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conduit?


John Dirks Jr
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Shouldn't this UFcable be inside of conduit? RE says he is an electrician and the UF is ok exposed as in the photo. It is on the exterior feeding an AC condenser. Also what about the way all the lines and wires run through the PVC along the ground? There was also water pooling at one end of the PVC pipe. The pooling water was caused by a heaving slab.

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Well, the wires should be in conduit, but you wouldn't need to run UF or any romex in conduit. The conduit protects the wires inside, the same thing the jacket on the romex does, and it would be really hard to pull romex through conduit.

The PVC pipe might work to protect the refrigerant lines from mechanical damage, but again, the line voltage wires should be in water tight conduit.

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Originally posted by AHI

Shouldn't this UFcable be inside of conduit? RE says he is an electrician and the UF is ok exposed as in the photo. It is on the exterior feeding an AC condenser.

UF cable shouldn't be exposed to sunlight unless it's the sunlight resistant kind. (It'll say, "sunlight resistant" on it.)

UF cable shouldn't be used where it will be exposed to physical damage (340.12 (10)). That's open to interpretation but, in my area, the AHJ's seem to interpret it the same as if the cable were emerging from the ground. That is, it's got to be "protected" from 18" below grade to 96" above grade. That "protection" can be conduit, a wooden box built around it or anything else that will provide protection.

Also what about the way all the lines and wires run through the PVC along the ground? There was also water pooling at one end of the PVC pipe. The pooling water was caused by a heaving slab

The water is irrelevant to the UF cable. It's rated for direct burial. A little water won't hurt it. That's a mess though. I'd tell my customer that those cables need physical protection.

I'd tell the RE/electrician that he needs to brush up on article 300.

- Jim Katen, Oregon

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Originally posted by AHI

That makes me feel better because I did call it out. It went in the report as being subject to physical damage and that is should be in conduit. I called for a qualified technician to fix that problem and also check the routing of the condenser lines for the possibility of a better routing method.

I would not have called for a "qualified technician" to fix this. Was this the same property that you inspected in Catonsville the other day (built 1953)?

This is a pre-existing (old) property and should not be held or inspected to todays code requirements. This is how most of the A/C disconnects are wired in our area. You could have called this out as a maintenance issue or recommended upgrade, but not a repair item calling for a qualified technician to fix it.

IMHO

Kevin

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Thanks for your opinion Kevin. However, I am not a "code" compliant inspector and never will be. Regardless if something is correct to current code or not, that does not mean that changing it shouldn't be done. If I think something does not look right and believe there is a better way, I am calling it out, current code compliant or not.

Shut off was in sight.

BTW, this condenser is brand new and just put in. Shouldn't the routiing of line be done at least to current code regardless of when the house was originally built?

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Originally posted by AHI

Thanks for your opinion Kevin. However, I am not a "code" compliant inspector and never will be. Regardless if something is correct to current code or not, that does not mean that changing it shouldn't be done. If I think something does not look right and believe there is a better way, I am calling it out, current code compliant or not.

Shut off was in sight.

BTW, this condenser is brand new and just put in. Shouldn't the routiing of line be done at least to current code regardless of when the house was originally built?

You are missing my point. There is a difference between calling out an item or component as a "repair issue" and an "elective or recommended upgrade."

Was the UF cable damaged, broken, or defective in any way? If not, then making a recommendation on providing further protection of the cable would be something that you might want to put in your report as a elective or recommended upgrade. A maintenance item if you will.

Calling a qualified technician out to repair something that doesn't need to be "repaired" will only discredit you.

You are entitled to inspect how you see fit, but I hope you saved that comment in your report library, because if you are adamant about calling it out as a repair item you will be using it on every inspection that you do. This is a standard installation in our area!

With respect to your question above about it being a new installation, the answer is no, not necessarily. Most of the time the existing refrigerant lines and UF cable are used with the new A/C unit.

Have a good one :)

Kevin

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Calling a qualified technician out to repair something that doesn't need to be "repaired" will only discredit you.

I disagree.

A qualified, quality concious tech will mutter, shake his/her head and then get to work cleaning that crap up.

