breaker box outside of main panel?

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  #1  
Old 02-20-07, 02:50 PM
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breaker box outside of main panel?

Hi all,

I have a question concerning a 40amp breaker in a metal housing mounted outside/alongside the main panel box. This goes to an a/c unit. It is wired to the lugs (house side or after the breaker) of the 100amp main breaker inside the panel box. A home inspector told us that this needs to be fixed. Where should the wires to the exterior breaker be attached in the main box? From its own 40 amp breaker in the main box? Then wouldn't it end up protected twice? I think the reason it's installed outside the box is that there was no room for the breaker in the main box at the time the a/c work was done...that's full.

Thanks,
Mark
 
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  #2  
Old 02-20-07, 03:13 PM
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what you have there as you desrcibing this is pretty dangerous and therefore i cant see it from here but this is not safe at all

either get the electrician to come out and get this fix up or get a subpanel to clear up some room you have in orignal breaker box

please heed the warning quick


merci , marc
 
  #3  
Old 02-20-07, 03:18 PM
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Yes, this needs to be fixed. It's not the worst problem you could have, but it is not trivial either. The correct solution is to feed the subpanel from an appropriately sized breaker in the main panel. You will have to make room in the main panel for the breaker by either using tandem breakers in the main panel if the panel supports them, or by moving some of the circuits from the main panel to the subpanel thereby freeing up some slots for the subpanel feeder.

Could you please post the manufacturer and model of the panels and the age if known? Also, is the air conditioner subpanel mounted right next to the main panel or is there some distance between them? A picture would help too; you can post the link from a free photo service like Yahoo! or PhotoBucket.
 
  #4  
Old 02-20-07, 03:46 PM
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When I said "metal box" I really should have said a box designed to hold a single breaker, it is a Square D brand box, it actually has all the hardware to mount the breaker in it just like a larger sub panel would. So it appears to be a proper "sub panel box" if that makes any sense. It's just the way it's hooked to the main box that is the issue with the "home inspector"

Mark
 
  #5  
Old 02-20-07, 04:08 PM
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Your description isn't clear, and the fact of the matter is that home inspectors are not always knowledgeable about electrical installations.

There are thus several possibilities, and several different potential problems.

1) _Double lugging_. 'Double lugging' means that two conductors are connected into a single hole somewhere. Most of the time, if you see 'double lugging' then you have a hack job that violates the listing of the connectors in question. This is not prohibited by code, however most connectors are tested and listed for a single conductor per hole. Unless you have some uncommon connectors or lugs on the breaker, if you see two conductors per connection you have to make a splice somewhere.

2) Protection of the conductors to this 'subpanel'. How large are these conductors, how long are these conductors, and are they properly protected at their ampacity? These conductors may be 'taps', protected by the downstream breaker.

3) Connection to service conductors. You say that this subpanel is connected on the 'house' side of your main breaker. When you turn the main breaker off, does the power to the subpanel get cut off or not?

4) Service conductor size. Are the service conductors properly sized for the connected load?

-Jon
 
  #6  
Old 02-20-07, 05:37 PM
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The sub is located almost directly alongside the main with a very short run less than six inches of wire from box to box.

When you turn the main 100 amp breaker off there is no power to the box.

I will check on the size of the conductor to the sub.

The main box is a Cutler Hammer not sure of the date...it's more that 20 yrs, How do you date these boxes?

I will try to get a photo posted tomorrow am.

Thanks,
Mark
 
  #7  
Old 02-20-07, 07:00 PM
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Tap rule in play?

This may be perfectly fine. depending on the technique and wire size.

We're checking.
 
  #8  
Old 02-21-07, 12:05 PM
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Yes,
I had an electrician look today and he confirmed that the "home inspector" was absolutely wrong! There is a tap rule that allows this type of connection for short distances! I'm angered that these home inspectors scare the buyers and the sellers because of there limited knowledge of code.

Thanks all,

mark
 
  #9  
Old 02-21-07, 12:08 PM
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Send the home inspector the bill. Ask him to pay it. If he/she refuses then threaten to complain to the person who recommended him or her (if he was recommended to you) and to the Better Business Bureau. If he/she still refuses to pay it, follow through on your promise to complain.
 
  #10  
Old 02-21-07, 01:42 PM
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i dont know if you can try this get the photo link here and we can see and also make the photo to show the main inspector office and verify the story there

[ you can get the photo here thru photobucket.com { i think this is a correct one but not sure maybe other as well }]


Merci, Marc
 
  #11  
Old 02-21-07, 02:40 PM
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In my estimation, the home inspector had at least a 90% chance of being right on this one. Usually this type of subpanel connection is a bootleg hack, not a legal application of tap rules; tap rules are rarely used in a residential setting. I don't think that you can fault him in this case for recommending that you call an electrician to check it out. I think it would have been worse if he didn't mention it to you and it was a serious problem.
 
  #12  
Old 02-21-07, 06:03 PM
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Thumbs up Again!

I'm with ibPOOKS.

Home inspectors are not expected to be as well versed in every discipline,as each tradesman.
They are knowledgable in most general and common practices of each trade (hopefully).This could have gotten by some very seasoned electricians aswell.If they have not been exposed to it before. Kinda like doctors..Some people send the veterans for a loop. When others may see it right away.
Comes down to exposure. This is a very large complex feild.

Accept the fact it's safe,legal. Then at most, suggest that the inspector does some self enhancement.
I see no major flaw with their discovery. You did the right thing by asking.
If someone wants absolute..Hire each trade twice to inspect.
 
  #13  
Old 02-21-07, 06:08 PM
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In the first post Mark stated, "A home inspector told us that this needs to be fixed."

Mark did not state the home inspector told him the installation MAY not be safe or MAY need to be fixed, nor did he state that the home inspector suggested that an electrician look over the installation to see if it was proper. If the home inspector had made either of these statements then I would agree that no action is warranted.

However, if the home inspector outright stated that the installation needed to be fixed and did not allow room for his or her being wrong, then I would seek recourse.
 
  #14  
Old 02-21-07, 06:45 PM
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My thoughts

I agree, the inspectors wording was wrong. Perhaps they can recoupe the FEE of the electrician.

(ADD: Councilor, it was stated "A home inspector" Not "my".)

Is this realy the path we want to go? Or accept it's safe? Inspections cost enough now.Insurance is MAD CRAZY now (and goes up every year without cause).So now your $500 inspection goes up, to cover liability. I raise my fee, just incase the Home inspector wants to defend themself, and yank me in (to dispute the $150 charge).Then the Lawyers and the endless dates,
2 years down the road... and nothing has changed.

Where does this get us? You, your car..anything, get a second oppinion.
This you pay for. Where is the great finacial loss of this one opinion?

I'll stop now.. before I get into the mind set of our society!
 

Last edited by lectriclee; 02-21-07 at 08:02 PM. Reason: ADD: -----
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