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Old 09-23-2011, 10:32 AM   #1
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Did My Electrician Do Something Bad?


I recently demolished my kitchen and removed an electric cooktop and a separate electric oven. Each was fed with 220V service consisting of two blue wires and one white, and each with its own 30A double-pole breaker. So I had 4 ungrounded conductors and two grounded conductors to work with. Since the kitchen only had one outlet for the entire counter, and I was switching to gas cooking appliances, I paid a licensed electrician to use the former stove and oven circuits to upgrade the kitchen to code. As I imagined, he used the former 220V service to create 4 new multiwire branch circuits (or two depending on how you look at it - California code allows them to be counted as separate circuits). I had no reason to be concerned with his work until he didn't replace the 30A breakers in the panel (he did leave the service disconnected) and instead advised me to buy four single-pole 20A breakers and install them on my own. My understanding of California's electrical code is that it requires the use of double-pole breakers on MWBCs (Article 210.4(B)), and when I questioned him about that he told me that he doesn't understand why I would care.

That in itself was no big deal because I most certainly am going to use double-pole breakers, but that got me to wondering about his work. I pulled one of the outlets he had installed to serve the countertop and noticed three wires connected to it, a black, white, and GREEN. I know for certain that he did not pull wire from the kitchen to the panel and not a single circuit in this 1960's house has a ground wire. I did not trace the green wire other than to follow it into the conduit from the receptacle. I don't know where it goes after that, but I'm pretty sure that unless it goes all the way to the breaker box it isn't up to code. Before I call him and accuse him of faulty work, I wanted to check with the professional electricians here. Is there any way this could be legitimate short of him having run a ground wire all the way to the breaker box?

Thank you.

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Old 09-23-2011, 10:54 AM   #2
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Did My Electrician Do Something Bad?


Based on your wire colors I am going to say that you must have a conduit system installed. Properly installed metallic conduit can be used as a grounding means. A jumper is run between the box and the device.


You are correct that multi-wire branch circuits now require both poles to be disconnected at the same time.

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Old 09-23-2011, 11:23 AM   #3
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Did My Electrician Do Something Bad?


Quote:
Originally Posted by Jim Port View Post
Based on your wire colors I am going to say that you must have a conduit system installed. Properly installed metallic conduit can be used as a grounding means. A jumper is run between the box and the device.
Thank you for your response. Is there any way to test the integrity of the ground, and verify its independence from the grounded conductor (neutral)? I just want to reassure myself that this green wire is really grounded and isn't bonded to the neutral somewhere in the circuit (other than at the panel).

Last edited by BobSmitt; 09-23-2011 at 12:12 PM.
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Old 09-23-2011, 12:12 PM   #4
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Did My Electrician Do Something Bad?


I probably should have specified that the conduit in question is flexible conduit. That was the reason for my concern about using it as a ground.
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Old 09-23-2011, 12:25 PM   #5
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Did My Electrician Do Something Bad?


Can you follow the conduit back to a junction box and look inside?
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Old 09-23-2011, 12:33 PM   #6
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I will check that out tonight or tomorrow morning when I go to the house. I know he took the existing conduit into a receptacle box (large one) and ran two conduits out. I'll try to trace what was done and take pictures. I appreciate the review.
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Old 09-23-2011, 12:35 PM   #7
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Did My Electrician Do Something Bad?


Flexible metal conduit, AKA Greenfield, is good up to 6' as a grounding means.
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Old 09-23-2011, 01:12 PM   #8
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Quote:
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Flexible metal conduit, AKA Greenfield, is good up to 6' as a grounding means.
Then I'm almost certain that this isn't up to code. There aren't a lot of plausible scenarios I can imagine where the original wiring has a ground wire anywhere within 6 feet of the junction box. The supply from the breaker to the box most certainly does not have a ground wire. I can't think of a reason to ground the receptacles to the conduit when he could have pulled wire (it's 1" or 1.25" conduit with only three wires) and made it perfectly safe and legal.
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Old 09-23-2011, 01:18 PM   #9
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Did My Electrician Do Something Bad?


Quote:
Originally Posted by BobSmitt View Post
Then I'm almost certain that this isn't up to code. There aren't a lot of plausible scenarios I can imagine where the original wiring has a ground wire anywhere within 6 feet of the junction box. The supply from the breaker to the box most certainly does not have a ground wire. I can't think of a reason to ground the receptacles to the conduit when he could have pulled wire (it's 1" or 1.25" conduit with only three wires) and made it perfectly safe and legal.
Did you read what Jim already posted? Like#2?
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Old 09-23-2011, 01:28 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by BobSmitt View Post
Then I'm almost certain that this isn't up to code. There aren't a lot of plausible scenarios I can imagine where the original wiring has a ground wire anywhere within 6 feet of the junction box. The supply from the breaker to the box most certainly does not have a ground wire. I can't think of a reason to ground the receptacles to the conduit when he could have pulled wire (it's 1" or 1.25" conduit with only three wires) and made it perfectly safe and legal.
The metallic conduit counts as the grounding means. You could have less than 6' of flex and still be considered to have a ground, even without a green conductor.
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Old 09-23-2011, 01:36 PM   #11
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Did you read what Jim already posted? Like#2?
I did. Why do you ask?
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Old 09-23-2011, 01:37 PM   #12
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Quote:
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The metallic conduit counts as the grounding means. You could have less than 6' of flex and still be considered to have a ground, even without a green conductor.
I was trying to say that the flex conduit is much longer than 6 feet. It's at least 30 feet from the breaker panel to the junction box in the kitchen.
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Old 09-23-2011, 01:46 PM   #13
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Originally Posted by BobSmitt View Post
I did. Why do you ask?
It sounded like you had less than 6' of flex and were disregarding the metallic conduit qualified as a ground.
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Old 09-23-2011, 01:48 PM   #14
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Did My Electrician Do Something Bad?


He made four 20 amp 120v circuits out of two 30 amp 3 wire 240v circuits and the flexible conduit is 30 feet long?
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Old 09-23-2011, 02:08 PM   #15
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Did My Electrician Do Something Bad?


This is my basic setup. Please excuse the primitive drawing. All of the conduit is flexible. The part from the breaker panel to the junction box is original with the house and is 1-inch or slightly larger. The bit running from the box to the receptacle is 1/2-inch or smaller and newly installed.



There's another circuit coming from the junction box, but left off for simplicity's sake.

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Last edited by BobSmitt; 09-23-2011 at 02:12 PM.
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