Two Circuit Breakers for One Circuit?

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  #1  
Old 03-17-05, 02:19 PM
camdang
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Two Circuit Breakers for One Circuit?

In my brother-in-law's house, when we want to turn off the power of the receptables in the living room, we need to turn off two separate 20-amp circuit breakers from the breaker panel. I'm just wondering why we have to turn off two circuit breakers, but not just one? Is this normal? Your answer to my question is greatly appreciated.
 
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  #2  
Old 03-17-05, 02:22 PM
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Very few homes are wired on a one-breaker/one-room system. Because rooms often share walls with other rooms, and both sides of a wall are normally wired at the same time on the same circuit, the one-breaker/one-room algorithm seldom would seldom make good sense. Not only that, but access to two circuits from one room offers a lot more flexibility in how you can use power.

So it's perfectly normal.
 
  #3  
Old 03-17-05, 02:27 PM
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You states plural receptacles. Do you mean that two breakers control power to different receptacles, or do you mean that 2 breakers control power to the same receptacle? If you mean the same receptacle, does one breaker control the bottom half of the receptacle and the other breaker the top half?

Wiring in homes can take any number of paths. In older homes the trend was to put many lights and receptacles on the same circuit. There weren't nearly the number of electrical appliances, and they could get away with it.

In newer homes they know about such things as hair dryers, televisions, entertainment centers, computers, and everything else. The trend now is to wire so that many of these items get their own circuit, or almost their own circuit. Some of this is code (ie bathrooms and kitchens) while in other places it is just common practice. This avoids the problems associated with nuisance breaker tripping.
 
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Old 03-17-05, 02:43 PM
camdang
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The two breakers control power to every receptacle in the living room. They control both the top half and bottom half of the receptacle. In other words, if we want to turn off power to any receptacle in the living room, we have to turn off power of the two breakers.
 
  #5  
Old 03-17-05, 02:50 PM
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If this is the case then you have a cross wired circuit. This should be investigates and fixed immediately.

Has this always been this way? Did your brother-in-law make any changes to the wiring or to the receptacles or switches himself?
 
  #6  
Old 03-17-05, 03:01 PM
camdang
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We just found out this issue recently when we tried to add another receptacle to the living room. Thanks for giving me the answer. I'll tell my brother-in-law to have an electrician to investigate the problem.
 
  #7  
Old 03-17-05, 05:57 PM
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Well, I did misread your post the first time. But I would still like to clarify something. If you only shut off one of the two breakers, do both halves of every receptacle still work perfectly? In other words, shutting off only one breaker does absolutely nothing?
 
  #8  
Old 03-17-05, 10:26 PM
camdang
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You are right! John, both halves of every receptacle still work perfectly if I only shut off one of the two breakers. I believe Racraft is right that there is a cross wired circuit somewhere.
 
  #9  
Old 03-18-05, 06:33 AM
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I agree. Get it fixed.
 
  #10  
Old 03-18-05, 10:55 AM
camdang
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Thank you for all your help. My brother-in-law will have an electrician to have it fixed ASAP.
 
  #11  
Old 03-18-05, 12:44 PM
hth
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I have a similiar problem in my home. Breaker A controls receptales in 2 bedrooms. Breaker B seems to be for the switches in living room, family room but to cut power to the switches I must turn off both breaker A and B. Lights are still on if I turn off either one breaker unless I kill both. How come it happen like this? Is this normal? Thx.
 
  #12  
Old 03-18-05, 02:03 PM
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Yep, similar problem. Get it fixed too. Maybe camdang will send his electrician over when he's done.
 
  #13  
Old 03-18-05, 03:16 PM
hth
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would you explain a little bit about a cross wired circuit. Is it because the person who wired the circuit did wrong from the beginning or the wires got crossed accidently somehow later? I googled but can't find any on web. Thx.
 
  #14  
Old 03-18-05, 05:59 PM
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Two separate circuits come into the same box somewhere. Someone connected them together when they should have kept them separate.
 
  #15  
Old 03-18-05, 06:29 PM
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It seems unlikely that an electrician would make this mistake. But it also seems unlikely that anybody would make this mistake. It's not a common mistake, and finding two people on this thread with the same problem is pretty incredible. That's why I asked the clarifying questions earlier because I was having a hard time believing it.
 
  #16  
Old 03-18-05, 08:14 PM
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My first guess as to how this could happen would be that a duplex receptical was fed by both circuits (one circuit feeding the top, the other feeding the bottom).

Someone then replaced the receptical for some reason, but failed to remove the tab connecting the top and bottom gold screws, thus interconnecting the two circuits.

My second guess, if any remodeling has occured, would be that cables belonging to both these circuits had to be relocated, and were brought into a junction box together. Rather than proper connections being made, all blacks were just nutted together.

John and/or Bob: Am I safe in assuming that the situation described would involve two circuits off the same phase in the panel box? Otherwise, the breakers would trip immediately, correct?
 
  #17  
Old 03-18-05, 09:13 PM
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Yes, chirkware, that assumption is correct.
 
  #18  
Old 03-19-05, 08:45 AM
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Someone then replaced the receptical for some reason, but failed to remove the tab connecting the top and bottom gold screws, thus interconnecting the two circuits.
If that circuit was installed correctly it would have blown the circuit instantly as the hots should have been from different legs and you would have made a dead short on 240 volts.
 
  #19  
Old 03-21-05, 09:41 AM
hth
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hm. I remember there is a duplex controlled by a switch. I seen switch controls one outlet and the other one always on but this switch controls both. It maybe what chirkware described in his first guess but joed got me cofused me now.
 
  #20  
Old 03-21-05, 10:03 AM
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hth,

Describe the wiring at the switch and at the receptacle in question, and we can possibly figure this out.
 
  #21  
Old 03-21-05, 10:45 AM
hth
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I will look when I got home today. Thx.
 
  #22  
Old 03-22-05, 09:48 AM
hth
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There is only one pair of wires entering the receptacle box and each wire goes to each side of the receptacle. At the switch box, 2 pairs of wires with the switch tied to 2 black wires and the white wires twisted together in a wire nut.

The problem for crossed wire must be some where. I will have an electrician look at it when he hook up the meter to my panel. I wanted to upgrade panel to 200A and it's been a month sitting at the public utilities to wait for the crew!
 
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