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Starting work on my retirement home

955 Views 5 Replies 2 Participants Last post by  oldanalog
Glad to have found this forum. This is my first post.

I'm nearing retirement from my engineering career in audio signal processing. I've started renovating my to be retirement home in the Tampa Bay area of Florida (2 weeks at a time on working trips every 3-4 months). It's a mid century modern concrete block ranch on slab (with beautiful terrazzo floors). New kitchen is first which I've gutted. Electrical wiring has not been a challenge for me in the past as I've had 35 years experience with my Chicago home and am comfortable using EMT and do everything to and beyond code. I like to over engineer things I do for myself and my experience with most contractors hasn't been that good (particularly involving finish details). I couldn't afford my own attention to detail if I had to pay for it.

However, since NM (romex) isn't legal in Chicago, but standard practice in FL (which uses NEC2011), and I don't have practical experience with it, I've spent a lot of time reading up on the NEC re. NM, as well as reading the Mike Holt forum, which is a great source of info but totally unfriendly to DIYers.

Cutting to the chase, after starting rewiring last trip (without a permit) I'm getting cold feet since I've discovered some nasty hidden plumbing problems that I will probably need to have permitted since I want to hire a licensed plumber for them. I also plan a new detached garage which will certainly have to be permitted for electrical work as well. I can legally do my own electrical in FL (permitted of course) but I originally chose not to based on fearing the inspector (in Chicago the homeowner can't do any electrical or plumbing - only licensed contractors allowed) and the probable delays caused by bureaucracy not being able to accommodate my tight trip schedules to FL.

I've added 3 new home runs (one 8-3NMB for the electric range and two 12-3NMB) from the main panel (which is unfortunately located outside the house) 30 ft. away through the very cramped, low pitch, blown in fiberglass, no sub-floor, rats nest of flex HVAC ducts, open truss style attic.

One visit to this hell inspired me to use the already planned demolition of the soffit in the kitchen (to allow 42" tall upper cabinets) as my access to the attic for rewiring.

I got the idea to fish 3/4" Schedule 40 PVC conduit (as a sleeve or chase - NEC allowed) through this mess and then pull the NMB cable through. I used 3 separate conduit runs to avoid de-rating issues.

Here's a list of issues for which I haven't found solid answers and / or made up my mind and for which I welcome comments:

1. Even though the PVC is rated for 90°C conductors (NM-B), I just found in NEC 352.12
"Uses Not Permitted. PVC conduit shall not be used under the conditions specified in 352.12(D) Ambient Temperatures. Where subject to ambient temperatures in excess of 50°C (122°F) unless listed otherwise."
and this thread:
which I can't put in my first post - see my next post!!!!!!!
Since the attic (it is vented) could possibly exceed 122°F I'm now inclined to remove the PVC hopefully while leaving the cables in place. Thus the PVC was only a tool to fish the cables!

Does anyone have different thoughts on this?

2. At the main panel end I ran the 3 NM cables through an existing 2" nipple in the top of the panel which also carries two existing attic cable runs from the air handler and back up heat strip. I now see two violations here. Since the main panel is outside, and NM isn't supposed to be used outside, both the old and new circuits probably need a termination box inside the house and I need a raceway from the box to the panel with individual THWN wires. If instead I transitioned to UF (outdoor cables) through the nipple to avoid needing a full raceway to the panel, then there is no good way to clamp the cables individually in the panel as required by NEC.

3. I used up the last breaker slots in the main panel. My future needs will be for two more 240 circuits (hot tub and new garage). The panel is a Siemens 30 slot 150A outdoor (era 1999 from permit records) but the label and thus model number are missing. Until my next trip to FL I can't determine if it will take legal tandem breakers. Siemens catalog shows the only currently available 150A 30 slot outdoor as a "3040" thus legal for tandems. I know there are "illegal" tandems that will fit any Siemens panel. I'd like to avoid needing a sub panel.

4. AND NOW THE BIGGIE: To permit or not permit now. I'd feel more comfortable long term with permits as I worry about being caught when I need permits later for the garage a year or two down the road. NM cable and PVC has manufacturing dates stamped all over it now (breakers have a date code), making it impossible to claim the previous owner must have done the work if the inspector suspects un-permitted work.

I don't want to rip out what I've done so far but I don't want to be caught with it either.

Final questions for today:
a) Is it likely that initiating a permit request will trigger an inspection before the permit is granted?

b) If I disconnect the new circuits from the main panel and there was then an inspection prior to permit grant would it be reasonable to argue that my work shouldn't be a violation since it isn't connected to the panel yet and therefore isn't yet an electrical installation? I don't want to waste my limited time when I'm down in FL and need to continue working on the project. Anyone been in this situation?

Once granted I'm probably home free. I want a happy inspector who's on my side because I intend to do it the right way!

Thanks in advance for your thoughts and sorry for such a long post!!!

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IMO installing NM cable in PVC in an attic would not be wise as it would cause the cable to retain heat for a longer time.

Permits should be obtained before work begins. However, I have never heard of pre- inspections to obtain a permit.
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