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Excessive insulation removed near breaker screws


Bain
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I learned many years ago from a commercial electrician I'd subbed work out to that leaving too much copper exposed near breaker screws can lead to arcing and panel fires. Thing is, I've never learned if this is simply a best practice thing or if it's mandated by the NEC or the breaker manufacturers.

I checked out the data-sticker on the panel from the below photo, but nothing was mentioned. So anyhow, I came across this panel this afternoon and thought I'd ask you guys rather than spend lots of time Googling.

I know, I know. You gotta love my work ethic . . .

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It's not ideal, but your panel wouldn't worry me that much. You would have to have the exposed conductors an awful lot closer to each other or something else to create arcing. It does make working on the panel a bit more hazardous though as it negates the recessing of the live bits. Too easy to drop a grounding wire onto the exposed parts for instance.

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I learned many years ago from a commercial electrician I'd subbed work out to that leaving too much copper exposed near breaker screws can lead to arcing and panel fires. Thing is, I've never learned if this is simply a best practice thing or if it's mandated by the NEC or the breaker manufacturers.

I checked out the data-sticker on the panel from the below photo, but nothing was mentioned. So anyhow, I came across this panel this afternoon and thought I'd ask you guys rather than spend lots of time Googling.

I know, I know. You gotta love my work ethic . . .

The first thing that comes to mind is 110.3(B), the section that says that listed or labeled equipment shall be installed in accordance with its listing or labeling instructions. Breakers are listed equipment and they come with instructions that tell you how much insulation to strip from the wires.

The bare sections of wire certainly aren't going to arc by themselves, especially not at the voltages in that panel. However, they'll arc like crazy if you drop conductive debris in there.

- Jim Katen, Oregon

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I learned many years ago from a commercial electrician I'd subbed work out to that leaving too much copper exposed near breaker screws can lead to arcing and panel fires. Thing is, I've never learned if this is simply a best practice thing or if it's mandated by the NEC or the breaker manufacturers.

I checked out the data-sticker on the panel from the below photo, but nothing was mentioned. So anyhow, I came across this panel this afternoon and thought I'd ask you guys rather than spend lots of time Googling.

I know, I know. You gotta love my work ethic . . .

The first thing that comes to mind is 110.3(B), the section that says that listed or labeled equipment shall be installed in accordance with its listing or labeling instructions. Breakers are listed equipment and they come with instructions that tell you how much insulation to strip from the wires.

The bare sections of wire certainly aren't going to arc by themselves, especially not at the voltages in that panel. However, they'll arc like crazy if you drop conductive debris in there.

- Jim Katen, Oregon

So maybe I misunderstood what the guy was saying way back when?

Do you think it was incorrect to say the wires in the panel photo should have their ends trimmed, Jim?

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Do you think it was incorrect to say the wires in the panel photo should have their ends trimmed, Jim?

I don't think it's incorrect. It might be a tad anal, though.

On the other hand, there are also the doubled-up neutrals in there. I mean, jeez, the guy has about 10,000 spare, unused neutral terminal screws (ok, I'm exaggerating). Why'd he have to double them up? Woof! If there's going to be an electrician around anyway to fix something else, I might advise cleaning up the crummy workmanship while he's there. Most electricians will charge a minimum 1 hr fee anyway and these things will give him something to do for the other 30 minutes.

- Jim Katen, Oregon

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Being that Bain is from KY, he might want to be careful with calling out a repair for electrical stuff! Their state home inspector board forbids home inspectors from calling out FPE and Zinsco equipment based on their history, if they can't see any signs of a problem.[:-paperba

Has that rule ever been tested in court?

- Jim Katen, Oregon

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Being that Bain is from KY, he might want to be careful with calling out a repair for electrical stuff! Their state home inspector board forbids home inspectors from calling out FPE and Zinsco equipment based on their history, if they can't see any signs of a problem.[:-paperba

Has that rule ever been tested in court?

- Jim Katen, Oregon

Not that I'm aware of. It was enacted about a year ago by the board based on complaints from real estate agents and the electrical contractors board.

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Being that Bain is from KY, he might want to be careful with calling out a repair for electrical stuff! Their state home inspector board forbids home inspectors from calling out FPE and Zinsco equipment based on their history, if they can't see any signs of a problem.[:-paperba

Has that rule ever been tested in court?

- Jim Katen, Oregon

Not that I'm aware of. It was enacted about a year ago by the board based on complaints from real estate agents and the electrical contractors board.

All true. Further, I sayeth nought . . .

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I can understand the whiny realtors.... but what is the thinking of Electrical Contractors Board not wanting FPE or Sylvania/Zinsco called out for possible and or known safety concerns ?? Based on history?

So if you see a double tap or frayed wire that is all you call out???

makes me wonder if that will come about in WA state if we do not have an advisory board made up of HI's

Jerry

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I can understand the whiny realtors.... but what is the thinking of Electrical Contractors Board not wanting FPE or Sylvania/Zinsco called out for possible and or known safety concerns ?? Based on history?

