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Arguing with the powers that be


jodil
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Hi,

The electrician that rewired this house is insisting that this is ok and there is nothing wrong with having more than one (in this houses case there are up to three) neutral wires under one terminal screw.. In fact, the house recently passed its city inspection!

I know that more than one neutral under a terminal screw is not a good thing, as I have seen several different examples of scorched and melted wires from arcing. My question is, why would an electrician insist that its ok and how could this box possibly pass city inspection?

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Unlike you, their option isn't in writing and displaying a license/certification number. So he or she can say anything. Tell your client all professional options should only be in writing with license/certification numbers, and company information present. You might get a better quality professionals replying.

Just a guess,

tom

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There's a recent thread started by Joe Tedesco that discusses the doubled ground/neutral situation. You should check it out. Electricians perform, and inspectors pass, installations like the one in your photo without fail in my area--even in new construction. It's wrong, but I don't write it up as a defect 'cause I know I won't get any support.

You said you were new to this biz. There are some issues like doubled neutrals that you may not want to mention if the powers-that-be won't back you up.

It's total wimp-sh*t, but if I ever have a call-back from a prior customer regarding doubled neutrals, I'll tell him to ring up the electrical inspection board, who'll say the doubles are okay.

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This disturbs me. Is it right or wrong. Do we call out what we won't get heat for or what is wrong. I asked a local sparky when I started inspecting about conditions such as these. His response was "It's wrong but I wouldn't drag an electrician out for that. Seldom or never is that the only condition found.

Right or wrong. Black or white. Who among us has the depth of knowledge to say "but it's no big deal" or ignore it.

I must say, I'm disappointed.

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Hi,

This issue gets re-hashed here at least a dozen times every year; it's wrong and there aren't any if, ands, or buts about it. I tell folks that they may encounter resistance to getting it corrected, but point out that it's wrong now, it was wrong ten years ago, and it was wrong 50 years ago, so it's not like it's something that I made up. Then I point out to them that there aren't any non-electricians writing electrical codes - it's electricians who make those rules - so they can expect to see it written up in my report regardless of whether or not any electrician say it does or doesn't need to be corrected.

Charlie makes a good point, there's usually more than one issue to bring out an electrician for anyway. You could also take Jim Katen's approach - tell them that it's wrong but not to get wound up about it and have it corrected the next time they've got an electrician out there for some other reason and then have him kill two birds with one stone.

ONE TEAM - ONE FIGHT!!!

Mike

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Neutral and Ground Terminals

The standard terminals on grounds

and neutrals are rated to accept (3) —

#14 – #10 Cu/Al or (1) — #14 – 4 wires.

For larger cables, add-on neutral lugs

may be ordered from the accessories

on

Pages 3-23

and

3-24

.

Note:

NEC

allows only one current

carrying conductor per hole on neutrals

unless otherwise noted.

This is from an Eaton Cutler Hammer Site.

Still waiting for someone to specify the code that requires this.

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If you are in an IRC state such as mine, then E3306.9 does not make it illegal, it just tells you that the particular device must be rated for that application.

Once again we must refer to the manufacturer's specs.

Therefore, sometimes you are wrong to point that out as a defect if you don't know the manufacturer.

You would be better off pointing it out as a concern and put the burden on the electrician to prove that the terminal bar that he/she used is rated as such.

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Sorry to disappoint, but when I used to write it up as a defect, the electrician would come out and say it's fine. A few customers would call the city electrical inspection company, who said it was fine. I'm a prick, and I have no problem engaging in battles with trogladytes or anyone else, but this is one of those battles I waged many, many times, and lost every time.

Jim K. has explained the ins and outs of doubled neutrals here and, as a result, I likely know more about them than 95% of the electricians in my area. But the opinions of the electricians and the AHJ supercede my own.

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I call it every dang time I see it. Some of the code bubbas recognize it as wrong. It's been corrected (according to my clients) several times, even in Lexington. (But I'm kinda crappy sometime about follow-up and don't know if they all were.

I use this:

===============================

The problem(s) discovered in the electrical panel such as

• yada yada

• more than one “grounded conductorâ€

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Originally posted by Bain

But the opinions of the electricians and the AHJ supercede my own.

Nine out of ten electricians will say it's okay, and they're wrong.

Kinda like nine out of ten people will spell "supercede" wrong (it's supersede).

Just my WJ for the day.

And of course, when one reads *supersede*, they'll think ya didn't spell it correctly.

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It is not that important of an issue to wage a battle if you don't know the rating of the terminal bar. You will also be hard pressed to find a terminal bar manufacturer that has the holes/screws rated for more than one wire.

