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8,595 Posts
Discussion Starter · #1 ·
It's been a while. Retirement is fantastic. I haven't had my tools on in quite a while but I offered to do a service change and it turned into an adventure.

The housing market is recovering here and the house flippers are coming out in full force again.

These guys used a wannabe contractor to install a bunch of new wiring. Wannabe Elec proceeded to install a 120V circuit on a high leg of an old 3 phase Delta FPE panel resulting in the painters airless sprayer and other equipment taking a dump.

Wannabe managed to convince the flipper that it was a faulty service and got paid to replace it Awesome :laughing: He just replaced the load center with a 200A, 40 space unit and left the 100A wiring/meter in place (no permits)

The installation wasn't the worst thing I've ever seen but, after an offer was made, a home inspector noted the 100 feed and the 200A main breaker. The buyers were going to bail so the flippers decided to pay a real contractor $3K to do it right.

POCO wanted the drop raised and relocated a couple feet to get the service drop further from the pool. I used a 2.5" mast to get the additional height without the hillbilly EMT back bracing. They give us 50" on 2.5" as opposed to 36" on 2".

I meet the inspector and she is writing a red tag as I'm walking up. Wannabe Elec added a few new circuits (20A baths, 20A air handler and a couple 15A lighting)

Because of the "new" wiring, Inspector wants (6) smokies installed and AFCI on the lighting circuits.

House is supposed to close tomorrow. :rolleyes:

I tried to talk her out of it but, I had no dog in this fight. My gig was just to change the service equipment.

To bail them out, we rearranged our schedules and will knock out the smokies early tomorrow morning. Decent "attic" access so it's a pretty quick job to cut some holes in the ceilings and string some romex between them for an extra $K.

When the inspector goes into the house to test the smokies, hopefully she will overlook the obviously additional recessed cans everywhere, installed by Wannabe Elec. If not, it aint gonna close tomorrow. :laughing:

Lesson to the flippers?

Use licensed contractors or don't do anything that will absolutely require a permit. If you want to go under the radar, stay under the radar.

Lesson to me? This is a tough way to earn a living.

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Discussion Starter · #5 · (Edited)
I'm pretty sure you've already answered this, but in AZ, does the AHJ have an amendment allowing NM outdoors, or do they simply look the other way?

Personally, I see no problem with it in such a dry environment either.
I can't tell you with 100% accuracy. All I know it that it never, ever gets called on rework.

The other NEC non approved thing that is done here 100% of the time is that we run all the cables into the panels without connectors, just bushings of some sort.

It has been that way since WAY before my time. I don't know if anything was ever written to cover it but, that's the way it is done 100% of the time.

When the panels are installed like this, there is really no need for a bunch of connectors. If a panel is installed open, in a basement, I see why you'd want them secured better.

Was there a signed work order ?
Of course :thumbsup: Prepaid in full to expedite :thumbup:

There is also a new signed and prepaid work order for the smokies & AFCI

The thing that drives me nuts is that we never really know what to expect from an inspector. 1 out of 20 time, they will show up, look at the grounding/bonding and write a green tag. That 20th one will make things more difficult.

What that does is:

1) Encourage me to try and hide stuff (that is safe but a technical violation) I could have stripped back the yellow sheath (like the wannabe guy did) and it would have disguised it a bit. but I think it's a better idea to have the sheath come into the box for future troubleshooting issues.

2) Over exaggerate to the client what might happen. I hate to be an alarmist, especially with worrisome people. Most of the time it's simply, do the job, rinse and repeat.

It also unofficially encourages me to avoid inspections.

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Discussion Starter · #7 · (Edited)
Along the same lines, why is the inside a better idea? So you don't have to walk outside twice in your lifetime to reset a breaker? :)

1) The equipment and installation is far less expensive. In new construction, you stub all the home runs out of the exterior wall, pop out a KO, snap in a bushing and screw your panel in place. 200A, 40 space service = $120

2) With slab constructed, no basement houses, indoor real estate is much more valuable than outdoor space.

