# Thread: double pole breaker shunted?

1. ## double pole breaker shunted?

Okay, this was a nice 12 year old house which had been attacked by an energetic DIYer - every system, most components. Now power of sale. He was building a basement apt and this secondary panel is in the "kitchen-to-be".

There are myriad problems but my interest here is what could have been the purpose of wiring together a double pole breaker and what is/are the potential consequence(s) of this?

Thanks

2. ## Re: double pole breaker shunted?

Just a guess as to what he was trying to accomplish.
Looks like all the circuits are 120V, being served by the single double pole. The dbl pole has a single 120V feeding it on one side and a jumper to the other side, this will supply 120V to both sides of the panel. The dbl is serving as the main for that panel.

Since the house is 12 years old, and the NM cable is white, most likely that is 14guage wire.

3. ## Re: double pole breaker shunted?

Peter,

First question: Is that photo representative of the panel's orientation?

Or is the panel installed vertically and you took the photo with the camera sideways?

If that is the orientation of the panel, then it is all wrong and needs to be oriented vertically.

This is an excellent example of why we should all take photo with proper orientation, or, if we have to turn the camera, we then need to rotate the photo so it has the proper orientation.

Regarding the double pole breaker with the jumper from one side of the breaker to the other - they are back feeding that as the main to that panel, meaning: 1) the breaker needs to be secured in place in the panel so it cannot be just pulled out; 2) that the panel is energized for 120 volts on each bus, but NOT 240 volts between them; 3) those two other double pole breakers will NOT give 240 volts; 4) the feeder, possibly #12 AWG, is required to be protected from a 20 amp breaker - meaning you will never get more than 20 amps usage from that panel ... regardless how many breakers they put in there; 5) there are effectively 2 circuits tied to *1* 20 amp breaker - they may each say 15 amps, and may each be protected to 15 amps, but the total available will only be 20 amps; 6) the breaker in question looks like it says it is a 40 amp breaker, which in itself is mis-representing what you have, and the other end of the conductor feeding that breaker needs to be protected by a 20 amp breaker; 7) I see 6 hot conductors - including the feeder - and only 5 neutrals???? - you would need at least 1 neutral for each hot; 8) I only see 4 ground conductors?????

4. ## Re: double pole breaker shunted?

Thanks for the detailed response Jerry. Just have to digest it all now.
Yes, that is the orientation of the panel. (Wouldn't submit an inaccurate representation!).

5. ## Re: double pole breaker shunted?

Originally Posted by Peter Wigle
Yes, that is the orientation of the panel.
"that is the orientation of the panel"

Besides, .... ... it is not allowed either.

6. ## Re: double pole breaker shunted?

Originally Posted by Jerry Peck
"that is the orientation of the panel"

Besides, .... ... it is not allowed either.

See 240.81 of 2002 or 2005 NEC. Hack install unless in Canada....

7. ## Re: double pole breaker shunted?

Originally Posted by Rollie Meyers
See 240.81 of 2002 or 2005 NEC. Hack install unless in Canada....
Yep.

240.81 Indicating.
- Circuit breakers shall clearly indicate whether they are in the open “off” or closed “on” position.
- Where circuit breaker handles are operated vertically rather than rotationally or horizontally, the “up” position of the handle shall be the “on” position.

Does Canada allow breakers to be installed with the 'On' position being vertically down?

8. ## Re: double pole breaker shunted?

Originally Posted by Jerry Peck

Does Canada allow breakers to be installed with the 'On' position being vertically down?
From what I understand there is nothing to prohibit "sideways" panels in the CEC.

9. ## Re: double pole breaker shunted?

Originally Posted by Rollie Meyers
From what I understand there is nothing to prohibit "sideways" panels in the CEC.
Nothing like NEC 110.3(B)? That would do it too.

10. ## Re: double pole breaker shunted?

The red/black conductors at the top have a shared neutral. The bus looks to be bonded to the panel although the neutrals and grounds are separated as if in a sub-panel....what's with that? Did you check for voltage? Continuity? Grounding? I would have written it up on the jumper alone. You gotta wonder what people are thinking!

11. ## Re: double pole breaker shunted?

Also the shared neutral on the red and black could be overloaded because the current of the line-to-neutral loads would be additive. They are the same phase. Lots of problems

12. ## Re: double pole breaker shunted?

Originally Posted by Roland Miller
Also the shared neutral on the red and black could be overloaded because the current of the line-to-neutral loads would be additive. They are the same phase. Lots of problems
Good point since the whole setup is single phase, single voltage. I didn't notice any scorching on the neutral but the whole setup is WRONG!

13. ## Re: double pole breaker shunted?

Originally Posted by Roland Miller
Also the shared neutral on the red and black could be overloaded because the current of the line-to-neutral loads would be additive. They are the same phase. Lots of problems
They look to be on different phases of the bus bar to me.

Look at the pattern of the bus bar breaker tabs and follow the spacing - the spacing puts those of on different phase legs.

14. ## Re: double pole breaker shunted?

Jerry, look at the power feed to the panel (see red circle.) Since it appears to be back fed with a jumper to power both phases in the panel from the one black wire then both red and black on the two left hand breakers would be on the same phase and thus overload the shared neutral (assuming that is what we see.)

