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Thread: weird wiring and wierd voltages on 3 dual switches...

  1. #16
    DIY Junior Member meweber1000's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by ActionDave View Post
    I agree with the others. There is too much going on to diagnose without being on site.

    Please know I will not do anything without getting an electrician, but this situation is so bizarre that if I can do some investigation and perhaps find what this went to, I can focus the effort and we can get to the bottom of it. Otherwise I fear I will spend over $1000 and he won't be able to figure out what it's doing. Our attic is VERY tight and it's almost impossible to crawl around in. I've had electricians and others refuse to do it! If I bring in an electrician now, I fear after much expense, he'll just say to disconnect it all and we'll never know.

  2. #17
    DIY Junior Member meweber1000's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by big2bird View Post
    No, because that would be a dead short, unless both feeds are the same phase, which leads me to believe there is a whole lotta assuming/confusion/misinformation here. I agree you need a real sparkey. If you wish to post a ppicture, I might be able to help more, but I may not at all. Long distance electrical work is "iffy" at best.
    Here are photos...a diagram of the three dual switches, a photo of the garage circuit panel with CB #8,#10, #12, and #14 all flipped off, a photo of two of the switches (one is removed completely, and the others have the wires loosened). Name:  diagram of three switches.jpg
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Size:  31.0 KBName:  photo of switches - one removed others loose.jpg
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Size:  55.3 KBName:  photo of circuit breaker panel.jpg
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  3. #18
    Electrical Contractor/Instructor jwelectric's Avatar
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    If breakers 8 and 10 were connected to one switch they would trip.
    If breakers 12 and 14 were connected to one switch they would trip.

  4. #19
    DIY Junior Member meweber1000's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by jwelectric View Post
    If breakers 8 and 10 were connected to one switch they would trip.
    If breakers 12 and 14 were connected to one switch they would trip.
    They are connected that way. I know that sounds crazy but it's absolutely true. As proof, when the lights attached to one of them are on, I need to have BOTH #12 and #14 flipped off for the lights to go off. EITHER circuit breaker on powers the circuit. Again, I know this is crazy and that's why I came to this forum. I was told in a reply above that if the circuits are the same phase they won't trip.

  5. #20
    Electrical Contractor/Instructor jwelectric's Avatar
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    Look at 18 and 20, they are one 240 volt breaker. If any two breakers that are side by side in the panel are supplying the two single pole switches as pictured there will be a short circuit causing one or the other to trip if not both.

    The two switches with the thing you are calling jumper are two single pole switches on one yoke.

  6. #21
    DIY Senior Member kreemoweet's Avatar
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    Well, meweber1000, the problem is you keep making assertions about this strange wiring, but you never provide any convincing steps that
    you have taken to base those statements on. Unless we are mistaken in the belief that vertically adjacent breakers in that panel attach
    to opposite phases, the little diagram you posted is complete nonsense.

  7. #22
    IBEW Electrician big2bird's Avatar
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    You really have to get someone hands on with that mess, as nothing makes sense.

  8. #23
    DIY Junior Member meweber1000's Avatar
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    JWelectric...ok I spent all this time making a pretty diagram and then I mislabelled it. I don't blame you for just wiping your hands of me. Sheez. It's actually 8 and 12 powering the first switches, and 10 and 14 powering the others. I'm so sorry, and no wonder you all think I'm an idiot. But really...two CBs are simultaneously powering each dual switch...even if I can't make a diagram without typos. I've lost all credibility.

    kreemoweet:
    The steps I took are:
    disconnect the line wires from the switch so that the switch doesn't confound things
    measure voltage on the line wire with the CB on
    flip CB
    measure voltage...and its now zero.

    It's very easy to tell if a line is powered by a CB if it is by itself. I agree that having 2 CBs simultaneously power the switch is very odd. The fact that TWO CBs have to be off to turn off lights is very odd! The fact that it's odd is why I'm posting here with the experts. If only I could make a pretty diagram without typos...

  9. #24
    DIY Senior Member Chad Schloss's Avatar
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    " It's actually 8 and 12 powering the first switches, and 10 and 14 powering the others"

    Those are respectively on the same phase. They will not trip the breaker. you have two different breakers supplying one switch, which is a mess in itself. JW was trying to tell you that if it were 8 and 10 (one phase and then another phase) then it would not function because it would create a dead short between both phases. There is no need for the setup you have there and I would label it as dangerous to have two different breakers running the same switch. Hope you figure out that mess with an electrician. I'm just a homeowner with some wiring experience.

