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Electrical contractor 37 years. Electrical inspector 2 years
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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
How many people out there worry after a service change or panel change? I just finished a panel change out in a house where the previous homeowner did much of his own electrical work. He / she used a lot of multi wire branch circuits and had the red and black on the same 2020 twin breaker and we all know that is a no no. Do I fix it or do I leave it the way it is? If I put the black wire on one one leg and the red wire on the second leg I could potentially send 240 some where. As I am turning on circuits I found that another black wire is hot which tells me that in a switch box somewhere all whites are tied together and all blacks are twisted together. Now I have to search out the mis-matched wires. Open splice boxes all over the attic. Many electricians on this forum are always cautioning about liability and leave it up to the engineer, Now I am wondering if we should skip service changes and tell them to get an engineer to design what we should do.
 

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So the black and red wire are on the same phase and share the one neutral?

Shouldn't this anomaly been found before the panel change began?

The un-terminated wire being hot from another circuit would be a tough catch ahead of time unless these circuits were traced prior to panel change.

It's probably now your responsibility to fix these anomalies since they were not discussed with the customer ahead of time and you are the last one in the panel.
 

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One of the many gotcha's available for contractors. Idealy these are caught before the price is given
Since we are after the change of equipment. I would fix the problems showing the HO the issues one at a time and why they need to be corrected. Go find your best patience hat for when you giving away the farm. Occasionally I have had customers offer me more money. Occasionally I would accept it.
Hard dollar bid you own the problems. T&M is self explanatory.
 

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If the black and red are a MWBC when I got there, that’s what they are when I leave. I’m not rewiring the house on a panel change. Two circuits tied together out in the field would stay that way. Nut it and tag as hot in the panel. I was replacing a receptacle and found it was hot neutral reversed, the white was hot and the black was neutral. Went to the panel and found all the white wires on breakers and all the black wires one the neutral buss. That’s just how I left it. It had been there 60 years. A few more wouldn’t hurt.
 

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I agree with Backstay, you leave as you found it but I would let the home owner know there are issues and you would be glad to come back on T&M to fix it. If you start trying to find and fix all the problems, set up a tent and take out a loan to pay for it.

Tim.
 

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Hackenschmidt
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No reasonable person expects a contractor to fix something pre-existing that's discovered that's not in their scope of work. What if you found the pool bonding was not right, would you crack up the concrete and redo it for them on your nickel? What if you found the wire to the garage was undersized, dig it up and replace it free of charge? Of course not. Your survey to bid the job can't be considered an exhaustive inspection and even if it was, no inspector offers to pay for everything they miss.

If you discover something like this, tell the homeowner and see if they want to pay to fix it. If you think it's dangerous, and they don't want to fix it, don't reconnect it.

If you think this is something that needs prior clarification, put it in your terms and conditions boilerplate that you put in all your contracts - scope of work does not cover unanticipated issues that must be corrected to finish work in a safe and code compliant manner, blah blah blah. But this is so basic I don't think it necessarily needs to be spelled out.
 

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Electrical contractor 37 years. Electrical inspector 2 years
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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
So the black and red wire are on the same phase and share the one neutral?

Shouldn't this anomaly been found before the panel change began?

The un-terminated wire being hot from another circuit would be a tough catch ahead of time unless these circuits were traced prior to panel change.

It's probably now your responsibility to fix these anomalies since they were not discussed with the customer ahead of time and you are the last one in the panel.
Black and red on the same twin was not picked up until after I took the cover off. I know the problem that it could cause but if I correct it I could create an even bigger problem. Who takes things apart just to give an estimate?
 

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Electrical contractor 37 years. Electrical inspector 2 years
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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
Most of the time the customers understand. It's the things I don't catch that worry me. The mwbc were easy to fix. One was the washer and gas dryer that was split the other was the dishwasher and insta-hot under the sink.
 

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Chief Flunky
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How many people out there worry after a service change or panel change? I just finished a panel change out in a house where the previous homeowner did much of his own electrical work. He / she used a lot of multi wire branch circuits and had the red and black on the same 2020 twin breaker and we all know that is a no no. Do I fix it or do I leave it the way it is? If I put the black wire on one one leg and the red wire on the second leg I could potentially send 240 some where. As I am turning on circuits I found that another black wire is hot which tells me that in a switch box somewhere all whites are tied together and all blacks are twisted together. Now I have to search out the mis-matched wires. Open splice boxes all over the attic. Many electricians on this forum are always cautioning about liability and leave it up to the engineer, Now I am wondering if we should skip service changes and tell them to get an engineer to design what we should do.
You verbally or formally use a change order to let the owner decide to spend the money. You can walk away or leave things out of service and try to pass it off on an engineer or other ECs but you will lose a customer and a business segment.

Most of the time you can make a lot of money from change orders. You are already there so you can sell it as less costly than a competitor starting over. it doesn't always work but often it does.
 

