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?



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 tool-box. E-mail your response to, and he'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.)

March Winners

Although we received a number of correct answers this month, these three were the first to respond: David Falco, master electrician, Lippolis Electric, Bronx, N.Y.; Eric Letourneau, president, Wire Nutz, Inc., Fort Pierce, Fla.; and Andrew Yates, electrician, Skmes Electric, Powell, Tenn. It's nice to see that so many of you recognized this installation violated the rule given in 110.26(F), which focuses on Dedicated Equipment Space.

This particular application is in violation of part (F)(1)(a) of 110.26. This part of the rule 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.”

As you can see, there is plastic water piping located directly above the panelboards, which is contrary to the wording of this rule. It would seem that using sheetrock to cover the joists above the panelboards will remediate this violation by providing a “structural ceiling.” In that manner, the literal wording of the rule can be satisfied, and the violation can be removed.

Another violation cited was related to rule 334.15(C), which applies to Basements and Crawl Spaces. The applicable wording is given in the third and fifth sentences: “NM cable installed on the wall of an unfinished basement shall be permitted to be installed in a listed conduit or tubing or shall be protected in accordance with 300.4,” and, “The NM cable sheath shall extend through the conduit or tubing and into the outlet or device box not less than 6 mm (¼ in.).” Because the wording in 334.15(C) references Sec. 300.4, which addresses “Protection Against Physical Damage,” essentially where cables and raceways are run through or parallel to framing members — and these NM cables are not being run in such a manner — it would seem that 334.15(C) does not apply. Additionally, the wording in the fifth sentence specifically discusses “outlet or device boxes,” which is not where these cables are terminating. Given the fact that the actual wording used in 334.15(C) does not seem to address this application, it would appear this installation is not in violation of that Code section.