October 22, 2004 A PRIMEDIA Property Vol. II No. 20
CONTENTS
Hot House

Winter Wire-land

Code Basics

What's Wrong Here?

Code Q&A

Code Quiz

Faces of the Code

Whose Code Is It?

EC&M Code Conferences


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    Nightmare Installations
    Hot House
    After finding exposed wiring in the basement of a residential single family home where I was changing out the electrical service, I knew the job was going to call for some major rework. The problems started when I was outside drilling a hole through the metal siding. I got a tingle, so I took a voltage meter and measured 120V from the siding to ground. After a quick walk around the house I determined that the siding was isolated from ground, which prevented the overcurrent devices from tripping. I proceeded to the service to check out home runs. Sure enough, the equipment ground for an NMC cable branch circuit had been cut off. I traced it to the attic space that had been finished off by the previous owner. There on an outside wall in a crawl space was a horribly overfilled junction box. The installer had screwed the junction box to the ship lap (0.75-inch solid wood sheathing), and the screw went through the ship lap and into the exterior metal siding. Of course after he repeatedly got a short circuit trying to energize the circuit, his solution was to cut the ground wire. The new owners were shocked to hear that they had an electrified house. This is a good example of why metal siding on structures should be grounded.
    Pete Schissel
    Mendota Heights, Minn.



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    Winter Wire-land
    I received a call from the plant manager of a steel fabricating company who claimed his lighting panel was quite warm -- in the middle of winter in northern Ohio. I went to the plant, and when I opened the panel I discovered that there was only one neutral for three groups of 3-phase runs. In other words, nine circuits were sharing one neutral. That one wire was generating enough heat to keep the enclosure warm to the touch despite an ambient temperature of 30°F. I replaced all of the conductors for the nine circuits because of the likelihood that the insulation of the wire in close proximity was compromised. And, of course, I added neutral conductors.
    PJ Tiber
    Burton, Ohio


    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 Eby
    Anyone who has worked on energized electrical equipment should be familiar with an electrical work permit. If you're working on an energized system without a permit, it's only a matter of time before you're injured, or worse yet, exposed to a lethal shock.

    Art. 130 of NFPA 70E, Standard for Electrical Safety in the Workplace, outlines the requirements you must follow when working on or near electrical parts operating at more than 50V. Work to be performed on an energized system may be done only after completion of a written work permit. Per 130.1(A)(2), the electrical work permit shall include, but not be limited to, the following:

    • A description of the circuit and equipment to be worked on and their location
    • Justification for why the work must be performed in an energized condition
    • A description of the safe work practices to be employed
    • Results of the shock hazard analysis
    • Determination of shock protection boundaries
    • Results of the flash hazard analysis
    • The flash protection boundary
    • The necessary personal protective equipment to safely perform the assigned task
    • Means employed to restrict the access of unqualified persons from the work area
    • Evidence of completion of a job briefing, including a discussion of any job-specific hazards
    • Energized work approval (authorizing or responsible management, safety officer, or owner, etc.) signature(s)

    There is an exemption clause that allows qualified persons to forego an electrical permit when testing, troubleshooting, or taking measurements, provided you follow safe work practices and use personal protective equipment in accordance with requirements noted in Chapter 1 of this standard. You can also forego the permit if the employer can demonstrate that de-energizing the parts introduces additional or increased hazards, or isn't feasible due to design or operation limitations.


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

    Hint: This is a "hot" receptacle in more ways than one.

    Code Q&A
    By Mike Holt
    Q. Does the Code permit installation of nonmetallic-sheathed cable in a three-story hotel building?
    See the answer.


    Code Quiz
    By Steven Owen
    According to the 2005 NEC, when is a listed AFCI breaker not required, even though AFCI protection is still required for dwelling unit bedroom outlets?

    1. when an AFCI is installed within 6 feet of the branch-circuit overcurrent device as measured along the branch-circuit conductors
    2. when the circuit conductors between the branch-circuit overcurrent device and the AFCI are installed in a metal raceway or a cable with a metallic sheath
    3. a and b
    4. never

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


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    Faces of the Code
    Elio Checca
    Member, Code-Making Panel 5

    Before Elio Checca was even born, the mines that had been active during the height of WWII in his hometown near Bridgeville, Pa., had already shut down. So even though they created the backdrop for his childhood, it wasn't until he took a job at the Pittsburgh branch of the Mine Safety and Health Administration (MSHA) in 1980 that he actually stepped into one. Since then, it has been his job to make sure the constantly expanding electrical systems that bring ore to the surface are safe. "As you mine, you have to progress farther into the mine, and you have to keep stretching the power system," he says. "Nothing in an underground mine is stationary."

    That constant movement puts stress on power cables and can create the possibility of shock or electrocution, making grounding a key concern for Checca and MSHA. Although the NEC doesn't cover underground mines (they have their own strict regulations), its requirements are still important to surface mining. While chairing an MSHA committee that considered incorporating the NEC's grounding requirements into its own regulations, Checca became a member of Code-Making Panel 5. The committee ultimately decided not to adopt Art. 250 and make it a requirement, but the NEC guidelines are still one way of complying with the grounding performance standards in Title 30 of the Code of Federal Regulations for non-coal mines.

    Being able to rely on the Code is crucial, Checca says, because in many cases electricians who work in mines may not know all of MSHA's rules. "[A small mine] will typically have to go into town and hire a local electrician if they have a problem, and in my experience, they're not usually familiar with MSHA regs, but they're very familiar with the Code," he says. "That's just another way the NEC provides so many safeguards to people."

    Since leaving his native Pennsylvania and becoming assistant to the director of technical support at MSHA's national office in Arlington, Va., Checca no longer works out in the field, investigating accidents or power systems problems himself, but he's no less concerned about mine electrical safety. In fact, in the time that he has been there, annual mine electrocutions have dropped by more than 80%. "The mining industry has made great strides in reducing electrical accidents by using the NEC for the design of their electrical systems," he says.



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    Speak Out
    Whose Code Is It?
    The NEC doesn't include requirements for underground mining operations, instead leaving that responsibility up to MSHA and the Code of Federal Regulations. On the other hand, in most cases, NEC-compliant installations are adequate for passing MSHA's performance standards for surface mines. Should industries defer to the Code even if it doesn't include rules specific to their needs? Visit www.ecmweb.com to tell us.

    Whether it has hurt business for electrical workers by eliminating the need for cabled connections or made it easier by providing portable means of communication like cell phones and PDAs, it's obvious from CodeWatch readers' responses that the wireless technology explosion has had a marked effect on the electrical industry. Kind of ironic when you consider wiring is the backbone of the business.


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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.