The wiring is unprotected, exposed to mechanical damage and presents a clear danger to anyone using just about any tool in the yard or patio area.

The insulation on the suction line has been rendered essentially non existent by the water.

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If I saw something that I didn't like on a building I was inspecting, I would call it.

It wouldn't matter to me if it was "code", "grandfathered in" or "something I learned through experience".

I also use the words qualified, licensed, reputable or professional. Sometimes I even use the expression, "make sure you get somebody that knows what he's doing"

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Originally posted by Chad Fabry

Calling a qualified technician out to repair something that doesn't need to be "repaired" will only discredit you.

I disagree.

A qualified, quality concious tech will mutter, shake his/her head and then get to work cleaning that crap up.

The wiring is unprotected, exposed to mechanical damage and presents a clear danger to anyone using just about any tool in the yard or patio area.

The insulation on the suction line has been rendered essentially non existent by the water.

Well, that's about the most ridiculous statement I heard in a long time, no offense. A little over the top don't you think? Like someone is going to do damage that cable by using "any tool" in close proximity to the it. I don't think so! How does it present "clear danger"? That statement is unnecessarily alarmist.

I hardly ever see the cable from the A/C disconnect to the condensing unit in a conduit, except on commercial applications. Of course, I can only speak for my area (MD, DC, VA). Any "qualified" electrician will go out and say "there ain't nothing wrong with this."

Here are a few examples.....I guess you'll have to write these up as well....the cables are not in conduit.

Again, everyone will have a different view and method of reporting, but this should not have been classified as a repair issue.

Kevin

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Hi,

When I can, I try to avoid getting into a wrangle about "the code," but I'm not afraid to use it when I have to in order to make my point. Around here, the only time I've seen exterior disconnects installed with the cable exposed like that has been when a do-it-yourselfer was the one that did the wiring. The electricians apparently are on the same sheet of music on that issue.

I wouldn't be willing to fall on my sword over the accessibility issue. Although not perfect, I don't think anyone is really going to have that difficult a time getting to and working on any of those; maybe that's just me, though.

Here's Douglas Hansen's take, from Chapter 5 of Electrical Inspection of Existing Dwellings - 2001 Edition (The underlining is mine):

UF cable(Underground Feeder and Branch Circuit Cable), while superficially similar in appearance to NM cable, is rated for wet locations and direct burial, and most UF cable is sunlight-resistant,. Instead of paper wrappings inside a hollow sheath, UF cable is solid thermoplastic all the way through, and will not wick moisture.

When UF cable is used indoors, the same rules apply as for NM cable. The advantage of UF cable is that it may be used outdoors, provided it is sufficiently protected from damage.

The NEC® has a basic rule requiring 18 inches of cover over a buried UF cable. This cover can be reduced to 12 inches for a GFCI protected circuit, and 6 inches if GFCI-protected and the cover includes a concrete slab. The cable must be protected where it emerges from the ground. The degree of required protection is somewhat subjective, although the NEC® does require the protection to extend to at least 8 feet or the height of the conductor when attached to a building.

Most UF cable is rated as "sunlight resistant" and will be marked on the cable. If such a marking is not present, the cable should not be exposed outdoors.

Reading that, I'd say that cable should be protected in conduit on the wall where it's exposed. If I'd done the inspection, I would have written it up that way and quoted Hansen, since he's the best independent authority on the subject that I know of, and I would have recommended that they have it corrected by a licensed electrician who follows the electricians' own rules - not the one who installed the wiring incorrectly in the first place. I would have used exactly the phrase that I've underlined in the previous sentence.

ONE TEAM - ONE FIGHT!!!

Mike

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Originally posted by hausdok

Hi,

When I can, I try to avoid getting into a wrangle about "the code," but I'm not afraid to use it when I have to in order to make my point. Around here, the only time I've seen exterior disconnects installed with the cable exposed like that has been when a do-it-yourselfer was the one that did the wiring. The electricians apparently are on the same sheet of music on that issue.

I wouldn't be willing to fall on my sword over the accessibility issue. Although not perfect, I don't think anyone is really going to have that difficult a time getting to and working on any of those; maybe that's just me, though.

