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  1. #1
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    Default Flat bar for feed from meter to main panel

    Did a condo yesterday, found what appears to be alum. flat bar as the feeder from the meter to the main panel. I've never even heard of this. Can this be correct? How can I determine if it's the propper size? Do they need anti-oxident? HELP!

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  2. #2
    Roger Frazee's Avatar
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    Default Re: Flat bar for feed from meter to main panel

    Quote Originally Posted by stanley frost View Post
    Did a condo yesterday, found what appears to be alum. flat bar as the feeder from the meter to the main panel. I've never even heard of this. Can this be correct? How can I determine if it's the proper size? Do they need anti-oxident? HELP!
    Stanley

    Several things need to be pointed out to you in that panel that are wrong and some questions also will need to be asked for you to answer.. I'll address the aluminum strap your talking about and others that will respond today can add to my reply.

    Can you post a picture that shows a complete view of the equipment including the meter bank ?

    What you have there is combination metering service equipment. That flat aluminum strap is the neutral/ground bonding bar. If you were to follow it up into the cabinet it will be connected to the incoming service neutral.

    In particular the equipment you have photographed is "service equipment only" meaning you cannot use it in other than a service connection where neutral and ground are permanently/factory bonded.

    The big lug is likely rated for al or cu connections and it appears that an equipment ground connected to that lug from the feeder protected by that double pole breaker is copper ..so no ... anti-oxident is not required.

    So in short the flat bar is not a ' feeder' and is just fine as it is and you need not be concerned about whether it is sized correctly. It is factory installed and is sized properly to the rating of the panel. You will also notice that the 'hot' or ungrounded conductors coming from the meter to the breaker busses are 'flat' aluminum and are protected by insulator sleeves. All three 'flat' bars are factory sized to meet the maximum ampacity rating of that service equipment.

    Now there are several concerns yet to be addressed but I need to leave for a few hours so wait for others to expand on this post.

    Primarily I'm concerned about the feeder connected to that double pole breaker and the purposing of that bare stranded wire (EGC or ??) connected to the neutral lug of the bonding bar assuming that feeder serves a panel inside the condo.

    Last edited by Roger Frazee; 11-19-2010 at 03:47 PM.

  3. #3
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    Default Re: Flat bar for feed from meter to main panel

    Quote Originally Posted by Roger Frazee View Post
    What you have there is combination metering service equipment. That flat aluminum strap is the neutral/ground bonding bar. If you were to follow it up into the cabinet it will be connected to the incoming service neutral.
    Also looks to be flat bus bars for the two phase conductors to the panelboard within the service equipment, with the panelboard having space for either 4 single pole mains, 2 double pole mains, or some other combination.

    Looks like service entrance cable (no insulated neutral) was used for the feeders to the remote panel, and that is not allowed. I see no insulated neutral for the feeder going out the back at the bottom of the enclosure, also no raceway connection or cable clamp either.

    The neutral and grounds connected together in that large terminal are also a problem, from having both in one terminal to have (most likely) undersized conductors in a terminal rated for larger conductors.

    That should do for starters.

    Jerry Peck, Construction / Litigation Consultant
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  4. #4
    Roger Frazee's Avatar
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    Default Re: Flat bar for feed from meter to main panel

    Stanley

    I believe Jerry pretty well summed it up. Are you understanding what we are telling you ?

    Anyway I wanted the overall photograph to see the overall picture of that meter bank. It looks like the equipment is mounted on framed in wooden backing and maybe stands on posts remote from the condos. Can you explain or post a photo?

    Tell management to change electricians.....


  5. #5
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    Default Re: Flat bar for feed from meter to main panel

    Roger and J.P. thanks. I've inspected several units in this area. They are all on the water and very pricey. I'm always amazed that they all havn't burned down. I refered them to a lic. contractor but don't think anything will be changed.
    Roger here is another picture of the meter and panel.

