Today I found a 60 amp breaker protecting a 10 gauge copper conductor. Thankfully it had not cause a fire, yet. Clearly, this was not done by a licensed electrician.
What did the label on the condenser say the minimum circuit ampacity and maximum breaker size requirements are?
Assuming that this was a 240 volt circuit for an AC unit the OCPD can be larger than the ampacity of the conductors because it’s only providing short circuit and ground fault protection, it is not there to protect the conductors from being overloaded that’s the job over the overloads within the unit.
Having said that a 60 amp OCPD on #10 conductors seems too large. And although it’s definitely incorrect if the conductors are sized properly for the unit the risk of fire is likely very low.
First, it is not for an AC or heat pump.
So you are saying that I should not have called it a safety or fire hazard?
I respectfully disagree. I have no idea what some homeowner or “chuck with a truck” did to this circuit. It could be drawing 45 amps because the WH and dryer are on the same branch circuit.
It was not for the AC or heat pump.
My original reply was for an AC unit for which it was likely a violation. Let’s start with what was it feeding?
It doesn’t matter what it is feeding, since I have no idea what some homeowner or “chuck with a truck” did to the circuit.
You are making assumptions I can’t make.
OK fair enough, then just report it as you see it.
I think what he is probably saying is…Provide more details in your responses if you expect people to reply with accurate rebuttal. Logically the only condition that would potentially result in such an example of this would be under the allowances of 240.4 (G).
And I do not think Robert or anyone states not to call it out…you just did not provide enough information to determine otherwise because their are potential factors that could permit it…Devil is in the details.
True, Chuck mentioned the AC unit (which seemed like a logical choice) and I expanded on it. As you’ve mentioned without more details it’s hard to accurately answer the question.
It is almost certainly not code compliant and should be reported as such.
Also I was addressing the part in the OP about a potential fire hazard and how that related to an oversized OCPD protecting an AC unit. Since this not an AC unit the point is moot.
My OP was more about sarcasm and improving my SEO.
I have no doubt you and Robert are knowledgeable about electrical code, but like I said, who knows what a homeowner has or will do to this circuit. 10 gauge copper wire should not be protected by a breaker larger than 30 amp breaker. If I see it, then I have to call it out.
And you would be wrong if this was a motor or compressor load as has been said several times in your thread.
I would think you would want your reports to be accurate.
Chris no offense but statements like this seem to imply that you do not understand that there are times when the OCPD can be larger than the conductor size and should not be called out because they may be code complaint.
No offense taken. I have no doubt you and Paul are very knowledgeable. However, you and Paul have trouble accepting that home inspectors are not code compliance inspectors. We are at a home for a limited period of time and cannot disassemble a home. Nor are we required to know everything about a singular topic like a licensed electrician. We are generalist and therefore I, and every other home inspector, rely on licensed specialist to complete the work correctly.
Furthermore, I stand by my original comment that a 10 gauge copper branch wire is rated for 30 amps. What good is it to protect that branch circuit with a 60 amp breaker? Why have a breaker at all?
You didn’t read the part where I said this was NOT an air conditioner, nor a heat pump.
Having said that, lets say it was an air conditioner. In this circuit, you have a 10 gauge copper conductor protected by a 60 amp breaker. Let’s say the homeowner adds a welder in the garage down the line at a junction box in the crawlspace or inside a wall. Let’s say the receptacle for the welder is in the garage behind a self or tool box and I don’t see any of it. The air conditioner data tag says 35 amp max breaker. Guess what happens?
Because welders, AC units, Compressors have exemptions that allow it. If you refer this to an electrician and under the circumstance that an AC unit is on it and the tag on the AC unit says MIN CIR 30A MAX BREAKER 60A then your customer may be paying to bring in a specialist that is just going to tell them “Your inspector called out something that is correct”.
That said I would think that what you are showing us is likely incorrect anyhow as a 60A breaker on 10 AWG is a bigger swing than I have ever seen for any compressor.
I did read that it was not an A/C. My reply was to your blanket statement that only #10 can be on a 30 amp breaker. You cannot simply rule out the wire size without knowing what it serves before calling it a defect.
We could play all sorts of what ifs, but probably wouldn’t finish one inspection.
Let’s say you report it as a defect with all of the commensurate hype and todo about fire hazards and saving lives. Flourshments like “Thankfully it had not cause a fire, yet. Clearly, this was not done by a licensed electrician.” You post it on the public forum, Facebook and make a YouTube video out of it for SEO purposes…
The seller and buyer both alarmed by your report hire an electrician who tells them and the agent involved that their inspector is incompetent. They tell all of their friends and colleagues about the incompetence and how it unnecessarily cost them time and money to refute the claimed life threatening “defect”. Your colleagues begin to think you’re willfully incompetent and choose to argue the point with the resident electrical experts rather than learn from the experience.
Guess what happens?
Agree that an HI is a generalist, but you have a duty to report accurately. When you report a “defect” that is not all you do is cost the seller money to refute something that should never have been written up. It also does nothing to show knowledge of the subject.
The breaker is sized to allow the motor or compressor load to start without tripping on the inrush current that can be several times the run current. The wire is sized for the run load.