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  1. #1
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    Default How do you fix "double Taps"?

    I haven't posted here in a while but I have a question. I am a licensed electrical contractor and I get maybe 5 or 6 HI reports a year to address. The most recent from my niece who is selling a home. It was standard fare, double taps, bad GFI, some ungrounded outlets. So her house has an older GE 100amp 20 ckt panel. The inspector pointed out with pictures 4 double taps. He wrote to have a licensed electrician make the "repairs". There was one space left in her panel. GE stopped making tandem breakers years ago. Siemons or Murray will fit but they are not listed for the GE panel. I separated the double tap that did the dish washer and a mud room using the one space I had. The other three, which had minimal loads, I spliced and pigtailed and brought the one wire to the breaker. The buyer and his agent noticed the absence of breakers on the invoice, checked it out and complained, saying two circuits on one breaker is "unsafe". So what do you think? My question is if the buyer called you and said, "Hey, the electrician spliced the wires and put one wire on the breaker, is that right?

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    Default Re: How do you fix "double Taps"?

    Quote Originally Posted by Gerry Bennett View Post
    I haven't posted here in a while but I have a question. I am a licensed electrical contractor and I get maybe 5 or 6 HI reports a year to address. The most recent from my niece who is selling a home. It was standard fare, double taps, bad GFI, some ungrounded outlets. So her house has an older GE 100amp 20 ckt panel. The inspector pointed out with pictures 4 double taps. He wrote to have a licensed electrician make the "repairs". There was one space left in her panel. GE stopped making tandem breakers years ago. Siemons or Murray will fit but they are not listed for the GE panel. I separated the double tap that did the dish washer and a mud room using the one space I had. The other three, which had minimal loads, I spliced and pigtailed and brought the one wire to the breaker. The buyer and his agent noticed the absence of breakers on the invoice, checked it out and complained, saying two circuits on one breaker is "unsafe". So what do you think? My question is if the buyer called you and said, "Hey, the electrician spliced the wires and put one wire on the breaker, is that right?

    Gerry,

    First off, you are the licensed electrical contractor and we are just general home inspectors. So, we will defer to you to make the correct repair. Coming back to the home inspector who typically does not have the specific knowledge that you so is kind of pointless.

    However, I will try and help.

    First of all, the recommendation for repair was to correct the double taps, not add circuit breakers. It seems to me that you accomplished that.

    Second, the term "unsafe". If you were to ask the very knowledgeable agent and the buyer exactly what is unsafe about it, would they be able to provide a code section? Is it allowable to splice inside a circuit breaker panel? Are the wires insufficiently protected by the circuit breaker? The breaker might trip if the circuit demands exceed the wire/breaker rating, but isn't that what the breaker is supposed to do?

    I particularly liked your comment that Siemens and Murray are not listed for the GE panel. Not something that most homeowners understand. My guess is that they want a new panel.

    It seems to me that your post pretty much addresses the issue. It is up to them to provide proof that the repairs you made are incorrect, not that you have to prove that they are correct.

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    Default Re: How do you fix "double Taps"?

    Not to be snarky, but an electrician should know the rules and codes covering this.

    Now, two wires attached to a breaker is not two circuits. It is one. Whether it should be two is not known and depends on the loads and room served. It is possible to combine light loads when the code does not require dedicated circuits like for a laundry room, bathrooms and kitchen SABC.

    All answers based on unamended National Electrical codes.

  4. #4
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    Default Re: How do you fix "double Taps"?

    Quote Originally Posted by Gunnar Alquist View Post
    Gerry,

    First off, you are the licensed electrical contractor and we are just general home inspectors. So, we will defer to you to make the correct repair. Coming back to the home inspector who typically does not have the specific knowledge that you so is kind of pointless.

    However, I will try and help.

    First of all, the recommendation for repair was to correct the double taps, not add circuit breakers. It seems to me that you accomplished that.

    Second, the term "unsafe". If you were to ask the very knowledgeable agent and the buyer exactly what is unsafe about it, would they be able to provide a code section? Is it allowable to splice inside a circuit breaker panel? Are the wires insufficiently protected by the circuit breaker? The breaker might trip if the circuit demands exceed the wire/breaker rating, but isn't that what the breaker is supposed to do?

