The load center game

Discussion in 'Electrical Forum discussion & Blog' started by KAdams4458, Aug 14, 2008.

  1. KAdams4458

    KAdams4458 New Member

    Messages:
    34
    Location:
    Lake Stevens, WA
    My wife and I are buying, or at least attempting to buy our first house together. The place we almost own has a detached shop with its own 200 amp service. I won't get in to details about the house at the moment, but it has its share of questionable electrical work.

    Let's focus on the load center in the shop for now. I figure we can make a little game of spotting the errors. (And it will help me identify some that I may be missing as well!) Not pictured are some wires dangling from the walls and ceiling of an addition built on to the shop in more recent years. Some of these wires are in fact attached inside of this load center, while others all lead to a sub panel in the addition. - Maybe later I can post photos of the sub panel and the dangling wires so that we can try to figure out how many paint chips a person must consume in order to begin wiring stuff this way. :)

    [​IMG]

    If anyone wants a slightly larger image, you should be able to access it at http://i7.photobucket.com/albums/y277/KAdams4458/House/CIMG0320-1.jpg
    Last edited: Aug 14, 2008
  2. toolaholic

    toolaholic General Contractor Carpenter

    Messages:
    874
    Location:
    Marin Co. Ca.
    Looks like white wires going to breakers! ROMEX® coming out of panel top is not protected. Any ROMEX® below 7'6" has to be protected from Mechanical damage!
    I see 2 breakers double lugged [2 circuits on 2 single pole breakers. Panel doesn't look balanced!

    OK WHAT DID I WIN ?????
    Last edited by a moderator: Dec 7, 2011
  3. KAdams4458

    KAdams4458 New Member

    Messages:
    34
    Location:
    Lake Stevens, WA
    Oh. I had not actually planned to be giving out prizes. A cookie, perhaps? :D

    Let me ask about the unprotected NM at the top of the panel. I was under the impression that only applied to horizontal runs, and only if the NM isn't covered, such as with sheetrock. Of course, I might have missed something, as I've been known to miss details before.

    I'm actually thinking of just gutting the entire box and starting over. There's corrosion damage which is hard to see. I think the box may have been recycled. Something about this mess makes me just want to throw a completely new load center in. Perhaps that would be overkill. I haven't decided yet.
    Last edited: Aug 14, 2008
  4. KAdams4458

    KAdams4458 New Member

    Messages:
    34
    Location:
    Lake Stevens, WA
    Ready for the next one?

    The load center inside of the house is even better. You all won't even need to see inside of the panel to be shocked. I just found a photo of it, and figured some of you would like to see it. It;s like watching a train wreck, eh?

    I hope that you're all sitting down!


    [​IMG]


    If you guessed that the load center for this 1965 house is located in what used to be the garage, you'd be correct. I understand that it's surface mounted, but I can't tell you what they were thinking when they closed it up inside of a wall. I'm thinking at this point that I'll be ripping that wall out and building up the original wall behind the box and finishing it so that the box sits flush.

    Obviously, no one bothered to get a permit for this, because there's no way that would have passed an inspection. I just gotta shake my head at some of this stuff.
  5. Chris75

    Chris75 Electrician

    Messages:
    608
    Location:
    Litchfield, CT
    Minor violation. just remark the wires with black electrical tape.

    Code violation please....

    Easy fix, just add a wire nut and a pigtail to the breaker.

    Are you serious, this is a residential panel... :rolleyes:
  6. Billy_Bob

    Billy_Bob In the Trades

    Messages:
    422
    Actually those panels do not look bad to me so far as safety goes. They did place spliced wires inside junction boxes which is a good thing. And they did use cover plates.

    I saw one house where the homeowner used cardboard to cover an electrical junction box! Ran lamp cord inside the walls to add-on outlets which had no boxes installed - plywood walls no less! And this was old lamp cord with the insulation falling off. Not to mention numerous wire splices in the walls/ceiling which were not in boxes.
  7. Billy_Bob

    Billy_Bob In the Trades

    Messages:
    422
    What is the duct tape for on the door in the second picture?
  8. KAdams4458

    KAdams4458 New Member

    Messages:
    34
    Location:
    Lake Stevens, WA
    Heh. They don't look terribly unsafe to me, either. There are a couple of 30A breakers between they two that should really be 20A based on just wire gauge, but that's the worst thing I've seen.

    In the house, you can see that one of the junction boxes isn't fixed in place - Yep, it's just dangling there. Must have been too hard to swing a hammer inside that tiny cubbyhole. :rolleyes:

    I found some of the wiring in the attic of the house to be interesting. Nice new cables strung up there right across the top of the insulation from one side of the house to the other - Not attached to anything, mind you. We're talking four 30' runs without a single point of attachment. I guess they wanted to spend as little time in the attic as possible.

