Square D changing 4 pole to two 2 pole breakers

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Old 04-06-10, 01:38 PM
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Square D changing 4 pole to two 2 pole breakers

Hi,

We had our dryer installed on one 4 pole 30 amp breaker. Since they no longer make those, the electrical shop sold us 2 30 amp two pole breakers. We are to remove the quad and put one in that slot, and the other will replace a 20 amp that is not in use. The two new ones look just like the 20 amp we are removing. The question is: which wires go where? I ASSUME (but you know how that goes) that the white and black attached to one half of the quad goes to one breaker, and the black and read on the other half will go on the other, and that we should simply be very careful to label everything right for future reference. Am I right or not and why if not and what do I do if not. :-) Pics attached, bad breaker to be replaced is the bottom right. Non used breaker to be replaced is the bottom left. Close up of wiring to old 4 pole breaker.





 
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Old 04-06-10, 02:26 PM
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Originally Posted by cynthia123 View Post
Hi,

We had our dryer installed on one 4 pole 30 amp breaker. Since they no longer make those, the electrical shop sold us 2 30 amp two pole breakers. We are to remove the quad and put one in that slot, and the other will replace a 20 amp that is not in use. The two new ones look just like the 20 amp we are removing. The question is: which wires go where? I ASSUME (but you know how that goes) that the white and black attached to one half of the quad goes to one breaker, and the black and read on the other half will go on the other, and that we should simply be very careful to label everything right for future reference. Am I right or not and why if not and what do I do if not. :-) Pics attached, bad breaker to be replaced is the bottom right. Non used breaker to be replaced is the bottom left. Close up of wiring to old 4 pole breaker.
Are you certain that all four wires feed your dryer? Typically a dryer requires a single two pole breaker. I've never seen one that needs four hot conductors. My guess would be that the other two hots feed another piece of equipment.
 
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Old 04-06-10, 02:46 PM
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Even if it was a commercial 3-phase dryer it would only be a 3 pole breaker. What you had was two 2-pole breakers combined into one. The breaker provided power to two different loads.
I ASSUME (but you know how that goes) that the white and black attached to one half of the quad goes to one breaker, and the black and read on the other half will go on the other,
Yes, that is probably correct. The red and black should be part of a 3-conductor cable. That cable provided 120/240v to the dryer. The black and white a 2-conductor cable that provided 240v perhaps to a room heater or water heater.
 
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Old 04-06-10, 03:21 PM
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Originally Posted by cynthia123 View Post
Hi,

We had our dryer installed on one 4 pole 30 amp breaker. Since they no longer make those, the electrical shop sold us 2 30 amp two pole breakers. We are to remove the quad and put one in that slot, and the other will replace a 20 amp that is not in use. The two new ones look just like the 20 amp we are removing. The question is: which wires go where? I ASSUME (but you know how that goes) that the white and black attached to one half of the quad goes to one breaker, and the black and read on the other half will go on the other, and that we should simply be very careful to label everything right for future reference. Am I right or not and why if not and what do I do if not. :-) Pics attached, bad breaker to be replaced is the bottom right. Non used breaker to be replaced is the bottom left. Close up of wiring to old 4 pole breaker.





No, you have 4 single pole tandom breakers in these four slots with breaker ties. So you have 4- 240v circuits in this mess. So if you look at the bottom 2 single tamdom breakers with ties on the bottom right, the top wires ( black & white is one 240v circuit ) the bottom wires ( black & red is one 240v circuit ). This goes the same on the 2 single tandom breakers above this one. (Black & red is one 240v circuit) & bottom ( red & blue is one 240v circuit). Hope this helps.

Jim

 
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Old 04-06-10, 03:59 PM
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How many circuits come into this panel? With the handle-tied double-quad in the bottom right and the two double-lugged breakers in the left column you might be exceeding the panel design specs. Where do all these 240V circuits go? Baseboard heaters?

Have you thought about mounting an adjacent subpanel?

Fixes that should also be done:

1) Mark white hot wires that go to breakers with red or black tape/ink/paint.

2) Replace that black wire that is nutted to the white and bare halfway up the right column with separate white and green/bare extensions.

3) White neutral wires on the neutral bus should be one-per-screw. Bare grounds of equal gauge may be doubled.

4) I'm not sure what that lone green wire wrapped around the mounting screw below the left column is, but that should be landed on the neutral/ground bus with the other grounds.

5) I don't see any GEC bond to the water pipes or ground rod. Is this perhaps done at the meter can or is there another ground bar in this panel that's not pictured? Is there another panel upstream of this one, maybe a main breaker at the meter?
 
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Old 04-07-10, 07:18 AM
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Good morning! Thanks for all the replies, there is definitely food for lots of thought here!

Nope I'm not at all certain that all four wires went to the dryer, and its just your basic GE circa 2002 cheap dryer, now that you mention it its possible that our well pump is one set of wires. My fiance has a penchant for not saying things in order, talking in circles and not answering direct questions directly. Are all you guys like that? LOL I know its an OLD panel, my fiance has been here around 15 years and hasn't touched it except to reset the occasional popped breaker. So this dryer thing is the first good look and educational process. Probably a good thing! I'm the one around here with the time and inclination for self education helped by wonderful folks like you, but keep in mind I need step by step instructions and small words, lol. And it irritates me when things weren't done right the first time and I have to go through all this to get 'em right, or up to current standards.