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  6. #6
    Roger Frazee's Avatar
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    Default Re: Flat bar for feed from meter to main panel

    Quote Originally Posted by stanley frost View Post
    Roger and J.P. thanks. I've inspected several units in this area. They are all on the water and very pricey. I'm always amazed that they all havn't burned down. I refered them to a lic. contractor but don't think anything will be changed.
    Roger here is another picture of the meter and panel.
    Your welcome

    Thanks for the picture. I don't see anything that causes me a great deal of concern. I'd say you did your job and hopefully they will correct those code violations in that service equipment.


  7. #7

    Default Re: Flat bar for feed from meter to main panel

    Is that a working space issues as well?


  8. #8
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    Default Re: Flat bar for feed from meter to main panel

    Hey Stanley,

    Here is a book I have owned for 13 years - I love this book.

    I'm sure it's been updated several times but I'm still reading my old copy.

    Let me just say that there are very few good books on Home Inspections,
    even fewer on electrical - the reason, is that it's just not enough to have the
    knowledge - you have to be able to communicate also.

    This one is on my personal list of top 5 technical books of all time.

    Electrical Inspection of Existing Dwellings
    Hansen/Kardon/Casey
    Read this book and get some respect!

    mf

    Matt Faust
    Real Estate Inspector

  9. #9
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    Default Re: Flat bar for feed from meter to main panel

    Quote Originally Posted by Brandon Whitmore View Post
    Is that a working space issues as well?
    Yes, it sure is.

    That's what happens sometimes when you get the whole picture. That was not an issue ... until we got 'the whole picture'.

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

  10. #10
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    Default Re: Flat bar for feed from meter to main panel

    Enclosing the equipment encased in wood such as it is, obviously done after-the-fact of original installation, such as evidenced, may have created derating issues and violated the listing and certifications (NEMA class, UL, etc.) of the muti-metered combination equipment as well. Likely compromising the ampacity of every single feeder and/or circuit conductor supplied from this multi-meter combination equipment.

    The ratings likely based on the ability to off-put heat (sink) and air-flow/cooling space. No longer as it was for the lateral supplied equipment outdoor use & exposure.

    That NM tap also of issue. May not be used, required 75C for this equipment. NM can only be used in 60 C applications. It is not allowed in this equipment - anywhere in THIS equipment. The "indicated conductor" is not bonded to neutral for the tap circuit. The cable is not clamped at entrance - is improper equipment, and is woefully undersized. A two wire (one conductor parallel) N to gnd (half-phase) alternative path = no protection - for that CB to actually open in a fault or short situation, it will backfeed.

    Where is the conductor to GEC!

    Also note no POCO seals under the meters, presume POCO and not private metering from the condo association, etc.. POCO not just AHJ should be notified about this unconventional build around the service equipment and meters.

    Finally, that service equipment is not properly protecting merely a power feeder with a single path to a residence and only supplying the confines of the residence with a service rated disconnect or OCPD not allowed for use within this equipment present.

    The entirety of all connections in this multi-meter combination equipment is subject to its weakest connection point or "weakest" link within - this has jepordized the safety of ALL in the shared equipment "bank" with its weak parallel path to backfeed.

    I wouldn't "buy-into" crap about a POCO sub-contractor installing remote metering or switch control for load reduction programming on AC, etc. or a DIY tap for some out-of-the-confines of the unit's bootleg install.

    Dangerous and hazardous conditions which may effect the safety for the whole building and its occupants, should be reported to the authorities immediately not just a private confidential report reference for a potential buyer to consult any licensed electrician, a warning to the occupant, or call to the condo management company!

    Being "on the water" makes this unknown path of this bootleg wiring even more scary!

    Now, since the opened panel obviously isn't the labeled one pictured to the left from the far picture, I assume it is the unlabeled one pictured to the right in the far picture. The unit's equipment must be labeled/identified. Based upon that - I suspect you opened a panel for the building common area with the bootleg wiring, not the unit's (still a problem), did you compare the meter number with that of the unit's billing records? I assume you skipped opening the main and verifying the unit's power was cut off when you saw those connections in the equipment.

    Last edited by H.G. Watson, Sr.; 11-20-2010 at 09:40 AM.

  11. #11
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    Default Re: Flat bar for feed from meter to main panel

    Quote Originally Posted by H.G. Watson, Sr. View Post
    That NM tap also of issue.

