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Question for you electrical experts...

I do gilding, historic tile repair, and repairing of old wall and ceiling ornament in downtown DC, and historic trimwork (lots of salvage here). I'm working in a condo building lobby in DC, finishing a paint job and restoring its look back to 1916. I knew enough to know I couldn't plaster up and patch over access to live junction boxes and told them they've got to keep the plates.

Now, the lobby "design team" wants me to install fabric panels (raised, set in decorative panel molding, triptych style, for noise abatement and decoration) on these same walls. I can design the panel such that it can "lift out" of its frame on the wall. In my mind this is still knowingly blocking access to these junction boxes which tie into common areas in all the hallways up above. Once I put these panels up, I'm sure everyone will forget about access to the wiring.

Should I proceed? Turn a blind eye? I told them they should pull the wiring out to the backside of the wall (access from a stairwell), but their electrician said he wouldn't do it. I'm pretty sure its because its a big job and he was told there was some piddly budget. I don't run into too many code issues.

Hope you experts don't laugh at my first post! Guidance please.
Cheryl
 

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Wait for md for the 'real' answer, - - but it doesn't sound legal by code at all, - - any problems down the road you get the blame.

P.S. Sounds to me like you told them right.
 

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DGR,IABD
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There are a few codes to deal with here, but I'm sure that you can do what they wish in a compliant manner. The code section states:

314.29 Boxes, Conduit Bodies, and Handhole Enclosures
to Be Accessible. Boxes, conduit bodies, and handhole
enclosures shall be installed so that the wiring contained
in them can be rendered accessible without removing
any part of the building or, in underground circuits, without
excavating sidewalks, paving, earth, or other substance that
is to be used to establish the finished grade.

The code also has a definition for "accessible" that may clarify this a little further:

Accessible (as applied to wiring methods). Capable of
being removed or exposed without damaging the building
structure or finish or not permanently closed in by the structure
or finish of the building.

Please not that 314.29 states simple "accessible" and not "readily accessible", which have two different meanings. Readily accessible is not the requirement in your case, but here's its definition anyhow just so you know the difference:

Accessible, Readily (Readily Accessible). Capable of being
reached quickly for operation, renewal, or inspections
without requiring those to whom ready access is requisite
to climb over or remove obstacles or to resort to portable
ladders, and so forth.

In summary, if these sound proofing panels don't require destroying anything to get to the junction boxes, I think you're fine. If their simply hung or put up with brackets that have removable pins or screws, you'll be okay. If they're going to be glued up with mastic or nailed up then upholstered over, they you'd be in violation. If you can find a set of prints for this renovation, there's usually one set that people are marking up called "as builts". You might try to get someone to make a notation on the "as bulits" as to the location of these j-boxes. The removable panel is a great idea, and is commonly used. It's no different than having j-boxes above lift out ceilings. People also build fake panels over electrical breaker boxes all the time. It's fine, as long as you don't have to tear things up to get to them.
 

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Hmm, - - I was always under the impression they had to be 'visible' and 'accessible', - - seems like they'd be getting covered twice. Sounds self-defeating, - - how would future occupants ever even know where they were??

Md, - - will you stop confusing my imagination with the real rules?? :cheesygri
 

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DGR,IABD
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Tom R said:
Md, - - will you stop confusing my imagination with the real rules?? :cheesygri
Ha... that tickles me, Tom. The nice thing about the code is that everyone can read it for themselves and they don't need advice or opinions. That's why I just cut and paste code references when applicable. It clears it all up.

The code does not have a definition for "visible" but it does often require certain things (equipment) to be "within sight" like motor disconnects, a/c disconnects, and stuff like that. Junction boxes do not have a "within sight" requirement. See definition:

In Sight From (Within Sight From, Within Sight).
Where this Code specifies that one equipment shall be “in
sight from,” “within sight from,” or “within sight,” and so
forth, of another equipment, the specified equipment is to
be visible and not more than 15 m (50 ft) distant from the
other.
 

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But the bad thing about the code is that it leaves a LOT up to interpretation, - - and although I know you know exactly what you're talking about, - - there's no way that would 'fly' with the electrical inspectors in my area, - - for instance, - - when basements are 'finished' the service panel (cover) MUST be exposed, - - no kind of extra cover whatsoever, - - I could argue it and pull out code books all day long, - - the inspector's are making the rules.
 

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Had an inspector threaten to fail the electric on an addition because the windows weren't in yet!! :rolleyes: (the windows had arrived defective).
 

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DGR,IABD
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Tom R said:
Had an inspector threaten to fail the electric on an addition because the windows weren't in yet!! :rolleyes: (the windows had arrived defective).
I guess he's be within his rights to do so since you weren't weather tight, but did he honestly think you were building an addition without windows? Luckily I've been dealing with the same handfull of inspectors almost my entire career. The inspections normally involve talking about the weather and how's the family and such. I've had ruff inspections pass with just tar paper on the roof and tyvek still over the winows openings. I guess it might depend on how famaliar the inspector is with you.
 

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Around here we've got different inspectors every few years for the most part, - - half political, half corruption, - - take your pick.

One of our inspectors just got busted 'extorting' just 2 months ago, - - believe it or not, - - this was his SECOND TIME!!

How the H---??, aww, never mind!!
 
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