Stove 240 Woes

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  #1  
Old 07-24-13, 07:14 AM
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Stove 240 Woes

Hey everyone, first post from a lurker here.

I am trying to wire up a 240v stove (Frigidaire 3011 Series 30-in Freestanding 4-Element 4.2 cu ft) in a very old house. The main circuit breaker is broken in the panel, so I can't shut off power to the entire panel and wire the stove directly in as one should. My question is twofold:

The main circuit breaker doesn't flip to off, even if you hold it. Seems like the spring mechanism is broken, it just pops back over to on. Is this something I should call the utilities about, or an electrician?

In the mean time, I am trying to get my stove wired up temporarily. The house has space heaters in every room, which all run on 240. I shut off the power to one of those heaters and cut the wire (3 wire, black/white/bare). On the stove end I went with heavy gauge wire and a 4 prong plug (14-50R). As a temporary set up I installed a junction box in the basement and sought to connect the 4 wire to the stove to the cut 3 wire to the circuit breaker. I attached stove black to circuit black, stove red to circuit white and left stove white detached at the junction box.

The stove did not/does not function.

However, when I tested the stove to make sure it was getting the full 240v, touching the red and white with the voltage tester probes made the stove function (or at least the clock and oven lamp). Should I indeed be attaching stove white to circuit white?

Sorry if this all seems very convoluted and I thank you for any help you can give me!
 
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  #2  
Old 07-24-13, 07:56 AM
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Welcome to the forums!

The installation instructions for your range say that it can be connected to an existing 3-wire circuit. A 10-50R receptacle is needed at the wall (see Page 3, left column). Of course, current code asks for a 4-wire circuit and the 14-50R receptacle you already purchased.

The range requires a 40A circuit. You can install that in your panel without turning the main breaker off if you're careful. The new 4-wire cable will need to have #8 AWG copper conductors for the two hots and the neutral. 8-3/G Type NM cable, unless your jurisdiction requires conduit.

You should disconnect what you did and restore the circuit to the heater, if you can.

The panel and its main breaker are yours. Call an electrician to replace the main breaker. Ask him or her for an overall assessment of your existing panel. This may be a good time to replace and/or upgrade it.
 
  #3  
Old 07-24-13, 08:16 AM
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Thanks for the welcome and help Nashkat!

I indeed have 8-3/G cable, which is run to the 4 prong outlet in my kitchen. I have more than enough to make it to the circuit box. As I am without extra space for another 40 amp breaker, and do not need the space heater in question (installing heat pumps), can I safely remove that breaker and wire in to it? Can I work with the neutral bar safely?

Thanks so much again! =)
 
  #4  
Old 07-24-13, 09:28 AM
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Sorry I misspoke, meant to say I have 8/4 wire.
 
  #5  
Old 07-24-13, 09:38 AM
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The best bet is to wait until you get the main breaker replaced and can kill the power to the hot buses, of course. You need to get that taken care of asap anyway.

can I safely remove that breaker and wire in to it?
If you're careful and attentive you should be able to. Turn the breaker for the heater off. Start by disconnecting the far end of the cable and isolating the wires in the air. Then disconnect the two hot wires in the panel, one at at time. Bend each one out of the box and cut it close to where it enters the panel.

Can I work with the neutral bar safely?
Absolutely. The trick is working with the neutral and ground wires, especially the ground.

If you want to be a bit safer, turn all of the branch circuit breakers off. This will kill your work light, of course, so you will want to have a battery-powered light on hand.

Leave the old breaker in place while you disconnect the ground for the heater circuit. Do not let it come in contact with power, either on a hot bus or one of the breaker terminal screws. Bend it out of the box and cut it close to where it enters. Open the clamp for the heater cable and pull the shortened cable out. Bend it aside for now.

Remove the empty breaker. In most panels, you pry/lift up on the end in the center of the panel until the breaker comes off the bus bars, then swing it out until you can get the other end of it out of whatever's holding it. Installation is the reverse of the above. Make sure to switch the new breaker off.

You may be able to use the same clamp that you just emptied, or you may be able to use the same KO and replace the clamp. I feed cable in with the jacket still in place and strip it inside the panel. For 8-3, it would probably be a good idea to make the cut around the cable before feeding it in, and just pull the jacket off after it's in. Make sure you are feeding enough in. I own a dozen or so tools I can use to cut wire, but wire stretchers are very rare and expensive.

Connect the ground first, then the neutral, and then the two hots. If your panel is bonded and the neutrals and grounds share one bus, the ground and neutral both go there. If there are separate ground and neutral buses, follow that pattern. Trim each wire so that it can gently curve to its destination. Strip just enough insulation to make the connection.

Cover the panel before energizing the new circuit, plus any that you cut off before.
 

Last edited by Nashkat1; 07-24-13 at 11:38 AM.
  #6  
Old 07-24-13, 09:58 AM
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If this is a FPE Stablock panel you may need quite a bit of force to get the breaker out. The more force the greater the likelihood of unintended hand motion when you remove it. I have removed quite a few Stablocks in panels with out main breakers and there were times I just backed off and suggested the customer get an electrician.
 
  #7  
Old 07-24-13, 11:36 AM
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Yeah, we don't mind getting shocked. Right.

Just kidding. We'll shut the panel down if need be.
 
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