    NM cable is also not allowed to be used in a damp or wet location (i.e., "outdoors" is a damp or wet location, depending on where "outdoors" and what protection is provided - "outdoors" may be a damp location or a wet location, and NM cable is not allowed in either).

    Thus NM cable is not allowed to be run to/from that enclosure which is located in a damp or wet location.

    Jerry Peck, Construction / Litigation Consultant
    Construction Litigation Consultants, LLC ( www.ConstructionLitigationConsultants.com )
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  12. #12
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    Default Re: Flat bar for feed from meter to main panel

    Stanley

    Get your monies worth....?

    As you can see a lot more than meets the eye that is wrong with that service equipment.

    Anyway, I asked for the picture because I suspected we would see this type of 'after the fact' installation based on what I could see in your first pair of photos.

    Now when I responded with "I don't see any thing of great concern" I should expand on that before everyone here thinks I have tunnel vision... I recognized the DIY enclosure was not allowed and violated working space but IMO that enclosure was not a great concern as compared to the other points brought into light by Jerry.

    What I was actually suspecting to see was some issues with the service entrance to that metering bank.

    Hg brought up the problem with heat being trapped in that enclosure not allowing proper cooling and derating being of concern. That was something I did not consider and it may .. considering where your located .. be a major concern ..I don't know but possible I think.

    I also considered suggesting you notify local codes authority but opted to leave that out of any reply when you said you were deferring to electrical contractor.

    Seems the consensus is that you have enough serious violations of safety that you should give them a ring.

    When you say that you doubt anything will be changed ... that is rather unfortunate... but I suspect your saying that because you commonly have owners balk at your report and buyers who will purchase regardless.

    I would be interested to know how the local codes authority feels about not changing anything.... Hopefully they will not ignore your notification of violations needing their attention.

    Now having said that I would think the POCO is aware of that enclosure around their meters ... it has been there awhile ..

    I will hold out hope that local authority for your jurisdiction will care enough to ensure corrections are made.


  13. #13
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    Default Re: Flat bar for feed from meter to main panel

    Roger,

    It has been my experience that reliance on self-reporting from meter readers to POCO engineering and maintenance is rarely done, let alone properly passed "up the chain". If, indeed, the metering is POCO and not private Condo metering, it should likewise be reported to POCO in addition to AHJ. Lateral near water body (assuming shore front or inland) trouble brewing. Secondly, I am unfamiliar with the status of de-regulation in the Carolinas, but presuming the meter enclosure let alone the lateral being owned ("their") by the POCO is, in most areas these days, a "stretch", especially in a multi-building and multi-unit "condominium developed" property, common elements, etc..

    P.S. For those a-wondering, POCO is short-cut language for POwer COmpany, i.e. the electrical utility; and AHJ is Authority Having Jurisdiction, i.e. building department, construction, community development, etc. the folks for whom one applies for permits and performs or contracts out the inspections for new work and maintenance on properties, be it local municipal, county, parrish, township, county, or state-level.

    Last edited by H.G. Watson, Sr.; 11-20-2010 at 07:43 PM.

  14. #14
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    Default Re: Flat bar for feed from meter to main panel

    This is what I thought the overall photo would show, but thought the photo did not show it when the photo was posted (but after Roger's post above I went back and looked at the photos closer and they do show this- as explained below):

    I thought the service equipment was recessed in the wall, which is not a good thing relating to: insulation, fire protection, water intrusion, et al.

    Then I thought the photos did not show that, but ...

    ... on closer examination this is why I think the photos DO show that condition, and here is why:

    The second photo, the photo showing the overall view, shows the liquidtight conduit on the surface of the T-1-11 siding and going up and over the front edge of a 2x(4?) with the wide face of the 2x4 going back toward the wall and the plywood backing. This can be seen along the end of that 2x4 at the right side 2x4 upright for the frame.

    While the angle of the photo does not conclusively show the plane of the T-1-11 siding and the front of the 2x4, the liquidtight conduit does show that plane - unless the liquidtight is run out and over the 2x4 where it is hidden behind the front bottom frame where the door closes to. This 'running out and over' is dispelled by the riser going up in front of the T-1-11 siding below the bottom frame the door closes to.

