This video will follow CCPIA Instructor Bob Aey as he performs an electrical inspection of the historic First National Bank in Rock River, Wyoming. The First National Bank was originally built in 1919, but has undergone more recent renovations. Some components of its electrical system were redone a year prior to Bob’s inspection. As you’ll see in this course, a recent alteration or repair on a building doesn’t mean that finding defects is less likely. Some of the defects are beyond the International Standards of Practice for Inspecting Commercial Properties (ComSOP), and more relevant to the National Electrical Code (NEC)® and the National Electrical Safety Code, or other local codes or regulations in effect.
Subpanel, Exposed, Ceiling Wires, and Emergency Lighting Defects
This video starts at the subpanel. The subpanel is defined as a single panel that houses buses and over-current protection devices that connect the main service panel and branch circuits. The video then discusses the exposed ceiling and reviews information about emergency lighting systems.
- Proper panel labels: All breakers in every panel should be labeled to identify the main area or appliance served by the breaker’s circuit. Labels may be stickers or handwritten, but they should always be next to the specific breaker or on a paper adhered to the inside of the panel door. In the video, none of the breakers is labeled.
- Conduit sealing: Conduits that transition from inside to outside must be sealed to prevent pests from entering and condensation from forming. In the Service Entrance video, a lack of conduit sealing was noted on the exterior of the building. In this video, a lack of proper conduit sealing is also observed, which can cause air to migrate from the exterior to inside the subpanel. If the conduit isn’t properly sealed, rust will form.
- Quality indicator: The common practice for a two-phase electrical system in the U.S. is to indicate phase A as black and phase B as red. In the video, the system is not color-coded, which can indicate a lack of quality of workmanship of the job performed by the electrician.
- Vapor barrier: The panel should be equipped with a vapor barrier to protect against damage caused by condensation. In the video, the subpanel is attached to a block wall. It is suggested that the panel be attached to a piece of plywood or raised from the wall to avoid moisture buildup between the wall and the subpanel.
- Knob-and-tube wiring: Buildings with knob-and-tube wiring can be difficult to insure because of the increased risk of electrical fire or shock. In the video, the exposed ceiling shows the presence of extensive knob-and-tube wiring.
- Support for conduit in ceiling: Conduit present in the ceiling should be securely fastened and supported. In the video, there is a 4-square junction box hanging from a piece of wire. The 4-square box should be secured and supported with something more permanent. Additionally, the fixture whips extending from the 4-square box to the light fixtures need to be securely fastened and supported, rather than hanging loosely. In the video, there is also conduit stretching from the walls to the 4-square box. Supports should be extended to those two pieces of conduit, as well.
- Emergency lighting: A commercial building that is used by the public must have exit lighting installed at all exit doors on both the interior and exterior of the building. The lights installed on the exterior of the building should be remote-head so that, in the event of a power failure, when it’s dark outside, people aren’t exiting into darkness. In the video, there isn’t any exit lighting present. Commercial buildings also have exit sign regulations. Generally, all exits should be marked by a readily visible sign. There are a number of regulatory agencies and codes that govern emergency lighting and exit sign requirements. However, the local AHJ is whoever’s responsible for monitoring and enforcing local building and/or fire codes.
Continue with the Historic Wyoming Bank Electrical Inspection Video Series