Anyway, We did reattach everything the way I originally said, though now from what I'm reading its possible its wrong? We attached the two top wires, a white and black to one breaker and the lower red and black to the other breaker. So now its possible that our black wires are hooked to the wrong breakers?

ibpooks, I don't have any answers to all of your questions. This is the first long look I've taken at the mess. No baseboard heaters, we're in FL. We have central heat and air, the rest operates lighting and your average household appliances. We just scored a free hot tub and its on the back porch, but it operates on 120, 20 amp. Yep I had to figure that one out to, and the water chemicals. There is a dusty 4 stall barn in the back and he says it has a panel in it, and its possible that one 240 is powering the whole barn. I don't know for sure but we had that conversation yesterday and will check it when time permits. Having to install 2 breakers to replace one took out the slot where another water pump was for a sprinkler system. There is no pump there as we don't waste water on lawns around here, however it would be nice to have the slot back as I mentioned a pool pump if we ever got a pool for the dogs (hot summers!).

How many circuits come into this panel? Beats me. With the handle-tied double-quad in the bottom right and the two double-lugged breakers in the left column you might be exceeding the panel design specs. Where do all these 240V circuits go? Baseboard heaters? I dunno! lol, sorry. Washer, dryer, well pump, AC/heat, barn (possible). I think at least one is not hooked to anything, the panel says they are empty, but I don't think its filled in correctly, yes I have to fix just about everything around here.

Have you thought about mounting an adjacent subpanel? Nope, not yet, thanks for that thought for future reference!

Fixes that should also be done:

1) Mark white hot wires that go to breakers with red or black tape/ink/paint. I don't understand this.

2) Replace that black wire that is nutted to the white and bare halfway up the right column with separate white and green/bare extensions. The black wire attached on the bottom with all the white ones? and, huh?

3) White neutral wires on the neutral bus should be one-per-screw. Bare grounds of equal gauge may be doubled. I agree, I suppose, is that what makes you think we're exceeding panel specs?

4) I'm not sure what that lone green wire wrapped around the mounting screw below the left column is, but that should be landed on the neutral/ground bus with the other grounds. Me neither, and he would just tell me its a ground wire. I probably know more than he does at this point.

5) I don't see any GEC bond to the water pipes or ground rod. Is this perhaps done at the meter can or is there another ground bar in this panel that's not pictured? Is there another panel upstream of this one, maybe a main breaker at the meter? Don't know what GEC bond is. There is a power shutoff at the meter, thats where he turned it off before we replaced breakers.

Obviously I have alot to learn, and I don't mean to denigrate my future spouse, he works long hours to not enough income for the situation and has been plagued with past spouses who were useless around the house. It's pretty obvious that at some point hopefully when income increases that it sure wouldn't hurt to have an electrician come in to look at the mess and at least tell us where exactly we stand, since that's the best way to start to decide where to go.
 
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Old 04-07-10, 07:52 AM
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Originally Posted by cynthia123 View Post
We did reattach everything the way I originally said, though now from what I'm reading its possible its wrong? We attached the two top wires, a white and black to one breaker and the lower red and black to the other breaker. So now its possible that our black wires are hooked to the wrong breakers?
The top two wires (white and black) are one circuit and the bottom two (red and black) are another. If you kept those pairs together on the two pole breakers, which it sounds like you did, you should be just fine provided the amp ratings of the new breakers match the old breakers. Good job.


Originally Posted by cynthia123 View Post
Fixes that should also be done:

1) Mark white hot wires that go to breakers with red or black tape/ink/paint. I don't understand this.
Basically, everything that is attached to a circuit breaker should be either black or red. If those wires are not, they should be colored with either paint or tape to be black or red.

Typically black wires are 1,2,5,6,9,10,13,14,17,18,21,22,25,26,29,30,33,34,... you get the idea I'm sure. Reds are the remaining. Black/Red perfection isn't crucial, so long as all wires are black you're OK.

Originally Posted by cynthia123 View Post
2) Replace that black wire that is nutted to the white and bare halfway up the right column with separate white and green/bare extensions. The black wire attached on the bottom with all the white ones? and, huh?
In your picture, two spaces above the AFCI breakers (the ones with yellow buttons) there is a cable where the bare wire and white wire are spliced to a black wire which leads to the neutral bar at the bottom. The white wire should be brought to that bar with another white wire, not black. The bare wire should be brought to that bare with a bare or green wire. Splicing white to bare and connecting them both to the neutral bar with a black is a code violation. Both wires should be independently attached to the bar at the bottom.

Or better yet, in the top picture I catch a glimpse of what may be a seperate ground bar on the right side of the panel under a lot of wires. Land your grounds there, if I'm right, and leave the bottom bar for neutrals.

Originally Posted by cynthia123 View Post
3) White neutral wires on the neutral bus should be one-per-screw. Bare grounds of equal gauge may be doubled. I agree, I suppose, is that what makes you think we're exceeding panel specs?

4) I'm not sure what that lone green wire wrapped around the mounting screw below the left column is, but that should be landed on the neutral/ground bus with the other grounds. Me neither, and he would just tell me its a ground wire. I probably know more than he does at this point.
You should land this wire on a ground bar as well, as the bare wire should be as outlined in question 2

Originally Posted by cynthia123 View Post
5) I don't see any GEC bond to the water pipes or ground rod. Is this perhaps done at the meter can or is there another ground bar in this panel that's not pictured? Is there another panel upstream of this one, maybe a main breaker at the meter? Don't know what GEC bond is. There is a power shutoff at the meter, thats where he turned it off before we replaced breakers.
The GEC is an abbreviation for grounding electrode conductor. Your home most likely has a ground rod(grounding electrode), which should have a bare wire(GEC) connected to it (typically size 6AWG) and brought to the ground system of your panel. We don't see a wire that large on your neutral bar, so it's possible it's either connected to a ground bar in the panel that is not pictured well, or is connected to the meter socket. The same size wire should also be bonded between your metal water pipes and back to the panel, to electrically bond your metal water pipes to earth ground for safety. Nobody wants voltage on their water pipes.
 
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