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Thread: Loose neutral.

  1. #1
    David Banks's Avatar
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    Default Loose neutral.

    For once I found a downstream panel wired correctly. Neutrals isolated, no double taps. But then this caught my eye. Loose neutral resting against panel and grounding bus bar. There goes the isolation issue out the door but I am curios is this a potential safety issue as far as energizing the panel?

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  2. #2
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    Default Re: Loose neutral.

    Depends on where that neutral goes, doesn't it? Is the black wire next to it from the same circuit? Regardless, it/they have to be dealt with. But if there's neutral current on the white one, then it could energize the panel.


  3. #3
    Steve Brooks's Avatar
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    Default Re: Loose neutral.

    Hereabouts our panels need to be bonded to the grounding wire...The neutral that you displayed in your photo can electrify the panel if it's not bonded.


  4. #4
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    Default Re: Loose neutral.

    Looks like an improperly abandoned circuit, with "improperly" being the key word.

    That black (probably really a dark green) screw is bonding that grounding terminal bar to the enclosure.

    Jerry Peck, Construction / Litigation Consultant
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  5. #5
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    Default Re: Loose neutral.

    Jerry, What I was pointing out is the panel itself should be bonded to the grounding electrode conductor (To the water pipe, or ground rod). This effectively prevents the panel from ever being electrified. That was the question.
    As for it being an abandoned wire inside the panel, that's a different finding, seperate from the current question.


  6. #6
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    Default Re: Loose neutral.

    I'd be astonished if that white wire was capable of "energizing" the panel.

    First, because the bottom of the pic looks like there is a bonding strap installed.

    Second .... my best guess is that the white wire is not in use, being an extra wire in a cable serving a 240v circuit. Or, with the neighboring black wire, a cable not part of any circuit at this time.


  7. #7
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    Default Re: Loose neutral.

    Quote Originally Posted by John Steinke View Post
    I'd be astonished if that white wire was capable of "energizing" the panel...
    John - Your quotes around the word "energizing" suggest you don't like the term. If so, is there another word you prefer? I'm just curious, not criticizing. I use "energizing" or "energized" but my mind is open.


  8. #8
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    Default Re: Loose neutral.

    Quote Originally Posted by Steve Brooks View Post
    Jerry, What I was pointing out is the panel itself should be bonded to the grounding electrode conductor (To the water pipe, or ground rod). This effectively prevents the panel from ever being electrified. That was the question.
    As for it being an abandoned wire inside the panel, that's a different finding, seperate from the current question.
    Steve,

    Because this is, according to David, a "downstream panel", it would be connected with an equipment grounding conductor, not to the grounding electrode conductor, water pipe or ground rod. Yes, the 'equipment grounding conductor' does need to go back to the service equipment, and thus back to the grounding electrode conductor, etc., it will not be connected to them, as is my take on what you said.

    There just is not enough of the panel in that photo to show how this is "grounded".

    Jerry Peck, Construction / Litigation Consultant
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  9. #9
    David Banks's Avatar
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    Default Re: Loose neutral.

    Quote Originally Posted by Jerry Peck View Post
    Steve,

    Because this is, according to David, a "downstream panel", it would be connected with an equipment grounding conductor, not to the grounding electrode conductor, water pipe or ground rod. Yes, the 'equipment grounding conductor' does need to go back to the service equipment, and thus back to the grounding electrode conductor, etc., it will not be connected to them, as is my take on what you said.

    There just is not enough of the panel in that photo to show how this is "grounded".
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    Default Re: Loose neutral.

    Dave,

    I can't tell from that photo, is that fed in metallic conduit, or is that NM cable as the feeders?

    I don't see a ground coming in with the feeders, unless it is in metallic conduit.

    Also, that ground terminal bar looks to be connected back to the neutral terminal bar with a bare metal bar, making this panel "Suitable for Service Equipment ONLY", i.e., making it NOT suitable for non-service equipment.

