Episode 10: Top 10 Defects (Part 2)


Episode 10: Top 10 Defects (Part 2)

Part 2 of the Top Ten Most Common Defects with Trevor Tremblay

Trevor Tremblay, technical advisor at ESA, returns to finish the list of the most common defects recorded – and explains how LECs can be prepared to avoid them in their work

As a Licensed Electrical Contractor (LEC), your defect ratio is one of the factors in determining the risk ranking for risk based oversight. That’s why Trevor Tremblay, technical advisor at ESA, talks through some of the most common defects that ESA inspectors encounter in their inspections.

In part two of this series, host Karen Ras discusses the remaining most common defects with Trevor and gets his advice on how LECs can avoid them and learn the best safety practices for complex situations. They talk about everything from unapproved equipment to non-metallic cable wiring. 

6. Unapproved equipment

In a time where supply chain disruptions and widespread shortages can mean LECs are often having a harder time finding approved electrical equipment, the use of unapproved equipment is on the rise. 

Homeowners and LEC’s alike are beginning to source equipment online – without a lot of knowledge if the electrical components are approved for use in Canada. 

“You can check our website for certification labels and approval requirements,” Tremblay said. “We're seeing a lot of service entrance equipment coming in only suitable for use in the United States.”

One of the most common unapproved pieces of equipment is classified breakers. Online, they are advertised as a replacement for breakers. But, in fact, they aren’t approved for use in the specific panels in Ontario.

“These breakers are not fully certified and tested in these panels, and the manufacturers will say it voids the warranty. They're not approved for use in that panel,” he said. “They meet some of the certification standards, but not all of them. So they're not a fully certified breaker.”

7. Make-shift equipment

Tremblay also pointed out that this caution should be exercised with makeshift equipment as well. All equipment has to be approved for use as it’s intended.

“Taking parts from a certified piece of equipment doesn't mean that part is certified for use as you want to use it,” Tremblay said.

One dangerous example is a Lichtenberg generator. There’s been a trend of using this piece of electrical equipment to create artistic wood-burnt charcuterie boards. But sadly, there have been over 30 deaths in North America alone from these generators. 

“Don't buy them. Don't encourage their use. It's very dangerous,” Tremblay cautioned. “Is a charcuterie board worth 30 deaths?”

8. Non-metallic cable wiring

Because non-metallic cable wiring is prevalent in residential homes, it is one of the ESA’s number one inspections. And with that, comes lots of defects.

Previously, the code only required you to be 32 millimeters back when you're going through structural members. It also has to be supported every 1.5 meters and 300 millimeters from every box. But with a new code comes new challenges. Now, it has to be 32 millimeters back when it’s running along a stud as well. 

“This could be very challenging – especially if you have two by three studs – because it'll be impossible to be in the middle, especially if there's wall coverings on both sides,” Tremblay said.

He said this rule is important, because he’s seen screws in drywall be energized during his inspections. He advises LEC’s to keep in mind where a TV could be mounted as they are wiring.

“Make sure you route the cables away from where these things are going to be mounted because typically they come with like three inch screws,” he said. “So no matter where you put it in the stud you drill, someone possibly could hit the wires.”

9. Armored cable

Luckily, when it comes to armored cables the rules have stayed mostly the same for supporting them. The only exception is when you enter into an enclosure.

Due to their size and lack of flexibility, it can be virtually impossible to support armored cables 300 millimeters from your switchgear in tight spaces.

The new code, however, will make that task a little bit easier: the larger the connector size, the farther it can be from the enclosure.

“Now that cable would be up to 900 millimeters from the enclosure as opposed to 300, which is going to be a lot easier for electrical contractors to manage,” he said.”

10. Outlets 

When it comes to outlet box support, Tremblay said he often finds code violations. That’s specifically true for gang sectional boxes. 

Many times, LEC’s forget that these have to be secured to metal or wood supports secured to structural members, so between the studs. 

“This is due to the construction because they all get screwed together,” Tremblay explained. “They're kind of flimsy. So over time, if you're pushing in receptacles, they can loosen those boxes up and actually fall apart in the wall.”

The second thing to keep in mind is that boxes over 100 millimeters have to be secured on at least two sides.  

“The reason for this is, if you ever pushed in a dryer plug or a range receptacle, there's a lot of force that is required to push it in and let alone to get it out,” he said. “So they have to be secured on two sides to make sure that they don't get pushed right into the wall.”

If you want more information on common defects, it’s available on the ESA’s website. Listen to the full episode to hear more recommendations from Tremblay on how to avoid common defects and some more pertinent information on receptacles, and don’t forget to check out the first part of our list of the Ten Most Common Defects.

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Content Related to this Episode

The Ontario Electrical Safety Report shares the rate of electricity safety incidents in the province. We have issued this report every year since 2001.

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ESA is warning against using high voltage energy sources such as microwave oven transformers or similar components to manufacture Lichtenberg generators

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