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Doubled neutrals???


gsozz
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Originally posted by gsozz

I did this inspection the other day and low and behold in the electrical panel I found doubled neutrals. They were the same material and size. Should this be called out "in need of repair"??

I can't tell you about "in need of repair." That phrase has a very specific meaning in Texas.

However, the double-tapped neutrals in your picture are wrong. The panel's UL listing doesn't recognize that use of the equipment and the 2002 NEC, section 408.21 says: Grounded Conductor Terminations. Each grounded conductor shall terminate within the panelboard in an individual terminal that is not also used for another conductor.

The condition is exactly the same as double-tapping a breaker that isn't rated for it. Bad form, but low-risk.

- Jim Katen, Oregon

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Originally posted by gsozz

......I think it's the only thing I ever missed........

Greg...you are joking...right?

If not, you are either wildly over-confident or simply the most amazing inspector. X-ray vision?

Even the most knowledgeable inspector, despite being as thorough as humanly possible, will miss stuff on on a regular basis. However, in this case, the reason you missed the double-tapped neutrals is because you didn't know about them (and you should have). You probably won't miss those again, but don't you think it's possible that there are other unknown things you are "not missing". I know I'm going to continue learning until the day they box me up. Don't ever fool yourself that you know it all.

Sorry if that sounded like a lecture but, if it wasn't in jest, it's a worrisome statement.

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Originally posted by gsozz

Just a joke. The irony is that I called it out on the report at first and then took it off thinking that I would chost them a repairman that I wasn't sure they needed. Thanks for the responces. I won't wonder about it the next time.

Greg

Houston, tx

From a personal liability standpoint the odds are hugely in your favor if you err on the side of caution and safety.

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Guys,

Just some thoughts. There is a line that everyone draws in their own place as to what to report and what not to report. If it's safety it's in, no question. The grey areas are where the discussions come in. In the end the guy signing the report has to make that call. I have called things out and the electrician said that it was OK and the seller wanted me to pay his bill. I've gone the other way as well.

I guess the bottom line is learn every day do the best that you can make the call sign the report and move on.

Bruce

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"However, the double-tapped neutrals in your picture are wrong. The panel's UL listing doesn't recognize that use of the equipment and the 2002 NEC, section 408.21 says: Grounded Conductor Terminations. Each grounded conductor shall terminate within the panelboard in an individual terminal that is not also used for another conductor."

The NEC rule seems pretty black and white but I can't figure for the life of me how, if all the conductors are tapped onto the same bar, how 'double tapping' each terminal makes any difference. Doesn't the returning current all travel thru the bar anyway?

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As Kurt said...connection quality. There is no way of knowing if the screw is torquing down on both conductors or just one. Besides the arcing you could end up with an open neutral...also not good. I have also seen the argument that it's because anyone working on a circuit (changing, adding, or removing) might create an open neutral on a live circuit...even if only temporarily.

Both scenariors make sense to me, but the clincher is that the terminals are simply not rated (listed?) for more than one current carrying conductor. The fine print on some panels allows 2 or more bare grounding conductors under a single screw depending on their size. None that I know of allow more than a single neutral.

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Originally posted by randynavarro

. . .

The NEC rule seems pretty black and white but I can't figure for the life of me how, if all the conductors are tapped onto the same bar, how 'double tapping' each terminal makes any difference. Doesn't the returning current all travel thru the bar anyway?

Richard & Kurt covered the answer to this pretty well. I'll just add that having double tapped neutrals makes it hard to isolate the circuit when you need to work on it in the future.

- Jim Katen, Oregon

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Originally posted by Terence McCann

I can't tell ya how many times I've seen that done, more often the case than not. As long as the connections look good and the insulation isn't dis-colored I make a note of it and suggest repair as budget allows. Not something, IMO, that I would spend a lot of time preaching about.

I don't disagree that it is low probability for major problems or fire. It is also one that can be reported w/ the most simple of boilerplate comments.

FWIW, I usually see this in overpacked panels w/remodeling efforts elsewhere in the house, & various wiring defects. IOW, it always seems to go along w/ other doofus conditions.

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I see this one on about 3 out of every 4 panels here, and have relentlessly reported it as needing repair. I don't make a huge issue of it, but I keep putting it in there.

What burns me is when the panel has full neutral bars up and down both sides, but the sparky terminates two dozen neutrals in the 5 terminals nearest to where most of the wires come in.

I've seen some old panels where there simply weren't enough terminals. There I recommend adding a bar, or at least having them checked and tightened.

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Originally posted by Brian G.

I see this one on about 3 out of every 4 panels here, and have relentlessly reported it as needing repair. I don't make a huge issue of it, but I keep putting it in there.

What burns me is when the panel has full neutral bars up and down both sides, but the sparky terminates two dozen neutrals in the 5 terminals nearest to where most of the wires come in.

I've seen some old panels where there simply weren't enough terminals. There I recommend adding a bar, or at least having them checked and tightened.

Would not "adding a bar" rob the panel of it's UL rating and be in direct opposition to the NEC?

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Would not "adding a bar" rob the panel of it's UL rating and be in direct opposition to the NEC?

If the panel manufacturer is still around, they probably make supplementary terminal bar kits for their panels. These are UL listed and come complete with instructions & self-tapping screws.

- Jim Katen, Oregon

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Originally posted by Jim Katen

If the panel manufacturer is still around, they probably make supplementary terminal bar kits for their panels. These are UL listed and come complete with instructions & self-tapping screws.

Right. In fact, some of them used to have mounting holes already tapped for extra bars. It also made them easy to covert for subpanel use.

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