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  1. #1
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    Default commercial disconect

    Could anyone tell me why this rather large commercial disconect is in a residential home? There is a fuse panel at the top, and a large conduit line that leads to a newer 200 amp panel in the basement. The fuse panel is over fused with 30 amp fuses in place. Also, there is rodent evidence in the panel with some chewed wires that have been taped up. I wrote up the chewed wiring and fuse panel, but the main disconect is ok, I am assuming.

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  2. #2
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    Default Re: commercial disconect

    Quote Originally Posted by Russell Melville View Post
    Could anyone tell me why this rather large commercial disconect is in a residential home?
    Just a large safety switch, no problem with that other than the neutral is not bonded to ground in that switch, which is a main service disconnect, that is disconnect '3' or 'C' as the old fuse box has main service disconnects '1' and '2' (or 'A' and 'B') in it - the disconnects should be labeled.

    I'd prefer to see a grounding bushing at the top right too.

    Not a good way to route that bare ground bond wire to the neutral.

    There is a fuse panel at the top, ...
    That will likely result in the client finding that obtaining insurance will be difficult as many insurance companies no longer insure properties with fuse panels.

    and a large conduit line that leads to a newer 200 amp panel in the basement.
    That panel looks like it may be a service equipment only panel as the ground terminal on the left looks to be permanently connected to the neutral terminal on the right, and that is a problem if it is that way.

    The fuse panel is over fused with 30 amp fuses in place.
    That means that those fuses *are required* to be removed and Safe-T-Fuse adapters installed with proper Safe-T-Fuses installed - unless, of course, that fuse panel is replaced as it will likely need to be for insurance.

    Is the meter directly outside that wall the service entrance cable goes through?

    That will do for starters ... other than to recommend that the service equipment and panels be replaced with breaker panels and combined into one service equipment panel and the one remote distribution panel (and make sure that the distribution panel is suitable for use as non-service equipment panel).

    Jerry Peck, Construction / Litigation Consultant
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    Default Re: commercial disconect

    Yes Jerry, it is directly on the wall behind it. I was a field rep for Mueller for 4 years prior to starting my home inspection business, so I am aware of the insurability of the fuse panel.

    Thank you for your quick reply. Have a nice evening.

    Russ


  4. #4
    Robert Meier's Avatar
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    Default Re: commercial disconect

    Can you explain with some more detail how this thing is set up?


  5. #5
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    Default Re: commercial disconect

    I suspect the SE cable feeds into the trough. In the trough are taps feeding the large disconnect and also the fuse panel above the trough.

    All answers based on unamended National Electrical codes.

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    Default Re: commercial disconect

    Quote Originally Posted by Jim Port View Post
    I suspect the SE cable feeds into the trough. In the trough are taps feeding the large disconnect and also the fuse panel above the trough.
    To expand on what Jim said ...

    There are 3 main service disconnects:
    - A) The "Main" pullout, the left pullout, in the fuse panel which feeds the 4 fuses.
    - B) The "Range" pullout, typically the right pullout is marked "Range", and feeds the kitchen range. The neutral in these boxes are typically permanently and directly connected to the enclosure, which is thereby grounded.
    - C) The large disconnect at the bottom which feeds the distribution panel. With this being a main disconnect, the neutral is required to be bonded to ground, and it is.

    With the distribution panel not being the service equipment, the neutral is required to be isolated from ground.

    The wire gutter would need to be properly grounded as it is metal.

    Jerry Peck, Construction / Litigation Consultant
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    Default Re: commercial disconect

    [quote=Jerry Peck;192354]Just a large safety switch, no problem with that other than the neutral is not bonded to ground in that switch, which is a main service disconnect, that is disconnect '3' or 'C' as the old fuse box has main service disconnects '1' and '2' (or 'A' and 'B') in it - the disconnects should be labeled.

    "I'd prefer to see a grounding bushing at the top right too."

    That's not Jerry Peck insinuating his opinion is it?

    You "prefer"?

    I thought he only quoted Code and nothing but because he doesn't like inspectors that tell you to do things his way.

    Just showing that you can't comment in a forum on a regular basis without saying something contradictory to what you've stated in the past.


