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Code question - Water near panel box.

ChrisJ
ChrisJ Member Posts: 11,492
Hi all,

I'd like to run a pipe near my panel box but I need more details on NEC. From what I can tell, they want the area by a panel box clear from the floor to 6'5" above the floor. They also want it clear 36" side to side and 30" in front of the panel. Please correct any errors in that because I was very tired when I read it.

The issue is, I want to run a 3/4" copper pipe roughly 12" above the box (That's where my floor joists are), roughly 4"-6" over from the front of the box. So it in no way impedes access to it and certainly can't drip on it if it sweats. But, I feel it technically violates NEC. What options do I have? Will inspectors bust chops over this in an old house? Can I sleeve the pipe with PVC in that area to make it compliant?



Please excuse the crudity of this model. I didn't have time to build it to scale or paint it.





Single pipe quasi-vapor system. Typical operating pressure 0.14 - 0.43 oz. EcoSteam ES-20 Advanced Control for Residential Steam boilers. Rectorseal Steamaster water treatment

Comments

  • pecmsg
    pecmsg Member Posts: 1,892
    My understanding

    anything above the panel for 6' or the floor above is considered The Panel.
    36" clearance all around.
    ChrisJ
  • Ironman
    Ironman Member Posts: 6,323
    The NEC prohibits any piping within 3' of the panel:


    Bob Boan
    You can choose to do what you want, but you cannot choose the consequences.
    ChrisJHVACNUTSTEVEusaPASuperTech
  • ChrisJ
    ChrisJ Member Posts: 11,492
    edited April 2020
    Ironman said:

    The NEC prohibits any piping within 3' of the panel:


    Thank you for the responses.

    That says the zone is the width and depth of the panel.
    So in my case 4-6 inches away from the front of the panel should be code complaint, no?

    The "foreign systems" part. Does that mean my pipe could pass through "the zone" if sleeved in pvc or insulated?
    Single pipe quasi-vapor system. Typical operating pressure 0.14 - 0.43 oz. EcoSteam ES-20 Advanced Control for Residential Steam boilers. Rectorseal Steamaster water treatment
  • pecmsg
    pecmsg Member Posts: 1,892
    ChrisJ said:

    Ironman said:

    The NEC prohibits any piping within 3' of the panel:


    That says the zone is the width and depth of the panel.
    So in my case 4-6 inches away from the front of the panel should be code complaint, no?

    That's totally up to the inspector. The language is vague!
    ChrisJ
  • ChrisJ
    ChrisJ Member Posts: 11,492
    pecmsg said:

    ChrisJ said:

    Ironman said:

    The NEC prohibits any piping within 3' of the panel:


    That says the zone is the width and depth of the panel.
    So in my case 4-6 inches away from the front of the panel should be code complaint, no?

    That's totally up to the inspector. The language is vague!
    I'm glad it's not just me.
    Single pipe quasi-vapor system. Typical operating pressure 0.14 - 0.43 oz. EcoSteam ES-20 Advanced Control for Residential Steam boilers. Rectorseal Steamaster water treatment
  • JUGHNE
    JUGHNE Member Posts: 8,175
    The dedicated Equipment space is the footprint of the panel. (say 4" X 14" for residential panels) floor to structural ceiling or 6', or which ever is lower. The intent is that you could run conduit directly into the top of bottom of the panel.

    Working space (for personal) is having the panel within a clear 30" wide space or the width of the panel, whichever is greater.
    And 36" back from the front of the panel (if shocked or arc flash you would fall backwards, hopefully far enough).
    IIRC this working space extends up 6 1/2'.

    You often see marker tape on the floor indicating that working space in front of panels that is supposed to be clear of anything. Usually completely ignored by people storing everything possible in a panel room.

    Anyway, I think your plan is good Chris. Assuming your ceiling is at least 6 1/2' above the floor.
    IIWM I would insulate and sleeve to protect from condensation
    ChrisJSolid_Fuel_Man
  • ChrisJ
    ChrisJ Member Posts: 11,492
    edited April 2020
    JUGHNE said:

    The dedicated Equipment space is the footprint of the panel. (say 4" X 14" for residential panels) floor to structural ceiling or 6', or which ever is lower. The intent is that you could run conduit directly into the top of bottom of the panel.

    Working space (for personal) is having the panel within a clear 30" wide space or the width of the panel, whichever is greater.
    And 36" back from the front of the panel (if shocked or arc flash you would fall backwards, hopefully far enough).
    IIRC this working space extends up 6 1/2'.

    You often see marker tape on the floor indicating that working space in front of panels that is supposed to be clear of anything. Usually completely ignored by people storing everything possible in a panel room.

