Faces of the Code
EC&M Code Conferences
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The designations "National Electrical Code" and "NEC" refer to the
National Electrical Code®, which is a registered trademark of the
National Fire Protection Association.
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
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
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
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.
Mendota Heights, Minn.
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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
all of the conductors for the nine circuits because of the likelihood
that the insulation of the wire in close proximity was compromised.
of course, I added neutral conductors.
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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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
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
Justification for why the work must be performed in an
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
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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.
By Mike Holt
Q. Does the Code permit installation of
nonmetallic-sheathed cable in a three-story hotel building?
See the answer.
By Steven Owen
According to the 2005 NEC, when is a listed AFCI
not required, even though AFCI protection is still required for
unit bedroom outlets?
- when an AFCI is installed within 6 feet of the
branch-circuit overcurrent device as measured along the branch-circuit
- when the circuit conductors between the branch-circuit overcurrent
device and the AFCI are installed in a metal raceway or a cable with a
- a and b
Visit EC&M's Web
for the answer and explanation.
Cool Electronic Cabinets
Low cost Cabinet Coolers stop electronic control downtime due to heat,
dirt and moisture. UL Listed Cabinet Coolers produce 20 degree
Fahrenheit air from an ordinary supply of compressed air to cool
electrical controls. Thermostat control minimizes air usage. Maintains
the NEMA 4, 4X (stainless steel) and 12 rating of the enclosure. Web
site offers detailed information, downloadable drawings and PDF
Faces of the Code
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
his childhood, it wasn't until he took a job at the Pittsburgh branch
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
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
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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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,
installations are adequate for passing MSHA's performance standards for
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.
The National Electrical Code Internet Connection, the No. 1
rated Code Web site in the world, offers the following FREE products:
Books, Code Quiz, DVDs, Graphics for PowerPoint, Newsletter, Online
Training, Posters, Simulated Exams, Software, Video clips, and Videos
Visit www.NECcode.com and stay
current with important industry issues.
Shows and Events
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
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
and EC&M's 2005 Code Change Book, written by Mike Holt.
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