Replacing Breaker Switches Subpanel

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  #1  
Old 08-25-14, 07:14 PM
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Replacing Breaker Switches Subpanel

Hi all - I have an outdoor subpanel with switches for my well pump and for the receptacles and light fixture in the well pump house. As you can tell from the pics it is old (1950s), and also, it does not have an off switch either at the subpanel, or connected to my main panel inside my house. The power company will have to come out to power it off in order to replace the breaker switches.

One of the switches has gone bad, ie, I turned it off and when I flip it back to the on position that circuit does not come back on. In the picture, it is the two switches on the right. The two on the left, which control the well pump, fortunately still work. But i figured I might want to replace those as well, as they all feel "soft" when flipped.

Based on the pictures, I was hoping someone might be able to tell me what I need to get as far switches - ie, brand, type, etc. I obviously can't take them out until the power company comes out, and I wanted to have the new switches ready to go if possible. Any advice/guidance greatly appreciated!Name:  100_6226.jpg
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  #2  
Old 08-25-14, 07:27 PM
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It looks to me like you have a Square D XO panel and breakers. It's obsolete and breakers are no longer made although you might find some used ones on the internet. I'd suggest changing out the panel.
 
  #3  
Old 08-25-14, 07:30 PM
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I'd agree.... that panel has seen a long life. Time to change it.
 
  #4  
Old 08-25-14, 08:14 PM
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replacing panel

Thanks guys I was wondering if it was so old it is obsolete. Well, I am wondering now if that is something a moderately-skilled DIY'er should attempt, or better to call in a pro? I'm guessing if I knew exactly what to buy it would not be too difficult, but I am afraid of trying to install the wrong equipment and facing later consequences....
 
  #5  
Old 08-25-14, 08:24 PM
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Any outdoor rated service panel would be fine. Probably a 2 space 4 circuit 60 amp panel, any manufacturer, would be fine. The problem is a 3 wire feed is no longer code compliant. If it is fed by conduit you may be able to pull the now required ground. If the conduit is (metal) EMT then it may be so rusted through it isn't possible.
 
  #6  
Old 08-26-14, 08:18 AM
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If it is fed by conduit you may be able to pull the now required ground. If the conduit is (metal) EMT then it may be so rusted through it isn't possible.
EMT conduit can rust through and collapse in as little as 5 or 6 years when buried. This is most assuredly galvanized threaded heavywall conduit feeding this panel. The installation is from the 1950s (over 50 yers old) so I can just about guarantee the heavaywall is rusted through and collapsed. There is no way he'll get a ground wire into it.
 
  #7  
Old 08-26-14, 08:28 AM
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Existing 3 wire feeders can continue to be used without upgrading to 4 wires. New installations require 4 wires.

Look for a new 3R rated panel with enough spaces for the circuits you need.
 
  #8  
Old 08-26-14, 04:31 PM
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So I am wondering just for reference at this point if this Square D 4 circuit 2 space 60 amp main lug load center would work - Pin by ArtDeco Resource on Art Deco Resource | Pinterest, or part no. QO24L60NRNM. This is where my utter lack of practical knowledge enters in. My understanding is that my current panel has one double pole 20 amp switch, and 2 20 amp single pole switches. This new one only has 2 spaces, but does that mean it can hold one 2 pole switch and 2 single pole switches? Or, would I want to use this new panel with two 2 pole switches somehow?
 
  #9  
Old 08-26-14, 05:29 PM
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Your current panel has 1 two pole and 2 single pole breakers installed. I would not install anything smaller than a 4 or 6 circuit panel.

Also a question for you. Is there a meter above this panel?
 
  #10  
Old 08-26-14, 05:56 PM
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Yes it is directly below the meter, and I will add a couple of pics if that helps with showing anything else useful. So would the Square D QO24L60NRNM panel work for example, and would I be using the same configuration of breakers (1 two pole and 2 one pole)? Thanks again for your help!Name:  100_6233.jpg
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  #11  
Old 08-26-14, 06:02 PM
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You didn't mention this was the first OCPD service panel. Sorry but this is not a DIY project. You will need an electrician to change the panel. I would be hesitant to advise you even installing tandem breakers because you don't have a main disconnect.
 
  #12  
Old 08-26-14, 06:16 PM
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Considering the service is at least 50 years old, I am sure the entire service, including meter socket and all service entrance wiring, needs to be replaced and not just the panel.
 
  #13  
Old 08-26-14, 06:22 PM
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Now that you mention it, I was not sure that it is actually the first OCPD service panel, but I guess that it is. I don't know if it makes a difference, but from the top of the meter the line runs up the utility pole, and then overhead to a receptacle on the roof of my house, just about at the spot where the main panel is inside the house. My understanding was that the main panel and the sub panel are not connected to each other, but each are connected to the meter. Since the sub panel has no disconnect (the main panel in the house does) the power company said they would come out and disconnect the sub panel for me (or an electrician) to work on it. Does that sound feasible or even likely?
 
