Fixing bogus sub panel

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Old 11-06-16, 05:51 PM
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Fixing bogus sub panel

Hello, Attached is the Pic of my garage sub panel, which obviously has a few issues.
--Ground and neutral are tied together, and there's only one buss in the panel.
--It's fed by 8/2 plus ground, the alum kind that's wrapped around the wires.

Eventually I need 4 wires?

So I figure I need a new panel to separate things, yes?

Question: Temporarily--Can the new sub panel be installed, with the grounds (there is a ground rod) and neutrals separated to their own buss, and then the fourth wire be added later, while the panel is put back in service temporarily?

Adding the 4th wire is a big deal, because the garage is 30 feet from the house, and is fed by underground conduit. Thanks!Name:  1106161117.jpg
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Old 11-06-16, 06:02 PM
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The feed needs to be replaced* but the panel just needs to have a ground bar added not replaced unless you need to add more breakers.
Eventually I need 4 wires?
Any work on the panel (depending on the local AHJ) may trigger needing to replace the feed. I'd suggest you:
  • [*]
  • [*]
Adding the 4th wire is a big deal.... is fed by underground conduit.
Conduit would usually make it easier. Why do you think it makes it harder? Is it because the conduit is EMT?

*The feed needs to be replaced because it was never code compliant.
 

Last edited by ray2047; 11-07-16 at 01:18 AM. Reason: Clarify statement.
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Old 11-06-16, 06:16 PM
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OK thanks Ray--appreciate your help.
 
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Old 11-06-16, 06:19 PM
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I added to my post as you were posting. Please reread my post.
 
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Old 11-06-16, 06:35 PM
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Depending upon when that panel was installed it MAY be grandfathered. I think it was the 2008 code cycle that required a four-wire feed to an outbuilding panel. Prior to that four-wire was recommended but three-wire allowed PROVIDED there were no other metallic paths to the outbuilding such as water piping, telephone or other communications cabling.

In this case an equipment grounding conductor was not run from the SERVICE panel and the neutral bus in the sub-panel was also used for equipment grounding. Outbuildings have always required their own grounding electrode (ground rod) and in this case it would be connected to the neutral bus just as in a service panel.

It's fed by 8/2 plus ground, the alum kind that's wrapped around the wires.
That sounds like service entrance cable and as far as I am aware it cannot be used in conduit or underground. I may very well be wrong on this point.

I DO see something that bothers me in the fuzzy picture. It appears that you have many cables entering the enclosure at the top that are not properly clamped. It looks like the clamp has been unfastened and pushed into the enclosure. If this is true it needs to be fixed.
 
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Old 11-06-16, 07:39 PM
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That sounds like service entrance cable and as far as I am aware it cannot be used in conduit or underground. I may very well be wrong on this point.
Yes, it sounds like SEU cable and SEU cable has never been allowed to be used underground. Evidently this installation was never permitted or inspected.
 
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Old 11-06-16, 08:10 PM
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Pretty busy panel there.... don't recognize the type of cable connector in the top.

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Old 11-07-16, 05:36 AM
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Yeah it's 2" metal conduit. Why is it a gig deal? --Not sure I can pull old wire out, and push/fish new cable in.....30 feet between house & garage.

And besides the 8/2, there's also 2 romex cables in the conduit.....I know, illegal, but I'm less worried about romex in there....one is dead anyway, the other I think is a switch loop.

Though the pic is fuzzy, the panel cable cons are all Kosher.
 
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Old 11-07-16, 05:55 AM
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Unless the conduit is EMT there is a good chance it can be reused. The Romex has to go. It can't be used in buried conduit. Tell us the type of conduit and we can go from there. If it is threaded steel conduit (IMC/RMC) or PVC then it should be easy to remove what is in it (fingers crossed). Of course if it is EMT it may well have rusted away by now.
 
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Old 11-07-16, 02:12 PM
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Just curious why are you replacing the panel? Just to fix the visible issues or is there something else driving it?
 
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Old 11-07-16, 07:08 PM
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Well, I don't know if I will replace the sub panel.

Master electrician looked at it when we bought the house 10 years ago and he said we'd need to deal with it at some point because 4th wire was missing and gnd & neutral we're not separate.

It's given no problems per se, except an occasional blown breaker when I use the table saw. Based on all of this, should I deal with it? OR Under what condition(s) necessitate that I do deal with it? I may, at some point, add an apartment to the upper floor of the garage.

As for the conduit, see pic. This is where conduit feeds from the house.

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Did they join PVC to metal conduit? I have to say, I know EMT means electro metal tubing, but don't know what it looks like Vs other metal conduit.
 

Last edited by ray2047; 11-07-16 at 08:13 PM. Reason: Reposistion image within the text.
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Old 11-07-16, 08:35 PM
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Please post a picture where the conduit enters the subpanel. I can't tell from the photo at the house.

EMT is connected with set screw or compression fittings.

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RMC and IMC will usually have threaded ends and fittings like those for galvanized pipe though occasionally compression fitting are used. Bottom line is if the wall is too thin to be threaded it is EMT.
 
