Double Tapped Breakers

By
Home Inspector with Residential Building Inspectors

This is why Realtors® need to know a little about what Home Inspectors are putting in the report.

Double Tap

An inspector (in Ohio) call this panel out as having a double tap. Here is what he said.

"M Marginal Item is not fully functional and requires repair or servicing."

He even stated that this was a Square D panel in his report.

Double Tap Closer

This is Home Inspector Electrical training 101 that this is NOT a defect. Most Home Inspectors know this but enough do not.

You need to know things like this so that incorrect information does not kill your deals.

Do any of you consult an electrician or an electrical inspector before you show these 'defects' to the seller's agent? An experienced seller's agent would know that this is bad information and may dismiss other parts of the report that you present.

What is your credibility worth?

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Ambassador
1,082,558
Charles Buell
Charles Buell Inspections Inc. - Seattle, WA
Seattle Home Inspector

Mike a very good example of extreme lack home inspection training----no trained home inspector should be making this mistake.

Dec 28, 2009 10:22 AM #1
Rainer
84,150
Mike Parks
Residential Building Inspectors - Circleville, OH
Inspector

Charles

These are the type of people who make us all look bad.

I think if Realtors knew more that would help weed out the bad inspectors.

Dec 28, 2009 10:32 AM #2
Ambassador
1,082,558
Charles Buell
Charles Buell Inspections Inc. - Seattle, WA
Seattle Home Inspector

Mike---for sure----and one of the main reasons I play more here than at some other sites:)

Dec 28, 2009 10:42 AM #3
Rainer
13,256
William Decker
Decker Home Services, LLC - Glencoe, IL

Mike.  Many municipalities do not allow double taps, even for Square D breakers that are listed to allow them.

If they don't, I call it out.  Protecting from code violation liability is also part of the inspection process.

Looks, from your picture, like there was some breaker slots still open.  Why would a competant electrician do a double tap when he could just install another breaker?

Just because it may meet the local bare minimum standards of the local code officials, that does not make it right or professional, now does it?

Jan 04, 2010 03:33 PM #4
Rainer
84,150
Mike Parks
Residential Building Inspectors - Circleville, OH
Inspector

William

First this is not a 'tap'. Its a SD breaker. UL listed.

I doubt if anyone in your area prohibits this.

If so please provide a link.

"Just because it may meet the local bare minimum standards of the local code officials, that does not make it right or professional, now does it?"

Codes are usually made by experts not HI's. How are HI's smarter than the code making bodies?

Jan 04, 2010 06:35 PM #5
Rainer
13,256
William Decker
Decker Home Services, LLC - Glencoe, IL

1) A double tapped breaker is a breaker that has more than one branch circuit conductor attached to it.  This is what the picture shows.

2) Chicago, and most of the municipalities around Chicago (the 900 lb gorrila syndrome) prohibit double tapes, even if the breaker is listed for it (and I agree with you, SD has a good design).

3) There is a vast difference between the current national codes (NEC, IRC, etc) and the local codes that are in force by the valious local code AHJs.  Around here, asn I believe in most areas, the local codes are years behind the national codes (most small municipaliy AHJs around here are still using the national codes, but are behind by at least 10 - 15 years).  Plus, local code adoption of the national codes are a political process, not a completely technical process.  Builders, unions and "special interest groups" all have a say.

If you saw a house, built in 1960, and having no GFCI or AFCI protection (and not required to, based upon grandfathering) whould you call it out as a safety issue?  I would and do, and have, documented, saved a few of my client's lives because I did.  But, the local "code official experts" said it was OK.

At least in Illinois, HIs have a higher duty of service than the tradesmen OR the code officials.  In Illinois, local code inspectors have absolutely NO liability if they miss something or they don't call out a safety defect.  HIs, on the other hand, do.

It is plain common sense that if one has the responsibility (i.e., liability) that they also have the authority.  Certainly, not by law, but I have the moral responsibility (and, thereby, the authority) to call out problems that may get my clients killed, harmed or cause them to incure financial costs.

