Summary of electrical issues - please comment

Originally Posted By: bking
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I have compiled this list of common electrical issues that typically result in misunderstanding with agents and electricians.


Please review for content and not for any particular style of reporting and let me know if you think anything is technically wrong with the intended message. I left out the boilerplate comments about needing further evaluation etc. for clarity.

Please do not copy and paste code as your response, this is fine for other threads but lets keep this one in a format that clients and agents might understand.


Double tapped neutral wires:
It is not considered safe or correct practice to have more than one neutral wire present under one screw terminal. This is not grandfathered in any codes. It has always been required under the requirement to follow the manufacturers installation specifications and instructions.

New service equipment on older homes:
Since the exterior panel is present, this is the service equipment even though it only contains one main disconnect circuit breaker. This location is the only place that the neutrals and grounds should be connected together.


When a new service equipment panel has been added and the interior panels were not updated:
The interior panels are not wired correctly due to the addition of a new exterior panel.
Recommend updating and configure each panel for 4-wire feed in order to have the grounds and neutrals separate at each interior subpanel. Since the grounding conductor is present it will require a new insulated neutral conductor to be installed from the main panel to the subpanel(s). A separate busbar will be needed for each panel to separate the neutrals from the grounds.


Solid aluminum wiring:
When solid aluminum branch circuit wiring is present it is advised to further research the optional repair processes such as using COPALUM connectors that are recommended over pig-tail type repairs.


3-wire ungrounded outlets:
The inspection industry and most of the electrical industry agree that 3-wire outlets should only exist with the proper three conductors installed so that the safety level present matches the physical appearance present.
It is recommended to install GFCI protection for all outlets that do not have a ground. When GFCI type outlets are used without a ground they should be labeled as "no equipment ground present".
Connecting a wire from a ground screw on an outlet to the metal box in the wall is a correct procedure but totally useless if the outlet does not also have a grounding conductor wire or metal conduit running from a proper ground to that outlet. Also it is common to find the neutral jumpered to the outlet ground screw, this is called a false ground and is not correct.

The following only apply to inspectors that provide details in their reports.
Information pertaining to electrical repairs :
The electrical sections of the report should be given to the electrician when any electrical work is ordered. The report is written with enough clarity for a qualified licensed electrician to perform the needed repairs. If the information is given in a condensed or any different way, the repairs may not be performed correctly or fully as I have recommended. It is the electricians responsibility to perform all work as directed or respond in writing as to the reason for not doing so. It is the responsibility of the person who pays for the work to obtain the receipt and warranty information pertaining to the work performed and provide a copy to the home buyer.

For inclusion on all reports that need electrical work:
Note, electrical problems and unsafe installations that are present should be considered a priority item. It is recommended that a permit be obtained by the electrical contractor when necessary. Recommend having the torque checked on all homes electrical connections, including the neutrals and grounds.

This one is my new favorite since it is a common occurence:
It is also recommended to understand the different skill levels and knowledge levels that exist in the licensed electrical industry especially in the topics of neutral wires, grounding and bonding issues. Many times an electrician will say that something ?is to code? or was ?grandfathered in?. It is recommended that the client always ask for these comments in writing and that the exact code reference be included and then contact me for additional information. This inspection report will indicate the difference between improper electrical issues and recommended upgrades.


comments welcome, please keep this thread in laymans terms, no code pasting etc. Thanks!


Originally Posted By: brian winkle
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Quote:
The inspection industry and most of the electrical industry agree that 3-wire outlets should only exist with the proper three conductors installed so that the safety level present matches the physical appearance present. At the very minimum, the outlets should be labeled as ?no equipment ground present?.


Bruce, I do not agree. A 3 wire receptacle wired to a two wire system presents a shock hazard and should be replaced with a two wire type. It is not merely a false sense of security, it can transfer a ground fault to metal equipment plugged into it. It should not be marked "no equipment ground" unless it is a gfci.


Originally Posted By: dspencer
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brian winkle wrote:
Quote:
The inspection industry and most of the electrical industry agree that 3-wire outlets should only exist with the proper three conductors installed so that the safety level present matches the physical appearance present. At the very minimum, the outlets should be labeled as ?no equipment ground present?.


