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Old 01-03-2013, 04:57 PM   #1
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HELP, Please.. Do I really need this work done????


I just purchased a house built in 1975. I recently called an electrician to ask about some electrical work I was hoping to have done (I wanted a transfer switch installed for my generator). After the call I sent him some pictures of my panels. Based on the pictures he has suggested the electrical in my home is not to code if not outright dangerous and has stated much work needs to be done.

I need your help. Is he correct? I have a main panel (with a meter) to the house that feed 2 “sub-panels” (one upstairs and one downstairs) that have the circuit breakers for the individual circuits. Aluminum feeds connect the main panel to the “subs” but all circuits are copper. Attached is the email from the electrician along with a few pictures. Again is he correct? Do I need to do all the work he is recommending? Again his recommendations came from viewing he attached pictures.

NOTE FROM ELECTRICIAN:
Issues with you current installation that will have to be corrected
before your house will meet current code.

1. You have only 1 main breaker which is feeding two sub-panels; you will need to locate where they are junctioned and ensure that the splice is made according to code; otherwise your "feeder" conductors will not meet code. Also, as these are aluminum conductors, you will have to terminate into each breaker, splice or buss by applying an anti-oxidant compound;" high resistance connections (causing fires) will result without its use.


Additionally, you will be limited to 60 amp sub-panels as a result of the size of the main over-current protection device (main breaker); this is a serious hindrance to you as a 60 amp panel has only 12
spaces and cannot have 'stacked' breakers installed (half size).


Furthermore, you will have to add new grounding to you home which include two 10' ground rods (6' apart from each other) and a cold water pipe bond, bonded before and after the meter (uninterrupted and without splices). If you have a re-bar ground (concrete encased electrode) you may substitute that for ground rods, assuming local code allows the substitution. Cold water bonding is required if there
is metallic water pipes in the house, even if on a private well.

2. Your panels are both Bryant panels; they are not made any longer and the only non-Bryant breakers UL listed for retrofit replacement cost approximately $25 each; both of your panels have "stacked"
breakers which increase the number of circuits in the panel, but do not meet current code for interruption; as you are sharing neutral wires between phases and circuits, the breakers will have to be
'joined' together for a common trip; your breakers cannot be ganged together, and no retrofit breakers in that style exist at a reasonable price (more than $150.00 last time I looked).

3. The addition of a sub-panel next to either of these existing panels is not an option due to the grounding system and the feeder wires that currently exist; you would spend more to bring the panel
into compliance BEFORE you add the sub panel than you would by removing it altogether.

4. Aluminum conductors are dangerous and unreliable. You should replace them ASAP. I am absolutely serious about this; they are a hazard to your life and the lives of your family.

5. The additional circuits required for you to bring your home into compliance with the NEC, IBC and any/all state/local building codes will require a panel with a minimum of 30 spaces (150 amp panel); even a direct replacement with a new panel in current manufacture will not be rated or sufficient to receive the additional load and circuits; your only option is to replace the panels.

6. Your current setup, were it to remain as it is with no modification, disallows the addition of a transfer switch and shunt-trip modules for the attachment of a generator or other sources of non-grid current.

7. Your panels are dangerous! The panel is no longer manufactured because of serious engineering flaws; with age and use the design flaws pose an unacceptable risk to life and property.

I urge you to replace the panels and the aluminum feeders.


I do not think you should attempt to do this work yourself; a qualified electrician should be consulted and contracted with. Preferably one with extensive experience in retrofitting aluminum to
copper circuits (Al - Cu); specific procedures and materials are mandated, and most electricians have not any experience in such circumstances.

Megging (insulation testing) should be done to ensure that all branch circuits are within specification for loss, all splices or terminations must be inspected, cleaned and have anti-oxidant compound reapplied, and any faulty circuits must be replaced from the panel through to the last device inline. Additionally, GFI breakers or receptacles must be added to existing circuits if the conductors are serviceable and three-pin receptacles installed, to include device grounding to the boxes currently in the wall. AFCI breakers must be added to any new circuits in the "living" portion of the house.