Here's Douglas Hansen's take, from Chapter 5 of Electrical Inspection of Existing Dwellings - 2001 Edition (The underlining is mine):

UF cable(Underground Feeder and Branch Circuit Cable), while superficially similar in appearance to NM cable, is rated for wet locations and direct burial, and most UF cable is sunlight-resistant,. Instead of paper wrappings inside a hollow sheath, UF cable is solid thermoplastic all the way through, and will not wick moisture.

When UF cable is used indoors, the same rules apply as for NM cable. The advantage of UF cable is that it may be used outdoors, provided it is sufficiently protected from damage.

The NEC® has a basic rule requiring 18 inches of cover over a buried UF cable. This cover can be reduced to 12 inches for a GFCI protected circuit, and 6 inches if GFCI-protected and the cover includes a concrete slab. The cable must be protected where it emerges from the ground. The degree of required protection is somewhat subjective, although the NEC® does require the protection to extend to at least 8 feet or the height of the conductor when attached to a building.

Most UF cable is rated as "sunlight resistant" and will be marked on the cable. If such a marking is not present, the cable should not be exposed outdoors.

Reading that, I'd say that cable should be protected in conduit on the wall where it's exposed. If I'd done the inspection, I would have written it up that way and quoted Hansen, since he's the best independent authority on the subject that I know of, and I would have recommended that they have it corrected by a licensed electrician who follows the electricians' own rules - not the one who installed the wiring incorrectly in the first place. I would have used exactly the phrase that I've underlined in the previous sentence.

ONE TEAM - ONE FIGHT!!!

Mike

I can't comment on your area, but from what I gather from your post, I would have to write up this issue on EVERY home constructed in the state of Maryland, Washington, DC, and Virginia. Because, every home that I have ever inspected (new or old) does not have conduit installed.

So, are you saying that every builder, every electrician, and every HVAC tech who has installed cable that is not in conduit from the disconnect to the condensing unit is wrong?

I feel bad for John, because he's going to read some of these posts on this thread and think that it's OK to write this up. That is unfortunate.

Kevin

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Kevin I am having trouble understanding your logic. With respect to electrical items if they are done wrong but work why would you recommend its correction as an maintenance item or upgrade?

As a matter of policy with electrical items I write them up for correction and right away. I have had my own personal experience of going soft like that and suggesting that they can defer the correction and it came back to bite in a big way.

I'm with Chad. Walter has also addressed this before. I think you would get slaughtered on the witness stand for recommending an electrical correction as maintenance need or an upgrade.

Chris, Oregon

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Kevin,

What you are advocating is accepting the status guo just 'cuz that's the way it is; since everyone does it that way, it has to be okay. Some folks are comfortable with that approach. I'm not.

Call me stubborn, but for 11-1/2 years I've written up every single home I've inspected where I don't find drip-edge flashing at the perimeter of a comp roof. Guess what? Sometimes it seems like only one or two roofers out here even knows what drip edging is. However, the National Roofing Contractor's Association (NRCA) and the Asphalt Roofing Manufacturer's Association (ARM), organizations made up of professional roofers and professional roofing products manufacturers, not home inspectors, recommend drip edging at the eaves of all comp roofs as a best practice. Some manufacturers even require it in their instructions. Since I know that probably 199 out 200 roofs aren't going to have any drip edging installed, should I simply ignore it because, "That's the way it's done here," thus helping to maintain the status quo, or should I call it when I see it and try to reeducate folks and try to get them to do it correctly in the future?

After 11-1/2 years, I've suddenly started seeing drip edge flashings at the perimeter of more and more new roofs. I wonder if maybe, just maybe, my stubborn insistence on writing this up on every house, knowing that nobody is going to correct it, might have contributed in some little way to some changed attitudes where drip edging is concerned with some of these roofers. Maybe, maybe not, but one thing I do know is that accepting something that's wrong without protesting, just because that's the way it is, is, for me, counter intuitive.

ONE TEAM - ONE FIGHT!!!

Mike

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Originally posted by hausdok

Kevin,

What you are advocating is accepting the status guo just 'cuz that's the way it is; since everyone does it that way, it has to be okay. Some folks are comfortable with that approach. I'm not.

