Name that defect? Care to play?

I will send an $25.00 check to the first person who can identify this electrical panel defect.

1931 apartment conversion condo building. Milbank multiple unit panes in the basement commojn area (Picture 1).

Now, here is the question:
Look at picture 2. Inside of the subject unit’s panel. What is the major defect.

Hint 1: In Illinois, inspectors, are required to call out, as “significantly deficient” items that are unsafe. From the state SOP administratibe rules:

“Unsafe: A condition in a system or component that is a significant risk of personal injury or property damage during normal, day-to-day use. The risk may be due to damage, deterioration, improper installation or a change in accepted residential construction standards.”

Hint 2: NEC 2008 is the current accepted residential construction standards.

Hint 3: Yeah, I know that the panel was not properly labeled as to branch circuits. That is not the defect I mean.

To gain the prize, name the defect AND site the NEC 2008 code section.

Good Luck. I will contact the winner and send him (or her) the check. I will not, right away, post who that winner is in the interest my messing with meany other people’s minds and promoting discussion, argument and the good old give and take excahnge that this board is noted for.

You may begin.



panel could have more than 6 throws.

Where’s the ground lug?

Distrobution panel. Neutral is floated (around here, everything is required to be in conduit, which carries the ground.

The six throw rule is OK. Six throws means six “hand throws”, not six switches. My hands are pretty big.

No joy yet.

Any other players.

Final hint. Look at picture #2. It is right there before you and deals with a change in the 2008 NEC.

Now get to it :mrgreen:

Multi wire circuits, the 2 ungrounded conductors should be tied together and on seperate phase. The box should have 3 double pole breakers.

Biggest mistake would be applying 2008 NEC code to a grandfathered panel.
Ok looking back you mentioned rehab.
Assuming there is no Remote distribution panel I would if applying Code site lack of AFCI protection.

That would be my first issue if this is a recent rehab and electrical work was done ,as it needs to be brought up to code under those conditions…

The only thing I can think of is…grouping the neutral with the appropriate multi-wire branch circuits (NEC 210.4d) and along with that the MWC branch circuit breakers must have a handle tie to disconnect both ungrounded conductors. (NEC 210.4b)



Picture is to fuzzy to tell much on that left side as far as the breakers are concerned.

Each multiwire branch circuit shall have a means to simultaneously disconnect all ungrounded conductors at the point where the branch circuit originates. That’s not the case here.

poor dang breakers look like they have no ratings on them…are they simply disconnects and not the required Overcurrent protection?

I only see (3) grounded conductors…how about

**[FONT=Times New Roman]size=2 Grouping. **[/size][/FONT][FONT=Times New Roman][size=2]The ungrounded and grounded conductors
of each multiwire branch circuit shall be grouped by wire
ties or similar means in at least one location within the
panelboard or other point of origination.
[/size][/FONT]*[FONT=Times New Roman][size=2]Exception: The requirement for grouping shall not apply if
the circuit enters from a cable or raceway unique to the
circuit that makes the grouping obvious.


**[FONT=Times New Roman][size=2][FONT=Times New Roman]size=2 Disconnecting Means. **[/size][/size][/FONT][FONT=Times New Roman][size=2]Each multiwire branch circuit
shall be provided with a means that will simultaneously
disconnect all ungrounded conductors at the point where
the branch circuit originates.

Now when you say it is a distribution panel…i will assume their is a service disconnect somewhere upstream on all of these…otherwise i would expect a case to neutral connection at these panels also…but you say it is a distribution panel so I wont venture down that path.

3 Neutrals, and 6 branch circuits. Possibly due to the change in the 2008 code concerning the neutrals making it all the way back to the distribution panel and not just tied together somewhere in the middle?

** Edit* Ah I see Paul said it more eloquently than I.

lol…thats ok…someone was faster than I was at answering it correctly…but I posted the code…so I get extra points from the Deckster…:wink:

So who’s the winner Will?

FYI, although this is an old post, just in case others read through this thread: Six throws is incorrect. The size of your hand was never a consideration when writing the NEC. If you were to say six disconnects you would get a prize:

230.71 Maximum Number of Disconnects.
(A) General. The service disconnecting means for each service permitted by 230.2, or for each set of service-entrance conductors permitted by 230.40, Exception No. 1, 3, 4, or 5, shall consist of not more than six switches or sets of circuit breakers, or a combination of not more than six switches and sets of circuit breakers, mounted in a single enclosure, in a group of separate enclosures, or in or on a switchboard. There shall be not more than six sets of disconnects per service grouped in any one location.

When you think 6, do not think throws, or hand.



That panel has a lot that is questionable to me… All to common with older multi-unit buildings… In fact I had one inspection that had the same equipment… wonder if your in the same building…:wink:

Lets see… The left side breakers don’t appear to be labeled… They look like original breakers. BUT on the other hand they maybe the original breakers and the ones on the “right” are newer and possible a different brand.

The wiring could be undersized since we can’t tell ratings of left side breakers… Is there a panel in the unit?

The Hot gutter is in picture #1 yet the dead face to that panel is missing a screw…:wink: The breaker labels are probably poorly described… Is there a “common” main cutoff upstream of this??

The three grounded (neutrals) are common to see even with six breakers in the panel. I bet this place is from the 1920’s that had an “upgrade” to equipment… Limited /old or replaced receptacles probably painted over or changed to three prong Recep’s… No proper “ground” and very questionable cloth wires at the apartment / condo area connected at a main “huge” j box that loose like spagetti newer synthetic wiring. No proper “bonding” or continuous metal “conduit” path… Did you see the old black conduit in the basement ceiling somewhere?

If you think that an AFCI or GFCI breaker belongs in this panel…GOOD luck… Half the equipment is older then my underwear…:wink:

What is the “Main” rating? Meter? 60 amps? Bet the service conductors are as old as the equipment…is and undersized for the building needs today… Just wait till the client wants central air, dishwasher, TV in every room, computer with three prong into two prong unpolarized receps… Extension cables everywhere… No laundry / kitchen circuit… Doesn’t matter cuz only a house fire is going to change anything…:shock:

I don’t have a CODE reference …I’ll leave that to guys like you…

Don’t get shot Will…by the next “contractor” or CI…

6 live wires, 3 neutral wires and one 240V circuit (no tie bar) = 1 circuit using ground as neutral…

Curious as to how you came to that conclusion…


There is 6 breakers and only 3 neutrals; the right side of panel 2 upper breakers have a black and a red wire which indicates a 240 V circuit (without a tie-bar).

That leaves 1 circuit without a neutral or using the metal conduit as neutral???