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    Default Re: commercial disconect

    If this service is set up as Jerry said with the disconnect in question being a Service Disconnect there needs to be a number of things to make it legal.

    The disconnect must have " Suitable for use as Service Equipment" somewhere on the label . If that is a general Fusible Safety Switch it may not be service rated.

    That metal offset nipple from the wire way to the disconnect must have some type of grounding on it. The use of a bonding bushing, bonding locknut, bonding wedge would do the job. Standard locknuts shall not be the sole means for bonding. This only needs to be on one end of the nipple. This is a requirement for metallic conduits/nipples that contain service conductors.

    The neutral must be bonded to ground in the disconnect

    You need to open that wireway to see how the taps are made and how the grounding/bonding is done on the nipple and the wireway


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    Default Re: commercial disconect

    [QUOTE=Richard D. Fornataro;192421]
    Quote Originally Posted by Jerry Peck View Post
    "I'd prefer to see a grounding bushing at the top right too."

    That's not Jerry Peck insinuating his opinion is it?

    You "prefer"?
    Yep.

    Nothing wrong with saying what one "prefers".

    I thought he only quoted Code and nothing but because he doesn't like inspectors that tell you to do things his way.
    Ummm ... Richard, he is not doing a *code inspection*, he is doing a *home inspection*.

    On a *code inspection* the inspector SHOULD NOT be giving their opinion of wanting something 'better than code' because code is all the *code inspector* is there to address.

    I would have thought that by know you understood the difference between a *code inspection* and a *home inspection*.

    Jerry Peck, Construction / Litigation Consultant
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    Default Re: commercial disconect

    [quote=Jerry Peck;192492]
    Quote Originally Posted by Richard D. Fornataro View Post

    Yep.

    Nothing wrong with saying what one "prefers".



    Ummm ... Richard, he is not doing a *code inspection*, he is doing a *home inspection*.

    On a *code inspection* the inspector SHOULD NOT be giving their opinion of wanting something 'better than code' because code is all the *code inspector* is there to address.

    I would have thought that by know you understood the difference between a *code inspection* and a *home inspection*.

    Once again Jerry, we're not in a courtroom and your not playing litigation consultant.

    I'm done arguing with you.

    Grow up.


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    Default Re: commercial disconect

    I still don't understand why such a large disconnect is in a residential unit?


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    Default Re: commercial disconect

    Quote Originally Posted by Russell Melville View Post
    I still don't understand why such a large disconnect is in a residential unit?
    There are a couple of possibilities. The builder had access to cheap surplus equipment and likes to overbuild things. Or there was an intent to operate a commercial business on the property.
    An electrician will need to open up that gutter and see exactly what was done there. We may never know why.

    Can an isolated neutral bus be installed in the breaker panel?

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

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    Default Re: commercial disconect

    Quote Originally Posted by Richard D. Fornataro View Post
    I'm done arguing with you.

    Grow up.
    I am, if you were you would not mind trying to defend what you state.

    Jerry Peck, Construction / Litigation Consultant
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    Default Re: commercial disconect

    Quote Originally Posted by John Kogel View Post
    Can an isolated neutral bus be installed in the breaker panel?
    That was one of my concerns:
    Quote Originally Posted by Jerry Peck View Post
    That panel looks like it may be a service equipment only panel as the ground terminal on the left looks to be permanently connected to the neutral terminal on the right, and that is a problem if it is that way.


    Jerry Peck, Construction / Litigation Consultant
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    Default Re: commercial disconect

    Just one comment on this argument in this thread.

    I've been following this forum for a while and was surprised at how many times "codes" are referenced in the posts and probably the reports. Are you guys doing home inspections or code inspections? At one of my past companies, doing commercial property condition assessments, the legal department would not allow us to identify code compliance in the report since it implies a higher standard of the evaluation.

    When you start quoting code references in the report, aren't you opening yourself up to potential problems? Imagine yourself in a deposition, Mr. ***, you quoted this code and that code in your inspection, but why didn't you quote this code where my client was harmed? I would imagine that codes are reference tools, but I'd be careful on how you use the references in the reports.

    Just a thought.


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    Default Re: commercial disconect

    Quote Originally Posted by Michael Choffin View Post
    Just one comment on this argument in this thread.

