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#217569 - 09/02/16 02:59 AM "Dry Run" Inspection goes awry  
sparky66wv  Offline
Joined: Nov 2000
Posts: 2,236
West Virginia
I hope it is not out of line for me to pose an inspector question rather than a contractor one.

Being in limbo until I receive my Residential Electrical Inspector license from the Fire Marshal, I had the opportunity for a “dry run” without much consequence, or so I thought.

Long story longer (those that know me can appreciate that, I am a story teller), it all started when my girlfriend told me that a mutual friend was getting a service inspected by our local notoriously bad inspector in a few days, would I mind taking a look to see our friend's son, an aspiring electrician, has done well. Sure, why not. The owner is at work but she gives me permission to take a look and so my girlfriend and I go.

A pole mounted service, deemed both temporary and an RV service with corresponding RV receptacle.

The first thing I saw pulling up was the lack of straps on the PVC mast going up the pole, while coming close to complying with (NEC 2014) 352.30, The local PoCo likes the spirit of 230.51 even for conduit.

The second thing I saw was a ground rod sticking about 4ft out of the ground, but I have to admit the soil was very rocky. That particular rod did not have a GEC attached, so upon further looking, I did see two bent over rods, about 4 to 6” above the ground and 2ft long with some #4 bare Cu (I guess they didn't know they could have used #6). So, noncompliance with 250.32g

Sigh, okay, let me grab a legal pad and pen...

So let's look at the 15A receptacle box under the combo meter/disco and lo and behold, no in-use cover and no GFCI. (Jeez, where did this kid get his license? Cracker Jacks?)

Time to look in the meter base... Oh Crap!! Wasps!!!! (Lesson #1: Wasp and Hornet Spray!!)

And then... Oh crap. USE!! 338.12b(2)

Then I notice the lumber used isn't treated or painted, and there is no intersystem bonding bridge.

Then my girlfriend being wiser than me says, “I'm calling her and telling her you can't get past the wasps to look at it.”

“What?” I stupidly reply.

“Trust me. Don't get involved. It can't go well for you.”

I say, okay fine, I guess it would be better if the other inspector fails her rather than telling her to comply with my wishes.

Well.... Get this.

He passed it.

My business partner agrees we have to stop this menace and wants me to get the work order number off of the sticker. I don't know how to approach this without simply trespassing.

What would you do?

Last edited by sparky66wv; 09/02/16 03:08 AM.

Residential/Commercial Inspector
5 Star Inspections
Member IAEI

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#217571 - 09/02/16 03:26 AM Re: "Dry Run" Inspection goes awry [Re: sparky66wv]  
gfretwell  Offline

Joined: Jul 2004
Posts: 9,087
Trust your girlfriend. wink

If you really want to address this, I would talk to the aspiring electrician one on one and just discuss the things you have a concern with. If he is really new and you can just look at the code together, he might decide you are right and everyone can stay friends. Start on the basis that you are both new and you are learning together.
He might end up telling you that is just the way they do things around there (particularly the ground rod thing) and that is the way it is.
The other option is to go to the IAEI (or other trade group) meetings and see what the other inspectors say about those issues.
When I was working, I worked across 6 or 7 jurisdictions for the state and I was surprised how people could read the same document and make such different interpretations.

Greg Fretwell

#217572 - 09/02/16 04:21 AM Re: "Dry Run" Inspection goes awry [Re: gfretwell]  
sparky66wv  Offline
Joined: Nov 2000
Posts: 2,236
West Virginia
Originally Posted by gfretwell
Trust your girlfriend. wink

You got that right!! LOL "She who is wiser than me"

As far as mentoring this young man, I absolutely look forward to the opportunity. I completely agree with you, and well stated. That's why I love this Website!!

However, my business partner has been an inspector in these parts for 12 years now, and his only competition and been this joker. He wants to retire and give me his established business.

To illustrate the lack of integrity of the notorious inspector:
He lately did 22 inspections in one day post-flood that you probably heard about on the news last July. How can one do 22 in one day and do a thorough inspection?

I don't mind eliminating competition that is incompetent.

We are likely to pursue a formal complaint on this one.

Last edited by sparky66wv; 09/02/16 04:22 AM.

Residential/Commercial Inspector
5 Star Inspections
Member IAEI

#217573 - 09/02/16 11:26 AM Re: "Dry Run" Inspection goes awry [Re: sparky66wv]  
HotLine1  Offline

Joined: Apr 2002
Posts: 6,833
Brick, NJ USA

Like Greg said, listen to your girlfriend.

Pick your battles very, very carefully. Being a 'new sheriff' in town can be a challenge to all concerned. And, choosing your words very carefully, within comments about the contractors, or 'other' inspectors.

OK, I'm in NJ, with a large population of "those" one, or some of which could possibly locate the 'referenced' parties via some form of todays vast social media, and go for liable.

The last thing you may want is to get known with a situation like that.

Just IMHO, my friend from the past who returned. Think about doing an 'edit'.


#217574 - 09/02/16 11:28 AM Re: "Dry Run" Inspection goes awry [Re: sparky66wv]  
twh  Offline
Joined: Mar 2004
Posts: 915
Regina, Sask.
Once upon a time, I believed the rules were important and I memorized the code book.

Then, I worked in an industrial building where they paralleled wires that were too small, oversized motor overloads to avoid tripping and even ran a conduit and pulled only a neutral wire into it because the load was fed from a different panel but this one was closer when they needed the extra wire.

The rules have changed so things that were once prohibited became legal and, in some cases, required.

I told an inspector about a row house complex in which the stoves were wired with undersized wire, and no one did anything.

I built an equipment skid using all approved equipment and it failed the insulation test because some parts only pass the insulation test sitting on the bench. Installed, with all necessary wires, they arc between line and low voltage.

