Neutral/Ground on same bus

Reply

  #1  
Old 12-13-19, 10:17 AM
Member
Thread Starter
Join Date: Sep 2017
Location: USA
Posts: 48
Received 0 Votes on 0 Posts
Neutral/Ground on same bus

Hey guys,

As part of my basement project, I need to replace a few breakers, plus add a few more. Currently, inside of my breaker box, the bus has neutral and ground wires mixed. From what I've read, it sounds like this is ok. However, I'm also noticing that several lugs have more than one neutral under them. I've read that this is not up to code. I'm getting this work inspected, so I want to do everything correctly. Since I don't think I'm going to have enough lugs here for all of my circuits if I do one neutral per lug, is my only option here to get an electrician to come and install an additional bus?

Thanks.

Name:  p1.JPG
Views: 133
Size:  171.6 KB

Name:  p2.JPG
Views: 121
Size:  88.7 KB

Name:  p3.jpg
Views: 119
Size:  109.2 KB
 

Last edited by PJmax; 12-13-19 at 06:36 PM. Reason: resized/imported/added third picture.
Sponsored Links
  #2  
Old 12-13-19, 10:24 AM
Member
Join Date: Sep 2002
Location: welland ontario
Posts: 7,040
Received 115 Votes on 105 Posts
Two neutrals per lug is a violation.
Unless you want to do the work yourself, calling an electrician to install separate ground bus bars is your option.
There is no room to add more breakers to that panel. It is full. Your real option might be a full panel replacement or adding a sub panel to be able to add more circuits.
 
  #3  
Old 12-13-19, 10:30 AM
Member
Thread Starter
Join Date: Sep 2017
Location: USA
Posts: 48
Received 0 Votes on 0 Posts
Thanks for the info.

Three of the new breakers will be replaced outright. There are two other unused 30 and 40-amp, double-wide (forgive my lingo) breakers which can each be removed to make room for the other two additional as-needed. One formerly powered a swimming pool pump which was removed 20 years ago by previous owners, and the other powers an unused dryer outlet (current dryer is gas).

So really, I'm just left to address the bus then.
 
  #4  
Old 12-13-19, 10:45 AM
Member
Thread Starter
Join Date: Sep 2017
Location: USA
Posts: 48
Received 0 Votes on 0 Posts
So out of curiosity, is having two neutral wires per lug a relatively recent code addition? My house was built in the 70's, so was the way this was wired kosher back then, or was the previous owner of my house an idiot?
 
  #5  
Old 12-13-19, 10:48 AM
Member
Join Date: Nov 2015
Posts: 1,284
Received 22 Votes on 20 Posts
I cannot quiet tell if that neutral bus bar is actually full. There may be some unused lugs in the back.
If that bus bar really is full, you can add a ground bus bar to the panel and move ground wires over to the ground bus bar. That will free up some spaces and you can separate neutral wires there.
 
  #6  
Old 12-13-19, 11:15 AM
Member
Join Date: Oct 2005
Location: USA
Posts: 1,439
Received 15 Votes on 15 Posts
You will not find any 30 y/o, even 10 y/o main load center "up to code". Whatever that actually means.
I just bought a late '80's house, and I replaced the load center. Of course, it was an inspected job. Doing even a 2017 code compliant load center will run near $1500 in parts alone, due to the ACFI breakers required. Chasing a 2020 code compliant install and you are buying a number of GFCI breakers too.
Obviously, your choice in the matter. In your install, being a surface mount, with little conduit, the job is easier than most, I'll submit. But, still a full days work, and the meter is likely going to be pulled for 1/2 a day or so.

If on a supreme budget; I might just re-torque all the wire connections, using a torque wrench to the panel specifications. That would give me more security than splitting neutrals.
 
  #7  
Old 12-13-19, 11:24 AM
Member
Thread Starter
Join Date: Sep 2017
Location: USA
Posts: 48
Received 0 Votes on 0 Posts
Well, I'm not looking to bring the entire panel up to code. My understanding is that the new work will need to be up to code, but any existing is fine. So in my situation, probably a new bus bar at worst. Or am I missing something?
 