    Anyway, I think your plan is good Chris. Assuming your ceiling is at least 6 1/2' above the floor.
    IIWM I would insulate and sleeve to protect from condensation


    If you were to experience that at my panel, you would fall back, bang and burn your head on a steam main, then fall backwards on the boiler, likely hitting your head again on the header.

    Actually I guess that 1" thick insulation would help protect from burn and cushion the blow.
    Single pipe quasi-vapor system. Typical operating pressure 0.14 - 0.43 oz. EcoSteam ES-20 Advanced Control for Residential Steam boilers. Rectorseal Steamaster water treatment
    mattmia2
  • Ironman
    Ironman Member Posts: 6,323
    > @ChrisJ said:
    > (Quote)
    > Thank you for the responses.
    >
    > That says the zone is the width and depth of the panel.
    > So in my case 4-6 inches away from the front of the panel should be code complaint, no?
    >
    > The "foreign systems" part. Does that mean my pipe could pass through "the zone" if sleeved in pvc or insulated?

    Here’s a diagram from the NEC Handbook:

    It seems to me that the obvious INTENT of the code is to keep water from entering the panel. A pipe that’s under pressure could not only drip onto the panel, but could also SPRAY water laterally onto it. Therefore, greater protection against that would be prudent even though the code may not require it.

    One thing that the pros on here constantly remind us of is that code requirements are the MINIMUM standard we should meet.
    Bob Boan
    You can choose to do what you want, but you cannot choose the consequences.
    ChrisJSTEVEusaPA
  • ChrisJ
    ChrisJ Member Posts: 11,492
    Ironman said:

    > @ChrisJ said:

    > (Quote)

    > Thank you for the responses.

    >

    > That says the zone is the width and depth of the panel.

    > So in my case 4-6 inches away from the front of the panel should be code complaint, no?

    >

    > The "foreign systems" part. Does that mean my pipe could pass through "the zone" if sleeved in pvc or insulated?



    Here’s a diagram from the NEC Handbook:



    It seems to me that the obvious INTENT of the code is to keep water from entering the panel. A pipe that’s under pressure could not only drip onto the panel, but could also SPRAY water laterally onto it. Therefore, greater protection against that would be prudent even though the code may not require it.



    One thing that the pros on here constantly remind us of is that code requirements are the MINIMUM standard we should meet.

    From what I can tell the intent of the code is as @JUGHNE said, to provide an area to work in and clear access to the panel.

    It says a pipe is allowed directly over the panel as long as it's higher than 6 1/2 feet. This would be to allow a tall person to work without being hunched over etc.
    Single pipe quasi-vapor system. Typical operating pressure 0.14 - 0.43 oz. EcoSteam ES-20 Advanced Control for Residential Steam boilers. Rectorseal Steamaster water treatment
  • JUGHNE
    JUGHNE Member Posts: 8,175
    I would rather fall back hitting my head on steam piping than go forward with my forehead being impaled on the buss bars of the electrical panel. :o

    That 30" wide 36" deep and 6.5' tall "phone booth" has to be clear of anything.......you could move that steam main if it is encroaching ?? :*

    Years ago while taking out a 1 1/4" KO out of the top of switch gear, the KO fell down into the open panel across 800 amp buss bars.
    It moved me 4' back, sunburned face, pitted glasses and burned shirt. This has reminded me for the next 40+ years of working distance and "fall away area".
    ChrisJ
  • Ironman
    Ironman Member Posts: 6,323
    No, the pipe is NOT allowed directly above the panel for up to 6 feet above the panel.

    If it's not in the "dedicated space" of the panel, then it must be be above the 61/2 feet required for servicing the panel.

    There are two different requirements: one to prevent water from entering the panel; the other to allow sufficient work space at the panel. I think we're confusing the two.
    Bob Boan
    You can choose to do what you want, but you cannot choose the consequences.
    ChrisJ
  • JUGHNE
    JUGHNE Member Posts: 8,175
    We have dedicated equipment space for future conduits, up and down.
    We have working space (the phone booth box) for people.
    ChrisJSolid_Fuel_Man
  • ChrisJ
    ChrisJ Member Posts: 11,492
    Ironman said:

    No, the pipe is NOT allowed directly above the panel for up to 6 feet above the panel.

    If it's not in the "dedicated space" of the panel, then it must be be above the 61/2 feet required for servicing the panel.

    There are two different requirements: one to prevent water from entering the panel; the other to allow sufficient work space at the panel. I think we're confusing the two.

    You could be right.
    But if the pipe is directly above the panel and 8 feet above it, how does that prevent water from entering it?


