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Story of a great electrical find


Jeff Remas
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A Great Electrical Find.

There I was, inspecting a contemporary house built in 1960. It was one heck of a house built into the mountain near a ski lodge. It had a walk out basement on a slope with a one story house above and a flat roof to boot. The air was cold that morning, colder than the windy beach at night in southern Florida during a President’s Gala. The ice in the driveway forced me to use the four wheel drive to make it up the windy way.

The view was spectacular, over the mountains, out into the valley we could see for more than 20 miles. My inspector trainee was with me that morning. He is a soft spoken gentleman in his mid to late fifties, with gray hair and a goatee that matches. He always wears a hat to cover his male pattern baldness. Baldness from years of thinking and stress in his all American life.

OK, never mind, let me get to the juicy details of the technical problem at hand. Here we go.

The main panel was a 200amp older GE panel with a double handled fuse block with breakers below located on the main level in the dining room. The wall it was against was now an interior partition wall but was once an exterior wall prior to the addition.

The sub panel was located in the basement inside a large utility room that housed the well pressure tank, furnace and sewage lift pump.

The service mast was located about twenty feet from the house on a pole that housed the meter base and fed into the structure underground.

I had my trusty trainee pull the cover off of the main panel. Let’s call him Greg. When we looked inside we immediately noticed that there were several double taps on non-rated breakers and the bonding screw was properly installed in the buss bar that connected both the neutrals and grounds. There were two 4/0 copper service cables that fed the main bus from the bottom of the fuse block. So far we found a minor defect with the double taps, otherwise normal conditions for this age panel.

The panel was rated for 200amps but was also labeled for less by reducing the number of allowable circuits to 36. We noticed the circuits were maximized, not to mention the double taps. This is where it gets interesting. When I looked at the top of the fuse block to see what was feeding the panel I noticed that it was only fed by a 4-awg stranded aluminum SEcable. What? Was I seeing right? Turns out I was, no mirage there. I turned off every single breaker in this main panel (OK, no comments. I have extensive electrical experience and if I want to exceed the SOP then let me be) and noticed that the furnace still continued to run. How could the furnace run when every single breaker was turned off in the main panel? I had “Gregâ€

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Great story Jeff!

I hope the seller calls in the same electrician to prescribe a remedy.

As for names of the new company, check with the Maggliozi brothers from NPR Cartalk. Boyd, Dewey, Cheatham, and Howe comes to mind, with public relations handled by Haywood Gebuzzoff, and jokes coordinated by Odessa Goodwin, makeup by Bud Tuggly.

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Originally posted by Jim Baird

Great story Jeff!

I hope the seller calls in the same electrician to prescribe a remedy.

As for names of the new company, check with the Maggliozi brothers from NPR Cartalk. Boyd, Dewey, Cheatham, and Howe comes to mind, with public relations handled by Haywood Gebuzzoff, and jokes coordinated by Odessa Goodwin, makeup by Bud Tuggly.

Just for the record, Dewey, Cheatham, and Howe is originally from The Three Stooges. Gotta give my boys their due.

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