So if you see a double tap or frayed wire that is all you call out???

makes me wonder if that will come about in WA state if we do not have an advisory board made up of HI's

Jerry

seems to be one of the FPE problems was breakers not tripping when they were suppose to....How do you 'see' that??

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I can understand the whiny realtors.... but what is the thinking of Electrical Contractors Board not wanting FPE or Sylvania/Zinsco called out for possible and or known safety concerns ?? Based on history?

So if you see a double tap or frayed wire that is all you call out???

makes me wonder if that will come about in WA state if we do not have an advisory board made up of HI's

Jerry

The so called logic was that it is the Electricians job to say if a panel is bad and needs to be replaced when the home inspector can not see any problems. It is called legalized exstorsion!

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I can understand the whiny realtors.... but what is the thinking of Electrical Contractors Board not wanting FPE or Sylvania/Zinsco called out for possible and or known safety concerns ?? Based on history?

So if you see a double tap or frayed wire that is all you call out???

makes me wonder if that will come about in WA state if we do not have an advisory board made up of HI's

Jerry

It won't make much difference. KY, has a standing board with home inspectors on it!

Once the rules are in place an advisory board is of little use. After it is up and running not much needs to be done by an advisory board. Now if it is a standing board, they will meet a few time through the year to take care of whatever business needs to be done.

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Has there been any creative information delivery?

What if the report had in it a concise explanation of why and how home inspectors are restricted from reporting on the panels.

Then, provide folks with the facts of the matter (tests showing breakers not tripping, company found lying on test results, etc.)

Finish up with some extemporized tongue in cheek explanations, and a recommendation that the buyer/client might want to question state lawmakers why HI's are not allowed to discuss these things.

What would happen?

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Has there been any creative information delivery?

What if the report had in it a concise explanation of why and how home inspectors are restricted from reporting on the panels.

Then, provide folks with the facts of the matter (tests showing breakers not tripping, company found lying on test results, etc.)

Finish up with some extemporized tongue in cheek explanations, and a recommendation that the buyer/client might want to question state lawmakers why HI's are not allowed to discuss these things.

What would happen?

I was trying to find the document on the KY site, and I found this little tidbit. Looks like our brethren in KY can not cite a code in their reports.

From the KY site:

198B.738 Home inspectors prohibited from indicating compliance or noncompliance with building code.

Home inspectors, when acting in that capacity, are prohibited from indicating orally or in writing that any condition is or is not in compliance with any building code enforced under KRS Chapter 198B.

Effective: July 15, 2008

History: Amended 2008 Ky. Acts ch. 100, sec. 9, effective July 15, 2008. -- Created 2004 Ky. Acts ch. 109, sec. 20, effective July 13, 2004.

I found the document:

Download Attachment: icon_adobe.gif ky_fpe_document.pdf

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I can understand the whiny realtors.... but what is the thinking of Electrical Contractors Board not wanting FPE or Sylvania/Zinsco called out for possible and or known safety concerns ?? Based on history?

So if you see a double tap or frayed wire that is all you call out???

makes me wonder if that will come about in WA state if we do not have an advisory board made up of HI's

Jerry

Not to worry, the Washington State Home Inspectors Advisory Licensing Board covered it in the SOP.

"The Inspector will:

(h) Report on any circuit breaker panel or subpanel known within the home inspection profession to have safety concerns."

This way it doesn't depend on electricians at all - strictly what's known within the profession. I'd say that covers Zinsco and FPE panels sufficiently; and later, if another brand becomes problematic, that brand or brands as well.

ONE TEAM - ONE FIGHT!!!

Mike

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I was trying to find the document on the KY site, and I found this little tidbit. Looks like our brethren in KY can not cite a code in their reports.

It doesn't say that you can't cite code. It says you can't indicate compliance or non compliance. You can cite all day long if you want.

- Jim Katen, Oregon

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I learned many years ago from a commercial electrician I'd subbed work out to that leaving too much copper exposed near breaker screws can lead to arcing and panel fires. Thing is, I've never learned if this is simply a best practice thing or if it's mandated by the NEC or the breaker manufacturers.

I checked out the data-sticker on the panel from the below photo, but nothing was mentioned. So anyhow, I came across this panel this afternoon and thought I'd ask you guys rather than spend lots of time Googling.

I know, I know. You gotta love my work ethic . . .

Click to Enlarge
tn_2009223184743_excessive%20copper.jpg

39.15 KB

As an Electrical Inspector I'd require them fix it, most overcurrent devices have a strip gauge on the device itself. That much CU showing would be a violation of the manufacturer installation instructions.

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Has there been any creative information delivery?

What if the report had in it a concise explanation of why and how home inspectors are restricted from reporting on the panels.

Then, provide folks with the facts of the matter (tests showing breakers not tripping, company found lying on test results, etc.)

Finish up with some extemporized tongue in cheek explanations, and a recommendation that the buyer/client might want to question state lawmakers why HI's are not allowed to discuss these things.

What would happen?

Dude . . . cool avatar.

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