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  1. #1
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    Default Multiple spices in main panel on 2007 home (over 45)

    2007 vacant and foreclosed home - over 45 splices in main panel. Any thoughts as to why, any concerns for so many and how should I advise the customer. Also panel is loaded to capacity with 3 tandem breakers. Thanks

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  2. #2
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    Dec 2007
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    Default Re: Multiple spices in main panel on 2007 home (over 45)

    There could be a number of reasons for the splices
    Was this panel the service equipment? Grounds & neutrals may have been separated if it was not, the splices serve to extend the conductors to their respective bars.
    In foreclosures the former residents may have vandalized the panel.
    In empty homes theft of copper, breakers, AC equipment, and fixtures can be an issue.
    The panel may have been moved to allow for access.
    There could be any other number of reasons, all speculation on causes. Did you see any other conditions which may be linked to this? Sheetrock patched near this area or the wall at the back of the panel? Missing fixtures or equipment?

    Alton Darty
    ATN Services, LLC
    www.arinspections.com

  3. #3
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    Default Re: Multiple spices in main panel on 2007 home (over 45)

    From past experience: I've seen the copper cut off short where thieves stole the copper from the easy to get places.

    Worst case was when they went into the attic and cut all the copper wiring out, leaving it down into the walls but nothing left in the attic - was a real pain for the investor to re-wire that, pretty much wiped out all the profit they thought they would make on the flip ... poor little investors trying to make a bundle off low income housing and instead they were the ones to get ripped off ... broke my heart - NOT!.

    At a recent project I was inspecting, sometime over a weekend someone came in and cut all the copper wiring off where it stuck out of the boxes ... if they had gone to a different building they could have ripped all the copper out without even trying ... stupid thieves went to a lot of work for very little copper, and left the gold mine behind undisturbed. Of course, though, took a lot of work for the electrical contractor to replace all the wing in the building they cut the ends of off ... that was a pain, had to remove a lot of drywall.

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

  4. #4
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    Default Re: Multiple spices in main panel on 2007 home (over 45)

    Quote Originally Posted by Jerry Peck View Post
    From past experience: I've seen the copper cut off short where thieves stole the copper from the easy to get places.

    Worst case was when they went into the attic and cut all the copper wiring out, leaving it down into the walls but nothing left in the attic - was a real pain for the investor to re-wire that, pretty much wiped out all the profit they thought they would make on the flip ... poor little investors trying to make a bundle off low income housing and instead they were the ones to get ripped off ... broke my heart - NOT!.

    At a recent project I was inspecting, sometime over a weekend someone came in and cut all the copper wiring off where it stuck out of the boxes ... if they had gone to a different building they could have ripped all the copper out without even trying ... stupid thieves went to a lot of work for very little copper, and left the gold mine behind undisturbed. Of course, though, took a lot of work for the electrical contractor to replace all the wing in the building they cut the ends of off ... that was a pain, had to remove a lot of drywall.
    Alton, Jerry thanks, I think you both nailed it. The home had been broken into, air condenser, cabinets, one sink, lots of damage (no missing copper wiring though). From your comments I now suspect that they cut the wires and took the breakers (thus) all the splices. Are there any concerns with all these splices other than a mess. BTW; this is the main panel, neutral and ground bonding correct and panel is original with no damage around the perimeter.


  5. #5
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    Lansdale, PA
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    Default Re: Multiple spices in main panel on 2007 home (over 45)

    Quote Originally Posted by Alton Darty View Post
    There could be a number of reasons for the splices
    Was this panel the service equipment? Grounds & neutrals may have been separated if it was not, the splices serve to extend the conductors to their respective bars.
    In foreclosures the former residents may have vandalized the panel.
    In empty homes theft of copper, breakers, AC equipment, and fixtures can be an issue.
    The panel may have been moved to allow for access.
    There could be any other number of reasons, all speculation on causes. Did you see any other conditions which may be linked to this? Sheetrock patched near this area or the wall at the back of the panel? Missing fixtures or equipment?
    With a 200 amp 30 slot panel most likely the bottom 5 slots on each side are rated for twin breakers. So there would be room for 6 more breakers. Otherwise, the panel could be rated for 30 breakers (as is my 200 amp panel) and then twins would not be permitted. The panel label usually provides a hint if the wiring diagram does not. look for something like 200letter3040 for a 30 slot that takes 40 breakers or 200letter30 for a 30 slot that does not take twins. Every manufacture uses something different, but usually the amperage and number of slots/poles are in the model number.


  6. #6
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    Default Re: Multiple spices in main panel on 2007 home (over 45)

    Quote Originally Posted by Mark Reinmiller View Post
    With a 200 amp 30 slot panel most likely the bottom 5 slots on each side are rated for twin breakers. So there would be room for 6 more breakers. Otherwise, the panel could be rated for 30 breakers (as is my 200 amp panel) and then twins would not be permitted. The panel label usually provides a hint if the wiring diagram does not. look for something like 200letter3040 for a 30 slot that takes 40 breakers or 200letter30 for a 30 slot that does not take twins. Every manufacture uses something different, but usually the amperage and number of slots/poles are in the model number.
    Fortunately I took photos of all labels and checked; the panel is rated for tandems (30/40). Mark thanks for the tip. Still learning and I remember learning what you just noted but haven't got it pounded it into my head yet. I'm adding it to my check list.