Call me stubborn, but for 11-1/2 years I've written up every single home I've inspected where I don't find drip-edge flashing at the perimeter of a comp roof. Guess what? Sometimes it seems like only one or two roofers out here even knows what drip edging is. However, the National Roofing Contractor's Association (NRCA) and the Asphalt Roofing Manufacturer's Association (ARM), organizations made up of professional roofers and professional roofing products manufacturers, not home inspectors, recommend drip edging at the eaves of all comp roofs as a best practice. Some manufacturers even require it in their instructions. Since I know that probably 199 out 200 roofs aren't going to have any drip edging installed, should I simply ignore it because, "That's the way it's done here," thus helping to maintain the status quo, or should I call it when I see it and try to reeducate folks and try to get them to do it correctly in the future?

After 11-1/2 years, I've suddenly started seeing drip edge flashings at the perimeter of more and more new roofs. I wonder if maybe, just maybe, my stubborn insistence on writing this up on every house, knowing that nobody is going to correct it, might have contributed in some little way to some changed attitudes where drip edging is concerned with some of these roofers. Maybe, maybe not, but one thing I do know is that accepting something that's wrong without protesting, just because that's the way it is, is, for me, counter intuitive.

ONE TEAM - ONE FIGHT!!!

Mike

You didn't directly answer my question from the previous post. You have made a long winded argument on "drip edge" flashing, which is a recommendation from Roofing Associations. While I agree with you on that issue, it doesn't relate to the conduit issue.

What we are talking about is weather conduit is required by code in my area (MD, DC, VA). So, I will ask the question again. Are you saying that every builder, every AHJ in my area, every electrician, and every HVAC tech who has installed cable that is not in conduit from the disconnect to the condensing unit is wrong?

Kevin

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Originally posted by Chris Bernhardt

Kevin I am having trouble understanding your logic. With respect to electrical items if they are done wrong but work why would you recommend its correction as an maintenance item or upgrade?

As a matter of policy with electrical items I write them up for correction and right away. I have had my own personal experience of going soft like that and suggesting that they can defer the correction and it came back to bite in a big way.

I'm with Chad. Walter has also addressed this before. I think you would get slaughtered on the witness stand for recommending an electrical correction as maintenance need or an upgrade.

Chris, Oregon

Chris,

I believe you are talking in general terms, but I agree! When it comes to electrical issues that need "correction", I write them up and recommend a licensed electrician fix whatever it is that needs to be fixed.

What I was referring to in my previous post to John is that I didn't see an issue with the cable (lack of conduit). It didn't need correction. However, if the cable run from the disconnect to the condensing unit was long, and he felt that there could be a concern for possible accidental damage, I would make a recommendation to "improve" the cable by providing additional protection. That recommendation would be classified as a maintenance item, which I define as the following:

MAINTENANCE ISSUE (MI): The item, component, or system while perhaps functioning as intended is in need of minor service or maintenance; is showing signs of wear or deterioration that could result in an adverse condition at some point in the future; or considerations should be made in upgrading the item, component, or system to enhance the function, efficiency, safety, and/or more closely align with current construction standards. Items falling into this category can frequently be addressed by a homeowner or handyman and are considered to be routine homeowner maintenance or recommended upgrades. However, it is recommended that all work be completed by qualified individuals or companies.

If you are inspecting a home built prior to 2000, would you write up the lack of AFCI protection as a "repair" item or a recommended safety upgrade?

Kevin

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Originally posted by Kevin A. Richardson

Originally posted by hausdok

Kevin,

What you are advocating is accepting the status quo just 'cuz that's the way it is; since everyone does it that way, it has to be okay. Some folks are comfortable with that approach. I'm not.

Call me stubborn, but for 11-1/2 years I've written up every single home I've inspected where I don't find drip-edge flashing at the perimeter of a comp roof. Guess what? Sometimes it seems like only one or two roofers out here even knows what drip edging is. However, the National Roofing Contractor's Association (NRCA) and the Asphalt Roofing Manufacturer's Association (ARM), organizations made up of professional roofers and professional roofing products manufacturers, not home inspectors, recommend drip edging at the eaves of all comp roofs as a best practice. Some manufacturers even require it in their instructions. Since I know that probably 199 out 200 roofs aren't going to have any drip edging installed, should I simply ignore it because, "That's the way it's done here," thus helping to maintain the status quo, or should I call it when I see it and try to reeducate folks and try to get them to do it correctly in the future?