    I've been following this forum for a while and was surprised at how many times "codes" are referenced in the posts and probably the reports. Are you guys doing home inspections or code inspections? At one of my past companies, doing commercial property condition assessments, the legal department would not allow us to identify code compliance in the report since it implies a higher standard of the evaluation.

    When you start quoting code references in the report, aren't you opening yourself up to potential problems? Imagine yourself in a deposition, Mr. ***, you quoted this code and that code in your inspection, but why didn't you quote this code where my client was harmed? I would imagine that codes are reference tools, but I'd be careful on how you use the references in the reports.

    Just a thought.
    Michael,

    The best answer to your inquiry into why codes are mentioned on a home inspector forum may be this:

    As a home inspector, it is your job to determine what is functioning and working it was intended to function and work, if the the structure is as it should be, and give your professional opinion of their status.
    - Fair presumption of what your job is as a home inspector?
    - I suggest that it is a fair presumption of what your job is as a home inspector.

    Based on the above, if you do not know codes and how they apply to the structure and its systems, how on earth can you make an educated and professional opinion on the structure and its systems?

    Surely you do not just go into the inspection, turn the air conditioner on and say 'Yep, that there is air is cold.', then turn the heat on and say 'Yep, and now that there air is warm.', and then write your opinion that the heating and air conditioning system is 'functioning as intended'.

    Or that you look and the roof and say 'Yep, those are shingles alrighty.' and then write the roof up as being okay.

    There is a lot to know and associate about home inspections and codes and how they mesh together, after all, the house you looked it was, hopefully, constructed to 'code' at the time it was built, so unless you are familiar with 'code' how can you make a professional opinion that the house is good, bad, or otherwise?

    Jerry Peck, Construction / Litigation Consultant
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    Default Re: commercial disconect

    Great thread! Ya fellas covered all the bases.

    Don't back down on your comment of bonding the nipple on the right Jerry.
    Your are correct as that is a service nipple (contains service conductors we think are tapped in the gutter). The bare bonding (or G.E.C., I can't tell), makes me nervous too One would be a fool to even fart near that thing.

    The nipple only needs to be bonded on one side. Possible in the gutter, but it is closed in the pics provided.

    One note: the disconnect in question is not a commercial unit per SE., even tho not normally seen in residential applications. I believe someone has already mentioned the need for that disconnect to be service rated.

    Questions: Jerry, can U tell me why insurance co's have a tude toward fuses, as generally they are more sensitive and respond quicker that most breakers? (Note I used very generic terms here.) Fuses are less apt to be affected by moisture, as in a basement or garage, and they don't stick in the on position.
    Also, I prefer, and can't enforce, the grounded conductor be bonded at the first J-box, transformer, CT enclosure, gutter, etc.. All the GEC's connected there as well. I have my reasons for this but wondering what you prefer if I dare say it


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    Default Re: commercial disconect

    Bob,
    In Maryland I have been told by Ins Rep. that the Edison fuses can be changed to easily to higher amp. Like someone can not change a breaker out, the Edison is just easier.


  19. #19
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    Default Re: commercial disconect

    It's possible that the equipment ground is in the troff and the conduit is acting as ground.


  20. #20
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    Default Re: commercial disconect

    Quote Originally Posted by Robert Rolleston View Post
    It's possible that the equipment ground is in the troff and the conduit is acting as ground.
    With an installation like this and the trough cover on there are many possible scenarios as to what was done. We could spend all day trying to decipher every possibility.


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    Default Re: commercial disconect

    Quote Originally Posted by bob smit View Post
    Questions: Jerry, can U tell me why insurance co's have a tude toward fuses, as generally they are more sensitive and respond quicker that most breakers? (Note I used very generic terms here.) Fuses are less apt to be affected by moisture, as in a basement or garage, and they don't stick in the on position.
    Quote Originally Posted by Garry Sorrells View Post
    Bob,
    In Maryland I have been told by Ins Rep. that the Edison fuses can be changed to easily to higher amp.
    I believe that what Garry said applies to some insurance companies, others have stated that and this: fuses typicially indicate older wiring systems, wiring systems which are past their prime and are outdated (such as knob and tube, older rubber insulated NM cable, BX cable with rubber insulated conductors, etc.), and they want to see "updated" electrical systems.