  10. #25
    DIY Junior Member meweber1000's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Chad Schloss View Post
    " It's actually 8 and 12 powering the first switches, and 10 and 14 powering the others"

    Those are respectively on the same phase. They will not trip the breaker. you have two different breakers supplying one switch, which is a mess in itself. JW was trying to tell you that if it were 8 and 10 (one phase and then another phase) then it would not function because it would create a dead short between both phases. There is no need for the setup you have there and I would label it as dangerous to have two different breakers running the same switch. Hope you figure out that mess with an electrician. I'm just a homeowner with some wiring experience.
    Thank you, Chad. Yes, I will get an electrician. It seems very deliberate, so I would really like to know what types of applications might this make sense for and try to narrow it down some more before I bring them out here. With all the help everyone here has given me, it'll be a big help already. I'll also crawl around my ridiculously tight attic and see if I can see where the wires lead...one goes underground to those lights, so who knows how far I'll get. Thanks a million.

  11. #26
    IBEW Electrician big2bird's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by meweber1000 View Post
    JWelectric...ok I spent all this time making a pretty diagram and then I mislabelled it. I don't blame you for just wiping your hands of me. Sheez. It's actually 8 and 12 powering the first switches, and 10 and 14 powering the others. I'm so sorry, and no wonder you all think I'm an idiot. But really...two CBs are simultaneously powering each dual switch...even if I can't make a diagram without typos. I've lost all credibility.

    kreemoweet:
    The steps I took are:
    disconnect the line wires from the switch so that the switch doesn't confound things
    measure voltage on the line wire with the CB on
    flip CB
    measure voltage...and its now zero.

    It's very easy to tell if a line is powered by a CB if it is by itself. I agree that having 2 CBs simultaneously power the switch is very odd. The fact that TWO CBs have to be off to turn off lights is very odd! The fact that it's odd is why I'm posting here with the experts. If only I could make a pretty diagram without typos...
    I believe you, but that is the trouble with internet diagnosis. I thought they were the same phase. It explains alot. However, there is no logical reason for it. Perhaps the switches were replaced, and no one broke the straps(links).
    You still have a myriad of issues there, among them, multiple circuits in the same box without dividers or handle ties. It's not even close to legal. Liabilty wise, I have to advise you once again. Get a local sparkey out there. If you want to make it safe. Cap all the wires off with wirenuts while all power is off, tuck them in, and install a 3 gang blank cover. My last best advice.

  12. #27
    Electrician ActionDave's Avatar
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    meweber1000, from the photo you posted I can tell you that the switches can feed two different loads from two different breakers.

    I can't tell if they are wired properly.

    I can tell you that a device like the switch you have, when fed from two different breakers should be on a breakers that have a common trip.

    The panel you have is obsolete and has a bad reputation. If you do a web search on FPE panels you will find no shortage of negative comments.

  13. #28
    Moderator & Master Plumber hj's Avatar
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    IF they are adjacent, the #8 and #10 should be on different legs which would create a 240v circuit and blow one or the other, and possibly the main breaker, if they were connected together. The same with #12 and #14. This is a valid assumption since your pool pump is 240v and it uses adjacent breakers. Something is erroneous in your diagnosis. You could safely connect #8 and #12. And #10 and #14.
    Last edited by hj; 12-19-2012 at 07:19 AM.
    Licensed residential and commercial plumber

  14. #29
    DIY Junior Member meweber1000's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by big2bird View Post
    I believe you, but that is the trouble with internet diagnosis. I thought they were the same phase. It explains alot. However, there is no logical reason for it. Perhaps the switches were replaced, and no one broke the straps(links).
    You still have a myriad of issues there, among them, multiple circuits in the same box without dividers or handle ties. It's not even close to legal. Liabilty wise, I have to advise you once again. Get a local sparkey out there. If you want to make it safe. Cap all the wires off with wirenuts while all power is off, tuck them in, and install a 3 gang blank cover. My last best advice.
    Thank you very much big2bird for all your help.

  15. #30
    Plumber jimbo's Avatar
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    I see a safety issue as you have it: the load on ONE switch could short, drawing well in excess of 20 amps and the NEITHER breaker might trip until he total current thru the switch and load wiring neared 40 amps

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