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  1. #1
    Don Burbach's Avatar
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    Default Unusual ganged breaker with a hold screw through the center of it.

    Has anyone seen a panel with a ganged breaker used as a main disconnect breaker where the breaker has a 'holding screw' in the center of a ganged breaker????

    I'm sorry, but I did not note the manufacturer of the panel or the breaker, but it was 125 AMP residential type meter/combination panel, probably 20 years old(new service panel building permit in 1992). Ten lashes with a cat of nine tails made with shrink wrap!

    Is this breaker manufactured this way or field modified???

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    Last edited by Don Burbach; 12-07-2010 at 10:40 AM.
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  2. #2
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    Default Re: Unusual ganged breaker with a hold screw through the center of it.

    I see those a lot. It appears to be a back-fed breaker. The screw is there to hold the breaker securely in place against any forces put on it by the cables, I believe.

    "There is no exception to the rule that every rule has an exception." -James Thurber, writer and cartoonist (1894-1961)
    www.ArnoldHomeInspections.com

  3. #3
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    Default Re: Unusual ganged breaker with a hold screw through the center of it.

    Back fed breakers are still "hot" even when removed from the buss bar and thus more dangerous for workers. The screw keeps everything in place even with the dead front off.

    Jim Luttrall
    www.MrInspector.net
    Plano, Texas

  4. #4
    Roger Frazee's Avatar
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    Default Re: Unusual ganged breaker with a hold screw through the center of it.

    Looks like a Bryant combination panel. The Main Breaker like you are showing is a typical installation utilizing a screw as the required hold down. That part appears to be fine.

    There are few other possibly serious safety concerns with what appears to be multiwire circuits terminated on those red and blue tandem breakers.

    Are you aware or did you verify the correct installation of those multiwire circuits on the tandem breakers?


  5. #5
    Don Burbach's Avatar
    Don Burbach Guest

    Default Re: Unusual ganged breaker with a hold screw through the center of it.

    Yes, I did consider that it could be a multi-wire setup, but there were a lack of typical uses for multi-wire...... no dishwasher or disposal, and only one counter receptacle in this mid-1950's house. Also the breakers weren't labeled and most of the receptacles in the house were 3-prong where there are no ground wires. The service panel was upgraded in the 90's. Overall recommendation is to have a licensed electrician evaluate the entire system for safety.... etc.

    My overall curiosity in this post was that the main disconnect CB looked like it was manufactured with the holding screw, but I had never seen one like it.

    Thanks for all of your good comments.


  6. #6
    Roger Frazee's Avatar
    Roger Frazee Guest

    Default Re: Unusual ganged breaker with a hold screw through the center of it.

    Quote Originally Posted by Don Burbach View Post
    Yes, I did consider that it could be a multi-wire setup, but there were a lack of typical uses for multi-wire...... no dishwasher or disposal, and only one counter receptacle in this mid-1950's house. Also the breakers weren't labeled and most of the receptacles in the house were 3-prong where there are no ground wires. The service panel was upgraded in the 90's. Overall recommendation is to have a licensed electrician evaluate the entire system for safety.... etc.

    My overall curiosity in this post was that the main disconnect CB looked like it was manufactured with the holding screw, but I had never seen one like it.

    Thanks for all of your good comments.
    Hi Don

    Let me just briefly go over what I think would be those concerns with the multiwire circuits.

    First thing to notice is that the blue tandem breaker is 15 amp and the red one is 20 amp.

    In order for the multiwires to be correct each multiwire circuit would need a red wire and a black wire terminated to both tandem breakers in order to catch opposite hot legs of the service and that will provide for the proper current to be carried by the shared neutral. In this case the multiwire would be protected at 20 amps on one wire and 15 amps on the other. Because of this..the minimum size wire on both breakers needs to be 12 awg copper. In other words if it is 14 awg then one ungrounded (hot) conductor would be protected correctly by the blue breaker...but the other would not as it would be terminated to a 20 amp breaker. And of course the neutral would be undersized at 14 awg. Should be easy to determine as the wiring method appears to be nm cable.

    If the multiwire circuits are connected to one tandem ..ie.. one multiwire to the blue 15 amp tandem and one multiwire to the 20 amp tandem then you have a serious problem.

    Hope that makes sense.

    So in summary verify opposite legs powering the multiwires then verify proper wire size..12 is ok on a 15 amp breaker but 14 awg is not on a 20 amp breaker.

    The vintage of that panel likely allowed the breakers to not be handle tied at the time of and as you know a more recent installation would not allow that set up. IMO an electrician looking at this and seeing and verifying the multiwires would bring the circuits up to code regardless of whether code compliant originally.

    FWIW .. it is a little unusual to use circuit breakers of different ampacities to run a multiwire branch circuits.

    Probably some other issues that may be pointed out by others that reply to your thread.

    Last edited by Roger Frazee; 12-07-2010 at 01:44 PM.

  7. #7
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    Default Re: Unusual ganged breaker with a hold screw through the center of it.

    I am only going to comment about the panel only, it is a Westinghouse BR type that was known prior as Bryant, (Now Eaton/Cutler-Hammer) & the screw is normal for them as a breaker hold down....


  8. #8
    Don Burbach's Avatar
    Don Burbach Guest

    Default Re: Unusual ganged breaker with a hold screw through the center of it.

    Thank you all for your thoughtful and incite-full replies.

    ~Don


  9. #9
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    Default Re: Unusual ganged breaker with a hold screw through the center of it.

    If there is metal conduit and the receptacles check out ok as grounded, the most recent electrician left the system as it was as far as grounding, using the conduit as a ground, a common practice in the 50s. Will work if every conduit is still very well connected, but not the best practice and not to current standards. Are those bare copper wires along the left side of the panel? Look like grounds...
    I count 7 wires that look like they're connected to 6 lugs, is there double lugging?
    Is that white wire connected to a breaker? Is it hot? If so, it's not marked correctly.
    Also, 2 missing knockouts on the front.
    This must be a very small house, if this is the only panel.
    Probably good to call in an electrician on this one.


  10. #10
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    Default Re: Unusual ganged breaker with a hold screw through the center of it.

    If there is metal conduit and the receptacles check out ok as grounded, the most recent electrician left the system as it was as far as grounding, using the conduit as a ground, a common practice in the 50s. Will work if every conduit is still very well connected, but not the best practice and not to current standards.
    Contrary to the above, utilizing metallic conduit as a means of grounding instead of running a separate grounding conductor is still a code recognized method and will meet current standards and is still done everyday.


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