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Thread: Question on adding branch to a panel - how do you guys access the knockouts?

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    DIY Senior Member Probedude's Avatar
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    Default Question on adding branch to a panel - how do you guys access the knockouts?

    I have a house built in 1965 with 100A service.
    Looking to pull 2 separate branches off the panel, 1 to each bathroom for a in-ceiling vent/heater. Per the manufacturer information on the panel door, adding a twin breaker into one of the available slots is allowed.

    Question though - how do you guys get to the panel knockouts to bring in another romex line? Exterior of house is stucco, interior drywall. Peak of roof comes down over where the service panel is so attic access is impossible to drill from there.

    Assuming that I need to open the drywall, it looks like the meter has to be pulled to be able to install a strain relief and then romex through the top of the panel. Coming in from the bottom would alleviate needing to call the Edison to pull the meter, but is this allowed?

    So how do you pro's add a branch circuit to a panel in a finished house?

  2. #2
    Electrical Contractor/Instructor jwelectric's Avatar
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    First thing I do is pull the meter. I have been doing this for more years than some here are old and have learned that one NEVER works in a live panel.

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    Moderator & Master Plumber hj's Avatar
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    quote; First thing I do is pull the meter. I have been doing this for more years than some here are old and have learned that one NEVER works in a live panel.

    Here, that would be a good way to get a hefty fine. Once YOU break the meter seal, the utility does NOT know WHEN you did it, and whether you do it to install jumpers between meter reading times. ONE does work in a live panel when necessary, but then that is why they make "hot gloves".

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    In the Trades SacCity's Avatar
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    You are adding circuits. Easy peasy,, done all the time no need to pull the panel...
    Most likly will need to cut two access panels, one near the panel it self and a second below the top plate of the wall

    On the projects that I've done I have always run one or two empty 3/4" conduits up for future service.

    But then I work on rentals were I have to go back to the same property year after year.
    Spend alot of time laughing at the work I did 30 years ago....
    Michael

  5. #5

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    >So how do you pro's add a branch circuit to a panel in a finished house?

    I don't know if this is an inside panel or outside so I'm not entirely sure what your situation is, but this is how we do it:

    You can use any knockout -bottom, top, side, whatever. Try and pick one you can position a drill directly over as it makes the next step easier. To get the knockout out from the inside drill a small hole in the center of it, then stick a screwdriver through it and pry it out. If this is an inside panel usually the overlap of the cover is enough so you can cut a small hole in the sheet rock big enough for a connector to pass through, yet still be covered when you put the cover back on. If thats the case cut your hole, fish the wire up from the basement through the hole, strip it, put the connector on, then fish it back into the hole and up through the panel knockout. You can then slide the bushing over the wires and secure the connector. If this is an outside panel I'd have to see a picture to be able to advise you.

    -rick

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    DIY Senior Member Probedude's Avatar
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    Thanks everyone.
    This is an outside panel. The room on the other side of the panel in the house is a bedroom.

    Regarding pulling the meter, if I come in from below I don't need to pull it. From the top I would be calling Edison to pull it as I would not be able to tighten the lock ring on the romex clamp let alone get my hand up there to start it. It appears I wouldn't be able to fish the romex down to the breaker area either very easily with the meter in place - not to mention it would be live.

    From the bottom, no meter problems and I'll of course turn off the main breakers. Don't know if the panel is fitted wall to wall between two studs or not. Might have to go sideways through a stud with the feeds and then up into the header and then ceiling.

    The builder did put in 2 qty 3/4" conduit lengths for future expansion but they are already filled by previous updates to the house - electric oven in one, and 2 qty 20A feeds to a enclosed patio room in the other.

    I guess I'll go at it from the inside of the house. I can do drywall, not great at it, but better than I can do stucco.

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    Electrical Contractor/Instructor jwelectric's Avatar
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    I have been doing this for over 44 years. I hold the highest license that the state of North Carolina issues as well as holding the highest certificate in electrical inspection.

    I have done electrical work of all aspects from wiring mobile homes to high rises, industrial and commercial.
    I would never install any circuit into any live panel. First it is against every safety law ever written, second it is very dangerous. Unless you have a calorie rated suit of at least 20, hat with shield, voltage rated gloves, and voltage rated tools then don’t open the panel and start poking around.

    Call the power company if you are afraid to pull the meter yourself but never install anything in a live panel.

  8. #8
    Test, Don't Guess! cacher_chick's Avatar
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    If all electricans worked like that JW, they might be safer but they would also have to double their prices.

    The only time I have ever seen an electrician pull a meter was to change a panel and/or the feeders to the panel and then they call the power company when they are done. Here, the p.c. has to reinstall the meter and a new seal, and they won't do it unless the building inspector has left his approved inspection sticker.

    I suspect that thousands of breakers are replaced or branch circuits added every day, without anyone pulling a meter.

  9. #9
    Electrical Contractor/Instructor jwelectric's Avatar
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    There are also thousands out there that was working in live panels that are either maimed for life or dead.

    Now one might not much care about their self but the families are the ones who are sufferings the most. If you don’t care about yourself at least think about the ones that will have to tend and support you should something go wrong.

    Don’t just put yourself and your family in jeopardy in the name of saving a dollar as it may and very possibly could end up costing more in the end.

  10. #10
    Jack of all trades DonL's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by jwelectric View Post
    I have been doing this for over 44 years. I hold the highest license that the state of North Carolina issues as well as holding the highest certificate in electrical inspection.

    I have done electrical work of all aspects from wiring mobile homes to high rises, industrial and commercial.
    I would never install any circuit into any live panel. First it is against every safety law ever written, second it is very dangerous. Unless you have a calorie rated suit of at least 20, hat with shield, voltage rated gloves, and voltage rated tools then don’t open the panel and start poking around.

