Checking on electric contractor; adjacent sub-panel question

A contractor had to put in a sub-panel in my home because the main box was full. I have a few questions on what he did that I hope some experienced electricians can answer.
The new sub-panel is located immediately (about 4") below the main panel and connected to it with metal conduit. To feed the sub-panel, two existing circuits were removed (and replaced by a dual-pole breaker) and those existing circuits were extended to breakers in the sub-panel.
My questions:
1 - Do the neutral and ground need to be separated in this sub-panel? He bonded them. Most info in the NEC talks about sub-panels in separate buildings or at remote locations. I don't know if the situation changes if the sub-panel is located so closely to the main panel.
2 - The hot wires for the moved circuits were extended into the sub-panel. Do the neutral and ground wires need to be extended also? He left them in the main panel and only extended the hot wire.
3 - Given that 2 20A furnace branch circuits (A/C operation and _electric_ heat) were what was moved, and two additional 20A (patio and landscape lighting & power) branch circuits added, what is a suitable breaker to feed the sub-panel? He put in a 25A and wired the sub-panel with #10 wire, which seems a bit light considering the 2 furnace (heater) circuits.
Thank you for any clarification on these issues.
-W
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Absolutely not bonded together in a sub panel. This guy is an electrician, NOT
Neutral should be isolated from ground, fix this as soon as possible. Not that your house will burn down it is just not the right way to do it.

It is a good idea. A craftsman would do it.

Need to do a load calcualation on the service then on the additional loads. Not what size the breaker is what the acutal load is. 25 amp breaker not what I would have used (30). Figuring the heaters are on each phase (balanced loading) and the patio circuits are the same then it will work just fine. Odds are when the patio is under a load the heaters will not be used. What did you pay for?

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Yes, that is the case; I specifically made sure of it when I went into the box.

Not really true -- we're in Texas, so we may be running the heaters in the house and still be using the patio, fan, landscape lighting, and fountain outside. :)

A learning experience it seems. Originally I did not want to mess around with the main panel so I hired this guy who was recommended by the contractor doing the rest of the landscaping work, but I was so bothered by the final electrical work that I redid almost all of it.
I've not mentioned how he used white wires for hot leads (without marking them in any way), how he installed the fan in the arbor without a GFCI and without the wet location kit supplied in the box (both which I've since added, and which it clearly calls for), how he fed the wire to the fan through a whole drilled straight up through the mounting board on the arbor (allowing rain to run right down the wire into the fan), how he ran the hot from one circuit but the neutrals from two different circuits through the load side of the one GFCI he did install, how he ran exposed standard household cable across the arbor for the fan rather than wet and sun rated cable, nor how he used a mixture of 4 hole metal and 2 hole plastic weatherproof boxes which looked horrible and which I've all replaced with the same plastic weatherproof boxes. I've since fixed all of this.
In the end, I was not explicit enough with what I needed installed, trusting him to know what he was doing and to care enough to do the best job, neither of which it seems were really the case, unfortunately.
Thanks for answering my questions and verifying my concerns.
-W
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On 13 Sep 2005 11:04:38 -0700, "pin snipped-for-privacy@yahoo.com"

Yes they should be separate with a 4 wire feeder.

Yes to extending the neutral, all circuit conductors in a given circuit should go through the raceway. The ground can stay.

40a and 8ga would have been a better choice. That is not a code issue, it is a design issue. You can swap it out for a 30a without changing the wire.

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Thank you; I suspected as much. I questioned him directly about this and he said it was not necessary. I've installed a separate ground bus in the sub-panel and separated them.

OK, I will make this change. It just seems more correct to me.

Thank you again; I upgraded the wire to #6 stranded and replaced the sub-panel feed breaker with a 40A. I was afraid the first time we used both heater this winter, that it would trip the breaker.
-W
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Wow, you re-did most of the work. Why did you hire the guy again? ;-)
-Tim
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pin snipped-for-privacy@yahoo.com wrote:

Was your "contractor" a licensed electrician?
If he made that many errors I think that before correcting things you should have weighed whether your need to stay on speaking terms with him was worth more than the risk that his slipshod ways might create a real life threatening situation on the next job he did.
I would have asked him to correct things pronto, and if he gave me any BS about it being ok as is, I'd have asked the local electrical inspector to drop over and look at the job. There are times you just have to stand up and be counted, even if it makes some other people think you're a creep.
********
I may have already bloviated on this group about last spring's adventure with an HVAC tech who, while replacing a couple of Heat Pump compressor units at our home, used one of the outdoor fused disconnect switch housing as a "splice box" for the low voltage control wiring to the compressor unit.
http://home.comcast.net/~jwisnia18/temp/box.html
I e-mailed that photo of what he'd done to his boss, and the next day the job was made right by a different tech who installed a separate weatherproof splice box for the control wiring.
Now, what the first tech had done would probably have worked fine forever if nothing fell apart inside that switch box, but it wasn't to code. And, if I ever get a chance to retire and sell the place before I die it would be my bad luck to have the buyer's home inspector decide to eyeball that disconnect switch and then force me to have to hire and pay a licensed electrician to make it right.
Just my .02,
Jeff
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Jeffry Wisnia

