Does this meet code?

21 Replies

Ok, so I know that there is no way this meets code but I saw this in a possible investment home yesterday and I had to share. Just think, you could take a shower and plug in your hair dryer and then if the breaker happens to flip you could reach over and flip it back on...not a good idea!

Reminds me of @Nathan Brooks  story he told on Podcast 87.  It's just crazy what people do.  You can read the story here...http://www.biggerpockets.com/renewsblog/2014/09/03/art-saying-house-literally-kill-somebody/

Sorry, you'll have to turn your head.  On my computer the image is vertical but after trying to load it several times it loads here on BP sideways.  

So if you've got some crazy pics of houses you've seen I'd love to see them as well.  Share them with me.

2006 IRC -

E3305.4 Location of working spaces and equipment. Required working space shall not be designated for storage. Panelboards and overcurrent protection devices shall not be located in clothes closets or bathrooms.

To add: I wish I could say that was the most hilarious code violation I've ever seen... sadly, it isn't. 

I've seen garden hoses in enclosed walls used as supply pipes, stripped extension cords used in place of romex in closed walls, wires twisted together with duct tape... 

My favorite recurring code violation is ungrounded wire with a 3 prong outlet where neutral is wired to ground. See that one a lot in bad renovations.

@Aaron McGinnis  Those are definitely some bad ones. 

On the topic of the ungrounded wire in a 3 prong outlet, I've had to do that very thing.  I renovated a home and it was going to cost $1800 to run the correct ground through the place and there was no way I had that in the budget.  I installed GFCIs in the correct locations but of course there weren't grounded.  I had to run an extra loop off the neutral to make it work.  I know that's not correct and I wish I could have done it the correct way but just couldn't.

@Aaron Wyssmann  Dude ... that's a pretty good one! It still isn't IN the shower so, doesn't seem like it's the same kind of excitement getting into the shower each morning.  But at least you could plug something in, turn something off ... while you do your morning sudsing ... :)

Originally posted by @Aaron Wyssmann:

@Aaron McGinnis  Those are definitely some bad ones. 

On the topic of the ungrounded wire in a 3 prong outlet, I've had to do that very thing.  I renovated a home and it was going to cost $1800 to run the correct ground through the place and there was no way I had that in the budget.  I installed GFCIs in the correct locations but of course there weren't grounded.  I had to run an extra loop off the neutral to make it work.  I know that's not correct and I wish I could have done it the correct way but just couldn't.

 Then you couldn't do the project.

@Richard C.  Well no, I could do the project.  How many homes across the country don't have a ground at every outlet or for that matter still have knob & tube wiring.  Sure they don't meet current building codes but they function just fine as a safe home.  Matter of fact the first home I bought to live in personally still had the old knob & tube wiring.  Not to mention that our real estate contract states that the home I was selling does not have to be up to current building codes, in some cases that would be impossible.

Was it a permitted exception?  If not, you willfully avoided compliance.  What your sales contract says doesn't matter, you could very well still be on the hook.

As you should be, IMO.  Codes exist for a reason.  That one exists for a very clear safety reason.

Originally posted by @Aaron Wyssmann:

@Richard C.   Sure they don't meet current building codes but they function just fine as a safe home.

 No... they don't. Ungrounded wiring is an enormous fire hazard. Wiring ground to neutral is not only unsafe and against code, it's illegal and duplicitous. It's no different than using heavy motor oil to quiet knocking cylinders in an engine that's ready to blow up because you really need to sell the car and a new engine 'isn't in the budget' and "the sales contract doesn't specifically say that the engine won't blow up in a week"

I'm waiting for the Dean of the Springfield, MO real estate community to show up...

Believe you can just use a 2 prong receptacle or put a "no equipment ground" sticker on the GFCI

A fix for the bathroom electrical panel is to either cover it with a large mirror or put the electrical box on the other side of the wall

Are you serious?  The fix for a clearly illegal and unsafe condition is to hide it behind a mirror?

Originally posted by @Jassem A.:

Believe you can just use a 2 prong receptacle or put a "no equipment ground" sticker on the GFCI


That is correct. But that is NOT what OP said he did. He said he wired Neutral to Ground.

