Several service feed and breaker panel questions.

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  #1  
Old 02-26-06, 11:35 AM
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Several service feed and breaker panel questions.

I've been reading this forum for the past several hours, and now have some questions.

First off, I am assuming (yes, I know what they say) that my service feed is 200Amp-- the meter is stamped 200 CL anyway. There are two service panels in the house. The main panel is a 100Amp unit. It has no main disconnect. A subpanel, also with no main disconnect, is in the basement and is connected in series to the main panel (not through a feeder breaker). The main panel is grounded to earth and the water main. The subpanel's ground/neutral bar is connected to the main panel's ground/neutral bar with a twisted copper wire. It is not independently grounded.

Here is some pictures.

Main: http://i20.photobucket.com/albums/b2...ombie/main.jpg
sub: http://i20.photobucket.com/albums/b2...Zombie/sub.jpg



Here are my concerns:

1. Since both panels share a ground/neutral bar, am I not at risk of having hot current on the ground? I read that only the main panel can have a bonded neutral/ground.

2. I have several instances of two neutral wires and also neutral and ground wires sharing the same terminal. How can I correct this problem if I can not turn off the power (no main disconnects). If I switch off every single breaker, will it be OK to fix these issues?

3. How do I know the size of wire coming from the meter is large enough to handle both panels?

4. I'm thinking about having an electrician come and install a 200Amp breaker/main disconnect outside of the house right next to the meter. Is this a good idea?
 
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  #2  
Old 02-26-06, 12:32 PM
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multiple violations

Originally Posted by JoeTheZombie
my service feed is 200Amp-- the meter is stamped 200 CL anyway.
Your service is 100A. The meter markings don't tell you a thing.
The same meter is used for 100A, 200A and 60A and anything else up to 200A.

> There are two service panels in the house.
Which in this case is illegal.


> The main panel is a 100Amp unit.
This is your service panel.


> It has no main disconnect.
You are allowed up to six handles. You have too many.


> A subpanel, also with no main disconnect,
> is in the basement and is connected in series to the main panel
> (not through a feeder breaker).

I see. This is illegal. This is parallel - NOT series.
The conductors from the main to the sub are not protected.


> The main panel is grounded to earth and the water main.
This is fine.


> The subpanel's ground/neutral bar is connected to the main panel's
> ground/neutral bar with a twisted copper wire.

You have a faulty installation with a parallel EGC and neutral.
Thus your EGC carries current.


> It is not independently grounded.
This is fine.
The problem is that the neutral and ground are the same thing is the subpanel.


> Here are some pictures.
Very good.


> 1. Since both panels share a ground/neutral bar, am I not at risk of having hot current on
> the ground?
Not merely a risk, but a fact.


> I read that only the main panel can have a bonded neutral/ground.
Correct.


> 2. I have several instances of two neutral wires and also neutral and ground wires sharing
> the same terminal.

You need to get the whole mess replaced. I see no way to fix what you have.


> How can I correct this problem if I can not turn off the power (no main disconnects).
> If I switch off every single breaker, will it be OK to fix these neutral issues?
Yes.


> 3. How do I know the size of wire coming from the meter is large enough to handle both panels?
You probably don't. Is it hot (temperature) to the touch?
It appears to 100A #4 copper.


> 4. I'm thinking about having an electrician come and install a 200Amp
> breaker/main disconnect outside of the house right next to the meter.
> Is this a good idea?

He will also need to replace everything else that is wrong.
You need a new service drop down the outside wall, a new meter can, new service entrance cables, a new 200A main panel, and a new 100A subpanel with a floating neutral.
 

Last edited by bolide; 02-26-06 at 07:27 PM.
  #3  
Old 02-26-06, 01:23 PM
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Due respect, Bolide missed the fact there is no MAIN disco. Therefore with all breakers OFF there is still power comming to the feedrs and buss, (big wires)

Also, GREAT idea get an electrician!!!! If nothing else they will be able to give you a good SAFE base to start with. Great Pictures, They should be in the how NOT TO Gallery! Good luck.
 
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Old 02-26-06, 01:41 PM
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Thanks for the information, gentlemen. My brain was thinking parallel, but for some reason I typed series. Anyway, the house was built in 1908 and I believe the electrical "upgrades" took place during the 60's. When I purchased the house one year ago, it passed the electrical inspection. I am very upset that I have an illegal installation and looks like I have an expensive repair coming! Can I go after the inspector who approved this "mess"?
 
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Old 02-26-06, 03:40 PM
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Originally Posted by lectriclee
Due respect, Bolide missed the fact there is no MAIN disco.
That's very disrespectful of you. I made several notes about this. I certainly did not miss it.



> Therefore with all breakers OFF there is still power coming to the feeders and buss, (big wires)

And so what? This is true in all panels. What I told him is correct.

If he kills every breaker in every box, there will be no neutral current and he can move neutral and ground wires just as safely as if there were a main disconnect.

He can move them and there will still be multiple violations.
 
  #6  
Old 02-26-06, 04:53 PM
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Originally Posted by bolide
That's very disrespectful of you.
I hope you get over the hurt. <img src="http://home.earthlink.net/~ourcozylittlenest/forum/emoticons/more/nopity.gif">


Joe, a home inspector rarely holds ANY legal authority. All he did was do you a disservice by missing very obvious and glaring electrical violations. I bet he mentioned GFIs though in this older house, didn't he?
Don't get me started on incompetand H-I's.

I would seriously consider getting an electrician in there to see what's up throughout the house.
A service upgrade is well within your best interest.
 
  #7  
Old 02-26-06, 05:41 PM
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If there's no disconnect at the meter you have a problem. This doesn't look like the first panel was ever was a split buss panel and so should have a service disconnect somewhere. Looks like it was wired with too many breakers to start with.

The lugs are most likely not rated to have 2 wires in them. This would be the main lugs and the neutral that has a solid copper in with it. It appears the bottom breaker in the first panel is double wired and mixed wire sizes - the small wire is likely on too large a breaker for its' size.

One of the breakers in the second panel appears to be double wired. And you have neutrals and grounds doubled up on a couple of holes along with at least 4 grounds under 1 lug

It would definitely be in your best interest to have this looked at and at the very least get the first panel protected. A new 200 AMP service/panel may be a good idea - inside is better if you can get it there.
 
  #8  
Old 02-26-06, 08:55 PM
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The only thing the inspector mentioned was that the KT wiring in the basement and attic was old, but still functioning properly-- just not to splice anything on to it. He also mentioned one outlet in the kitchen was not grounded, but all the others were just fine so it was probably a loose ground wire. Believe me, this guy is going to hear from me tomorrow.

Again, thanks for the information. I'll get an electrician over ASAP.
 
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