Gremlins running amok in my load centers.....Need help!

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Old 02-05-18, 04:24 PM
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Gremlins running amok in my load centers.....Need help!

I am in the process of remodeling a house I bought 6 years ago which is located in Kerr County Texas ergo no codes applicable to this area. The electrical system in the house is down right scary so I am completely re-wiring the house. There is a main panel and two sub-panels. The main panel is in good shape and only about 10 years old. I have replaced one sub-panel (the First Panel,60 amp)which serves the water heater, master bath, master bedroom, and a second bedroom and have had no problems up until now.

I am now replacing the second panel and in doing so I decided to disconnect the ground wire from the first panel (The ground wire was cut too short so they pigtailed a section to extend it. This is where I disconnected it). In doing so, I got zapped from the ground wire. Using a multimeter, I checked the voltages on the legs. For purposes of my discussion I will use the following nomenclature: Line 1 - hot leg 1, Line 2 - hot leg 2, G - ground wire from first panel, E - Earth. With the ground DISCONNETED I have the following voltages: Line 1 to Line 2 - 245V, Line 1 to G - 246V, Line 2 to G - 5(Five)V, G to E - 120V
Line 1 to E - 120V, Line 2 to E - 120V and G to E 120V. I have 245V across Line 1 o Line 2 at the terminations in the first panel but none of the circuits in the first panel work.

Reconnecting the ground wire back I get the expected readings Line 1 to Line 2 - 245V, Line 1 to G - 124V, Line 2 to G - 124V and the first panel circuits work.

Can anyone shed some light on to this dilemma? Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated.
 
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Old 02-05-18, 04:31 PM
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Welcome to the forums.

We're going to need pictures.... How-to-insert-pictures

From what you are describing..... there is no neutral there. Only a combination ground/neutral which cannot be opened under power. Sub panels now are wired with four wires. Two hots, a neutral and a ground.
 
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Old 02-06-18, 07:23 AM
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As said you have no neutral. Subpanels should be updated with a 4 wire feeder. In the subpanel the grounds are bonded to the panel and will most likely require the addition of a ground bar kit. The neutrals will connect to existing bar but that bar needs to be isolated from the panel and grounds. Isolating the existing bar usually requires the removal of a screw or strap that bonds the bar to the panel.
 
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Old 02-06-18, 08:06 AM
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Here is the photo of the main panel. I had the electric company out this AM to cut off the power for some other work I needed and I asked them about the situation. They confirmed your suspicions that the ground was being used as the neutral. So I am going to rewire both circuits in the panel to have independent neutrals.

Thanks to all for your guidance.

Best Regards.
 
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Old 02-06-18, 08:15 AM
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The OP's post and description was at best confusing, but I believe he is using the term "Ground" when he should be saying "Neutral" and using the term "Earth" when he should be saying "Ground". If I have the post figured out correctly, I suspect that what he did was disconnect the Neutral under load and that would account for his getting zapped.

Line 1 to G - 246V

If "G" is really "Neutral" and the Neutral has been disconnected to the subpanel, which he said he did, this would be correct. If all the branch breakers in the subpanel were turned off then the reading would be 0 volts.
 
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Old 02-06-18, 04:46 PM
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I took G as being the equipment ground between panels. And E as being the electrode conductor to earth ground rod.
 
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Old 02-06-18, 07:57 PM
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I took G as being the equipment ground between panels
Correct but it's not only ground..... it's the ground and the neutral in a three wire system.

He has identified that he understands the problem and will be running four wire cables to his sub panels.
 
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Old 02-07-18, 06:24 AM
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Originally Posted by PJmax View Post
Correct but it's not only ground..... it's the ground and the neutral in a three wire system.

He has identified that he understands the problem and will be running four wire cables to his sub panels.
Oh yeah.. I wasn't thinking about the feed being three wires to the subpanel when I made that comment. I had four wire on the brain.
 
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