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Old 10-30-2010, 12:45 PM   #1
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2 hot wires in a 12-2 cable


I found a loose 12-2 cable in the attic on an otherwise idle 20 Amp circuit. I fed it into a junction box from I where installed a new ceiling fan. When I turned the breaker ON, it blew up the ceiling fan (actually, it had a remote converter right there of which it blew up that piece). The breaker stayed in the ON position.

After manually turning off the breaker, a brief moment of confusion and detachment of the wires I turned the breaker back on and used a voltage detector and, wouldn't you believe it, had both wires test hot! I haven't opened the breaker panel yet, looking for ideas here first.

Appreciate all your help!


Last edited by snucky; 10-30-2010 at 12:46 PM. Reason: typo
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Old 10-30-2010, 01:03 PM   #2
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2 hot wires in a 12-2 cable


You might be looking at anabandoned 240 volt line. Is there a 2 pole breaker feeding this?

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Old 10-30-2010, 01:04 PM   #3
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2 hot wires in a 12-2 cable


Sounds like you fed 240V to your fan. Was it on a double-pole breaker, or just a single? If single, does one of the wires stay hot when you turn the breaker off?
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Old 10-30-2010, 01:21 PM   #4
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2 hot wires in a 12-2 cable


Maybe an old electric heat circuit? Many houses built 40 years ago had electric ceiling radiant heat, while others had baseboard units. Either way, it would not be unusual to find such circuits in the attic ....
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Old 10-30-2010, 01:49 PM   #5
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2 hot wires in a 12-2 cable


When I spliced the cable, it was clearly a 12-2 cable. There isn't a neutral in that circuit, so even if this was a 240V line, wouldn't it still be against code? Also, it's only on a 20Amp circuit.

I took this picture of my opened breaker panel. Red outline marks the circuit I hooked in to.
http://vonderlab.com/upload/breaker-panel.jpg
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2 hot wires in a 12-2 cable-breaker-panel.jpg  
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Old 10-30-2010, 02:00 PM   #6
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2 hot wires in a 12-2 cable


That's a 240 Volt circuit, on a double-pole breaker. You fried that fan control, for sure.

The easy way to utilize this circuit (IF there is no longer any heating units involved) is to remove the white wire from the breaker, and install it into a blank space on the neutral bar, thus making it a 120 Volt circuit. You don't have to change the breaker.
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Old 10-30-2010, 02:42 PM   #7
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2 hot wires in a 12-2 cable


learning something new every day.... Had no idea that circuits came with 2 hot, no neutral wires. I wish I had done my homework. Well, Lowes might be kind enough to replace the fried control. I'll send my wife, they won't be able to resist her

Could the main fan engine have gotten fried also? The remote control unit sits before the fan engine. I hope that's not the case. Took me an hour just to hang the fan!

Thanks for the advice! The white cable is too short to reach the neutral bus bar. Is it o.k. to pigtail within the breaker box? Seems kind of "unorderly" to me.
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Old 10-30-2010, 02:45 PM   #8
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2 hot wires in a 12-2 cable


It's possible the fan motor could be cooked too, but the control module probably took the brunt of it.

Yes, you can pigtail the white wire to reach the neutral bar, unless you're in Canada. Make sure you use the same wire gauge, #12.
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Old 10-30-2010, 02:48 PM   #9
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2 hot wires in a 12-2 cable


Quote:
Originally Posted by snucky View Post
learning something new every day.... Had no idea that circuits came with 2 hot, no neutral wires. I wish I had done my homework. Well, Lowes might be kind enough to replace the fried control. I'll send my wife, they won't be able to resist her

Could the main fan engine have gotten fried also? The remote control unit sits before the fan engine. I hope that's not the case. Took me an hour just to hang the fan!
I will suggest that replace the remote control first but few case it may affect the fan motour as well.


Quote:
Thanks for the advice! The white cable is too short to reach the neutral bus bar. Is it o.k. to pigtail within the breaker box? Seems kind of "unorderly" to me.
In USA side it is not a issue but Canada generally no they do not want any splices in the load centre.

I have done pretty often when the situation called for.

Merci.
Marc
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Old 10-30-2010, 03:04 PM   #10
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2 hot wires in a 12-2 cable


Hi guys, you're really awesome, thanks for all your help. I believe that it's probably just the control that got fried and will try to get it at Lowe's via return or otherwise buy it here:
http://cgi.ebay.com/ws/eBayISAPI.dll...=263602_304642
that looks like the exact same unit. If that won't do it I'll have to buy the whole fan again Mistakes are the best lessons one can get, I guess.

I'll pigtail the neutral to the bus, got plenty of 12 gauge flying around here!
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Old 10-30-2010, 03:19 PM   #11
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2 hot wires in a 12-2 cable


Quote:
Originally Posted by kbsparky View Post
Maybe an old electric heat circuit? Many houses built 40 years ago had electric ceiling radiant heat, while others had baseboard units. Either way, it would not be unusual to find such circuits in the attic ....
By the way, to give kbsparky some credit, the house is about 40 years old and has a lot of electric heat units. Amazing how good people can get at what they're doing. One month, we turned on the electrical baseboard heat at night when it got cold (live in MT) and it doubled our electrical bill... The next week, literally, I went and installed a wood stove. (Although we have a secondary heat source (Rinnai gas heater) downstairs.

Anyway, thank all you guys again
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Old 10-30-2010, 09:34 PM   #12
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2 hot wires in a 12-2 cable


Thanks for the compliment. Back in the day (40 years or so ago) electricity was cheap. They were building nuke plants, pushing electric heat, etc. They thought that electricity would be "too cheap to meter" ... imagine that!!

How times have changed.
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Old 10-31-2010, 06:09 PM   #13
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2 hot wires in a 12-2 cable


for all that were interested: The store gave me a new remote control unit for the fan and it's all working normal with the suggested fixes. nice! thx again
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Old 10-31-2010, 06:13 PM   #14
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2 hot wires in a 12-2 cable


That good to let us know how the outcome on this situation and it will be a wise time to check if you have any more leftover electrque heating system still actived or disconneted.

I just have one done yesterday that house did have 4 circuits worth of electrique heating in there and disconnect all beside the bathroom that stay on.{it converted to gaz heating system }

Merci.
Marc

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