Electrical Query (Metal Breaker Box)

Now that I have established some metal content, I have a question about my screwy house wiring. The knowledge base here is about as broad as it
gets, so I figure soembody will have some ideas.
We have an outlet in our dining room that appears to be a 220V 15A duplex outlet. It looks like a regular 110V 15A grounded outlet, except the blades for the plugs are both horizontal. It was presumably installed for a large window air conditioner before central air was installed. It is live, and I measured ~220V AC with a DVM across the two blades.
I'd like to convert this to a regular 115V 15A outlet. I assumed that I would find a dual lever 15A breaker in the panel box, and that I could just connect one of the hot leads to neutral and install a single phase breaker. I haven't had time to take the breaker box cover off the breakers, but there are NO 15A dual breakers in the box.
I'll pop the cover in a day or so when I have time. In the meantime, does anyone have any idea what I should be looking for inside the box that might identify the related breaker? I've got a breaker tracing gadget, but it's designed to plug into a 115V outlet. There is also no guarantee that the outlet & breaker hookup were done correctly. I don't know if the "ground" hole in the outlets is connected to a real ground or neutral, or how to tell.
Thanks for any help or ideas.
Doug White
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On Tue, 08 Jan 2008 02:51:30 GMT, snipped-for-privacy@alum.mit.edu (Doug White) wrote:

They obviously used 2 single breakers.
Ill tell you the secret to identifying breakers. It takes 2 people.....
Turn them off one at a time, and when the power goes away at each side of that outlet..you have identified first one, then the other.
Now..a quick check may show that two wires come into the box, and go straight to breakers, rather than one to neutral and one to a breaker.
If it was wired with Romex, look for a white or a red wire going to a breaker.
Gunner
Gunner
"Pax Americana is a philosophy. Hardly an empire. Making sure other people play nice and dont kill each other (and us) off in job lots is hardly empire building, particularly when you give them self determination under "play nice" rules.
Think of it as having your older brother knock the shit out of you for torturing the cat." Gunner
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if there is a neutral in the box, why not have two independent110V lines - that way you can go back to 220 if the need arises

--
Posted via a free Usenet account from http://www.teranews.com


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On Jan 7, 8:51 pm, snipped-for-privacy@alum.mit.edu (Doug White) wrote:

Find the breaker that feeds it and lift one of the hots and tie it into the common bus instead, Then replace the recept to a normal 110VAC 15A
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You should have two breakers that will kill the 220 (or 230 or 240) volts between the two blade connections. There should be a double breaker but it is not unknown for someone to install two separate ones. You should find them feeding conductors in the same cable, one of which may be white. If there is a white, it should become the neutral. If there is not a white, you should apply white sleeving, tape, or other identification to the neutral at both the breaker box and the outlet.
If you are using a digital voltmeter, do not be surprised if the voltage does not go all the way to zero when the breakers are switched OFF.
Don Young
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I think Don is pretty much right, but it is also possible that someone has hooked a 15 Amp outlet to a higer rated double breaker. Make sure you mark the neutral white to stay within code and keep the next guy from doing similar head scratching.
Carl Boyd
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This is pretty close to what I found. I popped the faceplate off the outlet, and checked it with a flashlight. There's a black wire going to one side, a green wire going to ground, but a WHITE wire going to the other side. No sign I could see of red tape or other indication that it's not a neutral. So much for wiring to code... The wires look to be 12 gauge, but it's hard to tell. They just look a little beefy to be 14 gauge.
At the breaker box, I found a dual 20 amp breaker that wasn't labeled. I flipped that, and sure enough, the outlet (both sides) goes dead.
So, I've got what appears to be a 20 amp 220V circuit with a 15 amp outlet & wiring incorrectly color coded. I'll get a single 20 amp breaker, move the white wire in the breaker box to neutral, replace the outlet & I should be all set. I haven't taken the cover off the breaker box yet, and my only concern is having a long enough neutral wire to reach. My recollection is that splices in the box are a no-no.
Thanks for all the suggestions & ideas. It didn't turn out to nearly as weird as it could have been.
Doug White
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Do not use a single 15A outlet on a 20A breaker. Assuming the wire is 12ga, use 15A or 20A breaker and outlet together.
Don Young
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wrote:

