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  1. #1
    Ed Bliss's Avatar
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    Default Where is the neutral?

    The two breakers on the lower right service what may have been range cable for a dryer or range. The breakers each supply power to separate 110v kitchen circuits. (There is no handle tie from when it may have been set up as a 220 breaker) As best as I could determine those breakers do not service any 220 appliance currently. I could not see neutrals for these 110 circuits. How is this tested or what is needed to determine if these circuits have proper neutrals?
    Thanks for any reply.

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    Last edited by Ed Bliss; 10-28-2010 at 07:13 PM. Reason: Typos
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  2. #2
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    Default Re: Where is the neutral?

    Quote Originally Posted by Ed Bliss View Post
    The two breakers on the lower right service what may have been range cable for a dryer or range. They now supply two 110v kitchen circuits. (There is no handle tie from when it may have been set up as a 220 breaker) It apparently does not service any 220 appliance currently. I could not see neutrals for these 110 circuits. How is this tested or what is needed to determine if these circuits how proper neutrals?
    Thanks for any reply.
    I'm not sure I really understand what you are saying......

    Did you test the circuit at the outlets for proper neutral connections? The simple way to test would be with a SureTest, a 3-light tester, etc...

    How do you normally test electrical circuits?

    Scott Patterson, ACI
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  3. #3
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    Default Re: Where is the neutral?

    Not enough of the panel is shown in the photo, and even if more was shown, there may be nothing conclusive to show in a photo.

    That one breaker (it is a single double pole breaker) which used to supply a (range/dryer) could legitimately supply a multiwire circuit ... IF there is a proper neutral for it.

    Do you have a photo which shows where those conductors from that breaker exit the panel?

    I'm going to guess that there is no neutral going out with those two conductors, but that there is a grounding conductor going out with them - in which case they (whoever "they" are ... "someone" may be a better word) ... someone may have decided to use the grounding conductor as a neutral for the multiwire circuit, thereby creating two 120 volt circuits.

    That "someone" would have been wrong and managed to mess that up by doing such.

    Anyway, that is what first comes to my mind.

    Jerry Peck, Construction / Litigation Consultant
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  4. #4
    Ed Bliss's Avatar
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    Default Re: Where is the neutral?

    I have edited the original post. The receptacles show there is a neutral with a GB tester.

    Last edited by Ed Bliss; 10-28-2010 at 07:17 PM. Reason: Clarity

  5. #5
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    Default Re: Where is the neutral?

    I agree there is no sign of a large gauge neutral for a branch circuit.

    I don't see a neutral exiting the panel with the black and red from the breaker you mentioned. there's a bare copper wire that might be bundled with them.

    There are larger gauge black and red wires on two adjacent breakers on the left side as well, with no corresponding neutral to be seen there either.

    From the bit of info you've provided, it looks like an electrician needs to check that panel and those kitchen circuits.

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  6. #6
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    Default Re: Where is the neutral?

    Quote Originally Posted by Ed Bliss View Post
    I have edited the original post. The receptacles show there is a neutral with a GB tester.
    Ed,

    I would not word it that way, I would word it as 'The receptacles show there is a neutral, OR a ground, OR some conductive path which is serving that purpose but which may not be a proper neutral or ground.'

    Being as you have identified those were fed from that double pole breaker, *I* would not step into the 'there is a neutral' when, in fact, there may not be, and the evidence suggests there may not be.

    It is quite possible that you have a "bootleg ground" or "false ground" on that receptacle, which is serving the opposite purpose of a false or bootleg ground. The false or bootleg ground grounds the neutral to try to serve as a ground, where this would be grounding the neutral to have the ground serve as the neutral - which is much more unsafe than the opposite.

    Jerry Peck, Construction / Litigation Consultant
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  7. #7
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    Default Re: Where is the neutral?

    Good catch!

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  8. #8
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    Default Re: Where is the neutral?

    Quote Originally Posted by Jerry Peck View Post
    Ed,

    I would not word it that way, I would word it as 'The receptacles show there is a neutral, OR a ground, OR some conductive path which is serving that purpose but which may not be a proper neutral or ground.'

    Being as you have identified those were fed from that double pole breaker, *I* would not step into the 'there is a neutral' when, in fact, there may not be, and the evidence suggests there may not be.

    It is quite possible that you have a "bootleg ground" or "false ground" on that receptacle, which is serving the opposite purpose of a false or bootleg ground. The false or bootleg ground grounds the neutral to try to serve as a ground, where this would be grounding the neutral to have the ground serve as the neutral - which is much more unsafe than the opposite.
    I have to agree with Jerry on this one. someone most likely a backyard sparkie must have had a hand in this and hooked it up cause they did not want to be bothered to run new set of wires. It may check out properly with circuit tester but does not make it right. when it really counts and there is a problem that is when the right thing matters. I would suggest having a proper electriction check into it further. You caught the problem write it up and let them know what you have found. Always better safe than sorry


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