    I asked those insurance companies to define what they mean as "updated" and they said they wanted to see breaker panels. I then asked if they also wanted the houses re-wired along with new breaker panels instead of new breaker panels just being installed on older wiring systems - the insurance companies siad 'Don't electrician always re-wire when they replace fuse panels to breaker panels'? - they were shocked to hear "No, not usually.", but did not want to add the requirement that the houses be re-wired, that they were leaving that to the licensed electrical contractors to address.

    Oh, well, breaker panels = "updated" "wiring systems" in their minds.

    For some reason I always thought it was the old and outdated wiring systems which were the cause of the fires, not the panels themselves, but I guess that new breaker panels do offer an increased level of protection.

    Jerry Peck, Construction / Litigation Consultant
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    Default Re: commercial disconect

    I was going to exclude 'type S' as a preempted note but wanted to hear what every one had to say.
    In Michigan at least, type S fuses have been required for some time.
    The insurance companies could just require them instead of a panel change.
    But, judging from what J.P. just told us.... that would be like bad gas in the wind to even suggest it to the Ins industry

    It must blow their greedy minds when they find that some appliances require fuse protection, some A/C manufacturers for example.


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    Default Re: commercial disconect

    Bob,
    I get the same story with the Type S.
    The house can have crappy wiring but they fixate on the fact that the box is not a breaker box.
    It is about perceived lack of tampering.


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    Default Re: commercial disconect

    The question about insurance cos being opposed to fused circuits. Fuses can be defeated easily, with a coin. The same person who would insert a coin behind a fuse, or replace a fuse with a higher rating, is not likely to replace a breaker with a higher rating. This would require removing a dead front and the use of tools. Fuses are easily defeated, and therefore, present a high risk for fire.


  25. #25
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    Default Re: commercial disconect

    I thought fused disconnects were still allowed?


  26. #26
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    Default Re: commercial disconect

    Quote Originally Posted by Robert Rolleston View Post
    I thought fused disconnects were still allowed?
    They are ... by code.

    But when insurance companies come into the game, they will only play by their own rules, and they make up and change the rules as the game is being played.

    That's a bit unfair for the other participants in the game (owners) who get to just keep giving more money to the insurance companies with each rule change.

    Jerry Peck, Construction / Litigation Consultant
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  27. #27
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    Default Re: commercial disconect

    Some of the insurance companies are just insane recently I was shopping for insurance and they said that they would not provide insurance unless I could prove that all wire and breaker panel had been replaced. We have a murray breaker panel with fairly new breakers and NM wire in good condition and they said we should replace everything and get a home inspector to come in to verify and they they could insure us. Ended up finding another company.


  28. #28
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    Default Re: commercial disconect

    As it pertains to fused panels and insurance companies concern for "over-fusing."

    They do make a screw-shell adapter that prevents the incorrect fuse size from being installed as it regards 15, 20 & 30 Amp branch circuit wiring.

    Simply install the adapter in the fuse socket and it prevents installation of higher rated fuses by means of a keyway.

    Will this satisfy an insurance company?

    Probably not but it will negate the argument concerning installation of over-sized fuses.

    And....for those concerned, Code references these as "Type S" adapters in article 240, section V.

    They are non-removable, once inserted and can adapt an "Edison-base" fuseholder to accept a "Type S" fuse.


  29. #29
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    Default Re: commercial disconect

    Quote Originally Posted by Richard D. Fornataro View Post
    As it pertains to fused panels and insurance companies concern for "over-fusing."

    They do make a screw-shell adapter that prevents the incorrect fuse size from being installed as it regards 15, 20 & 30 Amp branch circuit wiring.

    Simply install the adapter in the fuse socket and it prevents installation of higher rated fuses by means of a keyway.

    Will this satisfy an insurance company?

    Probably not but it will negate the argument concerning installation of over-sized fuses.

    And....for those concerned, Code references these as "Type S" adapters in article 240, section V.

