12 year old electrocuted by AC unit

From the Chicago Sun-Times

Apparently case was live due to poor ground?!

I bet they were using the conduit for a bonding conductor and no wire backing it up.

Just inspected 1 in Toledo Ohio with no ground. I insisted to the buyer to have that repaired just for this reason. That is why we need to inspect all service, sub, & disconnect boxes.

We need a code man in here

AC units are 220 – the third wire is ground only – not neutral

Thus it is a three wire service – it is not a sub panel

If someone were to get killed on said unit – I bet it was wired wrong

The metal cover has to be bonded to the third wire which is grounded – not neutral at the main panel

I would say that the person that hooked up is very much responsible and should be held accountable

Yes HI’s should understand this and should check to see if properly installed.

Real easy to check — look in the main pannel and see if the third wire is grounded

Check to see if AC case is grounded (volt meter)

And if one finds one that is a 110 / 220 voltage unit then there better be a forth wire

I do it and have never found one floating yet but some day I will



Looking at the AC and how close it is to the fence .
I would like to hear the rest of the story .
This unit looks pretty new it said they worked on it in 2006.
Well it is so close to the fence I do not see how it could not have been touched the same time as the fence in the last two years.
I expect there could be a lot more info comming down with this one and I would love to hear what they find.



I too would like to hear the rest of the story so we know what to look for to maybe save a life


If you were inspecting this you would plug your suretest into the service receptacle with a ground test adapter and hook the grounding test lead to the AC case. I bet it shows no ground.

Again I bet this is a failure of the conduit system. Chicago insists on pipe everywhere but they do not require a wire backing up the pipe as a ground path. (nor does the NEC) If you are using a cable wiring method you get a ground wire and probably only 2 or 3 connections in it. The pipe gets 2 at least every 10 feet.

I can not and will not inspect from a picture .
I am paid to be sceptically and see what others do not see.
Sorry but to assume could get one of us into trouble.
… Cookie

I am with Greg.
For the unit to become energized the ground would have had to have been compromised. The easiest, and most likely, way for this to happen is if compression fittings were used and not having a grounding conductor run with the circuit conductors.
Then any ground fault in the unit would create a situation where the whole unit becomes live. Only a hot-to-hot fault would open the breaker.

I don’t see where anyone is asking you to inspect this from a picture. We are all merely expressing observations given the information at hand. Basically giving our opinions on what we think happened.

I also fail to see ANY way any one of us could get into trouble simply by discussing topic this on a message board.

I guess we have to disagree on this one . Thanks


I don’t get it…but OK.

Hear is the deal

  1. We do not know all the facts
  2. Some one got killed
  3. A simple test of voltage to earth would have shown the problem
  4. Someone messed up


  1. Absolutely correct.
  2. Unfortunately also correct.
  3. Ok, but by whom…and why? Without a reason who goes around testing A/C units for voltage on the case???
  4. Not necessarily. See #1.
    This could be a simply case of deterioration/degradation/damage to the conduit or grounding system, coupled with a defective compressor.
    It is entirely plausible that no one is actually “at fault”.


Yes your are correct and I did leave out that as a choice my error

I do think that we as HI’s need to understand the electrical issues so we can inspect for them.

After all most of us inspect for properly wired electrical outlets – why should we not inspect for properly wired 220 equipment??

Do we need more education in this area???


No, no. This was my point, sort of, in #3.
No one is going to check the case of an A/C for voltage for no reason. Your job gives you a reason.
I’m not sure if I’d say this should be a common thing to test for due to the extremely rare circumstances, but similar tests could become routine.

It is not in the SOP for a home inspector to carry or use a volt meter.
Where do we draw the line we are to do a visual inspection of the home . We have enough to inspect with out getting to complicated .
… Cookie

I can give a 100 things we could do .
It is not our job and most do not have the expertise ar knowledge to do most.

OK, then other than a visual inspection of the conduit system, how would you have found this potentially lethal problem?

Hi to all,

This is (I hope) a rhetorical question, is there any reason why a voltage tic would not have found this problem, personally I have one in my back pocket on all inspections and check every service panel and most HVAC cabinets and things like rigid duct work.

Having found several “hot” enclosures and pipes over the years I am now very cautious.



Roy, it would not be any harder or take any longer to check the case or conduit with a voltage ticker, than it would to look at the data plate. Small price to pay, big reward for saving a life. Especially for a CMI, you should have the knowledge and be willing to use it to show why you are worth the higher fees.