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Old 08-26-14, 06:32 PM
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Yes, if you can pull a permit and the electric company is willing to disconnect you can do it. I'd suggest moving the meter to the house if the electric company allows. That way you could get the house set up with a disconnect and meter socket and just have the electric company come out and switch the power to the new meter location. Then you can wire the house panel to the disconnect and install a subpanel on the pole.
 
  #15  
Old 08-26-14, 07:36 PM
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Yes the electric company said they will disconnect it and then come back later that day. I don't think I can handle the expense of moving the meter socket and all that now, but I do want to repair what I have to the extent possible for now.
 
  #16  
Old 08-26-14, 08:31 PM
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Basically what I suggested will cost only a little more then what you have to replace anyway. You are going to have to install a complete new service either way.
 
  #17  
Old 08-26-14, 09:15 PM
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A complete new service for my house? I must be misunderstanding something.
 
  #18  
Old 08-27-14, 04:39 AM
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Service in this case meaning a new breaker box, a meter socket, the mast from the meter socket up to where the power company drop terminates, and new wires in side mast. You can either do that on the pole or the house. The wires from that pole to the house are probably in bad shape any way. This way you won't have to eventually replace them because the meter will be at The current breaker box at the house would not be replaced. It would simply become a sub panel.

So instead of putting:
a new breaker box, a meter socket, the mast from the meter socket up to where the power company drop terminates, and new wires in side mast
on the pole put it on the house. Cost would be about the same but greatly improve what you have. Then just add a new subpanel to the pole.Probably less then $100 difference. You might even be able to reuse the old feed from the pole to the house for the new subpanel.
 
  #19  
Old 08-27-14, 06:48 AM
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My understanding was that the main panel and the sub panel are not connected to each other, but each are connected to the meter.
I see nothing external to the meter socket that could be feeding the house from this same meter.....UNLESS, the metered power to the house is in the same conduit riser as the unmetered utility power. This used to be pretty common with farm distribution, but generally not allowed by utilities any more. If this is the case, there is some code violating double lugging going on inside the meter socket.

To keep the pole panel and house panel on the same meter, some reconfiguring of the service needs to be done.
 
  #20  
Old 08-27-14, 09:04 AM
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Another option I wondered about was simply running the wires from the well pump house to the panel inside my home. It's newer (2003) and appears to have lots and lots of room left on it. I didn't think of this before because I was not thinking I had to reconfigure everything. Then I could just "abandon" the old small panel below the meter socket outside. The meter would still be away from the house but I don't see how this is really a problem for me at this point. I'm honestly tempted though to just have the power company disconnect the small panel while I plug in some NOS breakers.
 
  #21  
Old 08-27-14, 10:29 AM
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Abandoning the panel and running from the house is a good plan but how that meter could be supplying your house needs to be answered. Can you post a picture of your house panel with the cover off. Also show us pictures of what you believe to be the supply to the house.
 
  #22  
Old 08-27-14, 06:36 PM
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Okay the first picture is of the utility pole with the supply wires to the house. The house you see behind that is not my house, it is the neighbor's. At one time, it was part of the same estate. Near the bottom of the pole you can see the meter, and the smaller for the well. The next picture is the point where the supply wires enter my house. This is about 50-60 feet from the utility pole. The wires are suspended over my driveway. According to the power company, they are responsible for everything up to that point. The next two pictures are of my newer panel, in the basement, inside my home. This is right below where you see the supply coming into my house. Thanks again!

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  #23  
Old 08-27-14, 07:38 PM
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Wow what a friggin mess. Are you sure the house is even connected to the meter.

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Love the connection at the house.

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  #24  
Old 08-27-14, 08:33 PM
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LOL yeah I am sure the house and everything it connected to the meter. Thanks for your, a, help...
 

Last edited by jaybake32; 08-27-14 at 09:19 PM.
  #25  
Old 08-27-14, 09:19 PM
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I am 95% sure that little panel is it's own service. What I would do is trench over from the house and put in a new 6 space panel fed as a sub-feed from the main panel.
 
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Old 08-28-14, 08:46 AM
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The next picture is the point where the supply wires enter my house. This is about 50-60 feet from the utility pole. The wires are suspended over my driveway. According to the power company, they are responsible for everything up to that point.
So, the power company owns the meter socket and all conduit/wiring on the pole? I would also refeed the well from the newer house panel and remove the old panel on the pole.
 
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Old 08-28-14, 10:04 AM
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Your going to have to ask the power company to remove the existing pole panel's feed from the meter socket.
The wires are suspended over my driveway. According to the power company, they are responsible for everything up to that point [house].
Then while they are out removing the pole panel connection you might consider having them change the connection at the house from clueless amateur to professional. Most importantly crimped insulated connectors not taped connections that may not even have split bolts. I also can't clearly see how the messenger wire is fastened to the mast but it seems suspect.

Where I am if the electric company saw what you have they would assume a bootleg job with no permits pulled and might disconnect the electric but I suspect they are a lot more lenient there then here.

Okay my comments are just comments not has-to-be-dones. The important thing is to replace the old service panel with a single feed or a subpanel. Do that and the rest can wait till there is a failure. Even the old pole panel could be left in place, just not used.
 
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