Splicing #14 wire, hot to neutral ratios....

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Yes. I erred by missing the "junction box" part of the statement about pig-tailed neutrals although I've seen that happen in main panels when all the busbar slots are full. That was a lot easier to fix than finding three neutrals wire-nutted, pigtailed and jammed tight, not in a junction box, but stuffed into a light switch box behind a light switch.
I've run into that situation with old wiring and remotely controlled X-10 switches more times than I care to remember. The original switch was a very shallow bodied snap switch, the X-10 switch was twice as big. There was *almost* enough room for the new switch and all the nutted together neutrals, as long as I didn't screw the switch down all the way.
When it came time to repaint the bathroom, I finally decide carve out space for a 2 gang box since I was plastering and painting anyway. This is old cloth covered wiring that doesn't tolerate too much abuse and there's nothing like wire-nutting and box-stuffing to torture that copper into breaking.
Fortunately, there's always been enough wire left intact in the box to pigtail the remains, even if it meant adding a 2 gang box to allow easy reach. But what happens when I break an old wire that can't be pigtailed in the box?
-- Bobby G.
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Correct -- not only for the reason I cited above, but also for another reason which has already been discussed in this thread: to ensure that the two hots are on opposite legs of the service.
If the two hots are on the *same* leg of the service, then the neutral could be overloaded, because it will carry the *sum* of the currents in the hot wires. This is a fire hazard.
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Indeed, I just posted that in my second response to Nate -- really very inneresting.
Altho this job is really a pita, it is also an opportunity to perhaps remedy some of this, as per my response to Pete.
This shared neutral business is a little reminiscent of the Ring Circuit, brought up in a recent thread. Altho of course different, the similarity to me is that both share a kind of clever "slickness of economy", that can unfortunately backfire -- heh, almost literally.
All in all, a super-illuminating thread, that will undoubtedly make this project better and safer -- in fact, better and safer than the existing state of this wiring.
--
EA






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Heh.... could always breaker the neutral!
--
EA



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How do you plan to do that?
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On Sat, 07 Nov 2009 19:02:54 GMT, snipped-for-privacy@milmac.com (Doug Miller) wrote:

Install a second service panel. Don't connect any hot wires to it, but connect one (or both if you need to) of the buses to the neutral in the main panel. Now you have a place for neutral breakers.
OK, that's not safe. Get a 3-phase panel (and breakers) and use the third "phase" for neutral.
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Ingenious!
And, if Local 3 gets a hold of this idea and lobbies the NEC.......
--
EA



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On 11/7/2009 10:49 AM Existential Angst spake thus:

I know your tongue is in your cheek: however, while that would be a clever way of making the circuit safe, at least fire-wise, I'm sure you realize it could make it very, very unsafe, since it would possibly leave an energized hot wire but a disconnected neutral.
But hey, it's a fun thought experiment.
(This is a similar problem to those very badly designed fuseboxes of yesteryear that had fuses for both hot and neutral. My friend's house has one of those, which can leave the hot energized but the neutral disconnected. Wonder what genius came up with that design? His simple but elegant solution is to overfuse the neutrals (w/30-amp fuses), leaving 15 A fuses (actually circuit breakers in the form of a fuse) on the hot side.)
--
Who needs a junta or a dictatorship when you have a Congress
blowing Wall Street, using the media as a condom?
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I was reading about the English "ring" circuit the other day and how they abandoned the central fuse/breaker panel altogether and put fuses in each plug! It's remarkable, I think, that there's so much uniformity in electrical wiring. Keeping in mind that most regulatory bodies operate on the tombstone basis (enough people die, time to regulate something!) that means that it's more than likely somebody died for every rule they come up with.
I wonder how many electricians got their union card renewed by St. Peter to cause the "tied breaker" rules to come into existence for three-wire Edison circuits? Heck, how many elephants died in the AC v. DC war between Tesla and Edison? This electricity is lethal stuff.
I wonder how many people have been electrocuted since the electric age began. It's got to be impressive. Add in the people who were killed in fires or explosions caused by electrical ignition, and you've probably got a major US city's worth of deaths. No wonder why the Greeks reserved the lightning bolt for the capo di tutti capi, Zeus. Back then electricity killed people without providing much in the way of benefits. At least now we get some heat, light and TV power out of the deal and instead of Zeus, the Energizer Bunny is the new symbol of electric power.
-- Bobby G.
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Well, now we have automobiles, good for 50,000 quick deaths a year, McD's, ciggies, and ethanol good for a few hundred thousand slow deaths a year, and for those who want lobotomization whilst slowly dying, we got RealityTV, JudgeJudy, JohnEdwards Cross Country, and all the rest.
Altho, I *do* miss Whitney Houston bellowing at her in-house dealer Bobby Brown for her crack pipe....
--
EA


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Whitney and Bobby, there's a "hot to neutral" ratio if there ever was one. Just trying to stay on topic . . . (-:
-- Bobby G.
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Existential Angst wrote:

Perhaps just put a suitable pull box where the lines will reach, and install a ground buss bar kit and an isolated neutral bus bar kit, and tie them to the ground and neutral in the panel with appropriately sized conductors. Since it's a short run, the same gauge as the panel neutral and ground connections would certainly be sufficient.
When I have done this type of extension for a panel replacement, I have normally done something like this for the grounds, but not the neutral.
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Heh, this is exactly what I was contemplating! And alluded to when I mentioned "neutral cross sectional area vs. total hot...." I woulda been more explicit, but I didn't have a sufficiently fire-retardent flame suit handy.... :)
I proly will just run the individually spliced bx cables and their neutrals to the panel, if for nothing else so the next person looking at the box doesn't scream, WTF??!!! Just more straightforward, less confusing in the electrical bookkeeping, ultimately safer.
The original fuse box happens to have 6 three-wire bx cables, so when I hook them up to the new breaker panel, I will make doubly sure the phases on each of the wires in these cables is correct. Judging from how the lites dim in some situations, I suspect they are not phased-up correctly!
--
EA