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I make all the electrons line up for their Flu shots
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So the black and red wire are on the same phase and share the one neutral?

Shouldn't this anomaly been found before the panel change began?

The un-terminated wire being hot from another circuit would be a tough catch ahead of time unless these circuits were traced prior to panel change.

It's probably now your responsibility to fix these anomalies since they were not discussed with the customer ahead of time and you are the last one in the panel.
The macfix for this is rather simple. Take the red wire out of the second half of the twin breaker and take out the black wire out of the first half and twist them together and then add a pigtail to those two and install a single pole breaker where the twin was. Now you have a single 120 volt circuit instead of two. One causes a nuisance trip, maybe , maybe not, I still check amperage and hope everything is running when I check....) and the original way can cause a fire rather easily. I pick option #1. If it overloads , tough ****, let them pay you a second service call to track it down and fix that problem for them. (hopefully its not kitchen small appliance circuits.....)
 
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And now that I said all that, there might be some guys here ( I kinda doubt it though) who don't know about GE breakers that look just like twin breakers but are actually 2 pole breakers and fit into GE panels in such a way as to connect across 2 phases. But they have a common handle tie usually. Anyhow, just thought I might mention that in case somebody makes an oopsie.......
 

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No reasonable person expects a contractor to fix something pre-existing that's discovered that's not in their scope of work. What if you found the pool bonding was not right, would you crack up the concrete and redo it for them on your nickel? What if you found the wire to the garage was undersized, dig it up and replace it free of charge? Of course not. Your survey to bid the job can't be considered an exhaustive inspection and even if it was, no inspector offers to pay for everything they miss.

If you discover something like this, tell the homeowner and see if they want to pay to fix it. If you think it's dangerous, and they don't want to fix it, don't reconnect it.

If you think this is something that needs prior clarification, put it in your terms and conditions boilerplate that you put in all your contracts - scope of work does not cover unanticipated issues that must be corrected to finish work in a safe and code compliant manner, blah blah blah. But this is so basic I don't think it necessarily needs to be spelled out.
Actually Spaltz, that is exactly what I would do. I typically bid just to replace a receptacle and often end up rewiring the whole house. I don't make any money, but when I get on the forum I can proclaim my self righteousness to the world.

Are you trying to tell me you actually charge real money for work? That very notion makes me sick.
 

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Discussion Starter · #15 ·
The macfix for this is rather simple. Take the red wire out of the second half of the twin breaker and take out the black wire out of the first half and twist them together and then add a pigtail to those two and install a single pole breaker where the twin was. Now you have a single 120 volt circuit instead of two. One causes a nuisance trip, maybe , maybe not, I still check amperage and hope everything is running when I check....) and the original way can cause a fire rather easily. I pick option #1. If it overloads , tough ****, let them pay you a second service call to track it down and fix that problem for them. (hopefully its not kitchen small appliance circuits.....)
If I can't find the other ends that is what I do.
 

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Discussion Starter · #16 ·
And now that I said all that, there might be some guys here ( I kinda doubt it though) who don't know about GE breakers that look just like twin breakers but are actually 2 pole breakers and fit into GE panels in such a way as to connect across 2 phases. But they have a common handle tie usually. Anyhow, just thought I might mention that in case somebody makes an oopsie.......
I have a slew of 15 and 20 amp of those funny GE mini slims. I haven't seen the GE panel that uses them in years.
 

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I have a slew of 15 and 20 amp of those funny GE mini slims. I haven't seen the GE panel that uses them in years.
Yes me too. They still sell them at the Home Depot here. I don't buy GE panels unless I am real stuck.
 
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So the black and red wire are on the same phase and share the one neutral?

Shouldn't this anomaly been found before the panel change began?

The un-terminated wire being hot from another circuit would be a tough catch ahead of time unless these circuits were traced prior to panel change.

It's probably now your responsibility to fix these anomalies since they were not discussed with the customer ahead of time and you are the last one in the panel.
I get that it’s not allowed to share the same phase but is the reason it isn’t is that if the red and black were to short out against each other and not the neutral and ground the breaker won’t trip? Also adding to that if they did short and not trip the breaker each number 12 at the receptical would need to see now 40A assuming it’s 2 single pole 20’s on the same phase or a tandem 20 then melt and possibly cause a fire?
 

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I get that it’s not allowed to share the same phase but is the reason it isn’t is that if the red and black were to short out against each other and not the neutral and ground the breaker won’t trip? Also adding to that if they did short and not trip the breaker each number 12 at the receptical would need to see now 40A assuming it’s 2 single pole 20’s on the same phase or a tandem 20 then melt and possibly cause a fire?
That is not the primary reason.... The reason is if you have a multiwire branch circuit and the red and black are on the same phase you could potentially overload the neutral.

For example
Black Circuit= 12 amps
Red Circuit = 10 amps
Neutral = 10 + 12 = 22 amps

If they are on different phases then

Neutral= 12-10 = 2 amps
 
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