Monday, September 13, 2010

Code Question answered

Subject: Electrical codes
Question: I’m working in a house that is going to be sold, so I want everything to be up to code.
1. Does the ground wire going into a circuit breaker box have to have its insulation all stripped within the box, or can it keep its green insulation?
2. I’m working with a breaker box that has 3 side by side rows of bars to connect the ground & neutrals to. It’s very hard, maybe impossible to get to the 2nd row, the as yet unused row. Can I make a shortcut by, instead of routing the ground & neutrals along the side of the box all the way, & then to the right, placing them under the old grounds & neutrals, running them up, then on top of the 1st row, then running them by “the back door,” back to the left & then under the screw. This makes as good a connection as any.
Can a breaker have 2 wires coming out of it, or must it have a splice in a box outside of the breaker box?
Is it possible to get a copy of the electrical codes on line, or even at a library? Last time I tried I couldn’t find it. Would it be easy to understand, or is it written in legalese?

Answer: Hi Larry,

You are an ambious fellow. I can give you some advice and hopfully help you out a bit but I'm afraid that I will not be able to teach you all that you need to know to do this work correctly. The best piece of advice I can give is to call out an inspector or underwriter after your done.

1. You don't need to strip the green jacket off your ground wires.
2. It can be tricky getting your wires on to the ground/neutral bars. This is a craft and there are no rule as to how you route your wires. You just need to make good connections.
3. You can only place one wire under each breaker screw. More then on wire is called a double tap and you home inspector will find that and report it on a home inspection report.
4. You should be able to get the code book at a library but I don't think it is available on line. The NFPA make money selling the book but you may want to check out their website.

Good luck
Bill Lutz
Generation 3 Electric, Inc.

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