    They are non-removable, once inserted and can adapt an "Edison-base" fuseholder to accept a "Type S" fuse.
    While not as easy to defeat as the Edison base fuses, the 'S' type fuses (Safe-T-Fuse) can easily be defeated by wrapping with aluminum foil from the kitchen - I have seen it many times. It does not work as good as a penny inserted behind an Edison base fuse, but it will work and will hold a fair amount of current (I suppose the ampacity rating of the wrapped 'S' type fuse depends on how much of the aluminum tore while the fuse was being screwed into the fuse holder adapter).

    Nope, insurance companies what to see 'no' fuses in the panel, and, typically, the way they asked the question, the question does not include 'fused disconnects' because they are asking about 'fuse panels' - so if the panel is breaker and the disconnect (for the a/c for example) is fuses, no problem.

    Jerry Peck, Construction / Litigation Consultant
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    Default Re: commercial disconect

    Richard,
    Not to burst your trust in type S, but they are removable. I am not saying that it is as easy as an Edison but they will come out. And yes I am talking about removing the socket adapter that is size specific.

    Also, I have found that the Type S will not satisfy the Insurance Comp.


  31. #31
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    Default Re: commercial disconect

    Looks like the installer found it too difficult to feed that old fuse panel from the new C/B panel. You cannot have the maximum six main disconnects in two different rooms, so a main disconnect was necessary in front all. The fused disconnect was probably less expensive than an enclosed 200 amp circuit breaker. That large S.E. cable feeding the panel and those surface mounted NM cables should be protected. It's easy to critique someone's work, but it seems putting the panel where the fused switch would have been easier and less expensive. In home-owner wiring the possibilities are limitless.

    My rookie poster apology. The date looked current, but I failed to note it was the year 2007.

    Last edited by Garry Blankenship; 03-21-2012 at 02:22 PM.

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    Default Re: commercial disconect

    I mentioned type S fuses many posts back, and yet there are following posts stating to use type S inserts and such, sheeesh.
    Anyways, the argument that type S installations can be easily removed just doesn't hold water, er a electrons.
    It is easier to change a breaker to a larger one than remove one of the inserts, and one doesn't have to shut down the panel to do so.
    J.P. just gave me an Idea.... I'll use copper foil next time I need to upgrade

    BTW, A fused disconnect with the appropriate fuses is more expensive than what one can get a breaker with enclosure, service rated even.
    Ck out Square D. The only problem with the Square D unit is there is only one aux termination on the neutral buss. I am always having to reject jobs because the G.E.C. is connected via mechanical lug to the enclosure.
    GEC's are to terminate on the Neutral Buss. However, Nec Art 250 and most manf specs will allow a grounding buss to serve as an extension of a Neutral buss if interconnected by an appropriate sized jumper. The size of this enclosure is also a pain.


  33. #33

    Default Re: commercial disconect

    Quote Originally Posted by Michael Choffin View Post
    At one of my past companies, doing commercial property condition assessments, the legal department would not allow us to identify code compliance in the report since it implies a higher standard of the evaluation.

    When you start quoting code references in the report, aren't you opening yourself up to potential problems?
    If it wasn't for lawyers we wouldn't them.

    Egbert Jager
    Diamond Home Inspection
    http://www.diamondhomeinspection.ca

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    Default Re: commercial disconect

    Quote Originally Posted by Jerry Peck View Post
    While not as easy to defeat as the Edison base fuses, the 'S' type fuses (Safe-T-Fuse) can easily be defeated by wrapping with aluminum foil from the kitchen - I have seen it many times. It does not work as good as a penny inserted behind an Edison base fuse, but it will work and will hold a fair amount of current (I suppose the ampacity rating of the wrapped 'S' type fuse depends on how much of the aluminum tore while the fuse was being screwed into the fuse holder adapter).

    Nope, insurance companies what to see 'no' fuses in the panel, and, typically, the way they asked the question, the question does not include 'fused disconnects' because they are asking about 'fuse panels' - so if the panel is breaker and the disconnect (for the a/c for example) is fuses, no problem.
    But Federal Pacific Electric panels are still acceptable. IMO, fuse panels are safer than FPE.

    Quote Originally Posted by Garry Sorrells View Post
    Richard,
    Not to burst your trust in type S, but they are removable. I am not saying that it is as easy as an Edison but they will come out. And yes I am talking about removing the socket adapter that is size specific.

