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  1. #1
    Chip O'Brian's Avatar
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    Default Condo #2 Grounds/Neutrals

    Read last thread as I had this today. Main service meter/disconnect 150 AMP utility room basement. Distribution panel bedroom, Sub-panel in hall.
    Distribution panel is grounded at neutral with bar in place, as well sub-panel. Now I understand sub should not be grounded to equipment. Why not distribution? Most older homes with this type of panels i see all have neutral & ground bar bonded including my house. And I have a disconnect at meter with multi unit service.

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    Last edited by Chip O'Brian; 02-13-2008 at 01:56 PM.

  2. #2
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    Default Re: Condo #2 Grounds/Neutrals

    You've also got neutrals and grounds in the same terminal - and that's a no-no.

    "Why not ... " *not service equipment* panels?

    Because the neutral current is going to be carried back to the service equipment on BOTH the neutral and the equipment ground conductors, and the equipment ground conductor *IS NOT INTENDED* to carry current. Many enclosures are grounded and serve as the equipment ground path, which is acceptable for "unintended ground fault current" but not for "intended" neutral current. You may disassemble something only to find it rather *shocking*, or touch something which is grounded and be enlightened through a *shocking experience*. When current flow, the resistance of that current path creates voltage drop across the current path, when that current path is a conductor, the resistance is low and the path is 'unbroken' (as best possible). When the enclosure becomes that current path, there are lots of contract points which create resistance, you could even end up with voltage between two fittings, touch one and then the other and you could receive a shock.

    The equipment ground is there only for "unintended" ground fault current.

    Jerry Peck, Construction / Litigation Consultant
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    Default Re: Condo #2 Grounds/Neutals

    Picture 2,3 & 4 appear to be non-service panels.

    Picture 3 & 4 has low-voltage transformer inside the non-service panel.( Not Allowed!)

    Service equipment appear to be in picture 1. This would be where grounding would be not in the non-service panels shown in your pictures.

    Please Do Not call non-service Panels,non-service equipment (Sub panels.)

    It Might have Choked Artie But it ain't gone'a choke Stymie! Our Gang " The Pooch " (1932)
    Billy J. Stephens HI Service Memphis TN.

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    Default Re: Condo #2 Grounds/Neutals

    Majority of the homes in the 60's and 70's (that I have seen) was that way. A licensed electrician owned my home (built in 70) and it was that way. I went in and changed it.

    I don't know when the code took affect and when this state adopted the neutral separation.

    Last edited by Mike Schulz; 02-13-2008 at 04:00 PM. Reason: Added: what I have seen
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  5. #5
    Chip O'Brian's Avatar
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    Default Re: Condo #2 Grounds/Neutals

    Jerry this is very common 20 years ago with neutrals & grounds on the same bar again i'll refer to my own house. My problem is we report on something that was accepted in 1985. I call the code department and they think I am nuts. It appears that everthing leads to todays codes. And we fail to mention this did not exsits 20 years ago in florida.


  6. #6
    Chip O'Brian's Avatar
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    Default Re: Condo #2 Grounds/Neutals

    Billy how would you refer to label or name said panels? Low voltage trans not allowed as of when what date, year or state.


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    Default Re: Condo #2 Grounds/Neutrals

    Quote Originally Posted by Chip O'Brian View Post
    Jerry this is very common 20 years ago with neutrals & grounds on the same bar again i'll refer to my own house. My problem is we report on something that was accepted in 1985. I call the code department and they think I am nuts. It appears that everthing leads to todays codes. And we fail to mention this did not exsits 20 years ago in florida.
    Not "accepted" back then, 'mis-understood' would be the correct term.

    STILL (today) *some* electricians and inspector 'do not understand it'.

    That does not make it right back then, nor right today, it just means that some people take longer to learn to do it 'correctly' that others ... and some never learn ... nonetheless ... it is wrong today and was wrong back then.

    REGARDLESS though ... electricity does not understand the reluctance of humans to report on or correct 'life safety conditions'. Electricity just knows that when the time and conditions are right, it will go that way (through the equipment grounding conductor) and it does not care which humans are touching what, nor does it care which humans are electrocuted through some other humans errors in understanding.

    Jerry Peck, Construction / Litigation Consultant
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    Default Re: Condo #2 Grounds/Neutrals

    I reached in an pulled out an older NEC, just happened to be a 1968 edition and the handbook at that.

