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  1. #21
    Join Date
    Apr 2012
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    203

    Smile Re: Wired Backwards?

    Quote Originally Posted by keith3267 View Post
    each white wire from the upstairs receptacle should also be going to the buss bar and the black wires to the fuses

    THANKS Keith!

    I guess the part about all of this that is most amazing to me is that the electrician who wired the upstairs ran the white wire (from downstairs) to the neutral bar (upstairs), which is correct, BUT THEN he attached all the black wires to that same neutral bar I would think common sense would tell him not to mix white wires and black wires to the same place, but he obviously ignored that fact The biggest problem I'm seeing with everything now is that the sub-panel upstairs isn't grounded. At first I thought the metal jacket of the wire was picking up the ground from downstairs, but then I noticed that the metal jacket ISN'T connected to the downstairs box (it's just run through a hole in the main panel).

    Upstairs, all of the grounds are connected to the sub-panel grounding posts, BUT the sub-panel is just nailed to the stud and not grounded anywhere. I'm not sure how the system upstairs is being grounded but my tester does show each outlet as being grounded. Maybe they used the outlet in the bathroom to ground to the plumbing? Not sure but I would feel much better if everything was getting its ground straight from the sub-panel. Can I use the metal jacket as a ground by connecting it to the panels (upstairs and downstairs)? If not and if I have to run a wire, then it would be easier to run the wire outside. Can I use a grounding pole for this? If so, then what gauge wire would I need to run?

  2. #22
    Join Date
    Aug 2007
    Posts
    612

    Default Re: Wired Backwards?

    Double check the wire gauge going to that subpanel, it looks like 12, maybe 10 gauge from the pic, but its hard to tell. I forget what size panel you said you were going with, but your wire between the main panel and subpanel should support that at a minimum for the length of that run.

    Yes that was the ground wire close to the black lug that caught my eye. I would have probably bumped it into the lug by now!

    I believe you only want one black feed coming off each breaker when you re wire it. If you want to put a J-Box (not buried behind drywall, but exposed) next to the panel wire nutting the current two circuits into one, then I believe that is acceptable. The sparky purists will correct me if I am wrong.

    You want a ground wire from the main panel to this sub panel, I would keep neutral wires and ground wires on separate bars in the new sub panel breaker box. I would probably run 6 or 8 ground wire from the main panel to this sub panel if you don't already have a ground wire between them.
    Last edited by bp21901; 09-05-2012 at 09:26 PM.

  3. #23
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    Apr 2012
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    203

    Smile Re: Wired Backwards?

    Quote Originally Posted by bp21901 View Post
    I would keep neutral wires and ground wires on separate bars in the breaker box.
    I was looking over the install sheet for the breaker box and it does have this option to isolate the neutral and grounds. What is the main benefit to doing this? Why is it better?

  4. #24
    Join Date
    Dec 2007
    Location
    Tennessee
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    1,381

    Default Re: Wired Backwards?

    Neutrals and grounds should be tied together close to where the ground actually goes into the ground. If they are tied together too close to the appliance in use and far from the actual ground, then appliances that use ground as a protection for the user can end up with a voltage on their chassis, not safe for the user.

    Your main panel should be where the neutrals and ground are tied together. This can fool the tester you are using if they are also tied together at the remote panel, even if there is no separate ground wire to the main panel.

    You would be better off if you have a separate ground between the panels, and I think you actually do. The ground in your main panel should be connected to the chassis (metal box) so if the shield is connected to the box, it is grounded.

    As for the gauge of the wire, I noticed that too and meant to mention it earlier. It looks like you are using breakers on the main box to feed the remote. The wire gauge will be Ok if the breakers on the main are sized to the wires. This will limit the total current to the remote so additional circuits on the remote, especially if all are in use at once, will trip the breakers in the main.

    If you actually want to supply more power to the remote, you may need to upsize the breakers in the main, but if you do, you also need to replace the feed wires to match the breakers.

  5. #25
    Join Date
    Apr 2012
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    203

    Smile Re: Wired Backwards?

    Quote Originally Posted by keith3267 View Post
    This can fool the tester you are using if they are also tied together at the remote panel, even if there is no separate ground wire to the main panel.
    OK if I understand you correctly you are saying that it is OK to have the grounds and neutrals tied together DOWNstairs in the MAIN panel, but I should separate them UPstairs in the remote panel, correct?

    You would be better off if you have a separate ground between the panels, and I think you actually do. The ground in your main panel should be connected to the chassis (metal box) so if the shield is connected to the box, it is grounded.
    After removing a lot of extra insulation (upstairs) I found that the shield is connected to the sub panel. (see picture below)




    They ALSO have a 10 gauge wire run, which appears to be connected to the plumbing in the basement. (no PVC used to break ground).

    First question; should I remove where they connected the shield to the remote box (shown above) so that the grounds are more separate? The shield is NOT connected downstairs at the main panel, but it IS touching the panel (just not fastened to it with a connector, see picture below).



    Second question; I know that it is not recommended anymore to use plumbing as a ground. Because they are using plumbing to ground, would I be better off connecting the shield to the main box (downstairs) also, or would this cause some sort of a unsafe ground loop?

  6. #26
    Join Date
    Aug 2007
    Posts
    612

    Default Re: Wired Backwards?

    My bad regarding the separate neutral and ground bars...

    I re-read my post and I was not clear that I was talking about the new sub panel breaker box. I edited the post to make it clear for future reference. The neutral's and ground's can share the same bus bar in the main breaker box since that is where they are tied to the ground rod.

    It always was explained to me that if they were tied together in a sub panel then the ground wire going back to the main panel could be carrying the juice normally on the insulated neutral. What a surprise that would be for an unsuspecting slob touching a ground wire!
    Last edited by bp21901; 09-05-2012 at 09:38 PM.

  7. #27
    Join Date
    Dec 2007
    Location
    Tennessee
    Posts
    1,381

    Default Re: Wired Backwards?

    You said that you bought a new sub-panel, so you can fix the mistakes there. Do use a proper connection for the shield at the main panel. The grounds and neutral buss bars should have a jumper between them and they should go to a proper ground rod. If they are not properly grounded, you can get a condition called a floating ground and this can be dangerous.

    You should see a bare copper wire extending down from your meter box to a ground rod outside. You have a copper wire from your plumbing to the ground in the main panel, this is not to provide a ground for the main panel, but just the opposite, it provides a ground for the plumbing to dissipate any stray voltage from a lightning strike or stray hot wire that might touch a pipe or fixture.

    The grounds and returns (neutrals) should be separate in the sub panel for reasons stated above.

    There is one more thing that you might want to consider and that is your homeowners policy. If the wiring is not at least inspected and approved by a licensed electrician and your insurance company finds out about the re-wiring you have been doing, they could avoid paying any claims from a fire that they determine was due to wiring. You will need to check with your local authorities on permit requirements and inspection procedures. Clearly this was not done in the past by who ever put in the fuse panel the first time.

  8. #28
    Join Date
    Mar 2009
    Location
    wisconsin
    Posts
    159

    Default Re: Wired Backwards?

    Ahh the joys of working on an older house!!!! never ending, good luck!! I know how it goes, fix one problem which will bring up 3 more new ones!!

  9. #29
    Join Date
    Apr 2012
    Posts
    203

    Talking Re: Wired Backwards?

    Quote Originally Posted by sparky1 View Post
    I know how it goes, fix one problem which will bring up 3 more new ones!!
    LOL

    I actually don't mind fixing up the house and modernizing it. I only wish I could repair my own body as easily

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