wiring a hottub sub panel

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Quick question on how you electricians would wire a hottub outdoors. Our current set up is 220v and is wired from the main panel, using 6/3, to a GCFI sub panel, then uses 6/3 from the sub panel to the tub.
We just had a house inspector look at ours and he says it's all wrong. The wires at the main panel tap into the "feed" side, and are not on a breaker, then go out to the GFCI. I'm guessing what he wants is for the wiring to be on a breaker, essentially putting the tub on 2 breakers, one at the main, and one at the sub. Does this make sense?
He also thinks the 6/3 isn't big enough, but I'm not to worried about that, since that is what the installation schematic for the tub called for, and the people at the electric supply store agreed at the time that 6/3 would be best.
I tested the GFCI when we left the house and it was working, but is inop now. Do these tend to go bad outdoors? It is in a weather box, and is designed specifically for hottubs.
Thanks for your time.
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It sounds like you do have a problem. There are ways to "tap" without a breaker but none of them let you use a cable. (6/3?) If your sub was close to the panel and connected with a conduit I would be more comfortable thinking it might be OK.
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Greg wrote:

The 6/3 runs through conduit from the main panel to the sub panel.
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Curt Martin wrote:

How far is it from the main panel to the subpanel? If more than (iirc) 10 feet, you need a big breaker in the main panel to overcurrent-protect the feeder wires to the subpanel. If it's less than 10 feet, the breaker in the subpanel *might* be enough overcurrent protection to let you get by with using the feedthru lugs, but I doubt it.
If it's a long distance from the main panel to the subpanel, you might need larger wires to minimize the voltage drop. What is the current rating of the spa?
Running cables (instead of individual wires) in a conduit is not really a good idea because it can't dissipate heat as well.
Does you spa need a neutral wire?
If the GFCI is wired correctly, maybe all you gotta do to make this legal is put about a 50A 2-pole breaker in the main panel to protect the feeder wires. (If they were individual wires in conduit, or SE cable (type R if you need a neutral) without a conduit, you could use a 60A breaker)
regards, bob
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zxcvbob wrote:

Thanks Bob, good info. The tub does not use a neutral wire, and when the GFCI was installed it worked fine, in fact it worked just a few months ago when I tested it, just won't trip now when the button is pushed, so I guess it's toast.
Thinking about it now, I think it's actually 6/4 wire that is there, since the neutral is not used between the sub and the tub...I think.
The sub is maybe 15 feet from the main, and the wirirng runs through a conduit along the wall, then through the wall to the outside. I don't know the current rating on the spa, as I don't have the paperwork here, it was left with the house. But whe we did the install, everything was done per the the paperwork that came with the spa.
I remember when the installer saw the wire I bought, he thought it was overkill, but said better to big than to small.
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Find out from him/her specifically what is wrong with your installation. Try www.homewiringandmore.com they have a bulletin board which may help you get some of the information you need. They helped me out a ton when I was doing a relatively complicated electrical install (100 amp sub panel to basement, with our spa feeding from the sub). I passed my inspection on the first try, mainly due to the help I got from that web site. Good luck. Dave
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SE cable does not have a seperate neutral and ground SER does. I will not wire pools or spas unless I use metal conduit and seperate conductors. I do not give a damn about a 4-10 dollar gfci protecting my life. I will not even enter a pool/spa unless the lights are either off or low voltage. I want that double path for the ground currents to travel. Just my paranoia, your results will vary

How far away is the load from the panel? My last spa installed was 154 feet from the panel. I used #2 because of the load.

Time to call a pro and have it done right before some one is injured or worse.

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SQLit wrote:

okay

he said that the wiring to the GFCI at the tub can't be on the feed side of the main braker box.

the GFCI sub panel for the tub is about 10 feet away for the tub. I think he is more concerned about the 6/3 that is running between the main panel and the sub panel.

This was installed by a professional quite a few years ago. I think the GFCI outside just failed and needs to be replaced. Problem is I'm 2500 miles from the house, and the electricin that did the original install moved out of state a few years back.

