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Main Breaker Disconnect


jodil
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Hi,

Im new, so give me a break for now . I inspected a 100 year old house today with some newer wiring and an upgraded breaker box. However, there was no main breaker in the panel. After inspecting the outside (in -27 below temp may I add) I found the main outside all alone in a box.. Is this ok or no?

thanks for being nice,

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Hi Jodi,

Welcome to the board. I see you are, or were, a realtor. I hope you'll stick around and take the fantastic free education this site offers, but you'll need a thick skin. Please don't take any realtor knocks or jokes personally.

We would need a lot more information to make any kind of call about that set up, but the short answer is that it's fine if it's wired properly. If you want to go into more detail, go for it. Photos can be a big help to.

Brian G.

The Man Cave Has Been Invaded [-crzwom]

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Hi Jerry,

If you go to the home page, click on advanced search, and search the electrical forum for the word "disconnect" you should find a discussion from less than a year ago about main disonnects, sub-panels, and where the ground for the system needs to be located. Check it out!

Also check the archives on MikeHolt.com and run, don't walk, down to the nearest book store and order a copy of Douglas Hansen's book, Electrical Inspection of Existing Dwellings - 2001 Edition. Once you get that book, sit down, read it, and then read it again, then contact a local electrician and ask him to allow you to ride along for a few days and ask questions.

ONE TEAM - ONE FIGHT!!!

Mike

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Originally posted by jodil

Hi,

Im new, so give me a break for now . I inspected a 100 year old house today with some newer wiring and an upgraded breaker box. However, there was no main breaker in the panel. After inspecting the outside (in -27 below temp may I add) I found the main outside all alone in a box.. Is this ok or no?

thanks for being nice,

Hi Jodi,

It's fine for the service disconnect to be located outside, all alone. Just remember that, when it's done like this, the installer is supposed to feed the indoor panel with 4 conductors so that the grounding and neutral conductors remain separated.

Do you have any pictures of these panels?

- Jim Katen, Oregon

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186.05 KBI dont have a picture of the main disconnect, but I do have a couple of the panel. There are a couple other issues on this panel since I am posting the pics that you may comment on as well. Notice the neutral wires, most having two neutrals under one terminal screw. I have been going out on jobs with an electrician and he says this is a no no. However, I have heard other wise. Your thoughts?

Also notice the double tapped breaker. I have read the other posts on this site about your opinions about double taps, but in 62 inspections, I have had 3 main panels that DID NOT have at least one double tapped breaker... So, the double tap in ths pic is on a Cutler Hammer breaker. How do I know if that is the type Cutler makes that allows for two wires?

thank you for helping me you're wonderful!

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Originally posted by jodil

. . . I dont have a picture of the main disconnect, but I do have a couple of the panel.

You'll find that it's a good habit to take establishing shots of things, then take shots that are progressively closer. It makes it easier to show people what you saw when you have questions. Also, years later, it will help you to define what was present at the time of the inspection.

There are a couple other issues on this panel since I am posting the pics that you may comment on as well. Notice the neutral wires, most having two neutrals under one terminal screw. I have been going out on jobs with an electrician and he says this is a no no. However, I have heard other wise. Your thoughts?

Your electrician friend is correct. It is now and it has always been improper to place two neutral wires under a single lug. However, it's a minor error; lots of electricians wired lots of houses this way and it hardly ever causes trouble. I recommend that folks have this fixed the next time an electrician is present for other repairs.

While he's there, he can also secure those cables within 12" of the enclosure.

Also notice the double tapped breaker. I have read the other posts on this site about your opinions about double taps, but in 62 inspections, I have had 3 main panels that DID NOT have at least one double tapped breaker... So, the double tap in ths pic is on a Cutler Hammer breaker. How do I know if that is the type Cutler makes that allows for two wires?

That's a type CH breaker. It's designed to hold two wires. If you were to look at the side of the breaker that's facing down, you'd see, embossed in the plastic, a chart that shows how many of what size wires can be inserted in the lug. Next time you're at Home Depot, look at some of the breakers. Once you've seen the style of lug, you'll remember it. Also, note that, when you put two wires under a CH breaker, you're supposed to tighten the lug to 30 lb/in. That's pretty snug.

The single biggest problem that I see in the pictures is that all of the equipment grounding conductors are bunched together under a single lug. That lug isn't listed to hold all of those itty-bitty wires. Some of them are, undoubtedly, loose. The installer should have installed an accessory grounding bar.

The good news is that I see that the installer used a 4-wire feeder and he separated the grounds and the neutrals.

- Jim Katen, Oregon

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Originally posted by Ken Meyer

Jim, how many romex cables are allowed in one loom clamp like the ones at the top of the panel?

Every clamp manufacturer that I've seen allows up to two NM cables (#12 or #14) through a single clamp. If the cables are larger, you can only pass one through the clamp.

The NEC only requires that the cables be secured to the cabinet. It doesn't specify how.

- Jim Katen, Oregon

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Originally posted by Jim Baird

Jodi,

I can't quote you the section, but since the '02 NEC the dbl tap neutrals are not to code. These might be from b4 '02?

Jim B is correct in that the specific prohibition came into the NEC in the '02 edition. It first appeared in 384, and was then moved to 408.

However, lest anyone come away from this thinking that double-tapped neutrals were allowed before '02, let me add that there's another, much older, prohibition at 110.14(A). It says, " . . . Terminals for more than one conductor . . . shall be so identified. "

110.14(A) is a much older reference than 408.41. It goes back to the early part of the 1900s. For all practical purposes, it has never been ok to place two neutral wires under a single terminal.

-Jim Katen, Oregon

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Also notice the double tapped breaker. I have read the other posts on this site about your opinions about double taps, but in 62 inspections, I have had 3 main panels that DID NOT have at least one double tapped breaker... So, the double tap in ths pic is on a Cutler Hammer breaker. How do I know if that is the type Cutler makes that allows for two wires?

That's a type CH breaker. It's designed to hold two wires. If you were to look at the side of the breaker that's facing down, you'd see, embossed in the plastic, a chart that shows how many of what size wires can be inserted in the lug. Next time you're at Home Depot, look at some of the breakers. Once you've seen the style of lug, you'll remember it. Also, note that, when you put two wires under a CH breaker, you're supposed to tighten the lug to 30 lb/in. That's pretty snug.

Here are some pix of what Jim is talking about.

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Originally posted by msteger

Is that a copper service grounding wire at the top of the neutral bar on the right side of the 1st photo? Maybe what I thought I saw isn't a grounding wire. Does anyone else see what I thought I saw?

I suspect that it's a bonding wire, it probably goes to a water pipe.

- Jim in Oregon

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