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Old 03-15-2020, 01:45 PM   #1
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Default The very rare shocking story

So, changing out a panel. What do you usually do? Turn off the main breaker for the panel in question. Lock out and tag it? Then double triple check the target panel for voltage next after removing the panel cover? I bet most every one of us at least double triple checks for zero voltage on the panel in question, who wouldn't? Me, I use my wiggle or fluke and check everything. Then I run my volt tick around the panel in case something is fed from elsewhere and is just traveling thru the panel and fed from elsewhere. Usually that step comes out when there is a whole lot of wires in that panel and not easily visible to follow all wires to see where they come from to where they land.

But that panel might still not be safe to swap out yet.

What are you talking about macmikeman? Is this another conspiracy story? No.

Here is the last test to make which no one does, except for me now since I got a nice little whack a few days ago while swapping out a residential panel. Take out your clamp on amp tester and test for current flow in the neutral feed and the ground feed to the panel. See? I never used to do that one step. I will from now on. The panel I pulled the other day had neutral current (4.5 amps to be exact) running on it even after killing the sub panel breaker. Whoda thunk? Unscrewed the 2 hots and pulled em out of the main lugs. Then I loosened the neutral feed and while grabbing it to pull it out somehow or other touched the uninsulated end of the wire with one hand and was holding on to the panel for leverage with the other hand and bingo, right thru the heart path. Hand to hand. I'm quick to let go . No big deal. (time for comment boys, have at it).
Up in the attic in a junction box, I found where there was a circuit from the panel I was working on mixed with a circuit splice from another sub panel in the house. All of the neutrals in that junction box were tied together. I found it quick because when I opened the neutral and got whacked, after that the lights in the area on the floor above me in the kitchen , dining , and living room went out. So I knew where to go looking and found it.

So I am taking the time now to put this out there- AMP TEST THE WIRING BEFORE YOU BEGIN TO DISASSEMBLE , VOLT TESTING IS NOT ENOUGH.. And also a tipoff is multiple sub panels , that is something to look for when changing one of them.
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Old 03-15-2020, 01:52 PM   #2
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Glad you’re safe, honestly. No need to work you over, sure you’re doing enough of that.

I do this (checking neutral and clamping wires) regularly due to long runs that pick up even induced voltage that scares the crap out of me when it lets out those little sparks, and I’m like WTF?
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Old 03-15-2020, 02:09 PM   #3
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Glad you’re safe, honestly. No need to work you over, sure you’re doing enough of that.

I do this (checking neutral and clamping wires) regularly due to long runs that pick up even induced voltage that scares the crap out of me when it lets out those little sparks, and I’m like WTF?

Thanks. There is upside to this. I got paid to locate where the original feed to upstairs lighting neutral was disconnected. It was in the other panel. Somebody must have gotten shocked down there as well so they just taped it off.
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Old 03-15-2020, 02:12 PM   #4
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Backfeeds are more common than you think. Especially when running separate HR’s from normal and emergency panels. Happens in office spaces a lot especially when moves or changes are made after the initial installation. Not as common in residential because most houses have only 1 panel.

I like to kill the panel feeder and leave all the branch breakers on (backfeeds to breakers happen). Then test the phases to ground and neutral. Then pull the main neutral out and tap it on the neutral bus to see if it sparks.


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Old 03-15-2020, 02:13 PM   #5
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Wow...I hate finding that crap. I open a panel in my facility with a contractor and get embarrassed...I’m like who the heck got in behind me and did that?
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Old 03-15-2020, 02:17 PM   #6
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Backfeeds are more common than you think. Especially when running separate HR’s from normal and emergency panels. Happens in office spaces a lot especially when moves or changes are made after the initial installation. Not as common in residential because most houses have only 1 panel.

I like to kill the panel feeder and leave all the branch breakers on (backfeeds to breakers happen). Then test the phases to ground and neutral. Then pull the main neutral out and tap it on the neutral bus to see if it sparks.


