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  1. #1
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    Default three hots, two neutrals

    This is a third floor condo non-service panel in the basement of the building. There is a cable running between the common areas panel, which I did not open, and the condo panel shown in the photo. The black conductor is connected to a 20A circuit breaker. The neutral and equipment ground conductors have been clipped and taped over.
    As the kids say, WTF? All hypotheses accepted with my thanks in advance.

    no neutral.jpg

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  2. #2
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    Default Re: three hots, two neutrals

    You need to open the other panel to be definate about what is going on. My first thought is the other panel is full, they needed another circuit, did not have the knowledge to determine the neutral that went with the circuit they needed to power, so they bootlegged to this panel. Violates code (neutral, ground, and hot in same conduit/raceway). Needs to be corrected.


  3. #3
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    Default Re: three hots, two neutrals

    I would also like to see what the other end is doing, and I'm curious as to how it was installed. Does it looked like this cable was run after the original installation? From the little I see, what I see looks out of place with everything else. It looks like an extension cord that was cannibalized.

    I'm wondering if there was a fault on an original hot, and someone felt it easier to run a jumper, than to locate the fault. Of course if they did that, they should have replaced both wires. Is there anything else in the box... like something cut off?

    is there an unaccounted for neutral?

    Steven Turetsky, UID #16000002314
    homeinspectionsnewyork.com
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  4. #4
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    Default Re: three hots, two neutrals

    Quote Originally Posted by Steven Turetsky View Post
    ...Is there anything else in the box... like something cut off?
    ...
    Just the cut neutral and ground in that orange cable. I unwrapped the tape enough to see what was there, as in my photo, and then taped it back up.

    "There is no exception to the rule that every rule has an exception." -James Thurber, writer and cartoonist (1894-1961)
    www.ArnoldHomeInspections.com

  5. #5
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    Default Re: three hots, two neutrals

    Well, I definitely am curious about the other end. If they won't let you in, that's okay. What you already see is enough to recommend an electrician.

    Steven Turetsky, UID #16000002314
    homeinspectionsnewyork.com
    eifsinspectionsnewyork.com

  6. #6
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    Default Re: three hots, two neutrals

    Hmm, I would suspect a circuit for the common areas is stealing from the condo's metered service to avoid paying for a particular use i.e. common building lighting?


  7. #7
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    Default Re: three hots, two neutrals

    That orange cable looks like it is either extension cord ... and that would be a super no-no ... or it is 3-conductor cable and 3-conductor cable would have a red, a black, a white, and a bare ground ... okay, so where is the red conductor?

    Jerry Peck, Construction / Litigation Consultant
    Construction Litigation Consultants, LLC ( www.ConstructionLitigationConsultants.com )
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  8. #8
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    Default Re: three hots, two neutrals

    Quote Originally Posted by Jerry Peck View Post
    That orange cable looks like it is either extension cord ... and that would be a super no-no ... or it is 3-conductor cable and 3-conductor cable would have a red, a black, a white, and a bare ground ... okay, so where is the red conductor?
    Definitely looks like an extension cord. All the more reason to suspect something fishy going on.


  9. #9
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    Default Re: three hots, two neutrals

    Looks like orange NM cable to me, probably 10/2.
    Are there any extension cords with solid (non-stranded) wiring?


  10. #10
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    Default Re: three hots, two neutrals

    Quote Originally Posted by Steven Saville View Post
    Hmm, I would suspect a circuit for the common areas is stealing from the condo's metered service to avoid paying for a particular use i.e. common building lighting?
    My money is also on the stealing scenario.

    "There is no exception to the rule that every rule has an exception." -James Thurber, writer and cartoonist (1894-1961)
    www.ArnoldHomeInspections.com

  11. #11
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    Default Re: three hots, two neutrals

    Some condos here have had hard wiring added for smoke alarms. This might be what that mess is all about, except that Mr Handy who lives in the building has taken it on to save $$. Now it will cost them double.

    I found a condo unit last year in a small building that had a feeder running off to the common laundry area, where there are a washer and dryer for everyone to use. At the new owner's expense. Nice.

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

  12. #12
    Daniel Mack's Avatar
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    Default Re: three hots, two neutrals

    If the panel pictured is in the basement, I would think this would be on the common building power. Is this the case? It certainly looks like a stranded conductor the way it is going into the breaker lug. Can you see any of the printing on the cable in question? Bottom line, this is a code violation. NEC 300.3 (B) and 300.5 (I). Notes on safety: OSHA 1910.333(a)(1) clearly emphasizes the dangers involved with energized circuits. NFPA 70E is another must read if you all are going to be opening and inspecting anything energized.


  13. #13
    Mbrooke's Avatar
    Mbrooke Guest

    Default Re: three hots, two neutrals

    Quote Originally Posted by John Kogel View Post
    Some condos here have had hard wiring added for smoke alarms. This might be what that mess is all about, except that Mr Handy who lives in the building has taken it on to save $$. Now it will cost them double.

    I found a condo unit last year in a small building that had a feeder running off to the common laundry area, where there are a washer and dryer for everyone to use. At the new owner's expense. Nice.

    My bet its power theft for the landord to keep rents down. Classic way to save mulah. Seen it before.

    Sadly legally theres not much that can be done because the theft is after the meters.


  14. #14
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    Default Re: three hots, two neutrals

    Quote Originally Posted by Mbrooke View Post
    My bet its power theft for the landord to keep rents down. Classic way to save mulah. Seen it before.

    Sadly legally theres not much that can be done because the theft is after the meters.
    The good part is that it is a flagrant violation of the NEC, and a fire safety hazard, so the home buyer has a good chance at having it all removed.

    In the mean time, a flip of the breaker handle solves to problem for now.

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

  15. #15
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    Default Re: three hots, two neutrals

    Quote Originally Posted by John Arnold View Post
    This is a third floor condo non-service panel in the basement of the building. There is a cable running between the common areas panel, which I did not open, and the condo panel shown in the photo. The black conductor is connected to a 20A circuit breaker. The neutral and equipment ground conductors have been clipped and taped over.
    As the kids say, WTF? All hypotheses accepted with my thanks in advance.

    no neutral.jpg
    John,
    If you did not open the common areas panel, how do you know the orange cord(?) runs between the two panels...? Just curious.


  16. #16
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    Default Re: three hots, two neutrals

    Quote Originally Posted by Jerry Peck View Post
    That orange cable looks like it is either extension cord ... and that would be a super no-no ... or it is 3-conductor cable and 3-conductor cable would have a red, a black, a white, and a bare ground ... okay, so where is the red conductor?
    Did I miss it or has no one else commented or explained where the red conductor is? I am presuming that it, too, has been cut off, like the white and the bare ground have been.

    That leaves only the black conductor in that cable going anywhere ... is the enclosure cabinet and its equipment ground path being used for the 'white' grounded conductor? If so ... YIKES!

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

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