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  1. #1
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    Default Bundled Neutrals!

    Jerry / Jim

    I was doing some free electrical work at our church last week. Simple task, extending a 20 amp branch circuit into a shop to supply 3 recepts and one light.

    When I opened the JB, there were 5 branch circuit cables from the panelboard. Three of the cables fed of the 20 amp branch circuits fed separate individual recepts. Two of the branch circuits fed separate individual 240v/ 30 amp recepts.

    All of the Neutrals from all of the branch circuits are twisted together.

    Question: Apart from the fact this is a clear violation of the NEC, what would/could be the ramifications on the insurance coverage in the event of a fire or personal injury?

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  2. #2
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    Default Re: Bundled Neutrals!

    Donald,

    Each neutral should be separate from all other neutrals not on the same circui, which you already know.

    Yes, that could lead to a shock or arcing condition which could lead to a fire or personal injury.

    All circuit currents will be flowing through all neutrals, split between the neutrals based on the amount of resistance in each path back, even though neutrals for circuits which are 'off', abandoned, or not in use at the time - the least resisting path gets the most current flow through it as the neutrals are now in parallel with each other (not permitted for several reasons).

    Jerry Peck, Construction / Litigation Consultant
    Construction Litigation Consultants, LLC ( www.ConstructionLitigationConsultants.com )
    www.AskCodeMan.com

  3. #3
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    Default Re: Bundled Neutrals!

    Were the 240-volt receptacles wires with 3 conductor plus ground cable? If not, I don't see how the neutrals could be combined.


  4. #4
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    Default Re: Bundled Neutrals!

    I would like to see a picture. I am seeing a cable in feeding 3 cables out. I can't figure out the 240 circuits.

    All answers based on unamended National Electrical codes.

  5. #5
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    Default Re: Bundled Neutrals!

    Quote Originally Posted by Donald Farrell View Post
    When I opened the JB, there were 5 branch circuit cables from the panelboard. Three of the cables fed of the 20 amp branch circuits fed separate individual recepts. Two of the branch circuits fed separate individual 240v/ 30 amp recepts.
    This is the way I am interpreting the above:
    - 3 cables feeding three separate 120 volt/20 amp circuits ... all the neutrals are connected together under one wiring connector (wirenut, etc.)
    - 2 cables feeding two separate 240 volt/30 amp circuits ... no neutrals to tie together, those cables are just in the same junction box

    I could be wrong, have been before, and will be again ... contrary to what one person seems to think ... oh, wait, I am on his ignore list ... too bad. That's crazy man ... ... real crazy ...

    Jerry Peck, Construction / Litigation Consultant
    Construction Litigation Consultants, LLC ( www.ConstructionLitigationConsultants.com )
    www.AskCodeMan.com

  6. #6
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    Default Re: Bundled Neutrals!

    Quote Originally Posted by Jerry Peck View Post
    This is the way I am interpreting the above:
    - 3 cables feeding three separate 120 volt/20 amp circuits ... all the neutrals are connected together under one wiring connector (wirenut, etc.)
    - 2 cables feeding two separate 240 volt/30 amp circuits ... no neutrals to tie together, those cables are just in the same junction box

    I could be wrong, have been before, and will be again ... contrary to what one person seems to think ... oh, wait, I am on his ignore list ... too bad. That's crazy man ... ... real crazy ...
    Jerry, you are correct. What are, if any, the exposures if an inspector looks at the JB or if there were to be a fire or personal injury because a shock when working on a downstream outlet?


  7. #7
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    Default Re: Bundled Neutrals!

    Quote Originally Posted by Jerry Peck View Post

    I could be wrong, have been before, and will be again ... contrary to what one person seems to think ... oh, wait, I am on his ignore list ... too bad. That's crazy man ... ... real crazy ...
    Ha ha ha.
    I think his pride is hurt.

    Robert Young's Montreal Home Inspection Services Inc.
    Call (514) 489-1887 or (514) 441-3732
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  8. #8
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    Default Re: Bundled Neutrals!

