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Panel change, do you

  • Upgrade the grounding to current code?

    Votes: 37 82.2%
  • Leave the existing grounding and only upgrade the panel?

    Votes: 3 6.7%
  • Give the customer the choice, showing how much more it will cost to upgrade the grounding?

    Votes: 5 11.1%
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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Let's say a homeowner wants his main panel upgraded for whatever reason (maybe it's an FPE, or the bus is burnt, or he just wants a larger panel with more spaces, whatever). The new panel will be the same amperage as the old one. Let's also say that the grounding isn't to current code but it passed inspection when the service was installed. Maybe there is only 1 ground rod or maybe the GEC to the water pipe is a size too small, whatever.

Do you upgrade the grounding to current code?
Do you leave the grounding and only upgrade the panel?
Do you give the customer the choice, showing how much more it will cost to upgrade the grounding?

I believe the NEC would make you upgrade the grounding. But some states have amendments, for example, NJ's rehab code would allow you to change the panel without touching the grounding.

Keep in mind that you may be bidding this job with other contractors who may or may not upgrade the grounding, so the prices may not be on a level playing field.
 

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Electrical Simpleton
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I get the fact that NJ has a rehab code. If the panel upgrade occurred in my situation the grounding would have to meet the adopted ('11) NEC.

Pete
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
I get the fact that NJ has a rehab code. If the panel upgrade occurred in my situation the grounding would have to meet the adopted ('11) NEC.

Pete
Yeah, I was pretty sure that the NEC required it to be upgraded. Thanks for the confirmation.
 

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Yeah, I was pretty sure that the NEC required it to be upgraded. Thanks for the confirmation.
Different jurisdictions have different rules. Just speaking from where I sit.

Pete
 
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Discussion Starter · #6 · (Edited)
Even if the code didn't require it, I would do it anyway. If the customer wants to hire Cheapo Electric even if it's a safety issue, go right ahead. I won't sacrifice my standards just to meet a price.
You feel that adamantly that it's truly a safety issue? Do you believe someone is in danger by only having 1 ground rod or by having 1 size smaller GEC?

The point of the NJ rehab code is that the customer is still getting something better than what they had. A lot of homeowners won't spend the money that may be necessary to make something 100% code complaint, but the rehab codes allows them to upgrade to something safer without everything else being necessary.


In the past I always upgraded the grounding, but recently I was asked to give an estimate for a bit of an odd situation. It was a townhouse in which the customer wanted the FPE panel replaced. The panel was in the front of the house while the water pipe popped up out of the floor in the back of the house inside of the laundry room. Next to the water pipe was a ground rod driven thru the floor and a #6 copper GEC went from the rod to the pipe and then made it's way to the panel via many different closed walls.

The service was 200A with 2/0 copper feeding it so current code would require the GEC to be a #4. Upgrading the GEC would require opening up all kinds of walls and ceilings to route it from front to back (no basement, it was built on a slab and has 3 floors). I'd also have to either find a spot in that room to drive another ground rod or get the GEC outside to drive the second one.

I said screw it and gave a price without touching the grounding. I never heard from the lady so I assume another contractor got it, I doubt he touched the grounding either :laughing:
 

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The general rule of thumb in my area is "Whatever you touch, you have to bring up to code." But this is not an absolute, as there are many "grandfather" exceptions, none of which you will find in any documents or paprwork in any local offices, you have to just sort of learn them as you go. Of course there are some NC amendments to the code, but thats not what im talking about.

Ex - afci breakers are not require in panel change outs or upgrades EXCEPT where you add to or install new wiring. Another one is if you are repairing a meter base where they is no disconnecting means within (or before) 5 ft of entering the building, you are not required to install one.

Im rambling here, so let me answer your question. This would be a judgement call on where the work was being done, if the job required a permit (if it wasn't a repair), and if I felt like it wouldn't be safe without it being done.

I know i side stepped your question, sorry, but the best answer i could give you would be that I would do whatever I feel I could get away with WITHIN the laws of my area, if money was the bottom-line deciding factor for this job.
 

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Estwing magic
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In Canada we would drill a hole to the outside, dig a hole, plant a ground plate, run a #6, call it a day, cash the cheque :) .

Of course, digging a hole these days isn't easy...

You had one of those jobs, Hack, where I would probably be just as happy that someone else got it. That way my record of utmost integrity and perfection would remain unblemished :) .
 

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We've buildings time forgot here, K&T, BX, old steam radiators, forced hot air duct systems, cast plumbing drains, lot of 'pre plastic' installs still tickin' along

So i'm kinda big on grounding AND bonding, simply because a lot of serv upgrades provide a better path for ungrounded conductors to mingle with 100 years of metallic history

~CS~
 

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A side thought - I wish it was required for all areas to have a printed version of the local "rehab" or "grandfather" code requirement. I had to learn it the hard way.
 

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A side thought - I wish it was required for all areas to have a printed version of the local "rehab" or "grandfather" code requirement. I had to learn it the hard way.

So, you have a rehab code and its not written down anywhere?

And the only way to find it out is to do it wrong, and then and only then, will you find out what it is?
 
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So, you have a rehab code and its not written down anywhere?

And the only way to find it out is to do it wrong, and then and only then, will you find out what it is?
I dont know how to explain it well. It was (and is) a bumpy road to figure out what IS and IS NOT ok to do outside of the code book.

Luckily im sort of a talkative guy, and I would try to strike up conversations with all the inspectors to figure out what different things were allowed. I still do this, im just more to the point with it.
 

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I pretty much think a ground rod or twelve ground rods are a joke in resi anyway.;) So, I don't touch it if it's just a panel change. We're not even required to unless the service is also changed.


Side note: Which Hac-Hax-Hack-a -whopper am I talking to anyway?:whistling2::laughing:
Haven't seen the gator around lately, did someone steal it?:)
 

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But some states have amendments, for example, NJ's rehab code would allow you to change the panel without touching the grounding.

Are you sure about that? I was taught that updating the grounding was a requirement here. I've even asked more than a few inspectors about this as well.
 
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