    250-32. Grounding Connections for Alternating-Current Systems. (underlining and bold is mine)
    - (a) Secondary alternating-current circuits which are to be grounded shall have a connection to a grounding electrode at each service, except as provided for in Section 250-21. The connection shall be made on the supply side of the service disconnecting means. Each secondary distribution system which is grounded shall have at least one additional grounding conductor connection to a grounding electrode at the transformer or elsewhere. No connection to a grounding electrode shall be made to the grounded circuit conductor on the load side of the service disconnecting means. See Section 250-24 for two or more buildings supplied by a single service and Section 250-26 for separately derived systems.

    The Handbook says this about it:
    - It is the intent of this requirement that fault currents which develop on the premises appear as short-circuit current at the service equipment rather than returning to the transformer or system ground by means of the earth or other indeterminate path. In other words, a path of low resistance is provided to facility the operation of the service-equipment fuses or circuit breakers in accordance with Section 250-51(3).

    I.e., "other indeterminate path" also includes the "equipment grounding conductor".

    I could have gone back further, but that is the one I just happened to grab - 1968. It was really NEVER allowed, just has always (it seems) been 'mis-understood', even after being spelled out in the NEC Handbook ... Chip, regarding your 1985 house ... was not allowed.

    And yes, I had to type that by hand.

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    Default Re: Condo #2 Grounds/Neutals

    Quote Originally Posted by Chip O'Brian View Post
    Billy how would you refer to label or name said panels? Low voltage trans not allowed as of when what date, year or state.
    All Electrical Panels, Service and non-service electrical panels can not have any other equipment installed within the electrical panel .

    It's late as I've just finished my reporting , but if you require the code perhaps Mr. Peck would post it for you again.

    It Might have Choked Artie But it ain't gone'a choke Stymie! Our Gang " The Pooch " (1932)
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    Default Re: Condo #2 Grounds/Neutrals

    Quote Originally Posted by Chip O'Brian View Post
    Billy how would you refer to label or name said panels? Low voltage trans not allowed as of when what date, year or state.
    I'm not Billy, but ...

    Chip,

    No low voltage wiring as "ever" been allowed in "other than low voltage" panels, boxes, etc.

    It is similar to what I posted and explained about the grounds and neutrals connected together in your 1985 house - never "allowed", but some code officials mis-understood what was stated and 'accepted the practice', however bad or poor the practice was.

    *Many times* this 'accepting of the practice' is political, the code official accepts the 'unsafe and against code' 'wiring practice' or ... 'accepts a request that the code official steps down' (and it is not just wiring, it is the same for all aspects of all of the codes).

    What to call panels? I've posted this before, but here it goes again.

    1) "Service equipment" located at ... (this applies to the service equipment - where the *first* main - "service" - disconnect is located, panel or no panel in the same enclosure)

    2) "Electrical panel" located at ... (this applies to all panels which do not contain the *first* main - "service" - disconnect in their enclosure)

    and, for many installations,

    3) "Service equipment / electrical panel combination" located at ... (this applies to 1) above where the electrical panel is in the same enclosure as, and is 'part of', the "service equipment")

    There are many installation where you will have a meter and two or more 'main disconnects' in separate enclosures, most often encountered on larger homes, in this case the entire combination is "the service equipment" and you may have "Main disconnect A" enclosure on the right and "Main disconnect B" on the left, I always identified them that way (they should be labeled, use that labeling), or you may find both of the main disconnects off to one side of the meter, in which case I always identified them as "right main disconnect", "right center main disconnect", left center main disconnect", and "left main disconnect", which allows the reader of the report to go to the location I gave (i.e., 'located on the right side of the garage') and look at the installation, then know which one I was referring to with each part of the report ... 'Oh, yeah, that one, it is the right center one labeled Main C.'

    Easy to get into the habit of identifying things with location, then simply call it what it is, i.e., 'Electrical panel located in the hallway', and there it is, an electrical panel and it is located in the hallway.

    No one cares, or even knows (without tracing the circuits down) how many are fed from where - thus they are all 'electrical panels'.

    Now, if one insists on making it more complicated, one could say (looking at two panels in the garage and noticing that one panel is fed from the other panel) 'this is the right panel, which is sub-fed from the left panel, located in the garage' ... but who really cares if the right panel is "sub-fed from" the left panel, and, what difference does it make in wiring that panel? None.

