Tandem Breaker Problem

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  #1  
Old 02-01-06, 12:48 PM
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Tandem Breaker Problem

Hello,

Yesterday I was trying to replace a defective tandem breaker in my Siemens panel, and noticed that the new one could not fit. The old breaker had a loose handle and was intermittent in operation.

When I tried to put in a new breaker (same type and brand as the old one), I could not get the new tandem breaker to fit properly. I noticed that the new one is keyed against installation in certain panels.

My question is, how could a tandem breaker have been put in a panel that was not designed to accomodate these breakers? The entire panel is filled with these... and I cannot replace the defective one!

When I moved in to this residence a few years ago, it had passed inspection. How could this have happened and how do I replace the defective breaker? It has a loose handle.
 
  #2  
Old 02-01-06, 12:50 PM
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You do not have the correct tandem breaker for your panel. It may look correct, but it is not.

As for "passing inspection", I would not expect a home inspector to catch something like this.
 
  #3  
Old 02-01-06, 12:54 PM
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Are tandem breakers supposed to be even placed in this panel?

The tandem breaker that I have is made to prevent installation in a panel without a bus bar that has a split in the middle... and my panel is not supposed to have tandem breakers installed. Basically, I don't think the previous electrician installed this right.
 
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Old 02-01-06, 12:56 PM
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If your panel is not supposed to have tandem breakers installed, then stop trying to install this one.
 
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Old 02-01-06, 12:59 PM
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If you look closely at the breaker, you will see that it probably says something like 'CTL' or 'class CTL' or something similar.

This stands for 'Circuit Total Limiting', and is there to enforce the maximum number of circuit breakers in a panel.

There are also replacement breakers for panels which predate the CTL requirement.

If your panel predates the CTL requirement, then you need to get one of these special 'non-CTL' breakers.

If you have a CTL panel, then a 'non-CTL' breaker will fit, but will be a code violation.

You should look at the panel label, where the maximum number of circuit breakers will be listed, and if you need CTL breakers. Often times the model number of the panel will imply the maximum number of circuits, so if you can't find the maximum number of circuits, please post the panel model.

If as you say the panel is 'filled' with tandem breakers, and the panel is not labeled as being suitable for such, then you probably have a much bigger repair that you bargained for.

-Jon
 
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Old 02-01-06, 12:59 PM
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I know... my question is why was this done by the previous electrician then? Why did he put a tandem breaker in the panel when he (most likely) knew that it should not have been done?

And how do I fix this problem?
 
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Old 02-01-06, 01:01 PM
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Sorry, I just wanted to get that circuit working again... I thought the problem was that the handle on the breaker was loose.

But now I have a bigger problem...
 
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Old 02-01-06, 01:04 PM
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Originally Posted by appadv
The tandem breaker that I have is made to prevent installation in a panel without a bus bar that has a split in the middle... and my panel is not supposed to have tandem breakers installed. Basically, I don't think the previous electrician installed this right.
Did he cut the contact springs on the breakers to get them to go in?
Are there more than 40 breakers total?
You could have a lawsuit against the installer if you can determine from permits or whatever who did the work.

More than 40 breakers should have been noticed by the inspector as should have an excessive use of tandems.



So basically you have a bunch of field-modified breakers.
You need a good electrician.
Make sure he documents and preserves the evidence.
 
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Old 02-01-06, 01:07 PM
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There are not more than 40 breakers total, but the panel is filled with these "modified" tandem breakers.

The electrical upgrade was done just before I bought the house, and I am trying to find the paperwork to find the "licensed electrician."

How do I solve this problem?
 
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Old 02-01-06, 01:27 PM
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To repeat:

I don't believe that these are _modified_ tandem breakers.

I believe that these are breakers intended for use in a non-CTL panel.

If you have a non-CTL panel, then this is possibly a correct use. If you have a non-CTL panel, then you need to examine the panel label to determine the maximum number of breakers, and then you have to manually count.

If this _is_ a CTL panel, then the breaker that you bought will fit only in certain spaces on the panel (usually the _lower_ spaces), but not in others.

If this is a CTL panel, and the electrician used non-CTL breakers, then this is a clear violation, and was done to get more breakers into the panel than the panel is permitted to use.

If this work was done recently, then you might be able to compel the electrician to fix the problem.

-Jon
 
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Old 02-01-06, 01:31 PM
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The work was done several years ago.

What I did right now: I got a standard, single-pole 15-amp Siemens breaker and installed it where the tandem breaker used to be. I am lucky since only one circuit needs to be powered; the other circuit on the old tandem breaker was for an air conditioner.

So, for now, I took out the tandem breaker and put a single breaker inside. It works properly right now. Is this fine for now?
 
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Old 02-01-06, 01:35 PM
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Originally Posted by appadv
There are not more than 40 breakers total, but the panel is filled with these "modified" tandem breakers.
Are you able to verify that they were hacked?



> The electrical upgrade was done just before I bought the house, and
> I am trying to find the paperwork to find the "licensed electrician."

Pretty recent. His fingerprints should still be on the breakers.



> How do I solve this problem?

You need a new 30 or 40-space panel, preferably with no tandem breakers.

If you have 200A service, get the full 40 space panel.
If you have one or more subpanels, then 30 space is fine.

Personally, I think tandem breakers make for too much crowding of wires inside which makes it harder to work with.
 
  #13  
Old 02-01-06, 01:42 PM
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I looked again at the panel cover and it has numbers for breakers #1-24. There are 12 spaces on the panel.

According to the panel door, "Maximum number of installed breakers" is 24.

I only have 19.
 
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Old 02-01-06, 02:02 PM
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Is this alright?
 
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Old 02-01-06, 02:17 PM
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As you have described things, a panel with 12 spaces, designed for 24 breakers (but all tandems), that doesn't mention 'CTL' anywhere, and doesn't have the 'forked stabs' on the bus, you have a 'non-CTL' panel, it is fine to totally fill the panel with tandem breakers.

Your current fix, using a single breaker to run one of the circuits, is acceptable. You did 'wirenut' off the end of the wire that you disconnected????

To fix your original problem, you will need to buy a correct _non-CTL_ tandem breaker.

Look at the panel label. It will list the brands and types of breaker that are suitable for your panel.

-Jon
 
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Old 02-01-06, 02:22 PM
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> "As you have described things, a panel with 12 spaces, designed for 24 breakers (but all tandems), that doesn't mention 'CTL' anywhere, and doesn't have the 'forked stabs' on the bus, you have a 'non-CTL' panel, it is fine to totally fill the panel with tandem breakers."

> "Your current fix, using a single breaker to run one of the circuits, is acceptable. You did 'wirenut' off the end of the wire that you disconnected????"

Yes. Thanks for the help. I did 'wirenut' off the end of the wire that I disconnected; it's an air conditioner circuit that I don't need right now.
 
  #17  
Old 02-01-06, 04:23 PM
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Take the old breaker to the electrcial supply house and get one that matches it.
 
 

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