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where to draw the line


jodil
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In regards to my recent "Subpanel wiring post" I got a call from the Main Electrical Inspector at the Capitol. He TOLD me that prior to 2008 it was acceptable for a subpanel with a 3 wire feed to have the neutrals and grounds bonded. He then proceeded to ask me why am I noting things that werent a problem when the house was built? (He also said "Youre probably one of those inspectors that insists there should be GFCI's at the baths and kitchen on a 1960 house too huh?) ~~yes I am! So my questions are.

1. Is that correct about the bonding prior to 2008? (Ive never heard such thing)

2. Where do yall draw the line when mentioning things that were ok then but not now?

Thank you

Jodi

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Originally posted by jodil

In regards to my recent "Subpanel wiring post" I got a call from the Main Electrical Inspector at the Capitol. He TOLD me that prior to 2008 it was acceptable for a subpanel with a 3 wire feed to have the neutrals and grounds bonded. He then proceeded to ask me why am I noting things that werent a problem when the house was built? (He also said "Youre probably one of those inspectors that insists there should be GFCI's at the baths and kitchen on a 1960 house too huh?) ~~yes I am! So my questions are.

1. Is that correct about the bonding prior to 2008? (Ive never heard such thing)

2. Where do yall draw the line when mentioning things that were ok then but not now?

Thank you

Jodi

At first glance it sounds like a crock. But then there is the way you worded it... "a subpanel with a 3 wire feed" - A "sub"panel drawing power through another panel can only have a 3 wire feed if it is located in another building separate from the building with the primary panel AND there is no metallic path between them (metal fencing, other cables, water pipes, gas lines, telephone...) and in that case only, where there is a (3) wire feed the Neutrals & grounds would be bonded.

If he really was speaking to you in that way I would question whether or not it was really any official at all and not just another holier than thou pissed off electrician.

To answer question #2 - IMHO - the line is a decision based on multiple facts. But I think it was someone else on this board who once phrased it... "Safety doesn't give a dam when a code was established".

Sorry I didn't put a Shakespearian poetry in my writing, I'm just a dumb home inspector.

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It was "safety concerns don't respect calendar dates". I forget who said it first, but I've been saying it ever since I first heard it.

I've gotten real used to folks thinking I'm nuts. Funny thing is, none of those folks are my customers. My customers get it.

The one's that don't get it are pinheaded tradesmen or muni guys that are threatened by someone in "their" territory.

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Originally posted by jodil

1. Is that correct about the bonding prior to 2008? (Ive never heard such thing)

Until the last cycle the NEC allowed that, but only if the sub panel was located in a separate building and met certain requirements. Now that loophole is pretty much gone.

The basic requirements for separating neutrals and equipment grounds in sub panels goes back at least as far as the 1920's in the NEC. I've run into or heard of at least a dozen variations on the "that wasn't required when this house was built" myth regarding sub panels. Bull.

2. Where do yall draw the line when mentioning things that were ok then but not now?

I'm sure opinions vary, but for me anything that

A. goes to safety issues, or

B. could run into serious money later, or

C. I just think the clients ought to know

gets reported.

Brian G.

Them That Don't Like It Can Lump It. [^]

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Originally posted by jodil

In regards to my recent "Subpanel wiring post" I got a call from the Main Electrical Inspector at the Capitol. He TOLD me that prior to 2008 it was acceptable for a subpanel with a 3 wire feed to have the neutrals and grounds bonded.

As Kyle & Brian explained, in some cases that's true. None of those cases apply to your recent "subpanel wiring post" unless the garage is not connected to the house.

He then proceeded to ask me why am I noting things that werent a problem when the house was built? (He also said "Youre probably one of those inspectors that insists there should be GFCI's at the baths and kitchen on a 1960 house too huh?) ~~yes I am!

You have to understand that, in this guy's world, inspectors make requirements. In our world, they don't. People who have had a long career on his side of the fence have a difficult time wrapping their brains around the idea of inspectors as advisors rather than inspectors as police.

So my questions are.

1. Is that correct about the bonding prior to 2008? (Ive never heard such thing)

See Brian's post. What the chief inspector told you is technically correct even if it contains a certain economy of truth. I suspect that he was trying to bluff you, perhaps even to prey on the credulous simplicity of a mere woman.

2. Where do yall draw the line when mentioning things that were ok then but not now?

There's no solid answer to that question. In my own reporting the answer varies from day to day. I suspect it's the same with most inspectors. You'll find that as you mature your views on this question will evolve as well.

- Jim Katen, Oregon

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In my 'Definition of Terms', I have this:

Update- While these items may not have been required when the house was built, they are part of today's standard. It may not be necessary, but I do recommend updating these items to meet today's standards.

I include such items as missing handrail returns, windows too small for fire egress, etc.

As far as GFCI's, that's a no brainer.

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I don't get into when something was required. I merely point out that it's not present now and to correct as necessary. If some electrical bubba wants to say that's it's not necessary that's fine with me - but I don't revise my report. Not when it has my contract, signature and license number attached to it.

Besides, as far as I know, electricity behaves pretty much the same now as it did years ago.

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While these items may not have been required when the house was built, they are part of today's standard. It may not be necessary, but I do recommend updating these items to meet today's standards.

In my neck of the woods the seller, sellers agent and maybe even the buyers agent would automatically strike any item worded this way from any consideration.

Jim Katen said it already. Word it in the form of good advice.

I try hard to leave any indication to current code as any hint of justification as to why it's an issue, out of it.

IOW, I don't phrase it, "it's code now and that's why you should do it, so it will be safer".

That is likely to get shot down and misunderstood.

IOW I would try and phrase it - "Your thingymajig is this way, which is not as safe as this other way, cause it avoids this problem. If you don't want to have that problem, change the way your thingymajig is to this other way."

I have been amazed to see that work at helping clients get all kinds of so called grandfathered stuff negotiated. Yea they bitch (sellers, agents, tradesmen) but it's hard to argue with the common sense of it, and it holds up better to WJ's can't get misunderstood rule.id="blue">

Chris, Oregon

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Originally posted by SonOfSwamp

If an HI wants to win the argument, he should cite some sources, for cryin' out loud. Sources with a list of contributors, and footnotes. Not stuff that came from Cliff at Cheers.

WJ

D'oh! I have been starting most of my report comments with... "It's a little known fact that.. "

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