My house was built in 1950's. Directly over the (original) main
electrical fuse panel in the basement is a pipe that goes to the 1sr
floor baseboard (all original plumbing). And I mean directly: it's 7"
above the top of the panel.
I plan to have the main electrical fuse panel upgraded to circuit
breakers in the future, and will likley be required by the utility co
to have the local building inspector review my my licensed
electrician's work before the utility co will restore power.
If the electrical work passes, would the inspector cite me for a
violation of this existing condition (pipe over electrical panel) and
delay approval until I have the pipe moved?
Any similar experiences/situations appreciated.
Your best answer would be from the electrician doing the work. He will know
the inspector and will know what to expect. I wouldn't try to contact the
inspector yourself. I know in my area, inspectors never want to talk to
homeowners regarding these gray situations.
Inspection mechanisms work differently from place to place. In downstate NY,
inspectors are authorized by the municipalities that they inspect in, and
work directly with licensed electricians. Homeowners are not permitted to do
electrical work themselves, and the inspectors essentially refuse to be
teachers. I believe that if a homeowner calls an inspector to ask if an
existing violation can remain, the answer would be absolutely not, where as
if the electrician on the job points it out to the inspector, and it's not a
real terrible violation, he may just ignore it.
Built in the 50s? I suspect that it is a non-issue. The entire
service from meter in will probably not meet code. If so, moving the
panel will be a minor part of the job. The panel will have to be
replaced anyhow, move it.
If you are having an electrician do the work he will know if the pipe
has to be moved or not. Any decent electrician is going to want to
look at the job and should factor in the pipe issue into his price
quote. Make sure you point it out and make sure he has included
dealing with it. SInce the pipe is not part of the new electrical
work it's hard to say if the local inspector would require it be moved
How high is the pipe above the floor, and does it impede access to the
panel at all?
The required clearances:
For such things, searching Google and clicking on the Images link at
the top will give you pictorial results, which can be scanned a lot
Top of electrical panel: 6ft 7inch
Pipe: 7ft 1inch
Does not impede access to panel at all.
However, my understanding of the code is that it's not an access
issue, but simply that plumbing just cannot be around the panel...
Here's a thread in another forum that addresses your exact question:
Not only plumbing, essentially nothing but electrical stuff can occupy the
space above the panel to a distance of 6' above the equipment, or the
structural ceiling. One similar situation I had, had a 4" cast iron waste
pipe running on the exterior wall. I framed out a section with 2x4's and
plywood, bringing the panel out in front of the pipe. Again, the electrician
doing the work should know what the inspector will want.
This is the code language
(1) Indoor. Indoor installations shall comply with 110.26(F)(1)(a)
(a) Dedicated Electrical Space. The space equal to the width and
depth of the equipment and extending from the floor to a height of 1.8
m (6 ft) above the equipment or to the structural ceiling, whichever
is lower, shall be dedicated to the electrical installation. No
piping, ducts, leak protection apparatus, or other equipment foreign
to the electrical installation shall be located in this zone.
Exception: Suspended ceilings with removable panels shall be
permitted within the 1.8-m (6-ft) zone.
(b) Foreign Systems. The area above the dedicated space required
by 110.26(F)(1)(a) shall be permitted to contain foreign systems,
provided protection is installed to avoid damage to the electrical
equipment from condensation, leaks, or breaks in such foreign systems.
I think it has as much to do with "crowding" of the wires going to the box
as concern that the mechanical/plumbing stuff would damage things.
Most of the wires (including the cable from the meter) enter from the top or
bottom) in most installations. Often, studs prevent bringing in wires from
It is a rather academic discussion. Built back then the incoming
wires from the service will not be code for today's needs. Truth is
that the entire service from meter in will need to be changed to come
up to code. The panel also has to be replaced anyhow. Move it where
there is no conflict.
Then in the end. None of this discussion matters as it will boil down
to what the inspector will pass.
The post on that site by manhattan42 gives the NEC requirements. The NEC
doesn't want the panel under the pipe. Final judgment is by the inspector.
Since the work is being done by an electrician, the electrician should
know (or find out) what is required. You could make sure the electrician
knows the pipe is there (sounds like it is pretty obvious).
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