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dcp143 05-12-2008 03:13 PM

Federal Pacific panel replacement - inspection?
I have a 200 amp federal pacific / fpe / stab-lok main panel similar to the ones in the class action lawsuit that is apparently a fire hazard. I have been considering having the panel replaced. However, my question relates to inspection, or lack thereof. I have modified/rebalanced some of the loads and circuits over the course of several small remodel projects without inspections. If I was to have the panel replaced, it would be obvious that some of the wiring is newer than the original box/inspection. Would the panel replacement require the entire house electrical system be inspected or in compliance with code? If so, how would the existing hidden wiring be inspected and verified?

For instance, when we bought the house 4 years ago, the home inspection noted the bathrooms did not have GFCI. Also, a small disconnect box for the 40 amp dryer circuit is not firmly connected to the wall. Would all these things have to be corrected as well?

junkcollector 05-12-2008 03:24 PM

It depends on how strict the building department is. In my town, of you have your service upgraded, the only thing that gets inspected is the new panel and service, and anything else the permit was pulled for. In a neighboring city, all you do is touch the wiring, and things such as interconnected smoke detectors need to get installed before they will even look at you.

220/221 05-12-2008 04:58 PM

In AZ you only have to upgrade the bonding/grounding.

LawnGuyLandSparky 05-12-2008 07:52 PM

In some areas, the inspector for your new service/panel will not be aware that the newer circuits were never inspected. Here, the inspector is not permitted to issue violations for items he's not there to inspect. So he could walk through Frankenstein's lab and not be able to acknowledge it, to inspect the duplex receptacle for the auxiliary brain warmer. :wink:

Termite 05-12-2008 11:23 PM

Chances are that the inspector will only want to look at panel-related issues. He's there for a service change, and in most jurisdictions he doesn't really have the authority to tell you to tear into walls to show concealed wiring unless he sees an incredibly unsafe condition.

As an inspector in a city full of 50-100 year old homes, I often have to put on my blinders and inspect only what I am there to inspect, and look past some of the non-related scary stuff I see. I'll often point out unsafe conditions to people off the record, but the record only shows me inspecting the permitted scope of work. I'd never consider testing someones kitchen GFCI's (for instance) if I were there for a service upgrade in the basement. I'd check to make sure that everything pertaining to the panel is good, and would check the grounds.

You can always say that you didn't do the new work and bought the house as it currently is. How would he know any different? I doubt they'd retroactively punish you for doing minor work without a permit though.

I'd recommend an anonymous (caller ID blocked) call describing the situation and what you want to do. Speak with the inspector regarding your concerns and see what he says. I imagine he'll be reasonable, considering you're doing this due to safety reasons.

Termite 05-12-2008 11:26 PM


Originally Posted by LawnGuyLandSparky (Post 122798)
... to inspect the duplex receptacle for the auxiliary brain warmer. :wink:

Auxilliary brain warmers have to be on arc-fault breakers if I recall correctly. Its in a deep, dark corner of the NEC somewhere.

DUDE! 05-13-2008 05:57 PM

next town over from me, guy (condo owner) told me, he called the town inspector in to check some work he had done by a contractor, permit was pulled, inspector tagged him on a couple other things, when owner questioned inspector about it, inspector said that once he enters your dwelling, he can inspect the whole home.

micromind 05-13-2008 07:52 PM

Inspections vary widely; I live in Fernley, NV, a small town that grew quickly. It's only been an official city about 3 years now, and the Building department is without question the worst one I've ever worked with in 35 years in the construction trades. For anything done to an existing building, you don't just get one permit, it's at least two. When they come out to inspect, they'll 'notice' something, even if they have to make it up. I'm not kidding, it's that bad. Consequently, the vast majority of work done on existing structures is done without a permit. It's really too bad, I greatly prefer to have my work inspected.

In Reno, they'll only write something up if it is indeed a hazard. Pretty rare. In Sparks and the County, they just look at what is on the permit, but will advise if they see a hazard. Most work here is done with permits, as there's little hassle. What a difference!


P.S. Auxiliary brain warmers are covered in article 666. (Where else?!!? LOL).

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