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Thread: Faulty breaker?

  1. #16

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    Quote Originally Posted by julesy View Post
    Is there any reason why I would not be able to replace the sub panel once I have corrected the back feed?
    As JW has pointed out this service has several issues. I would recommend moving 'upgrading the electrical service' up near the top of the to do list. Particularly if you are planning on adding anything to it. Personally I would plan on ditching the tiny sub panel by adding a couple of junction boxes in place of the sub panel and pulling those circuits back to one nice new main panel. If you remove the breaker creating the back feed in the main panel you will open up two slots, one of which you can use for adding in the bathroom circuit.

    Quote Originally Posted by julesy View Post
    Can I run a separate ground from the main to the panel, or should I run a new 4 conductor wire? Once I have a grounded sub panel, I can then update the wiring that feeds from it, opening walls as necessary.
    If you really want to go the sub panel route yes you can run a separate ground. Keep in mind that you cannot combine grounds and neutrals in a subpanel. There should be a separate ground bar in the subpanel for the ground wires. Most panels do not come with a separate ground bar installed, you have to purchase it separately and add it in.

    Quote Originally Posted by julesy View Post
    I see no reason why doing this puts the wiring in a worse situation than when I started - no ground to the panel and a back fed circuit.
    When you touch something electrical, either to make repairs on add onto it, you are required to bring it up to code. Because your main panel is lacking both a main breaker and a separate ground bar (there needs to be one or the other) there is no way you can upgrade the sub panel and legally attach the ground wire to the main panel. (Connecting the ground from the subpanel to the neutral bar in your panel is a code violation.) Also you are adding load to a less than ideal setup and thereby increasing the risk that something will go wrong so in that respect it is worse.

    Finding out what the problems are and correcting what you can is good, but realize the main panel has problems that are going to require that it be replaced and that it will be impossible to do any electrical expansions that will meet code until that is done.

    -rick

  2. #17
    Electrical Contractor/Instructor jwelectric's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by julesy View Post
    Is there any reason why I would not be able to replace the sub panel once I have corrected the back feed? Can I run a separate ground from the main to the panel, or should I run a new 4 conductor wire? Once I have a grounded sub panel, I can then update the wiring that feeds from it, opening walls as necessary.
    The NEC mandates that ALL conductors of a circuit be in the same raceway or cable that carries the ungrounded (hot) conductors so to install one conductor by itself would be a code violation.
    This would not help the remote panel as there is no separation of the grounded (neutral) and the equipment grounding conductors in the main lug panel so the point would be mute.

    Quote Originally Posted by julesy View Post
    I see no reason why doing this puts the wiring in a worse situation than when I started - no ground to the panel and a back fed circuit.
    It is this inability to see what this would hurt that screams loudly with the very reason why you should not attempt this by yourself but instead should seek the help of a professional

    Quote Originally Posted by julesy View Post
    I can consider upgrading the main panel after this is performed.
    This idea is just like the fellow that led his horse to the back of the wagon to hook her up. You are approaching the problem from the back side instead of approaching it in the proper manner.
    Quote Originally Posted by julesy View Post
    I do not expect all the answers from this board, I was just hoping to get some general advice.
    When someone gives a good answer to a post it is then up to the person asking for the advice to at least listen. Here it is one more time, HIRE A PROFESSIONAL AND LEAVE THIS ALONE.

    Quote Originally Posted by julesy View Post
    I also feel that most of what I need to do can be accomplished without an electrician, except for the replacement of the main box/connection to the feed. I have done some reading, will do plenty more and will stop if there are issues I feel I am unable to tackle.
    You live in the very state that started the homeowner insurance sue motto. Should you do the work on this system and do it in a noncompliant manner Ca. will allow your homeowner’s insurance to sue you for any losses they occur due to the improper installation. Now I am not saying they will but you need to understand that they could.

    Quote Originally Posted by julesy View Post
    And thanks jwelectric and others for your time and knowledge.
    Then please listen to what we have to say.

