I just moved into a rental property and was doing some electrical work such as replacing ceiling fans and outlets (reimbursed of course). When working with the breaker box, I encountered breakers I have not worked with before and frankly seem dangerous. As in, you can have to flip both half switches before the breaker is off. That and there seem to arbitrarily be white plastic clips place thru out to help turn both off at the same time. Honestly, most just seem to be missing with age.

I have yet to remove one from the panel, but so far I cannot find them online to see what they are. I'm under the impression the house was built in 92', but already I've been finding what I believe to be electrical violations, even for 92', every time I pull off a wall plate or fixture.

What are these breakers and should they be replace?

Also, a well pump is positioned between two breakers. This really feels like someone was cutting corners too. That and whom ever label the panel put GFI #1 and GFI #2, which went to the bathrooms that had nothing close to GFI (Just cheap 50¢ outlets). Needless to say those have been changed out.

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  • 1
    GFI#1 and #2 were most likely the GFI protection for the bathrooms. No local GFI receptacle needed, it is handled by the circuit breaker itself. But from you pictures I don't see them, they usually have a button on them.
    – vin944
    Jun 7, 2018 at 17:18
  • 3
    I think that looks a lot more normal than you think it does. All due respect, it seems a little troubling that on one hand, a lot of things here are unfamiliar, but on the other hand you are extremely confident that you found defects. Doesn't add up. They may not be broken, just new to you. Jun 7, 2018 at 18:06

3 Answers 3


Some things don't need common trip, they just common maintenance shut off. A 2 pole breaker provides both these things but not everything needs that.

The white things are called handle ties. You wouldn't expect to find them on every breaker, just the ones that need common maintenance shut off.

The two Breakers in one space are exactly what it says on the tin. They are separate Breakers with separate trip. I have never seen double stuff Breakers with handle ties, but if the manufacturer supports it then okay.

One thing that does need common trip is the pump. That should not be on a double stuff with handle tie. That should be on a 2 pole breaker. Now they do make quadplex Breakers which are two double-stuffs with a proper two-pole breaker in the middle; all that will fit into 2 spaces. That is what they should have used in that location.

I certainly hope that you tested the bathroom receptacles to see if they already had GFCI protection before installing a GFCI receptacle for no reason. Putting a GFCI on a GFCI is a waste of money. None of the breakers in that panel are GFCI Breakers, in fact there's no such thing as a GFCI double stuff.

  • 1) there are no QO quadplex's -- you're expected to handle-tie two QOTs for that. 2) a pump is most likely a 240V only load and thus OK to have on a handle-tied pair Jun 9, 2018 at 3:31

Electricians usually call these double stuff or tandem breakers (tandem is what the manufacturer calls them). Not full height. Each breaker controls 2 120v lugs from 1 standard breaker position. Using 2 adjacent breakers with a pin creates a 240v circuit or possibly a multi wire branch circuit( MWBC is a circuit with 2ea 120 hots and only 1 neutral and 1 ground) the top switch on each breaker controls the top lug. Many years ago it was legal to use the pin to connect the breakers this is no longer legal to do but updating the panel is not required. Note square D still sells these tandem breakers today in 15,20 &30 amp models. For the last few code cycles the limit to the number of breakers in a panel was removed so we put in panels that can handle 40+ breakers and don't need to use tandems.


Not sure how much you know about how breaker boxes are set up internally. Ganged breakers are quite common.

To get ~220V in the US one can use a double-height breaker (like in slots 13/15 labeled Range). Or one can use two separate but adjacent full-height breakers which provides one breaker on each of the two different phases/busses. (The busses alternate each full-height breaker slot, so adjacent full-height slots are on different phases.)

In your case you have no full-height breakers ganged that way, however, you've got adjacent half-heights THAT ARE IN SEPARATE SLOTS which perform the same function.

Now, the one marked PUMP seems OK. I suppose the pump operates on 220V. But the others seem questionable.

  • "Or one can use two separate but adjacent full-height breakers which provides one breaker on each of the two different phases/busses", no, you can't. The breakers on a circuit with multiple hots must all be common trip.
    – longneck
    Jun 7, 2018 at 19:52
  • I didn't say they could NOT be common trip, did I? I was addressing the adjacency issue.
    – mike65535
    Jun 8, 2018 at 0:20
  • They do make common trip double stuffs in a set of 4. They are "tandem" not full height, electricians will call them double stuff also.
    – Ed Beal
    Jun 8, 2018 at 9:05
  • @EdBeal -- common-trip double-stuff (quadruplex) breakers are only a thing in BR, Siemens (QP), and Homeline -- GE doesn't have them due to the whole THQP business, and 3/4" lines (CH/QO) don't have them either. Jun 9, 2018 at 3:26
  • @longneck -- a common trip is only required if the circuit is mixed-voltage (L-L and L-N loads on the same circuit, or a L-L-N load such as a range or dryer). If a MWBC only feeds L-N loads, or if the circuit is L-L only, then it's fine with only a common maintenance shutoff. Jun 16, 2018 at 6:39

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