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  1. #1
    Darrel Hood's Avatar
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    Default Double breaker in mini profile

    I had never seen one of these before this week. Then I encountered them in two consecutive inspections. Is there anything an inspector should know about them other than normal breaker stuff?

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    Default Re: Double breaker in mini profile

    Quote Originally Posted by Darrel Hood View Post
    I had never seen one of these before this week. Then I encountered them in two consecutive inspections. Is there anything an inspector should know about them other than normal breaker stuff?
    I guess that depends on what "you" mean by "normal breaker stuff', and if that includes "normal panelboard stuff", or more precisely, what you consider "normal" as pertains to same. When reviewing non-ctl panelboards, obsolete panelboards, ctl panelboards of varying viintages; "replacement use only", "classified", 'obsolete' non-CTL breakers, and/or CTL breakers; installed in panelboards of various "classifications", "types" and vintages.

    That is a "tandem" breaker, an obsolete style, and is hopefully installed in a non-CTL panelboard correctly according to its original labeled restrictions (i.e. ratings, diagrams, limitations: number of circuits, stab & buss totals, locations/ positions, ratings, restrictions, and if a more recent (last 20+ yrs) alteration (installation, relocation, movement, and/or replacement) labeled 'replacement use only' and "classified" by an NTRL, and hopefully not "gray market" or counterfeit.

    The following clickable link is to a blog post from a respected HI in the Twin-cities area. First Link is to his company blog, instead of the twincities newspaper, where it was also published at the same time (2/2012), since the first is the source of the author, and presumably is the Copyrighted/premission source of both the photos, writings, and reproduced tables, etc. Article was presumably written or reviewed for the general public audience. I have not compared it word-for-word, to determine if any changes were made, but a similar, if not identical, article by the same party was published a year earlier in the Feb 2011 ASHI Reporter. The second link provided below is to the ASHI site directly to the (exactly same(?) or similar(?) article.

    It not only includes a photo of a (nearly? unknown without viewing same from all sides, etc.) identical breaker, but generally spells out pre 2005 NEC distinctions, important to retain & consider esp. with obsolete panelbords, and to consider illegal/improper use of "replacment use only" breakers in newer modifications of obsolete equipment, or not consistant with the labeled restrictions of obsolete equipment, or to improperly field modify such equipment, or to install replacement use only or non-ctl equipment into ctl equipment, or otherwise violate the listing, clssification, instructions, limitations, ratings, etc. of any equipment in any installation.

    Promised "article" complete with photos, etc. linked directly to blog post (Feb 2012) of the Minnesota author's HI website - 'Ruben's Blog Posts' - by Reuben Sltzmn, Structure Tech Home Inspections -- (clickable link):

    Inspecting Tandem Circuit Breakers - aka 'Cheaters' | Structure Tech Home Inspections

    Article gives credit as follows: "Information for this article was provided, in part, by Alan Manche of Schneider Electric, Stephen Ploszay of Siemens Industry, Inc. and Joseph Fello of Eaton Corporation. Also, a special thanks to Retired ASHI Member Douglas Hansen"

    Clickable link to same or similar article published a year earlier at the ASHIReporter.org site, Feb 2011 ASHI Reporter prepared for the HI audience:

    Inspecting Tandem Circuit Breakers | The ASHI Reporter | Inspection News & Views from the American Society of Home Inspectors


    You might also refer to the UL Marking Guides (of various editions) for Panelboards as well as same for minature circuit breakers as well as the UL Standards for Safety, and additionally, the specifics for "classified" breakers; there are a multitude of UL authored articles regarding the history regarding changes in the standards for safety for same.

    Last edited by H.G. Watson, Sr.; 08-05-2012 at 01:15 PM.

  3. #3
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    Default Re: Double breaker in mini profile

    Thanks, HG, that is good info in the linked article.

    They mention the bad practice of altering the wafer-style breakers to fit where they don't belong. This is something a home inspector can have trouble spotting, and may only be discovered sometimes if a schematic of the panel is visible. Even then, an electrician will need to pull the breakers to see what's up.

    If I may add, the possibility of cheating, altering the breaker to fit where it should not, is less with those Square D breakers, as they only occupy one slot in the panel board.
    One reason we see them used is the fact that we now expect more 240 circuits in our homes for the major appliances, which reduces the space available for basic lighting circuits.

