In the Twin Cities, a "Service Change" is generally a whole dwelling upgrade.
Homes built from the late 50's on, if they've been left alone don't need much, but older homes and those of any age that received less than quality work along the way will require more work. The basic service size increase will generally amount to 1/2 to 1/4 of the final cost for all the branch circuit work, with some stunning exceptions. I patch the new service to the service drop with a "temporary connection" which may carry the dwelling for a month or two.
The AHJ, after inspecting to see that all of the dwelling meets the "Minimum Maintenance Electrical Code for Existing Buildings", OKs the job at the end of my work. At that point the AHJ notifies the Power Company that it is OK to "connect" the new service. Without this AHJ OK the service will eventually be disconnected by the PoCo. This is the leverage to upgrade the minimum quality of the branch circuit wiring in the dwellings around here.
Why doesn't the AHJ just hold a gun to the homeowners head & avoid all the in between steps? If this was tried here in the Mountain State, someone would get a serious case of lead poisoning & it wouldn't be the homeowner.
Do they have any hardship clauses for someone that can't afford all the other work? Somehow, this just doesn't sound fair.
Few things are harder to put up with than the annoyance of a good example.
ElectricAL: Where I live in Ohio, and is more so in the City of WArren, the building department can only oversee a rental property and that has to be for sale the new owner is usually stuck with all the repairs. If its a duplex, with a 60 amp service it will be mandated for upgrade. The biggest violation I have seen to this is the previous owner will put two 100 amp sub-panels where the fuse boxes used to be and try to get away with that. Generally, the building inspector wont notice the difference. If for some reason the PoCo is called in they will call the City Electrical Inspector, and the owner is given so much time to upgrade the system. I have seen the power company cut the service conductors because they deem the system unsafe, and Yellow tag it, and that requires a complete upgrade. Here the Home-owner can pull a permit to change out his own service there is no test, all they have to do is swear and sign an affidavit that they are the owner. As a general rule they flunk the inspection. One time I was at Home-Depot and a guy saw the sign on my truck and stopped me to ask what the inspector mean by bonding the water meter,and what is a Main-bonding jumper, so I refered him to artical 250 of the NEC and he says, " well I dont have a code book, and that he was not an Electrican", his buddy who worked in a Steel Mill was helping him. So in my area, it is not as strict as in other areas but that is just my county. In other counties they do have a test, but it is only 10 questions, to find out if the owner has enough kowledge to stay out of trouble, but its a start.
I'm still finding all this inspection by state/county/city fascinating, especially the wide variation in approach. The utility here technically has the right to refuse to connect service if the line/meterman considers the installation unsafe. They used to check for insulation, ground leakage etc. before connecting, but not anymore. It's all run so much by the accountants these days that the attitude seems to be "Do what you d*** well like with it once it leaves our meter." * Virgil, Tom: When can I move to W.Va ?
[This message has been edited by pauluk (edited 10-22-2001).]
So, how does the overall quality of the branch circuit wiring in the housing in the area get better?
Is it simply: "What does not burn down, is safe." ????
This area uses enforcable language that is essentially the FHA / VA Electrical Certification document that is used with their mortgages (I think its a national minimum standard). The exact language in the local statute is here
[This message has been edited by ElectricAL (edited 11-01-2001).]
This is an interesting question. The instances I've seen where repairs were forced all involved rentals and sometimes as a condition of Home Sales. In some cases the Utility may also demand repairs to a service with the threat of disconnection. This is usually only after a serious failure has already happened.
As a suggestion, I think that repairing damaged and dangerous wiring should be required somehow where it is in part of a close community. Apartments, Condos, Townhouses, anywhere where buildings or occupancies are in close proximity to it's neighbors. In those instances I think that each community member has a responsibility to his/her neighbors. Maybe it could be tied to some insurance discount or a required inspection every 10 yrs or so and included as a condition of the policy.
There's another avenue used here in the Twin Cities in addition to requiring minimum standards be met for branch circuit wiring of single family dwellings before the AHJ will allow the PoCo to make its permenant connection to the new larger service.
Every house that gets listed for sale has to have a "Truth In Sale Of Housing" inspection report available that details all the compliant, not compliant, missing and hazardous items about the whole dwelling. This is detailed on a room by room basis, including unfinished areas, exterior and out buildings and runs to six or eight pages. This, of course, catches a lot more than just the electrical system.
Many times the Seller will use an inspection report to guide their "puffing" of the dwelling as they prepare to sell, and will then reinspect immediately before putting the house on the market. Items that are left undone are negotiated as part of the sale. Seller, Buyer, realtors, lenders, mortgage underwriters and insurance agents all get the chance to participate at that point.