Odd service grounding in condo unit from exterior raceway, not meter or panel

The service equipment for a townhouse I inspected was oddly grounded, with a grounding wire observed from the distribution raceway where the main incoming service wires branched off the meters for the individual units, but no dedicated grounding electrode at all for the main panel or the meter for the unit (evidently the rightmost meter).

The exterior grounding wire is just left of the conduit on the top 2 pictures (between the conduit and meter on the top picture).

There were other issues observed which were obvious enough, and need not be addressed here.

The panel was wired as a main panel, rather than a sub-panel, so I expected to see a dedicated grounding electrode for the unit.

The grounding wire below the point the main cables entered the wall was evidently for the panel in the adjacent condo.

In any case, the panel obviously has no supplemental grounding, But does the main service grounding electrode configured in this way provide good service grounding?

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So the service disconnect was adjacent to the meter?

The main disconnect in the panel itself. Other units evidently had exterior service disconnects. This one did not.

The panel was definitely more recent than the 1985 construction date. Occupant evidently did not want a prankster to be able to turn off their electricity easily outside, which I can well understand. In fact, I write up such situations, especially when there is no main breaker inside – which I see rather often when inspecting condos. I would think that violates the “6 throw” rule, but they evidently pass city inspections.

Not sure I follow.

Those panels beneath the meters - are those individual disconnects for the units?

Those panels are evidently main disconnects for the other condo units. The cable for this one evidently went straight from the raceway to the main panel inside. The cable on the right, next to the conduit…

The exterior grounding wire is between the conduit and the rightmost meter (for the unit) and runs along the conduit into the grounding rod.

I’ve often seen grounding like this for units in which the main panel inside the unit is wired as a sub-panel (which for all I know this may originally have been), but not if wired as a main panel.

If my info is correct, it’s also OK to ground the service from the meter. But with the meter in between the terminal from which the service is grounded and a main panel?

As I tell my clients straight away, I’m like the family doctor, not the brain surgeon. This one’s unlike any I’ve seen before.

The service disconnects should all be grouped at the same location.

My main concern is whether or not the grounding is effective for this unit. The service disconnect being inside the unit is better for occupants of the unit than if it were outside (especially if they aren’t sure which is which!) and none inside, as far as I’m concerned, regardless of what codes might say.

Robert it needs a full evaluation anyways as the conduit has not been attached with a lock nut to the raceway. I highly doubt that an electrician did this.

Yeah, that’s one of the other obvious issues, Kevin. :wink: Fortunately for my clients, probably one for the condo association to fix.

Obvious amateur work. There are enough issues that an electrician ought to look at it anyway. All easily corrected, at least.

Grounding (earth-bonding) is required to be at the service equipment (with exceptions for detached structures) and not at the individual panels. The individual condo/townhome does not require it’s own GES unless it’s a detached structure.

The “service disconnect” should be at or near the meters. You can’t have “service disconnects” located in individual units, even if you feel it’s “a good idea.” Having a “disconnect” for each individual unit is perfectly acceptable, but the structure requires a single disconnect or group of disconnects - aka “service disconnect.”

The panel in your picture (I’m suspecting) is actually a sub panel that has been wired as service equipment, which would be incorrect for this application.

I asked about the panels beneath the meters. My suspicion is that these are likely individual disconnects for the individual units. If there are six or less of these, that could be considered the “group of disconnects,” or the “service disconnect” for the structure.

Thanks, Jeffrey, that answers my main question. So then, the grounding is OK, but for the lack of a supplemental grounding electrode, in case of careless disconnection, such as may occur in the course of groundskeeping.

It’s odd that the unit behind evidently also had a dedicated grounding wire for its panel, but this one did not.

OK, understood, no proper service disconnect for the entire building in one place, the group of external disconnects serving as such, in lieu of a big single main disconnect (such as I’ve observed in most similar buildings). I still would want a main breaker inside, regardless.

Regarding the raceway that was pulled out of the wireway it’s likely that this was caused by ground movement or settling. Not sure how old this installation is but the 1996 NEC added a new requirement to address this issue. One method to prevent damage to the raceway or equipment is to use expansion fittings in raceways that emerge from the ground.

Thanks Robert I am sure everyone appreciates your contribution to the MB almost daily. He is in Michigan area so that would certainly apply to movement.