    Also, I have found that the Type S will not satisfy the Insurance Comp.
    Sorry folks....I don't always get to this forum as often as others.

    I am cognizant of the fact that the screw-shell adapters are removable.

    Code and the manufacturer says they are "non-removable."

    In my line of work, everything is removable or alterable if the person doing so wants to enough.

    Working in an urban area, I also become aware that:

    + Clever people can modify any electrical device to suit their needs.

    I have witnessed meter jaws "jumpered with coathangers, automotive jumper cables, knife, fork and spoon handles and every size wire imaginable.

    + Meter Cabinet covers with utility company barrel locks are removable.

    Most frequently used tools are hammers, chisels, large slip-joint pliers, etc. Some electricians even have keys that they bought on Ebay and will remove said locks for a price.

    + Stolen meters installed at your property can provide you with a substantial discount on your utility bill.

    If you sit home 24/7, you know when the utility is coming to read your meter. Simply obtain a stolen meter from a vacant house, your neighbor or the couple that works all day down the street. Wait for the utility to read the actual meter and then install the stolen one for 3 weeks or so. 75% discount on your electric bill. Some people are pros at this tactic. Utility doesn't usually catch on for several months. By that time, they've moved.

    + Meter cabinets that are "inactive" and have a plastic cover installed to protect from intrusion to the still "live" contacts are easily defeated.

    Take 4 drywall screws, install through plastic cover into the unused meter jaws and jumper with small sections of wire, coat hangers, etc.

    + Knife, fork and spoon handles make excellent conductors when installed into jaws of meter socket.

    As previously mentioned. So do copper tubing, f-straps or hold-its, etc.

    + Meters can be dis-assembled and the gears "shaved" so that the meter skips.

    This is a new one that some genius figured out after inserting the meter upside down didn't work.

    + Removing the neutral wire from a 3 phase meter renders the meter inactive but electricity still flows.

    Not sure if that works everywhere but here in Upstate NY it works just fine.

    + People that are caught stealing can make the biggest fuss about demanding your immediate attention to rectifying the fact that the "bad, bad utility just came and took their meter for no d**n reason."

    "You better get here quick and turn the M*%#Fing power back on!"

    I've yet to arrive and see a body from the haphazard individuals that unsuccessfully try to jump from phase to phase but have seen some interesting security video and in one case a flash burn on the adjacent house 3 feet away with a head and shoulders outline on the white siding.

    The economy isn't as bad here as in some other areas, however; utility theft has gone up 500% in the last year or so.

    We haven't even discussed the theft of copper.

    That's for a whole 'nother post.


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    Default Re: commercial disconect

    Quote Originally Posted by Richard D. Fornataro View Post
    But Federal Pacific Electric panels are still acceptable.
    Not to some insurance companies - some insurance companies will not insure houses with FPE panels.

    IMO, fuse panels are safer than FPE.
    Those insurance companies feel the same way, as do I.

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

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    Default Re: commercial disconect

    123456789

    Last edited by ken horak; 03-24-2012 at 06:51 AM.

  37. #37
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    Default Re: commercial disconect

    Exactly what I said Ken, H.


  38. #38
    Garry Blankenship's Avatar
    Garry Blankenship Guest

    Default Re: commercial disconect

    It's been a while since I've been buying electrical equip., but a fused switch was always cheaper than an enclosed C.B. There are odd pricing situations in electrical materials. Mass produced items are inexpensive due to volume. I am not checking, but an entire 20/40 circuit, 200 amp MCB residential panel is probably cheaper than an enclosed 200 amp CB. Complete motor control centers were cheaper to buy than one "bucket", to fit into an existing MCC. We would buy the whole MCC, take the "bucket" we wanted out and scrap the rest out. Fused disconnects can also be inexpensive because they are often replaced w/ CB panels, but still legal and available on a salvage basis or they live in basements & garages w/ hoarders. It is not that difficult to steal power. Aside from the theft part, it takes some knowledge, stones, a lack of brains or a combination of same because your working w/ basically un-fused power. Equipment can be blown off a wall before those utility company fused cut-outs blow.


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