14-3 question

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Old 05-08-10, 07:49 AM
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14-3 question

I just want to know whether it's necessary to wire 14-3 back to a 2-pole breaker. Or if you can use a normal 1-pole breaker by combining the black and the red under the same screw. I'm asking because the 2-pole breaker costs $168, but I already have extra 1-pole breakers sitting here, and they cost almost nothing. I'm talking about 15 amp breakers for a 15/20 amp circuit.
 
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Old 05-08-10, 08:00 AM
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It is not allowed to terminate more than one wire in most circuit breakers. Is this a tandem single pole breaker you are talking about. Is this two separate circuits in a multi wire branch circuit with a common neutral? What version of the NEC do you fall under? What brand 2 pole circuit breaker are you talking about that costs $168? By the way, regardless of code, 14 AWG branch circuits must be protected at 15 amps. I just now noticed you are in Canada, what code in Canada are you under?
 
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Old 05-08-10, 09:45 AM
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Originally Posted by CasualJoe View Post
It is not allowed to terminate more than one wire in most circuit breakers. Is this a tandem single pole breaker you are talking about. Is this two separate circuits in a multi wire branch circuit with a common neutral? What version of the NEC do you fall under? What brand 2 pole circuit breaker are you talking about that costs $168? By the way, regardless of code, 14 AWG branch circuits must be protected at 15 amps. I just now noticed you are in Canada, what code in Canada are you under?
It is a Siemens panel and I'm using Siemens breakers. NOT the ITE Siemens breakers. The breaker I believe I'm supposed to use, the $168 one, is the QF215. It's a 15A 2-Pole GFCI breaker. I have a box of Q115AF breakers here along with a Q1515NC. The reason I think I'm supposed to use the QF215 is that the electrician I hired to do some work told me to buy it. But he didn't say what it was for. Anyways, he cost me a fortune and created more work, didn't follow my instructions, didn't follow the blueprints, and got me to buy more supplies than I needed. If I had kept him on, the direction he was going, I would have had to buy another panel because he wanted to wire everything to its very own circuit. So I'm going to try and finish the job myself. I'm nearly finished.

Anyways, since you say it's code, I'll use the QF215 for this 14-3 cable which is not connected to the panel yet.

Is it 2 separate circuits? I'm trying to find out where this cable goes, but am having no luck so far. I think it's supposed to power some hard wired smoke detectors, but I could be wrong.

What is a 2-Pole 15A breaker normally used for? If you tell me, it will help me understand what is going on here and whether or not I am making any mistakes. The previous owner had a fridge running off of a 2-pole breaker. But is that necessary? I have a much bigger fridge now running off a 1-pole.

I believe the code my work is governed by is The Ontario Electrical Safety Code.
 
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Old 05-08-10, 10:15 AM
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IF it were me I would mount a GFCI receptacle next to the panel and take the single circuit off the LOAD side of the GFCI. It would save you about $125.
 
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Old 05-08-10, 11:06 AM
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Anyways, since you say it's code, I'll use the QF215 for this 14-3 cable which is not connected to the panel yet.
I know nothing about your code up there.

I believe the code my work is governed by is The Ontario Electrical Safety Code.
I don't think anyone stated it was code to use the 2P 15A GFI breaker. Not knowing what the 14-3 cable goes to, it's impossible for anyone to determine whether a GFI circuit or circuits is required. It could be that you could use 2 single pole 15A breakers or just a 2P 15A breaker, not necessarily a GFI. A Siemens Q215 costs roughly $9. The first thing you need to do is determine where the 14-3 cable goes. I am also questioning why you bought all the material. Most reputable contractors furnish the material and charge for what is used.
 
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Old 05-08-10, 11:35 AM
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Originally Posted by CasualJoe View Post
I know nothing about your code up there.



I don't think anyone stated it was code to use the 2P 15A GFI breaker. Not knowing what the 14-3 cable goes to, it's impossible for anyone to determine whether a GFI circuit or circuits is required. It could be that you could use 2 single pole 15A breakers or just a 2P 15A breaker, not necessarily a GFI. A Siemens Q215 costs roughly $9. The first thing you need to do is determine where the 14-3 cable goes. I am also questioning why you bought all the material. Most reputable contractors furnish the material and charge for what is used.
You said it's not permitted to terminate more than 1 wire in most circuit breakers. I took that to mean it's against code to do that. Then you asked which code I'm under. Codes in the United States can't be that much different than codes in Canada. Any differences are going to be minor. But maybe you mean it's not code, it's just recommended not to do this. If you're not supposed to do it, I won't do it.

