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IAEI Magazine | Author: Michael Weitzel
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Michael Weitzel

Mike Weitzel works as the electrical AHJ for Bechtel, Inc., on the Vitrification Plant Construction Project at the Hanford Nuclear Site. He is an instructor for IAEI International; he was formerly their codes and standards specialist. He worked for the city of Seattle, Washington, performing electrical plan review for large projects and as a technical advisor to the chief electrical inspector. For fifteen years, Weitzel was the electrical inspector and AHJ for the city of Wenatchee, Washington. He is a licensed master electrician, former electrical contractor, and he holds all IAEI electrical inspector certifications. He has more than thirty-two years experience in the electrical trade, in a variety of areas - utility, OEM -UL 508 Industrial Control Panel Shop, industrial plant R &D, construction wireman, electrical contractor, electrical inspector, and CEU instructor. He is a member of NFPA, ICC, IBEW and IAEI.


Electrical Systems – Are You Protected?

Protection Required There’s a lot of talk about protection going on currently. Personal protection, internet protection, home protection, neighborhood protection… the list goes on and on.

How Electrical Contractors Can Develop Better Relationships with Electrical Inspectors

Maintaining positive and effective working relations is essential in business and the electrical trade. We are often asked by electrical contractors, installers, and the public how to get along with local electrical inspectors. Sometimes it’s not easy (smile).

Medium Voltage Inspection Basics

Medium voltage systems are defined by the IEEE as those operating at voltage levels greater than 1,000 volts and up to 72,000 volts. High voltage is defined by NEC 490.2 as any system operating at "more than 600 volts, nominal.

Unsafe Conditions: Deciding When to Red Tag

Have you seen an electrical installation that stops you in your tracks? We’re talking about those installations that make you laugh and shake your head in disbelief! Others may make you angry that someone risked his safety and the safety of others. You may want to grab a camera and take a photo in order to share your shock or amazement at such an installation.

Battery Rooms – Accidents Waiting to Happen?

Dangerous conditions exist in battery rooms all over the country, but the batteries themselves are not a hazard. The hazards come from working conditions that are often unsafe because of limited paths of egress or escape, poor lighting, no working clearances, no guards for exposed live parts, and little or no ventilation. It is often difficult for the electrical worker to de-energize the battery system for maintenance, repair, or replacement of equipment. Even when disconnected from the rest of the bank, individual batteries remain energized; however, when connected to the bank, voltages may be high, and amperages even higher, which means considerable stored electrical power is present. Grounded concrete or cement surfaces often surround the battery bank, increasing the danger of the workspace. Is the worker even aware of the safety risk?

Voltage-Drop Requirements Cannot Be Ignored

Typically, when length is a factor in the installation, so is voltage drop. A variety of installations may involve feeders or branch circuits of considerable length. These include such installations as industrial plants; airports; tollway, highway, turnpike or street lighting; electrically controlled irrigation machines (also known as center pivot irrigation machines); installations on docks, marinas, or boatyards; farms or ranches; and commercial, residential, or governmental structures. Electrical designers and installers as a whole are generally aware of the requirements in 210.19(A)(1), and fine print note (FPN) No. 4 that provides explanatory material relating to voltage drop for feeders and branch circuits and suggests the maximum percentage of voltage drop which will provide "reasonable efficiency of operation,” should not exceed 5% at the farthest outlet where power is required.

The Authority of the Electrical Inspector

All electrical inspectors have authority. The question is, How do they use it? Is it about their ego or about the work and safety for the customer? Authority is needed in society to establish order; otherwise, there is chaos. Inspectors have authority for a purpose: to protect people and property. Some inspectors have misused their authority. That’s not what inspecting is about. Every electrical wireman or installer can recall from personal experience an inspector that in his view was unreasonable, unapproachable, or seemed to abuse his or her authority. Hopefully, they can also recall an electrical inspector who was professional and who possessed great experience and education, as well as good people skills, that they enjoyed working with; maybe, they even learned something from that inspector! Being this kind of professional should be the goal of every inspector.

Temporary Services – an anything goes situation?

In most areas of the country, building construction is booming, and there is a huge need for and use of temporary construction power. As electrical inspectors and installers in the field, we either inspect, install, or otherwise work with these types of installations frequently, if not daily.