    Single pipe quasi-vapor system. Typical operating pressure 0.14 - 0.43 oz. EcoSteam ES-20 Advanced Control for Residential Steam boilers. Rectorseal Steamaster water treatment
  • ChrisJ
    ChrisJ Member Posts: 11,492
    JUGHNE said:

    I would rather fall back hitting my head on steam piping than go forward with my forehead being impaled on the buss bars of the electrical panel. :o

    That 30" wide 36" deep and 6.5' tall "phone booth" has to be clear of anything.......you could move that steam main if it is encroaching ?? :*

    Years ago while taking out a 1 1/4" KO out of the top of switch gear, the KO fell down into the open panel across 800 amp buss bars.
    It moved me 4' back, sunburned face, pitted glasses and burned shirt. This has reminded me for the next 40+ years of working distance and "fall away area".

    I suppose I could just knock the entire house down and start over too. :p

    The good news is I'm thinking my 100A residential panel will behave a little differently than that 800A panel you were in. I suspect it also wasn't 120V X 2?
    Single pipe quasi-vapor system. Typical operating pressure 0.14 - 0.43 oz. EcoSteam ES-20 Advanced Control for Residential Steam boilers. Rectorseal Steamaster water treatment
  • JUGHNE
    JUGHNE Member Posts: 8,175
    edited April 2020
    8' is OK as long as "provide protection in case it does leak...."
    Besides 8' would be up in your first floor room.

    My memorable adventure was in a 120/208 3 phase panel.

    It is surprising how much fault current is available even in a small panel. The flash could be astounding, ruining your tools, your glasses, your day and sometimes your shorts.
  • Ironman
    Ironman Member Posts: 6,323
    ChrisJ said:

    Ironman said:

    No, the pipe is NOT allowed directly above the panel for up to 6 feet above the panel.

    If it's not in the "dedicated space" of the panel, then it must be be above the 61/2 feet required for servicing the panel.

    There are two different requirements: one to prevent water from entering the panel; the other to allow sufficient work space at the panel. I think we're confusing the two.

    You could be right.
    But if the pipe is directly above the panel and 8 feet above it, how does that prevent water from entering it?

    I guess it wouldn't. But I can't think of any job, other than a commercial boiler room, where that scenario could occur. In that case, I believe the INTENT of section (b) would apply.

    When REPLACING an existing panel box in a residence, IDK of any inspector that would try to apply the working clearance standards for height in an old cellar with a low ceiling where it would be impossible to achieve. But if there were a leaking drain pipe directly above which had ruined the old panel, then sub section (b) would certainly be applied and the new panel would not be approved until corrections were made.

    The purpose of the code is not to see how hard it can make it for an electrician (though it often seems that way), but to make the installation safe for the occupants and people servicing it. If the AHJ sees an unsafe condition, he has the authority to require it be corrected even if the code doesn't specifically address it.

    I've replaced a lot of service panels simply because the SEC sheathing was decaying or because the original installer didn't seal around it properly and water got inside of it and followed down into the panel.

    We need to plan for worst case scenario, not best case.

    Bob Boan
    You can choose to do what you want, but you cannot choose the consequences.
    ChrisJ
  • Intplm.
    Intplm. Member Posts: 1,283
    I have been told by all of my electrician friends that you follow the three foot clearance rule.
    I have been doing that for years and have never had a inspector question the work. L x W x H on all things. Walls pipes etc.
    ( I'm not sure of the panels minimal floor height )
  • EBEBRATT-Ed
    EBEBRATT-Ed Member Posts: 8,540
    36" clearance from the front of the panel is for 0-250 volt. 480 volt is 42" I believe. Width is a minimum of 30" or the width of the panel if the panel is greater than 30 "
    Intplm.
  • dopey27177
    dopey27177 Member Posts: 433
    Section B Foreign systems

    Allows piping to be installed provided proper protection is installed to prevent any leakage from coming in contact with the panel.

    Electricians use raceways for complex electrical wiring.

    You an install a raceway above the electrical cabinet. pitch it to one side and leave the ends open so if there is a pipe failure the leaking water will flow out and away from the panel.


    Jake
    ChrisJ
  • ChrisJ
    ChrisJ Member Posts: 11,492
    > @dopey27177 said:
    > Section B Foreign systems
    >
    > Allows piping to be installed provided proper protection is installed to prevent any leakage from coming in contact with the panel.
    >
    > Electricians use raceways for complex electrical wiring.
    >
    > You an install a raceway above the electrical cabinet. pitch it to one side and leave the ends open so if there is a pipe failure the leaking water will flow out and away from the panel.
    >
    >
    > Jake

    Thank you Jake.
    Single pipe quasi-vapor system. Typical operating pressure 0.14 - 0.43 oz. EcoSteam ES-20 Advanced Control for Residential Steam boilers. Rectorseal Steamaster water treatment
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