    Looking at the fuse box I can see that your knowledge of current flow is nil and nowhere close to what it should be for the type of undertaking you purpose. Everyone of the screw in fuses in that small panel are 30 amp fuses and probably twice the size they should be. You might as well as just bypass the fuse as it is useless for protection of the circuit.

    The number of problems you have will by their self be enough to have the house condemned should an inspector get involved. Please for the safety of your family spring for at least a service call to an electrician that can evaluate your problems

  3. #18
    DIY Junior Member julesy's Avatar
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    It is this inability to see what this would hurt that screams loudly with the very reason why you should not attempt this by yourself but instead should seek the help of a professional
    Well, I talked about replacing the sub panel (which of course would include using correctly sized breakers), grounding it and fixing the back fed circuit. Yes, there are still some areas in the wiring that are far from perfect, but I fail to see how this would make it worse than it already is. If doing that really makes the wiring worse than it was before, then I would love to know why.

    Looking at the fuse box I can see that your knowledge of current flow is nil and nowhere close to what it should be for the type of undertaking you purpose. Everyone of the screw in fuses in that small panel are 30 amp fuses and probably twice the size they should be. You might as well as just bypass the fuse as it is useless for protection of the circuit.
    I find this rather offensive.

    Nowhere did I indicate that I was happy with the 30 amp fuses, and you should not infer anything from my lack of discussion around that topic as it was clear to me. This is part of the reason why I was planning to replace the sub panel was due to this, among other things including lack of grounding. Part of that would have been doing a load evaluation of all the circuits downstream and using the appropriate sized fuzes.

    As for adding the bathroom circuit - I had ripped out the old one and it was wired into other circuits. I had checked the code and saw that I needed it on its own dedicated 20amp circuit. I am re-wiring it so that it is up to code and not adding new load to the system.

    Yes, I am well aware that the wiring is not in the best of shape - hence why I am determining what to do about it. My main questions were about running a ground to the sub panel which got answered.

    Apart from the connection of a new main box, I really do not see many things here that I should not be able to tackle.

    I feel that half of the energy on this thread has been spent saying "hire an electrician". I just read the last two responses again. drick's response was to the point and helpful - looking at jwelectric's response it is very argumentative and rather condescending.

    When someone gives a good answer to a post it is then up to the person asking for the advice to at least listen. Here it is one more time, HIRE A PROFESSIONAL AND LEAVE THIS ALONE.
    Ditto. If someone asks a genuine question and you are kind enough to help, focus on answering that question rather than wasting his time repeating "hire a professional".

  4. #19
    Electrical Contractor/Instructor jwelectric's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by julesy View Post
    Well, I talked about replacing the sub panel (which of course would include using correctly sized breakers), grounding it and fixing the back fed circuit. Yes, there are still some areas in the wiring that are far from perfect, but I fail to see how this would make it worse than it already is. If doing that really makes the wiring worse than it was before, then I would love to know why.
    To replace the remote panel will do nothing to establish a ground fault path but would ensure a parallel grounding path on this system which would be more dangerous than not having any grounding path at all.
    Quote Originally Posted by julesy View Post
    I find this rather offensive. Nowhere did I indicate that I was happy with the 30 amp fuses, and you should not infer anything from my lack of discussion around that topic as it was clear to me. This is part of the reason why I was planning to replace the sub panel was due to this, among other things including lack of grounding. Part of that would have been doing a load evaluation of all the circuits downstream and using the appropriate sized fuzes. .
    Well let me tell you just how sorry I am that you come here posting about wanting to make your system safer and posting a picture of 30 amp fuses on #14 conductors. I would have long ago corrected this in the name of safety if safety was what I was looking for
    Quote Originally Posted by julesy View Post
    As for adding the bathroom circuit - I had ripped out the old one and it was wired into other circuits. I had checked the code and saw that I needed it on its own dedicated 20amp circuit. I am re-wiring it so that it is up to code and not adding new load to the system.
    at the time of installation the bathroom circuit was code compliant and needed not attention at all except maybe installing a GFCI receptacle

    Quote Originally Posted by julesy View Post
    Yes, I am well aware that the wiring is not in the best of shape - hence why I am determining what to do about it. My main questions were about running a ground to the sub panel which got answered.
    And the simple answer is to hire an electrician to do a revamp on both panels. Now I understand this is not the answer you are looking for but it is the best advice anyone can give you.
    Quote Originally Posted by julesy View Post
    Apart from the connection of a new main box, I really do not see many things here that I should not be able to tackle.
    the entire change out is way over your head. IF it were not over your head there would not be 30 amp fuses in that panel any longer than it would take to change them back to 15 amp fuses.

