After 30 years, just found out, I had in a bedroom, two hot different 14 gauge circuit wires connected together in a 3 wire hot nut connection. I have a double gang box- one for the fan and the other light switch to control a receptacle. Originally each bedroom had a light switch only. Until I had an electrician out in fans into each of the three bedrooms a few years back. Yet I had to shut off five or more breakers in my bedroom (to ensure all electricity was off to the room) to hopefully replace with new new tamper resistant receptacles.

What is the best way to trace each of these different hot to the panel (should I use a breaker finder with alligator ears or multimeter) and once I determine that, what is the best way to rewire my bedroom without disrupting the whole house without calling an electrician in.

I used a sperry votage tester--are they reliable and could it gave me a false reading with why I'm shutting off more than four circuit breakers. Or should I check it by just shutting off each circuit breakers.

Just to let you know I have traced most of all of my house wires (diagrams) back to the panel. Your advise would be appreciated? Hate to call in an electrician since I have a feeling he did this. Thank u Larry

  • Can you provide a photograph of the box with the wires and the switches they're connected to? Jan 30, 2017 at 3:37
  • I am not sure about your terminology but this sounds like a multiwire branch circuit. 2 hot wires (one on L1 & L2) that share a neutral. By today's code these should be on adjacent breakers with handle ties or on a double pole breaker so both circuits are turned off when working on 1 in the same box. If both hots are on the same leg but diferent breakers the neutral would be undersized and that is a problem.
    – Ed Beal
    Jan 30, 2017 at 14:12
  • I really doubt that you "had to shut off four or five breakers". You maybe tried that many due to poor labeling, but I'd bet that two is all it took. Knowing this for sure is part of the information you need to provide in your question.
    – isherwood
    Mar 5, 2017 at 12:37

1 Answer 1


Hmm. If you have two hots connected and they are connected to the same buss bar in the service panel, then the result will be... 120V. You could end up with more amperage on the neutral or neutrals than the circuit breakers are rated for, though. A picture might really help, here. If the hot wires come from different buss bars, you'll have 240V on the wire because that's the total potential from one pole to the other on the transformer outside your place. The voltage won't hurt the wire, but it could cook connected equipment. Plus, you'll also have a direct short resulting in lots of amperage, so it should trip the breakers and nothing would work at all.

It sounds like if indeed you have hot wires from two different branch circuits connected together, they are on the same leg (same buss bar). The easiest way to see which one goes to which breaker is probably to undo the wire nut, flip breakers off and use an electrical tester to see which breaker cuts the power in which wire. If they're disconnected from one another, each wire should be energized at 120V.

While it is conceivable that an electrician made a mistake, I wouldn't hesitate to call in an electrician on that basis. Licensed electricians are professionals, by and large in both name and practice, who have had enough training and hands-on experience working as a journeyman for a licensed electrician to qualify for their professional license, plus the subsequent experience and continuing electrical education as a licensed professional. If you're worried about one particular electrician, call a different one.

If the one you think screwed up is a personal friend and you're worried about hurting their feelings or not getting invited to the next wedding, then call in the "replacement" when the original guy is really unlikely to just stop by, like during the middle of the day when both electricians are likely to be busy with business. :-)

  • No offense, I just don't trust electricians after observing what I seen in my house. Haven't talked about other issues yet, but I will do what you suggested first and get back. Thank u. Jan 30, 2017 at 19:18
  • Hi Larry, isn't that a little bit like saying that because you had a bad experience with one specific doctor, you'll never go consult with another one? An electrician is the go-to professional for this stuff. You wouldn't go to your car mechanic for kidney surgery, even if you don't trust all kidney surgeons (and I wouldn't be surprised if there are some marginal ones out there, or at least some that are marginal when they're drunk or high, etc.). Jan 30, 2017 at 19:23
  • 42 receptacles on one circuit does sound excessive. Plus the other stuff. You're sure that was done by an actual electrician and not just by someone's cousin's boyfriend? Feb 1, 2017 at 20:51
  • It's possible all of that was done without pulling any permits or having any inspections done. If you pull in a real professional, they'll identify problems and tell you what's dangerous (or not) and what it will take to fix. Feb 1, 2017 at 21:13
  • I have found so many issues since buying my home 30 yrs ago. Not sure how the village would allow to have 22?duplex receptacles and switches and fixtures on one 15 amp circuit breakers. Or how I have tandem wiring in one of my bedrooms where four of the receptacles in the room has two different circuit breakers for the four receptacle controlled by a switched? Or how a 3 switch gang box has one switch going to a receptacle with a tab not removed on the receptacle acts as a split?.Not trying to knock electricians--it is difficult for me to trust them.thank u for your continue help Feb 1, 2017 at 21:20

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