An electrical safety officer discovered several unsafe conditions while conducting an assessment on a newly created basement suite in a home. Access to the renovation was possible from the main dwelling. There were several children living in the residence.
The necessary permits were obtained and an inspection request was submitted. The safety officer attended the site and found several unsafe conditions left by the permit holder.
The first electrical hazard was located at the consumer service conductors conduit. This is the PVC conduit housing the utility service conductors (See Fig. 1). The code requires the conduit to be provided with an expansion joint to allow movement over time, due to frost heave or ground settling. If the expansion joint is not provided, the conduit can be exposed to mechanical stresses and break or dislodge from the meter base. This can result in exposed live conductors resulting in a shock hazard. Secondly, the internal conductors may experience stresses on the terminations within the meter base which in turn can be both a shock or fire hazard.
The second hazard was located within the suite itself. The suite was at rough wire stage -- the walls were framed in and the electrical wiring was exposed (Fig.2). The permit holder had installed the wiring into the various junction boxes and made the necessary splices (Fig. 3). The hidden hazard was that the permit holder also installed the branch circuits to the breakers in the new panel. The main breaker as well as the branch circuit breakers were in the “on” position (not as shown in Fig. 4). Although the utility connection had not happened, the hidden hazard was evident. This presented the possibility of a person coming in contact with a live conductor in the newly formed suite once the utility company installed the meter. This could result in a shock to the individual. In the case of an improperly wired conductor, a fire could also occur.
Permit holders should be reminded to lock out the main breaker when regulated work is not completely safe to be energized. As a second precaution, do not terminate the branch circuit conductors to the circuit breakers until the circuit is safe and the likelihood of the branch circuits being damaged or causing a hazard is eliminated.
The safety officer contacted the utility company and placed a hold on the connection until such time as the permit holder eliminated the hazards.
Fig 1 Consumer service Conduit without expansion joint
Fig. 2 Rough wire branch circuit conductors
Fig. 3 Live exposed/bare conductors in an area accessible to the public