Anyways, you seem to be saying I can use a Q1515, wiring the black to one screw and the red to the other screw, with the one white going to the neutral bar.
Or I could use 2 Q115s.
Or if I require the circuit to be GFCI protected, I could use 2 Q215s.
So I need to determine what this 14-3 is wired to, then I'll know if it needs a GFCI circuit.

If I can use one of your suggestions, you've probably saved me over $100, thanks!

I bought the supplies because I thought it would be better that way. I thought it would help me keep costs down and waste to a minimum. It mostly worked out well with the other contractors involved in the reno. But with this guy, it caused more waste. Or maybe it would have been even worse if I had let him decide 100% what to buy. Because he never even checked to see what I already had here, or what was required.
 
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Old 05-08-10, 12:55 PM
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Originally Posted by doublezero View Post
Anyways, you seem to be saying I can use a Q1515, wiring the black to one screw and the red to the other screw, with the one white going to the neutral bar.
This is not correct! On a multiwire circuit each hot must terminate on opposite phases. Otherwise you will overheat the neutral by doubling the current.
 
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Old 05-09-10, 02:43 PM
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You said it's not permitted to terminate more than 1 wire in most circuit breakers. I took that to mean it's against code to do that.
Let me clarify that. Most circuit breakers are not UL listed to terminate more than one wire per pole (or screw terminal). It's many times referred to as double lugging. Square D QO series breakers, such as a QO115 1P 15A, are listed to have up to 2 wires per pole, but Siemens Q115 is not. It's not exactly against code, but the breakers have a UL listing you must abide by. Canadian listings are very similar, but not always the same.
 
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Old 05-09-10, 02:48 PM
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Anyways, you seem to be saying I can use a Q1515, wiring the black to one screw and the red to the other screw, with the one white going to the neutral bar.
No, I didn't say that. TI's reply is correct.


Or I could use 2 Q115s.
Possibly yes, but it depends on the code and if it is a muti wire branch circuit or a single 120/240 volt branch circuit. IF it's a mutlti wire branch circuit, the 2008 NEC wouldn't allow it, but the 2005 NEC would.

So I need to determine what this 14-3 is wired to, then I'll know if it needs a GFCI circuit.
Yes, that's where to start.
 
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Old 05-09-10, 02:55 PM
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because he wanted to wire everything to its very own circuit. So I'm going to try and finish the job myself. I'm nearly finished.
Something is a little “fishy” about this; no qualified Electrician is going to do this…period.

Codes in the United States can't be that much different than codes in Canada. Any differences are going to be minor.
This kind of thinking is going to get you in trouble, Many rules are similar but not exactly the same, some are quite different. Some are identical.

As far as the circuit in question goes it is imperative that you know what this feeds. If the circuit requires a double pole 15 amp GFCI circuit breaker then get one, it could mean the difference between life and death.

As Toyln has already stated the red and black MUST be on separate “legs”, if not the white conductor could potentially end up carrying 30 amps when it is rated for a maximum of 15amps!! This could cause a fire!

I hope you have a permit and are having this work inspected. Doing so really serves to protect you and your family.

Good luck
 
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Old 05-09-10, 04:21 PM
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The simple answer to this is if you have a single pole breaker and three conductor wire you cap off either the red or black and don't use it. If you want to use both the red and black then they should go to a 2pole, 240v breaker.
 
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Old 05-10-10, 07:56 AM
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As others have stated, there is no way to advise you on what the correct procedure is for your situation without knowledge as to what that wire does. I would strongly advise you to never energize circuits you are unfamiliar with. Find out where it goes and what it does before you proceed.

You could only need to hook up the black wire, if it is a fire alarm circuit and the red is simply for the interlock communication of the alarms. Typically one doesn't run a cable with the red wire back to the panel, but I've seen it done before by accident.

You could need a double pole GFCI breaker, you could need a double pole AFCI breaker. Until you know what you're dealing with picking a breaker is, at best, a guess. Guessing with electrical work tends to lead to very dangerous situations. Again, I strongly recommend you find the purpose of this circuit/circuits before you determine how to handle the situation.
 