A 20A breaker feeding a single DUPLEX outlet is legal as far as I know, unless that's been changed. (as long as the wire is 12 ga)
If the wire is 14 ga then it has to be a 15A breaker anyway.
Most inspectors I've run across will pass one or two splices in the panel, as long as its "neat and workmanship like".
Thank You, Randy
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I wish our inspectors had that attitude. I ended up (as usual) cutting ONE hot lead too short, before I'd adequately planned where it would end up. (before you ask, no... moving breakers around wouldn't have solved this particular problem...sigh...)
I spliced it with the standard overlapped-wires/crimped ferrule arrangement, did a double shrink-tubing cover (short over the splice, then long over everything), and continued the lead to the breaker.
The inspector failed it, and said, "No splices allowed in the breaker panel; PERIOD!". I had to pull the lead and restring it. No biggie -- it was only fifteen feet to the first outlet box; but I had to tromp down about fifty feet of blown-in insulation to get to the work.
LLoyd
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On Thu, 10 Jan 2008 14:28:36 -0000, "Lloyd E. Sponenburgh"

Why bother, just put a junction box beside the panel and label it (after final inspection) "required by the inspection authority." Gerry :-)} London, Canada
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For a too short wire in the panel, just use a junction box and a new length of cable, as Gerald mentioned, or mount a handy box nearby, and install a receptacle in it.. always a good idea to have a convenient place to plug in a power tool and/or worklight near the panel.
WB ......... metalworking projects www.kwagmire.com/metal_proj.html

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Yeah... that's all workmanlike and servicable, but I'd already planned all the outlets, junctions, etc. that I _wanted_ on that wall, and really didn't want to just hack in another for that simple a fix. The drywall work was already finished, too, so boring the top plate for a new run into the attic would have required substantial damage to the work, and subsequent rework.
It wasn't so much the extra work or the damage to the insulation that bothered me as the fact that the inspector was being SO picky about a job that was intrinsically safe, and very carefully (and cosmetically) done right.
LLoyd
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On Fri, 11 Jan 2008 16:06:23 -0000, "Lloyd E. Sponenburgh"

The J-box beside the panel is a "pricky" fix for a "pricky" inspector. you must have twisted his tail already for him to twist back like this. This way it often turns into a pissing contest. Gerry :-)} London, Canada
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QUITE the contrary: He's complemented my work at every turn. He just will NOT allow any splices in the breaker panel. So I re-strung the run.
It seems too picky, but when it comes down to a pissing contest, inspectors ALWAYS win.
LLoyd
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"Lloyd E. Sponenburgh" wrote:

Not always. I had one tell me he was going to get a court order to stop the electrical work on a Commercial UHF TV station I was building. He never came back, and the court never issued a stop work order.
--
Service to my country? Been there, Done that, and I've got my DD214 to
prove it.
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On Mon, 28 Jan 2008 22:58:23 GMT, snipped-for-privacy@alum.mit.edu (Doug White) wrote:

Splices acceptable, as long as there's enough room in the enclosure. Per NFPA70 2002:
************************ 312.8 Enclosures for Switches or Overcurrent Devices. Enclosures for switches or overcurrent devices shall not be used as junction boxes, auxiliary gutters, or raceways for conductors feeding through or tapping off to other switches or overcurrent devices, unless adequate space for this purpose is provided. The conductors shall not fill the wiring space at any cross section to more than 40 percent of the cross-sectional area of the space, and the conductors, splices, and taps shall not fill the wiring space at any cross section to more than 75 percent of the cross-sectional area of that space. *************************
--
Ned Simmons

