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  1. #1
    Loren Sanders Sr.'s Avatar
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    Default On my electric panel I have 220 breakers that I do not use

    They are turned off because they were used for electric wall heaters that have been removed. Would you recommend removing these breakers? Or just leave them like they are?

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  2. #2
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    Default Re: On my electric panel I have 220 breakers that I do not use

    I would have an electrician disconnect the wires from the breakers if this was not done. The wires should then be capped and labeled, assuming the wiring is left in the walls.
    With the branch wiring disconnected, the breakers can be left there for future use or removed, your choice.
    If you have them removed the electrician should install plugs in the panel cover.

    John Kogel, RHI, BC HI Lic #47455
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  3. #3
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    Default Re: On my electric panel I have 220 breakers that I do not use

    There is no harm in leaving the breakers turned off.

    All answers based on unamended National Electrical codes.

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    Default Re: On my electric panel I have 220 breakers that I do not use

    Quote Originally Posted by Jim Port View Post
    There is no harm in leaving the breakers turned off.
    With the wires still connected and the other end of the wires being unknown?

    Wouldn't you consider it a potential hazard if one of the breakers is accidentally, or intentionally, turned "on"?

    I believe John made an excellent recommendation in disconnecting the wires from the breakers and then capping off the wires, etc.

    Jerry Peck, Construction / Litigation Consultant
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    Default Re: On my electric panel I have 220 breakers that I do not use

    Quote Originally Posted by Kevin Wood View Post
    Well! How many times have I seen this exact thing take place. So I also agree that even if the 2 hot wires are tied together with a connector it still should be removed inside the panel box to prevent any use in the future without a Electrician checking that dead breaker.
    I had one recently at a research facility where there was an abandoned electrical box in the wall with conductors in the box, the plan was to leave the box there, it had been abandoned behind wood paneling for the past 20 years or so and there were going to install drywall over it.

    I asked the electrician if he verified that it was abandoned, he said yes. I asked if he knew were the other end of the conduit and wires were, he said no. I said 'Well, start by tying the hot with the neutral and ground and grounding everything out, that way all that will happen is a breaker will trip whenever someone tries to turn it on, then extend the box out through the drywall and install a blank cover - there was some grumbling about all that not being necessary and, as he went to connect the wires together under a wire nut ... all heck broke out ... sparks and a loud ZAP!, followed by the lights going out ... um, guess it was not abandoned after all, was it.

    NEVER, EVER, presume that someone checked something - ALWAYS, ALWAYS, check it yourself or have it checked.

    The electrician spent some time tracing the conduit out and then pulling the wiring out, and then disconnecting the conduit so no new wiring could be fished back into that box ... only then was it okay to abandon that box inside the wall.

    Yes, I too have seen when one should not "just leave a breaker turned off" when the wires are still connected to the breaker ... ALWAYS ... ALWAYS check the other end and disconnect the conductors from the breaker.

    They were lucky for 20 years with it behind wood paneling (the box was open, no cover either) ... I was not going to chance another 20 years to being "lucky".

    Jerry Peck, Construction / Litigation Consultant
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  6. #6
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    Default Re: On my electric panel I have 220 breakers that I do not use

    I would not recommend joining the hot and ground is wires are still connected to a breaker. Big problem if the breaker is turned on and does not trip.


  7. #7
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    Default Re: On my electric panel I have 220 breakers that I do not use

    Quote Originally Posted by Mark Reinmiller View Post
    I would not recommend joining the hot and ground is wires are still connected to a breaker. Big problem if the breaker is turned on and does not trip.
    The problem was that no one knew they were connected to a breaker, they said the wires had been abandoned, and that they had verified it.

    The best protection then, until the source can be found and verified, is to connect the hot, neutral, and ground together (supposedly the wires were dead at the time), doing so means that when (if) the wires are actually still connected to a breaker and when (if) that breaker is turned on - the breaker will trip.

    At that point the electrical contractor who did the work will need to find out where the conduit and wire goes.

    In this case, with all the verification that it had been checked and that it was indeed abandoned ... the result was that the wires had not been abandoned.

    All I, as the inspector, can do is ask for verification that the wires are abandoned and that the electrician has verified the wires were not hot - I cannot (should not and will not) use their meter and test them, that is their job, and when they fail to do their job ... well ... arcs and sparks happen and the lights go out.

    Which is a LOT different than "joining the hot and ground is wires are still connected to a breaker".

    Jerry Peck, Construction / Litigation Consultant
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  8. #8
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    Default Re: On my electric panel I have 220 breakers that I do not use

    I would not advocate connecting the ends together to create an intentional short. There are safer methods.

    All answers based on unamended National Electrical codes.

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    Default Re: On my electric panel I have 220 breakers that I do not use

    Quote Originally Posted by Jim Port View Post
    There are safer methods.
    No description of your safer methods?

