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  1. #1
    mathew stouffer's Avatar
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    Default Altered distribution panel

    This may be an obvious question but I'm asking, there is some disagreement. I called this out as field altered panel, easy issue to repair. Distribution panel, feeders off of a panel located above, 100amp breaker. House built in 08, SF. Thoughts?

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  2. #2
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    Default Re: Altered distribution panel

    Quote Originally Posted by mathew stouffer View Post
    This may be an obvious question but I'm asking, there is some disagreement. I called this out as field altered panel, easy issue to repair. Distribution panel, feeders off of a panel located above, 100amp breaker. House built in 08, SF. Thoughts?
    I guess I'm missing something. Why do you think it's been altered?

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  3. #3
    mathew stouffer's Avatar
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    Default Re: Altered distribution panel

    Oh Gunnar, look closely young grasshopper. The tie bar between the neutral and grounds has been cut in half. Instead of removing the bar and bonding the ground via a strap, they simply cut the tie bar.


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    Default Re: Altered distribution panel

    Quote Originally Posted by mathew stouffer View Post
    Oh Gunnar, look closely young grasshopper. The tie bar between the neutral and grounds has been cut in half. Instead of removing the bar and bonding the ground via a strap, they simply cut the tie bar.
    So? I have done it many times and passed inspection.


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    Default Re: Altered distribution panel

    The red switch at the top left looks like a furnace/boiler cut off, I thought the plate had to be red, no?


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    Default Re: Altered distribution panel

    Quote Originally Posted by Derek Guridi View Post
    So? I have done it many times and passed inspection.
    If we all posted photos of things that passed inspection, but shouldn't have, Brian's server would melt down.

    "There is no exception to the rule that every rule has an exception." -James Thurber, writer and cartoonist (1894-1961)
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    Default Re: Altered distribution panel

    Altered/modified, no longer installed in accordance with its listing and labeling, that is now a violation of NEC 110.3(B).

    Either get a NRTL to approve it in the field with that cut bar or remove that bar, install a plastic bar (if required for that panel) and properly ground the ground terminal bar ... after reading the label to verify that it is suitable for use as that distribution panel.

    Heck, before you could even pay the air fair travel for the NRTL person, you could replace the entire panel if you needed to.

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    Default Re: Altered distribution panel

    Quote Originally Posted by Derek Guridi View Post
    So? I have done it many times and passed inspection.
    And you are admitting that in public?

    And as though nothing is wrong with it?

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  9. #9
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    Default Re: Altered distribution panel

    What size are the feeder conductors with the 100 amp OCPD? Although it's a technical violation (cutting the bar in half) electrically it's fine.


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    Default Re: Altered distribution panel

    The ground buss is properly bonded to the enclosure. The neutral buss is isolated from the enclosure.

    All answers based on unamended National Electrical codes.

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    Default Re: Altered distribution panel

    Quote Originally Posted by Jim Port View Post
    The ground buss is properly bonded to the enclosure. The neutral buss is isolated from the enclosure.
    Yep, but let's throw common sense to the wind and replace the panel.


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    Default Re: Altered distribution panel

    Quote Originally Posted by Derek Guridi View Post
    Yep, but let's throw common sense to the wind and replace the panel.
    Who said anything about replacing the panel?
    Except JP, I mean. And he was joking.

    "There is no exception to the rule that every rule has an exception." -James Thurber, writer and cartoonist (1894-1961)
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    Default Re: Altered distribution panel

    Quote Originally Posted by Jerry Peck View Post
    And you are admitting that in public?

    And as though nothing is wrong with it?
    AHJ says what is wrong or not.

    110.2 Approval. The conductors and equipment required or
    permitted by this Code shall be acceptable only if approved.

    Approved. Acceptable to the authority having jurisdiction.