    Call the power company if you are afraid to pull the meter yourself but never install anything in a live panel.

    Hello JW and the Group.

    I hope all is having a good day.

    JW first of all You are to smart for your britches.

    I have worked on many 600 Volt 3 phase Systems, With power ON.
    If I would have to kill power then, It cost money some where in the plant.
    That is why we are experienced, working with electricity, and need to be licensed.

    I do agree that it is safer to work with the power off, but no can do, Many times, In the real world.

    A home owner may not be able to do the work, without a permit and inspection after the work is done.
    but when I need to pull a meter I just tell them why I pulled it, Normally only to change the main input breaker,
    they say fine and put a new seal. I am in Texas, may very state to state, and who you know.

    I am sorry that everyone is not as smart as You.
    But sometimes we have to uses the tools that we average no Nothings have. You know it all, Wish I did.

    Maybe in my next life.

    Turning Off the power when you read voltage is safer, but it gives you a bad reading...

    Have a great Day.

    DonL.

  11. #11
    Electrical Contractor/Instructor jwelectric's Avatar
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    Don you make a very good point here;
    Quote Originally Posted by DonL View Post
    That is why we are experienced, working with electricity, and need to be licensed.
    What we must remember is those asking questions here are do-it-yourselfers and not ripe old experienced licensed electricians. When we answer them we need to keep their safety at the front of our minds as well as their inexperience.
    Quote Originally Posted by DonL View Post
    I have worked on many 600 Volt 3 phase Systems, With power ON.
    And I hope that you had on your Personal Protective Equipment while doing so. Ever pay any attention to that poster somewhere in the shop where you work, you know the one from OSHA? Ever pay any attention to the first line, ďItís the LawĒ?

    I do hope that you would consider the type people that post and read this forum. Know that most have little or no experience. Do you really think it is a good idea for them to start poking copper into a live panel?

    I to have worked on live circuits and panels and as high as 4160 volts but when I did I was dressed for the task at hand. Checking voltages in a residential panel requires hard hat, eye protection, voltage rated gloves, fire retardant clothing, and the proper rated meter.
    Quote Originally Posted by DonL View Post
    JW first of all You are to smart for your britches.
    Now I donít know how smart I am but I am smart enough to know that should something go wrong and I wasnít doing things in a safe manner it wonít be only me that suffers but my family will suffer also. I love my wife and children to much to put them through something that I could have prevented.

    Quote Originally Posted by DonL View Post
    But sometimes we have to uses the tools that we average no Nothings have.
    Knowing that most home owners donít have the PPE required to work in a live panel or even know about the ratings of meters I for one am not going to start telling them it is alright to just poke around with enough heat energy to burn them to a crisp.
    I would hope that me stating the dangers of electricity would not be Offensive to you in any way. I would hope that as a seasoned veteran you would take their wellbeing into consideration also.

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    DIY Senior Member dlarrivee's Avatar
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    I'm confused, if I shut off the main breaker is the panel still considered live?

    I've never seen any electrician pull a meter, nor is it acceptable in my area...

  13. #13
    Retired Defense Industry Engineer jadnashua's Avatar
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    See those big wires coming into the panel? Those are hot unless you pull the meter (or have some other shutoff before the panel which is unusual but not a bad idea). The bus bars are not energized, but there is plenty of power in the panel until you remove the meter!
    Jim DeBruycker
    Important note - I'm not a pro
    Retired Defense Industry Engineer; Schluter 2.5-day Workshop Completed 2013, 2014

  14. #14
    Electrical Contractor/Instructor jwelectric's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by dlarrivee View Post
    I'm confused, if I shut off the main breaker is the panel still considered live?

    I've never seen any electrician pull a meter, nor is it acceptable in my area...
    I have reached a peak in my electrical career at which I am very fortunate. Twice a year I get to sit with some of the greatest minds in North America including some from Canada. There is a big push with the US and Canada to bring the NEC in more uniformity with the two nations as well as all of the NFPA documents. With both nations safety is the forerunner.

    Across both nations there are several electricians that do not follow all the rules set forth for their safety as well as the safety of others. Then we have the do-it-yourselfer that has no professional training at all and only has the experience of watching someone else do something.
    Then the attitude, ďI can do that. Itís not rocket science.Ē

    Most statistics concerning electrical accidents will be workplace related as the government mandates that these accidents be recorded but homeowner accidents are not recorded.
    In one of the safety training programs that I teach I have several pictures of homeowners who have lost hands, arms, legs, and two who lost their life doing weekend projects around the house. One of the fatalities was a homeowner that wanted to exchange a light for a fan. He had crawled in the attic to mount a fan rated box for the fan but did not de-energize the circuit. It was almost an hour before the rescue could get to him.

    It only takes one tenth of an amp to kill. In a 15 amp circuit there will be 150 one tenth amps. In a service panel simply multiply the size of the breaker by point one.
    The conductors supplying the main breaker are not fused and can deliver up to and beyond 10,000 amps of electrical energy. With the main turned off the terminals that these service conductors land on are still live.
    To fault one of these to ground or too short across both the only thing to stop the flow of current is the transformer supplying them.

    I can assure you that there is not a place on earth that it is not acceptable to remove the meter before working in a panel if the proper procedure is followed.
    It is only when someone wants to save a dollar and does not follow the proper procedure that removing the meter is not acceptable. It is only when someone wanting to save a dollar that the life changing accidents occur. There is a reason behind permits and inspections, itís called proper procedure.

    What most homeowners never think about is the impact an accident will have on their family it will be the family that does the most suffering, loss of income as well as the medical expenses.

    The sad part is the safety issues never hit home until it is too late and then it is all that anyone thinks about.

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    DIY Senior Member dlarrivee's Avatar
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    So you're a politician/inspector then?

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