    Jerry Peck, Construction / Litigation Consultant
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  10. #10
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    Default Re: On my electric panel I have 220 breakers that I do not use

    Quote Originally Posted by Jim Port View Post
    I would not advocate connecting the ends together to create an intentional short. There are safer methods.
    I agree 100 %
    Creating a fault like that can be dangerous to the person who would close that circuit breaker. There are much better ways to deal the situation.
    Do you know what the fault current would be? do you know the fault current rating of the circuit breaker? Do you know how old the circuit breakers are? Do you know if they have been exercised over the years?


  11. #11
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    Default Re: On my electric panel I have 220 breakers that I do not use

    Capping each individually would be safer than a dead short.

    All answers based on unamended National Electrical codes.

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    Default Re: On my electric panel I have 220 breakers that I do not use

    Quote Originally Posted by Jim Port View Post
    I would not advocate connecting the ends together to create an intentional short. There are safer methods.
    Quote Originally Posted by Jerry Peck View Post
    No description of your safer methods?
    Quote Originally Posted by jack davenport View Post
    There are much better ways to deal the situation.
    And your methods is?

    Strange how you and Jim say not to do something but neither offers another method ...

    Do you know what the fault current would be? do you know the fault current rating of the circuit breaker? Do you know how old the circuit breakers are? Do you know if they have been exercised over the years?
    I do know that the circuit breakers are installed, and, theoretically, the panel, breakers, and circuits were sized as required - and the circuit breaker *is designed and intended to safely clear a fault in that circuit*.

    Do you know that each and every breaker you install or is on a circuit you work on meets the requirements you mentioned? If not, you are in the same position, glad you are joining me on this.

    Now, how about you and Jim stating what you recommend and we can address your methods.

    Jerry Peck, Construction / Litigation Consultant
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    Default Re: On my electric panel I have 220 breakers that I do not use

    I addressed a safer method at 1002, perhaps you missed it?. Your post was only 5 minutes behind mine.

    All answers based on unamended National Electrical codes.

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    Default Re: On my electric panel I have 220 breakers that I do not use

    At 10:44 PM
    Quote Originally Posted by Jim Port View Post
    I addressed a safer method at 1002, perhaps you missed it?. Your post was only 5 minutes behind mine.
    At 10:02 PM
    Quote Originally Posted by Jim Port View Post
    Capping each individually would be safer than a dead short.
    At 2:49 PM
    (bold is mine)
    Quote Originally Posted by Jerry Peck View Post
    I had one recently at a research facility where there was an abandoned electrical box in the wall with conductors in the box, the plan was to leave the box there, it had been abandoned behind wood paneling for the past 20 years or so and there were going to install drywall over it.
    You would still recommend capping each individually and leaving them in the wall as described AFTER my post stating that their intent was to leave it in the wall and drywall over it?

    Jerry Peck, Construction / Litigation Consultant
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    Default Re: On my electric panel I have 220 breakers that I do not use

    I am not advocating an improper abandonment of a live conductor in a wall or that the junction should be buried. I was stating that I would not purposely splice any conductor in a junction box to create a dead short. I was not addressing something that you had found that was in no means the proper way to abandon the conductors. I was addressing the portion about the creation of a dead short, regardless of accessible or not.

    All answers based on unamended National Electrical codes.

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    Default Re: On my electric panel I have 220 breakers that I do not use

    I was inspecting the work of an electrical contractor who had no clue of what they were planning on doing.

    The code does not require abandoned wiring to be removed, in trying to find a way to get his attention and grasp of what he was going to do, and with him saying that he had already done all of the things I brought up, I had a feeling that he was not understanding what needed to be done - thus the safety factor of not accidentally having power put on those conductors being abandoned in the wall was to make sure that no power could be connected to those wires because the breaker will trip.

    That is by far safer than than abandoning wires in a wall and leaving the possibility of those wires being reconnected at their supply end in the future.

    The confirmation that the electrical contractor didn't do anything he said he had done was shown when the breaker tripped as he tied them together - that would not have been known if he had just put wire nuts on.

    And the high and mighty stance you and Jack are talking on creating a dead short and what about the breaker rstings, etc - if you two are electricians then I have no doubt that you have done what all electricians I've ever known have done ... create a dead short to trip a breaker so you can find which breaker is for the circuit you are working on. Even if you create the dead short accidentally ... do you check the breaker ratings first?

    That is your dead short you two are so critical of. Jeeze, you two take the cake with that one.

    Jerry Peck, Construction / Litigation Consultant
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    Default Re: On my electric panel I have 220 breakers that I do not use

    I would ask why they didn't test for voltage before any work was done. Sounds like they were not properly trained.

    As far as creating an intentional short to find a breaker there are tools made for that that are readily available and far less hazardous.

    All answers based on unamended National Electrical codes.