    I particularly liked your comment that Siemens and Murray are not listed for the GE panel. Not something that most homeowners understand. My guess is that they want a new panel.

    It seems to me that your post pretty much addresses the issue. It is up to them to provide proof that the repairs you made are incorrect, not that you have to prove that they are correct.
    Thanks for your reply. My niece did say the real estate agent made a comment about adding a panel. (It's a small house, two bedroom) I actually questioned myself because I do like to add breakers if possible. The ungrounded outlets were someone picked up a feed to add outlets with romex from a box with bx cables and didn't bond the romex ground to the box. That and the fact the double taps I spliced were 3-wire romex, red /black to the same breaker, made me think they weren't quite sure what was needed. Also please accept my apologies if I offended any of you guys. As I said I get jobs and make money every year from your reports. Thanks again


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    Default Re: How do you fix "double Taps"?

    Personally I don't do load calculations so have no idea if the double tap caused a overload situation when the extra circuit was added to begin with as I should think the original Electrician did not plan the wiring to include double taps [ unlikely ].

    Obviously as H.I's we know splices are allowed .

    In Chicago mini breakers are frowned on anyway.

    Sure could have run a side car or replaced the panel but splicing seems like the easy and less costly way to go if it presents no issues.

    P.S some breakers allow double taps....just sayin.

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    Default Re: How do you fix "double Taps"?

    "The other three, which had minimal loads, I spliced and pigtailed and brought the one wire to the breaker."

    That is the easiest way to correct multiple taps.

    As long as the breaker was not tripping with the 2-3-4 multiple taps, that indicates the breaker is not overloaded, so splice the conductors together with an additional conductor and connect the one additional conductor to the breaker.

    Jerry Peck, Construction / Litigation Consultant
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    Default Re: How do you fix "double Taps"?

    How do you know the breakers are not rated for (2) two conductors?

    - - - Updated - - -

    Quote Originally Posted by Bob Elliott View Post
    Personally I don't do load calculations so have no idea if the double tap caused a overload situation when the extra circuit was added to begin with as I should think the original Electrician did not plan the wiring to include double taps [ unlikely ].

    Obviously as H.I's we know splices are allowed .

    In Chicago mini breakers are frowned on anyway.

    Sure could have run a side car or replaced the panel but splicing seems like the easy and less costly way to go if it presents no issues.

    P.S some breakers allow double taps....just sayin.
    Bob, what are mini breakers?
    Are you referring to single pole tandem breakers?

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    Default Re: How do you fix "double Taps"?

    Quote Originally Posted by Gerry Bennett View Post
    ........The buyer and his agent noticed the absence of breakers on the invoice, checked it out and complained, saying two circuits on one breaker is "unsafe". So what do you think? My question is if the buyer called you and said, "Hey, the electrician spliced the wires and put one wire on the breaker, is that right?
    Being questioned about your work is just the price of being in business. People sometime just want to learn a little or to clarify what they think they know.

    The crux of the issue is probably the agent telling the buyer what the agent thinks is code or acceptable practice. Which as we all know that most agents are off in their own little worlds and really don't know squat on electric among other things.

    It sounds like you made the appropriate corrections. The report stated that for "a licensed electrician make the "repairs""; which is what you are. If the Buyer wanted something else, then the Buyer should have specified exactly what they wanted as a condition of the sale.

    Not sure what Connecticut law is, but I think that when you did the work you bought the liability attached to it. Which I assume is why you didn't use non listed breakers for the GE panel.

    So, letting the Buyer know what you did and why is not an unreasonable request. A simple answer should suffice, you don't have to write chapter and verse on code. Just some inquiring minds at work that need a little reassurance. It doesn't seem that you are like many Electricians that get huffy when questioned about their work which is great.


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    Default Re: How do you fix "double Taps"?

    The corrective measure is entirely the purview of a qualified electrical contractor. Understanding the various approaches to address a double tapped overcurrent protection device (OPD) terminal (assuming that it's not a terminal designed and intended to accept two conductors of identical gauge and material) is useful in that it increases an inspector's depth of knowledge.

