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  1. #1
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    Default Dual feeds from breaker

    I inspected a panel today with a 30amp, 2 pole breaker which used 2 pairs of #12awg wires to feed a 240volt water heater. (see attached photo)
    Is this an acceptable installation?

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    Gary Bottomley
    Cadillac, Michigan

  2. #2
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    Default Re: Dual feeds from breaker

    No way, Jose.

    Even if that breaker was rated for two wires under one screw, you can't just fudge any old wiring like that. It can lead to one of the wires being loose, arcing, or shocking the crap out of someone.

    Last edited by John Kogel; 11-23-2010 at 05:28 PM. Reason: older CH breakers might be rated for 2 wires, see below :>)
    John Kogel, RHI, BC HI Lic #47455
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  3. #3
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    Default Re: Dual feeds from breaker

    Good evening Gary

    I am not sure but the vintage of those CH breakers leads me to believe that they may be rated for two wires. Some earlier CH breakers used a slotted screw and pressure plate and not a compression screw terminal like the newer ones. However I believe in the case of cutler hammer CH breakers both styles are rated for two conductors. I've always followed the NEC requirements ... if the breaker is not marked for 2 conductors you cannot connect 2 conductors.

    The eaton cutler hammer website document titled "Loadcenter Circuit Breakers" says that for all CH breakers the terminals will meet the requirements of UL 486B ...which says the device must be marked as to number of conductors under the terminal screw.

    I'm pretty sure if you remove one of those single pole breakers that on the side of the molded casing you will see an embossed diagram that shows 2 wires are allowed.

    As coincidence would have it I was just working on a ch panel like the one pictured to correct double tapping as a result of a HI report. The breakers looked like the same vintage circuit breaker in your pictured panel. On the side of the breaker will be a diagram showing the terminal and screw and a couple wires going to the terminal ... I think..

    I'm also thinking that this may only be for single pole breakers and double pole breakers may not have this diagram (like the BR series breakers)...thus only allowing one conductor per terminal on a double pole breaker.

    The bigger issue is that you have conductors smaller than 1/0 ran in parallel, meaning they share the same electrical connection at both ends.

    NEC 310.4(A) General

    Aluminum, copper clad aluminum or copper conductors of size 1/0 and larger, compromising each phase, polarity, or grounded circuit conductor shall be permitted to be connected in parallel (electrically joined at both ends).

    Your situation is clearly in violation of NEC 310.4(A) as the conductors terminated to that ch breaker are too small to be connected in parallel.

    There are some exceptions ...none of which will make what you have ..ok.

    Last edited by Roger Frazee; 11-23-2010 at 10:41 AM. Reason: removed term 'wire binding'

  4. #4
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    Default Re: Dual feeds from breaker

    Quote Originally Posted by Roger Frazee View Post
    Good evening Gary

    I am not sure but the vintage of those CH breakers leads me to believe that they may be rated for two wires. Some earlier CH breakers used a slotted wire binding screw and pressure plate and not a compression screw terminal like the newer ones. However I believe in the case of cutler hammer CH breakers both styles are rated for two conductors. I've always followed the NEC requirements ... if the breaker is not marked for 2 conductors you cannot connect 2 conductors.

    The eaton cutler hammer website document titled "Loadcenter Circuit Breakers" says that for all CH breakers the terminals will meet the requirements of UL 486B ...which says the device must be marked as to number of conductors under the terminal screw.

    I'm pretty sure if you remove one of those single pole breakers that on the side of the molded casing you will see an embossed diagram that shows 2 wires are allowed.

    As coincidence would have it I was just working on a ch panel like the one pictured to correct double tapping as a result of a HI report. The breakers looked like the same vintage circuit breaker in your pictured panel. On the side of the breaker will be a diagram showing the terminal and screw and a couple wires going to the terminal ... I think..

    I'm also thinking that this may only be for single pole breakers and double pole breakers may not have this diagram (like the BR series breakers)...thus only allowing one conductor per terminal on a double pole breaker.

    The bigger issue is that you have conductors smaller than 1/0 ran in parallel, meaning they share the same electrical connection at both ends.

    NEC 310.4(A) General

    Aluminum, copper clad aluminum or copper conductors of size 1/0 and larger, compromising each phase, polarity, or grounded circuit conductor shall be permitted to be connected in parallel (electrically joined at both ends).

    Your situation is clearly in violation of NEC 310.4(A) as the conductors terminated to that ch breaker are too small to be connected in parallel.

    There are some exceptions ...none of which will make what you have ..ok.
    Thanks Roger:
    The connections at the breakers looked like they were made to accept two wires but I usually don't attempt to remove breakers and try to read the fine print on them to determine these sort of things. (Beyond my SOP and expertise.)
    I will refer this condition to a qualified electrician in my report.
    Thanks again for the reply and code quote.