    Quote Originally Posted by Donald Farrell View Post
    Jerry / Jim
    Simple task, extending a 20 amp branch circuit into a shop to supply 3 recepts and one light.
    I hope the switch "light" was on a separate circuit. Circuits are dedicated.

    Robert Young's Montreal Home Inspection Services Inc.
    Call (514) 489-1887 or (514) 441-3732
    Our Motto; Putting information where you need it most, "In your hands.

  9. #9
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    Default Re: Bundled Neutrals!

    Quote Originally Posted by ROBERT YOUNG View Post
    I hope the switch "light" was on a separate circuit. Circuits are dedicated.
    Robert - Good morning. How are things in Canada today. Not to date myself, but when my wife and I were 19 we went to Expo 67. I thoroughly enjoyed Canada and especially the people of Montreal. A very lasting impression!!

    Qualified electrical, Yes. As such, I understand the code violation (bundled Neutrals). I am interested if they would garner a "Red tag" and also if a claim for fire or personal injury could be denied if it were linked to the bundled Neutrals.

    With respect to the shop. No, the recepts and light are on the same circuit extension, against my advice. I would have been just as easy to extend another branch circuit from the same junction box for the light but I was told to use the same circuit even though they would be in the dark if the breaker tripped.


  10. #10
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    Default Re: Bundled Neutrals!

    Quote Originally Posted by Donald Farrell View Post
    I am interested if they would garner a "Red tag" ...
    "Should", yes ... "would" depends on if the inspector looks in that junction box - inspectors only do a cursory 'looksee' inspection of randomly selected items, they are not there to personally go behind the contractor and look in every nook and cranny and make sure every splice is correct.

    ... and also if a claim for fire or personal injury could be denied if it were linked to the bundled Neutrals.
    "Could" be denied? Sure, insurance companies deny claims for all sorts of things, right or wrong ... in this case, though, with that condition 'being known and not corrected' (if not corrected), then absolutely. If it was 'not known', then the insurance company may go back to the contractor who did the work and get them and their insurance to pay the bill.

    With respect to the shop. No, the recepts and light are on the same circuit extension, against my advice. I would have been just as easy to extend another branch circuit from the same junction box for the light but I was told to use the same circuit even though they would be in the dark if the breaker tripped.
    There is no 'requirement' to not have the lights on the receptacle circuits, maybe be 'up there' where Robert is?

    Good idea to have the lights separate from the receptacles? Yes and no. If one is going to concern themselves with that, then the lights should be on TWO circuits so only half the lights are lost if a light circuit breaker trips.

    A better idea than having the lights separate from the receptacles but all on one circuit would be to put half of the lights on each receptacle circuit - if one receptacle circuit breaker trips, half the lights will still be on.

    Oh, and put the lights off a receptacle BEFORE the GFCI feed through (connect to the line side terminals of the GFCI receptacles).

    Jerry Peck, Construction / Litigation Consultant
    Construction Litigation Consultants, LLC ( www.ConstructionLitigationConsultants.com )
    www.AskCodeMan.com

  11. #11
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    Default Re: Bundled Neutrals!

    Quote Originally Posted by Jerry Peck View Post
    I could be wrong, have been before, and will be again ... contrary to what one person seems to think ... oh, wait, I am on his ignore list ... too bad. That's crazy man ... ... real crazy ...
    Quote Originally Posted by ROBERT YOUNG View Post
    Ha ha ha.
    I think his pride is hurt.
    I don't know ... is Raymond's pride hurt?

    Jerry Peck, Construction / Litigation Consultant
    Construction Litigation Consultants, LLC ( www.ConstructionLitigationConsultants.com )
    www.AskCodeMan.com

  12. #12
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    Default Re: Bundled Neutrals!

    Quote Originally Posted by Donald Farrell View Post
    Robert - Good morning. How are things in Canada today. Not to date myself, but when my wife and I were 19 we went to Expo 67. I thoroughly enjoyed Canada and especially the people of Montreal. A very lasting impression!!

    Qualified electrical, Yes. As such, I understand the code violation (bundled Neutrals). I am interested if they would garner a "Red tag" and also if a claim for fire or personal injury could be denied if it were linked to the bundled Neutrals.