    Unless the left panel is the "service equipment" with the first main disconnect, in which case you could then say 'this it the right panel, which is sub-fed from the service equipment to the left, located in the garage' ...

    All that, though, begins to make everything kinda bulky and really adds no real information to the report.

    Jerry Peck, Construction / Litigation Consultant
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  11. #11
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    Default Re: Condo #2 Grounds/Neutals

    I realize that on this board, as well as others, everyone wants the correct terminology used. This is good because it helps us learn and remember what things are supposed to be called.

    However, the reports that we prepare are not for the others on this board. The client needs to understand what we are trying to explain in the report.

    I use the term "outlet" to define a receptacle plug because this is what they are commonly called and the client knows what I am talking about. If I say that the receptacle plug on the east wall is wired incorrectly and that the resulting reversed polarity is a safety hazard, they may think that since the owner is taking the television set (and the cord and plug attached to it) when they move out that it will no longer be an issue when they move in. I simply say that "The outlet on the east wall is wired incorrectly and represents a safety hazard that needs to be corrected by a licensed electrician." This puts it in terms that they can understand. I highly doubt that an electrician called to correct this will be confused because I called it an outlet instead of a receptacle plug.

    As far as electrical service equipment goes, I refer to them as distribution panels and "sub" of "auxillary" panels. I still treat the inspection of the equipment correctly to ensure that it is wired appropriatly and safely for it's installation. I also explain the correct installation method for any panels fed off of the service equipment and the reasoning behind it, but I put it all in terms that the common person can understand.

    I call a mechanical overload protection device a "breaker" and a thermal overload protection device a "fuse".

    I call a luminaire a "light".

    I call a paddle fan a "ceiling fan".

    I call a ceiling fan an "exhaust fan".


    We are performing our inspections for the person employing us at the time.
    In doing so everything should be done to fulfill our responsibility to them and make them understand what is wrong, why it is wrong, and who/what should be contacted/done to correct it. Our report is useless to the client if they can not understand the message that we are trying to convey and I find it very hard to believe that an electrician given a report listing issues with outlets, switches, breaker boxes, lights, etc. will have any difficulty understanding the issues.

    Last edited by Jon Randolph; 02-14-2008 at 07:22 AM. Reason: spelllling

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    Default Re: Condo #2 Grounds/Neutrals

    Quote Originally Posted by Jon Randolph View Post
    However, the reports that we prepare are not for the others on this board. The client needs to understand what we are trying to explain in the report.

    We are performing our inspections for the person employing us at the time.
    Absolutely correct, and why there is nothing wrong with using the terms "service equipment" and "electrical panel" - they all will understand what "electrical panel" means. There is no need to try to further confuse or confound them by saying "main panel" "sub panel" or "auxiliary panel" - as all *ARE* "electrical panels".

    "Service equipment" is simply where the "service disconnect" is - none of our clients have a problem understanding that either.

    Our report is useless to the client if they can not understand the message that we are trying to convey and I find it very hard to believe that an electrician given a report listing issues with outlets, switches, breaker boxes, lights, etc. will have any difficulty understanding the issues.
    Again, correct, and every electrician, like every client, will understand the terms "service equipment" and "electrical panel". Not only are you using the 'correct terms', but all parties will understand them.

    If you use the terms "main panel" and "sub panel" and there is a smart electrician around (there ARE smart and professional electricians, believe it or not), they could unintentionally (or intentionally, depending on what you said in your report) make you look foolish by saying 'That home inspector apparently does not know what he is talking about, he called this a "main panel" and it is not, it is a "sub fed panel" EVERYONE working with or inspecting electric SHOULD KNOW THAT.'

    Why not communicate effectively with your clients AND the contractors AND look like you know what you are talking about? Why does there seem to be something wrong with that?

    Jerry Peck, Construction / Litigation Consultant
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  13. #13
    Richard Stanley's Avatar
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    Default Re: Condo #2 Grounds/Neutals

    I call a light a light
    I call a ceiling fan a ceiling fan
    I call an exhaust fan an exhaust fan.


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    Default Re: Condo #2 Grounds/Neutrals

    Quote Originally Posted by Richard Stanley View Post
    I call a light a light
    I call a ceiling fan a ceiling fan
    I call an exhaust fan an exhaust fan.
    Nothing wrong with that, I suspect most *people* do (HIs included).

    Now, though , what do you call ...

    1) The service equipment where the main service disconnect is?

    2) Electrical panels which are part of the service equipment?