    90.4 Enforcement. This Code is intended to be suitable
    for mandatory application by governmental bodies that exercise
    legal jurisdiction over electrical installations, including
    signaling and communications systems, and for use by
    insurance inspectors. The authority having jurisdiction for
    enforcement of the Code has the responsibility for making
    interpretations of the rules, for deciding on the approval of
    equipment and materials, and for granting the special permission
    contemplated in a number of the rules.
    By special permission, the authority having jurisdiction
    may waive specific requirements in this Code or permit
    alternative methods where it is assured that equivalent objectives
    can be achieved by establishing and maintaining
    effective safety.



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    Default Re: Altered distribution panel

    110.3 Examination, Identification, Installation, and Use of Equipment.
    (A) Examination. In judging equipment, considerations such as the following shall be evaluated:
    (1) Suitability for installation and use in conformity with the provisions of this Code
    FPN: Suitability of equipment use may be identified by a description marked on or provided with a product to identify the suitability of the product for a specific purpose, environment, or application. Suitability of equipment may be evidenced by listing or labeling.
    (2) Mechanical strength and durability, including, for parts designed to enclose and protect other equipment, the adequacy of the protection thus provided
    (3) Wire-bending and connection space
    (4) Electrical insulation
    (5) Heating effects under normal conditions of use and also under abnormal conditions likely to arise in service
    (6) Arcing effects
    (7) Classification by type, size, voltage, current capacity, and specific use
    (8) Other factors that contribute to the practical safeguarding of persons using or likely to come in contact with the equipment

    90.7 Examination of Equipment for Safety.
    For specific items of equipment and materials referred to in this Code, examinations for safety made under standard conditions provide a basis for approval where the record is made generally available through promulgation by organizations properly equipped and qualified for experimental testing, inspections of the run of goods at factories, and service-value determination through field inspections. This avoids the necessity for repetition of examinations by different examiners, frequently with inadequate facilities for such work, and the confusion that would result from conflicting reports on the suitability of devices and materials examined for a given purpose.
    It is the intent of this Code that factory-installed internal wiring or the construction of equipment need not be inspected at the time of installation of the equipment, except to detect alterations or damage, if the equipment has been listed by a qualified electrical testing laboratory that is recognized as having the facilities described in the preceding paragraph and that requires suitability for installation in accordance with this Code.
    FPN No. 1: See requirements in 110.3.
    FPN No. 2: Listed is defined in Article 100.
    FPN No. 3: Annex A contains an informative list of product safety standards for electrical equipment.

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    Default Re: Altered distribution panel

    Quote Originally Posted by John Arnold View Post
    Who said anything about replacing the panel?
    Except JP, I mean. And he was joking.
    First, I would ask the electrician what the label said in how to convert that from a 'service equipment' panel to a 'distribution' panel in regards to isolating the neutral from ground.

    There would likely be 1 of 4 responses from the electrician:
    - the label does not say anything ... which would indicate that the panel was only for 'service equipment', except that we can see the ground bond screw which would be removed for that purpose
    - the label may say to remove that ground bond screw ... which would indicate that both sides are for the neutral conductors only
    - the label may say that the cross over neutral bus may be removed, in which case it would state how to bond one of the neutral terminal bars to ground to make it the ground terminal bar, and it would likely state whether or not the removed metal cross over neutral bus would need to be replaced with a plastic one (some say yes, others not required)
    - the label may say to remove the ground bond screw and install ground terminal bar kit so-and-so

    My response would be: "Okay, do what it says."

    I seriously doubt that the label will say to cut that cross over neutral bar with a hack saw, so don't even try that on me.

    The manufacturer 'may' (however unlikely this may be) 'may' make a scored neutral cross over bar which is designed and INTENDED to be 'snapped off', in which case that would be stated on the label.

    In case one has missed it, if it is not on the label ... It tain't allowed. Don't go blaming the inspector, blame either the manufacturer who did not give choices or blame the electrician who decided he knew better than the manufacturer and that he could do what he darn well pleased, even damage the equipment if it suited him - seems we have at least one of those here.

    Do you know why the trigger on a handgun is curved the way it is? So it is uncomfortable to hold the handgun backwards and shoot yourself in the face.

