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Old 02-20-2012, 12:40 PM   #1
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2-Pole Breakers for single circuits??


My daughter just bought a house. It has a fairly new breaker panel, using Cutler Hammer DNPL type breakers. They used Double Pole breakers where they were supposed to (range, water heater, etc) but also used them for all the other circuits, making it impossible to isolate a single circuit. Two questions - (1) Is there any reason why this would be done, perhaps other than someone trying to save money using something they already had on hand, and (2) instead of replacing them, is it okay to just remove the tie rods and clips? They are all 15A, and the 2 sides are switching separate Hots (just so you know that they aren't switching the neutral, too). Thanks! RB

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Old 02-20-2012, 12:44 PM   #2
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2-Pole Breakers for single circuits??


If they are feeding MWBC = Multi Wire Branch Circuits then they have to stay the way they are. Hard to tell without seeing what is going on in there.

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Old 02-20-2012, 12:48 PM   #3
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2-Pole Breakers for single circuits??


rrolleston...they aren't feeding MWBCs. Everything on these tied DP breakers has been identified and should be on single breakers (all lights and non-split receptacles). By the way, the kitchen has DP breakers for its split plugs. Thanks! RB
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Old 02-20-2012, 12:54 PM   #4
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2-Pole Breakers for single circuits??


If there is a red and black wire going to each double pole breaker then it is definitely a MWBC means they used xx-3 wire and split it somewhere. Sometimes this is done to save money use xx-3 wire then split it off to save money from having to buy xx-2. I would not cut or remove any handle ties unless you have someone check it out that knows what they are doing. It could cause a dangerous situation.
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Old 02-20-2012, 12:57 PM   #5
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2-Pole Breakers for single circuits??


rrolleston...there are no 3-wire cables going to any of the breakers that I have identified as being "incorrect". All circuits from these breakers I want to change, are going out on separate black wires in separate NMD cables...to lighting and non-split plug circuits. Thanks! RB
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Old 02-20-2012, 01:16 PM   #6
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2-Pole Breakers for single circuits??


Since you are unsure why it was done that way my best advice would be to have someone look at it. That way if something happens an insurance company can't say you did something illegal. And I don't think cutting the handle ties is a legal modification.
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Old 02-20-2012, 01:18 PM   #7
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2-Pole Breakers for single circuits??


Post a picture if you can.
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Old 02-20-2012, 01:28 PM   #8
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2-Pole Breakers for single circuits??


Hi hawkeye...I can't get a picture until my next visit. I'll rephrase my original question. "If I am 100% sure that only single 120v AC branch circuits are being fed by these tied double pole breakers, is it okay to remove the ties from the breakers". As far as removing the ties voiding some kind of certification...I'm sure it does. That's a good point rrolleston! I think I will just get the correct 15A SP versions and make it correct. Someone could get confused later on with the ties removed because the breakers are marked to identify the DP connection points. I was just curious if anyone had any valid rationale for using the wrong ones like this. Maybe the panel came in a "Home Depot" kit and this is what came with it, so they just used what they had. Remember, I am 100% certain that these should be SP circuits. Thanks! RB
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Old 02-20-2012, 01:35 PM   #9
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2-Pole Breakers for single circuits??


The only reasonable use for double pole breakers would appear to be either for a 240 volt circuit or a multi wire branch circuit. The fact that they used double pole breakers for two separate circuits suggests, as you guessed, that the installer had a lot of double pole breakers around, and could not be bothered to remove the tie handle when they installed them as effectively two single pole breakers tied together. But perhaps one of the electricians on this forum has a better explanation.
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Old 02-20-2012, 01:44 PM   #10
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2-Pole Breakers for single circuits??


Could also be because the two wires meet in a box somewhere. And they used double pole breakers for safety.
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Old 02-20-2012, 01:48 PM   #11
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2-Pole Breakers for single circuits??


rrolleston...that would be a real mess, wouldn't it. If they met up for use as a MWBC or 240v circuit, then that would have been identified in teh circuit study. Thanks! RB
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Old 02-20-2012, 01:58 PM   #12
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2-Pole Breakers for single circuits??


Who knows but a picture would be helpfull.
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Old 02-20-2012, 02:39 PM   #13
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2-Pole Breakers for single circuits??


Remove the ties if they are not 240v loads. There is no difference between a single pole breaker and a double pole breaker without a tie bar.
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Old 02-20-2012, 04:30 PM   #14
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2-Pole Breakers for single circuits??


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Remove the ties if they are not 240v loads. There is no difference between a single pole breaker and a double pole breaker without a tie bar.
That is totally false. Double pole breakers have a common internal trip even with the tie removed.
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Old 02-20-2012, 05:01 PM   #15
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2-Pole Breakers for single circuits??


To the OP:

What you describe is very strange. I cannot imagine an electrician doing this without a reason, and using DP because that's all you have wouldn't be a reason (an electrician would know he/she can use them at another job, and would save them and get some SPs).

I would not modify them, I would call in an electrician. Just my two pennies worth.

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