How well do you know the Code? Think you can spot violations the original installer either ignored or couldn't identify? Here's your chance to moonlight as an electrical inspector and second-guess someone else's work from the safety of your living room or office. Can you identify the Code violation(s) in this photo?

Find the Answer

Hint: Has anyone seen the clothespins?


Using the 2008 NEC, correctly identify the Code violation(s) in this month's photo — in 200 words or less — and you could win something to put in your toolbox. E-mail your response to, and we'll select three winners (excluding manufacturers and prior winners) at random from the correct submissions. Winners will receive a set of insulated hand tools from Ideal Industries, Inc., valued at more than $125.* The set includes 9.25-in. insulated side-cutting pliers, 10-in. insulated tongue-and-groove pliers, and a 0.25-in. × 6-in. insulated screwdriver. (* Please allow six to eight weeks for delivery of tools.)

April Winners

There were a good number of responses to this particular installation. Surprisingly, however, only a few identified all the violations shown in this photo. This month's winners include: Brian Roessler, electrician, Brian's Electric, Madison, Wis.; and Ed Odell, president, Odell Electric, Stony Point, N.Y.

First, as given in 250.53(G) [Rod and Pipe Electrodes], “The electrode shall be installed such that at least 2.44 m (8 ft) of length is in contact with the soil.” Unless this is a 10-ft rod, which is not the norm, we have a violation.

Second, this same section of the Code also says, “The upper end of the electrode shall be flush with or below grade level unless the above-ground end and the grounding electrode conductor attachment are protected against physical damage as specified in 250.10.” Compliance with the requirement in 250.10 is difficult to obtain, at best. And exactly what must be done is hard to envision. The best approach is to ensure that the rod is “flush with or below grade.”

Third, Sec. 250.53(A) states, “Where practicable rod, pipe, and plate electrodes shall be embedded below the permanent moisture level.” It's hard to know if compliance with this rule is impracticable, but if that is the case, the burden of proof would be on the installer. How one would go about establishing the impracticability of compliance is not exactly clear.

Lastly, the fourth sentence in 250.70 [Methods of Grounding and Bonding Conductor Connection to Electrodes] says, “Not more than one conductor shall be connected to the grounding electrode by a single clamp or fitting unless the clamp or fitting is listed for multiple conductors.”