    There is no main in that panel, right? You said it was a downstream panel in the first post, that means the main is upstream at the service equipment, right?

    Have any more photos of that panel? It's starting to look 'not real good' from what we've seen and discussed *so far*.

    Jerry Peck, Construction / Litigation Consultant
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  11. #11
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    Default Re: Loose neutral.

    Quote Originally Posted by Jerry Peck View Post
    Dave,

    I can't tell from that photo, is that fed in metallic conduit, or is that NM cable as the feeders?

    Metallic conduit. You can see at main/meter pic.

    I don't see a ground coming in with the feeders, unless it is in metallic conduit.

    Metallic conduit.

    Also, that ground terminal bar looks to be connected back to the neutral terminal bar with a bare metal bar, making this panel "Suitable for Service Equipment ONLY", i.e., making it NOT suitable for non-service equipment.

    If you look closely the bar ends on the left before the breakers. Attached is panel label Appears to be suitable for both Service Panel and panel if I am reading it correctly.

    There is no main in that panel, right? You said it was a downstream panel in the first post, that means the main is upstream at the service equipment, right?

    Right.

    Have any more photos of that panel? It's starting to look 'not real good' from what we've seen and discussed *so far*.
    Pics attached. What do you think?

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  12. #12
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    Default Re: Loose neutral.

    After posting I realized you can not read panel label.
    Large letters say. " Suitable for use as Service Equipment when main breaker is installed. I take this as meaning can be used for both Service Equipment and downstream panel if done properly.


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    Default Re: Loose neutral.

    Quote Originally Posted by David Banks View Post
    Large letters say. " Suitable for use as Service Equipment when main breaker is installed. I take this as meaning can be used for both Service Equipment and downstream panel if done properly.
    Sounds like it can be, but ...

    In the second photo you posted, of the panel with the cover off, the metal bus (bar) which goes from the equipment grounds on the left to the neutrals on the right, is there a bond screw through the neutral terminal bar into that metal bar?

    If not, than it might be okay (look closely to make sure the neutral terminal bar is isolated from ground).

    If yes, then look closely, it is likely that if that bond screw was removed that the neutral would be isolated from ground.

    I can't tell from the photo.

    When used as "Suitable for use as Service Equipment when main breaker is installed.", I'm guessing there will be an additional requirement to install a bonding jumper (typically a screw into that bar) to bond the neutral terminal bar to ground. Without that bonding screw, you are probably okay - look closely to make sure.

    Jerry Peck, Construction / Litigation Consultant
    Construction Litigation Consultants, LLC ( www.ConstructionLitigationConsultants.com )
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  14. #14
    David Banks's Avatar
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    Default Re: Loose neutral.

    Quote Originally Posted by Jerry Peck View Post
    Sounds like it can be, but ...

    In the second photo you posted, of the panel with the cover off, the metal bus (bar) which goes from the equipment grounds on the left to the neutrals on the right, is there a bond screw through the neutral terminal bar into that metal bar?

    No screw. There is a strap attached to metal bar with screw into panel but not to neutral bus.

    If not, than it might be okay (look closely to make sure the neutral terminal bar is isolated from ground).

    It is isolated. See plastic isolation stand.

    If yes, then look closely, it is likely that if that bond screw was removed that the neutral would be isolated from ground.

    I can't tell from the photo.

    When used as "Suitable for use as Service Equipment when main breaker is installed.", I'm guessing there will be an additional requirement to install a bonding jumper (typically a screw into that bar) to bond the neutral terminal bar to ground. Without that bonding screw, you are probably okay - look closely to make sure.
    It goes on to tell how to bond neutral to enclosure.


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    Default Re: Loose neutral.

    Here is another example of a loose neutral. Notice the lug is backed out further than the rest and the wire is burned. This would never trip the breaker because it only heats up at the loose connection, not at the breaker - scary to think this could happen at any junction box or splice with a loose connection and not trip a breaker. Maybe an AFCI would trip this condition, I don't know.