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    Default Re: Altered distribution panel

    Quote Originally Posted by Jerry Peck View Post
    First, I would ask the electrician what the label said in how to convert that from a 'service equipment' panel to a 'distribution' panel in regards to isolating the neutral from ground.

    There would likely be 1 of 4 responses from the electrician:
    - the label does not say anything ... which would indicate that the panel was only for 'service equipment', except that we can see the ground bond screw which would be removed for that purpose
    - the label may say to remove that ground bond screw ... which would indicate that both sides are for the neutral conductors only
    - the label may say that the cross over neutral bus may be removed, in which case it would state how to bond one of the neutral terminal bars to ground to make it the ground terminal bar, and it would likely state whether or not the removed metal cross over neutral bus would need to be replaced with a plastic one (some say yes, others not required)
    - the label may say to remove the ground bond screw and install ground terminal bar kit so-and-so

    My response would be: "Okay, do what it says."

    I seriously doubt that the label will say to cut that cross over neutral bar with a hack saw, so don't even try that on me.

    The manufacturer 'may' (however unlikely this may be) 'may' make a scored neutral cross over bar which is designed and INTENDED to be 'snapped off', in which case that would be stated on the label.

    In case one has missed it, if it is not on the label ... It tain't allowed. Don't go blaming the inspector, blame either the manufacturer who did not give choices or blame the electrician who decided he knew better than the manufacturer and that he could do what he darn well pleased, even damage the equipment if it suited him - seems we have at least one of those here.

    Do you know why the trigger on a handgun is curved the way it is? So it is uncomfortable to hold the handgun backwards and shoot yourself in the face.
    What a load of blather. The panel is not damaged in any way. A simple field modification approved by an AHJ is perfectly legal. Note I said approved.

    Ya got nothin' JP.

    There is a reason final approval is an AHJ call as far as safe and suitable, and this one reason why.


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    Default Re: Altered distribution panel

    Quote Originally Posted by Derek Guridi View Post
    What a load of blather. The panel is not damaged in any way. A simple field modification approved by an AHJ is perfectly legal. Note I said approved.
    "What a load of blather." - I couldn't have said it any better about your posts on this.

    "The panel is not damaged in any way."

    Get that in writing from the manufacturer and I will agree with you.

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    Default Re: Altered distribution panel

    Quote Originally Posted by Derek Guridi View Post

    What a load of blather. The panel is not damaged in any way. A simple field modification approved by an AHJ is perfectly legal. Note I said approved.

    Ya got nothin' JP.

    There is a reason final approval is an AHJ call as far as safe and suitable, and this one reason why.
    Yes,
    Because they are impuned from legal liability from mistakes in code interpretation.

    If you accept, great.
    but you will have no recourse if a mistake was made (Municipal and/or your part) in the future.....


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    Default Re: Altered distribution panel

    Quote Originally Posted by Jerry Peck View Post
    "What a load of blather." - I couldn't have said it any better about your posts on this.

    "The panel is not damaged in any way."

    Get that in writing from the manufacturer and I will agree with you.
    Alright I will concede that the listing and warranty may be voided, but as long as AHJ approves - tis legal. It is on my a$$ and insurance for liability.

    AHJ may have approved it, but until that is established, yes you are correct - it should be written up as a violation.

    That panel looks like a SQD Homeline and SQD specifically says you cannot cut the bar.

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  20. #20
    Robert Rolleston's Avatar
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    Default Re: Altered distribution panel

    Remove the rest of the bar that was cut bond the ground bar to the panel problem solved.


  21. #21
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    Default Re: Altered distribution panel

    Quote Originally Posted by Robert Rolleston View Post
    Remove the rest of the bar that was cut bond the ground bar to the panel problem solved.
    How is that a solution? Derek already included in his post that the manufacturer does not permit alteration or removal of the bar without violating the listing.

    From Square D:
    Is it permissible to cut/separate the neutral bar in a Homeline load center to form one neutral and one ground bar?


