Few very basic Electrical questions

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"J. Clarke" wrote:

Suggest you call around and as any licensed electrician if they turn off the main breaker when replacing a branch circuit breaker (unless the breaker being removed is physically damaged of course). Suspect you won't get a single affirmative answer.
Do you also turn off the main breaker when changing a light bulb? Or do you call an electrician to change them for you because you're afraid?
Pete C.
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Pete C. wrote:

Not an analogous situation in _any_ sense.
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--John
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Pete C. wrote:

I'm a licensed master electrician in two States with 30 years experience, doing mostly large commercial and industrial. I supervise 10 to 20 experienced journeyman electrician's. I can assure you that I de-energize _all_ electric equipment when possible. I encourage all electrician's on my crew to de-energize all equipment, use PPE, and lockout/tagout. If it is an inconvenience for the customer, we will schedule a shutdown. Sure, electrician's work stuff hot, but not without assessing the hazards, taking precautions, using PPE, having people around (and who stay far enough away) who are capable of rendering assistance should something happen, etc. I do not permit inexperienced electrician's to work anything hot, period. In this newsgroup, with mostly inexperienced people doing DIY, IMHO it is irresponsible to tell folks to work _anything_ hot.
Anyone who has done any amount of electric work knows that a lot of work is done hot without PPE; it's just the nature of the beast. However, I can tell you plenty of horror stories about how electrician's and others have been seriously injured working electric equipment hot. Part of being qualified to do electric work is being aware of the _hazards_ that exist. I personally am amazed at the number of people who are aware of shock/electrocution hazards, yet have no idea that there is also an explosion hazard.
One thing is for sure, should one make the personal decision to work electric equipment while it's energized, should an accident happen, the _first_ thing that that person is going to hear from someone ( _IF_ he/she is still alive and _IF_ he/she can still hear or see) is:' You should have de-energized that equipment."
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volts500 wrote:

Indeed the LO/TO and PPE are appropriate in an industrial / commercial environment, however do you or would you ever turn off the main breaker to replace a branch circuit breaker of the snap-in variety in a residential panel (barring physical damage to the breaker being removed)?
Pete C.
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Pete C. wrote:

Like I said, as long as shutting it down doesn't cause a problem, if I'm doing it, it's gonna get shut down. Nor will I ask anyone else to do it hot. If your next question is what do I do when I change out a residential service, the answer is that I'm not going to leave a customer without power for 2 or 3 days until it gets inspected and permanently connected by the Power Co., so, yes, I'll reconnect it hot, bare handed. You can believe that I make -sure- that I'm not grounded and the meter is pulled.
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While I see your point -- I would consider it irresponsible to suggest to a NEWBIE that it would normal for them to replace a bkr in a panel without throwing the mains off.
I've worked bare-handed on 345kv lines but I sure as h wouldn't recommend it to the in-experienced.
BTW, I tend to believe in Murphy's law and when I've done work on panels I shut the main off.

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With all due respect -- since your initial response was to an obvious newbie you were in effect suggesting it.
I prefer to respond VERY cautiously to someone who has just bought a book at K-mart on BASIC home wiring.

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But, at least at transmission voltages, you (usually) have enough advanced warning that you're getting too close before anything bad happens. Nothing like a low current streamer off the elbow to remind you.......
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Elbow -- only if it's outside the conductive suite. Take the goves and hood off and you'll get em off the finger tips, nose, ears, etc.
As you get closer you'll hear the corona off of the line and hardware.

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in the box to push against, whilst getting the old breaker to come off the rail. OF COURSE you turn the main breaker off, and keep in mind the panel often still has exposed hots at the top when you do this. Yeah, resetting all the clocks and stuff is the house is a PITA, but they don't call it good workmanlike practices for nothing. I'm no electrician, but working as a general construction gofer as a kid, I had the safety stuff pretty well beat into me.
Having said all that- it ain't rocket science, but since OP has clearly never done this before, I <strongly> recommend they pay somebody to walk them through it the first time. Local ad paper often has semi-retired licensed electricians who do little jobs like this pretty cheap, especially if you pay them in cash. At an absolute minimum, OP, should buy one of the DIY books about home wiring and read it, if he hasn't already. Remember, safety rules usually come to be because some cowboy hot dog tried to do something the quick way, and fried himself.
aem sends...
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snipped-for-privacy@optonline.net wrote:

Well, you're seriously wrong. I've done my own electrical work for years and have worked on electrical projects with numerous other people, both residential and commercial and I've yet to run into anyone who shuts off the main when changing branch circuit breakers, including removing / installing bolt on breakers (Insulated nut driver and gloves of course). The snap in breakers that are the norm in residential and many commercial installations are specifically designed to be easy to remove and install on a live bus.
Pete C.
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Pete C. wrote:

Well, the OP, who's an obvious novice, doesn't have to listen to any of us. He can just do a simple google search for "replacing circuit breaker". There are plenty of websites with info. He can see what they recommend doing. And I'm sure he'll find that virtually every one of them has turning off the main breaker as the first step. Then he can decide what he thinks most people would do and make his own choice.
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snipped-for-privacy@optonline.net wrote:

That wasn't the point, my response was to you very incorrect "And I seriously doubt that most people don't turn off the main breaker". I have no doubt that any DIY home wiring book or online equivalent has a lawyer mandated "turn off the main breaker" warning regardless of the validity of such. I seriously doubt any lawyer has ever changed a circuit breaker either.
Pete C.
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Pete C. wrote:

You can claim it to be incorrect if you want. Neither one of us is going to prove one way or the other what most people do. It's good to see that you recognize that virtually every source you will find online says to turn off the main breaker first. And I disagree that it's just for legal reasons. I don't see anyone saying to turn off the breaker to unplug an iron, which was the bogus analogy brought up before.
And what exactly is the big downside in not turning off the main breaker, which is staring you right in the face? Is it because your crazy aunt is on life support in the attic? Or is it because you want to show what a he man you are?
You can do what you want. My main problem is Toller replied to a newbie saying "most people don't turn off the main breaker when changing a circuit breaker." IMO, that comes pretty close to suggesting that the newbie should just go ahead and do that too, as it's no big deal for anybody to do it that way.
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On 17 Jun 2006 10:06:16 -0700, snipped-for-privacy@optonline.net wrote:

Hey I'm the newbie :-)
I really spent a number of hours on the computer looking up how to do this. The pictures in addition to explanations never really spelled it out as to is the wire connected to the breaker live or not after you shut the breaker off and snap it out. I am assuming it is not, but just want to be extra sure. (There are only two more breakers to do and it seems silly to try and find someone new to do this)
This all began because a few months back I had an electrician (shortly afterwards found out to be unlicensed) come to the house and was swapping the breakers for ones which matched my panel brand which was his advice and he did manage to get a small shock in the process, but I was not clear exactly from what since he seemed to be following the method suggested in the books that do not call for turning off the main.
I personally don't mind resetting the clocks ect because I do not plan anymore electrical in the house for anytime in the foreseeable future. Besides, every time the power goes out in my area things need resetting and I have it in a routine.
Thanks again for everyone who spent the time to help me out with these things.
Steve
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One more quick question and thank you very much for those that replied.
I bought a few ceramic ceiling fixtures (15amp) which I want to put in my basement to replace old existing ceramic ones. They will fit onto metal boxes. I bought the one which has a light socket with a single three pronged single receptacle on the side. This will attach to 12/2 wire on a 20 breaker.
Is this ok to do because I read somewhere that it is ok to have 15amp receptacles on a 20amp line once it is not a single (as opposed to double) receptacle. Also that it is not a single double instead of a series of doubles.
Thanks again, Steve

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You should,be fine as long as there is a ground wire in the box for the plug.
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SMF wrote:

First, don't get caught up with numbers too much. How many times do you think 15A outlet will draw full 15A constantly when a device is plugged in? Breaker is safety device, when things are not right, it'll trip. Electrician did the wiring few years ago, ever breaker tripped? Ever had trouble? What does it say? Within the code, common sense prevaials. Knowledge without experience is useless or even dangerous. Catch 22, you gain experience by doing......
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