Bruce, I do not agree. A 3 wire receptacle wired to a two wire system presents a shock hazard and should be replaced with a two wire type. It is not merely a false sense of security, it can transfer a ground fault to metal equipment plugged into it. It should not be marked "no equipment ground" unless it is a gfci.


or a GFCI marked with NO Equipment Ground lable.


Originally Posted By: bking
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Good catch guy’s, I agree, thanks for pointing that out


I'll go ahead and edit that post.


Originally Posted By: ddelaney
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Bruce,


I have to disagree with a lot of the items you have touched upon. I am a certified master electrician in my state, and have been versed in the NEC for quite awhile.

First off, all subpanels do not require the grounds and neutrals to be seperated. We have to first realize that the service, if on an outdoor fixture, may be considered a desolate service, and it may be proper to ground the 'subpanel' by its own method. Thus, making it the main service. Just as supplying one building through another, with only three-wire, and driving ground rods at the second location also.

Also, most homeowners policies will not cover a home with ANY aluminum wire (as in 12awg or 14awg) branch circuitry, no matter what type of connectors are used. Would you not be placing yourself at a liability risk by saying this?

Also, what purpose would GFCI protection serve on a two wire system? GFCI protection, in essence, monitors the difference between the ground and neutral, and trips at the set tolerance. Right?

Just interjecting. Please correct me if these items are not correct.

Thanks,

Dave Delaney
Certified Home Inspections


Originally Posted By: bking
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David, thanks for reviewing…


Subpanels:
I explained in the original post that these were common problems and the subpanels were interior of the house. Special case situations are not the intent of this thread.

Aluminum wire:
I noted that some report comments were left out for clarity.

GFCI's:
They trip when the current is different between hot and neutral. They work fine on two wire outlets. The "ground fault" is the missing current that the GFCI notices and it is assumed to be going to ground through a person or some device.

I believe the post is correct as written, everyone has their own boilerplate comments to add and I just left those out to simplify it.

I may not always include the last paragraph and just recommend a re-inspection after repairs are complete. I came up with that one after having some re-inspections where the electrical repairs were still wrong and it costed me a lot of phone time etc. ![icon_biggrin.gif](upload://iKNGSw3qcRIEmXySa8gItY6Gczg.gif)


Originally Posted By: ekartal3
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Good Stuff. icon_cool.gif


Erol Kartal
ProInspect


Originally Posted By: pdickerson
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and the neutral.


Originally Posted By: bbadger
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ddelaney wrote:
Also, what purpose would GFCI protection serve on a two wire system? GFCI protection, in essence, monitors the difference between the ground and neutral, and trips at the set tolerance. Right?


David that is not how a GFCI operates, a GFCI does not need a grounding means to still provided added safety.

A GFCI operates buy monitoring the current on the circuit conductors. Under normal conditions these values will be equal, under a fault they will not be equal which will cause the GFCI to open.

Using GFCIs to replace old two wire receptacles is a option given by the NEC.


Quote:
406.3(D)(3) Nongrounding-Type Receptacles. Where grounding means does not exist in the receptacle enclosure, the installation shall comply with (a), (b), or (c).

(a)A nongrounding-type receptacle(s) shall be permitted to be replaced with another nongrounding-type receptacle(s).

(b)A nongrounding-type receptacle(s) shall be permitted to be replaced with a ground-fault circuit interrupter-type of receptacle(s). These receptacles shall be marked ?No Equipment Ground.? An equipment grounding conductor shall not be connected from the ground-fault circuit-interrupter-type receptacle to any outlet supplied from the ground-fault circuit-interrupter receptacle.

(c)A nongrounding-type receptacle(s) shall be permitted to be replaced with a grounding-type receptacle(s) where supplied through a ground-fault circuit interrupter. Grounding-type receptacles supplied through the ground-fault circuit interrupter shall be marked ?GFCI Protected? and ?No Equipment Ground.? An equipment grounding conductor shall not be connected between the grounding-type receptacles.


As far as Aluminum wiring you may be describing a local issue as not all insurance companies have a problem with AL branch circuits.