The ONLY reason to wire neutral to ground is if you're trying to pass outlets off as grounded. This 'trick' will fool a plug bug (at least, most plug bugs) into reporting the outlet as grounded, which is enough for most home inspectors to stop looking. (It takes a really experienced/knowledgeable HI to spot when a house isn't grounded properly when someone has already taken steps to conceal the fact...)

How would doing that be any more dangerous than having a 2 prong outlet?

In this configuration you would connect a pigtail from the silver screw to the green screw?

Originally posted by @Jassem A.:

How would doing that be any more dangerous than having a 2 prong outlet?

In this configuration you would connect a pigtail from the silver screw to the green screw?

1) Because the inhabitant isn't aware that the outlet is old and ungrounded. It also creates major, potentially lethal, voltage consequences. Just google "Wiring neutral to ground" and read to your heart's content about why this is a bad, dangerous, unlawful thing to do. 

2) Yes.

Seriously, people - feigning ignorance on such a major topic is beyond weak. This isn't 1975, this is 2014... you literally have the sum total of human knowledge on a miracle device in the palm of your hand, and 30 seconds of research proves beyond any shadow of a doubt that this practice is horrifyingly dangerous and irresponsible. 

This is a practice that shows an incredible weakness of moral character. It means that you cared more about turning a profit than in creating a safe and legal dwelling... and behaved in a criminal way to conceal your misdeed. 

Originally posted by @Jassem A.:

Believe you can just use a 2 prong receptacle or put a "no equipment ground" sticker on the GFCI

A fix for the bathroom electrical panel is to either cover it with a large mirror or put the electrical box on the other side of the wall

Wow. That's all I can say. And logically a fix for a roof leak is a bucket, right?

Wow. I thank you for all the great input. @Aaron McGinnis  I especially thank you for calling my entire character into question over this one issue, that seems reasonable. Yes maybe I didn't do enough research and for that I apologize, promise I'll do better next time.  I stand corrected. 

Now that I've been enlightened on electrical and I'm glad I learned something today, would anyone else like to share some crazy things they've seen in homes?

A bucket will help prevent a roof leak from ruining a subfloor any more if it is localized and can be a good short term solution for a vacant property that you intend to own in the future.  A better option is to shoot some spray foam in the attic at the location where the rain is coming in at.  An even better option is to go up there and cover the area with roof cement.  An even better option is to remove the shingles and wood from that area and fix it properly or to have the whole roof re-done.

Originally posted by @Aaron Wyssmann:

Wow. I thank you for all the great input. @Aaron McGinnis  I especially thank you for calling my entire character into question over this one issue, that seems reasonable. Yes maybe I didn't do enough research and for that I apologize, promise I'll do better next time.  I stand corrected. 

Now that I've been enlightened on electrical and I'm glad I learned something today, would anyone else like to share some crazy things they've seen in homes?

 The only research you needed to do was to look up the building code.  Which you did.  You knew what you were doing was against the code, and decided to do it anyone in order to make more money.  

Where is what I just wrote wrong?

Originally posted by @Jassem A.:

How would doing that be any more dangerous than having a 2 prong outlet?

In this configuration you would connect a pigtail from the silver screw to the green screw?

When you bond neutral to ground at the outlet.  If the neutral breaks the voltage goes thru an appliance but can't go back to the panel.  The ground becomes hot because the neutral upstream of the break is.  Ground is bonded to the metal in appliances.  So guess what has 120volts on it?

I had an apartment where they did this, neutral failed.  I could take my meter to the fridge and faucet and read 120 volts.  

GFCIs on ungrounded circuits are code with the no equipment ground sticker.  Connecting neutral to ground at the outlet is definitely not and is really dangerous.  

The guy who jumped gfcis.  Good one you wasted all that money on gfcis to make them worthless and more dangerous then a 2 prong outlet.  GFCIs work by detecting the current from hot to neutral.  If they detect more current on hot then neutral they switch off.  This is why they don't need an actual ground to work.  By by-passing ground to neutral the gfci will never trip.  Completely useless.

But it would probably get past a home inspector when he sold it, which was what he wanted to do.  

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