I installed a GFCI on an approved steamer for a tub and it tripped the breaker because it only kept the neutral isolated from the ground with the power off. CSA told me to remove the GFCI.

I requested an amendment to our code and they refused to give it to the committee, because the committee was rewriting the section and I think they didn't want them bothered with facts, or something like that.

Now that I'm old and try to restrict my work to maintenance, I find that other electricians have found a way to reduce the cost of junction boxes and the labour to install them. The don't put covers on. At first I installed the covers, but it's way beyond what I can reasonably fix. Sometimes it's the number of boxes and other times the wires don't fit into the box.

Now, we need to put arc fault breakers on most circuits in a house. Sure, all fires are electrical fires but I wonder if anyone studied how many start with a arc.

I take pictures. Not of my work, but the work beside mine. If I get a rejection on my work, I'm going to complain that I'm being held to a different standard - or a standard.

Be careful or you'll become a target yourself and someone else will be looking at your work to see if they can get your licence pulled. Maybe you will get sued and end up working to give money to lawyers and the guy you slandered. If you think it's upsetting to see what he passes, try going to work to pay him to sit at home.

It appears to be all bull. Those in control don't want problems. They'll ignore you and if you don't go away, they'll see you as being the problem.

#217576 - 09/03/16 12:55 PM Re: "Dry Run" Inspection goes awry [Re: sparky66wv]  
renosteinke  Offline
Cat Servant
Joined: Jan 2005
Posts: 5,316
Blue Collar Country
Let me say, this thread could have more tangents than a trig table! I opens all manner of directions the conversation could flow.

I have three somewhat conflicting takes on the original topic.

First off, I have yet to see any job where there is nothing that can be questioned / challenged / nit-picked. Heck, sometimes I even question my own work.

Second, there are countless instances where what we are taught is 'right' is, in fact, not supported by the code. For example, the current mania for running a ground wire in EMT, and the "requirement" for each hot to have its' own neutral wire. You might say our standards greatly exceed code.

Finally, my faith in inspections is right up there with my belief in Sasquatch. It's been my experience that inspectors go to seminars where two or three things are harped on, and these things are all the inspector cares about until the next seminar.

(As an example, I simply loved the way my inspector pulled out a tape measure to make sure my ground rods were six feet apart - when they were actually eleven feet apart. He was most surprised! Good grief, they were in plain site without obstruction- and he needed a tape measure? The look on his face was priceless; at least he didn't try to argue they had to be exactly six feet apart.)

#217577 - 09/03/16 03:10 PM Re: "Dry Run" Inspection goes awry [Re: sparky66wv]  
gfretwell  Offline

Joined: Jul 2004
Posts: 9,087
I tend to agree with the seminar thing. When I was going to the IAEI "lunch" regularly and my wife was building houses I would come home and warn her what the next crusade would be. I was usually right and she had the warning so her jobs were ready for the inspector.

The EMT and GEC thing was pretty much solved with RNC. The EMT will not hold up in the weather here so you seldom see it on GECs. No City hubs, no bonding bushings (if the guy is pedantic). Life is easy.
These days the UFER is in the Florida building code, a punch on the footer inspection so rods are becoming a thing of the past anyway. The #4 usually comes out of the wall behind the panel so protection is not an issue.
My "tape measure" for 6' things like this is my outstretched arms and a calibrated eyeball wink.
Five feet is wrist to wrist. I certainly would not bust someone for a half inch.

Greg Fretwell

#217579 - 09/03/16 09:19 PM Re: "Dry Run" Inspection goes awry [Re: sparky66wv]  
sparky66wv  Offline
Joined: Nov 2000
Posts: 2,236
West Virginia
Thanks for the valuable advice, guys! I have a knack for controversy!

Having the reputation of a "Code Nerd" in these parts (mostly the fault of ECN!), I was asked to become an inspector twelve or so years ago and declined. I'm glad I got the experience on the "other side of the fence" first so I would be a fair inspector now.

That is the part I worry about. I want folks to hire me more than once. I don't want the reputation of a hard @$$. Ground rods are something I will likely be a tad lenient about, knowing the terrain. Bend the things over with some MAP gas so they don't spring back up and bury what you have left over after hitting solid rock and I'll be happy with it. I've had mining electricians tell horror stories of having thousands of feet of copper pipe in graphite infused soil to get 25 Ohms. GE's don't do much in clay, shale and limestone rock.

I just need to learn what codes can be somewhat gray area and which ones should be more black and white as far as safety and longevity is concerned.

This other guy has "been called to the carpet" before to answer for questionable inspections. I never want to make that walk.

Last edited by sparky66wv; 09/03/16 09:25 PM.

Residential/Commercial Inspector
5 Star Inspections
Member IAEI

#217580 - 09/03/16 09:37 PM Re: "Dry Run" Inspection goes awry [Re: sparky66wv]  
sparky66wv  Offline
Joined: Nov 2000
Posts: 2,236
West Virginia
Some more background:

My business partner and I first met when I hired him for an inspection after being warned that he was a tough one.

We became instant friends.

Steve is a man of great integrity and he has given me this opportunity to take over his established business, which is priceless to me.

This new adventure is exciting, but there is also anxiety. I want to make him proud. I want to make ECN proud. I want to make ME proud.

Stay tuned for more queries! There will be more!

Thanks again my friends!

Residential/Commercial Inspector
5 Star Inspections
Member IAEI

#217581 - 09/03/16 11:24 PM Re: "Dry Run" Inspection goes awry [Re: sparky66wv]  
NORCAL  Offline
Joined: Sep 2002
Posts: 869
What would happen if you were to have been on site when the other inspector was doing the "inspection", besides a cat fight? laugh

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