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#198202 01/14/11 11:50 PM
Joined: Mar 2001
Posts: 345
tdhorne Offline OP
OK So I'm called by a member of my church to come quick and look at something her general contractor said might be dangerous. I get myself down there and the General shows me the service equipment he is concerned about.

It is a one hundred fifty ampere Square D Homeline panel that was installed as a bootleg upgrade. The Neutral of the Service Entry Cable came up short the way the Bozo ran it so he spliced it by adding on a short length of copper number six to the Aluminum SEC conductor and clamping them together using a Romex connector. So we have copper and aluminum spliced by clamping in a mild steel cable clamp.

The Grounding Electrode Conductor was never reconnected to the replacement panel and when the original installation that this monstrosity replaced was done supplemental electrodes were not required so of course Bozo didn't think to bring it up to the code in effect at the time of his work. {I guess I should have stopped that sentence with a period after the word think.} So there is no grounding connection of any kind on the premise.

The service Entry Conductors were never up sized so their actual ampacity is probably less than one hundred amperes. {Since this lady is only trying to get out of this house with a whole skin I will probably install a back fed breaker, of the appropriate size for the service conductors, anchored under a breaker tie down kit and let it eat.}

The dryer circuit is a converted range / stove / cooker branch circuit run as old style BX armored cable containing number six conductors. I guess he must have realized that the old style BX was not suitable for a reliable ground because he never bothered to connect the cable to the panel cabinet he just ran the conductors in through a knock out and jammed as many strands as he could make fit onto the thirty ampere breaker. {Remedy would be to replace the cable with number ten, 3CwG Romex and connect and terminate it correctly.}

Several of the fourteen gauge branch circuits originate from thirty ampere single pole breakers.

Some of the furnace duct work is tied to AC cable in the basement ceiling which has pulled the AC cable out of the connectors breaking what little grounding continuity that it had.

{All I feel I can do is eliminate the obvious hazards and render the existing installation basically safe. In a sense I will revert the installation back to it's original ampacity, terminate everything properly, and correct the over sizing of the branch circuit breakers, and then walk away quietly.}

I'm wondering if I should remove the one hundred fifty ampere main breaker to prevent the new owners from reconnecting the old Service Entry Conductors to it.

I have seen worse hack jobs then this one but nothing recently. I'll bet that those of you who work as inspectors see this kind of garbage all the time. sick

Last edited by tdhorne; 01/14/11 11:58 PM.

Tom Horne

"This alternating current stuff is just a fad. It is much too dangerous for general use" Thomas Alva Edison
Joined: Jul 2004
Posts: 9,788
Likes: 14
My philosophy on this is to stay there until you think you can sleep at night with what you left them with.
I am a light sleeper.

Greg Fretwell
Joined: Mar 2004
Posts: 947
twh Offline
I assume the 30 amp breakers are there because the 20 amp breakers kept tripping. You probably can't just replace those with 15 amp breakers.

Joined: May 2003
Posts: 1,158
we need luckyshadow to pipe in on this smile

Joined: Jan 2011
Posts: 64
30A on 14awg only gets hot enough to melt solder. 100A and you don't to pay your heating bills!

Joined: Jan 2005
Posts: 316
Well ....
My professional opinion would be to contact the local inspector and arrange a meeting to go over what is needed to make it acceptable to the AHJ.

This way your backside is covered when the new owner starts to discover what ever else has been hacked on the property. This also keeps you out of hot water with the the local AHJ's office. Keep in mind once you touch it - it's yours No mater how "quietly" you walk away. Better to spend some money and do it right , then to have it come back and bite you in the azz later!

I would most definitely make the grounding and bonding correct regardless.

As far as back feeding a breaker in place of the factory main... Well the code really does not tell you that it can't be done, it only tells us how to do it legally. My thoughts on removing a factory installed main is that you would be altering the UL listing on that panelboard by doing so.

Joined: Apr 2002
Posts: 7,333
Likes: 7
I agree with Luckyshadow 100%. Modifications to the panel will create a problem IMHO. The backfeed would be acceptable IF the panel was intended for a backfeed install. Talk to the local AHJ & cover yourself. I don't know if Md. has as many lawyers as we (NJ) do.


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