    The duct tape on the door puzzled me for a moment when I first saw it. It's a louvered door. The interior area of that little "closet" runs floor to ceiling without any insulation, and the top of it is open to the attic because a giant hole in the ceiling is the easiest way ever to route wires. Obviously, they applied a roll of duct tape to the door in order to cut down on the incredible cold draft that must be present during the winter. Yeah. Duct tape fixes everything, apparently. I'm waiting to see someone build an addition from nothing but duct tape some day. :D

    While we're at it, I found a photo of something else you folks might find amusing. I know it's not a load center, but I think you'll all still find it interesting. Who can spot the real safety issue here? Look closely if you have to - it is electrical in nature.

    [​IMG]

    Looking closer at this photo I realise it's impossible to tell, but the switch next to the shower also happens to have an outlet right next to it. A switch is fine if I recall correctly, but an outlet? Err.
    Last edited: Aug 15, 2008
  9. Chris75

    Chris75 Electrician

    Messages:
    608
    Location:
    Litchfield, CT

    Yes, its legal, it cannot be over the tub, but directly right next to it is perfectly fine.
  10. KAdams4458

    KAdams4458 New Member

    Messages:
    34
    Location:
    Lake Stevens, WA
    Really? An outlet? I know switches are okay, but an outlet? I thought I remembered reading that outlets are not allowed to be that close.
  11. Chris75

    Chris75 Electrician

    Messages:
    608
    Location:
    Litchfield, CT
    Well if you remember where, you let me know, ok? :D



    406.8(C).jpg
    Last edited: Aug 15, 2008
  12. Chris75

    Chris75 Electrician

    Messages:
    608
    Location:
    Litchfield, CT


    The service raceway is missing a bonding bushing also.
    Last edited: Aug 15, 2008
  13. toolaholic

    toolaholic General Contractor Carpenter

    Messages:
    874
    Location:
    Marin Co. Ca.
    Chris ,this may fly in Conn.

    It wouldn't in SF Ca. In addition to the NEC AND UPC We have many amendments to both. That's garbage work,where I come from!:D
  14. Billy_Bob

    Billy_Bob In the Trades

    Messages:
    422
    Outlets in a bathroom are (should be) on a GFCI. And you are pretty darn safe with these! So not to worry...
  15. KAdams4458

    KAdams4458 New Member

    Messages:
    34
    Location:
    Lake Stevens, WA
    Heh. Okay. I have a pretty good memory, but it's certainly not perfect. I don't know where I pulled that one from. :eek: Hey, I don't do this stuff every day. It's been three years since I've even touched anything electrical, so I obviously have some brushing up to do. I better get to work!

    I can say that isn't on a GFCI, but that's a super easy fix at least.
  16. jadnashua

    jadnashua Retired Defense Industry Engineer xxx

    Messages:
    22,059
    Location:
    New England
    Keep in mind that if wired to the load wires of a GFCI any downstream outlets ARE protected by the GFCI. The easiest way to check this is to use the test button on the GFCI, and see if that outlet has any power.
  17. KAdams4458

    KAdams4458 New Member

    Messages:
    34
    Location:
    Lake Stevens, WA
    Done. That bathroom has no GFCI. The other bathroom does, but not this one. I'll take care of it.
  18. Billy_Bob

    Billy_Bob In the Trades

    Messages:
    422
    FYI - I have read that a GFCI will shut off power, when a fault to ground is detected, within 1/40 of a second. So a person would not even know they were being electrocuted!

    A common situation with a GFCI is that someone will use a faulty appliance which would shock them if using a regular outlet, but instead the GFCI trips. Then they reset the GFCI and it trips again. Then they go about replacing the "bad" GFCI...

    Well it is the appliance they need to fix/replace, not the GFCI! The GFCI is doing its job!
  19. KAdams4458

    KAdams4458 New Member

    Messages:
    34
    Location:
    Lake Stevens, WA
    If I could, I'd like to solicit the opinions of the most experienced among you - You know who you are.

    I think the load center in the house is hopeless do to corrosion, and since it doesn't have much in the way of space for circuits. Besides, it would be nice if the cover was some colour other than utility grey/rust, since it will be right in the midst of living space. A few years ago, I installed a GE Powermark Gold that was white, because it's what I was given to work with. At least it was nice looking, and I can't say that I had any complaints with it. After all, anything was an improvement over the flaming Federal Pacific that it replaced. Any other 200A white ones out there that would be highly recommended?
  20. Billy_Bob

    Billy_Bob In the Trades

    Messages:
    422
    I like the idea of a 200 amp 40 slot panel. It does not cost much more for a panel with more slots.

    Then I also like having a whole house surge protector. These come in a double slot form which goes in the place of a double breaker. They might not be availible for some panels.

    Then there have been "counterfeit" breakers manufactured in China which have caused problems. Watch out for that.

    Might want to call around and see who makes a white panel, then go from there. Try Siemens, GE, Square D, Cutler-Hammer, etc.
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