  18. #18
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    Default Re: On my electric panel I have 220 breakers that I do not use

    Quote Originally Posted by Jim Port View Post
    I would ask why they didn't test for voltage before any work was done. Sounds like they were not properly trained.
    The contractor assured me they did.

    When all was said and done the contractor changed what he was saying and admitted that one of his helpers said they checked it.

    As far as creating an intentional short to find a breaker there are tools made for that that are readily available and far less hazardous.
    There are tools for that ... are you saying you've never done it?

    Last edited by Jerry Peck; 10-14-2014 at 01:00 PM. Reason: added "did" after "they" to complete the sentence
    Jerry Peck, Construction / Litigation Consultant
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    Default Re: On my electric panel I have 220 breakers that I do not use

    Honestly I can't remember ever creating a dead short to find a breaker.

    All answers based on unamended National Electrical codes.

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    Default Re: On my electric panel I have 220 breakers that I do not use

    Quote Originally Posted by Jim Port View Post
    Honestly I can't remember ever creating a dead short to find a breaker.
    I'll have to make a mental note of that as that would make you be the first electrician to say they never did that ... most frequently done by quickly touching two wires together or holding two wires together, followed by using their Kleins or a screw driver - many a Klein's cutters have arced out notches from doing that accidentally.

    - - - Updated - - -

    Quote Originally Posted by Jim Port View Post
    Honestly ...
    And, I didn't miss that ...

    Jerry Peck, Construction / Litigation Consultant
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  21. #21
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    Default Re: On my electric panel I have 220 breakers that I do not use

    I was not referring to the ampere rating of the circuit breaker. I was referring to the AIC rating you know 10,000 amp, 5,000 amp, 20,000 amp.
    How may thousands of amps do you feel is ok to intentionally apply to a circuit breaker?

    And NO I did not nor do not purposely short a circuit to find a breaker- I was taught the proper and safe way. To advocate that method is less the upstanding.

    Like Mr.Port said there are proper tools for the job. Besides if you were inspecting the job the proper way to go about it would of been to have the electrician use a tester to verify the conductors were dead and to show you the other end of them. Verify they are also dead then have the electrician run a continuity test to prove they are truly abandoned.
    I would never tell someone to just splice them together without verify the energized state of the conductors.


  22. #22
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    Default Re: On my electric panel I have 220 breakers that I do not use

    As an electrician, I have purposely shorted wires to find a breaker. I no longer do. Too often a breaker would not trip, either breaker not working correctly or very long run of wire.

    As far as wirenutting hot to "neutral" when abandoning a run, I have done that many times, but I can't decide whether its a good idea or not.

    I think the best way would be to cap and label wires on both ends.


  23. #23
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    Default Re: On my electric panel I have 220 breakers that I do not use

    Quote Originally Posted by jack davenport View Post
    I was not referring to the ampere rating of the circuit breaker. I was referring to the AIC rating you know 10,000 amp, 5,000 amp, 20,000 amp.
    How may thousands of amps do you feel is ok to intentionally apply to a circuit breaker?
    I know that is what you were referring to, and that is what I was also referring to.

    How many thousands of amps? Well, let's see ... The code requires that to be taken into consideration for the installation, thus, and unless you are going to do the calculations from the transformer back to the panel and breakers, you have to accept that the design of the installation is right, and once you accept that, then the breakers are presumed to have sufficient AIC rating.

    Unless you actually perform the calculations from the transformer to the breakers, you ARE presuming such is the case ... Do YOU perform those calculations on each and every electrical circuit YOU work on?

    And NO I did not nor do not purposely short a circuit to find a breaker- I was taught the proper and safe way. To advocate that method is less the upstanding.
    Wow! Two electricians who state that they have never ever created a short, intentionally or accidentally ... my hat is off to you two - everyone else I've talked with over the past 50 years in construction admits to having done such.

    Jerry Peck, Construction / Litigation Consultant
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  24. #24
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    Default Re: On my electric panel I have 220 breakers that I do not use

    Hey Jack, looks like we made it to that elusive 1% group. I guess I thought I was supposed to have more money.

    Keep the hat on Jerry, that Florida heat is a killer or so I hear.

    All answers based on unamended National Electrical codes.

  25. #25
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    Default Re: On my electric panel I have 220 breakers that I do not use

    As a GC, I would never intentionally short a live circuit (although I've certainly done it unintentionally...)

    1) You don't know how much current the circuit will source shorted, and that depends on a lot of things.
    2) You don't know if the breaker is already defective. If it is, it may not trip, which could result in an electrical fire.
    3) If the breaker isn't defective, the surge could damage it such that it won't trip in the future.
    4) The surge could easily damage other electrical equipment such as electronics. If the structure neutral has any defects, you could easily end up with 220v on the other leg for the duration of the short, usually not good.

