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?
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
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.
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:
might be what you seek.
replace "fly" with "com" to reply.
this may help:
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.
replace "fly" with "com" to reply.
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.
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.
Doug Miller (alphageek at milmac dot com)
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.
Christopher A. Young
You can\'t shout down a troll.
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
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.
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
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?
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.
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
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
outside lugs: -240 vac
inside lugs - 240 vac
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??
Doug Miller (alphageek at milmac dot com)
Thanks for your post. I would like to try ace hardware, but
unfortunately they closed their store down in the local area about 4
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
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:'
thanks for the info.
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
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:
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.
Doug Miller (alphageek at milmac dot com)
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