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  • Writer's pictureInsideOutNB

What is a Double Tapped Breaker & 3 Ways to Repair Them



DEFINITION:

A double-tapped breaker occurs when someone attached more than one wire (conductor) to a breaker. It’s generally not allowed and can be a fire hazard under certain conditions.


If you have had a home inspection in the past say, 300 years, there is a good chance your inspector wrote something in the electrical section of your report along these lines:


‘a double tapped breakers was seen or noted in the electric panel. Recommend further evaluation and proper repair by a licensed electrician.’ – Look familiar??


A comment in your home inspection report like this one is horrible – Sorry to say; I’ve done it now many times. Besides being one of the worst written explanations of a problem I’ve ever forced my fingers to type, it leaves you, the buyer/homeowner with little to no information about what the heck is going on here.


Unfortunately, most home inspectors do not take the time to actually write proper explanations about the problems they discover during an inspection, and poorly written comments like the one above leaving the Realtor and buyer scratching their heads about what needs to happen. My goal with this article (and future content) is to explain what deficiencies like ‘double-tap’ are, and how they can be corrected.


DISCLAMER


THIS IS NOT INTENDED TO BE A DIY ARTICLE TO SHOW YOU HOW TO WORK ON YOUR ELECTRICAL SYSTEM. THIS IS AN OUTLINE OF WHAT YOU’LL WANT TO ASK AN ELECTRICIAN TO DO. DON’T STRAY OUT OF YOUR KNOWLEDGE AND COMFORT ZONE AND END UP GETTING SHOCKED OR EVEN WORSE, ELECTROCUTED. STAY SAFE…I CAN’T AFFORD TO LOSE READERS.



3 Common Examples of a Double Tap





So What's the Problem with Double Taps?


It’s all about the connection between the wire and the breaker. If more than one wire is connected to the breaker, and that breaker is not designed for two wires, the chances of those connections being too loose is much greater than those with just one wire connected.


If the connection between a breaker and a wire becomes loose, it could cause overheating or worse, start to arc between the gaps. Arcing is what starts a fire in an electrical panel. Making sure your breakers’ connections are tight and properly executed is very important to fire safety.


Note: The issue with double-tapping a breaker has nothing to do with the load (demand) on the circuit. I see a lot of bad info floating around saying that more than one connection on the breakers can cause an overload. That is 100% false.


3 ways to Correct Double Taps


# 1 - Pig Tail


# 2 - Add New Breaker (if there's room...)



# 3 - Add a 'Tandem Breaker'


 

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