    That means the plywood behind the service equipment is recessed into the wall behind the T-1-11 siding by 3-1/2" (presuming that bottom and side framing really is 2x4).

    Now, let us presume that (best case) the wall was 2x6 framing (5-1/2" deep stud space) ... with that service equipment space recessed back 3-1/2", which would only leave 2" for insulation, bring into question how the opening is flashed to keep out water, and bring up all kinds of other questions too.

    Now, that bottom 2x4 might not go all the way back (not as deep as the side 2x framing, which could then indicate that the 2x may be a 2x6, in which case the recess is into the stud cavity and the side framing is the actual wall stud. This could be an even worse condition that my above presumption.

    I cannot tell which from the photos, but NEITHER option is a desirable option to have.

    Jerry Peck, Construction / Litigation Consultant
    Construction Litigation Consultants, LLC ( www.ConstructionLitigationConsultants.com )
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  15. #15
    Roger Frazee's Avatar
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    Default Re: Flat bar for feed from meter to main panel

    It has been my experience that reliance on self-reporting from meter readers to POCO engineering and maintenance is rarely done, let alone properly passed "up the chain". If, indeed, the metering is POCO and not private Condo metering, it should likewise be reported to POCO in addition to AHJ. Lateral near water body (assuming shore front or inland) trouble brewing. Secondly, I am unfamiliar with the status of de-regulation in the Carolinas, but presuming the meter enclosure let alone the lateral being owned ("their") by the POCO is, in most areas these days, a "stretch", especially in a multi-building and multi-unit "condominium developed" property, common elements, etc..
    They don't own the meters?? That was my point

    Maybe I should have said "The local code inspectors must have blinders on in rockport tx .... around here I swear they have eyes in the back of their heads.... Meaning that nice wooden box around that service equipment would have drawn the attention of our inspectors the minute they laid eyes on it.


  16. #16
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    Default Re: Flat bar for feed from meter to main panel

    Quote Originally Posted by Roger Frazee View Post
    They don't own the meters?? That was my point

    Maybe I should have said "The local code inspectors must have blinders on in rockport tx .... around here I swear they have eyes in the back of their heads.... Meaning that nice wooden box around that service equipment would have drawn the attention of our inspectors the minute they laid eyes on it.
    Maybe, maybe not. It could be private metering the Condo Association could be master paying for the electric. Don't know what the possibilties are for TX Condo Master Associations and buying electricity and/or re-selling it, do not know the status of utilitys and/or deregulation in the State of Texas at the present. .

    If the enclosure is not original, and there have been no permits pulled, or complaints filed, would the AHJ be to blame if unpermitted "alterations" were made subsequent to original construction?

    Otherwise, will leave it to Rick, Stanley, and others local and more regularly and recently experienced in what can be "assumed" as to what local to Rockwell, TX inspectors see and don't see, react and don't react to, etc. IIRC A.D. Miller didn't think to well about same, IIRC many TX HIs in the region who post here have had differing experience with sediment traps on NG being required or overlooked, etc. Might also depend if the property in question is actually in Rockwell, outside of the extra-jurisdicational area, in the same county, or an adjacent county or municipality, etc. There I go extra-un-assuming again.


  17. #17
    Roger Frazee's Avatar
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    Default Re: Flat bar for feed from meter to main panel

    If the enclosure is not original, and there have been no permits pulled, or complaints filed, would the AHJ be to blame if unpermitted "alterations" were made subsequent to original construction?
    Nope ... they would not be to blame but they could if 'seeing' this 'enclosure' enforce its removal regardless who had ownership of the equipment. Not sure though as you have said if it would be of their concern if 'after the fact', no permits thereby requiring that equipment to be inspected and so forth. Around here it is not unusual for inspectors to 'see' this type of 'after the fact' DIY in their travels about town and require these cosmetic construction attempts to be removed.

    Last edited by Roger Frazee; 11-21-2010 at 08:09 AM. Reason: added more explanation

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