    Quote Originally Posted by julesy View Post
    I feel that half of the energy on this thread has been spent saying "hire an electrician". I just read the last two responses again. drick's response was to the point and helpful - looking at jwelectric's response it is very argumentative and rather condescending.
    Bless his kind heart Drick was trying to be polite but made an error on the grounding conductor. I have been honest with you even if you find my post offensive or not. I am simply stating the facts as I see them and the installation of a conductor between the two panels will solve nothing.
    Quote Originally Posted by julesy View Post
    Ditto. If someone asks a genuine question and you are kind enough to help, focus on answering that question rather than wasting his time repeating "hire a professional".
    I have answered your question to the fullest. What I did not do was give you some misleading information just to make you feel good. My answers were straight to the point just as they are now. This is a project that is way over your head and something you should not try to attempt. This is a job for someone with the proper training in the field and is way above a do-it-yourself job.

  5. #20
    DIY Junior Member julesy's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by jwelectric View Post
    To replace the remote panel will do nothing to establish a ground fault path but would ensure a parallel grounding path on this system which would be more dangerous than not having any grounding path at all.
    If I were to replace the sub panel and feed it with a grounded conductor, tied back into the main panel in the same fashion as all the other circuits, with the neutral isolated in the sub panel, then how would this ensure a parallel grounding path? I ask this for my understanding, not to be argumentative.

    Well let me tell you just how sorry I am that you come here posting about wanting to make your system safer and posting a picture of 30 amp fuses on #14 conductors. I would have long ago corrected this in the name of safety if safety was what I was looking for
    I would hope that this board does not encourage people to only pictures of NEC compliant wiring, for fear of being chastised for having not already corrected it. That does seem a little backwards. I was aware it was bad and am here to improve it. This house has probably been wired like this for 10 years, so me spending a little time to find out exactly what is on each circuit before messing with it further does not seem unreasonable.

    at the time of installation the bathroom circuit was code compliant and needed not attention at all except maybe installing a GFCI receptacle
    I do not believe this to be true. I had to install new outlets and my local building code which says it is based on the 2007 building code, contains in the section on bathroom remodels "New outlets are required to be on a dedicated 20amp circuit". I was striving to wire the whole bathroom in a way compliant with a new installation, even if not strictly necessary, I think it is certainly an improvement.

    And the simple answer is to hire an electrician to do a revamp on both panels. Now I understand this is not the answer you are looking for but it is the best advice anyone can give you.
    the entire change out is way over your head. IF it were not over your head there would not be 30 amp fuses in that panel any longer than it would take to change them back to 15 amp fuses.
    Yes the simple answer is definitely to hire an electrician, but I am not here for the simplest answer. I have been burned in the past with an electrician whom I would certainly not use again, after watching him tap into the nearest circuits without even performing load calcs on those circuits or finding out what else was on them. I know there are many good electricians, but a better understanding on my end helps me to find one of the better ones.

    Again, this house has stood for many years in the state it is in now. I am the new owner and I do not feel that waiting a couple of days while I determine whether to replace the entire sub panel and downstream wiring, even possibly the main panel, rather than just changing the fuses really qualifies me as being over my head. I am still evaluating what to do.

    Bless his kind heart Drick was trying to be polite but made an error on the grounding conductor. I have been honest with you even if you find my post offensive or not. I am simply stating the facts as I see them and the installation of a conductor between the two panels will solve nothing.
    I appreciate both of your responses on this and am glad I have the answer.