    NO. The neutral bar is rated to accept neutral conductors and ground conductor (in un-used neutral spaces), ONLY if the load center is used as ``Service Entrance`` . If the load center is NOT a service entrance load center then a separate GROUND BAR needs to be purchased/installed for ALL ground conductors. Do NOT cut/separate existing neutral bar to form a separate neutral and ground bar. This will cause the loss of the UL listing and VOID Square D`s warranty.



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    Default Re: Altered distribution panel

    Quote Originally Posted by Robert Rolleston View Post
    Remove the rest of the bar that was cut bond the ground bar to the panel problem solved.
    The ground buss is already bonded to the enclosure.

    All answers based on unamended National Electrical codes.

  23. #23
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    Default Re: Altered distribution panel

    Quote Originally Posted by Robert Meier View Post
    How is that a solution? Derek already included in his post that the manufacturer does not permit alteration or removal of the bar without violating the listing.
    It usually says something in the papers with the panel about removing the bond between the neutral and ground.

    All that piece of metal did was bond the neutral and ground I don't see anything wrong with modifying it to work since you are required to break the bond between the neutral and ground at a sub panel.


  24. #24
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    Default Re: Altered distribution panel

    According to Square-D documentation (MLO--QO and Homeline load centers) these panels have equipment grounding bar kits "included". It further states that neutral bonding of the panel is required when converted to a service main with appropriate main breaker conversion or with appropriate disconnect installed. Since we are assuming that this is a sub-panel (We hope--MLO!) the most correct thing to do here would be to remove the neutral bonding screw and install the included grounding bar kit.

    But...

    The label on the panel states "For installation, repairs or alterations, call an electrical contractor or electrician." This does not specifically disallow altering. The code would permit alterations of the panel as long as the intent was still met. Due to the necessary removal of all neutral/ground bonds at any location downstream of the service then the alteration may be allowed.

    According to Square D the label's item locator #3 designates the bar from the centerline to the right as the Service Ground (when required). The panel is theoretically installed according to the manufacturers instructions and meets code requirements. It could have been done in a more workmanlike manner if there are hacksaw marks on the original bond. I cannot see the picture well enough to make that determination.

    I would go with the first paragraph. A "but if this then that" statement leaves too much to interpretation/fines/claims. This is really a $20 fix which can be accomplished by the homeowner...replace the neutral bar with a new one and install the grounding kit/move the grounds. Remove the neutral bonding screw...done.

    From the picture (not entirely clear) I would question the size of the neutrals. They appear to actually be much smaller than the phase conductors. Also, how is it mechanically affixed to the structure? I don't see any screws in the supplied holes.


  25. #25
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    Default Re: Altered distribution panel

    Yes the panel was modified but it does not make it dangerous and yes it's better practice to just install a ground bar. They cut corners but not in a way that could harm anyone. Easy to fix and everyone will be happy.


  26. #26
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    Default Re: Altered distribution panel

    Yes, but ... that is not a job for a homeowner. It is a job for a licensed electrician.

    John Kogel, RHI, BC HI Lic #47455
    www.allsafehome.ca

  27. #27
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    Default Re: Altered distribution panel

    Quote Originally Posted by John Kogel View Post
    Yes, but ... that is not a job for a homeowner. It is a job for a licensed electrician.
    Screwing down a ground block and moving the wires? Fastening the panel to the structure? Unscrewing the altered neutral bus and replacing with new?

    It looks like a "licensed electrician" already had his/her shot. I suppose...


  28. #28
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    Default Re: Altered distribution panel

    Quote Originally Posted by cuba_pete View Post
    Screwing down a ground block and moving the wires? Fastening the panel to the structure? Unscrewing the altered neutral bus and replacing with new?

    It looks like a "licensed electrician" already had his/her shot. I suppose...
    Some of the most shady work I have seen was a licensed electrician with a permit.

    And anyone using the back stabs on an outlet or switch should be kicked out the door.

    The thing is some things are allowed that are just plain stupid and dangerous.

    But someone makes a safe modifications and everyone freaks out.


  29. #29
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    Default Re: Altered distribution panel

    Quote Originally Posted by Robert Rolleston View Post
    And anyone using the back stabs on an outlet or switch should be kicked out the door.
    I never understood why the code/UL even allows manufacturers to put those on devices.

