Electric Panel Issues


Old 08-14-04, 09:42 AM
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Electric Panel Issues

I have two issues related to working in circuit breaker panels.

Firstly, We were adding circuits to a GE panel. Is it proper to double up grounds and neutrals on the bus bars. There are no available terminals and I noticed that previous work had done this, so I figured it was OK. Grounds were doubled up with other grounds and neutrals were doubled up with neutrals.

Secondly, I decided to do this work without disconecting the mains. I have done this before, but not with doubling up on the bus bar. After the work was done, two surge protectors were found to be blown out. I'm trying to understand if I was the cause of this. I did notice when loosening the bus bar terminals that there was some arcing on the neutrals. I suspect, that, at worst, it would just interrupt the circuit. Why would that cause damage to surge protectors. It is my understanding that a surge protector would only fail if hit with a surge in voltage greater than the nominal 110 volts. I could not trace the circuits that I loosened up the bus bar terminals on, so I cannot correlate if the damaged components were on the loosened circuits.

Please keep any lectures on working on live panels down to a dull roar. I really hate resetting a whole bunch of clocks and VCRs.

The bright side is that now there is a separeate circuit for the deep freeze and it won't keep blowing circuits when other things are connected.
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Old 08-14-04, 09:51 AM
Join Date: Sep 2000
Location: United States
Posts: 18,497
Is it proper to double up grounds and neutrals on the bus bars
Two grounding wires in one hole is usually okay. Two neutral wires in one hole is usually not okay.

After the work was done, two surge protectors were found to be blown out. I'm trying to understand if I was the cause of this.
Hard to say for sure, but probably yes. If you're working on live wires, you cause all kinds of surges and spikes, and if the neutral is being monkeyed with, you can easily put 240 volts on a 120 volt line. My guess is that you're lucky that surge suppressors is all you lost. Worst case you might have lost your microwave, thermostat, television, etc.

I hate resetting clocks too. But not that much.
Old 08-14-04, 05:49 PM
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Well I've learned my lesson. This is my first significant electrical mistake in about 20 years of home maintainance.

I guess we should fix the neutral bus bar. If I recall corectly, you can just buy add-on bus bars. There seems to be holes in the panel for it and the bus bars only extend 2/3 the length on the panel. We'll have to see if we can find on. The previous owner or original electrician already had a couple of neutrals doubled up. There didn't seem to be any new circuits except the one we did.

Fortunately my friend has a surge protector on his brand new HDTV. So far, the damage is limited to two surge protectors, the charger for his cordless drill (which is identical to mine, so thats taken care of), and a computer speaker transformer.

How do you end up getting 240 on a 120 line with a loose neutral? You only have a ground (which is theoretically at the same potential as the neutral), the neutral and a hot. The most potential on the circuit is 120. There are no shared neutral circuits as far as we know since everything is 12/2 or 14/2 romex, even the furnace, cooling, etc.

Oh, and thanks for replying.

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