  #8  
Old 12-13-19, 11:28 AM
Member
Join Date: Oct 2005
Location: USA
Posts: 1,439
Received 15 Votes on 15 Posts
I see on the order of 5 whites that appear moveable to the bottom row. btw, you can double up on the bare/greens, to make room on the top row. A difficult design, having two rows blocked by the top wires...

White neutral wires carry full current normally, thus the different rules. Heating expansion/cooling contraction is more problematic with multiple entry wires.
 
  #9  
Old 12-13-19, 11:49 AM
Member
Thread Starter
Join Date: Sep 2017
Location: USA
Posts: 48
Received 0 Votes on 0 Posts
Thanks for all of the input. Due to that rat's nest of a neutral bar and its close proximity to the main lugs, I'm starting to lean towards having an electrician deal with all of this, as much as I hate to add yet another expense to my basement project.
 
  #10  
Old 12-13-19, 06:39 PM
PJmax's Avatar
Group Moderator
Join Date: Oct 2012
Location: Northern NJ - USA
Posts: 54,254
Received 482 Votes on 452 Posts
I added an enlarged view of the bar area. There are extra spots in the back and I do agree with you on an electrician. He more than likely will pull the meter due to the excessive amount of unfused copper wire exposed on the service wires.
 
  #11  
Old 12-14-19, 05:37 AM
Geochurchi's Avatar
Member
Join Date: Nov 2012
Location: USA
Posts: 4,125
Received 22 Votes on 22 Posts
Hi, that is an existing condition with the neutrals, very common in the 60’s & 70’s , I doubt that the inspector would have an issue, panel looks quite neat, don’t forget AFCI protection may be required for the new circuits.
Geo
 
  #12  
Old 12-14-19, 02:39 PM
CasualJoe's Avatar
Member
Join Date: Jan 2010
Location: USA
Posts: 10,239
Received 40 Votes on 32 Posts
Well, I'm not looking to bring the entire panel up to code. My understanding is that the new work will need to be up to code, but any existing is fine.

So, what code do you have to meet? Some municipalities jump and adopt the new code every 3 years as soon as it comes out and some don't. If you check, you may only have to meet 2005 or 2008 codes, but you have to find out what code you are working to before you start anything.
 
  #13  
Old 12-15-19, 09:06 AM
Member
Join Date: Apr 2014
Location: us
Posts: 672
Received 10 Votes on 10 Posts
I had similar situation to one in picture.

Installed separate bus bars on either side of main ground bar.
https://www.amazon.com/dp/B081SSSPY3...dDbGljaz10cnVl

Removed end screws on each bar then used empty holes for screws to attach to panel case.

Then routed all bare grounds wires from circuits to new bus screws.

When done neatly it looks like original wiring setup.
 
  #14  
Old 12-15-19, 07:43 PM
Member
Join Date: Apr 2014
Location: us
Posts: 672
Received 10 Votes on 10 Posts
In the US when electric codes are upgraded they usually “grandfather” old, existing systems and equipment.

The old system/equipment does not have to be up graded unless you are replacing something i.e. old 3 prong kitchen receptical a GFI must be used. The electric panel does not have to be changed.

It is common for greedy electrical contractors to tell customer their system is not up to code. Then charge for expensive, unnecessary upgrade.

I make it a point when putting in something new to make it look old.

P.S. In CarolupS picture the yellow wire nut to left of top left circuit breaker is a no-no that flags DIY work. If nothing else, use a black one and hide it behind other wires.
 
  #15  
Old 12-15-19, 08:28 PM
pcboss's Avatar
Forum Topic Moderator
Join Date: Jul 2002
Location: Maryland
Posts: 14,984
Received 35 Votes on 30 Posts
There is no issue with having a splice in a panel.
 
  #16  
Old 12-16-19, 10:56 AM
CasualJoe's Avatar
Member
Join Date: Jan 2010
Location: USA
Posts: 10,239
Received 40 Votes on 32 Posts
The old system/equipment does not have to be up graded unless you are replacing something i.e. old 3 prong kitchen receptical a GFI must be used.
Not necessarily. Yes, the counter receptacles must be GFCI protected, but that can be by a GFCI breaker or GFCI receptacle upstream from one being replaced.

