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Old 06-01-2010, 12:49 PM   #1
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New Breaker Panel Questions


Had to upgrade panel to accomodate AC system. Hired a professional, licensed electrician. Got a call from the guy reparing the sheetrock that he didn't like some of the work done by this guy and while it may be legal, it may be sleezy and somewhat unsafe. Upon examination:
-the panel didn't sit flush against the wall as the electrician ran a wire behind the new panel (from a lower unit, up through the wall, behind new panel and up to attic). Could this cause a problem if the wire was pinched or abraded over time?
- most of the neutrals were pigtailed together, not individually grounded to the bar. May be legal as far as code, but is this a common practice?
-spliced a wire leading into the bottom of panel.
-spliced a wire within the panel. Tried to camaflouge the wire nut by tucking behind a bunch of pigtailed ground wires. In addition the splice was a stepdown from a 12 gauge to a 14 gauge wire. Not sure what it powered...
-neither splice was necessary, there was plenty of slack wire had they just pulled it in a bit.
- looked like spaghetti - had wires twisted and wrapped and crossed through out the panel - hot wrapped over another hot with a ground through the middle...

Am I overreacting to want these items resolved? I welcome feedback as to code and commonly accepted or acceptable practices.
AvalonGirl

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Old 06-01-2010, 01:19 PM   #2
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Pigtailing a bunch of neutrals from different circuit to one connection to the neutral bar is wrong unless the pigtail is big enough to carry the combined current of all the circuits. Example two #14 wires is 30 amps. That would need a #10 pigtail.
All splices must be in accessible junction boxes.

Did you have an inspection and a permit? I would call the permit office and check if an inspection was done.

Post some pictures.

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Old 06-01-2010, 01:34 PM   #3
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Yeah, sounds like a hack job, especially the pigtailed neutrals. As an example, 5 14-gauge wires pigtailed together with a single 14-gauge wire to the neutral bar. Those neutrals could be carrying up to 75 amps before a breaker would trip. Meanwhile, the single wire connecting them to the neutral bar would be carrying that 75 amps. And so it would smoke, glow, melt, and burst into flames, in roughly that order. Not good.
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Old 06-01-2010, 01:41 PM   #4
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Thank you Joe! I do have permits as I tent to do things by the book. Final inspections have not been done. My drywaller was fixing the collateral mess this guy made. Good point! I didn't even calculate the load of all the grounds. My ex- is a commercial electrician and after posting here I did call him. He was kind enough to field my call and assures me I'm not overreacting - shoddy work can cause fires! He also suggested letting the inspector know. My other half is an electrical engineer, just not a certified electrician in the state and thus not able to do work on my house. Trying to do the right thing, use 'qualified' individuals, file the proper paperwork. I have pics, but file size exceeds limit. Will resize and post.
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Old 06-01-2010, 01:54 PM   #5
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My pics are really high res, so this is a much cropped down pic of the splice within the box. This was tucked into the upper right hand corner of the box, behind a pigtailed bunch of bare copper. The top wire is 12 coming in, spliced into 14 going to a 20 amp breaker. Hope this works...and guys, thanks for the input! I don't know all the technical terms and sometimes interchange my words (ground and neutral for example), but I do know I don't want my house to burn down or folks to get hurt.
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Old 06-01-2010, 01:56 PM   #6
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Even with that short length of #14 wire in the mostly #12 circuit, that is now a 15-amp circuit and needs to be on a 15-amp breaker, not a 20. Depending on what that circuit is for, that may or may not be a problem. Either way, looks like you definitely need to get whoever wired it back to do it right, or make them pay someone competent to clean up their mess.
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Old 06-01-2010, 02:20 PM   #7
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Splicing in the panel is ok but the 14 on a 20 is a problem.
I was referring to the pictured spliced. The neutral pigtailing is a problem as others have stated.

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Old 06-01-2010, 02:58 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by AvalonGirl View Post
- most of the neutrals were pigtailed together, not individually grounded to the bar. May be legal as far as code, but is this a common practice?
Neutral wires, the ones with white insulation, have to be connected to an individual screw on the neutral bar but if the wire is too short to reach an empty screw it can be pigtailed. Multiple neutrals cannot be pigtailed to one screw.
It may be permissible to pigtail multiple ground wires to one screw terminal.
Question, was the entire panel replace or was a sub-panel added?
Could some of this be from previous work?

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Old 06-01-2010, 04:44 PM   #9
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A7e - totally new panel, fresh from the Siemens box. One panel, just larger, no sub-panel. None of this should have been leftover work. (The original owner/builder was an electrician and I bought it from him 20 years ago.) Thought of that myself and my answer was:
1) everything had to be disconnected and re-fed into the new panel.
2) if the new 'trician found sub-standard or not-to-code work I am readily accessible by phone - he could have called me and asked what I wanted to do.
3) if I were doing the work, I would feel a moral obligation to make the work right, should I discover sub-par existing work. I could not sleep knowing I had done something to endanger another.

McSteve - yeah in the rush of the day I didn't note what was fed off that breaker. Either way it has been resolved.

Everything has been resolved, cleaned up, took maybe 6 hours and that includes time to knock the sheetrock back out, sort it out, disconnect, reconnect, land wires, remove the wire from behind the panel. No way was I going to allow the original electrician to do any further work on my house! Now I just have to confront him and decide what I want. Money back? More fun - the electrician is a brother in law of mom's beau. So now we have the family thing.
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Old 06-01-2010, 09:25 PM   #10
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Ooooh, I would have loved to see more pics of that work.

Who did you get to fix it? I would be looking for my money back, but kinda hard now that you fixed it.

One thing that might help is if you have photos of the whole panel and of the details you mentioned, we could give you the code references for the violations.

The bad news for everyone is that he is a licensed electrician who is doing hack work and left dangerous mistakes.

...oh yeah, give that sheetrocker a cash tip as a thanks...
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Old 06-02-2010, 11:20 AM   #11
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Willis - I do have more pictures, but they are so large (10 megapix) impossible to get them down to size and still see the detail. All I will say is he is a licensed electrician out of South Jersey, land of Pay for Play and Payoffs. My long term partner has a degree in electrical engineering (but does not have a license in NJ) and fixed all the work. I was more concerned with making it safe then starting a storm. But after a good night sleep and thinking about it I wanted ammunition, if you will, from other professionals to be able to go back and chew him a new one. If he does this kind of work on pseudo-family members, what shortcuts does he take with the unsuspecting public? Hence my postings on this board. My poor rock guy was torn about calling me - professional courtesy - and he isn't an electrician, just sees a lot of electric work in the course of his day. That is a great idea - I will drop him a cash tip next time I'm in his area. This is a rental unit and while I maintain it very well, I never would have known - I don't frequently take the cover panel off the box, nor start digging around in wiring....

My thanks to all for replies and dealing with my lack of electrical expertise!

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