October 8, 2004 A PRIMEDIA Property Vol. II No. 19
CONTENTS
Fire House Fire Trap

If You Can't Stand the Heat...

Code Basics

What's Wrong Here?

Code Q&A

Code Quiz

Faces of the Code

Wireless Wonders

EC&M Code Conferences


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    Nightmare Installations
    Fire House Fire Trap
    As an electrical instructor for an adult evening school, I get asked by many of my students for field advice. One of the more alarming installations I was called out to investigate was in a local fire/emergency squad building. Someone in this unit had made repairs to an old Pushmatic panel, where the main circuit breaker had failed and burned. This "qualified" individual's fix consisted of drilling two holes in the blackened panel and bolting on a new circuit breaker and back-feeding the burnt and blackened panel. The use of standard bolts and poor connections to the bus bar again led to an overheating situation. When asked for my recommendation on adding some new circuits to this panel I gave this reply: Hire a real electrical contractor to replace this mess or you'll be calling yourselves shortly.
    Robert J. Sheridan
    Marlton, N.J.



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    If You Can't Stand the Heat...
    During the remodeling of the kitchen in our home, demolition of the false ceiling revealed water pipes sloppily run under the main floor joists and Romex lying on top of the hot and cold water pipes. The Romex fed the kitchen and upstairs bedroom loads. This installation saved the homebuilder or the electrician some expense, as the electrician didn't have to drill holes in the floor joists or use any kind of approved attachment method to properly support the conductors. The real surprise came when the plumber went to remove and reroute the hot and cold water pipes. The outer covering of the Romex in contact with the hot water pipe had melted, as well as a portion of the outer insulation of the conductors. Fortunately, I know of only one "electrical" fire that has occurred in the neighborhood because of this situation.
    Bob Wilson
    Dana Point, Calif.


    Send your 200-word story to us and it may appear in a future issue of CodeWatch. Authors of stories chosen for publication will receive $25.


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    Applications Corner
    Code Basics
    By Mike Holt
    The NEC requires you to ground (earth) system windings to limit the voltage imposed on the system from lightning, unintentional contact with higher-voltage lines, or line surges. When lightning occurs, high voltages drive high current (as much as 40,000A) into the earth for a fraction of a second. Typically, lightning strikes to wiring are directed to outside utility wiring systems. Therefore, grounding (earthing) the system windings will assist the flow of lightning into the earth.

    When a ground fault over 600V occurs, the voltage on the other phases can rise significantly for the duration of the fault (typically three to 12 cycles). This voltage surge during the utility ground fault will be transformed into an elevated surge voltage on the secondary -- possibly destroying electrical and electronic equipment. The lower the resistance of the utility grounding (earthing) system, the lower the secondary voltage surge.

    Another function of this earthing is to "stabilize the voltage to earth during normal operation" by providing a common reference point. Thus, the NEC also requires you to ground (earth) metal parts of electrical equipment in or on a building or structure. See 250.24(A) for services and 250.32(A) for separate buildings or structures. You accomplish this grounding (earthing) by electrically connecting the building or structure disconnecting means (225.31 or 230.70) -- with a grounding (earthing) electrode conductor [250.64(A)] -- to a grounding (earthing) electrode [250.52, 250.24(A) and 250.32(A)].

    However, grounding (earthing) the metal parts of electrical equipment doesn't protect this equipment from lightning-induced voltage transients or those generated by other equipment in the structure. To provide protection from voltage surges, you must engineer a proper surge protection system.


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    Code Challenge
    What's Wrong Here?
    By Joe Tedesco
    How does this installation violate NEC requirements?

    Hint: The conduit and other raceway at the Park Street MBTA station in Boston is separated where passing through the sleeve to the station below.

    Code Q&A
    By Mike Holt
    Q. When does the NEC require a main breaker in a load center?
    See the answer.