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The problem is that the main wires is coming off the feed, this is not legal.
A legal way is to have a sub panel. You removed two single pole breakers in the original box and put a double pole breaker in it sized to what the local code allows to feed a separate panel. The fuse does not protect the panel but protects the wire going from the new double pole (230 volt) breaker to the other panel. The spa then is fed from this sub panel along with the other two circuits that were removed to make room for the new double pole breaker.
Before doing this however, check with that inspector, being that we can't see what you have there are too many variables.
You see, with the spa wires connected to the 'feed' you have no protection for the wires or a direct short. You could have 10,000 amps go through in 1/60th of a second before the fuses on the electric companies poles blow, by this time you, your house is toast. This is why he wants the wires downstream from the main house breaker/disconnect.

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Geoman (Rich wrote:

I understand what you're saying, but the tub *is* on it's own sub panel, and the entire thing is downstream of the house main. The main issue is that the tub is *only* on the GFCI sub panel. The wiring from the breaker box inside the garage, which or course is downstream from the main disconnect, to the sub does not have a breaker. I have a hottub guy going out to install a breaker, hopefully this weekend.
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Curt Martin wrote:

You could do that (no breaker), but the wires to the subpanel would have to be the same size as the service conductors (big and expensive.) Installing a breaker is both better and cheaper.
Bob
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the wires are already there.
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Charles Spitzer wrote:

You said they are 6 gauge wires, and your main breaker is probably more than 60A. So the feeder wires are not big enough to go straight off the mains without a breaker.
Maybe I'm missing something...
Bob
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That is not exactly true. We are talking about a "feeder tap" and these are the rules.
He did say it was over 10 feet so we skip ahead a bit. (the <10 ft rule doesn't apply)
240.21(B)(2)
(2) Taps Not Over 7.5 m (25 ft) Long. Where the length of the tap conductors does not exceed 7.5 m (25 ft) and the tap conductors comply with all the following: (1)    The ampacity of the tap conductors is not less than one-third of the rating of the overcurrent device protecting the feeder conductors. (2)    The tap conductors terminate in a single circuit breaker or a single set of fuses that will limit the load to the ampacity of the tap conductors. This device shall be permitted to supply any number of additional overcurrent devices on its load side. (3)    The tap conductors are suitably protected from physical damage or are enclosed in a raceway.
Since this is a 200a panel and 200/3 is 67a #6 ain''t gonna work for most AHJs . If it was #4 and met the other requirements it would be OK.
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Ok so the gfci shit the bed, no biggie just change it right? NOT , if the 6/3 at the main panel is wired to the line side (before the breaker) tthen how the heck are you gonna turn off the power to the gfcl? The above would be one of several reasons a breaker is required at the main panel not to mention the 6/3 between the line side of the main and the gfci has no over current protection. It would be a damn shame if something happened between the main and the gfci causing a short and the only thing protecting you is is the cut out mounted up on a pole three blocks away!!!! Do yourself a favor and have a real electrician look at it. Bill
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... ... wrote:

Even an idiot would have tapped in after the main breaker, wouldn't he? Only stuff like fire safety pumps gets to tap in before the main disconnect.
I figure the panel had passthrough lugs and the electrician (?) used them to save about $8 for a breaker.
I agree, get a real electrician to look at it; I think it's only gonna need to add a breaker, and maybe replace the gfci. The wires and subpanel are probably OK.
Bob
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zxcvbob wrote:

Probably my fault for saying "main" panel. It's tapped off of the house breaker box, not the main that is next to the meter. So, yeah it is downstream of the actual "house main".
I don't think this is a huge deal, but like I said, the inspector didn't like it, so were going to have a breaker added at the circuit breaker panel.
So is it fairly common for outdoor GFCI's to go bad? I've never had to replace one inside, other than for appearance.
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I had a GFI go bad and we never used it! I went upstairs and smelled something and it was coming from the GFI located in the bathroom.
So, yes, anything can go bad, this is why there are codes to help prevent as many injuries and deaths that could take place without them. Your inspector is not being a jerk, he see's something there that could be a potential disaster to persons or property.
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Not for no reason. It's for leverage. If the buyers insist you replace it, insist on upping the sale price another 500.00.
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HA HA Budys Here wrote:

That's not necessarily a bad deal for anyone. The buyer gets to roll the new water heater into the mortgage loan that way, and he might not have enough cash after closing to buy a WH otherwise.
Bob
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