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Old 11-07-16, 08:51 PM
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Can't really see conduit at the other end, unless I dig a little. I can tell you it goes into a 2" metal LB that looks threaded.

The LB buts visibly to the outside garage wall, but all the way at ground level-- then the sheathed 8/2 goes interior and enters the sub panel a few feet higher. Does this help? Thanks!

Based on what I see with your EMT fittings picture, I don't think I have this conduit. I think it is much heavier duty stuff.
 
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Old 11-07-16, 09:35 PM
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The LB buts visibly to the outside garage wall, but all the way at ground level
Can you dig out a bit to see how the LB is fastened. If you reuse the conduit pulling the LB first should make pulling easier.
 
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Old 11-07-16, 10:32 PM
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I'd almost bet money that the conduit above the fitting is EMT, As for what is below the fitting it could be either intermediate or rigid as it looks like the transition fitting is threaded below and has a compression ring above.

Definitely want to see the LB.

I think it should be reworked, if only because there is a high probability that the cable in the conduit is not listed for wet locations.
 
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Old 11-08-16, 07:12 AM
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Thanks guys...will get a pic of the LB when I'm able. Also, the other end terminates into a big like 8 x 8 in metal J box. I'l get a pic of that too.
 
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Old 11-08-16, 07:15 AM
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terminates into a big like 8 x 8 in metal J box. I'l get a pic of that too.
Show us the wiring inside of that box.
 
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Old 11-08-16, 07:00 PM
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OK here are the pics. This pic is inside the big J box at the house. (FYI It’s under the over hang of a mud room.) Name:  1108161300.jpg
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This pic is where the conduit connects J Box 2 ft lower at the ground:

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These pics are the base of the LB leading to the garage sub panel:

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Questions: Is the riser conduit metal, and connected to PVC at ground level?? I’m looking at grey connector with ribs on it…

The feed to the sub panel reads:

Hatfield HATV1N01 3/C 8AWG Type SE Cable Style U Type XHHW CDRS
Is this wire Kosher inside the 2" conduit??

Here’s what the NM cable says. One of them is a spare.
Is it possible it’s UF cable?

ETTCOFLEX Type NM

Thanks SO much for helping me explore this…
 
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Old 11-08-16, 08:25 PM
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Hatfield HATV1N01 3/C 8AWG Type SE Cable Style U Type XHHW CDRS is this wire Kosher inside the 2" conduit??
No.
Here’s what the NM cable says. One of them is a spare.
Is it possible it’s UF cable?ETTCOFLEX Type NM
No. If it was suitable for use in the conduit it would be labeled UF.

First picture is definitely EMT. Just can't say for sure what the rest of it is. If a magnet sticks you do know it is steel not PVC (or aluminum). Maybe one of the pros can. My only suggestion is to dig down to it in a few spots to see what condition it is in*. If it isn't rusted out it could be reused. Also you could look for threaded couplings which would mean for sure it isn't EMT.

*The reason we have been negative about EMT is not because it can't be used but because it usually rusts out in a few years.
 

Last edited by ray2047; 11-08-16 at 08:58 PM.
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Old 11-09-16, 08:38 AM
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The type of cable in the conduit is definitely not correct as Ray has already stated. The ribbed conduit connector on the bottom of the LB looks an awful lot like PVC. You need to dig down alongside that conduit and see.

Also, I'll go out on a limb here and state there IS a possibility that the conduit is NOT continuous but only goes down 18 inches or so. It may have a 90[SUP]o[/SUP] bend on it or it may not. Careful digging (with a garden trowel) will be necessary.
 
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Old 11-09-16, 09:43 AM
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Yes...thanks guys. Will eventually dig a little more to see the conduit condition, and whether or not it is continuous.

So now what? --Put 4 individual conductors in, say #6 stranded, espec. if I upgrade sub panel?
(Don't think there's panel availability/room for another bus to divide gnd & neutral)
--Appropriate conduit if needed, PVC I would choose?
--Guess I'll take out the Romex too, though means I need 3 #12 conductors?

What class of conductors should I put in? Am I on target? Thanks Much!
 
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Old 11-09-16, 10:03 AM
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Yes, use individual conductors with type THWN insulation. You may not find THWN but instead find dual rates THHN/THWN and the big box stores often advertise it as just THHN so you have to actually look at the printing on the wire itself.

Yes, if the conduit needs to be replaced use PVC. It needs to have at least 18 inches of cover and in some areas 24 inches of cover so be sure to dig the trench a few inches deeper.

Number 6 copper is good for 65 amperes. For the equipment ground you can use #10 copper with a 60 ampere circuit breaker or #8 copper with a 100 ampere circuit breaker. For the grounding electrode conductor (to the grounding rod) you want to use a minimum of #6 copper or else you are required to use conduit for physical protection.
 
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Old 11-09-16, 01:43 PM
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Guess I'll take out the Romex too, though means I need 3 #12 conductors?
Depends on what it is for. You can only have one circuit to a building. If it is for anything in the building but a switch you can't run it.