Basically, if your branch circuits are in bad shape, and judging by the look of the panel and conductors I must conclude they are, you will need to rewire the house; which while it is a lot of work, it can
be done economically in about 5 days’ time by a qualified electrical contractor - WITHOUT needing to remove drywall or patch large holes (or many holes for that matter).
Attached Thumbnails
HELP, Please.. Do I really need this work done????-main-service-panel-outside.jpg   HELP, Please.. Do I really need this work done????-up-panel.jpg   HELP, Please.. Do I really need this work done????-up-panel-view-1.jpg   HELP, Please.. Do I really need this work done????-down-panel.jpg   HELP, Please.. Do I really need this work done????-down-panel-view-1.jpg  


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Old 01-03-2013, 05:30 PM   #2
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HELP, Please.. Do I really need this work done????


I see a lot of scare tactics and I would not hire this guy on general principles. Aluminum feeders are not dangerous and are commonly used every day. Get 3 electrical contractors to look at your house and give you proposals and bids.

They should do a load calculation to determine if your existing 100 amp service is sufficient.

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Old 01-03-2013, 05:45 PM   #3
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Agreed, get more estimates.

You do NOT need to bring your wiring up to current code.
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Old 01-03-2013, 05:50 PM   #4
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1. you have 2 main breakers, there is no hidden junction.


60A sub panel limit is bull

grounding is not shown in pictures, may be an issue.

2. Yes Bryant is no longer manufactured, but there is nothing wrong with the existing in service panelboards.

3.your sub panels appear to have the correct 4 wire H-H-N-G(hot, Hot, Neutral, Ground) feeds.

4. aluminum feeders are just as good as copper, if properly installed.

5. unnecessary unless remodeling affected areas requiring specific circuitry(Kitchen SABC's,Bathroom, etc.)

6. There is no code approved way to install a generator that could backup both panels.

7. Not true.
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Old 01-03-2013, 05:59 PM   #5
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Yup. This guy is a clown. 90% of what he wrote is bull or flat out wrong.
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Old 01-03-2013, 06:00 PM   #6
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I agree with RJ. There is alot of scare tactics in that list. I do not see anything that requires immediate attention.

Answers to specific items in red.

Quote:
1. You have only 1 main breaker which is feeding two sub-panels; you will need to locate where they are junctioned and ensure that the splice is made according to code; otherwise your "feeder" conductors will not meet code.

I see 2 main breakers, not one.

Also, as these are aluminum conductors, you will have to terminate into each breaker, splice or buss by applying an anti-oxidant compound;" high resistance connections (causing fires) will result without its use.

Anti-oxident would be required, but I don't know how they can see it isn't there. I can't tell if it is or isn't. It is an easy fix if it isn't there.





Additionally, you will be limited to 60 amp sub-panels as a result of the size of the main over-current protection device (main breaker); this is a serious hindrance to you as a 60 amp panel has only 12
spaces and cannot have 'stacked' breakers installed (half size).

None of this statement is true.


Furthermore, you will have to add new grounding to you home which include two 10' ground rods (6' apart from each other) and a cold water pipe bond, bonded before and after the meter (uninterrupted and without splices). If you have a re-bar ground (concrete encased electrode) you may substitute that for ground rods, assuming local code allows the substitution. Cold water bonding is required if there
is metallic water pipes in the house, even if on a private well.

Unless there is a local amendment, the rods would only need to be 8' long. I do see some sort of main ground in the main panel. It is the larger, solid copper wire. Where it goes, I couldn't tell you.

2. Your panels are both Bryant panels; they are not made any longer NOT TRUE and the only non-Bryant breakers UL listed for retrofit replacement cost approximately $25 each; NOT TRUE both of your panels have "stacked"

breakers which increase the number of circuits in the panel, but do not meet current code for interruption; NOT TRUE as you are sharing neutral wires between phases and circuits, the breakers will have to be
'joined' together for a common trip; your breakers cannot be ganged together, and no retrofit breakers in that style exist at a reasonable price (more than $150.00 last time I looked). I don't see any multi-wire branch circuits in either panel.


Bryant (type BR) breakers can still be bought. They might be the least expensive out of the major brands. BR breakers are manufactured by Cutler Hammer now.

3. The addition of a sub-panel next to either of these existing panels is not an option due to the grounding system and the feeder wires that currently exist; you would spend more to bring the panel
into compliance BEFORE you add the sub panel than you would by removing it altogether.