--
Bob Badger
Electrical Construction & Maintenance
Moderator at ECN

Originally Posted By: bbadger
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pdickerson wrote:
It is my understanding that a GFCI device trips in the event of a current imbalance between the hot and the neutral.


In the case of a 120 volt circuit you are 100% correct.

If it was a 240 volt circuit it would monitor the hot and the hot.

If it was a 240/120 circuit it would monitor the two hots and the neutral.

As you believed the grounding conductor has no effect on normal GFCI operation.


--
Bob Badger
Electrical Construction & Maintenance
Moderator at ECN

Originally Posted By: bbadger
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ddelaney wrote:
First off, all subpanels do not require the grounds and neutrals to be seperated. We have to first realize that the service, if on an outdoor fixture, may be considered a desolate service, and it may be proper to ground the 'subpanel' by its own method.


Dave you are certainly correct, but in my opinion based on my experiences in this area of the country it is most unusual to actually have a situation like you describe.

There are a number of issues that must be satisfied before the NEC allows bonding a sub panel.

I agree that HIs should be aware that it is possible to have a sub panel with the neutral and grounds bonded however 99% of the time an HI sees the neutrals and grounds bonded it will be a NEC violation.

For those interested here is the relevant NEC section.

Quote:
250.32 Two or More Buildings or Structures Supplied from a Common Service.

(B)(2) Grounded Conductor.
Where (1) an equipment grounding conductor is not run with the supply to the building or structure, (2) there are no continuous metallic paths bonded to the grounding system in both buildings or structures involved, and (3) ground-fault protection of equipment has not been installed on the common ac service, the grounded circuit conductor run with the supply to the building or structure shall be connected to the building or structure disconnecting means and to the grounding electrode(s) and shall be used for grounding or bonding of equipment, structures, or frames required to be grounded or bonded. The size of the grounded conductor shall not be smaller than the larger of

(1)That required by 220.22

(2)That required by 250.122


I think I can make it clearer, all four of the following conditions must be meet before you can consider bonding the neutral and grounds together as code compliant.

(1) An equipment grounding conductor is not run with the supply to the building or structure,

(2) There are no continuous metallic paths bonded to the grounding system in both buildings or structures involved

(3) Ground-fault protection of equipment has not been installed on the common ac service

(4) The 'subpanel' must be located in or on a separate building or structure than the service panel.

My (2) is a biggie and can be tough to be able to determine.


--
Bob Badger
Electrical Construction & Maintenance
Moderator at ECN

Originally Posted By: pabernathy
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Quote:
Also, what purpose would GFCI protection serve on a two wire system? GFCI protection, in essence, monitors the difference between the ground and neutral, and trips at the set tolerance. Right?


is not correct.......GFCI's monitor between the ungrounded and the grounded conductor.....not the ungrounded and the grounding conductor when it operates correctly.


--
Paul W. Abernathy- NACHI Certified
Electrical Service Specialists
Licensed Master Electrician
Electrical Contractor
President of NACHI Central Virginia Chapter
NEC Instructor
Moderator @ Doityourself.com
Visit our website- www.electrical-ess.com

Originally Posted By: bking
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Paul, thats going to confuse most people unless you state hot and neutral as the conductors that the GFCI monitors.


It is like this in the NEC but this is not good HI reporting because it could be deemed as unnecessary confusion for the typical client.

for those that got confused on that one:
hot is the ungrounded conductor and is monitored by GFCI's
neutral is the grounded conductor and is monitored by GFCI's
ground is the grounding conductor and is not even needed for GFCI's


Originally Posted By: pabernathy
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Ok…sure hope by now most HI’s know what a Grounded and Ungrounded conductor is…but I will explain it clearer.


Ungrounded Conductors- HOT WIRES
Grounded Conductors - NEUTRAL WIRES
Grounding Conductors - Bare or Insulated Equipment Grounding Wire

Something like that.....![icon_smile.gif](upload://b6iczyK1ETUUqRUc4PAkX83GF2O.gif)


--
Paul W. Abernathy- NACHI Certified
Electrical Service Specialists
Licensed Master Electrician
Electrical Contractor
President of NACHI Central Virginia Chapter
NEC Instructor
Moderator @ Doityourself.com
Visit our website- www.electrical-ess.com