If you plan to replace it a 100 amp main breaker panel kit is a good economical choice. The kits contain an assortment of most often used branch circuit breakers and the main breaker acts as the code required disconnect if you have more than six breakers. You will have to buy a ground bar to install in the panel. It won't cost much more to move up from the 40 amps you have now to wires rated for 60 amp. You can continue to use the forty amp breaker in the main panel and consider the #6 future proofing. If you ever need the 60 amps at the subpanel you can just switch out the breaker.
 
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Old 11-09-16, 02:08 PM
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Master electrician looked at it when we bought the house 10 years ago and he said we'd need to deal with it at some point because 4th wire was missing and gnd & neutral we're not separate.
And this alleged master electrician never mentioned that SEU cable and NM cables were not legal in underground conduit? What makes you think the bozo is any kind of electrician and not just a handyman?
 
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Old 11-09-16, 06:02 PM
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C. Joe....The answer to your first question: I don't remember. The answer to your second question: I know the master electrician personally (though for other reasons hesitate to call him much) --suggest that you consider your tone.
 
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Old 11-09-16, 06:21 PM
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"If it is for anything in the building but a switch you can't run it." (How do you create the quote/caption?)

There’s 2 romex in it. One is a spare--nothing connected on either end. The other is part of a 4 way switching for garage floods.…one switch is in the house, the other 2 in the garage.
 
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Old 11-09-16, 07:02 PM
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The other is part of a 4 way switching for garage floods.…one switch is in the house, the other 2 in the garage.
If their on the outside of the garage that is okay but it must be UF or THWN not the NM that is in the buried part of the conduit.
 

Last edited by ray2047; 11-09-16 at 09:50 PM.
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Old 11-10-16, 06:43 PM
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So I have an 8-2 cable and two romex to come out of the conduit, assuming the conduit is OK, which I need to verify….let’s say I start pulling thusly:

--first the spare romex.
--second the 8-2
--third the other romex, and use this as the pull wire to feed in four #6 wires, (or three #6 and one #10 as Furd suggests) and a new UF Romex.

Sound reasonable? Suggestions?
 
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Old 11-10-16, 07:44 PM
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and a new UF Romex.
No, you are confusing terminology. Romex is a brand name that often is used as slang for NM cable. NM cable can't be used. You can use UF cable which should never be referred to as "Romex". However individual wires are easier to pull so I'd suggest (depending on the breaker size for the lighting) one black and one white #14 or #12 THWN. A single #10 ground (green) can be shared by both circuits.*

At the 8x8 junction box in the garage you would splice both the lighting circuit ground and breaker panel ground to the incoming #10 green.
 
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Old 11-10-16, 08:06 PM
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Ah perfect thanks so much. I will update when this is installed. Timing May be a ways out
 
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Old 11-10-16, 08:39 PM
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If it is 2" conduit it will hold 27#6 wires so even if one cable sticks you may have room.
 
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Old 11-11-16, 05:47 PM
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Does the order that I've mentioned a few posts ago to pull out old wire and pull in the new wire sound like a reasonable plan?
 
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Old 11-11-16, 06:05 PM
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You may find it far easier to pull all three cables at the same time. Definitely the new wires should all be pulled into the conduit at the same time. Using cables rather than individual wires in conduit is often a recipe for trouble.
 
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Old 11-11-16, 06:33 PM
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OK maybe I'm just partly clear?.-- I would be pulling 2 of 3 old cables out of conduit first, then pulling out the 3rd old cable while using it to pull in all the new stranded wires. How's this sound?
 
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Old 11-11-16, 07:37 PM
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There is more then one correct answer. I'd fasten mason's twine to the SE cable and try pulling it out since it is largest. Odds are since it is the largest the other two cables would be easier. I'd pull in twine because it will be easier to pull in than the new wires. Once the cables are out the twine can be used to pull a heavier rope and then all the new wires at one time. Apply plenty of wire lube to the end you are pulling out as you pull.
 

Last edited by ray2047; 11-11-16 at 10:19 PM.
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Old 11-12-16, 10:08 AM
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As Ray states there are several different ways that may be used. With only thirty feet of 2-inch conduit it should be a fairly easy pull.

I strongly suggest pulling ALL THREE cables in one motion because they have a tendency to interweave among each other and this makes it extremely difficult to pull them individually. For the same reason you want to pull all the new conductors in one motion.

You can tie a rope to the bundle of cables when pulling out the cables or you could run a steel fish tape through after pulling the cables out. Ideally, you would pull a "pig" through the now empty conduit to ensure it was fairly clean and not seriously damaged. A pig can be a wadded up rag that is securely tied to a pull string or fish tape and then pulled through the conduit.

Another way to get a pull rope through is to first tie a plastic bag to a lightweight string, stuff it into the end of the conduit and then use a shop vacuum on the other end of the conduit to pull the bag and string through. Tie a rope to the string, pull the rope through and then use the rope to pull the wires.
 
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Old 11-12-16, 02:53 PM
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Furd thanks...amazing info. I haven't found anything close to this.
 
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