    3) Electrical panels which are not part of the service equipment?

    4) Electrical panels in a submarine?

    Jerry Peck, Construction / Litigation Consultant
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    Default Re: Condo #2 Grounds/Neutrals

    Quote Originally Posted by Jerry Peck View Post
    ...Now, though , what do you call ...
    ... Electrical panels in a submarine?
    I call those "outside my scope".


  16. #16
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    Talking Re: Condo #2 Grounds/Neutals

    Jerry you know I truly respect your vast knowledge and opinion. "Blowin Smoke up the wazu" I think some time we get caught up in code doing our inspections. When we are generalist not code inspectors like yourself. Or electricians, plumbers, roofers etc.etc.Altough we certainly continue to improve our knowlege of safe and sound homes and report the issues. This is a catch 22 with older homes.

    I generaly state something to the effect that this issue is not up todays standards and may have been accepted by local jurisdictions at time of build "or should I say misunderstood by professional code inspectors that signed off on the CO at time of build. Recommend correct, repair or replace by qualified "fill in the blank" contractor.

    I know that door bell trans do not belong in electrical panels, neutrals & grounds on seperate bars. Bath fans should not vent into attic, see this all the time. Gas water heaters on garage floors. So on and so on. These are common in the era of 70's-80's.

    I guess if thousands of homes of an era are done wrong it is still wrong.

    What year did home inspectors come to do home inspections any guess?

    Last edited by Chip O'Brian; 02-15-2008 at 08:11 PM.

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    Default Re: Condo #2 Grounds/Neutrals

    Quote Originally Posted by Chip O'Brian View Post
    that this issue is not up todays standards
    Chip,

    As I pointed out, it was not even up to the days standard at the time of construction. No need to get into "todays standards", we're talking "back then".

    I guess if thousands of homes of a era are done wrong it is still wrong.
    Correct.

    Just like everyone driving 80 mph across I-10 out there in the Panhandle, only a few get caught and ticketed, the rest 'get away with it' - still wrong, though.

    Will all homes done wrong be corrected? Of course not. Just like traffic on I-10 out there, only a select few will get caught and be penalized for those transgressions, I'm sure you are 'catching a few yourself'.

    Jerry Peck, Construction / Litigation Consultant
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    Default Re: Condo #2 Grounds/Neutrals

    Quote Originally Posted by Jerry Peck View Post

    Just like everyone driving 80 mph across I-10 out there in the Panhandle, only a few get caught and ticketed, the rest 'get away with it' - still wrong, though.

    Will all homes done wrong be corrected? Of course not. Just like traffic on I-10 out there, only a select few will get caught and be penalized for those transgressions, I'm sure you are 'catching a few yourself'.

    Jerry while I understand and agree with your reasoning here, and not to split hairs, but you are incorrect about I-10 and the speed limit.

    First, I-10 is not in the panhandle (North Texas) , it is is southern and westTexas.

    Second, the posted speed limit on I-10 in isolated and desolate West Texas is 80 mph. I have seen it posted and driven 80 miles an hour on that stretch of interstate legally.

    FOXNews.com - Texas Raises Rural Speed Limits to 80 MPH - Local News | News Articles | National News | US News

    Eric

    Last edited by Eric Shuman; 02-16-2008 at 06:39 AM.

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    Default Re: Condo #2 Grounds/Neutrals

    Quote Originally Posted by Eric Shuman View Post
    Jerry while I understand and agree with your reasoning here, and not to split hairs, but you are incorrect about I-10 and the speed limit.

    First, I-10 is not in the panhandle (North Texas) , it is is southern and westTexas.

    Second, the posted speed limit on I-10 in isolated and desolate West Texas is 80 mph. I have seen it posted and driven 80 miles an hour on that stretch of interstate legally.

    FOXNews.com - Texas Raises Rural Speed Limits to 80 MPH - Local News | News Articles | National News | US News

    Eric
    Eric,

    Did you note that I was replying to Chip?

    Chip is in the Florida Panhandle, and I-10 does go through there, and the speed limit is not 80 mph.

    Jerry Peck, Construction / Litigation Consultant
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    Default Re: Condo #2 Grounds/Neutals

    Jerry,

    I didn't notice that Chip was from Florida, thanks for pointing that out.

    I grew up in the panhandle of Texas and sometimes the Texan in me doesn't realize there are any other states with panhandles out there (or any other states out there at all )

    Eric


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