After 11-1/2 years, I've suddenly started seeing drip edge flashings at the perimeter of more and more new roofs. I wonder if maybe, just maybe, my stubborn insistence on writing this up on every house, knowing that nobody is going to correct it, might have contributed in some little way to some changed attitudes where drip edging is concerned with some of these roofers. Maybe, maybe not, but one thing I do know is that accepting something that's wrong without protesting, just because that's the way it is, is, for me, counter intuitive.

ONE TEAM - ONE FIGHT!!!

Mike

You didn't directly answer my question from the previous post. You have made a long winded argument on "drip edge" flashing, which is a recommendation from Roofing Associations. While I agree with you on that issue, it doesn't relate to the conduit issue.

What we are talking about is weather conduit is required by code in my area (MD, DC, VA). So, I will ask the question again. Are you saying that every builder, every AHJ in my area, every electrician, and every HVAC tech who has installed cable that is not in conduit from the disconnect to the condensing unit is wrong?

Kevin

Thank you, I just love it when folks imply I'm a windbag.

However it does relate to what you are saying. You are saying that just because all of those contractor, builders, and electricians do it that way that it's acceptable despite the fact that experts in the electrical business say differently. I'm saying they are wrong - in exactly the same way I was trying to show you with my drip edge example how those folks installing those hundreds of thousands of roofs out here, though they believe they are correct, are wrong.

Just because a way of doing something wrong is accepted and done by everyone in your area, doesn't mean that you have to accept it if you know that it's contrary to what the best experts in the business are saying.

Then again, maybe it's just me. I used to be a cop, remember? Cops make a lot of calls on their own, based on a set of rules that have been established, that are pretty unpopular with a lot of folks. Want to know what the most common "excuse" was that I heard from folks I had to cite for committing traffic infractions that endangered others or caused accidents; "Why are you giving me a ticket for something that everybody does?"

Sorry if this is too long-winded for you.

ONE TEAM - ONE FIGHT!!!

Mike

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If you check this link the answer to the question Kevin has posed is yes. Yes they are all wrong, or at least any that have been done in Anne Arundel County. The link shows that Anne Arundel County adopts 2002 NEC. Now there is a PDF link with amendments to article 300. You will find them on page 22 of the PDF if you care to have a look. I will save you some time if you trust my word and tell you now, none of the amendments affect the requirement of "protection" as listed under the NEC.

http://www.aacounty.org/IP/PAC/BuildingCodes.cfm

The subject property in question was actually in Baltimore County though. I will research that but I bet the result wont be any different. The code amendments usually make things more strict, not less.

Kevin, I wont be dropping the comment into my boiler plate. I have decided to take a path that pretty much abandons boiler plate all together. I am going to use a check list with small note blocks to guide me through the inspection. I will back this up with many digital photos. I will zip through the photos on the camera screen with the client before I leave the property and give them a quick spoken summary. Then I will retreat to the office PC to type a report that can be more specific to each individual property. I know it will take me more time to do jobs that way but I will sleep much better at night knowing I provided the best information I am capable of.

On my first inspection my camera pretty much saved my ass. I went over the shots with the client before I left the site. when I got home to write the report, I knew the exact reason why I had taken each picture and it helped me immensely in putting the report together.

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At the bottom of this page you will see that Baltimore County also follows NEC.

http://www.baltimorecountymd.gov/Agenci ... ml#current

This is why I believe they ran these lines through the PCV in the first place. Look at the photo and you can see how the slab up next to the foundation is rotating with the left side dipping and the right side lifting. If the slab was more level as it should be the unit could have been placed on it. Instead they decided to leave the slab as is and push the unit off into the lawn. The result was the lines running through a puddle in PVC. Nice huh.

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BTW, I wrote up the the slabs too and called for a structural specialist to check for possible negative effects the condition could pose on the structure. I pointed this out to the client and he didn't seem too concerned by it. Even so, there was no way I was turning over a report without mentioning this.

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