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Use of 2 Pole 20 amp breaker on 2-120 volt, individual, 20 amp circuits

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    Use of 2 Pole 20 amp breaker on 2-120 volt, individual, 20 amp circuits

    Situation:
    Home inspector called out the use of (total of 6) 2 pole 20 amp breakers being used to protect (total of 12) 20 amp 120 volt branch circuits as a violation of code (see photo):
    Click image for larger version

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    My question is which code? Everything I am reading (NEC 2014-Article 240 15B) says this is permissible but I know it to not be practical, or wise for that matter. I never would install circuits this way and that is what i told my real estate agent friend but I want more to go on than, "it's not a common practice". Is there a code section that I can reference to more clearly back up my claim that this is, in fact, a code violation?
    Thanks for your help.
    -Vince

    #2
    Not a code violation and it is quite possible those are multiwire branch circuits and 2 pole breakers or handle ties are required.

    I always used 2 pole breakers in resi for MWBCs.
    [COLOR="blue"]"Electricity is really just organized lightning." George Carlin


    Derek[/COLOR]

    Comment


      #3
      A lot depends on whether the pairs of 120V L to N circuits in question are wired as MWBCs (using a single shared neutral).
      If they are, then current code requires use of either a two pole breaker or two single pole breakers with a handle tie.
      In that case the only disadvantage is that a fault on one circuit will also trip the other.
      With handle ties the second circuit would remain on, but would have to be turned off momentarily anyway in the process of resetting the breaker which tripped originally.

      Comment


        #4
        If the two circuits are a MWBC (ie, sharing a common neutral), then the use of the 2-pole breakers is required.

        If they're not, is it common practice to do this? No. Permitted? Yes.

        Remember that many HI's have minimal training. They also have no force of law behind them, yet they seem to enjoy god-like status among the masses.

        Comment


          #5
          Originally posted by 480sparky View Post
          yet they seem to enjoy god-like status among the masses.
          most home inspections are about selling or buying property and no one wants to buy property with a bad inspection report, or at best wants a big discount for the items in the report.
          Bob

          Comment


            #6
            HI is flat out wrong. One that I dealt with recently got more stuff wrong than he got right.
            Rob

            Moderator

            All responses based on the 2017 NEC unless otherwise noted

            Comment


              #7
              Originally posted by VincentJerome View Post
              Situation:
              Home inspector called out the use of (total of 6) 2 pole 20 amp breakers being used to protect (total of 12) 20 amp 120 volt branch circuits as a violation of code (see photo):
              The Home Inspector is wrong and he should have provided an article section to back up his statement.

              Originally posted by VincentJerome View Post
              My question is which code? Everything I am reading (NEC 2014-Article 240 15B) says this is permissible but I know it to not be practical, or wise for that matter.
              It's very practicle and as the others point out it's a requirement for certain situations

              Originally posted by VincentJerome View Post
              I never would install circuits this way
              I would and have many times.
              Originally posted by VincentJerome View Post
              and that is what i told my real estate agent friend but I want more to go on than, "it's not a common practice".
              Tell your friend that it is a common practice and perfectly fine.

              Originally posted by VincentJerome View Post
              Is there a code section that I can reference to more clearly back up my claim that this is, in fact, a code violation?
              210.4 and 210.7

              Roger
              Moderator

              Comment


                #8
                Originally posted by petersonra View Post
                most home inspections are about selling or buying property and no one wants to buy property with a bad inspection report, or at best wants a big discount for the items in the report.
                When they call me and ask me to 'fix' the 'problem', I state there is no 'problem'. What is pointed out is perfectly acceptable.

                Yet my decades years of education, CEUs, OTJ work, etc pales in comparison to an HI who graduated in the Class of Last Tuesday 2:30 PM.

                Comment


                  #9
                  Originally posted by 480sparky View Post
                  If the two circuits are a MWBC (ie, sharing a common neutral), then the use of the 2-pole breakers is required.
                  Handle ties at a minimum are required. Two pole breakers meet the requirement.
                  The more they overthink the plumbing, the easier it is to stop up the drain

                  Comment


                    #10
                    Those HI are not experts in all the fields they are inspecting for, they are inspecting structural, plumbing, HVAC and other things as well.

                    If they see something not familiar to them they should make a note of it in their report, and let owner/potential buyer have a professional give them further advice on how to deal with it. Unfortunately many owner/buyers take the report as a deficiency list that must be corrected when it is mostly just an evaluation to bring up potential problems. HI can not condemn a structure (force people to leave) or order gas or electric power to be disconnected like a municipal AHJ possibly could.
                    I live for today, I'm just a day behind.

                    Comment


                      #11
                      yeah, HI dummy, if they were not mwbc's and installer needed to save space, would have installed 1pole tandems, if not mwbc's we would think installer would have not done it this way
                      in this case, not saving space, but saving wire. and HI should have recognized something different about this install, likely doesn not know what a mwbc is.

                      why does NEC frown on using 2pole w/ or w/o handle ties for non-mwbc ckt's ?
                      Last edited by FionaZuppa; 07-13-17, 10:07 AM.

                      Comment


                        #12
                        Originally posted by VincentJerome View Post
                        ... and that is what i told my real estate agent friend but I want more to go on than, "it's not a common practice". ...
                        So what's you involvement here? Unpaid advisor to your real estate friend? Then the problem is that you can't prove a negative. The Code tells you want you CANNOT do, not what you CAN do. So if there is nothing saying that you CANNOT do this, then you can, even if it is unpractical. So if that's the case, as others have said just advise your friend that they should make the HI provide chapter and verse as to where it is prohibited, or rescind the report.

                        If on the other hand you are being asked to quote "fixing" it, then if it were me I would take out a permit, then open the box, trace out whether or not it is indeed MWBCs (probably is), call for the inspection of your permit, get the signature and close it up. Then send a bill for your time to have done basically nothing. If the sellers (or buyers) don't like it, they can take it up with their Home Inspector...
                        __________________________________________________ ____________________________
                        Many people are shocked when they discover I am not a good electrician...

                        I'm in California, ergo I am still stuck on the 2014 NEC... We'll get around to the 2017 code in around 2021.

                        Comment


                          #13
                          Originally posted by FionaZuppa View Post
                          yeah, HI dummy, if they were not mwbc's and installer needed to save space, would have installed 1pole tandems, if not mwbc's we would think installer would have not done it this way
                          in this case, not saving space, but saving wire. and HI should have recognized something different about this install, likely doesn not know what a mwbc is.

                          why does NEC frown on using 2pole w/ or w/o handle ties for non-mwbc ckt's ?
                          where? Nothing prohibits such a thing.

                          Nothing prohibits using an I line panel with 600 volt breakers in it for typical dwelling either, but you would rarely see anyone do that as it would be rather expensive, forget about AFCI's not being available for them, they are still expensive for that application.
                          I live for today, I'm just a day behind.

                          Comment


                            #14
                            Originally posted by kwired View Post
                            where? .............
                            Probably in the Urban Legend Electrical Code.

                            Comment

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