Loose wires in electrical panel

I noticed the two loose wires at the bottom of the electrical panel. I also noticed that the wiring to the water heater was replaced with an orange insulated wire when the replacement water heater was installed in 2003. I’m guessing those two loose wires originally went to the water heater. I’m not clear on what to say about these two loose wires in my report that aren’t being used. Any suggestions would be appreciated.



Improperly terminated wires noted at the — panel. The ends of spliced wires should be covered with a wire nut and electrical tape should be wrapped over the nut and onto the wires. Note, the inspector does not pull or track the source of terminated wires.

I agree they would be safer if the ends were either taped or a wire nut were installed. This would keep inadvertent contact with the live buss from energizing the other end of the cable or worse causing some arcing which may lead to other problems. According to the NEC abandoned line voltage cables and conductors can remain for possible future use. Abandoned CATV and data/phone wiring must be removed or tagged for future use. No such requirement exist for line voltage cables.

“Abandoned line voltage cable found in electrical panel. It can be removed or, if left in place, bare copper conductor ends should be covered
by wire nuts or electrical tape. Consult licensed electrician”

Wow, great comments. I was about to only suggest removing the loose wires. Thanks gentlemen.



Brian summed it up nicely.:smiley:

it looks like from the photo that the orange wire come through exterior of the house wall then travels up into an exterior mounted breaker panel. shouldn’t that cable be protected from cutting in conduit?

No, the problem is that that type of cable is not listed for use outdoors.

Conduit would only be required if it was deemed that the cable was subject to physical damage.

Isn’t the orange cable (10ga) ) subject to physical damage?


That misses the point Chris.

The cable is not out door rated. It it was UF there would be no problem.

Physical damage is a very subjective term and is not defined in the NEC. What you may consider may vary widely from what someone else considers subject to damage.

Why? It appears subject to damage to me.

So, in this installation, other than not being UF, you would not consider it a safety defect?

UF or NM I would consider an exposed cable installed as in that photo subject to physical damage. Now use UF and properly support it then it might be OK. SE cable is run out of the bottom of a meter pan exposed everywhere around here.

Thanks. Same here with SE cable in rural areas.

As Jim stated it’s not defined by the NEC so subject to physical damage is open to interpretation. I used the SE cable as an example because in many area (including this one) that’s an acceptable wiring method in an exposed location. Run it in a driveway and then you would have a problem.

Loose improperly terminated wires noted in panel. Use them or loose them.

In Canada’s NEC, “the subject to physical damage” has a little extra added to the clause. It is considered that any regular cable like NMW (your UF), NMD, etc that is under 5 feet from the floor/ground level is subject to physical damage from things such as lawn mowers, trimmers, snow shovels/plows, dollies, etc and must be protected in conduit, EMT, or be BX (armoured flex).

The extra wires in the panel can be left in there and the exposed copper needs to be cut off or have a wire nut as stated. But where is the other end and how is it terminated. If there are wires sticking out of a wall or in a crawlspace and some guy hooks them up in that panels that could be a problem.
Also the UF cable would have to be in a conduit till it got into a place it was protected or 18" into the ground.