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working clearance 110.26 #89722 10/16/04 06:45 PM
Joined: Dec 2003
Posts: 751
earlydean Offline OP
NEC 110.26 requires working clearance in front of equipment likely to require calibration, testing, or adjustment while energized. This means a 30 by 36 inch space (or larger) in front of panels, access panels on HVAC equipment and fused disconnects.
Does this requirement extend to non-fused disconnects? I am thinking specifically of the service disconnects often found installed 12-18 inches behind AC compressors in the side or back yard of dwelling units.

2017 / 2014 NEC & Related Books and Study Guides
Re: working clearance 110.26 #89723 10/16/04 07:11 PM
Joined: May 2002
Posts: 1,716
Roger Offline
Earl, I personally don't think it would apply to a switch, but take note and get ready, this oppinion will be debated shortly. [Linked Image] [Linked Image] [Linked Image]


Re: working clearance 110.26 #89724 10/16/04 07:21 PM
Joined: Jan 2003
Posts: 4,391
iwire Offline
I am with Roger on this.

Further considering OSHA all but forbids working on things hot, what is the point anyway. [Linked Image]

I am on a job now that the inspector is requiring the plumber to install the electric hot water heater to 110.26 on the side with the elements.

Does anyone normally change water heater elements live? [Linked Image]

[This message has been edited by iwire (edited 10-16-2004).]

Bob Badger
Construction & Maintenance Electrician
Re: working clearance 110.26 #89725 10/16/04 07:33 PM
Joined: Jun 2004
Posts: 206
capt al Offline
Roger, Why would you think your opinion would be debated? I'd agree with you. What would be serviced "while energized" in a non fusible disconnect switch?


Re: working clearance 110.26 #89726 10/16/04 07:52 PM
Joined: Nov 2000
Posts: 2,148
resqcapt19 Offline
When there is a problem with a piece of equipment the first thing many troubleshooters will do is check for voltage at the load side of the disconnect serving the equipment. This requires 110.26 work space. Even OSHA permits troubleshooting hot.

Re: working clearance 110.26 #89727 10/17/04 04:02 AM
Joined: May 2003
Posts: 2,876
e57 Offline
I'm with Don on this one.

On another note, a while back I had an inspector call for workspace in front of phone equipment terminals. Hey, I'm all for it keep crap out of my way.

Mark Heller
"Well - I oughta....." -Jackie Gleason
Re: working clearance 110.26 #89728 10/17/04 10:48 AM
Joined: Dec 2003
Posts: 751
earlydean Offline OP
As the installing electrician, I would like to keep the area in front of my disconnecting switch relatively clear. As the inspector, I can, and do, cite the electrician for not leaving working space in front of the disconnect. As the trouble call electrician I have wished the installing electrician had left enough room in front of the disconnect for me to be able to test for voltages without having to perform contortions.
I have heard of this call being made by other inspectors where it was OK to crowd the disconnect behind equipment if there was another disconnect before the "workman's switch" that could be locked in the off position. The explanation given was the workman's switch wasn't even required, so it needn't have a working clearance.
As an electrician, I have also had to install disconnects behind equipment, knowing there wasn't enough "working clearance" room because there simply wasn't room to install it anywhere else.
How do you guys handle that situation?
Does it make a difference if the switch is a ball-bat type with a screwed-on faceplate or if the switch is a HD safety switch with a hinged cover easily opened for voltage testing?
This is how I have differentiated between the two situations in the past: Is it likely to be used for voltage testing? If yes, then you need a working clearance. Who agrees? Who doesn't?

Re: working clearance 110.26 #89729 10/17/04 11:38 AM
Joined: May 2002
Posts: 1,716
Roger Offline
How do we handle switches above counter tops?

These don't have 110.26 clearances and a switch is a switch, we can't use the argument "that those don't count". [Linked Image]


Re: working clearance 110.26 #89730 10/17/04 12:47 PM
Joined: Jul 2004
Posts: 9,535
gfretwell Online Content
This working space issue is always going to be a judgement call. Who is to say that the disconnect behind an AC is more likely to need service than the receptacle under the sink for the disposal. As soon as you make a decision, you will be wrong on your next service call. Anyone who has crawled on his belly in a 140 degreee 3:12 attic full of blown in insulation, looking for a J box, will question the "accessible" rule too. :-)

Greg Fretwell
Re: working clearance 110.26 #89731 10/17/04 01:04 PM
Joined: Aug 2003
Posts: 1,374
Ryan_J Offline
I'm with Don as well. I don't think fuses enter into it.

I also see everyone elses point as well, which is why I have been working on a proposal (for months now) to change the text of 110.26 to include a list format of the equipment it applies to, but that brings up its own issues as well. It really is a difficult subject.

Ryan Jackson,
Salt Lake City
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