As usual, never consider the following commentary associated with these photos as a formal interpretation of the National Electrical Code (NEC). Without criticizing anyone or any product, the following scenarios present us with serious safety questions.
All references are based on the 2005 NEC.
THE PRETZEL GROUND
Mike Barrett, a journeyman electrician in Grand Prairie, Texas, found this unique grounding attachment in the backyard of a home in Arlington, Texas. “The wire coming in from the left side is self tapped into the outside of a single gang weatherproof switch box for a pool light, which was not GFI protected,” says Barrett. “The other end of the wire is just pushed into the ground. It was not attached to a ground rod. I guess the wire in the middle is supposed to serve as the bonding wire for the two outside wires. The wire on the right side is self tapped to the pool motor. This group of wires is the only grounding means I found for the motor, as there was no ground wire inside the makeup area for the motor.”
As per 680.3, “Except as modified by this article, wiring and equipment in or adjacent to pools and fountains shall comply with other applicable provisions of this Code, including those provisions identified in Table 680.3.” Table 680.3 references these additional sections of the Code: wiring requirements (Chapters 1-4); junction box support (314.23); rigid nonmetallic conduit (352.12); audio equipment (Art. 640, Parts I and II); audio equipment adjacent to pools and fountains (640.10); and underwater speakers [680.27(A)]. Additional requirements that apply include: approval of equipment (680.4), ground-fault circuit interrupters (680.5), grounding (680.6), and underwater luminaires (680.23).
Brian N. Ferreira, assistant estimator with Consolidated Electrical Services in Norwood, Mass., came across this installation while on a recent project walk-through at one of the local hospitals in Rhode Island. The hospital was preparing for a renovation to its emergency services wing and entrance. “Check out the work of this professional wire slinger,” says Ferreira. “It is located in one of the electrical rooms on the basement level of the space to be renovated. Looks like he did not want to go through the trouble of bending the conduit to avoid the ductwork above the panelboard, which really should not be there, according to 110.26 (F)(1)(a).”
As noted in 110.26(F)(1), indoor installations shall comply with the requirements shown in 110.26(F)(1)(a) through (F)(1)(d). More specifically, 110.26(F)(1)(a) states, “The space equal to the width and depth of the equipment and extending from the floor to a height of 1.8 m (6 ft) above the equipment or to the structural ceiling, whichever is lower, shall be dedicated to the electrical installation. No piping, ducts, leak protection apparatus, or other equipment foreign to the electrical installation shall be located in this zone.”
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