I would not add another sub panel either, but "not an option" is debatable in my opinion.


4. Aluminum conductors are dangerous and unreliable. You should replace them ASAP. I am absolutely serious about this; they are a hazard to your life and the lives of your family.

AL conductors can be dangerous. However, the type of AL being used in your electrical system is very common in today's electrical world. I see no safety issue with them other that to verify anit-oxident has been applied.


5. The additional circuits required for you to bring your home into compliance with the NEC, IBC and any/all state/local building codes will require a panel with a minimum of 30 spaces (150 amp panel); even a direct replacement with a new panel in current manufacture will not be rated or sufficient to receive the additional load and circuits; your only option is to replace the panels.

There is no NEC code to the number of spaces a panel must have. The size of the service (100A, 150A, 200) would depend on a load calculation based on what appliances are in the home.


6. Your current setup, were it to remain as it is with no modification, disallows the addition of a transfer switch and shunt-trip modules for the attachment of a generator or other sources of non-grid current.

From what I see, it is possible that a transfer switch would be possible.

7. Your panels are dangerous! The panel is no longer manufactured because of serious engineering flaws; with age and use the design flaws pose an unacceptable risk to life and property.

Not true

I urge you to replace the panels and the aluminum feeders.

I wouldn't
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Old 01-03-2013, 06:02 PM   #7
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I would not hire this guy, because his claims really are overboard and the work he wants to perform is excessive.

He's right about the panels being old, but compatible breakers are available and not expensive.

He misinterpreted what's happening in the main disconnect enclosure. Both of those breakers are mains, and one feeds each panel.

The grounding issue is easy to fix and doesn't require replacing any equipment.

I see no reason you couldn't install additional subpanels next to the old ones. They were run with 4-wire feeds (a recent code requirement), so you're very lucky in that respect. Otherwise you couldn't easily install a transfer switch at all.

The only aluminum wire I see is the feeders conductors. This is normal and safe, and I would use aluminum in any new installation. Yes, it requires anti-oxidant on the connections. That's not a problem. Every electrician has it in the toolbox for that exact purpose. The only aluminum wiring that is an issue is aluminum branch circuit wiring (to lights and receptacles), and you don't seem to have any of that from what I can see. I'm not sure why he keeps talking about aluminum. Perhaps there is aluminum branch circuit wiring that I'm not observing? If so, then deal with it - but if it's just the feeder conductors then this guy is being ridiculous. Aluminum feeders are totally fine.

Since you have 4-wire feeds and a main disconnect separate from the panels, it seems easy to install a transfer switch right next to the main disconnect. No big deal.
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Last edited by mpoulton; 01-03-2013 at 06:07 PM. Reason: I was wrong again.
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Old 01-03-2013, 06:12 PM   #8
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I agree with what the other professionals have stated above. I will add that there is absolutely nothing illegal or unsafe with AL wire as long as it is properly terminated. I myself have AL service entrance, feeder and branch circuit conductors in my own home which I built in 1985. I have wired thousands of houses during my career and have inspected thousands more with AL wiring. There is nothing wrong with it as long as it is properly installed.

Avoid this contractor. Find one that knows what they are doing!!
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Old 01-03-2013, 06:16 PM   #9
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I'd e-mail this thread to the electrician

But in any case calling the guy a clown would be a nice way to put it. He's a flat out liar, and several of his claims about your electrical cannot even be gleaned by looking at those photos. That's a heck of a scam he's got going; conduct an electrical inspection & make recommendations based on e-mail photos.
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Old 01-03-2013, 06:17 PM   #10
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I too will jump into the camp that says there is too much wrong or scare tactices used to hire this person.

Anti-oxidant is not required, although a good idea.
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Old 01-03-2013, 06:38 PM   #11
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I'm amazed that he found all those problems from just the pictures!
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Old 01-03-2013, 06:41 PM   #12
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"NOTE FROM ELECTRICIAN:
Issues with you current installation that will have to be corrected

before your house will meet current code."


This statement really bothers me. Nowhere in the NEC does it require an existing dwelling be brought up to the current code every time the NEC is changed. Unless it is some sort of local amendment or requested by the owner, it is not required.