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  16. #16
    David Banks's Avatar
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    Default Re: Loose neutral.

    Quote Originally Posted by Jerry Peck View Post
    Sounds like it can be, but ...

    In the second photo you posted, of the panel with the cover off, the metal bus (bar) which goes from the equipment grounds on the left to the neutrals on the right, is there a bond screw through the neutral terminal bar into that metal bar?

    If not, than it might be okay (look closely to make sure the neutral terminal bar is isolated from ground).

    If yes, then look closely, it is likely that if that bond screw was removed that the neutral would be isolated from ground.

    I can't tell from the photo.

    When used as "Suitable for use as Service Equipment when main breaker is installed.", I'm guessing there will be an additional requirement to install a bonding jumper (typically a screw into that bar) to bond the neutral terminal bar to ground. Without that bonding screw, you are probably okay - look closely to make sure.
    Quote Originally Posted by Matthew Barnicle View Post
    Here is another example of a loose neutral. Notice the lug is backed out further than the rest and the wire is burned. This would never trip the breaker because it only heats up at the loose connection, not at the breaker - scary to think this could happen at any junction box or splice with a loose connection and not trip a breaker. Maybe an AFCI would trip this condition, I don't know.
    There is also a cut in insulation 4 neutrals down.


  17. #17
    Steve Brooks's Avatar
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    Default Re: Loose neutral.

    Jerry, you are correct, I missed Dave's mention of it being a sub panel...
    Dave, if the panel is connected all the way to the main panel via metal conduit, then you're good to go...But if not, then this panel is subject to be electrified, and is dangerous.
    (Segway: abandoned wires are not permitted inside a panel.)


  18. #18
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    Default Re: Loose neutral.

    Quote Originally Posted by Steve Brooks View Post
    (Segway: abandoned wires are not permitted inside a panel.)
    I don't see how you could mean Segway, one of those two wheeled doo-hickies that GWB fell off of, so you must mean segue, ...I guess.


  19. #19
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    Default Re: Loose neutral.

    Dave,
    Looks like an apartment building setup, with BX cables to each sub panel. That would mean each panel is grounded. The sub panels can't be electrified, they're safe.


  20. #20
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    Default Re: Loose neutral.

    Quote Originally Posted by Steve Brooks View Post
    abandoned wires are not permitted inside a panel.
    Huh?

    They are, they just need to be "abandoned" properly.

    That means in some type of insulated cap (a wire nut) and secured up out of the way so they cannot come into contact with anything which is 'hot'.

    *The best way* to abandon a circuit in a panel is to connect all conductors together (both the white and black, or black and red, or white, black and red) with a new green wire which then goes to the ground terminal bar. This not only prevents them from accidentally becoming 'hot' from within the panel, it also prevents someone from making them 'hot' at the other end ... 'what are these loose wires here for, hmmmmm ... guess I'll connect them here, looks like they were connected here once' ... OOPS!

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    Cool Re: Loose neutral.

    I know this thread is long in the tooth. David Banks 04/12/2008

    I am sure I hear some good comments from Jerry Peck, be here a thought,
    why not dip the loose neutral in something like Star Brite Liquid Insulation
    if you worry about it, or side a piece of heat shrink tubing over it.


  22. #22
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    Default Re: Loose neutral.

    Quote Originally Posted by Robert S. Mattison View Post
    I know this thread is long in the tooth. David Banks 04/12/2008

    I am sure I hear some good comments from Jerry Peck, be here a thought,
    why not dip the loose neutral in something like Star Brite Liquid Insulation
    if you worry about it, or side a piece of heat shrink tubing over it.
    Is this free-form poetry, or what?

    And, as someone who has lived in Vermont (with one "r'), I have to point out that you have misspelled the name of the state you live in. Perhaps you did this as a joke of some kind, in which case I'll let it go, as long as you explain the joke to me.

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  23. #23
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    Default Re: Loose neutral.

    Does the word typo mean any thing to you. Anyways on off to the
    the White House to have beer with are president.


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