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Old 03-25-2013, 09:47 AM   #1
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Clip holding breaker in On position


I went to my breaker box this morning to turn off the power to my water heater, and it has this metal clip holding it in place. Can somebody tell me what this is? I'm thinking it was supposed to be removed during installation, and I'm going to feel pretty stupid if that's it, but this thing is REALLY stuck on there. I'm going to have to pry it off with a screwdriver or a pair of pliers, so I thought I should ask before I destroy something.


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Old 03-25-2013, 10:36 AM   #2
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Clip holding breaker in On position


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Originally Posted by jcorno View Post
I went to my breaker box this morning to turn off the power to my water heater, and it has this metal clip holding it in place. Can somebody tell me what this is? I'm thinking it was supposed to be removed during installation, and I'm going to feel pretty stupid if that's it, but this thing is REALLY stuck on there. I'm going to have to pry it off with a screwdriver or a pair of pliers, so I thought I should ask before I destroy something.

Some systems require that the breaker be locked in the "On" position.
Fire alarm being the first to come to mind.
I am not sure why they have this clip on your water heater. Someone installed this. It was not left there by mistake.
Go to the water heater and see if there is a disconnect (switch).
You can take the panel cover off to see how to remove it.
I found this picture. Is this what you have?

Ps.........This clip is designed for locking either in the "off" or the "on" position.
It looks like the installer installed it wrong. You will need to remove the panel cover and see how to remove it.
They must have installed it because there is no disconnect at the water heater itself.
The water heater must be able to be locked out for service.
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Last edited by J. V.; 03-25-2013 at 10:43 AM.
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Old 03-25-2013, 11:01 AM   #3
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Clip holding breaker in On position


There's no switch on the water heater. Mine doesn't look quite like that, but I guess it does the same thing. I managed to pop it off and take a couple pictures. When I flipped the breaker, I didn't lose power to the smoke alarms, so I have no idea why it was on there.

Thank you very much for your help.
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Old 03-25-2013, 07:58 PM   #4
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Clip holding breaker in On position


We used a lot of locks at work for the obvious purpose of preventing people from turning important circuits off when they meant to turn the lights out. (not a great idea using breakers as switches, but some are made for that). The lock did not prevent an overload trip.

I don't know how relevent that is to your situation.
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Old 03-25-2013, 08:31 PM   #5
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Clip holding breaker in On position


For items that would require a service disconnect, a breaker lock can serve that purpose. It's cheaper to install a breaker lock than a disconnect. The type I install allow the breaker to turn on and off, but you can install a small padlock to keep them locked in a certain position.

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Old 03-26-2013, 10:27 AM   #6
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Clip holding breaker in On position


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Originally Posted by jcorno View Post
There's no switch on the water heater. Mine doesn't look quite like that, but I guess it does the same thing. I managed to pop it off and take a couple pictures. When I flipped the breaker, I didn't lose power to the smoke alarms, so I have no idea why it was on there.

Thank you very much for your help.
Fire alarm was an example of a circuit you would want to lock in the "ON" position.
This 30 amp two (2) pole breaker feeds a water heater and nothing more.
The reason you have this clip is because you have no disconnect on the heater itself.
It is to satisfy the NEC rule about disconnecting means.
Now that you have removed it, you have two choices.

1) Put it back in and use it to lock the breaker in the "Off" position.
2) Leave it out and install a 30 amp disconnect at the heater.

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