    Code Quiz
    By Steven Owen
    According to the 2005 NEC, ground-fault circuit-interrupter protection for 125V, 15A or 20A receptacles is required for which of the following locations?

    1. near a commercial boathouse, without access to the public
    2. in a crawl space of an industrial building
    3. on the 2nd floor of a dwelling unit garage that provides no access to vehicles
    4. outdoors in a public park where accessible to the general public

    Visit EC&M's Web site for the answer and explanation.


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    Faces of the Code
    Roland Gubisch
    Member, Code-Making Panel 16

    It's been 34 years since Roland Gubisch returned to the United States as a freshly minted doctoral graduate of the University of Cambridge, but his experiences overseas still have an affect on his life and approach to work. He didn't know it at the time -- in fact, he didn't even realize it until prompted to look back at his career -- but the three years he spent in England would be instrumental in his current job at Intertek Testing Services. "Living over there opened me up to alternate ways of doing things," he says. "That kind of mindset is very helpful with what I do, which is very broadly based in a discipline where regulations and regulatory procedures are changing all the time."

    Keeping up with those changes is a critical concern. As the chief engineer for electromagnetic compatibility and telecommunications, Gubisch is expected to provide engineering support for the testing laboratory's North American locations as well as communicate domestic testing requirements to its laboratories in Europe and the Far East. "The differences between one country's requirements and another's aren't typically very large, but even small ones can be a real problem if the manufacturer isn't aware of them," he says. "So paying attention to detail is very important."

    After working in the fields of medical instrumentation and instrumentation in general, Gubisch began to specialize in communications cabling -- he holds patents for measuring their characteristics -- and eventually settled on EMC and telecommunications at Intertek, which is ironic, given that some of the most common devices he now tests are WiFi routers for wireless communications among laptops. That increasing specialization in communications cabling made him a natural candidate to represent Intertek on Code-Making Panel 16, which covers Art. 800, 810, 820, and 830, when a slot opened up during the 2002 Code cycle.

    He works with codes and standards everyday, but being a part of a team that develops them was a new experience, and one that required a lot of learning in a short amount of time. He's quick to credit his fellow panel members for helping in the transition and making it an enjoyable one. "You have a great breadth of experience as well as types of experience to draw upon," he says. "It's rewarding to bring all of those viewpoints together in one narrow area."


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    Speak Out
    Wireless Wonders
    Roland Gubisch is testing a lot of wireless routers and cards these days in response to the growing number of wireless networks being installed across the country. Has the WiFi network craze had any effect on your business? Visit www.ecmweb.com to share your thoughts.

    It seems that a little premature exposure to the Code may not be such a bad thing. A little more than one-third (37%) of CodeWatch readers noted they had been exposed to the Code prior to taking their first job in the industry. Maybe the industry should create a Code 101 course and try to push it out to the nation's high schools in an attempt to head off the proposed labor shortage.


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    Shows and Events
    EC&M Code Conferences
    After some serious negotiating and good old arm-twisting, we've convinced our conference manager to give us one final extension on the registration deadlines for each of these training sessions. The new deadline for the Atlanta conference is Oct. 26th. The new deadline for the Philadelphia, Chicago, and Orlando Code Change conferences is Oct. 30th. The new deadline for the Boston conference is Nov. 19th. And the new deadline for the San Francisco and Seattle conferences is Nov. 24th. Download the registration form, fill it out and fax it to (203) 929-5351 before it's too late. Moderated by Mike Holt and Fred Hartwell (Boston conference only), the two-day conferences will offer a comprehensive look at the 2005 Code. All attendees will receive a copy of the 2005 NEC and EC&M's 2005 Code Change Book, written by Mike Holt.

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    Copyright 2004, PRIMEDIA. All rights reserved. This article is protected by United States copyright and other intellectual property laws and may not be reproduced, rewritten, distributed, re-disseminated, transmitted, displayed, published or broadcast, directly or indirectly, in any medium without the prior written permission of Primedia Business Magazines & Media Inc.