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I have had a problem with 3 rooms and a bathroom all on one breaker. I originally thought I would need to split the circuit, but then decided to check the breaker first in case there were 2 wires connected to the same breaker. A neighbor had an electrician doing some work for him, so I asked the electrician if he would take a look at the breakers in my house when he finished with the neighbor. He came over and sure enough there were 2 wires on the same breaker-a wide breaker that took 2 slots. One black, One red. So, he installed 2 skinny breakers and put the black on one and the red on the other breaker. This seemed to work great and no longer needed to split a circuit. We ran into a problem today: The outside outlet has no power and no breakers were tripped. Is there anything else the Electrician should have done? This is the first time that this outlet has not worked.

Picture of box (bottom left-hand 2 breakers are what's in question here): picture of panel

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    Check the outlets in the bathroom. A GFCI might have tripped. (Also check all other GFCI outlets you know about.) – user3757614 Jun 12 at 21:22
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    Is the panel a General Electric? – Harper Jun 12 at 23:37
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    Yes, the GFCi had tripped. The GFCI and the living room are on the same breaker so when the outlets in the Living room were working I assumed so was the GFCI. I feel stupid for not checking it first – Pat Jun 13 at 0:27
  • Yes, you are correct the GFCI in the Bath was tripped. The reason I didn't check it earlier was because all the living room outlets are on that same circuit and they were working fine. I fee so stupid for not checking. – Pat Jun 13 at 0:42
  • My knowledge of GE panels is from my old GE one, but I think your original breaker was a single pole (1-pole) 1 inch wide and it was in one full slot not two slots. GE panels can take half width breakers and you may now have two 1/2 inch wide breakers in one full slot. This is fine but you must use two entirely separate 12-2 or 14-2 cables so the neutrals would not be overloaded. You could use two 1-pole 1/2" breakers with a 12-3 cable (shared neutral) BUT you must put the two breakers in the bottom half of one slot and the top half of the adjacent slot. Did the electrician do that? – Jim Stewart Jun 13 at 2:27
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The electrician did you no favor . You have a multi fed circuit and the handle ties on the breaker should be together.So both go the same ,and all neutrals should be spliced together to work . Neutral has a load in this case. And could lead to injury.

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Do you have the original breaker that was powering these circuits? Does it have two separate connection screws with the black in one and the red in the other or were the black and red in the same connection point secured with the same screw?

The presence of the red wire suggests you have a MWBC with two hots (B & R) and one neutral W. If so, this is supposed to be protected by a 2-pole breaker which may be what you had originally.

EDIT If it is a MWBC, then using two 1-pole breakers could lead to a dangerous condition. If both the red and black wires would be on the same leg of the bus, then the receptacles would appear to be OK, but the neutral could be overloaded. When the two are on different legs (240 V from R to B), then the common neutral would not be overloadable because the net current in the white would be the difference in the currents in the R and B wires because they are on different legs. However, if the two 1-pole breakers were put in the same place occupied by the original wider breaker (presumably a 2-pole breaker), then they would almost certainly be on different legs. If you would find a 240 V difference between the R and the B hot wires, then they are on different legs and the neutral W would not be overloaded.

But this does not explain why the outside receptacle is not working. I would suspect that a GFCI has tripped or there is a loose connection in some wire heading to the outside receptacle. It could be in the hot path or in the neutral path.

EDIT2

My knowledge of GE panels is from my old GE one, but I think your original breaker may have been a single pole (1-pole) 1 inch wide and it was in one full slot not two slots.

GE panels can take half width breakers and you may now have two 1/2 inch wide breakers in one full slot. This is fine but you must use two entirely separate 12-2 or 14-2 cables so the neutrals would not be overloaded.

You could use two 1-pole 1/2" breakers with a 12-3 cable (shared neutral) BUT you must put the two breakers in the bottom half of one slot and the top half of the adjacent slot. Did the electrician do that?

EDIT3

Depending on how many open slots you have here is how you would proceed. You use a GE 2-pole compact breaker pair (two 1/2" breakers in one unit) for this pair of circuits.

This 2-pole breaker is mechanically designed so it will not snap into a full slot, but will fit in your box only astride two slots and it must be put in that way to function properly.

To get space to do this you will probably need to rearrange the breakers and replace one or more full width breakers with 1/2" breakers. It may be that you can use one or both of the 1/2" wide breakers the electrician installed in place of existing 1" wide breakers. But the current limit must be the same as the existing one--don't use a 20 A 1/2" to replace a 15 A 1".

  • I have the original breaker and it has only one connection screw. My original problem before having the electrician look at it was a living rm, bath rm., 2 bed rms. and one outlet in the Kit. all on the same breaker. Since he split the 2 wires that were in the original breaker, now I have the Liv rm and Bath Gfci and i kit outlet on 1 breaker and the 2 bd. rms on the other breaker. – Pat Jun 13 at 0:37
  • Do you know whether you have two 12-2 + gnd cables or you have one 12-3 + gnd cable? That is, do you know if you have two entirely separate circuits each with its own neutral or you have two circuits sharing a common neutral? – Jim Stewart Jun 13 at 2:37
  • That, I don't know. – Pat Jun 13 at 16:33
  • Do you have a multimeter? Could you send a picture of your panel showing the arrangement of the breakers? Alternatively, could you measure the position of these two new breakers in inches from the top of the first breaker to the bottoms of the 1st new breaker and the 2nd new breaker? Are the two new breakers together in the same place as the original breaker or are they shifted by 1/2 inch? or shifted by 1-1/2 inch? . . . – Jim Stewart Jun 13 at 17:26
  • Jim, the 2 new breakers (skinny) take up the same space as the one fat breaker they replaced. They are on the left side (very bottom) of a GE 100 amp box. – Pat Jun 13 at 21:13

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