Panel after disconnect is bonded-electrician wrote up why its ok

I want to share this with folks and see their take. I know I have been hammering on this topic a bunch.

This was an older house (1938) with an updated meter and main disconnect located outside. On the other side of the wall was the service panel-which has been updated at some point. The service panel had the bond still intact, which occurred after the bond at the main disconnect in the meter panel. Now, from everything that I have gathered here, this is not acceptable and has been called out. The electrician wrote up a nice letter stating why this is ok. Here is the copy and paste of his letter, which I requested he put on his letter:
"Here is what the National Electric Code says:

Ground & Neutral Separation

250.32 (B)(1) Ex.1

The grounded conductor (neutral) run with the supply conductors to the building is allowed to be used as the ground fault return path and the grounded conductors (neutrals) and circuit equipment grounding conductors (grounds) must be bonded.

The code to separate the grounds and neutrals first appeared in the code (loosely) in 1999. It was shored up to what it is today around 2008.

As this house was built in 1936 and the addition being built in 1961, the service feed to the panel fall under this exception. This inspector’s report could be clarified by stating that if a ground wire was to be installed with the supply conductors from the meter to the panel, then the grounds & neutrals would need to be separated in the panel."

My question is if He is this correct?

If the service disconnect is outside then the interior panel would be wired with the grounded and grounding conductors separated.

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I’ll leave the intrinic replies to the experts, by my initial response was a short chuckle, with a “Yes/No”!

Yes: Legally, the NEC allowed it at the time of contruction… or should I say… they didn’t think it was an issue at the time the home was built, so it wasn’t addressed.
No: Safety, codes are basically all about safety. Codes change to make a home safer for the occupants. If the ‘old’ codes were safe, they wouldn’t have been changed when they discovered there was a concern for safety.
So: The Electrician only discussed what was legally allowed at the time of build. Not once was safety ever mentioned. Why is that?

It was awesome that he actually put something in writing. Technically, that is all that’s needed for your CYA… BUT… the cynical side of me asks… “Did he include his License Number on that write-up? Did an actual licensed electrician write that up, or just the sellers handyman buddy?” Anybody can Google anything, and copy/paste from a online forum! Pass the letter along, and verbally share your opinion about the safety aspect. Remember, depending on the local AHJ, if/when they decide to make their own improvemants, they may be required to make updates to that same work! So much for “exceptions”.

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The interior service panel had only a three wire feed, so yes he is correct. If the panel is updated it will require a four wire feed (separate ground cable - current code).

The electrician wrote this? This is completely false.


Fortunately, we’re not code inspectors.

I write every bathroom and kitchen I inspect that doesn’t have GFCI protection, regardless of the age of the house or whether it’s been remodeled or not. If I, as a home inspector consider something wrong, a defect, a safety or health hazard, etc., I write it up as such.

IMO you made the right call. I would recommend that my clients get a second and even a third opinion.


I was under the impression that this has never been allowed when the main disconnect and the panel in question are in/on the same structure. I believe the code changes the electrician refers to deals with service to separate detached structures?


Likely the 3 wire feed to the subpanel included an uninsulated neutral. Although this was common practice in the old days. I believe the code has never allowed a feeder with an uninsulated neutral to serve a subpanel in the same building. Since all the feeder circuit conductors must run together, replacement of the feeder is necessary.

He is a legit master electrician, who is also my neighbor and I see a lot of his work and vice versa. We’ve had good dialogue about other topics that had been called out and he needed to fix. This topic he is taking a hard stance on and not willing to listen to what I have understood through here and other places.

Thank you for the confirmation. Now how do I proceed? Not necessarily on this one as he was willing to put it on a letterhead with his license number, but future properties that are wired in this way, this isn’t the first time we have had this conversation. I would love some concrete code reference or a letterhead from someone with a solid understanding of this to back up my argument. Unfortunately this is not the first and only licensed electrician that I’ve had this debate with. Around here most residential property is old , been updated and not regulated by any AHJ to oversee any of the electrical work. I’m fine with him believing what ever he wants to believe, but it makes me look foolish with the agents when he says I am wrong. This double bond is something I see often, thus still not sure if I’m missing something that all these master electricians are claiming is to be correct.

Is there a reference that backs this up?

No offence, but…
Seems to me you need to post clear photos to “show your case”.
Perhaps there is something these Master Electricians are seeing that you are not, thus the difference of opinions.
Generally, when you are the only one seeing something one way, you need to consider that you are the one in error.
Those here on the MB cannot see what you are seeing without photos of the issue at hand.
“Show us” your concerns!


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No problem: First pic shows the meter with the main disconnect. Neutral and ground are bonded- only three wires ran into the panel.
Service panel is also bonded with no neutral/ground fourth wire to separate the bond. All grounds and neutrals also land on the same bus bars and the bonding screw/ bar is in place.
Please do help explain if I am missing something here beyond that this is a bond after the main disconnect. I would love to understand if I am misinterpreted something here.
The electrician is correct that he only ran 3 wires to the service panel, but as rmeier2 stated, that does not mean anything. I have tried to find where that might be written to no avail- I am also not great at sleuthing for those types of things.

I think you nailed it. Allowed at the time but is it a safety concern now? I think the electrician intentionally did not address this. To correct the issue it would require an “upgrade”. And while you are at it, why not arc fault protection etc. ?

In my report, I would have specifically said something along the lines of “evaluate for any potential safety concerns and make corrections/upgrades as needed.”

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This is the narrative I just put together. What do you all think?

The panel located in the basement was bonded (grounds and neutrals connected). The electrical code does not allow this to happen after the main disconnect for safety concerns, which is located at the outside panel. This occurance has been signed off by a master electrician as acceptable, due to the age of the install. If there are any concerns about this, it is recommended to discuss this with either the electrician taking the full responsibility of this or another qualified electrician.

I am also including his letter into the appendix of the report

I would go more this direction. Describe the issue. Let them know it may have been allowed at the time of installation but is no longer permitted and that you have safety concerns.

I think of it like a deck. Older decks not up to code but if it has a modern safety concern I call it out (upgrade or corrections for additional safety)


I’m still wondering if this was ever allowed. I’m almost certain @rmeier2 has stated on the forum in the past that it was never allowed where the service disconnect and panel in question are in/on the same structure.

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Never a good idea to ever mention “code” in your reports.

I simply call out that the sub panel neutral and ground bus bars were bonded and to have a qualified Electrical Contractor make corrections as needed.

If an Electrician signed off on it on his letterhead, then IMO your job is done.


I agree with Brian, but if you wish to preceed with your narrative, I would at least make one addition to clarify the timeframe of the required standards…

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I hear you and many others giving the advice not to mention code, and for most of the time I do not. I am not sure how to reference this specifically by not mentioning the NEC code. To me, the concern here is due to the current code.
The argument really falls back to the realtors as they are the ones negotiating with each other, and here is a licensed master electrician stating that I am wrong and he is correct. I’m in a small close knit community of realtors and if one electrician is saying that I am wrong for calling this out, then it makes me look foolish to do it again down the road. Yes I can say it is safety concern, but doesn’t “code” essentially overrule my or the electricians opinions?