybe not. Heck, I dunno. I still believe it needs to be readily accessible. Not sure what the previous section refers to.

    VI. Service Equipment - Disconnecting Means
    230.70 General. Means shall be provided to disconnect all
    conductors in a building or other structure from the service entrance
    conductors.
    (A) Location. The service disconnecting means shall be
    installed in accordance with 230.70(A)(1), (A)(2), and (A)(3).
    (1) Readily Accessible Location. The service
    disconnecting means shall be installed at a readily
    accessible location either outside of a building or structure
    or inside nearest the point of entrance of the service
    conductors.

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  14. #14
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    Default Re: Exterior main disconnect cover screwed closed

    There's no mystery here at all. The NEC says the service disconnect has to be mounted in a readily accessible location. It also says the disconnect can be locked. The access doesn't have to be readily accessible even though the location does. And, in some circumstances the location area can be locked (condos, for example) under certain conditions.

    While the service disconnect can be used for an "emergency" disconnect its' primary purpose is to make sure that someone servicing the installation doesn't have to guess what to shut off to kill power to an installation.

    If you look at almost any outside rated service equipment you will see a provision for attaching a lock. This most certainly wouldn't be provided if attaching a lock wasn't legal.

    Twist it any way you want. That's what the book says and unless there is a local rule to the contrary "that's the way it is"


  15. #15
    Bill Chester's Avatar
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    Default Re: Exterior main disconnect cover screwed closed

    Thanks all!

    This main is certainly accessible, there are no other breakers in the main panel and there are accessible breakers at the panel in the garage to shut off individual circuits. It looks OK to me now that I've also studied up some more.

    Three local code officials said it is allowed they just never see it ... well now we do.


  16. #16
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    Default Re: Exterior main disconnect cover screwed closed

    The first question that came to my mind was : Is the screw a factory design or a field modification?
    After looking at your second post I'm thinking it is a factory design.

    Makes a world of difference


  17. #17
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    Default Re: Exterior main disconnect cover screwed closed

    Quote Originally Posted by ken horak View Post
    The first question that came to my mind was : Is the screw a factory design or a field modification?
    After looking at your second post I'm thinking it is a factory design.

    Makes a world of difference

    Ken,

    Same thing I am thinking.

    This is what I am thinking is there/not there: The dead front cover was lost, the dead front cover mounts with that screw at the bottom.

    The hinged cover then had a hole drilled in it to allow for the raintight cover to be screwed in place.

    I am wondering is there was a dead front cover inside that raintight cover, as would be required.

    Jerry Peck, Construction / Litigation Consultant
    Construction Litigation Consultants, LLC ( www.ConstructionLitigationConsultants.com )
    www.AskCodeMan.com

  18. #18
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    Default Re: Exterior main disconnect cover screwed closed

    Bill stated , in post 10 , that he removed the dead front.
    Question - How was the dead front attached / installed ?

    Look at the picture in the first post- The exterior cover in not a hinged cover.
    I also do not not see any other method to hold the cover in place , which leads me to think it is a factory set up.


  19. #19
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    Default Re: Exterior main disconnect cover screwed closed

    Quote Originally Posted by ken horak View Post
    Bill stated , in post 10 , that he removed the dead front.
    Question - How was the dead front attached / installed ?
    I guess I should have re-worded what I as saying to:

    Was there a dead front cover inside that raintight cover, or was the raintight cover the dead-front cover also?

    And, if there was a separate dead-front cover, how was it attached independently of that raintight cover.

    Look at the picture in the first post- The exterior cover in not a hinged cover.
    Actually, it looks to me like the top hinged covers look.

    I also do not not see any other method to hold the cover in place , which leads me to think it is a factory set up.
    I'm on my netbook computer and the photo is not large enough to see that for sure.

    You know the top hinged covers I am referring to, right?

    Jerry Peck, Construction / Litigation Consultant
    Construction Litigation Consultants, LLC ( www.ConstructionLitigationConsultants.com )
    www.AskCodeMan.com

  20. #20
    Bill Chester's Avatar
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    Default Re: Exterior main disconnect cover screwed closed

    It was a factory setup. I removed the dead front cover. It had one screw at the bottom just like the outside cover.
    My concern was for the accessibility of the main disconnect with the cover screwed closed. Apparently that is allowed. There is a panel in the garage with no main that has breakers on the individual circuits and both panel locations are easily accessible.
    Thanks to all!


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