    Gary Bottomley
    Cadillac, Michigan

  5. #5
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    Default Re: Dual feeds from breaker

    Quote Originally Posted by Gary Bottomley View Post
    Thanks Roger:
    The connections at the breakers looked like they were made to accept two wires but I usually don't attempt to remove breakers and try to read the fine print on them to determine these sort of things. (Beyond my SOP and expertise.)
    I will refer this condition to a qualified electrician in my report.
    Thanks again for the reply and code quote.
    Your welcome

    I was wondering if an Hi would remove a circuit breaker to see if it was marked for two conductors.


    I've been thinking about making an effort to contact the technical departments of the major manufacturers of electrical devices ...Cutler Hammer, Square d, Siemens, GE, etc ... to see if they have any online technical documents that will verify if the circuit breakers they market or breakers of equipment from manufacturers they purchased in the past that will allow 2 conductors terminated to the terminals. Or at least how they determine this...ie...marking the breaker or packaged instructiions or what.

    I know that they do a little of both as I have verified this personally. It would be great if a list could be made and more importantly a list that can be supported by online documentation.

    Of course the easier way out (I agree with this) is if it comes down to you having to remove the breaker to see if it is marked then just write the double tap up and defer to an electricians evaluation.

    Last edited by Roger Frazee; 11-23-2010 at 08:35 AM.

  6. #6
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    Default Re: Dual feeds from breaker

    Wanted to make a few comments about 310.4(A) rather than just qoute the code. The intent is to provide for paralleling conductors for feeders and services. Keeps you from having to have one big wire and equipment with large lugs.

    Probably the issue is that in the situation of a branch circuit like shown in this thread...is the inadvertent disconnection of one of the parallel conductors. This leaves a single #12 awg protected at 30 amps.

    Most of what I have read is that the consensus of the CMP for this chapter is that there is no reason to parallel conductors smaller than 1/0. It isn't practical nor are there any benefits gained in doing so... also the requirements of 240.4d would highlight the problem of having a 30 amp breaker protecting a single #12 if you were to lose connection with one of the conductors ran in parallel.

    Last edited by Roger Frazee; 11-23-2010 at 12:40 PM.

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    Default Re: Dual feeds from breaker

    that looks like a sieman breaker panel and yes some sieman brakers except two connections--but should say on panel or breaker--get breaker model # and call sieman

    cvf


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    Default Re: Dual feeds from breaker

    That is a Cutler-Hammer type CH panel.


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    Default Re: Dual feeds from breaker

    JIM

    i meant to say ch---brain fart and senior moment. thanks for correcting me

    cvf


  10. #10
    Roger Frazee's Avatar
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    Default Re: Dual feeds from breaker

    Quote Originally Posted by CHARLIE VAN FLEET View Post
    that looks like a sieman breaker panel and yes some sieman brakers except two connections--but should say on panel or breaker--get breaker model # and call sieman

    cvf
    It's a Cutler Hammer panel and those breakers are CH series. ...


  11. #11
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    Default Re: Dual feeds from breaker

    roger
    see my brain fart correction above your last post

    cvf


  12. #12
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    Default Re: Dual feeds from breaker

    Quote Originally Posted by CHARLIE VAN FLEET View Post
    roger
    see my brain fart correction above your last post

    cvf
    No problem Charlie we all get those every now and then ....


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    Default Re: Dual feeds from breaker

    Gary, if you're still lurking about, , the other end could not have been right, either. At the tank, the cable or wires need to be in flexible conduit and secured to the tank with a proper clamp. The tank connections would not be rated for double wires.

    John Kogel, RHI, BC HI Lic #47455
    www.allsafehome.ca

  14. #14
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    Default Re: Dual feeds from breaker

    Quote Originally Posted by John Kogel View Post
    Gary, if you're still lurking about, , the other end could not have been right, either. At the tank, the cable or wires need to be in flexible conduit and secured to the tank with a proper clamp. The tank connections would not be rated for double wires.
    Thanks John:
    I am basically referring the entire installation over to an electrician as follows:
    Main Panel
    · Repair: Circuits within the main distribution panel that are doubled up (referred to as “double taps”) should be separated. Each circuit should be served by a separate fuse or breaker. The water heater is fed by 2 pairs of #12awg conductors run in parallel which is not allowed by section NEC 310.4(A) of the electrical code. This condition should be reviewed and corrected by a qualified electrician. Consideration should be given to comments in plumbing regarding the future replacement of this water heater and possible extension of gas piping to alternate furnace location or stove.
    The young lady that is purchasing this starter home for $21,000 is working with Rural Development on the loan and is into a program that will her to allow some upgrades in addition to the basic defects hence some of the other reworks Incorporated into the above response.
    I think the response is good enough to CYA and yet offers some worthwhile input for improving the homes layout.

