What's Wrong Here?
Faces of the Code
EC&M Code Change Conference
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Sometimes a story is so good - and so scary - that we have to ignore our 200-word limit. Keep this one in mind the next time your kids want to swim in the neighbor's pool.
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A customer who was also a friend asked me to install a new circuit for a pond pump from a sub-panel that supplied his in-ground swimming pool. As I was working, I kept getting a "nibble" from one of the ground wires. All of the problems I was about to find existed when the customer purchased the house, and most could have been identified by a qualified home inspector.
The sub-panel was fed with 10/3 w/g UF from (supposedly) a double 40 in the main house panel. There were no GFCIs, and all ground wires were terminated on the neutral bus. The neutral bus was not bonded to the can. A double 20 fed two pumps, one for the pool and one for the automatic cleaner. A single 20 fed a 15A duplex receptacle without an in-use cover. A hot tub was cord-connected by a factory 20A, GFCI plug through a 2-in., home-made, 20A female to a 15A male cord plugged into the 15A duplex receptacle. I later found the wet-niche pool light wired to the back of the duplex receptacle, so it too had no GFCI protection.
The customer dug a trench for the UF cable to supply the pond pump and unearthed a ground rod and four ground wires next to the small concrete pad on which the automatic cleaner pump stood. The head of the ground rod was mushroomed and there was no clamp so none of the ground wires was terminated, and it was one of these that kept "nibbling" me.
Further investigation showed the double 40 in the main house panel actually fed a sub-panel in the former garage with 8/3 w/g UF. The garage had since been renovated into a game room. A double 30 in the game room sub-panel fed the pool sub-panel. The game room sub-panel also fed branch circuits in the game room, an air conditioner, and an attic vent fan, and supplied a storage shed and in-ground lights on three flag poles. There were no GFCIs in either the game room sub-panel or the shed.
The game room sub-panel feeder ground was wrapped with the AC ground and terminated on a screw in the back of the panel box. All other grounds, including the ground in the feeder that went to the pool sub-panel, were terminated on the neutral bus. The neutral bus was not bonded to the can, thus the grounds were uninsulated, parallel neutrals. The ground and the neutral for each circuit were under the same screw.
Many hours and many parts later, I finished the repairs. The customer is a close friend and is extremely thankful. He had the right attitude: "Fix it so it's safe regardless of cost."
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 Holt
The grounding of the grounded (neutral) conductor to earth at service equipment is intended to help the utility limit the voltage imposed by lightning, line surges, or unintentional contact with higher voltage lines by shunting potentially dangerous energy into the earth. In addition, grounding of the grounded (neutral) conductor to earth helps the electric utility clear high-voltage ground faults when they occur. Because the grounded (neutral) service conductor is required to serve as the effective ground-fault current path, it shall be sized so that it can safely carry the maximum ground-fault current likely to be imposed on it [110.10 and 250.4(A)(5)]. Do you know how to properly size this conductor? Let's check your skills with an example problem.
Q. What's the minimum size grounded (neutral) service conductor required for a 400A, 3-phase, 480V service where the ungrounded service conductors are 500 kcmil and the maximum unbalanced load is 100A?
Visit EC&M's Web site to see the answer.
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What's Wrong Here?
By Joe Tedesco
How does this installation violate NEC requirements?
Hint: What isn't wrong here?
By Mike Holt
Q. A large number of satellite professionals ground the satellite system to the nearest available water hose bib. Does the NEC permit this installation practice?
See the answer.
By Steven Owen
According to the 2002 NEC, including all appropriate sections, what's the minimum size THHN feeder conductor required for a 200A continuous load if the terminals at the equipment aren't marked with temperature ratings but the terminals at the circuit breaker are marked 75°C?
- 4/0 AWG
- 250 kcmil
- 300 kcmil
- 350 kcmil
What size overcurrent device, which in this case is an inverse time circuit breaker, is required by the 2002 NEC?
Visit EC&M's Web site for the answer and explanation.
Cool Electronic Cabinets
Beat the heat and prevent hot weather failures. 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 literature.
Faces of the Code
Member, Code-Making Panel 13
Most people blame health problems for the fact that they don't accomplish more, but LaVerne Stetson can actually credit an ailment for a lifetime of achievement. In more than 40 years on the electrical side of the agriculture industry, he chaired a technical subcommittee that oversaw the writing of a Code Article, served 20 years on CMP-13, helped develop codes and standards for the American Society of Agricultural Engineers (ASAE), and even wrote the chapters on electrical installation in a handbook for pork farmers. But if he hadn't been forced to give up farm work when he developed asthma at the age of 24, he might never have left the family farm in northern Nebraska.
But he did. After graduating from the University of Nebraska in 1962, he went to work for the Agricultural Research Services branch of the U.S. Department of Agriculture and joined ASAE at the behest of his supervisor. A decade later he had accumulated some experience developing standards for measuring moisture content in grain, but it was an assignment to investigate the safety of center-pivot irrigation systems that introduced him to the Code. After identifying the need for installation guidelines in the NEC, he petitioned the TCC with the ASAE's backing and headed the subcommittee that eventually wrote Art. 675. Although that Article is specific to the agriculture industry, Stetson acknowledges that a large portion of the Code still applies to farming, a fact that makes his placement on CMP-13, which covers things like storage batteries and fuel cells, a little easier to understand. "Chapters 1 through 4 all apply," he says. "So it's important that I'm there to make sure that when we write Code rules they're also appropriate to farming."
It's been four years since he retired, but he's still involved in several electrical industry groups, including IEEE and IAEI, and even makes time to visit the family farm every few weeks. And even though he may be scaling back his involvement in the Code in the future, it's not a decision he takes lightly. "It's so rewarding to have people still want your input," he says. "I've met so many great people -- both in the electrical and agricultural industries -- and it's hard to let those relationships go."
The National Electrical Code Internet Connection, the No. 1 rated Code Web site in the world, offers the following FREE products:
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Visit www.NECcode.com and stay current with important industry issues.
LaVerne Stetson sits on a panel that indirectly applies to the industry he's most familiar with. Would the Code be best served by placing people on panels where their expertise can be applied broadly to several areas, or should they serve on panels that deal more directly with their areas of expertise? Visit EC&M's Web site to vote. And don't forget to e-mail us your comments.
Nearly half of you think the time spent by the NEC committee at the TCR meeting in May was excessive, but perhaps more interestingly was the percentage of you who thought it could hint at the need for a change to the process. And remember to visit EC&M's Web site to read the responses we received.
Shows and Events
EC&M Code Change Conference
It's that time again. The release of the 2005 NEC is only months away, and to help you prepare for all of the changes, EC&M is once again presenting its Code Change Conferences. Moderated by Mike Holt and Fred Hartwell (Boston conference only), two of the electrical construction industry's most knowledgeable trainers, the two-day conferences will cover everything you need to know about the new Code. All attendees will receive a copy of the 2005 NEC and EC&M's 2005 Code Change Book, written by Mike Holt. Seven seminars will be held in various cities across the country.
Download the registration form to find the closest seminar, fill it out, and fax it to (203) 929-5351.
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