    If the installer is in that much of a hurry...


  30. #30
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    Default Re: Altered distribution panel

    Say what you want. If there is a fire in that panel, and the homeowner wants insurance to pay, he had better not be the last man in.
    In my area, a permit is required to do anything in that panel, including putting it back the way it was.

    John Kogel, RHI, BC HI Lic #47455
    www.allsafehome.ca

  31. #31
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    Default Re: Altered distribution panel

    I do believe you were correct in calling this out in your inspection report. Any alterations or installations that appear to be done incorrectly in a sub panel or main panel should be noted. Even if your not sure, Report it suggest it may be a safety or fire hazard and recommend a Licensed Electrician check and verify if it is safe or make any corrections that are needed. Then you have done your job as a home inspector.


  32. #32
    Robert Rolleston's Avatar
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    Default Re: Altered distribution panel

    Quote Originally Posted by cuba_pete View Post
    I never understood why the code/UL even allows manufacturers to put those on devices.

    If the installer is in that much of a hurry...
    Yeah if the worker can't install devices at a decent pace without using them then he needs to find another line of work.

    My parents house had a bunch of those used and a bunch failed some caused arching and lucky they did not have a fire from something that is allowed by code.

    Home inspectors should also write that in their report.


  33. #33
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    Default Re: Altered distribution panel

    Quote Originally Posted by Robert Rolleston View Post
    And anyone using the back stabs on an outlet or switch should be kicked out the door.
    Quote Originally Posted by Robert Rolleston View Post
    My parents house had a bunch of those used and a bunch failed some caused arching and lucky they did not have a fire from something that is allowed by code.
    Our house here in Ormond Beach had them (still has some of them, I have replaced quite a few of them) and they are a problem ... the ones I've replaced simply came off the wires when I went to pull the receptacles out from the outlet box so I could remove the wires from the backstab holes ... pulled the receptacle out and the wires were left there sticking out toward me (that's a good reason to turn the breaker off when replacing receptacles ... except that I never bother with that, what's the fun is replacing switches and receptacles with the power off? ).



    Home inspectors should also write that in their report.[/QUOTE]

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    Default Re: Altered distribution panel

    Well all of that was a fun read. This bring up many questions.

    We all call stuff daily that fit this bill. We know it may function just fine but either it does not meet codes, standard practices or manufacturer specs. But if something does go wrong you are in a better position if you had made a comment versus not.

    I see stuff like that weekly and still it goes in the report.

    Don Hester
    NCW Home Inspections, LLC
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    Default Re: Altered distribution panel

    Oh I forgot, They should slap anyone using back stabbed receptacles.

    Just a few weeks ago helped a buddy chase down a loose neutral. He thought his GFCI had malfunctioned and would not reset. He bought a new one and it would not reset.

    I found that he had back stabbed receptacles and I told him to replace each and every one. Which he did. After two days he calls... still not fixed.

    I come over we go through everything he did. I isolate some runs and get it narrowed down to an area.

    But there was a sneaky one hiding behind cabinetry. And yep that was the offending receptacle. Neutral wire was darkening on its way to a melt down.

    For fun put a circuit analyzer on a run with them on and watch the voltage drop.

    Don Hester
    NCW Home Inspections, LLC
    Wa. St. Licensed H I #647, WSDA #80050, http://www.ncwhomeinspections.com

  36. #36
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    Default Re: Altered distribution panel

    All this talk about back-stabbed receptacles, their usage and allowance, seems like a mighty supportive argument for AFCI.

    Just sayin'.


  37. #37
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    Default Re: Altered distribution panel

    Richard, So true about AFCI.

    Funny many electricians still do not like AFCI's. Had one tell me he installed them on his new home and then when the inspector passed it he removed them. Seems a bit silly to me.

    Don Hester
    NCW Home Inspections, LLC
    Wa. St. Licensed H I #647, WSDA #80050, http://www.ncwhomeinspections.com

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