    I have answered your question to the fullest. What I did not do was give you some misleading information just to make you feel good. My answers were straight to the point just as they are now. This is a project that is way over your head and something you should not try to attempt. This is a job for someone with the proper training in the field and is way above a do-it-yourself job.
    I appreciate the answers to your questions, and I certainly do not want misleading information. It was the saying that my knowledge of current flow is nil simply because I had not changed the fuses yet that was offensive.

  6. #21
    Electrical Contractor/Instructor jwelectric's Avatar
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    I have given you answers that I think would be appropriate for what I have judged your knowledge which I only have your post to go by. I gave these answers based on over 40 years of experience in the electrical trade, over 11 years of classroom instruction, my involvement with associations such as the IAEI, NFPA, NCDOI, NCBEEC as well as the committees on which I sit.

    At this point I think it best to just wait and let others answer some of your questions. I do not want to discourage anyone posting their electrical pictures and would hope that when they do asking questions they are willing to take the criticizing of the picture as well as the bragging.

    With this I leave you to do as you see fit but I can’t help but wonder just how long the installation lasted in every home I see burned to the ground and the poor old people losing everything the own to an electrical fire.

  7. #22

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    >>Bless his kind heart Drick was trying to be polite but made an error on the grounding conductor.

    And what error would it be that I made?

    -rick

  8. #23
    General Engineering Contractor ballvalve's Avatar
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    You said something! Off with your head!

    And by the way, I think there are pennys under those 30 amp fuses.

  9. #24
    DIY Junior Member julesy's Avatar
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    I believe he was referring to the comment about running a separate ground wire to the sub panel, at the start of post #17, I have included it below


    The NEC mandates that ALL conductors of a circuit be in the same raceway or cable that carries the ungrounded (hot) conductors so to install one conductor by itself would be a code violation.

  10. #25
    Electrical Contractor/Instructor jwelectric's Avatar
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    300.3 (B) Conductors of the Same Circuit. All conductors of
    the same circuit and, where used, the grounded conductor
    and all equipment grounding conductors and bonding conductors
    shall be contained within the same raceway, auxiliary
    gutter, cable tray, cablebus assembly, trench, cable, or
    cord, unless otherwise permitted in accordance with
    300.3(B)(1) through (B)(4).

    In either of these other mentioned sections the length is limited to 6 feet and it must be ran with the cable or raceway.

    To simply say run a conductor between two metallic enclosures would not be correct.

  11. #26
    DIY Junior Member julesy's Avatar
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    Thanks for the help i received in this forum. I just wanted to give an update on the topic.

    There was nothing wrong with the breaker. As a number of you suggested, it was two circuits that had been connected together. It was in a closet light junction box, tucked away. I was able to correct that.

    I went ahead and installed a new main panel and all new breakers. I feel much more comfortable with it now. As for the sub-panel. I plan on removing that also. I will most likely remove it completely and just run new circuits directly to the main panel. The reason why I don't want to keep it and just use it as a junction box, is that none of the circuits are grounded, and in the long run, all new wiring with proper grounding would make me feel more comfortable in the house. I also want to determine the loads on each and probably separate them in a more sensible fashion. Also, some of the circuits that are grounded in the house, use a ground that is too small based on 250.122, so they will be addressed.

    I ran a new circuit for my bathroom which was the initial problem which has led to much more work than expected, but I think it is worth it.

    As much as I didn't want to do all this extra work for one *little* circuit, thanks to those who insisted it should be done correctly.
    Last edited by julesy; 05-04-2011 at 12:54 PM.

  12. #27
    Jack of all trades DonL's Avatar
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    Hello julesy,

    I was glad that you came back with an update.

    So did you get an electrician to do the work, or were you able to DIY ?

    Just was wondering.

    Sometimes when we see electricians doing the work half-butt , it makes you think how they got a licenses.

    Not all electricians are created equal, Nor are the the people that want too DIY.

    I have a big respect for Electric power, It is nothing to play around with. But You can not be scared of it either.

    Have a great day.

    DonL
    Theory only works perfect in a vacuum.

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  13. #28
    DIY Junior Member julesy's Avatar
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    Hi DonL,

    I performed all the work myself. I did have a friend who is an electrician take a look at it once complete and he was happy with what I had done.

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