  7. #7
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    Default Re: Multiple spices in main panel on 2007 home (over 45)

    Quote Originally Posted by mark petty View Post
    Fortunately I took photos of all labels and checked; the panel is rated for tandems (30/40). Mark thanks for the tip. Still learning and I remember learning what you just noted but haven't got it pounded it into my head yet. I'm adding it to my check list.
    I'm still wondering how I should present this to the buyer and if it is an issue. I know splices are allowed but this is a lot.


  8. #8
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    Default Re: Multiple spices in main panel on 2007 home (over 45)

    Without seeing the splices you are probably still below the maximum percentage of fill of the cross sectional area.

    All answers based on unamended National Electrical codes.

  9. #9
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    Mar 2007
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    New Mexico
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    Default Re: Multiple spices in main panel on 2007 home (over 45)

    Yep, the old panel was probably stolen, and the thieves cut the wires to make it fast to rip out, and the wires left behind weren't long enough to reach the breakers.

    Jim Robinson
    New Mexico, USA

  10. #10
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    Mississauga, Canada
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    Default Re: Multiple spices in main panel on 2007 home (over 45)

    Quote Originally Posted by Jim Robinson View Post
    Yep, the old panel was probably stolen, and the thieves cut the wires to make it fast to rip out, and the wires left behind weren't long enough to reach the breakers.
    I know copper theft is a problem. What I did not know is, it was such a big problem that people would go to this level. However, I must agree that with so many splices in a distribution box, it can only mean that the wires were cut out (theft) and spliced afterwards so they could once again reach the breakers.

    One added note. In Canada (where I am), spices in the distribution panel is considered a defect from an inspectors viewpoint. The electrical code says the panel cannot be used as a junction box.

    Mike Rodney
    Ontario, Canada

  11. #11
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    Default Re: Multiple spices in main panel on 2007 home (over 45)

    Quote Originally Posted by michael Rodney View Post
    I know copper theft is a problem. What I did not know is, it was such a big problem that people would go to this level. However, I must agree that with so many splices in a distribution box, it can only mean that the wires were cut out (theft) and spliced afterwards so they could once again reach the breakers.

    One added note. In Canada (where I am), spices in the distribution panel is considered a defect from an inspectors viewpoint. The electrical code says the panel cannot be used as a junction box.
    I know that there is a problem with the theft of copper and aluminum throughout the US. In my area (Northeast Arkansas-Jonesboro AR area just north of Memphis, TN) the issue is extremely bad, thieves steal AC condenser units from schools, churches, commercial and residential properties. Copper wiring & piping is ripped out of vacant homes, and even homes where the occupants may just be out of town for a few days. In new construction everyone holds off installing anything containing copper until the last possible moment and AC condensers usually don't get installed until the new owner is ready to move in.
    Thieves steal the spans of electrical transmission lines between poles on a regular basis and have been know to enter manholes to rip out spans of conduit and they will often cut underground feeders at the disconnect and pull the feeder from the ground by tying the wire to a truck and pulling it from the ground.
    It is a regular occurrence to turn on the local news and see a story about a thief who was killed when he contacted a live wire during his activities. I retired from the local fire department in 2010 and at that time we were responding to at least 2-3 of these incidents each year inside our district.

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    Alton Darty
    ATN Services, LLC
    www.arinspections.com

  12. #12
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    Utah
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    Default Re: Multiple spices in main panel on 2007 home (over 45)

    Quote Originally Posted by mark petty View Post
    2007 vacant and foreclosed home - over 45 splices in main panel. Any thoughts as to why, any concerns for so many and how should I advise the customer. Also panel is loaded to capacity with 3 tandem breakers. Thanks
    Among other possible reasons for the splices, poor planning by the electrician, by not leaving sufficient length when wires were pulled. Or, the panel has been replaced, and the extensions had to be added.


  13. #13
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    Jan 2013
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    Massachusetts
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    Default Re: Multiple spices in main panel on 2007 home (over 45)

    Splices in the main panel are allowed. Even this Museum of Splice Methods isn't inherently a problem, so long as the splices are secure (give the wirenuts a tug, if the panel is dead), and if the various devices are used as-listed.

    But maybe there is one potential problem: Do I see two wires under the lugs of breaker #1/#3? Or under certain ground or neutral lugs? That's mostly-likely not allowed; the label on the panel door will dictate. If the lug isn't listed for two conductors, it's not necessarily making a safe connection. (I'm not sure what I'm seeing, so maybe there's nothing to this.)

    Certainly it's not the most workmanlike job, of course. Additional ground bars are cheap; this could be cleaned up. I suspect that most electricians would instead have installed a box for the splices, feeding from there to the main panel.

    Theft aside, this sort of too-short-wire problem is very common when a fuse panel is replaced by a breaker box.


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