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Interesting! I took my "wiring for the homeowner" class at the local vocational school about 15 years ago. The instructor was adamant about no splices in a breaker box. Either I misunderstood, or they've tweaked the code since then.
It sounds like my box is OK. There's certainly a fair amount of space around all the splices.
Thanks!
Doug White
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On Tue, 29 Jan 2008 02:13:25 GMT, snipped-for-privacy@alum.mit.edu (Doug White) wrote:

It was tweaked somewhere in that time frame. In the 1987 codebook splices are prohibited, then allowed by exception under pretty much the same conditions as in the current code. I have a guidebook based on the '93 code, and it also cites the exception.
I'm going to guess the exception was an addition, and prior to its inclusion splices *were* banned in the service panel, and it's taken many years for the word to trickle down.
--
Ned Simmons

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wrote:

For openers, I think they are more concerned with circuits that don't originate in the panel, and the panel is being used as a pullbox. Like one conduit with the hot leg going to a switch box, then running the switch-leg wire back to the panel, where it is spliced and leaves in a different conduit going up to the ceiling overhead light. That's what they are really trying to stop, and the "No Splices At All" was an extreme way to force it...
Consider that often local municipalities have Local Electrical Codes that are overly simple, this one would have been written in 1984-ish: "We accept the 1981 NEC In Whole as the <Blank> City Electrical Code, with the following exceptions..."
Problem being, if they don't choose to update the legal basis behind it every few years, they could STILL be citing the 1981 Codebook in 2008. Most areas do skip ahead as needed, but most is not all.
"No Splices" is impossible, or I would never be able to do a simple panel upgrade without adding $1000 minimum to the bill. I'd have several splice boxes outside the panel enclosure to comply with the spirit of the law in those situations...
If you slide out an old panel and slide in a new one into the same physical space, there are always going to be a few cables where either the hot, neutral or ground aren't going to reach the new panel's bars. And with Romex in a completed house, there's no simple and quick re-roping, you need to bust open walls.
Do the work in a neat and tidy manner, and I've never been questioned on it.
HORROR STORY TIME:
But there is the one where another "allegedly licensed electrician" reworked a hair salon. The receptacles and cabling work was fine, but the old panel was a 12" wide Zinsco, not a standard 14-1/2" can...
She (note the pronoun, it will be important later) thought that rather than waste a lot of time and effort to rework the hole in the wall, she could put the new 200A panel surface mount over the top of the old 100A panel, route all the wires though the back of the new can with 2" chase nipples as bushings, have all the branch circuit wiring spliced in the old can on the wall (now totally inaccessible under the new can), and go up through the existing conduits into the drop ceiling...
And there were a few big corners cut in the power closet changing the meter main out to 200A that had to be totally reworked, too...
When the City Inspector gave her the Chuck Barris treatment (got out the big mallet and hit the Gong with great vigor) she first tried to Daisy Duke her way out by batting her eyelashes and playing dumb - which of course didn't work. Then she skipped town (with all the money) and left the tenant and landlord with a huge mess, with the DWP going "You'd better get this fixed and approved pretty soon, or we're turning off the power."
Guess who got to clean it all up... Hint: The building owners' son is my Dentist. ("Help!")
The inspector and I had a few minor roundy-rounds, but they mostly involved stuff that was grandfathered from 1966 original construction that we didn't touch, and he insisted HAD to be brought up to 2006.
Like Display Window dedicated receptacles - he wanted two, and one was enough up to a few years ago. And it was there, and working.
And he wanted us to go back and re-tie all the 1966 troffers to the 1966 wood-truss rafters with independent drop wires, so they wouldn't depend on the 1966 T-bars for support. He backed off on that one when I threatened to open up a few troffers and show him the date codes on the ballasts...
(But not the two I just changed the ballasts in.)
--<< Bruce >>--
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