I posted this on the Canuck forum a while back and only got one response so I thought I'd try it here where there seems to be more activity.
Opinions welcome -- --
"I'm wondering how many other folks out there run into panelboards that are not marked properly for circuit identification? I know that the requirement was not enforced very much 25 or 30 years ago here in Edmonton to the same standard as today. I have done upgrades in the last couple of months where the AHJ red-tagged my work because I had not ID'd the old work on the panelboard that was done, not by me, in one case, over 30 years ago and another one that was built in 1978 and had had no further work on the elecrical system since that time. I got two red tags because they were both issued the same day before I knew about the first one that day. They were both issued by the same Inspector, whom I know very well and get along with very well (even now). His interpretation of the CEC was the first time I ran into this situation since I had either not made a note of just what was on the directory or there is sudden change of direction the AHJ's are taking.
I did go back to a couple of other jobs I did in the past and in both cases, the panels did not have adequate directories as per the CEC, but had passed the inspection. (And yes I did take the time to correct it before I left).
I think I can understand the AHJ's reasons and I have taken the time to trace everything since I got the second red tag (I hate having to go back to fix stuff I have screwed up), but now the customers are complaining about it because of the additional time I have to put in the contract to carry out all the running around getting all the outlets identified.
Has anyone else run into this and if so, how did you handle it?"
Circuit ID is always a timely topic; we've discussed it many times.
Still, even the best marked panel leaves something to be desired. When circumstances allow, I like to mark the cover plate of each device.
Code issues aside, It is my opinion that you should be able to quiclky, easily, and accurately find the corrrect breaker with a minimum of fuss.
This is not possible, however, in a 'code minimum' installation. Circuit identification depends upon the circuits being laid out in a manner that makes sense to the occupant- which is usually somewhat different from the absolute cheapest way to wire a home.
The bottom line is, all the circuits must be marked, and that takes time, we still have the weekend wonders, and part time no permit guys, running around doing service upgrades, they never get permits, and leave the home to fail a home inspection, when the owners sell, that is when we get the call i need my panel marked, and 99% of the time when we get there we have to fix more then a few missing lables.
With todays lawsuit happy public I prefer to use general panelboard legends like: general lights and receptacles for the gen lighting ckts Dedicated ckts of course are different. If you try to make it too detailed you better not make a mistake, or you might be liable when someone takes it for fact and doesn't use a tester.
The marking is a good idea, but think how confused a homeowner can get, if the branch cover 3 different rooms, the only practical way to identify would be to put circuit numbers on the outlet, but then what if they paint, or how about numbered recpt's, noe there is an idea the manufactures would love that one, give me a ivory number 4, other then requiring id, they might consider recommending the accepted approach, put it in writing.
Someone here, I can't recall who, said they always write the breaker # on the back of the outlet cover plates. I thought that was an incredibly brilliant idea- doesn't excuse anyone from frisking for voltage, but certainly makes finding the right breaker much less of a guessing game
Personally, I favor sketches be posted- actual architectural-type sketches of the layout of the house showing outlets, circuits, connections and at least notational circuit paths. This will eliminate all guesswork, and make future remodeling jobs WAY easier.
This is a requirement at the goverment facilities I'm responsible for- and I make them forward me an electronic copy, too, that I can keep on file. Considering most localities require a plan like this to even take out a permit, shouldn't be that difficult for residential either- would be something great for cities to scan and keep archival copies on file, too (AHJs, you listening?). What I really like is one of our contractors will, at the end of the job, save all the files, drawings, documentation, manuals, etc, onto a $10 USB flash drive, and attach it to one of the boxes or control panels. MAN that makes troubleshooting easier! Just think how great it would be if ya'll had digital photos of all those walls after rough-in, before any insulation or drywall was laid down.
[This message has been edited by SteveFehr (edited 08-17-2006).]