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I recently purchased an older house and in doing renovations have run into a situation where two circuits (wired with 14/2) are present in one junction box and all neutrals are tied together. I understand that this was an accepted practice at some point but no longer code compliant for obvious reasons. My question is how do I rectify the situation without tearing the house apart.

My research suggests that I can replace the two existing 15 amp breakers with a new two pole 15 amp breaker. However I'm unsure as to how this should be wired into the box. The two pole breakers that I have been able to find all have just one connection for a neutral as they are produced assuming the use of 3 wire in a new application. In my case, there are two neutrals needing to tie into the breaker. Would it be correct and code compliant to tie the two neutrals together within the panel box and then pigtail to the new two pole breaker?

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  • Presumably this is a problem because you're using arc-fault breakers?
    – feetwet
    Jun 8, 2017 at 17:41
  • Yes, using arc-fault
    – confused
    Jun 8, 2017 at 18:00
  • Is how many places are the two neutrals of these two circuits tied together? Jun 8, 2017 at 18:13
  • Is it the case that throughout the house in every box where two circuits cross that the neutrals are tied together? Jun 8, 2017 at 18:19
  • Fortunately I have not run into this situation in other areas of the house at this point.
    – confused
    Jun 8, 2017 at 18:41

1 Answer 1

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If the two circuits are wired with 14-2, all you need to do is identify which neutral goes with which circuit and disconnect them from each other, so each is only connected to the items on its circuit.

This would only be a problem if the two circuits were actually sharing a neutral wire. If they simply have joined neutrals, it's easy to remedy.

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  • One of the switches in this box is a three way switch where one of the neutrals was used in the wiring of the 3-way. This is leaving just one remaining neutral wire on that circuit with no other neutral to tie to. Maybe I'm thinking about this wrong?
    – confused
    Jun 8, 2017 at 18:17
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    @confused - Not totally wrong the white wire you are talking about is being used as a switch leg or a carrier. If you can you should mark it by wrapping it in black tape to identify it is not a neutral. Jun 8, 2017 at 20:42

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