Hope this clears this up for you.

Jan 04, 2010 06:59 PM #6
Rainer
84,150
Mike Parks
Residential Building Inspectors - Circleville, OH
Inspector

William

I agree with everything you said but double tap.

The NEC describes a tap and that is not it. You can not 'tap' a breaker.

Jan 04, 2010 07:06 PM #7
Rainer
13,256
William Decker
Decker Home Services, LLC - Glencoe, IL

I agree, somewhat.  I have checked with Paul Abernathy, who helps to write the NEC.  Any breaker that has two branch circuit conductors attached double tapped.  Sure, the manufacturer has designed this breaker to handle two conductors of equal gauge and it us UL listed.

But...

This breaker, depending upon the loads from the two circuits, will trip more often.  Not a safety issue (arcing) but it could cause nusience trips.

AND, it is not allowed by many locak AHJs, which, as I have stated before, are always behind the times with regards to the current NEC.

Jan 04, 2010 07:18 PM #8
Rainer
84,150
Mike Parks
Residential Building Inspectors - Circleville, OH
Inspector

William

"This breaker, depending upon the loads from the two circuits, will trip more often."

Says who?

Ask Paul Abernathy how many 'outlets' are allowed on a general light circuit in a residential application.

I'll tell you. No limit.

If they are under one breaker it is still only one circuit.

Jan 04, 2010 07:30 PM #9
Rainer
13,256
William Decker
Decker Home Services, LLC - Glencoe, IL

If you have 20 - 30 can lights on one circuit and each is running 100 watt bulbs?  Commonly seen, around here.  And if they were all one circuit, why are there two branch circuit conductors.

In any case, not allowed, per local code, around here.  And I am not going to have my clients call me back when they find that they have a code violation, and expect my insurance to pay for the repair.

BTW, Mike.  Are you insured?  Both G/L and E&O?

Jan 04, 2010 07:39 PM #10
Rainer
84,150
Mike Parks
Residential Building Inspectors - Circleville, OH
Inspector

"BTW, Mike.  Are you insured?  Both G/L and E&O?"

Excuse me? What does that have to do with the point.

Ohh. Change the topic.

"If you have 20 - 30 can lights on one circuit and each is running 100 watt bulbs?  Commonly seen, around here.  And if they were all one circuit, why are there two branch circuit conductors."

This makes no sense. Please rephrase it.

Jan 04, 2010 07:48 PM #11
Rainer
13,256
William Decker
Decker Home Services, LLC - Glencoe, IL

20 can lights with 100 watt bulbs is 2000 watts which is 16.6 amps which will trip a 15 amp lighting circuit breaker.  Two such circuits, connected to the same breaker, will produce a load that well exceeds its rating, therefore it will trip.

As to the insurance comment.  A professional has a fiduciary responsibility to their cleints, which means that they have a legal (and moral) duty to protedct their clients.  A tradesman has a mere contractural duty.

I protect my cleints from any mistakes that I may make.  That is why I have insurance, both G/L and E & O.

So, the question asks whether you are a professional or a tradesman.

Jan 04, 2010 08:04 PM #12
Rainer
84,150
Mike Parks
Residential Building Inspectors - Circleville, OH
Inspector

"Two such circuits, connected to the same breaker"

Agreed.

BTW $2,000,000.00

Jan 04, 2010 08:24 PM #13
Anonymous
Anonymous
Tom Thistle

Hi Guys,

I've recently been hired as an intern by a not-for-profit organization in Canada. One of the projects I am assigned to is to contract a solar photovoltaic system to be installed and power our headquarters. I've been looking through the building inspection and it has double-taps checked off. I'm wondering how this will affect the eventual connection to the photovoltaic system and what could be done to solve this problem. Any help would be appreciated.

 

Thank you

Jun 10, 2010 11:51 AM #14
Anonymous
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