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Old 01-03-2013, 06:46 PM   #13
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[QUOTE=jeminnick;1085572]

1. You have only 1 main breaker which is feeding two sub-panels; you will need to locate where they are junctioned and ensure that the splice is made according to code; otherwise your "feeder" conductors will not meet code. Also, as these are aluminum conductors, you will have to terminate into each breaker, splice or buss by applying an anti-oxidant compound;" high resistance connections (causing fires) will result without its use.

This panel have duex ( Two ) main breakers so this is kinda typical for this type of set up ( have differernt electrician to confirm the rating to make sure )


[/FONT]
Additionally, you will be limited to 60 amp sub-panels as a result of the size of the main over-current protection device (main breaker); this is a serious hindrance to you as a 60 amp panel has only 12
spaces and cannot have 'stacked' breakers installed (half size).

Non ., That have no limit on that all and the stacked breaker as refered to twinner or tadaem breakers they are allowed as long it is listed in the panel listing of approved breakers.



Furthermore, you will have to add new grounding to you home which include two 10' ground rods (6' apart from each other) and a cold water pipe bond, bonded before and after the meter (uninterrupted and without splices). If you have a re-bar ground (concrete encased electrode) you may substitute that for ground rods, assuming local code allows the substitution. Cold water bonding is required if there
is metallic water pipes in the house, even if on a private well.

Ya only need 8 footer rods (2) which it is very common item unless stated differnt in the local code requirement.

2. Your panels are both Bryant panels; they are not made any longer and the only non-Bryant breakers UL listed for retrofit replacement cost approximately $25 each; both of your panels have "stacked"
breakers which increase the number of circuits in the panel, but do not meet current code for interruption; as you are sharing neutral wires between phases and circuits, the breakers will have to be
'joined' together for a common trip; your breakers cannot be ganged together, and no retrofit breakers in that style exist at a reasonable price (more than $150.00 last time I looked).

First of all there is Bryant breakers and still avaiable to get them now the other thing is both panel there is NO MWBC in either one at all.

Only couple minor code voliations but that can be corrected pretty quick.

For the breakers The BR series by Cutler Hammer still widely aviable so you can get them in big box store without issue.


3. The addition of a sub-panel next to either of these existing panels is not an option due to the grounding system and the feeder wires that currently exist; you would spend more to bring the panel
into compliance BEFORE you add the sub panel than you would by removing it altogether.

I don't think you need other subpanel at all. just do the load demand caluation to see how much room you have in your panels and go from there.

4. Aluminum conductors are dangerous and unreliable. You should replace them ASAP. I am absolutely serious about this; they are a hazard to your life and the lives of your family.

I have used Aluminum conductors in both USA and France without issue. All it have to be done properly that it.

5. The additional circuits required for you to bring your home into compliance with the NEC, IBC and any/all state/local building codes will require a panel with a minimum of 30 spaces (150 amp panel); even a direct replacement with a new panel in current manufacture will not be rated or sufficient to receive the additional load and circuits; your only option is to replace the panels.

The bare bone minuim size in USA side is 100 amp size and again do the load caluation to see how much room you have in the caluaction and you can go larger size if you are planning to add more items down the road.

6. Your current setup, were it to remain as it is with no modification, disallows the addition of a transfer switch and shunt-trip modules for the attachment of a generator or other sources of non-grid current.

I can see the possiblty of adding a transfer switch maybe two depending on the layout of the circuits.

7. Your panels are dangerous! The panel is no longer manufactured because of serious engineering flaws; with age and use the design flaws pose an unacceptable risk to life and property.

Not really at all. Bryant panels are not bad at all not like other panels which we do see alot worst than this.

I urge you to replace the panels and the aluminum feeders.


My comment in Bleu and the Alum conductors are not bad at all if done right in first time.

Merci,
Marc
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Old 01-03-2013, 06:56 PM   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by electures View Post
This statement really bothers me. Nowhere in the NEC does it require an existing dwelling be brought up to the current code every time the NEC is changed. Unless it is some sort of local amendment or requested by the owner, it is not required.
I fully agree. He is suggesting that somehow you home is deficient because it is not up to today's standards. With that logic, 98% of the homes in the country are deficient.
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Old 01-03-2013, 07:52 PM   #15
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Only thing I see that's wrong is someone ran the wire thorugh the bottom of the box with no strain relief.

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