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Main Disconnect On Crawlspace Ceiling


dtontarski
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I observed a main disconnect installed on the ceiling of a crawlspace. This panel is installed between the floor joist oriented down towards the floor.

Is there any code violation here? Is this an acceptable method of installation?

More Info - this feeds a new 100 amp distribution panel in the home's full basement.

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what is the clearance from the front of that enclosed breaker to the "floor" of the crawl space?

Is that breaker clearly marked with on / off or open / closed ?

You stated "main Breaker" - Is this service equipment or a disconnecting means for sub panel or piece of equipment? If it is the main disconnecting /overcurrent means for the service, then that enclosure needs to be tagged as "suitable for use as service equipment". This would on the label.

It is allowable to mount circuit breakers horizontal as per article 240.33 in the 2008 NEC

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well if its a main disconect for the house it would normally be mounted outside of house next to the meter,mounting it in the crawl space does no good if something happens and you need to kill the power right now.

And mounting it on the bottem of the sub floor gives it no protection from some dim wit driving a nail through the floor into the back of it,so i would say its not physically protected in its current location [:-bigeyes

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well if its a main disconect for the house it would normally be mounted outside of house next to the meter,mounting it in the crawl space does no good if something happens and you need to kill the power right now.

Makes sense Jim. That would make this installation in violation of the code.

Marc

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well if its a main disconect for the house it would normally be mounted outside of house next to the meter,mounting it in the crawl space does no good if something happens and you need to kill the power right now.

And mounting it on the bottem of the sub floor gives it no protection from some dim wit driving a nail through the floor into the back of it,so i would say its not physically protected in its current location

I don't like it either but the disconnect isn't required to be outside. If one must crawl, slither or go spelunking to get to the disconnect then "accessible" could be challenged.

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Sorry....I got busy....which is a good thing....February is usually dead in this area.

To respond -

First off - I agree this is poor location for a main disconnect..for all of the reasons stated, plus it is in an area of a basement in this 1910 Bungalow that has an earth floor with no vapor retarding barrier. This will likely result in corrosion damage.

This is the home's main disconnect, it is within 6'7" (just within) of the floor and it is clearly marked on and off. (so no slithering required - that was last week's weekend cabin....tough to identify all the small critter skeletal remains I had to slither through in this lovely crawl)

The distribution panel is properly wired as such.

Well pretty much anyway....some genius do-it-yourselfer always pulls the cover and installs at least 1-equipment grounding conductor on the neutral terminal bar.

Thanks for the review and comments.

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well if its a main disconect for the house it would normally be mounted outside of house next to the meter,mounting it in the crawl space does no good if something happens and you need to kill the power right now.

And mounting it on the bottem of the sub floor gives it no protection from some dim wit driving a nail through the floor into the back of it,so i would say its not physically protected in its current location

I don't like it either but the disconnect isn't required to be outside. If one must crawl, slither or go spelunking to get to the disconnect then "accessible" could be challenged.

do you consider that to be readily accessable? how about protected from physical damage? [;)]
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what is the clearance from the front of that enclosed breaker to the "floor" of the crawl space?

Is that breaker clearly marked with on / off or open / closed ?

You stated "main Breaker" - Is this service equipment or a disconnecting means for sub panel or piece of equipment? If it is the main disconnecting /overcurrent means for the service, then that enclosure needs to be tagged as "suitable for use as service equipment". This would on the label.

It is allowable to mount circuit breakers horizontal as per article 240.33 in the 2008 NEC

Jack, if you read 240.81 this will more clearly define horizontal as being a 90 degree rotation from the normal orientation, ie the narrow dimension of the panel would be the left and right sides instead of the top and bottom. Face up nor face down would not satisfy either 240.33 nor 240.81.

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I would suspect a collection of left over materials led to the questionable location.

Assuming I read through my documentation and found nothing directly condemning the installation (I haven't done that), I think I would say, and report, something like this to the home buyer...