    Also, beware of calling out "double-taps" when in fact there are simply two hot wires connected to one of these piggyback breakers. That breaker has 2 terminals.

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

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    Default Re: Double breaker in mini profile

    Quote Originally Posted by John Kogel View Post
    Thanks, HG, that is good info in the linked article.

    They mention the bad practice of altering the wafer-style breakers to fit where they don't belong. This is something a home inspector can have trouble spotting, and may only be discovered sometimes if a schematic of the panel is visible. Even then, an electrician will need to pull the breakers to see what's up.

    If I may add, the possibility of cheating, altering the breaker to fit where it should not, is less with those Square D breakers, as they only occupy one slot in the panel board.
    One reason we see them used is the fact that we now expect more 240 circuits in our homes for the major appliances, which reduces the space available for basic lighting circuits.

    Also, beware of calling out "double-taps" when in fact there are simply two hot wires connected to one of these piggyback breakers. That breaker has 2 terminals.
    John,

    The pictured (by OP, and related similar identified breaker in article) are single pole tandem, or "duplex' breakers. They cannot be used for 240V or 120/240V loads.

    They are meant to be installed in non-CTL panelboards in the US market, panelboards which were manufactured prior to 1968.

    It is my understanding that the classification subject discussed does not and did not apply to Canada. Neither the Standards for Safety for molded case circuit breakers, nor panelboards for the U.S. are applicable for Canada, and AFAIK remain un-harmonized to this day.

    The labeling within the panelboard will include the prohibitions and limitations which were applicable at the time of manufacture and must be abided by in future modifications, additions, movements, reconfigurations and replacements of equipment within.

    If the original labeling, identifictions, panel wiring diagrams, etc. are no longer present, then the equipment must be considered unlisted and/or field modified, and therefore would not be able to remain in service, or utilized, further modified, altered, etc. nor allow any future mofification, servicing, replacments, etc. within.

    rather a 'moot' subject since the ko which was ko'd in the 'dead front' was engraved/stamped with prohibition statement, which we cannot make out on the adjacent - since it was at one time obscured with an adhesive label, to wit the residue remains, further the panel was not identified for us, nor interior photographed.

    I'm glad you enjoyed the linked article(s). We have discussed Non-CTL panelboards (load-centers, etc.) and obsolete equipment many times. Sadly, some of the better former UL articles and documents on the subject have been moved and/or lost at the UL sites as they have re-organized same and removed several servers containing what was IMHO extensively useful information for both code authorities, electricians, and Home Inspectors esp. those younger, and the general public, who are and will continue to be exposed to this obsolete equipment for many decades to come.


  5. #5
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    Default Re: Double breaker in mini profile

    Right. My comment about the 240 volt circuit breakers may have been unclear. The 240 volt breakers, when added to a small antique panel board, reduce the space available for 120 volt circuits, is what I mean.

    Here is an example I found of a small Square D panel which has three of the side by side tandems plus one of the duplex breakers, but the total number of circuits on this 100 amp service is still only 15, plus 2 spares.

    After checking carefully for obvious defects, scorching, corrosion, etc,, I will recommend replacement of an antique breaker panel such as this for safety simply because it is old and we have better equipment available.

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  6. #6
    Garry Blankenship's Avatar
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    Default Re: Double breaker in mini profile

    Good info. provided here Darrell. Important to remember that each circuit, ( hot ), on a tandem / duplex / peanut / double / slim circuit breaker must have it's own neutral / white wire. When you see theese breakers make sure there is not a three wire cable sharing one neutral / white for both of the hots on that tandem circuit breaker. You will not see them often, but there are 240 volt tandem breakers. The breakers have wierd handle ties ` 20/20s, 20/30s, 30/30s etc. They all just use one normal size space for two circuit wires. In the case of 240 volt tandem breakers they use two normal size spaces for four circuit wires.

    Last edited by Garry Blankenship; 08-05-2012 at 09:42 PM. Reason: typo

  7. #7
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    Default Re: Double breaker in mini profile

    Hi, ALL &

    * Old as the hills and

    Likely brittle as can be...

    Outdated and needing replacement.


    Cheers !

    -Glenn Duxbury, CHI

  8. #8
    Darrel Hood's Avatar
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    Default Re: Double breaker in mini profile

    They aren't really very old. The two homes were built in 1991 & 1993.


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