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A Little Perspective Please


CHI
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Inspected a home the other day that was built in 1960. It had two panels, one a Zinsco that was still live, but had been gutted and now used as a junction box of sorts.

There were many concerns noted:

Nicked neutral wire

Missing knock out covers

The ground wire was too short and a white wire (may be confused with a neutral) was connected to extend the ground.

Obsolete wires that were exposed in the panel.

The service entrance lug to the Zinsco panel had corroded.

The wiring was a general mess.

I called all of the above and recommended further evaluation and repairs. I have never seen this type of installation with two panels. I don't understand why someone would leave the Zinsco in place.

Come to find out the repairs had been done by a local engineering firm and was disputing the findings. The seller has had three electricians come through and have all said the way the panels are installed is ok, however made a few of the repairs.

In 5 years I have not seen this type of installation. The sellers electricians say this is very common and don't have a problem with it. I get that, I just don't understand why anyone would leave the panel and not just get rid of it and replace it with the new one. The panel cover of the Zinsco showed signs of a breaker that had either gotten hot or exploded as well.

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A white conductor should not be used as an equipment grounding conductor and the unused knockouts should have a plug on them. I don't see much in the way of significant findings beyond these two mentions. The issue that you see might be a result of the differences between an idealistic view and a practical view.

Something more substantial might win you the case, such as aluminum branch circuit conductors, ungrounded branch circuits, an electrical service entrance with an ampacity that is no longer adequate for the loads served, an insufficient number of general purpose outlets, a lack of electrical service to some countertop surfaces, etc.

At 50 years old, there should be something, somewhere that you can throw at them.

Marc

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If those are two hot SEC's connected to those corroded lugs at the top of that old Zinsco box, then those are live bars and that's one very dangerous box to have accessible. Hope they had the cover screwed on tight so the uninitiated can't open it, reach inside to brush that residue away and get cooked like a Jalapeno on a stick.

OT - OF!!!

M.

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Yep, those bus bars were live. I'm finding it hard to believe that 3 electricians have been out to look at it. I told the buyers agent and buyer repeatedly to have their own electrician look at the panel, but they have allowed the seller to handle all repairs.

Yes Neal. Unused wires. I usually call them obsolete as they are no longer needed.

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Why is only the one lug covered in corrosion. Unbalanced panel? To close to the left coast?

Good question. I found something similar just last week. The panel was installed on the exterior wall of an 8" x 16" CMU building. I assumed condensation was forming on the neutral lug because the hots were better "insulated" by the plastic.

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your second pic shows bigtime copper oxidization. If that was the 00 starter wire on any car, I would almost bet it would drag and slow the starter, very notcible IR drop. That wire is a 120v ac, at the panel, how far back can you measure the wire for loss. Any of that Chinease drywall?

Why is only the one lug covered in corrosion. Unbalanced panel? To close to the left coast?

Good question. I found something similar just last week. The panel was installed on the exterior wall of an 8" x 16" CMU building. I assumed condensation was forming on the neutral lug because the hots were better "insulated" by the plastic.

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Why is only the one lug covered in corrosion. Unbalanced panel? To close to the left coast?

Good question. I found something similar just last week. The panel was installed on the exterior wall of an 8" x 16" CMU building. I assumed condensation was forming on the neutral lug because the hots were better "insulated" by the plastic.

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Like Mongo, I think you have something going on. The left hot lug looks scortched/burned, the right has lots of green oxy on it.... strange indeed.

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This is typically caused by water traveling down the neutral conductor from the meter socket.

The rubber compression ring on the meter inlet hub leaks. Rain water enters the meter can. The water then travels under the outer insulation of the lower cable and into the panel.

The configuration of the conductors determines which terminals are damaged.

Tom Corrigan

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Inspected a home the other day that was built in 1960. It had two panels, one a Zinsco that was still live, but had been gutted and now used as a junction box of sorts.

There were many concerns noted:

Nicked neutral wire

Missing knock out covers

The ground wire was too short and a white wire (may be confused with a neutral) was connected to extend the ground.

Obsolete wires that were exposed in the panel.

The service entrance lug to the Zinsco panel had corroded.

The wiring was a general mess.

I called all of the above and recommended further evaluation and repairs. I have never seen this type of installation with two panels. I don't understand why someone would leave the Zinsco in place.

Come to find out the repairs had been done by a local engineering firm and was disputing the findings. The seller has had three electricians come through and have all said the way the panels are installed is ok, however made a few of the repairs.

In 5 years I have not seen this type of installation. The sellers electricians say this is very common and don't have a problem with it. I get that, I just don't understand why anyone would leave the panel and not just get rid of it and replace it with the new one. The panel cover of the Zinsco showed signs of a breaker that had either gotten hot or exploded as well.

I can't really tell what's going on from the pictures because you seem to be showing bits from both "panels" and there are no establishing shots.

That said, if you want to use an old Zinsco panel enclosure as a junction box, that's fine, but you need to remove the panel from the enclosure first. Otherwise you're not using the equipment per its listing.

As for the engineering firm, are they licensed electricians? Why was an engineering firm doing electrical wiring?

As for the three electricians, who were they? Did the seller give you names? Were they all three from the same firm? Was it really an electrician and two helpers who came out, smiled with all four teeth and said, "aint notten wrong here." Did they leave a written evaluation?

- Jim Katen, Oregon

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