How far away do plumbing pipes have to be from an electrical panel?

Tuesday, July 21, 2020

The National Electrical Code (NEC) does not specifically address plumbing pipe clearance, but requires an area clear of any obstructions that is 2’-6” wide, 3’-0” deep, and 6’-6” high around the front of a panel  [NEC 110.26(A)]. 

    No plumbing pipes or other items are allowed in this area, except that other electrical equipment that is part of the panel installation is allowed above or below the panel, as long as it does not protrude more than 6” into the working space [NEC 110.26(A)(3)]. Also, the panel is not required to be centered in this space but the space must allow at least a 90º opening of the panel door. [NEC 110.26(A)(2)].

    So the panel shown at the top of the page is not code compliant. But “foreign Items,” such as plumbing pipes, may be installed above the dedicated access space, “provided protection is installed to avoid damage to the electrical equipment from condensation, leaks, or breaks in such foreign systems” [NEC 110.26(E)(1)(b)].

    For a history of the electrical panel clearance requirement, go to our blog post When did the requirement for clearance in front of an electrical panel become code?

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Here’s links to a collection of our other blog posts about ELECTRIC PANELS:

What causes copper wires to turn green or black in an electric panel?  

What is the maximum number of circuit breakers allowed in an electric panel?

When should a corroded or damaged electric panel cabinet or disconnect box be replaced? 

What is a tandem circuit breaker? 

When did arc fault circuit interrupter (AFCI) breakers first become required?

Can an electric panel be located in a closet? 

Can an electric panel be located in a bathroom? 

Can you add circuit breakers by different manufacturers to an electric panel if they fit?

My circuit breaker won't reset. What's wrong?  

What is a split bus electric panel?

How do I identify a combination AFCI (CAFCI) circuit breaker? 

What does a circuit breaker with a yellow or white test button indicate? 

What is the maximum gap allowed between the front of a recessed electric panel box and the wall surface surrounding it? 

What are the requirements for NM-cables entering an electric panel box?

Why is a fuse box/panel an insurance problem for homebuyers? 

Why is bundled wiring in an electric panel a defect?

What is the difference between GFCI and AFCI circuit breakers? 

Why are old electrical components not always "grandfathered" as acceptable by home inspectors?

What happens when you press the "TEST" button on a circuit breaker in an electric panel?

What is a Dual Function Circuit Interrupter (DFCI)? 

What is the difference between a Combination Arc Fault Circuit Interrupter (CAFCI) and an Arc Fault Circuit Interrupter (AFCI) circuit breaker?  

What is the difference between "grounded" and "grounding" electrical conductors? 

What does it mean when a wire is "overstripped" at a circuit breaker?

Why is an old fuse panel dangerous?  

Who is the manufacturer of those "bad" electric panels?

Why is the circuit breaker stuck in the middle? 

What is a double tap at a circuit breaker?

What is the right electric wire size for a circuit breaker in an electric panel?

What is the life expectancy of a circuit breaker? 

My circuit breaker won't reset. What's wrong? 

Why do some breakers in my electric panel have a "TEST" button on them?

What is the right size electric panel for a house? 

• What do I need to know about buying a whole house surge protector? 

What is the maximum allowed height of a circuit breaker (OCPD) above the floor?

• What is the maximum height you can mount an electric panel above the floor? 

• What is the code required clearance in front of an electric panel?

What is the main bonding jumper and where do it find it in an electric panel? 

   Visit our ELECTRIC PANELS page for other related blog posts on this subject, or go to the INDEX for a complete listing of all our articles. 

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