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Amazingglazier 04-07-2012 08:15 AM

100 amp GE Sub in house
I have a GE 200 amp Main in Basement Feeding a GE 100 amp sub upstairs. 100amp breaker in main and 100 amp main breaker in sub. Feeder is 2/3 awg copper AC Cable, all branch circuits are 12/2 AC wire 20 amp breakers. There is no ground bar in sub. Has been in for over 10 years. Have had building ,fire and insurance inspectors here after a kitchen fire caused by a defective oil filled air freshener my other half put under one of the new cabinets. It melted in the outlet causing the fire 2 weeks after I finished the kitchen. They checked the main panel, sub and the kitchen wiring. The building inspector and fire marshal asked who did the wiring after they ripped the cabinets and sheetrock off, I hemmed and hawwed till they said that whoever did it did a damn site better job then most work they see. We got to talking and I ask them if they saw any issues that needed to be addressed with the main or sub. They said they saw nothing that caught their eyes, and told me I did nice work. Did not get permits as we are not married and I don't own the house, otherwise I could have gotten the permits. She has a few friends at the building dept, should we want to sell , should I try to get permits now?

TarheelTerp 04-07-2012 08:29 AM


Originally Posted by Amazingglazier (Post 893602)
There is no ground bar in sub. Has been in for over 10 years.
...and I ask them if they saw any issues that needed to be addressed with the main or sub. They said they saw nothing that caught their eyes, and told me I did nice work.

...should I try to get permits now?

The county doesn't really give a rats azz about you or your home.
Permits and the inspections are about protecting the next buyer of the property, the "communities" interest in having to deal with the costs from problems of poor work and mostly the interests of the insurance companies which started the whole NFPA thing.

So if you don't plan to ever sell... letting it be is probably fine. That said... the code for sub panels has changed since this work was done. Which opens you up to having to make changes to meet current codes.


k_buz 04-07-2012 08:29 AM

Did insurance cover her or is it still up in the air?

If she was covered or ends up being covered, I would consider her to be VERY lucky. Insurance companies are just looking for any way to get out of paying a claim. A non-owner, non-contractor doing unpermitted electrical work would be a perfect easy-out.

That being said, if insurance did pay the claim, why would you get permits now if you didn't before?

rrolleston 04-07-2012 08:29 AM

Getting permits for work already done won't do any good now.

Amazingglazier 04-07-2012 09:05 AM

We got paid for the fire, the air freshener melted in the outlet(overheated), our insurance subrogated against the company that made the airfreshener and I threw out all of the other ones she put around the house. At the time 3 wire was code for the sub. As the conduit of the sub feeder is AC cable the casing grounds the panel to the main and as all branch circuits are ac wire they are continuous grounds through the metal j boxes. Please post your thoughts on upgrading the ground system or any other comments.

Amazingglazier 04-07-2012 09:08 AM

I understand that codes for subs have changed, but as the sub is 3-wire in AC metal cable it is grounded thru the panel to the main.

k_buz 04-07-2012 09:21 AM

I would say you were lucky to get paid. I could easily see them saying it was a loose connection at the outlet that cause the device to fail.

As far as the sub panel goes, you should be fine now too as long as the grounds and neutrals are split at the sub panel.

Daniel Holzman 04-07-2012 09:40 AM

There is a lot of misinformation and urban legend about when insurance companies do or don't pay claims. This topic has been discussed repeatedly on this forum over the past three years, often with anecdotal claims or speculation about whether an insurance company will or won't pay a particular claim.

I have worked for insurance companies for seven years now inspecting damage claims for a wide range of issues, mainly structural failure, but also hailstone damage, explosions, wind and flood claims. It has been my experience that the insurance company will pay any claim for a covered peril REGARDLESS of the cause of the claim. Covered perils are always specifically listed in your insurance policy, however since most people do not read their policy, and even fewer understand their policy, there is a lot of misunderstanding about the rules of the game.

Every homeowner's policy I have ever seen covers the insured against fire originating from electrical causes. Typical perils not covered by a homeowner's policy include damage arising from domestic insurrection or riot, acts of the U.S. military, impact from space debris astronomical objects, groundwater infiltration, mold damage arising from groundwater infiltration, arson, or damage arising from criminal activities within the house (manufacturing illegal drugs for example). Some of the typically excluded perils may be included with a specific rider, for example earthquake damage, and some perils you cannot obtain insurance for in some states no matter what price you are willing to pay (I don't think you can get insurance for arson, for example).

I have never seen a policy that excludes coverage because the cause of the damage arose from faulty workmanship, work done without a permit, or improperly performed work by a homeowner. I am not saying such a policy does not exist, I am saying I have never seen one. I have also never participated in a case where the insurance company refused to pay a claim because they discovered that the cause came from unpermitted work, or defective work.

In my experience, if the insurance company determines that the cause of the damage was for example improperly performed, unpermitted work, they may subrogate (go after) the company or individual who performed the work, after they pay the claim. If the homeowner did the work, I believe the insurance company has no recourse, because the homeowner is the insured party. They can, and almost certainly will, cancel the policy in that case, however so far as I know they are obligated to pay the claim. If someone on this forum has specific knowledge to the contrary, I would be interested to hear it, as I have been involved in numerous claims where it is clear that some or all of the work causing the damage was performed by either the present homeowner, or a former homeowner, and I have never heard of the insurance company subrogating against a homeowner.

My conclusion from years of personal experience is that lack of a permit is not likely to affect ability to collect an insurance claim. Improperly performed work may lead to subrogation by the insurance company against the organization that performed the work, but will not affect claim payment. Homeowner performed defective work leading to a damage claim is likely to lead to policy cancellation, but is not likely to lead to failure to pay the claim. The only way I understand a claim does not get paid is if the cause is not a covered peril.

By the way, nothing I say should be taken to condone performing work without a permit. This is simply trying to set the record straight on the implications of working without a permit.

k_buz 04-07-2012 09:58 AM

Thanks for the information. The odd part to me is that how is it in the insurer's best interest to cover unlicensed/unpermitted work?

I've seen this situation countless times. Someone buys a house but has to have the service changed from fuses (or even a FPE panel) because the buyer's insurance company will not insure a house protected by fuses (or the documented problems with FPE panels). So, they care when they issue the insurance, but not after?

In this specific case, it seems as everything was done safely and even up to code, but in today's day of age, everyone wants to play the blame game. The homeowner's insurance company will pay out, but then go after the manufacturer for reimbursement. The manufacturer will look at the report, see unpermitted work by the homeowner, claim that the device worked fine and it was the receptacle that failed, not their product. Then it goes to court.

It seems as if the insurance company would want to eliminate all this by saying the work needs to be permitted and inspected.

I am not saying I don't believe what you are saying, I have no reason to doubt what you are saying, but it seems completely opposite to what I know about insurance and how claims are handled.

rrolleston 04-07-2012 11:23 AM

I have seen many people get insurance cancellations after a claim because the insurance adjuster comes to your home and he may think your are a high risk because of poor maintenance. I have also seen insurance companies pay for the dumbest things. Like replacing the roofing material on a home that is just old then the homeowner gets a cancellation. I think these people are the ones the insurance companies are more worried about.

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