    A qualified electrical contractor would take into consideration the ampacity of the OPD, the gauge and material of the two conductors connected to the OPD, the total number of loads served by each of those two conductors, and then decide whether or not it would be appropriate to use a pigtail, to add another OPD, or possibly to evaluate every load served by both conductors. It might be a simple fix or something which would require additional evaluation and corrective measures.

    Inspectors are like doctors who perform general physicals. A doctor might find a condition for which referral to a specialist would be appropriate. However, he or she is not going to specify the procedures which the specialist may determine are necessary. It's never the job of home inspectors to design or specify the methods or materials for any necessary modifications or corrective measures. We don't appreciate individuals outside of our industry telling us or others how we should do our work. The types of qualified contractors, technicians, engineers, etc. which we recommend feel the same way.


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    Default Re: How do you fix "double Taps"?

    Quote Originally Posted by Kevin O'Hornett View Post
    A qualified electrical contractor would take into consideration the ampacity of the OPD, the gauge and material of the two conductors connected to the OPD, ...
    THAT is not a multiple tap issue.

    Jerry Peck, Construction / Litigation Consultant
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    Default Re: How do you fix "double Taps"?

    I would do exactly what you did. It is not 2 circuits, it is still one circuit. No different than joining wires in a junction box further down the line. If the circuit is overloaded, the breaker will trip. I wouldn't mention it in a report.

    Jim Robinson
    New Mexico, USA

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    Default Re: How do you fix "double Taps"?

    Quote Originally Posted by Jerry Peck View Post
    THAT is not a multiple tap issue.
    JP,

    True. But, wouldn't it be the responsibility of the electrician performing the repairs to make them appropriate?



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    Default Re: How do you fix "double Taps"?

    Quote Originally Posted by Gunnar Alquist View Post
    JP,

    True. But, wouldn't it be the responsibility of the electrician performing the repairs to make them appropriate?

    Given that these were set up like multiwire circuits--at least in terms of the cables used--having to splice the neutrals is not an issue. Relabeling, though, is essential. Personally, I believe that if the panel is not overloaded the most appropriate answer, given that these may have started out as multiwire circuits, is to move them into a subpanel.


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    Default Re: How do you fix "double Taps"?

    Quote Originally Posted by Gunnar Alquist View Post
    JP,

    True. But, wouldn't it be the responsibility of the electrician performing the repairs to make them appropriate?

    Yes ... and the responsibility of the HI to write it up for what it is - multiple tapping and oversized breaker.

    - - - Updated - - -

    Quote Originally Posted by david shapiro View Post
    Given that these were set up like multiwire circuits--at least in terms of the cables used--having to splice the neutrals is not an issue. Relabeling, though, is essential. Personally, I believe that if the panel is not overloaded the most appropriate answer, given that these may have started out as multiwire circuits, is to move them into a subpanel.
    Huh?

    And where'd that submarine come into the picture?

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    Default Re: How do you fix "double Taps"?

    Quote Originally Posted by Jim Port View Post
    Not to be snarky, but an electrician should know the rules and codes covering this.
    I think he did know but was trying to be polite or humble


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    Default Re: How do you fix "double Taps"?

    I am in Canada. Rules may vary from state to state or province to province and changes every few (or about every 4)years. I will add my two bits based on our codes and practices in Canada.

    1. Distribution box should not be used as a junction box. This means the the wire nut connection with the three or whatever number wires should take place outside the panel, (but of course in an electrical box).

    2. It is normal to do what you did (provided) the connection of the three wires was in a box AND the calculated loads or number of outlets (receptacles, etc) does not exceed the specified quantity.

    Mike Rodney
    Ontario, Canada

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    Default Re: How do you fix "double Taps"?

    Mike, the NEC does not have the outlet restrictions of the CEC for residential. Also splices are allowed in our panels.

    All answers based on unamended National Electrical codes.

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    Default Re: How do you fix "double Taps"?

    That code means a wire running through the panel that is not connected to a breaker.

    You are allowed to use marrettes in a panel to join circuits together and pigtail on a breaker. There was a old rule that said no joints in a panel but it is long gone. You just can not fill the space in the panel more than 75% CEC 12-3032.


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