    Gary Bottomley
    Cadillac, Michigan

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    Default Re: Dual feeds from breaker

    That would just be a standard 40 gal water heater, then? We normally use a 20 amp breaker and one #12 feeder for that up here. If that's possible, it should be an easy fix, but you're right to leave it up to an electrician.

    That sounds like affordable housing, unheard of in this country.

    John Kogel, RHI, BC HI Lic #47455
    www.allsafehome.ca

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    Default Re: Dual feeds from breaker

    Quote Originally Posted by Roger Frazee View Post

    I was wondering if an HI would remove a circuit breaker to see if it was marked for two conductors.

    No way, Rogay. For me anyway, we are not permit to work in electrical panels, and if pulling it out isn't work, putting it back in would be.

    A plastic-back mirror and a magnifying glass maybe. Best to just learn to recognize them, probably.

    I found a pic of the Square D QO screw and pressure plate to illustrate Roger's post below.

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    Last edited by John Kogel; 11-24-2010 at 08:25 PM.
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  17. #17
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    Default Re: Dual feeds from breaker

    Gary

    That looks good to me.

    Getting back to this double tap thing ...today I dug around in my 'keep don't throw away' box and reviewed some breakers for labelings and markings on the molded case for 2 wire terminations being acceptable.

    Results as to whether the breakers are marked or labeled for two wires are shown below.

    From what I see the breaker will have a screw and pressure plate terminal and will be marked for two wires. All breakers with a compression screw terminal were not marked for two wire terminations.

    It would appear to me that the only confusion comes with the Cutler Hammer CH series breakers as older vintage are marked for two wires and have screw and pressure plate terminals.


    Newer Square d QO 1 pole ... marked for two wires 15 to 30 amps. Terminals are screw and pressure plate type

    Newer Square d QO 2 pole ... marked for two wires 15 amps up to 30 amps. Terminals are screw and pressure plate type

    Note: Terminals change from screw and pressure plate to compression screw type and no markings allowing 2 wire terminations on breakers above 30 amps

    Newer Square d Homeline ... same as Squared QO
    -------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
    GE THQL full size and THQP half size 1 and 2 pole 15 amp to 50 amp... no markings or labeling showing two wire terminations acceptable. Terminals on all breakers were compression screw type.
    ------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Siemens full size 1 and 2 pole 15 amp to 50 amp.... no markings or labeling on any breakers showing two wire terminations acceptable. Terminals on all breakers were compression screw type.
    -------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
    New vintage Cutler Hammer CH 1 pole 15 amp thru 30 amp ... no markings or labeling showing 2 wire terminations acceptable. Terminals compression screw type

    New vintage Cutler Hammer CH 2 pole 15 amp thru 50 amp ... no markings or labeling showing 2 wire terminations acceptable. Terminals compression screw type

    Older vintage Cutler Hammer CH 1 and 2 pole ... marked for two wires 15 thru 30 amp...not sure above 30 amps. Terminals are screw and pressure plate type

    I didn't have any Cutler Hammer BR series breakers

    Last edited by Roger Frazee; 11-24-2010 at 08:16 PM.

  18. #18
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    Default Re: Dual feeds from breaker

    Quote Originally Posted by John Kogel View Post
    That would just be a standard 40 gal water heater, then? We normally use a 20 amp breaker and one #12 feeder for that up here. If that's possible, it should be an easy fix, but you're right to leave it up to an electrician.

    That sounds like affordable housing, unheard of in this country.

    I'm thinking a 40gal WH is required to have 30 amp, not 20.

    ' correct a wise man and you gain a friend... correct a fool and he'll bloody your nose'.

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    Default Re: Dual feeds from breaker

    Quote Originally Posted by Rick Cantrell View Post
    I'm thinking a 40gal WH is required to have 30 amp, not 20.
    Rick,

    The circuit requirements would be dependent on the elements in the water heater and not the gallon size of the water heater.

    The water heater may be 40 gallons but have small elements ... and a l-o-n-g recovery time ... thus if the elements are small enough in rating a 20 amp circuit could be acceptable.

    Most water heaters, though, would require a 25 amp or 30 amp circuit.

    Jerry Peck, Construction / Litigation Consultant
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    Default Re: Dual feeds from breaker

    Quote Originally Posted by Jerry Peck View Post
    Rick,

    The circuit requirements would be dependent on the elements in the water heater and not the gallon size of the water heater.

    The water heater may be 40 gallons but have small elements ... and a l-o-n-g recovery time ... thus if the elements are small enough in rating a 20 amp circuit could be acceptable.

    Most water heaters, though, would require a 25 amp or 30 amp circuit.
    My water heater is a GSW Space Saver about 30 gal with 2 3000 watt elements. The breaker is 240 volt 15 amp.



    John Kogel, RHI, BC HI Lic #47455
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