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Old 11-19-2011, 10:13 PM   #1
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2 breakers, 1 circuit - confused


Hi, hoping someone could provide some clarification to this odd wiring issue.

I purchased a three plex with a mix of new wiring and old knob and tube. Some of the circuits run through all three suites despite 3 panels.

One circuit over knob in tube seems to be connected to two breakers, in different panels. If one breaker is off, none of the lights or receptacles work. Both breakers must be on. On the wires running second breaker there is 120V running to both hot (breaker) and neutral.

I have virtually no experience with knob and tube, so I have no idea what is going on here or if its even related to knob and tube. Any advice or clarification as to what is going on would help.

thanks

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Old 11-19-2011, 10:22 PM   #2
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2 breakers, 1 circuit - confused


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Hi, hoping someone could provide some clarification to this odd wiring issue.

I purchased a three plex with a mix of new wiring and old knob and tube. Some of the circuits run through all three suites despite 3 panels.

One circuit over knob in tube seems to be connected to two breakers, in different panels. If one breaker is off, none of the lights or receptacles work. Both breakers must be on. On the wires running second breaker there is 120V running to both hot (breaker) and neutral.

I have virtually no experience with knob and tube, so I have no idea what is going on here or if its even related to knob and tube. Any advice or clarification as to what is going on would help.

thanks
You have a breaker in each panel that has to be on in order for the lights and receptacles to work?

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Old 11-19-2011, 10:47 PM   #3
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2 breakers, 1 circuit - confused


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You have a breaker in each panel that has to be on in order for the lights and receptacles to work?
correct. If either is off, the lights don't work. I am thoroughly confused by the whole thing. Both breakers need to be on. I disconnected the hot and neutral on the 2nd panel and both are running 120V. I have no clue what is going on.
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Old 11-19-2011, 11:17 PM   #4
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2 breakers, 1 circuit - confused


do you have 110 or 220 at the bulbs?

maybe some screwed up 3 way switch thing?
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Old 11-19-2011, 11:23 PM   #5
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2 breakers, 1 circuit - confused


That makes no sense unless you have 240 volts at the bulbs and sockets.
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Old 11-19-2011, 11:36 PM   #6
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2 breakers, 1 circuit - confused


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That makes no sense unless you have 240 volts at the bulbs and sockets.
I'll check tomorrow what the voltage is at the lights and plugs. But on panel 1, it is hooked up to a single pole 15amp breaker.
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Old 11-19-2011, 11:40 PM   #7
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2 breakers, 1 circuit - confused


If you do indeed have two seperate power feeds to the one circuit,
It could be what was once known as a "ring main".
How ever I was not aware that they were in use in the USA.
They were very common in the UK a long time ago.
How ever they can be dangerous!
so I dont know if code would allow such a set up now days.

But the fact that you say both must be on for things to work properly, makes me think that there is some funny bussiness going on !
Like wrong or incorrect wiring or even faulty wires somewhere !
You should get this checked out !

It is NOT normal and therefore NOT safe !
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Old 11-20-2011, 07:56 AM   #8
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2 breakers, 1 circuit - confused


I'll take a closer look today and report back. Thanks everyone

Last edited by fumbrunner; 11-20-2011 at 08:00 AM.
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Old 11-20-2011, 11:02 AM   #9
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2 breakers, 1 circuit - confused


Does a ring main need BOTH breakers on to work?
It is conceivable to have two breakers that both need to be off to kill the circuit if there is some sort of cross connection between two circuits. But to have both need to ON to operate devices is not understandable unless the devices are 240 volt.

Everyone here is assuming you are in north America. Please post your location in your profile so we can be sure you are getting the correct info.
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Old 11-20-2011, 11:28 AM   #10
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2 breakers, 1 circuit - confused


Maybe one breaker feeds the other panel?
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Old 11-20-2011, 11:34 AM   #11
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2 breakers, 1 circuit - confused


Well, its getting more interesting. It looks like its only 120v at the fixutures. I am replacing a bathroom light with a bathroom/fan combo. Tested the two lines and only one is hot.

I think I'm going to have to map every plug and light in the building and see what the heck is going on. On top of it all, the knob and tube in this 3rd suite is in the attic, with about 4 inches of blown in insulation. What a mess.

Fyi I am in Manitoba.
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Old 11-20-2011, 11:56 AM   #12
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2 breakers, 1 circuit - confused


Is there 240 volt power available anywhere in the house?

You might have the whole system juryrigged so that neutrals are on breakers. This is a no-no in modern wiring although systems with three fuses, two for the (240 volt) hots and one for the neutral did exist 70, 80 years ago.

If both hot and neutral were breakered then both breakers must be on for the circuit to be usable.
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Old 11-20-2011, 06:02 PM   #13
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Is there 240 volt power available anywhere in the house?

You might have the whole system juryrigged so that neutrals are on breakers. This is a no-no in modern wiring although systems with three fuses, two for the (240 volt) hots and one for the neutral did exist 70, 80 years ago.

If both hot and neutral were breakered then both breakers must be on for the circuit to be usable.
Yes there is 240 V for baseboard heaters, etc. The panels are new, installed this year. but they just connected everything just like it was in the old panels.

I think that the circuit in one of the panels was accidentally joined to another circuit in one of the dozen junction boxes all over the place. As I mentioned above, I think I'm just going to have to map everything and figure out what is going on.
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Old 11-20-2011, 08:02 PM   #14
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2 breakers, 1 circuit - confused


What you are describing does not seem feasible to me. I will stay tuned to see what the resolve was.
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Old 11-20-2011, 09:48 PM   #15
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2 breakers, 1 circuit - confused


I bet one breaker is on the feeder for the other panel. That's the only situation that makes sense. Check to see if one breaker turns the entire other panel on and off.

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