Inspection Pointers Here


Cliff Weedman of Eighty Eight, Ky., found this installation in a botanical garden in Nashville, Tenn. The first thing you may notice is that in order to operate the switch on the combination device you would have to reach through the water falling off the evaporative air cooler above (you can actually see the drops falling in the photo) — not to mention the lack of a cover. And it just gets worse: the open cover on the GFCI, PVC plumbing fitting used as conduit, open knockouts, inaccessibility due to plantings, non-rain tight wireway, and improperly supported boxes are all evident. To top it off, it’s all within easy reach of the public, including small children. The location — under the overflowing water trough — is unsuitable for any installation of electrical equipment.


The 2002 Code permits use of a circuit breaker as a disconnect. For a multiwire branch circuit, unless limited by 210.4(B), individual single-pole circuit breakers, with or without “approved” handle ties, are permitted as the protection for each ungrounded conductor of multiwire branch circuits that serve only single-phase, line-to-neutral loads. A proposal for the 2005 NEC [ROP 10-39] was accepted to delete the word “approved” and replace it with the word “identified” because Art. 100 defines “approved” as acceptable to the authority having jurisdiction. Some electrical inspectors have accepted nails, screws, or wires as an approved handle tie. Art. 100 defines “identified” as “recognizable as suitable for the specific purpose, function, use, environment, application, and so forth, where described in a particular code requirement.” Accessories, such as handle ties, are readily available from product manufacturers.


A revision to 110.12(A) in the 2002 NEC requires only “cable and raceway openings” to be effectively closed to afford protection substantially equivalent to the wall of the equipment. It’s obvious that some workers believe this rule also applies to panelboards. An accepted change proposal for 110.12(A) of the 2005 NEC (ROP 1-160) will add additional language to include “unused openings for circuit breakers and other overcurrent devices in addition to raceway and cable openings, adding auxiliary gutters, cabinets, cutout boxes, meter socket enclosures, equipment cases, or housing openings.” This change will make it clear that this type of installation will never again be acceptable.


An AC unit isn’t designed to be installed in a door. Underwriters Laboratories listings (UL 484) include room air conditioners, which are to be encased in assemblies designed as a unit and intended as the prime source of refrigeration and dehumidification for a single room, zone, or space. A room air conditioner is intended for installation in windows, through walls, or as consoles located in or adjacent to the room, zone, or space to be conditioned, not placed in a door. In addition, this also violates 110.3(B) of the 2002 NEC, which states “listed or labeled equipment shall be installed and used in accordance with any instructions included in the listing or** labeling.”

Product Safety Tips:

UL Recommends Regular Testing of GFCIs

December 20, 2003: Underwriters Laboratories periodically revises requirements in its Standards for Safety to harmonize with international requirements, address code and safety issues, and accommodate new product developments as applicable. UL has adopted new and revised requirements for Ground-Fault Circuit-Interrupters (GFCIs) that become effective January 1, 2003. Among others, these requirements include enhanced requirements for immunity to voltage surges, resistance to moisture and corrosion, reverse line-load mis-wiring, and resistance to environmental noise. Though products meeting these revised requirements will soon enter the marketplace, they are not required to have any special markings to distinguish them from models made prior to January 1, 2003. Models of GFCIs Listed by UL that were manufactured and labeled prior to January 1, 2003 still may appear in the marketplace after January 1, 2003, and until such time as old stocks of GFCIs become exhausted.

Ground fault circuit interrupters (GFCI) can help prevent electrocution inside and outside the home. GFCIs are an effective means of protecting against electrical shock, however, they must be tested regularly – UL recommends once a month – to verify they are working properly.
“Ground faults” are often the result of damaged appliance cords or consumers who use electrical products in wet environments, such as bathrooms or swimming pool decks. By installing GFCIs in every home in the United States, the U.S. Product Safety Commission (CPSC) estimates that more than two-thirds of the approximately 300 electrocutions occurring each year could be prevented. The advantage of using GFCIs is that they detect even those amounts of electricity too small for your fuse or circuit breaker to activate and shut off the circuit.
Like all products, GFCIs can be damaged. GFCIs damaged by lightning or electrical surges may fail to provide adequate protection. A simple test once a month and after any violent thunderstorm should be conducted.
To properly test GFCI receptacles in your home:

  • Push the “Reset” button located on the GFCI receptacle, first to assure normal GFCI operation.
  • Plug a night light (with an “ON/OFF” switch) or other product (such as a lamp) into the GFCI receptacle and turn the product “ON.”
  • Push the “Test” button located on the GFCI receptacle. The night light or other product should go “OFF.”
  • Push the “Reset” button, again. The light or other product should go “ON” again.
    If the light or other product remains “ON” when the “Test” button is pushed, the GFCI is not working properly or has been incorrectly installed (mis-wired). If your GFCI is not working properly, call a qualified, certified electrician who can assess the situation, rewire the GFCI if necessary or replace the device.
    “GFCIs are proven lifesavers, however, consumers need to take a few minutes each month to do this simple test. By taking action, you can help protect your family from the risk of electric shock,” says John Drengenberg, UL Consumer Affairs Manager.
    Several types of GFCIs may be installed in/around your home. Look for the UL Mark on GFCIs when purchasing them or when specifying the product to your electrician.
    Wall Receptacle GFCI – This type of GFCI – the most widely used – fits into a standard outlet and protects against ground faults whenever an electrical product is plugged into the outlet. Wall receptacle GFCIs are most often installed in kitchens, bath and laundry rooms, and out-of-doors where water and electricity are most likely to be in close proximity.
    Circuit Breaker GFCI – In homes equipped with circuit breakers, this type of GFCI may be installed in a panel box to give protection to selected circuits. Circuit breaker GFCIs should also be checked monthly. Keep in mind that the test will disconnect power to all lights and appliances on the circuit.
    Portable GFCI – A portable GFCI requires no special knowledge or equipment to install. One type contains the GFCI circuitry in a self-contained enclosure with plug blades in the back and receptacle slots in the front. It can then be plugged into a receptacle, and the electrical products are plugged into the GFCI. Another type of portable GFCI is an extension cord combined with a GFCI. It adds flexibility in using receptacles that are not protected by GFCIs. Portable GFCIs should only be used on a temporary basis and should be tested prior to every use.
    Underwriters Laboratories Inc. (UL) is an independent, not-for-profit product safety certification organization that has been testing products for more than a century. More than 16 billion products bearing the UL Mark enter the marketplace every year.


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