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I never pull out anything neutral on any commercial work ever without amp testing it first. Cardinal Rule. Gotta make that for residential work now too I guess.
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Old 03-15-2020, 03:18 PM   #7
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Panel changeouts are always where I find double fed circuits, usually in an explosive fashion.
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Old 03-15-2020, 03:21 PM   #8
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Thank you, mac, for being right.
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Old 03-15-2020, 03:55 PM   #9
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Panel changeouts are always where I find double fed circuits, usually in an explosive fashion.
Yes, but like I said, I always check for those kind- where there is still voltage. but who looks for zero potential after checking for potential?
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Old 03-15-2020, 03:58 PM   #10
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Yes, but like I said, I always check for those kind- where there is still voltage. but who looks for zero potential after checking for potential?
Generally, but not always, I make it a practice to put my tick tracer on every single wire including neutrals and grounds once removed from the bus bar, because it will pick up a "live" neutral as you know. Those times when I don't are when I get a surprise.
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Old 03-15-2020, 04:05 PM   #11
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Generally, but not always, I make it a practice to put my tick tracer on every single wire including neutrals and grounds once removed from the bus bar, because it will pick up a "live" neutral as you know. Those times when I don't are when I get a surprise.
Not all tracers pickup "hot" neutrals. Mine didn't. Others I have owned would. I clearly remember running my tracer (orange brand with red tip, the one that goes blue for dead and read for live) over and around all the neutrals in the can before I even touched any wiring. All I saw was blue light.


Later I made a jumper wire from the system neutral to all the branch neutrals one at a time to find the sparky one. Then I joined em up and read the 4-1/2 amps with my fluke t-whatever it is number that has the amp slot.
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Old 03-15-2020, 04:10 PM   #12
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A tick tracer will pickup a hot neutral after it has been disconnected from the grounded source, right?

As far as using an amp clamp to test for current flowing, the meter would have to measure down to 50mA since that is what can kill you. Does the T5 or other common amp probes measure down that low?
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Old 03-15-2020, 04:11 PM   #13
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If they only new what we go through they would stop making movies about cops and firefighters being heroes...


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Old 03-15-2020, 04:14 PM   #14
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The Fluke one does, Mikey. It's all I use.
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Old 03-15-2020, 04:28 PM   #15
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In industrial so many wires can light your arse up when disconnected that the rules are simple. If its not grounded its hot.

Couple of wraps of 33 can be your best friend.
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Old 03-15-2020, 07:40 PM   #16
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The Fluke one does, Mikey. It's all I use.
Try testing that just to prove it . Hold it next to the neutral bus, away from any hot wires, take a picture to show the light is clearly on. Oh and no reversing the panel polarity just to get a good picture.
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Old 03-15-2020, 08:01 PM   #17
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Try testing that just to prove it . Hold it next to the neutral bus, away from any hot wires, take a picture to show the light is clearly on. Oh and no reversing the panel polarity just to get a good picture.
If you disconnect the neutral wire from the bus bar and it's a live circuit with a load on it, it will definitely detect it.
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Old 03-15-2020, 08:16 PM   #18
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If you disconnect the neutral wire from the bus bar and it's a live circuit with a load on it, it will definitely detect it.
Yes, so will mine. But mine won't while connected to the bus it won't, which is what happened during my event. Nothing lit up while it was connected so I proceeded to start demo. Did you read it at all? Once I pulled the neutral return out of the lug, I lit up instead of the little volt ticker device. This thread is about a warning to check for amp flow on that return before opening the circuit. Not to argue about what brand of volt tic is the best. If your fluke device shows current flow , with the neutral still in place and carrying the load, demonstrate it to us so we can all presently rush out to get one. It would be less of a hassle then reaching over to my husky bag to get out the t-x fluke volt tester . I have the new one with the bigger slot to read all the way up to 3/0. Two or three working clamps in the van, and ... a flexible really larger additional accessory amp clamp that will encircle any conductor they make.
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Old 03-15-2020, 08:24 PM   #19
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Yes, so will mine. But mine won't while connected to the bus it won't, which is what happened during my event. Nothing lit up while it was connected so I proceeded to start demo. Did you read it at all? Once I pulled the neutral return out of the lug, I lit up instead of the little volt ticker device.
I'm saying that in that situation, simply checking the main neutral with your ticker would have detected it was live once disconnected from the lug.
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Old 03-15-2020, 08:40 PM   #20
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I'm saying that in that situation, simply checking the main neutral with your ticker would have detected it was live once disconnected from the lug.
Ok I get it , except that be-otch required a whole lot of struggle to get it loose from the lug and my fingers ended up on the bare part when it did come loose.
I shoulda had gloves on is what I shoulda had. Putting that aside, check the stupid neutral before pulling it out of the lugs and save yourself a potential potential...... Hey! my new tag line!
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