(W1BSV + Brass Rat \'57 EE)
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Jeff, good post, but my need to nitpick kicked in ;-)

To be fair, nothing he did was particularly dangerous. With the panel so close to the main panel, it's really splitting hairs as to why the grounds need to be separated. If it's in another room/building/whatever certainly. Not defending the guy's work, since it wasn't to code, but it isn't really a safety problem that I can see...

Contractors are not immune from electrical inspections -- the inspector SHOULD have dropped by. This was yet another violation.

They can't FORCE you to do anything. At worse, they could back out of the sale. If this situation had come up in a sale and they wanted it fixed, you can be darned sure I'd be fixing it myself, unless of course they want to pay to have an electrician do it. I think just about every house has some sort of 'violation' like this, so I think if a buyer were that picky, they wouldn't be finding any home. But I can't blame you for making sure it was done right.
As an aside (and I have no idea if this meets code or not), the low-voltage wire from our HVAC unit to the outside unit is standard romex! I was poking around in the ceiling of the utility room one time and was shocked (not literally, thankfully) to find a wirenutted connection from the romex to a standard T-stat type wire!
-Tim
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Tim Fischer wrote:

I agree that FORCE was too strong a word. But if the situation occurred while we were in the "short strokes" of closing on the house, then I'm pretty sure I'd do whatever necessary even if it cost a few hundred bucks for Alec (Alec Trician) to keep us from having to start over again attracting a buyer for a (not bragging) million buck home.
And while I damn sure could do it myself, and probably neater and more workmanlike than that second HVAC tech did last spring, I believe the buyer's lawyer would be within his rights to require that the work be done by a licensed electrician, which I'm not; An MSEE from '58 don't count for that. :-)

I'm guessing that your compressor unit requires just a simple relay pull-in needing only two conductors, or did they use multiple pieces of Romex?
I'm not a licensed expert, but I can't think of any technical reason why Romex wouldn't be fine.
You just reminded me that about ten years ago when I had to find out what was wrong with one of our heat pumps I discovered after many mutterings of "WTF" that when we built the house the sods who'd run the five conductor control line to the compressor unit I was fixing had to have made a hidden splice in the control cable between the air handler and the compressor.
The insulation colors on two of the five leads "changed" from one end of the run to the other. After about an hour ringing them out (I was working alone at the time) I found and replaced the relay with an open coil, which was the real problem, and all was well.
I put a note about those chameleon wire colors in my household "HVAC" file.
Jeff
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Jeffry Wisnia

(W1BSV + Brass Rat \'57 EE)
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pin snipped-for-privacy@yahoo.com wrote:

I think bonding the neutral and ground is subpanels is a relatively common code violation, but an electrician should know better. If you havn't already, check for a "main bonding jumper" from the neutral bar to ground - usually a screw. The subpanel can be grounded by the rigid pipe and doesn't need a separate wire.

This is NOT necessary. Neutrals have to be run with hots so the total current (with current going in one direction cancelling current going the other direcction) is zero in a pipe or knockout. The current in the hot load wires returning from the panel will cancel an equal current in the supply wires so the total current is zero.

Make sure the subpanel is rated for 40A (most likely is). Given the low cost of a higher amp feed and the original panel being maxed out, it is kind of dumb to only run the subpanel at 25A.
Bud--
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pin snipped-for-privacy@yahoo.com wrote:

#1 and #2 are both wrong, but they are also perfectly safe in my opinion (assuming that conduit connecting the 2 boxes is a rigid or IMC conduit and has threaded locknuts.) The new box is supposed be wired as a subpanel. I'm not sure that I would change it though. What did the electrical inspector say?

I would have used #6 copper wire and a 50A or 60A breaker. I wonder where he found a 25A breaker instead of a 30.
-Bob
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Rigid metal conduit with threaded locknuts.

I was told by the general contractor as well as this electrical contractor that no electrical inspection was necessary because the electrician is a state-licensed journeyman.
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pin snipped-for-privacy@yahoo.com wrote:

Of course the contractor is going to tell you that. They don't want anyone inspecting their work.
The panel wasn't that bad, but the other stuff you mentioned is scary. It's probably too late now because you've fixed everything and there's no evidence left, but I'd file a complaint and try to get the "electrician's" alleged license suspended.
Bob
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