    With respect to the shop. No, the recepts and light are on the same circuit extension, against my advice. I would have been just as easy to extend another branch circuit from the same junction box for the light but I was told to use the same circuit even though they would be in the dark if the breaker tripped.
    Morning, David.
    Canada appears to be politically on the right tract and hopefully will be fine long after I am put in the ground.
    I was 12 when EXPO 67 opened. My god, Montreal was on the map across North America. Our mayor a true visionary. The great hay days disappeared in Quebec through divisive political wedge politics. It has taken decades for it all to blow over. I hope the same fate does not hold true for America and nasty republican rhetoric that captures media attention.
    North America is great when we all pull together.

    That being said.
    I did not define the full scope for dedicated circuits, outlet and switches as you well know.
    IMO, Dedicated circuits seems like the safest route.

    Can you separate the neutrals or are they bundled up and down stream?

    Robert Young's Montreal Home Inspection Services Inc.
    Call (514) 489-1887 or (514) 441-3732
    Our Motto; Putting information where you need it most, "In your hands.

  13. #13
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    Default Re: Bundled Neutrals!

    Quote Originally Posted by Jerry Peck View Post
    There is no 'requirement' to not have the lights on the receptacle circuits, maybe be 'up there' where Robert is?
    I stand corrected, thanks.

    I thought 20 amp circuits would prevent lights/switches under permissible loads.

    NEC requires two separate 20 amp circuits to supply the convenience receptacles in a kitchen. All receptacles will be GFIC protected except for dedicated circuits to the Refrigerator, dish washer or other dedicated fixed appliances. The wiring device itself is not required to be 20 amp rated, a 15-amp receptacle is fine, as a 20-amp plug cannot be plugged into it.

    Robert Young's Montreal Home Inspection Services Inc.
    Call (514) 489-1887 or (514) 441-3732
    Our Motto; Putting information where you need it most, "In your hands.

  14. #14
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    Default Re: Bundled Neutrals!

    Quote Originally Posted by ROBERT YOUNG View Post
    NEC requires two separate 20 amp circuits to supply the convenience receptacles in a kitchen.
    Some minor corrections: "convenience" - the correct term is "small appliance"

    All receptacles will be GFIC protected except for dedicated circuits to the Refrigerator, dish washer or other dedicated fixed appliances.
    The only receptacle outlets required to be GFCI protected are those which serve the countertop space(s).

    The wiring device itself is not required to be 20 amp rated, a 15-amp receptacle is fine, as a 20-amp plug cannot be plugged into it.
    The device is 20 amp rated, but is not restricted to 20 amp use, one can, if they so choose, install T-slot receptacles which will accept 15 amp and 20 amp plugs, but that is not necessary as the "circuits" are required to be 20 amp rated, and the internal rating of the 15 amp receptacles is rated for 20 amps (needs to be to be wired as feed-through in a 20 amp circuit, otherwise the internal construction parts could likely fail when installed on a 20 amp circuit).

    Nothing prohibits the dishwasher, disposal, refrigerator, etc, receptacles from being GFCI protected - in fact, there is not only 'nothing wrong' with GFCI protecting them, but it could safe lives under certain fault conditions (just is not yet required to be GFCI protected).

    Decades ago (back in the 1970s or 1980s) appliances were allowed to have 50 ma of leakage current, not that they all did have, but they were allowed to have - naturally, some (many) appliances tripped GFCI devices ... thus became the incorrect term known as "nuisance tripping" - but it really was not "nuisance tripping" ... those GFCIs were telling people that those appliances had a lot of leakage current - and that high leakage current was addressed in the standards for appliances. Starting in the 1970s or 1980s (I don't remember which) the standard reduced the allowable leakage current to 0.05 ma ... if an appliance newer than that (let's say around 1980) trips a GFCI ... the GFCI is trying to safe someone's life because the appliance needs to be repaired or replaced.

    Jerry Peck, Construction / Litigation Consultant
    Construction Litigation Consultants, LLC ( www.ConstructionLitigationConsultants.com )
    www.AskCodeMan.com

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