replacing quad circuit breaker


Hi everyone,
I have a question to ask about replacing a circuit breaker that's shorting out. I need to replace a Bryant circuit breaker that is a quad...it's has both a 20 amp switch and 30 amp switch on it. My hot water heater and dryer is hooked up to this breaker.
I went looking around today at Home Depot for a replacement, but I can't find a quad breaker that has both 20 amp and 30 amp The closest I found was a quad that has two 30 amp switches on it. Would there be a problem if I replaced the old breaker with this one they have at Home Depot? I talked to a guy who works there, I'm not sure how knowledgeable he is, but he told me that while the breaker would work as a replacement to the other one, it might overload the circuits because it's not a 20 amp+30 amp quad breaker but a 30 amp+30amp. I looked around at a couple of other stores, but I can't find an identical match to replace the old breaker. So, I was just wondering if there would be any real problem replacing it with the breaker I found at home depot (I'm not sure why there would be a problem...but that's why I'm asking) , or if I should just have another breaker special ordered over internet to be on the safe side?
thank you
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If your water heater is 4500 to 5200 watt, which are pretty standard, it should use a 30 amp circuit breaker as does an electric dryer. This could be part of your problem. The wire size for both the dryer and the water heater should be #10 . If the wire size is, than a 30 amp breaker would be appropriate. If the water heater is less than 4500 watts and is fed by a #12 cable, then you need a 20 amp breaker to properly protect that gauge wire

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Try an electrical supplier. They stock lots of stuff HD doesn't, and probably would sell to you. What size wire goes to the 20a breaker? It should say right on the cable. If #10 then you can put in a 30a breaker. If #12 you can't.
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snipped-for-privacy@aol.com wrote:

I'm guessing that you don't have any empty spaces in your breaker panel? easiest thing to do would be to just get a 20A double pole breaker and then a 30A double pole breaker.
however, if memory serves correctly (and I am going off memory here) didn't Bryant become part of Cutler-Hammer? if that is correct then this:
http://dale-electric.com/detail.php?itemnumber=BQ230240
might be what you seek.
good luck
nate
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Nate Nagel wrote:

this may help:
http://www.eatonelectrical.com/unsecure/cms1/LT08703012E.PDF
so it looks like the part number I referenced above may be the correct replacement for what you have, assuming that the breaker types match.
nate
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snipped-for-privacy@aol.com wrote:

Probably yes, there would be a problem. Depends on the sizes of the wires involved, but since a 20-30-30-20 breaker like you have is more expensive, and harder to find, than a quad-30, it's unlikely that the original installer would have used that if a quad-30 would have sufficed.
Bottom line: if one of the cables attached to the breaker you have now is 12-gauge wire, and the other is 10-gauge, then you need to replace it with one exactly like you have **and** make sure that you get the wires in the right places on the new breaker. If both cables are 10-gauge, you can use a quad-30 like you found at Home Depot. If both cables are 12-gauge, you need a quad-20.

He's right.

Try Ace Hardware. That's where I got one when I needed it, a few years ago. Any electrical supply house would have one, too, or be able to order it. You'll probably pay less at Ace, though.
And check the sizes of the wires first, before you do anything -- don't assume that the breaker that's on there now is the right size. It might not be.
If the wires connected to the breaker are inside a conduit, the individual wires will be marked with their gauge size. More likely, the wires are in cables; in that case, the marking will be on the cable sheath instead of on the individual conductors. You're looking for something like NM AWG 12/2 WG or NM AWG 10/2 WG -- here's how to decode that:
NM = Non Metallic sheathed cable AWG = American Wire Gauge 12/2 = 12-gauge conductors, 2 per cable (one black, one white) WG = With Ground (means that a bare grounding wire is included in the cable)
If you have any questions about what the markings on the cable mean, post them here and ask.
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Doug Miller (alphageek at milmac dot com)
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Thank you very much to all of those who replied to this topic. It's very much appreciated.
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The def'n of "shorting" is when something gets connected, that isn't supposed to be connected. Which creates a shorter path, compared for example to going through the appliance that is supposed to be powered.
So, if your breaker is shorting out, that is a very serious problem. You need to call the power company, and have your place disconnected from the grid. And then a licensed electrician to fix the short.
Breakers don't force power into a circuit, they trip to disconnect if the power usage is too much for the wire. Breakers are sized to the wire they feed. If you take out a 20 and put in a 30, you can then run too much power through the wire, over heat the wire, and cause a fire. I wouldn't put a 30 in place of a 20 unless the wire was large enough to handle 30 amps.
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Hi everyone,
I opened up the box and checked out the wiring and noticed that the wires leading from the hot water heater to the circuit breaker are 12 gauge.
I was checking around today at more places for a suitable quad breaker replacement. The closest match to my 30amp/20 amp original breaker was a circuit breaker I found at Lowe's, but I'm not entirely sure if what I found will work.
On the breaker, it's described as a "trip-plex". In the middle of the breaker, there are two 30 amp switches, bracketed together.
On the outside there are two 20 amp switches, but they aren't bracketed together. On the original circuit breaker I have, the two 20's are bracketed together. I'm kind of hesitant to install this breaker till I find out more info. This is what it says on the breaker I purchased at Lowe's:
One two pole units Two one pole units
inside poles have common trip
outside poles have no common trip
So I'm just curious if I picked up the right breaker because I suspect that I didn't. The original breaker I have is physically identical to the breaker that needs replacement with the sole exception that the breaker I found at Lowe's doesn't have the two outside 20 amp switches bracketed together. I just find that odd and cause for concern as I would think that the two outside pole 20s would have a common trip for a water heater, but if anyone has any info that can be of help, I'd appreciate. More than likely, if this breaker is a mismatch , I will probably have to special order the correct one.
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You also need to determine that 20 amp wire and a 20 amp circuit breaker is adequate for the water heater. Standard electric water heater wattages are 4500 and up, which require 30 amp wire and breaker, which may explain why you're having this problem in the first place