If it makes you feel good to write it up then fire away.

I will write it up on new construction if I know the manufacturer of the panel.

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Originally posted by Jeff Remas

Neutral and Ground Terminals

The standard terminals on grounds

and neutrals are rated to accept (3) —

#14 – #10 Cu/Al or (1) — #14 – 4 wires.

For larger cables, add-on neutral lugs

may be ordered from the accessories

on

Pages 3-23

and

3-24

.

Note:

NEC

allows only one current

carrying conductor per hole on neutrals

unless otherwise noted.

This is from an Eaton Cutler Hammer Site.

Still waiting for someone to specify the code that requires this.

On new construction, this is a no-brainer. The NEC allows only a single grounded conductor, all by itself, under any single terminal. The only exception is for parallel conductors, which you're unlikely to see in residential wiring. You'll find the cite at 408.41.

As for the Eaton/Cutler Hammer quote above, it seems to say that:

A: the terminals can hold up to three wires.

B: you can't put more than one neutral on a single terminal.

No surprises there.

- Jim Katen, Oregon

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Originally posted by mr_tom

Unlike you, their option isn't in writing and displaying a license/certification number. So he or she can say anything. Tell your client all professional options should only be in writing with license/certification numbers, and company information present. You might get a better quality professionals replying.

Just a guess,

tom

In my experience all kinds of morons write all kinds of stupid things on their company letterhead.

- Jim Katen, Oregon

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The opinions of people who are wrong do not supersede the statements of those who are right.

The HI has got to be smarter than the menial laborers and codes bubbas. If we can't deliver a better product than a Tilt-A-Whirl greaser or govt drone, we are worse than useless, and we're doing more harm than good.

Maybe it's just me, but I think HIs ought to be citing reputable sources, and not, well, hiding behind the skirts of the know-nothing Wronglings.

Amen to that. Either specify a code or don't write something controversial up.

And don't hide behind that "we are not code official" BS either. We need to back up our statements when/if challenged.

In my state the IRC supersedes the NEC. The IRC only references the NEC when needed so it is a manufacturer specific issue. However, like I stated before you will be hard pressed to find a manufacturer who allows more than on wire on a terminal.

So here is your official answers.

If you are an NEC state then write it up and state: NEC 408.41

If you are an IRC state then research the manufacturer and either you can or cannot write it up. If you do then cite both E3306.9 AND the manufacturer's installation instructions.

If you are an IRC state and don't know the manufacturer then write it up as a concern, cite E3306.9 and recommend that an electrician verify what it allowed. (liability transferred at this time)

Pretty simple in my not so humble opinion.

What I don't like is when inspectors in our industry write up things that they heard about rather than what they know from proper research and then are proven wrong. It hurts our reputations as inspectors and keeps us an industry rather than a profession.

So do your research and document properly if you don't know.

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Originally posted by Jeff Remas

. . . If you are an IRC state and don't know the manufacturer then write it up as a concern, cite E3306.9 and recommend that an electrician verify what it allowed. (liability transferred at this time)

Pretty simple in my not so humble opinion. . . .

I'd say it's even simpler than that. 3306.9 says that the terminals have to be identified for the application. That means you have to be able to tell by looking at them. For instance, terminals that are marked as acceptable for aluminum wire are so marked either on the terminal or on the panel label.

- Jim Katen, Oregon

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Most terminals have the rating on a sticker inside the panel. I'll accept that since none of them are stamped in the metal itself. Same thing with circuit breakers. Everyone can be different in a panel even if they look the same.

I had that issue with a Cutler Hammer panel. The 15amp breaker that was double tapped was not rated according to the sticker (I had to pull the breaker to see the sticker). The 15amp breaker below it looked exactly the same but was rated for 2 wires. The moral is that you can't go by the panel alone, the breaker tells the story. Not sticker or embossing then I assume it is only for 1 wire and call it out.

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Originally posted by Jim Katen

In my experience all kinds of morons write all kinds of stupid things on their company letterhead.

Yep. I've twice had licensed electricians refuse to correct this issue, in writing on their company letterhead.

Around here it's more of the "We've always done it that way" and "That's how Old Man Jones taught me to do it when I came up in the trade" than anything else. I was soooo glad when the NEC got specific on this subject.

This is the worst instance I've run across. All the grounds and neutrals for a whole house crammed into just six terminals.

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I still write it up, but it rarely gets fixed.

Brian G.

Carrying My End Is All I Can Do [8]

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