breaker box red and black


Old 10-22-01, 07:51 PM
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We have been having electrical problems plus alot of RF interference, I was told that our home was acting as a huge antennae, today, my father (who was a licensed electrician for many years) peeked into out main circuit box, there was a red and blakc wire hooked into the same breaker, he said that was incorrect, he went to put the one wire into a breaker that was not being used, it was broken, we replaced it and he hooked the wire into it, seemed to make a big differece with the noise level in our appliances, plus I have become very electrically sensitive, actually ill, my husband returned from work, I told him what my father did, he was angry, said that the red and black wire were there for a reason, he was told that was correct, my father disagrees, who is right? I was told by a friend electrician that it would cause havac on our system to have the two wires in one breaker,well??????
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Old 10-23-01, 02:15 AM
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Two wires in one breaker is pretty much a no-no.

Are the red and black (hots) from the same cable? Sharing a white (neutral)? This is definitely a no-no. If the red is pulling 12 amps and the black is pulling 12 amps the load on the white is 24 amps. The hots should be adjacent to each other (one above the other).

If the hot wires are from separate cables and have separate neutrals, and each is pulling 12 amps, the breaker is being overloaded.

In either case, each should have its own breaker. Your father is right, in this regard.

I question however, with the interference your experiencing and this suspect work in the panel, the integrity of other circuits.

I would pay the money to have an electrician "inspect" the panel and these circuits particularly.

Old 10-23-01, 04:16 AM
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I'd be hard-pressed to argue with an electrician who is on the scene, and who clearly has no reason to harm you.

A red and black wire both connected to the same breaker is common for 240-volt breakers. It is uncommon for 120-volt breakers, but sometimes allowed for certain types of breakers. I'd have to assume that what your father did was correct, although I'd be interested in hearing why your husband thinks that it is not.

Sounds like your husband and father have some issues. Good luck.
Old 10-24-01, 02:52 PM
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I am concerned about what has been done in this case. AbNORMal is close to the subject yet I think he may be telling some wrong, maybe. I believe abNORMal was thinking as an electrician and expecting the wiring to be wired as an electricain normally does. I strongly believe his concern about possibly overloading a neutral or grounded wire may be a priority in your concerns.

No wire should ever be moved or changed until the electrician or DIYer knows what those wires are connected to and how they should be designed.

If John Q never wired before homeowner wired this you don't know what you have.

I believe your father identified these wires being both on the same lug which is a no no and one being black and one being red he took to be two different circuits. WE DON'T KNOW THAT!

What if someone decided to parallel the black and red of a 3 wire cable serving the same piece of equipment. If this is what you have then you now have two breaker working in parallel doubling the ampacity allowed to be carried on those conductors. Say the home owner wired the black and red wires in parallel using 12 awg wires of the same cable serving the same piece of equipment, then thinking of the ampacity of 20 amps for a 12 awg wire being paralleled now capable of carrying 40 amps. He installs a 40 amp breaker. Then you father separates these two paralleled wires rated 20 amps each and he installed one on the original 40 amp breaker and the second on a 20 amp breaker. In theory it would take 60 amps to kick those breakers protecting a 20 amp rated wire. Scary?

Now thinking like an electrician and seeing that red wire tells me that we have a 220 volt circuit. Now if abNORMal is right and a neutral is being used and that wire was moved to a new breaker that was on the same phase then that 12 awg 20 amp rated neutral may have to carry that 40 amps combined between the two circuits on the same path approximately.

Then you go back to the paralleling idea and you move that paralleled red wire to a second breaker and your husband decides to work on that circuit. He goes to the panel, shuts off that breaker he wired and knows serves that circuit then touches that paralleled red wire thinking it is dead and finds to his painful at the least surprise that it is hot and he now is touching it. NOT GOOD EITHER.

Actually I could go on and on. This may be a dangerous situation.

You really must follow that black and red wire to make sure what they serve exactly before you change a wiring design that is existing. DO NOT GUESS or take for granted it was wired by someone that really knew what he was doing.

This black and red combo under the same lug may be anything and any design. KNOW, before you change !

Be careful

Old 10-29-01, 03:04 AM
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What if someone decided to parallel the black and red of a 3 wire cable serving the same piece of equipment
That is an excellent point. I was ass-u-ming that someone had just piggybacked onto an existing breaker and had 2 wires under one screw of a regular breaker for a 120V circuit. I'm guilty of not thinking this all the way thru.

I think you and I agree though, someone qualified and impartial should check these circuits out and determine what the right course is.

Old 10-29-01, 10:13 AM
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Abnormal,I definitly agree with you and what you have said. After reading what the replies were I had more concerns to make the subject more sensitive to safety. This is why I added what I did. I too think someone with knowledge of the wiring condition should look at this one to make sure a safety issue does not apply. I suspect that safety is a concern on this post.

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