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That is a triple breaker; a 30a 240v and a pair of 20a 120v. It will work, in the sense that it will protect against overloads. But the odds are only one will trip, so you will have 120v going to the device if you touch the wiring. Obviously it will not meet code. Sorry.
I would look into replacing the #12 wire with #10 and using the 30-30 breaker. You probably could have done it repeatedly for the time you put into looking for a new breaker. How many amps does the heater draw anyhow?
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Toller wrote:

Well, if it's true that what I purchased today would actually work, that would be fine with me. I don't work on the electricity in the house anyway without shutting the main breakers off completely.
This whole mess with the circuit breaker shorting out was all caused by my parents (who left me this house) hiring a shoddy electrician to run electricity out to a shed in the back. Instead of putting that shed on it's own circuit, they just piled it onto the breaker that now needs to be replaced. They wanted it done on the cheap and it has no lead to many headaches. The wiring that lead out to the shed began to short out because the "electrician" didn't properly safeguard the wires he buried into the ground from the elements. And this lead to the breaker shorting out as well.
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Toller wrote:

I went looking around early this morning at more hardware stores. A lot of the mom and pop hardware stores have closed down in the area because of all the home depot and lowes stores that have been springing up here in the last couple of years. I did visit a tru-value, but they didn't have the right part.
I went ahead and installed the Murray Circuit Breaker I picked up at Lowe's into the breaker box. So far, the hot water heater and dryer are working perfectly. What I also did was take off the bracket off the old circuit breaker (the bracket that held together the two outside 20 amps) and put it on the new breaker - that didn't have brackets. So, if one of the 20's trips, the one on the other end will go down with it.
I'm hoping that this will be safe enough...though I understand Doug's comment about it not being up to code. I assume it will still protect against overloads...which is most important. I don't think the place is going to catch on fire overnight. But if this really isn't very safe, maybe I should only use this new breaker temporarily for a couple of weeks and special order another one? All I know is that everything is now working. This is what it said on the paper sticker on the old breaker:
outside lugs: -240 vac inside lugs - 240 vac
10,000
at 120/240
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You really ought to see what the wattage of the water heater is, or this entire ordeal may wind up an exercise in futility

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snipped-for-privacy@aol.com wrote:

It won't.

You did NOT get the right one. You NEED a breaker that has two 240V circuits. What you bought has one 240V circuit and two 120V circuits.
Did you look at Ace Hardware like I suggested? It's a regular stock item at the Ace stores here in Indianapolis, or at least it was about two, three years ago when I last needed one.
If you're having trouble finding one, email me -- I can send you one.
Have you tried eBay??
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Doug Miller (alphageek at milmac dot com)
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Doug Miller wrote:

Hi doug,
Thanks for your post. I would like to try ace hardware, but unfortunately they closed their store down in the local area about 4 months ago.
This particular breaker does seem very hard to find as I checked out a lot of other places and they didn't have it. The original breaker, which was a Bryant, was a 20-30-30-20 breaker that is connected to the hot water (20 amp) and the dryer. Unfortunately, the info labeling on the breaker that contained the part number and voltages is faded out.
The new breaker that I purchased at Lowe's is also a 20-30-30-20 but the two 20 switches are not bracketed together (so that, when one trips, the other is dragged down to trip as well) as it is on the orginal breaker.
I suppose I will just have to order this online if this breaker that I purchased truly won't work at all. I could attempt to install this one I picked up today, and maybe take the old bracket off the original breaker and hook it on the 20 amp switches, but I suppose this won't work anyway, as I've read from your post, Doug.
The breaker that you alluded to from Ace, how much does this normally cost? I may just have to order one from their online site. If you have an old one you'd like to sell, let me know how much you'd want for it, and we can talk about that over email. My current email is at:'
snipped-for-privacy@aol.com
thanks for the info.
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snipped-for-privacy@aol.com wrote:

Yeah, I know how that goes -- we've lost several around here too in recent years. Fortunately, I live in a large enough city [Indianapolis] that we still have others not too far away.

[...] Is there a Menards store near you? They often sell some less-common electrical items that you'll never, ever find at Lowe's or Home Depot, and it would be worth a look.
What about other hardware stores, like Tru-Value or Do-It-Best, or an independent "mom-and-pop" shop?
Certainly *any* electrical supply house can get one for you -- just bring in the old one, and tell them you want another one just like it.

That's necessary for safety.

Well, *if* the handle tie can be removed from the old breaker without damaging it *and* installed on the new one (it might fit, it might not) *and* it's tight enough that both of the breakers shut off when only one of them trips, then it would work. It won't meet Code, since the breaker isn't listed for that use, so I'm not advising you to do that. Just pointing out that it will work.

I think I paid about twenty bucks, but I don't remember for sure -- it's been a few years.

Before you do that, take a look at this: http://cgi.ebay.com/ws/eBayISAPI.dll?ViewItem&item30066868569
It's the first thing that came up when I did a search on eBay for "quad breaker". Looks like almost exactly what you need -- a Murray breaker should be compatible with a Bryant box, or any box that a Bryant breaker fit into. Again, that's technically a Code violation, since it wasn't listed for that use, but if it fits it will work; use your own judgement.

Sorry about that, but I'm using the ones I have.
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Doug Miller (alphageek at milmac dot com)
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