The location of the home's disconnect is very questionable. You may have difficulty locating the panel in an emergency and someone who is not familiar with the home will most likely not locate the panel in an emergency. Although this location may not be directly addressed by modern building standards, common sense tells me the location is questionable and is a potential hazard. You should have a qualified electrical contractor move the panel to a proper location.

If there is some hard documentation condemning the install, then it 'kind of' puts the onus on the seller for repair. Without it, the ball typically ends up in the buyer's court.

Just my 2 cents...

Wayne G

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240.33 Vertical Position.

Enclosures for overcurrent devices shall be mounted in a vertical position unless that is shown to be impracticable. Circuit breaker enclosures shall be permitted to be installed horizontally where the circuit breaker is installed in accordance with 240.81. Listed busway plug-in units shall be permitted to be mounted in orientations corresponding to the busway mounting position.

240.81 Indicating.

Circuit breakers shall clearly indicate whether they are in the open “offâ€

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I observed a main disconnect installed on the ceiling of a crawlspace. This panel is installed between the floor joist oriented down towards the floor.

Is there any code violation here? Is this an acceptable method of installation?

Not acceptable because the joists intrude on the required work space to either side.

If they bring the box to the bottom edge of the joists, then I don't see a problem.

- Jim Katen, Oregon

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OK after all the facts have been brought forward, now this is where we stand.

The headroom is ok as it was determined it is "within" 6'7". The minimum required by the NEC Article 110.26(E) is 6'6".

This is a service disconnect. It is just inside the structure in a basement area with a dirt floor. Thus the section(s) of the NEC 230.70 (A)(1) has been met.

It is in an accessible location and the length of unfused cable has be met.

I do hope you checked to verify the disconnect is rated for use as service equipment as per NEC article 230.66 . This article states that service equipment be indentified as "suitable for use as service equipment" This should be on the label.

I also hope you inspected the wiring inside the disconnect as this is the first point of service disconnect. This means this is where you are to bond the neutral and the ground together.This is where you should terminate the grounding electrode conductors from the water ground and ground rods. Everything from this disconnect on is a sub panel and the neutrals and grounds are isolated from each other.

The only issue that would make this an illegal instalation is the orientation of the disconnect itself. Jim was kind enough to remind me that I was incorrect ( confused "on it's back" and "horizontal" Have since re read the code article slower this time and read the commentary in the handbook which clearly explains it and he is correct. (Kudo's to Jim [:-thumbu])

The disconnect can not be mounted on its back facing down.

This is a violation of NEC article 240.33 Vertical Position

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While I'm reluctant to disagree with both Jim Port and Jack Davenport, I'm afraid I must. There's absolutely nothing in 240.33 or 240.81 that would prohibit mounting the enclosure and the breaker in a face down position.

For reference, here are the applicable sections:

240.33 Vertical Position. Enclosures for overcurrent devices shall be mounted in a vertical position unless that is shown to be impracticable. Circuit breaker enclosures shall be permitted to be installed horizontally where the circuit breaker is installed horizontally where the circuit breaker is installed in accordance with 240.81 . . .

240.81 Indicating. Circuit breakers shall clearly indicate whether they are in the open "off" or closed "on" position. Where circuit breaker handles are operated vertically rather than rotationally or horizontally, the "up" position of the handle shall be the "on" position.

I don't know whether the panel in the original post meets the "impracticable" qualification. That's a judgment call for the AHJ. But if it did, there's nothing in either of those two sections to prohibit mounting it face down.

- Jim Katen, Oregon

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As I interpret those passages, 'horizontally' means rotated sideways not forward or backwards. I don't think the code forming committee ever considerd that someone would install a panel face down. I'd suggest that the only truth here is that the AHJ makes the call.

Marc

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As I interpret those passages, 'horizontally' means rotated sideways not forward or backwards. I don't think the code forming committee ever considerd that someone would install a panel face down. I'd suggest that the only truth here is that the AHJ makes the call.

Marc

What the CMP considered or didn't consider is irrelevant. The only thing that matters is what they wrote. Horizontal means horizontal, nothing more.

- Jim Katen, Oregon

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