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Is this correct


Jeff Beck
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2 story frame house built in 1900. It's been divided into two separate living quarters each with its own furnace, hot water heater and electric meter and electric panel.

The circuit for the first level furnace runs from the breaker out of the panel to the adjacent panel (second level unit), passing through but not connecting or touching anything and then through conduit to the furnace.

It doesn't seem correct but I couldn't figure out how to Google it and a search here didn't come up with anything.

Advice is greatly appreciated.

Jeff

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I seem to recall that this was something that Jerry Peck used to harp about all the time, and get into some pretty long and contentious arguments about, on the ASHI board; but I don't remember what the outcomes of those arguments were.

I'm sure Jim remembers.

ONE TEAM - ONE FIGHT!!!

Mike

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Jeff,

Under modern codes you would look for separation between units, but no telling, I suppose, when the one was made two.

You, likely, feel that you've been hired for two jobs when you only agreed to one?

No Jim, I knew about the place coming in and charged accordingly. I spent almost 6 hours there and may have to go back later today.

I'm a little over half way done with the report and I'm on page 52

But that's why we get "the BIG bucks" LOL

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2 story frame house built in 1900. It's been divided into two separate living quarters each with its own furnace, hot water heater and electric meter and electric panel.

The circuit for the first level furnace runs from the breaker out of the panel to the adjacent panel (second level unit), passing through but not connecting or touching anything and then through conduit to the furnace.

It doesn't seem correct but I couldn't figure out how to Google it and a search here didn't come up with anything.

Advice is greatly appreciated.

Jeff

The rule is that it's not allowed unless the panel enclosure has enough room for the pass-through wires.

This is addressed in Article 312.8.

312.8 Enclosures for Switches or Overcurrent Devices. Enclosures for switches or overcurrent devices shall not be used as junction boxes, auxiliary gutters, or raceways for conductors feeding through or tapping off to other switches or overcurrent devices, unless adequate space for this purpose is provided. The conductors shall not fill the wiring space at any cross section to more than 40 percent of the cross-sectional area of the space, and the conductors, splices, and taps shall not fill the wiring space at any cross section to more than 75 percent of the cross-sectional area of that space.

I happen to believe that the phrase "for this purpose" simply refers to the spaces within the enclosure that are meant to be wireways as opposed those spaces that are meant to contain the panel parts -- i.e. buses, breakers, mounting hardware, etc.

Others interpret this article much more strictly than I do. Their contention is that the phrase "for this purpose" means that, in order put such wiring in a panel enclosure, it isn't enough that there be sufficient room for the wires and splices, but that the space in the panel had to be specified for that particular purpose (foreign wires and splices) by the manufacturer. Since UL 67 doesn't include provisions for foreign wires, and since no manufacturer will specify that it's ok to include foreign wires in their load centers, then these other persons maintain that these wires aren't allowed in there.

I can see their point and understand it. I just happen to disagree with it.

- Jim Katen, Oregon

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My two cents, and it really isn't a "code" answer.

First...I've never actually seen this or had to call it, or not. To be honest, I don't attempt to trace every single wire entering and leaving a messy, crowded panel but I do think I would notice it if the sheathing was still on.

My "problem" with it is that I think there is a reasonable expectation that if you turn off the main breaker and/or every breaker then there shouldn't be anything still live in the panel aside from the main feeders. It sounds like Jeff's panels are set up as two separate service equipment panels. So, despite throwing the service disconnect at that panel, he still would have live conductors inside the panel controlled by someone else's panel. That just seems wrong, code or not.

What happens if one homeowner wants to change out their panel but the other is away on a long vacation? This is a little far fetched, but what if something goes horribly wrong on that "other" furnace circuit and the wires start to melt and glow, and smoke starts coming out of the panel. Does the homeowner have ready access to shut off power?

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That was my thinking when I posted this originally. The panels are side by side so if one can be accessed they both can. I would expect that a competent electrician would see the adjacent panel, the connecting conduit and have the sense to pull the cover on the adjacent panel.

BUT, if someone got hurt I'd feel like crap.

I called this out for correction, didn't site any codes (it's a residential inspection) and basically said that the main breaker is supposed to shut off ALL electrical service to the panel but with the wires passing through there still would be an energized circuit.

There were enough other electrical problems with this property that a sparky is going to spend some quality time in the basement in front of these panels and elsewhere in the building.

Thanks Mike, Jim, Jim and Richard!

Never a dull moment, huh?

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