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Agree completely. Also appears that the OP has some slightly odd ideas about 'modern' versus 'older' wire gauges?????
To possibly keep discussion as simple a possible; recommend: a) If existing wire is 14AWG, use 14AWG same as previous this will help to remind anyone else who in the future works on the system that the circuit incorporates 14AWG. (i.e. 15 amp). b) Use only 15 amp fuses or breakers, especially if there is any doubt that each/any circuit may contain any 14AWG. See personal note. c) Likely that the OP would not understand an 'Edison' wired outlet circuit. Let's omit and keep it simple. Personal note: Realised some months before an insurance inspection that we had wired a simple attached shed circuit comprising a single bulb, a hanging 3 wire (L,N & G) and an external GFI garden outlet to an existing lightly loaded 12AWG house outlet circuit that's been there since 1970. We used a length of armour covered wire through the outside wall and up to some 40 inches above floor, inside the shed, which 'might' have been 14AWG! We promptly changed the breaker for the whole circuit, back at the main panel, from 20 to 15 amp. Inspector never looked at it! But at least we know it's safer and to code!
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wrote:

Agree completely. Also appears that the OP has some slightly odd ideas about 'modern' versus 'older' wire gauges?????
To possibly keep discussion as simple a possible; recommend: a) If existing wire is 14AWG, use 14AWG same as previous this will help to remind anyone else who in the future works on the system that the circuit incorporates 14AWG. (i.e. 15 amp). b) Use only 15 amp fuses or breakers, especially if there is any doubt that each/any circuit may contain any 14AWG. See personal note. c) Likely that the OP would not understand an 'Edison' wired outlet circuit. Let's omit and keep it simple.
================================================ Appreciate your succinct advice, but I had already posted these conclusions. As for (c), apparently you have not read all my replies. Keep this simple: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Th%C3%A9venin%27s_theorem
Report back when you're done.
As far as odd notions of wire gauge, prior to about 2000, I don't think NYC made any general provision for #14 wire, except perhaps in special circumstances.
In new construction, I'd be curious to know the ratio of #14 wired houses vs #12 wired houses. Given our energy gluttony, I'd hazard that #14 is used in more rural areas, while #12 dominates in urban areas.
--
EA


Personal note: Realised some months before an insurance inspection
that we had wired a simple attached shed circuit comprising a single
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On 11/7/2009 10:47 AM Existential Angst spake thus:

Not at all true. The houses I work on are all in a major metropolitan area (San Francisco Bay area), and I'd say there's a pretty even mix of 15 and 20 amp circuits. Most electricians, it turns out, are not complete idiots, and can judiciously allocate circuits to reduce costs and conserve materials. So many lighting circuits, even in newer construction, are 15 amps, while baseboard outlets, for example, are 20 amp circuits.
Then, of course, there are lots and lots of houses, as you can imagine, with "mystery" circuits. I found one such on a customer's house not long ago, a circuit on a 20-amp breaker that was *mostly* #12 except for a short run I discovered that was #14. After scratching my head and contemplating ripping a lot of shit out, I settled on a quick, cheap, easy and safe fix: I swapped the breaker for a 15-amp one.
--
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Existential Angst wrote: ...

I've never seen NYC Code, but that surely sounds suspicious--it would be interesting to see reference to the Code requirements that ban it...

Well, I don't think there is such a thing as a 14 vs 12 wired "house" as a general rule; there are 12 and 14 circuits generally in the same house in quite high proportions I'm sure. General lighting is typically 15A while outlets, etc., kitchens/baths are 20A.

That's as urban-mythic and urban-centric a statement as something one hear out hear about inner cities or somesuch. There's no shortage of power and amenities in new construction out here in the hinterlands although it is sometimes necessary to wait for the stage from Dodge for the mail.
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14ga is and has always been fine for 15 amp circuits
12ga is and has always been fine for 20 amp circuits (even in NYC)
NYC, prior to 2005 has always used the NEC as the basis for electric code. Only certain areas did they require more stringent rules.
Your neutral can be shared by as many hot legs as your service has, typically 2
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Well, iiuc, ALL municipalities use the NEC as a "basis".
Regarding NYC, I read the opposite here on this ng in a recent thread: NYC relaxed its onerous electric code to substantially the NEC AFTER 2001 or 2003. Before that, it was quite stringent.
I know for a fact (well, at least if my bosses were correct!) that in the 1980's, you could *not* put 20A breakers on #12 wire -- at least not before inspection.
As another example, in those days, you were allowed eight #12 conductors in 1" EMT -- in fact, it was 3, 5, and 8 for 1/2, 3/4, and 1" EMT, respectively.
Nowadays, for 1" emt, NYC allows pretty much what the NEC allows -- pert near close to 20 wires in 1" emt! What a diff.
This may also reflect more modern wire insulation material.
--
EA

>
> Your neutral can be shared by as many hot legs as your service has,
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Every three years a new set of rules comes out in the NEC. It's entirely possible that the "conductors in conduit" changes are reflective of that. I've never seen #10 used for 20 amp circuits in NYC. If the conductors were aluminum, not copper, that would be the case, although I'm not sure if NYC ever allowed small conductor aluminum wire.

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