3) If you have a major meltdown in a panel, at least it is outside :thumbup:

Personally, I haven't tripped a breaker in many, many years so walking outside to the panel is a non issue. I also have never experienced having someone (other than POCO :jester:) shut off my power.

And, don't get me started on the wet location thing :)

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Discussion Starter · #17 · (Edited)
Nice pics and story. I like how you put a ground bar in your j-box.

It came installed.

It's actually a 12 space panel. I just removed the bus and one of the neutral bars.

It was less expensive and looked/fit better than a big JB that I needed, and now I have spare parts :thumbup:

5. There is not 1 reason the panel being outside is better than inside
Never say not :laughing: How about $$$

In new construction, it takes literally minutes to install a service. Ours would be screwed to the wall in the same time as your meter would be.

You still have to run your SE cable or conduit and feed your panel.

Ours would be full of breakers and made up by the time you got around to installing your panel.

You'd still be installing 20 freaking romex connectors and we would be....I don't know....doing something else :laughing:

As far as looking pretty? Your meter is outside. Our box is just a little bigger.:thumbsup:

1. How many panels have you changed out that are indoors that are full of rust, been wet, etc. etc. etc.
Rarely. Hell, until the late 60's, they installed indoor panels outside here :jester: There are tons of them still distributing power after 50 years

What if they wanted a deck right there?
We don't have decks here. We have concrete patios. If you did want a deck, the power would be easy to get :thumbsup:

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Discussion Starter · #33 ·
Damn my guys are fast. 2 guuys installed 6 smokies and were done and cleaned up in under an hour :thumbup:

Seriously, I couldn't believe it. I went down the street one mile to get a cup of coffee and, when I got back in 10 minutes, they were rolling out 14/3. I was wondering why they were doing that so soon. I looked around and they had plastic on the floors and all eight JB holes cut. WTF? 10 minutes? It would have taken me 10 minutes to get a ladder and tools to the first hole and another 5 minutes to cut the damn hole.

All I did was install the AFCI breaker, check my email, finish my coffee and they were packing up to head to another job.

A different inspector came back and approved it without even going in the house :laughing: I just left a note explaining what was done and he green tagged it.

What kind of a 200 amp 3R panel are you getting for $120. . How do you add circuits down the road?

Siemans, Homeline and Cutler Hammer BR all make the same style all in one panel for about the same price. I just looked up the Cutler Hammer one at The Depot and it is $140. For a complete 200A, 40 space main breaker service, it's still inexpensive.

And, we add circuits as shown in the picture. Just pipe (sealtight nowdays...waaay easier) up to the attic space (if there is an attic).

so that's according to the PG&E Green Book well that's good to know

I think he was quoting me and that is from our local POCO specs.

It will be interesting to know how inspectors will enforce the new rule for outdoor panels. In the 2014 literally taken the install in pic one is not compliant anymore.
My guess is that they won't pay any attention to it. For one thing, the cable/phone is almost always in the same area, especially in new construction where all the UG comes up pretty much together.

They make rigid brace kits as well as cable brace kits, cheaper than buying 2.5 IMC and a 2.5 weather head.
The components for the mast brace are less expensive but the installation can be a killer. We have to drill thru framing members and thru bolt the braces.

On this job, I could have done one brace thru the rafter tail on the left side (on the side of the house) but the other one I'd have to climb in the attic for the thru bolting. It is a royal PITA to layout and drill a 3/8" hole precisely thru the rafter and you end up with a serious roof penetration. Not my idea of a good job so I avoid it if I can.

So you consider bracing to be "Hillbilly" but sealtight with Romex in it professional?
I was referring to Chicken Steve's post from yesterday

I only recently started using sealtite for adding circuits. In the old days it was EMT and a JB/LB. A few years ago, I finally realized that sealtite was 100X easier and not many people really care about a hard pipe installation.

Also we are not allowed to re-purpose an enclosure like that, we would have to remove the old panel and install a listed junction box.
I'd ask for a code # :thumbsup:
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