    Any decent electrician will own a tracer that can be attached to the wire ends, then they can easily find the other end. I keep one handy, it makes it almost trivial to figure out where unmarked wires go.

    Lastly, avoid any 'electrician' who doesn't keep a non-contact voltage tester with him at all times. You should carry one too.


  26. #26
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    Default Re: On my electric panel I have 220 breakers that I do not use

    Safe approaches, following turning breaker off, testing to confirm that handle movement does turn off, removal from breaker and testing at both ends:

    1, ideal: remove cable or conductors entirely, and either
    a) remove breakers and install panel blank or don't remove them but either way, label space in panel as Spare or
    b) wirenut conductors in panel and wirenut at other end while leaving permanently accessible at that end in a blank-covered box, with internal label.

    2: Remove from panel, bury in wall at both ends, labeled, while you remove breakers and install panel blank or don't remove them but either way, label space in panel as Spare.

    Meanwhile, friends, I hope you all take the cake, but only on birthdays. No need for personal slanging, even casual . . . I hope. I've been a master electrician since 1980, have the notched pliers to show for it, but have never intentionally shorted conductors to find the overcurrent device--even in my apprentice and journeyman/helper days. I did know guys who would, as well as guys who would test for 120V with thumb and forefinger of one hand, while keeping the other arm behind their back. Doesn't make either practice judicious.


  27. #27
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    Default Re: On my electric panel I have 220 breakers that I do not use

    Quote Originally Posted by Jerry Peck View Post
    With the wires still connected and the other end of the wires being unknown?

    Wouldn't you consider it a potential hazard if one of the breakers is accidentally, or intentionally, turned "on"?

    I believe John made an excellent recommendation in disconnecting the wires from the breakers and then capping off the wires, etc.
    How difficult is it to disconnect connect them together to the neutral bar leave a note explaining the reason I saw a panel with two red and black wires with a note CHRIST ONLY KNOWS WHERE THEY GO OR WHERE THE EXTRA FEED IS Mexicans stealing power from next door for an a/c unit turn next doors power off voltage disappeared

    - - - Updated - - -

    Quote Originally Posted by Jerry Peck View Post
    With the wires still connected and the other end of the wires being unknown?

    Wouldn't you consider it a potential hazard if one of the breakers is accidentally, or intentionally, turned "on"?

    I believe John made an excellent recommendation in disconnecting the wires from the breakers and then capping off the wires, etc.
    How difficult is it to disconnect connect them together to the neutral bar leave a note explaining the reason I saw a panel with two red and black wires with a note CHRIST ONLY KNOWS WHERE THEY GO OR WHERE THE EXTRA FEED IS Mexicans stealing power from next door for an a/c unit turn next doors power off voltage disappeared


  28. #28
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    Default Re: On my electric panel I have 220 breakers that I do not use

    Seems some people have forgotten that my scenario was that the electrical contractor stated that the wiring had been abandoned, disconnected at both ends, had been tested and verified that it was not live, that ... etc. ...

    And that by connecting the ground, neutral and hot together ... it was shown that none of the above had, in fact, been done.

    The electrical contractor was relying on what his helper had told him, he had not checked it himself - which turned out to be the problem.

    The code does not require abandoned power circuit wiring to be removed, which is was I was trying to get him to do or make sure it was "abandoned" - once the lights went out ... he agreed that the conductors should be removed, and did so, and because he wanted to abandon the box in the wall, he also removed the conduit which fed it so no one in the future could supply power to that box which was being abandoned in the wall behind drywall.

    The problem was addressed, the problem was solved, and the wiring was indeed "abandoned" once that happened, and the contractor realized that he needs to check to make sure before trusting what other say, even his helper.

    I have a suspicion of how it was checked and determined to be "abandoned" and "not live" - the helper probably tested it when they were doing the work ... and they had the breakers for the circuits in that room off when they were doing the work, so ... there was no voltage at those old switch wires, confirmation (the helper thought) that the wires had been "abandoned".

    The problem was that when they turned the breakers back on ... those wires were now energized - but the helper had "already verified" that there was no power. At least that is what I suspect happened as I was not there during the work, I was only there for the electrical rough inspection ... and began questioning that box with wires which was being abandoned in the wall.

    There has been a lot said about not knowing the AIC, etc., yet I don't recall anyone saying that, yes, they do the calculations to determine the AIC and where all the appropriate PPE for those calculation and that they were PPE at all times (such as every single time they remove a panel cover to work on it, etc. Seems about like the pot calling the kettle black to me, but that's okay, because I have only rarely - very rarely - seen an electrician wearing PPE - actually, I am trying to recall A SINGLE TIME which I have seen an electrician wearing PPE (other than lineman and power company people with their rubber gloves, etc.) ... but I am sure that Jim and Jack always were all the appropriate PPE ...

    Jerry Peck, Construction / Litigation Consultant
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