Adding circuit breaker to panel

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Old 02-26-19, 08:07 PM
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Adding circuit breaker to panel

I would like to add a 120 V circuit for air compressor. I need to open the panel in the garage and add a circuit breaker and a new wire. I haven't opened it yet, but I suppose three live wires are near the top (disconnect is at the top) and I would have to insert new wires from the top. Is this safe to do? Our should I ask the city to disconnect the meter? Or insert new wires from the bottom? What is the correct way to do this?

Thank you for advice.
 
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Old 02-26-19, 08:35 PM
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If you've never worked in a panel before then you could use a little help. Normally the meter doesn't get pulled as there are others ways to do the work safely. If you're comfortable...... take the cover off the panel, take a picture and post it for us. We can advise from there. How-to-insert-pictures
 
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Old 02-26-19, 08:35 PM
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You can turn off the main breaker to limit any chance of touching something live, but the only way to cut power to the incoming lugs is to have the meter pulled. I cannot speak about your comfort level, but it is not beyond a DIY skill.
 
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Old 02-26-19, 09:22 PM
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Thank you for the notes. Here is the panel photo. Feed wires are coming from behind the wall. I have 2 related questions.
Q1. The top right two circuit breakers have oily film all over. Leave it?
Q2. I see only 3 yellow cables, but a whole lot of 20A circuit breakers. Why would anyone (builder electrician I suppose) put a 20A circuit breaker on a 14 gauge wire? Leave it or replace it?
Thank you.

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Last edited by PJmax; 02-26-19 at 09:37 PM. Reason: resized/labeled picture
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Old 02-26-19, 09:43 PM
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The area I circled in red cannot be made dead without pulling the meter. If you have the meter pulled you are going to need an inspection scheduled before the power company will reconnect you.

The oil on the breakers should not be an issue. It could be from the compound they put on the wiring.
#12 NM-b is now yellow. At one time..... it was white just like #14. With the way that panel was done..... I'd doubt the wrong size breakers were used. The size of the cable will be printed on the jacket if you want to confirm.
 
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Old 02-26-19, 10:13 PM
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Thank you for the answers. Now I have a few more questions.

Q1. The 3 yellow cables are new additions by the previous owner, 2 in a group and 1 by itself. They run up to the ceiling and travel to kitchen and bathroom. If I push a cable through one of these two openings, I may be able to grab the cable from the ceiling. Possible?

Q2. There is an empty/abandoned junction box surface mounted straight above the panel butting against the ceiling. I can run the cable to this junction box, and to an outlet via 1/2" gray conduit. All surface mounted. Is this code compliant?

Q3. What would an electrician wear (glove, shoe) when he works on a panel with live wires?

Thank you.

PS
Q4. What if I install an outlet a foot above the panel? I can poke a hole through the drywall behind the outlet and run a short cable to the panel. Will this be code compliant?
 
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Old 02-27-19, 01:08 AM
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Q3. What would an electrician wear (glove, shoe) when he works on a panel with live wires?
Gloves, probably not. They are bulky and would make the job more difficult.

Suggestions:
Insert the wire into the breaker and tighten before installing the breaker.

Be sure the breaker you are installing is OFF before installing.

Try to keep one hand in your back pocket. One less hand to keep track of as you work. Not always possible but a good thing to keep in mind.

If you use a screwdriver in the panet wrap all but the last half inch of the shaft with electrical tape. Not OSHA approved but does slightly improve safety.

Use a plastic handled screwdriver. Even if not certified as insulated better than nothing.

Or buy insulated tools approved for electrical work.

Wear rubber soled shoes.

Go slow, don't rush. Think out each action.
 

Last edited by ray2047; 02-27-19 at 01:24 AM.
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Old 03-05-19, 08:44 PM
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Thanks to your help, I was able to complete the project without an incidence. Since live wires were near the top, I decided to open a hole at the bottom of the panel, installed an old work 2-gang blue pvc box only a short distance away from the panel, and ran a 12 gauge wire with 20A circuit breaker. Here is the photo. Thank you all. This is a much needed receptacle for air compressor/power tools.
 
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Old 03-05-19, 10:49 PM
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Looks good. Thanks for letting us know the outcome.
 
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Old 03-06-19, 05:14 AM
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What would an electrician wear (glove, shoe) when he works on a panel with live wires?
Just working in a residential panel with live wires, safety glasses, jeans, cotton shirt and standard work shoes or boots (which have an insulating sole). In a commercial setting, more protective equipment is required as the energy level of the service goes up and as the proximity to a safety inspector gets closer. The bigger hazard BTW is not getting shocked, it's getting sprayed with molten metal if something shorts out (arc blast).

When working on the live wires themselves, then insulated gloves and insulated tools are a must, but there are also many rules both company policies and governmental laws about when/why/where one can work live.
 
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