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Old 05-10-10, 11:59 AM
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Originally Posted by RHefferan View Post
As others have stated, there is no way to advise you on what the correct procedure is for your situation without knowledge as to what that wire does. I would strongly advise you to never energize circuits you are unfamiliar with. Find out where it goes and what it does before you proceed.

You could only need to hook up the black wire, if it is a fire alarm circuit and the red is simply for the interlock communication of the alarms. Typically one doesn't run a cable with the red wire back to the panel, but I've seen it done before by accident.

You could need a double pole GFCI breaker, you could need a double pole AFCI breaker. Until you know what you're dealing with picking a breaker is, at best, a guess. Guessing with electrical work tends to lead to very dangerous situations. Again, I strongly recommend you find the purpose of this circuit/circuits before you determine how to handle the situation.
Yes, I would love to know what this cable does. I had labelled it, but now believe the label is incorrect. It does not appear to have anything to do with what it says on the label.

What I usually do to find out where a cable goes is I test it. If it is connected to the panel, I'll turn off that breaker and see what lights/receptacles/other no longer have power. Then I'll turn on the breaker again. Where there are no lights or receptacles connected, or when I'm trying to identify a circuit, I use a tester which (usually) makes a noise and lights up when I touch an energized cable. I find this tester extremely useful, although some of the posters in this forum have called it a 'toy'.

When the cable is not connected to the panel, as in this case with the 14-3 cable, I temporarily connect it to a different circuit in a nearby junction box. That lets me find out what the cable is connected to.

Unfortunately, this strategy is not working this time. When I connect this 14-3 to an existing circuit, then turn on that breaker, it immediately shorts out. I can't run up 3 flights of stairs in the millisecond before it shorts out to see if it is powering anything.
I've tried connecting only the black & white, only the red & white, and connecting all 3 of them. Of course, it's grounded. But the breaker always switches into the half-way position as soon as I try to switch it on.
I always turn off breakers when I'm working on that circuit, even though I've seen people not bothering to turn them off, and they say it's not dangerous, but I don't believe them. I don't know everything, so I prefer not to take chances with things I don't fully understand.

So I am trying everything I know to determine the identity of this cable, but am not succeeding.

Is there another way to determine where this cable goes? Is there another tool that is not considered a 'toy'? Can you determine a cable when it's not connected to anything?
 
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Old 05-10-10, 12:48 PM
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Yuo may be able to use a toner to trace where the cable goes but if it is dead and there are no outlets that don't work I would abandon in place. Hooking it to 120v is dangerous. Have you ohmed out the individual wires?
 
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Old 05-10-10, 01:14 PM
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Originally Posted by ray2047 View Post
Yuo may be able to use a toner to trace where the cable goes but if it is dead and there are no outlets that don't work I would abandon in place. Hooking it to 120v is dangerous. Have you ohmed out the individual wires?
It's a brand new cable which is supposed to power something, I just don't know what. I'm not going to abandon it.

So if it's dangerous to test it on a normal circuit, I'll test it on another 15A 2-P circuit. There's one other one.

I am not familiar with ohming. I don't know what tool to use or how.
 
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Old 05-10-10, 03:20 PM
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I wish you the best of luck, doublezero.
 
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Old 05-10-10, 03:21 PM
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A three conductor cable could be one end of a three way switch circuit. Applying 120 v especially on a 2 pole breaker could cause a direct short. I do not advise applying a 120v to the circuit for testing but if you want to live dangerously at least use a 60watt incandescent bulb in series with one leg.

Ohming means taking resistance reading with an ohm meter or multimeter. First using the voltage scale determine there is no voltage on any of the wires then switch to ohm scale. On the lowest resistance scale measure the resistance between each pair of wires. If the needle doesn't move the circuit is open. That could mean the wire goes nowhere or is connected to an empty light socket or a receptacle with nothing plugged in. If you do get a reading you then need to remove each bulb and each plugged in load till the meter reads open. That will probably be where the wire goes.

With the main breaker off twist all three wires together. Then check all lights with no bulbs by measuring between tab and shell and all receptacles between the wide slot and narrow slot to see if you have continuity (zero or minimal resistance). If you find one that may be where the cable goes. Verify by separating the wires and checking again. There may be more then one fixture outlet that gives a reading.
 
 

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