I have found that even in smaller municipalities that may not have adopted a new code in 15 or 20 years that GFCI protected receptacles may be required in bathrooms and on kitchen counters in rental properties even if most of the electrical system is grandfathered from the '60s. Strangely enough though, they may not be required in garages or unfinished basements....go figure.

Installed separate bus bars on either side of main ground bar.
https://www.amazon.com/dp/B081SSSPY3...dDbGljaz10cnVl

I suspect the main ground bar you speak of isn't a ground bar at all, but a neutral busbar.
 
  #17  
Old 12-16-19, 02:54 PM
Member
Thread Starter
Join Date: Sep 2017
Location: USA
Posts: 48
Received 0 Votes on 0 Posts
Thanks for all of the input. I've hired an electrician who is coming out tomorrow to install the breakers. He told me to provide the breakers, and he'd install them.

I was just taking a look online at what my local HD has, and I noticed this blurb in their page about breakers:

"Brand: Always install the correct brand of breakers in your breaker panel. While some breakers are interchangeable, many are not, even if they look the same. Replacing one brand of breaker with another can be dangerous, may void your breaker or panel warranty, and may cause you to fail an electrical inspection. Look on your breaker panel door for information about which breakers are compatible with your panel. Breakers continue to be manufactured for most panels, including older models."

Hmmm. From the photos I provided, can you tell what brand I should be looking for? I figured all AFCI breakers of a particular amperage would be more or less interchangeable, but apparently this isn't the case?

EDIT: On the side of the inside of my panel box, the brand name is Square D. So I assume I'm good with these?

https://www.homedepot.com/p/Square-D...AFIC/100112959

https://www.homedepot.com/p/Square-D...AFIC/100128763
 
  #18  
Old 12-16-19, 03:40 PM
CasualJoe's Avatar
Member
Join Date: Jan 2010
Location: USA
Posts: 10,239
Received 40 Votes on 32 Posts
You showed us a picture of a Square D QO series panel, but the Square D breakers you provided links for are Square D Homeline. Homeline breakers will not fit in a QO series panel.

Here's a 20 amp QO series GFCI breaker.

https://www.homedepot.com/p/Square-D...FICP/100013610


Here's the 15 amp one.

https://www.homedepot.com/p/Square-D...FICP/100190526


Well dammit, I gave you GFCI and you need AFCI breakers. Look on those same Home Depot pages and you'll find them. Just be sure you are looking at QO series and not Homeline.
 
  #19  
Old 12-16-19, 03:40 PM
Member
Join Date: Nov 2015
Posts: 1,284
Received 22 Votes on 20 Posts
What you have is Square D QO breakers.

https://www.homedepot.com/p/Square-D...AFIC/202353327

https://www.homedepot.com/p/Square-D...AFIC/202353307

You will not have room for additional AFCI unless you replace some of your old circuits to tandem or remove unused breakers as your plan.

https://www.homedepot.com/p/Square-D...15CP/100076261

https://www.homedepot.com/p/Square-D...20CP/100021761


You already have 1 old tandem (the one with 2 handles) and new tandem has different design, but still the correct replacement. Also, not all spaces may allow you to install tandem breaker.

New circuits needs to be on AFCI, but AFCI don't come in tandem.

If you replacing just breakers on a old circuit, you don't have to install AFCI.
 
  #20  
Old 12-16-19, 03:47 PM
Member
Thread Starter
Join Date: Sep 2017
Location: USA
Posts: 48
Received 0 Votes on 0 Posts
You guys are the best. I would have unwittingly bought the Homeline breakers and had a very frustrating day tomorrow.

Thanks again.
 
  #21  
Old 12-16-19, 03:50 PM
CasualJoe's Avatar
Member
Join Date: Jan 2010
Location: USA
Posts: 10,239
Received 40 Votes on 32 Posts
I would have unwittingly bought the Homeline breakers and had a very frustrating day tomorrow.

You wouldn't be the first one to do that. You would have soon discovered that Homeline breakers are 1" thick and QO series breakers are only 3/4" thick and have an entirely different attachment system to the bus bars. They CANNOT be interchanged.
 
Reply

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off
Trackbacks are Off
Pingbacks are Off
Refbacks are Off


Thread Tools
Search this Thread
 
Ask a Question
Question Title:
Description:
Your question will be posted in: