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Benign contraventions


Chris Bernhardt
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Are there any contraventions of the electrical code that you would consider benign enough that you wouldn't report them?

If there is no such thing as a benign contravention then is every contravention of the electrical code a hazardous condition in need of immediate repair?

Do you express in every case what could go wrong because a contravention exists?

Chris, Oregon

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Chris,

IMO, a lot of these distinctions are actually arguments as to what code requires.

For example I don't report a feeder re-identified with electrical tape if there are a couple of good tight turns around the jacket and it is not unraveling. Some other inspectors whose judgment I generally respect would.

Or, they are instances where the existence of a "defect" is a "judgment call", for example I don't ding a box that's slightly loose in the wall unless I have reason to suppose it's going to get worse.

As for your actual "benign" defect... yes, on reflection, suppose I do recognize this case. An example would be exposed NM, in a location where it is unlikely to be subject to mechanical damage, that is not supported exactly per code but still appears to me to be adequately secured, and in this instance would not be reported.

However for me as a practical day-to-day reporting decision, the major distinction is between items which I report in detail (for example as to individual location), and those I don't.

For example I generally don't report the exact location of individual junction boxes without covers, just that one or more such defects are present in a general area, such as a basement or attic.

However, I would specifically report the same defect in an exterior box at a deck.

Similarly, in an attic I might report the presence of improperly secured/protected wiring as a general item, but a piece of NM looped up off the rafters at the entry so as to create a trip/damage hazard might rate specific mention ("at various locations in the attic, for example to the north of the attic entry").

Or, if I felt it was especially hazardous, perhaps even a picture illustrating the problem.

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Originally posted by Chris Bernhardt

Are there any contraventions of the electrical code that you would consider benign enough that you wouldn't report them?

Sure. The NEC is over 500 pages long. If he looks long enough, I'll bet that a well-educated inspector could find dozens, or maybe hundreds, of contraventions in a typical house. These houses are not all burning down or electrocuting people. Therefore, we've got to conclude that at least some contraventions are, indeed, benign.

If there is no such thing as a benign contravention then is every contravention of the electrical code a hazardous condition in need of immediate repair?

Well, I disagree with your premise, but . . . no, of course not. You've got to do some triage or you'll end up counting trees instead of forests.

Have you been hanging out with Jerry Peck over at IN?

Do you express in every case what could go wrong because a contravention exists?

Um, do I have to answer that?

Personally, no, I'm lacking in that regard. Electrical issues, more than any other we deal with, seem to be particularly difficult to explain succinctly to lay folk. I often succumb to listing the problems and telling people to call an electrician. I don't recommend this method; it's just the reality of what I do.

- Jim Katen, Oregon

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Have you been hanging out with Jerry Peck over at IN?

I can't remember the last time I visited over there.

TIJ is home to me. Why don't more of the Oregon HI's even any of the ones in our ASHI chapter hang out here?

I was pondering - we write up unprotected runs of NM cable day in and day out as if it's the most dangerous of hazards and yet zip cord from our lamps sit vulnerable on the floor waiting to be eaten by our vaccum cleaners.

Chris, Oregon

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Originally posted by Chris Bernhardt

Have you been hanging out with Jerry Peck over at IN?

I can't remember the last time I visited over there.

I only ask because the whole there's-no-such-thing-as-a-benign-contravention thing was one of his common themes.

TIJ is home to me. Why don't more of the Oregon HI's even any of the ones in our ASHI chapter hang out here?

Probably the same reason that most home inspectors everywhere don't spend time on the net. (I don't know what that reason is, I just think it's the same reason.)

I was pondering - we write up unprotected runs of NM cable day in and day out as if it's the most dangerous of hazards and yet zip cord from our lamps sit vulnerable on the floor waiting to be eaten by our vaccum cleaners.

Heck, what about all of those receptacles that we put down low on the wall? Why any kid could stick a paper clip into one of those slots and fry himself.

- Jim Katen, Oregon

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