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Building codes guy
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Discussion Starter #1
Here's one to get this codes forum off and running...

Something I often encounter is plumbing (DWV and supply) running over an electrical panel.

This often sparks the "what came first...chicken or the egg" argument. Around here, the plumber is usually there first, and the electricians fail to avoid their work. But the plumber always ends up moving! :whistling2:

The International Residential Code and the National Electric Code both give sparky dedicated space above his panels, all the way up to the ceiling or the structural ceiling (underside of the floor sheathing above). Nothing but framing and electrical can be directly above the panel...No HVAC, no gas, no plumbing. This is to allow sparky to pull wires years in the future, and to minimize the risk of water saturating the panel. The best way to illustrate the requirement is to imagine the panel sliding upward...It has to go all the way up without hitting your pipes.

The code used to allow you to sleeve the pipes or create a drip shield above the panel. The new electric code has written that out (in 2005 I believe).

Hopefully this will save someone some extra work, since most plumbers don't sit around reading electric code!
 

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Chase Plumber
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289 Posts
We don't have anything like that, or not that I have read in the code book, and I have read it all a bunch of times, lol. .

Only thing related to electrical I've read is that PEX has to be 2' away from a recessed light fixture.
 

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This requirement is just in regards to a PANEL? :blink:

Seems strange to me that any plumber would put themselves in that position. We have always checked with the GC on where the electrical is coming into the house so that we can keep hose bibbs and anything else out of their way.

Not sure if we're allowed to go above them or not, it's just easier to avoid that area of the house altogether. :thumbsup:
 

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Master Plumber
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1,069 Posts
The International Residential Code and the National Electric Code both give sparky dedicated space above his panels, all the way up to the ceiling or the structural ceiling (underside of the floor sheathing above). Nothing but framing and electrical can be directly above the panel...No HVAC, no gas, no plumbing. This is to allow sparky to pull wires years in the future, and to minimize the risk of water saturating the panel. The best way to illustrate the requirement is to imagine the panel sliding upward...It has to go all the way up without hitting your pipes.
So if I have a gas line running in the joist past the panel, but 4" out from the wall, am I OK there?
 

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Building codes guy
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Discussion Starter #8
So if I have a gas line running in the joist past the panel, but 4" out from the wall, am I OK there?
As long as your panel is less than 4" out from the wall, you'd be ok.

For the doubters, the 2003 International Residential Code section E3305.3 gives this requirement. That's an electrical code section that the ICC stole right out of the NEC. The conveniently don't tell the plumbers or HVAC guys...Just sparky!

I'll quote the pertinent parts:
The space equal to the width and depth of the panelboard and extending from the floor to a height of 6 feet above the panelboard or the structural ceiling (floor sheathing), whichever is lower, shall be dedicated to electrical installation. Piping, ducts, leak protection aparatus, and other equipment foreign to the electrical installation shall not be installed in such a dedicated space.

Even if you are over 6' above the panel, the code goes on to say that non-electrical systems must have a means of preventing the panel from getting leaked on by condensation, breakage, leaks, etc.
 

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Building codes guy
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Discussion Starter #9
here it is 18" - 24" in front of the panel depending on the county or city
I'm surprised to hear this. It isn't an NEC requirement...Must be a jurisdictional thing.

The 2003 (and the '06) IRC code has a pretty handly little diagram that shows how this is measured. (fig. 3305.1a)
 

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Retired Moderator
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6,781 Posts
No water lines within 36" here.
Same here. They say it is to prevent a water leak from entering the panel and causing electrocution. Makes sense to me. Gas line and HVAC? Now thats a different ball game of which I know nothing about as far as code goes.
 

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22rifle
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Quote:
Originally Posted by I'mYourTourGuide
.

Only thing related to electrical I've read is that PEX has to be 2' away from a recessed light fixture.

>Can you source that requirement?

I don't think that is actually listed code in my area but it is in just about every pex manufacturers installation instructions which the code references.
 

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Master Plumber
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22rifle
Master Plumber

Join Date: Jun 2008
Posts: 472

My Photos


Quote:
Originally Posted by I'mYourTourGuide
.

Only thing related to electrical I've read is that PEX has to be 2' away from a recessed light fixture.

>Can you source that requirement?

I don't think that is actually listed code in my area but it is in just about every pex manufacturers installation instructions which the code references.
Which manufacturers require that?
 

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Registered
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305 Posts
Here's one to get this codes forum off and running...

Something I often encounter is plumbing (DWV and supply) running over an electrical panel.

This often sparks the "what came first...chicken or the egg" argument. Around here, the plumber is usually there first, and the electricians fail to avoid their work. But the plumber always ends up moving! :whistling2:

The International Residential Code and the National Electric Code both give sparky dedicated space above his panels, all the way up to the ceiling or the structural ceiling (underside of the floor sheathing above). Nothing but framing and electrical can be directly above the panel...No HVAC, no gas, no plumbing. This is to allow sparky to pull wires years in the future, and to minimize the risk of water saturating the panel. The best way to illustrate the requirement is to imagine the panel sliding upward...It has to go all the way up without hitting your pipes.

The code used to allow you to sleeve the pipes or create a drip shield above the panel. The new electric code has written that out (in 2005 I believe).

Hopefully this will save someone some extra work, since most plumbers don't sit around reading electric code!
Thanks! This is one I haven't heard yet . I'm sure our inspectors will be all over this one soon.
 

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Building codes guy
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Discussion Starter #16
Which manufacturers require that?
I've never seen a 24" PEX clearance requirement for clearance from heat sources. Uponor/Wirsbo's PEX installation manual states the following:

Do not install PEX tubing within 6 inches [152 mm] of gas appliance vents or within 12 inches [305 mm] of any recessed light fixtures.

That's on par with other manufacturers I've looked up, as well as the PEX manufacturers association installation guidelines.
 

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Building codes guy
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40 Posts
Discussion Starter #17
Same here. They say it is to prevent a water leak from entering the panel and causing electrocution. Makes sense to me. Gas line and HVAC? Now thats a different ball game of which I know nothing about as far as code goes.
The electrical code is written to do three things respective to panel clearance.
1) Protect the panel from leaks/saturation
2) Provide adequate safe working space for sparky.
3) Give sparky room to run his wires, and pull wires in the future.

To me, the biggest issue is saturation of the panel. Once a breaker has been wet, it no longer reliably performs at the listed ampacity...Even after it is dried off. Then there's the obvious hazard of water in the panel in the first place.

The other big issue is that sparky can't be squeezed in between gas pipes, water lines, ductwork, or appliances when he's working on the panel. Any of those really up the chances of an electrocution.
 

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Yeah for them !! Is there ANYTHING else we can do to make sparky's life easier ??

SH***T !

Cal
 

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Yeah for them !! Is there ANYTHING else we can do to make sparky's life easier ??

SH***T !

Cal
One thing I can say is his days of appearing to be a masterful wizard are coming to a close.
The homeowners are no longer impressed now that they know the laborer who was digging ditches last month is now wiring their house.
With supervision of course:whistling2:
 

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Building codes guy
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Discussion Starter #20
It is all about who has the most influence on the code-making panels and who has the largest voting contingent. Fire departments have a biiiiiiiig amount of influence, and tend to vote pro-electric code.
 
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