Good catch, Roland. We (at least I) had all overlooked this since July.

Last edited by Jim Luttrall; 12-22-2008 at 07:03 PM.

15. ## Re: double pole breaker shunted?

Originally Posted by Jim Luttrall
Jerry, look at the power feed to the panel (see red circle.) Since it appears to be back fed with a jumper to power both phases in the panel from the one black wire then both red and black on the two left hand breakers would be on the same phase and thus overload the shared neutral (assuming that is what we see.)

DUH!

Just got back from a weekend trip to Miami to visit friends and family, guess I'm still not quite 'all back' yet. Thanks for the needed 2x4 upside the head.

16. ## Re: double pole breaker shunted?

Uhh...

So, why are we exhuming this 5+ month old thread? Seems to me that by now Peter should have already written and delivered the report, the buyers have read it and an electrical contractor has repaired it (or the house has inexplicably burned down).

17. ## Re: double pole breaker shunted?

Originally Posted by Jerry Peck

Does Canada allow breakers to be installed with the 'On' position being vertically down?

Hi Jerry
Yup, no problem up here. See them all the time.

18. ## Re: double pole breaker shunted?

Originally Posted by John Allingham
Hi Jerry
Yup, no problem up here. See them all the time.

John,

"See them all the time." and "being correct" are two entirely different things.

Are you sure that is "correct"?

I see people driving way over the speed limit "all the time", but not a single one of them is "correct" in doing so.

19. ## Re: double pole breaker shunted?

Yup again Jerry.
From our ESA (Electrical Safety Authority):

"Panel boards are permitted to be mounted in any orientation provided that the manufacturer's installation instruction do not say differently. Different orientations include main breaker at the top, to the side, and at the bottom. (Rule 2-034)

Reference is to the Ontario Electrical Safety Code 23rd Edition/2002"

20. ## Re: double pole breaker shunted?

Originally Posted by John Allingham
Yup again Jerry.
From our ESA (Electrical Safety Authority):

"Panel boards are permitted to be mounted in any orientation provided that the manufacturer's installation instruction do not say differently. Different orientations include main breaker at the top, to the side, and at the bottom. (Rule 2-034)

Reference is to the Ontario Electrical Safety Code 23rd Edition/2002"

"provided that the manufacturer's installation instruction do not say differently"

Unless the panels shipped to Canada have different labels, the panels are all designed to be installed "vertically", with, yes, "Different orientations include main breaker at the top, to the side, and at the bottom." - that does not, however, mean "turn the panel sideways".

Different panels actually come with the main breaker to one side, and most panels are allowed to have the main at the top or the bottom, BUT ... the panel is still installed "vertically".

Meaning that the panel in that photo is incorrect.

You will need to read the installation instructions label and see what it says on the next panel like that you see. I'm guessing that you will read that it is installed "incorrectly".

21. ## Re: double pole breaker shunted?

Good point Jerry. I will definitely check the next one.
What is the reason that in the US, breakers can't be "on" and down.

22. ## Re: double pole breaker shunted?

Originally Posted by John Allingham
Good point Jerry. I will definitely check the next one.
What is the reason that in the US, breakers can't be "on" and down.
See NEC art. 240.81 (2005) Where a circuit breaker is mounted vertical the "on" pos. must be up. If a horz. mounted panel is in the US, it's a hack install.

23. ## Re: double pole breaker shunted?

Originally Posted by John Allingham
What is the reason that in the US, breakers can't be "on" and down.
Because gravity always ends up winning, and if "ON" is gravity down ... you do not want gravity to end up winning ...

You want either: "ON" to be up, or, the breakers to operate horizontally with "ON" and "OFF" being not affected by gravity.

24. ## Re: double pole breaker shunted?

I wonder where that came from. I would hate to think a breaker could be so loose that gravity would make it turn on.

Taking that train of thought further....why is it OK to have 3 -way switches? Gravity could also turn something ON.

Just curious.

Jerry,
Any idea of the reasoning behind this?

25. ## Re: double pole breaker shunted?

Jack,

First, that requirement only applies to overcurrent protection, 3-way switches are not overcurrent protection devices.

That language shows up in the 1975 NEC, prior to that, the sections discussed the operation of the circuit breakers, whether being electrically, pneumatically, or mechanically operated (remember, you are only thinking of small residential breakers, large industrial breakers are another beast).

Thus, if a breaker were operated electrically, pneumatically, or otherwise, one would NOT want gravity to allow the breaker to close on its own.

Thus, instead of 'throwing the breaker up to open it', which could allow gravity to close the breaker if the opening and operating mechanism failed or broke, the breaker would need to be 'thrown down to open it', meaning that gravity would simply help hold it open.

If the breaker were thrown horizontally and the opening and operating mechanism failed or broke, while one would not be able to close the breaker, there would be no undue risk of the breaker self-closing without an external force causing it to move (gravity being but one external force, however, gravity works vertically toward the center of the earth).

26. ## Re: double pole breaker shunted?

Jerry,
Thanks for the explanation. I do understand it's about overcurrent protection and not switches. I was just taking the concern about something turning ON when a component fails and carrying it further.

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