Replacing Circuit Breaker

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  #1  
Old 11-16-02, 04:21 PM
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Wingspar
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Replacing Circuit Breaker

I know little about wiring and circuit breakers. Iíve done a fair amount of rewiring in my house, but Iíve run into something I donít understand. Years ago, I removed all baseboard heaters in the house, and installed central heating. I did none of this work myself. The wires for the baseboard heaters were capped off, taped together with electrical tape, shoved into the little hold in the sheet rock, and then a plate to cover the hole was placed. I recently decided to make an outlet at one of these spots. I pulled the wire out of the wall, and it is just ordinary wire for wiring modern outlets, switches and so on. I put a tester on it, and it was dead, so I went ahead and wired it into a 3 prong outlet. Today I tried to find where the wire went, and I noticed a circuit breaker switch that was in the off position. This circuit breaker looks like two breakers with a bar across them so that they turn on and off together. Each is labeled 20 amps. On the door of the breaker box, the switch is labeled 230 volts. I turned this breaker on, plugged in a vacuum cleaner, the plug worked, but the vacuum cleaner made a horrible noise, and started smelling like it was burning. I turned off the breaker.

Now, where do I go from here? Can I replace this twin breaker with one 30 (20?) amp breaker, and have the plug work normally? I replaced a breaker switch once before, but that was just replacing a worn out 30 amp breaker with a new one. Simple to do after I talked to someone who knew, but this one has me stumped. Is this simple to do, or should I call in an electrician?
 
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Old 11-16-02, 04:42 PM
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bwetzel
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I take it your vacuum is no longer working. haha I guess it is not funny. You have just put 220v on your vacuum. You need to either take the wires off of the 2 pole breaker and put them on an empty single pole 15 or 20 amp (not a 30amp) or install a new breaker. If you do not know how to determine the size of the wires, then you may install a 15 amp breaker. If you know that the wires are #12 then you can put it on a single pole 20amp.
remember, black goes on the breaker and the white and bare goes on the ground bar.
Hope this helps.
Brian
 
  #3  
Old 11-16-02, 05:18 PM
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Where do you go from here? Perhaps to the vacuum cleaner store. Unless you're a lucky guy, you burned up your vacuum cleaner motor.

Brian gave you good directions, but you don't need another breaker. Just leave that breaker there, leave the black wire connected exactly where it is, and move the white wire off the breaker and on to the neutral/grounding bar.

This is all assuming that there are no red wires involved.

And be careful. It's pretty easy to kill yourself working inside the panel if you touch the wrong thing -- even if you turn the main breaker off.
 
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Old 11-16-02, 05:28 PM
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Wingspar
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Thanks for the quick response. I didn't ruin the vacum cleaner. I plugged it in a proper plug afterwards, and vacumed the whole house. Good thing too. It's only a couple of months old. I was very quick to realize something was wrong, and turned it off.

I will take the cover off the breaker box tomorrow, and look and see if I want to continue, or call an electriction, and post back with the results.
 
  #5  
Old 11-17-02, 10:06 AM
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Wingspar
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I looked at it this morning, and it didn't look too difficult, but decided to call an electrician for this one. Moving the white wire to the ground bar would mean moving several white and bare? wires on the ground bar because the white wire going to the breaker isn't long enough to reach an empty slot. There are no red wires involved.

I think if I was able to pull the circuit breaker out, it would then be safe to move the white wire, but it was in tight, and I didn't want to accidentally break something. I didn't want to shut off the main breaker switch because I still wouldn't feel comfortable working in there. I don't know if attaching a photo would help, but if it would, it's simple with the digital camera.

Sure wish I knew more about this. Wiring would be one of the very few things I would like to learn and take on after I retire in a couple of years. Do electricians take on know nothing retirees like that?
 
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Old 11-18-02, 08:39 AM
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Ya,,, next time I have to wire a house or rewire a building I will call you. Pick up at airport,, we need the help,,, will fix you right up. Got a service upgrade coming up this winter that has just about everything on it. A couple of subpanels, new feeders, detatched garage, bathroom renovation and rehooking a bunch of equipment from a couple of fuse panels that were used improperly as subs. New grounding and bonding also. I see you are not retired yet,, so in the meantime get a couple of books and look over.
 

Last edited by sberry27; 11-18-02 at 09:29 AM.
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Old 11-18-02, 07:57 PM
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bwetzel
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Sberry,
I don't think there is any place for the sarcasm that you are thinking is funny. This is the last place that people would want to be made fun of. At least he knows his limitations and by some of your advice I don't think that you know yours.
This is all that I am going to say.
Brian
 
  #8  
Old 11-18-02, 08:51 PM
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What are you talking about anyway,, there wasnt any sarcasm intended. You read something in there that you want to. Hell I was serious,,, I be glad for the help.
 
  #9  
Old 11-20-02, 09:48 AM
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scrapiron
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Replacing a circuit breaker

When using abandoned baseboard heater wiring for upgrades remember it is not uncommon to find more than one heater on a circuit. You may end up with power on a capped off wire stuffed in a wall somewhere. Also, don't forget about the thermostats .
 
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