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Old 07-24-2011, 12:38 PM   #1
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1 neutral; 2 circuit breakers


I have one 14/3 wire going to one box in my kitchen in which one hot connects to that receptacle. The other hot goes to another box and connects to that receptacle and all share the neutral. Each hot is connected to its own 15 amp circuit breaker. Is this ok or should this just be one circuit and cap the other hot and not use it?

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Old 07-24-2011, 12:46 PM   #2
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1 neutral; 2 circuit breakers


This is called a multi-wire branch circuit. Properly wired, they are safely used everyday.

The hots should be on opposite legs of the panel to prevent overloading the neutral.

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Old 07-24-2011, 01:01 PM   #3
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1 neutral; 2 circuit breakers


Thanks. They are on the same side of the panel (CEB from the late 70's) one right under the other, is this correct?
Is it because the hots would be on different phases that makes this safe for the neutral to carry both loads?
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Old 07-24-2011, 01:19 PM   #4
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1 neutral; 2 circuit breakers


Most panels are wired with the buss arrangement ABAB from top to bottom. With the breakers one above the other this puts the hots on opposite legs and the neutral will only carry the difference of the current between the two hots.

If the hots were on the same leg, the neutral could be carrying twice the current as the hots and create a fire hazard.
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Old 07-24-2011, 02:00 PM   #5
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1 neutral; 2 circuit breakers


Ok, thanks Jim. I'm good then, and I learned a thing or two.
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Old 07-24-2011, 02:08 PM   #6
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1 neutral; 2 circuit breakers


To be totally correct the 2 breakers should be tied together (a handle tie) so that both are turned off at the same time. The same can be accomplished with a 2 pole breaker.
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Old 07-24-2011, 02:30 PM   #7
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1 neutral; 2 circuit breakers


If this circuit was installed prior to the 1996(?) NEC, the breakers don't have to be tied together unless both circuits terminate on the same yoke, like with a split receptacle. It's still a good idea, though, and if it were me I'd probably still put a handle tie on the two breakers if they're already right next to each other.
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Old 07-24-2011, 02:50 PM   #8
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1 neutral; 2 circuit breakers


The Op is in Canada. Although both suggestions are good I am not sure if the CEC has similar requirements as the NEC.
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Old 07-24-2011, 02:53 PM   #9
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1 neutral; 2 circuit breakers


Whoops, that'll teach me. Nevermind then, I know next to nothing about the CEC.
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Old 07-24-2011, 03:30 PM   #10
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1 neutral; 2 circuit breakers


The suggestions sound good and I have a spare double pole breaker so I will swap them out. That way the box will be totally dead when the breaker is turned off.
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Old 07-24-2011, 04:23 PM   #11
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1 neutral; 2 circuit breakers


No breaker tie is neccassary unless there on the same plug. In the box where the 14/3 enters there should be a joint on the neutral and a pigtail to the plug. The neutral of the 14/3 can not be connected right to the plug.
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Old 07-24-2011, 10:22 PM   #12
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1 neutral; 2 circuit breakers


I just found this in my house because I saw a wire coming out of an outlet and ran to a pull light but when I turned off the breaker for the outlet the light wouldn't go out then I did some investigating and I saw the red wire I was just about to ask about this
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Old 07-24-2011, 10:58 PM   #13
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1 neutral; 2 circuit breakers


The breaker tie or double pole breaker is a good idea, regardless if it's required by the NEC. It offers additional safety should you need to work on the circuit or if there is an overload it will de-energize the neutral.

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