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Thread: Panel Change out Question

  1. #1
    Join Date
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    Panel Change out Question

    One of our electricians changed out a panel for a customer .
    Here is where the problem started, he did not number the wires he just removed and installed new panel and put the wires where ever they would reach.
    That is where the problem started.
    In the hallway the lights were blinking then went out so they called us back out, unfortunately the original electrician was out of town so we sent someone else.
    He found the customer had 200 plus volts at the three way hall switch. He didn't know what to do so he traced the circuits back to the panel,
    and then proceed to move a breaker up one spot to put on same phase, and all is working fine now.
    The problem is now you have two breakers controlling one circuit.( or not )

    so how would we test for this before we remove old panel?

  2. #2
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    When we change a panel we label all the wires that come off a 240v breaker and mark what amp breaker was used.

    If the 120v breakers were gauged for their ampacity then we don't mark them. It is important to get the 240V back the way they were. The 120v circuits will fall in place easily after that
    They say I shot a man named Gray and took his wife to Italy
    She inherited a million bucks and when she died it came to me
    I can't help it if I'm lucky



  3. #3
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    Quote Originally Posted by Gary Dagley View Post

    He found the customer had 200 plus volts at the three way hall switch. He didn't know what to do so he traced the circuits back to the panel,
    and then proceed to move a breaker up one spot to put on same phase, and all is working fine now.
    The problem is now you have two breakers controlling one circuit.( or not )

    so how would we test for this before we remove old panel?

    I'm thinking that you had a multiwire branch circuit on two different phases with a common neutral that was open.

    The only way to get things straigth is to troubleshoot the problem and get things wired back correctly.
    The 95% of people that you can't trust give the other 5% a bad name.

  4. #4
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    Quote Originally Posted by Dennis Alwon View Post

    If the 120v breakers were gauged for their ampacity then we don't mark them. It is important to get the 240V back the way they were. The 120v circuits will fall in place easily after that
    It's really not a bad idea to mark the wires. We don't have a lot of multiwire branch circuits here for residential. But since some panel change out will be commercial it's a good habit to get into.

    Like you I make sure to mark the 240V circuits first and re-identify any white wires used as hot conductors.
    The 95% of people that you can't trust give the other 5% a bad name.

  5. #5
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    It sounds like you have a Carter or Chicago three-way controlling those lights. Under normal conditions the lights are off if both conductors have zero or 120 volts on them (both grounded and ungrounded wires are hot, or not with 0V potential between them), 120 volts if they are on. The neutral wire switches, ie can either hot or not, between them. That method of wiring 3 ways has been against code for 90 some years, but you still see him from time to time.

    Due to the nature in which Chicago or Carter 3-way switches are wired, you may not be able to convert it to a code correct installation without pulling new wire
    Electricians do it until it Hertz!

  6. #6
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    It doesn't matter what was going on before if you install the circuits back as they were previously you should not have an issue.
    They say I shot a man named Gray and took his wife to Italy
    She inherited a million bucks and when she died it came to me
    I can't help it if I'm lucky



  7. #7
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    When I turn the breakers on after a panel change out on an older house I turn them on one at a time and check the lugs at the other breakers to see if there is a wire coming back to the panel hot. Found it a couple times.

  8. #8
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    Quote Originally Posted by Dennis Alwon View Post
    It doesn't matter what was going on before if you install the circuits back as they were previously you should not have an issue.

    The original poster mentioned the electrician landed the wires wherever they could go. If there were two circuits in the switch box and both were previously on different Breakers but on the same leg, and they are now on different breakers on different legs, that could explain the 200 volt plus reading.

    also the original poster maybe making the assumption that everything in the house worked or was wired correctly before he changed the panel out, an assumption that's probably in error.

    PS Welcome to The Forum Gary
    Last edited by JFletcher; 03-13-18 at 03:17 PM.
    Electricians do it until it Hertz!

  9. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by JFletcher View Post

    also the original poster maybe making the assumption that everything in the house worked or was wired correctly before he changed the panel out, an assumption that's probably in error.

    The OP never said why the panel was being changed in the first place.

    I changed out a little 100 Amp FPE panel for a friend in one of his rental properties that he was selling. I just assumed the panel change was part of the sales agreement. After changing out the panel and starting to correctly mark the circuits I discovered there were about three seperate problems on the branch circuits and this was the reason they thought the panel needed to be changed.

    Not a bad idea to get rid of an FPE panel if you are trying to sell a house but it won't solve branch circuit problems. I think all the problems were bad back stab receptacles and were easy to find.
    The 95% of people that you can't trust give the other 5% a bad name.

  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by growler View Post
    The OP never said why the panel was being changed in the first place.

    I changed out a little 100 Amp FPE panel for a friend in one of his rental properties that he was selling. I just assumed the panel change was part of the sales agreement. After changing out the panel and starting to correctly mark the circuits I discovered there were about three seperate problems on the branch circuits and this was the reason they thought the panel needed to be changed.

    Not a bad idea to get rid of an FPE panel if you are trying to sell a house but it won't solve branch circuit problems. I think all the problems were bad back stab receptacles and were easy to find.
    In that case, I would also offer to replace all the devices in the house. The house would show better anyway, because they would all look new.

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