Can unused conductors be terminated at the grounding bus?

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Tester101

Member
Location
New York
Let's say I'm working in a house, and the homeowner wants me to disconnect the cable feeding an unused electric dryer receptacle. The homeowner also wants me to leave the cable in the panel, so that there is a possibility of reconnecting it in the future.

I can't find anything in the NEC that says I can't just leave the unused wires hanging in the panel, but there must be a better way. I was thinking of bundling the wires together with a label that says "For Future Use", and then terminating the wires at the grounding bus bar in the panel.

Is this an acceptable solution, or are there dangers with this approach that I'm not thinking of?
 

petersonra

Senior Member
Location
Northern illinois
Occupation
engineer
Thanks Bob. That's probably the traditional way to handle it. I'm just curious if the alternative I propose has any unseen dangers.

I am not fond of the idea of terminating red or black wires on a ground bar. it appears to me to be a code violation. wires connected to a ground bar should be green or bare.
 

Tester101

Member
Location
New York
I am not fond of the idea of terminating red or black wires on a ground bar. it appears to me to be a code violation. wires connected to a ground bar should be green or bare.

Can you provide the code section that specifies this?

I know wires being used as grounding conductors must be identifiable in specific ways, but I'm not sure simply connecting a wire to the grounding bus would require it to be identifiable as a grounding conductor.
 

petersonra

Senior Member
Location
Northern illinois
Occupation
engineer
Can you provide the code section that specifies this?

I know wires being used as grounding conductors must be identifiable in specific ways, but I'm not sure simply connecting a wire to the grounding bus would require it to be identifiable as a grounding conductor.

an interesting point. Is it a EGC only if it actually connects to something on the other end?

Grounding Conductor, Equipment (EGC). The conductive
path(s) installed to connect normally non?current-carrying
metal parts of equipment together and to the system grounded
conductor or to the grounding electrode conductor, or both.

After some thought, I would say not. the key word being "connect" in the NEC definition of EGC.
 

Tester101

Member
Location
New York
Bob, I think in this case it comes down to intent. In this case the wires are labeled, and are clearly not intended to be used as EGCs. Would it make a difference if I spliced all the conductors and a bare piece of wire together with a twist-on wire connector, and then terminated the bare piece of wire at the grounding bus? That way there wouldn't be a black or red wire terminated at the grounding bus.

The idea of bonding the unused wires to ground, would be useful if the unused length of wire came into contact (accidental or otherwise) with an ungrounded conductor. Instead of the wire becoming energized, a fault would be created and the breaker of the faulted circuit should trip.

This whole situation is hypothetical, and I'm just curious if there are any dangers involved in this approach (aside from old-timers being upset that a black wire is terminated at the grounding bus).
 

cowboyjwc

Moderator
Staff member
Location
Simi Valley, CA
I would think that it would be more evident that it was for future use if it was just wire nutted and left haning, wouldn't even need a note, unless you want to note where it terminates on the other end. I think that it would look tacky attached to the ground bar.
 

__dan

Senior Member
Bob, I think in this case it comes down to intent. In this case the wires are labeled, and are clearly not intended to be used as EGCs. Would it make a difference if I spliced all the conductors and a bare piece of wire together with a twist-on wire connector, and then terminated the bare piece of wire at the grounding bus? That way there wouldn't be a black or red wire terminated at the grounding bus.

The idea of bonding the unused wires to ground, would be useful if the unused length of wire came into contact (accidental or otherwise) with an ungrounded conductor. Instead of the wire becoming energized, a fault would be created and the breaker of the faulted circuit should trip.

This whole situation is hypothetical, and I'm just curious if there are any dangers involved in this approach (aside from old-timers being upset that a black wire is terminated at the grounding bus).

Yeah, you don't want to upset the old timers. That's funny.:happysad::lol:

I can tell you, if I saw conductors landed on the ground bus I would never in a million years think they are spares and I could reland them on a breaker. Even if I traced the circuit or they were clearly tagged as spares, I would assume they were in use as grounds and the tag could be old and unrelated. The tagging and the grounding could have occurred separately. I would not touch it, and certainly not unground it. I would only spend time on it if the owner reported trouble, but you're doing this to avoid trouble. It's nonstandard, and the next guy to look at it must assume the standard is, if it's connected, attached, it's in use. I always isolate and insulate unused conductors.
 

mwm1752

Senior Member
Location
Aspen, Colo
Let's say I'm working in a house, and the homeowner wants me to disconnect the cable feeding an unused electric dryer receptacle. The homeowner also wants me to leave the cable in the panel, so that there is a possibility of reconnecting it in the future.

I can't find anything in the NEC that says I can't just leave the unused wires hanging in the panel, but there must be a better way. I was thinking of bundling the wires together with a label that says "For Future Use", and then terminating the wires at the grounding bus bar in the panel.

Is this an acceptable solution, or are there dangers with this approach that I'm not thinking of?


Safest application IMO
Remove the dryer recept, make it a j box, cap & tape ungrounded & grounded conductors in panel. identify circuit end j box location in panel, Panel can have splices like j boxes. Both ends have no termination to electrical equipment and have accessible means. I would not tie any identified ungrounded conductor to a grounded buss.
 

Tester101

Member
Location
New York
Yeah, you don't want to upset the old timers. That's funny.:happysad::lol:

I can tell you, if I saw conductors landed on the ground bus I would never in a million years think they are spares and I could reland them on a breaker. Even if I traced the circuit or they were clearly tagged as spares, I would assume they were in use as grounds and the tag could be old and unrelated. The tagging and the grounding could have occurred separately. I would not touch it, and certainly not unground it. I would only spend time on it if the owner reported trouble, but you're doing this to avoid trouble. It's nonstandard, and the next guy to look at it must assume the standard is, if it's connected, attached, it's in use. I always isolate and insulate unused conductors.

Thanks, Dan. That's a great reason to not terminate the conductors at the ground bar. Aside from keeping the old-timers happy, it's also probably not a good idea to confuse everybody else.

Thanks again :thumbsup:
 

templdl

Senior Member
Location
Wisconsin
I have never seen an AHJ question that, although I have seen a Home Inspector tell a buyer that the unused conductors (for future AC) should be removed completely from the panel enclosure. :slaphead:
And to think that a so called "home inspector" has that authority other than to intimidate the sale of a home. The question that should be asked is to please provide documentation that it is a code violation but both the seller and buyer probably view the home inspector is an authority not to be questioned.
 

jusme123

Senior Member
Location
NY
Occupation
JW
Can you provide the code section that specifies this?

I know wires being used as grounding conductors must be identifiable in specific ways, but I'm not sure simply connecting a wire to the grounding bus would require it to be identifiable as a grounding conductor.

310.12(A)(B)(C)
 
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mwm1752

Senior Member
Location
Aspen, Colo
Thanks, Dan. That's a great reason to not terminate the conductors at the ground bar. Aside from keeping the old-timers happy, it's also probably not a good idea to confuse everybody else.

Thanks again :thumbsup:

A bad electrician nevers gets to be an old timer:angel:
 
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