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#21935 - 02/12/03 05:07 PM Am I right? Help requested...
CTwireman Offline
Member

Registered: 02/07/02
Posts: 839
Loc: Connecticut, USA
Kind of a long story, but bear with me. On a job I am helping out on part time, I noticed a practice that seemed wrong to me.

For instance, one swith box contains 3 middle-of-the-run 3-way switches, with one pair of travellers coming in for each switch, and one switched leg up to the lights. Instead of isolating the neutral by switch, the apprentice who wired everything simply took all the neutrals in the box and connected them together.

Upon further investigation, I found that all the boxes were wired this way, even the boxes that contained 2 circuits.

I mentioned it to the boss, and I told him this was wrong since it creates parallel paths for neutral current. His response: "I've always done it that way. It's not a problem." I said, "Well, that doesn't make it right." He then said, "Well, if it bothers you that much, you can go around and fix them." Which I proceeded to do.

I then metioned it to the apprentice, and he said it didn't matter, and that he would keep doing it that way. The boss doesn't care either. There's nothing more that I can do to convince them that this is wrong.

So, am I correct in my belief that this practice is wrong? Should I have stuck my neck out in this situation?

I never would do this unless I am absolutely sure that I am right, but I am willing to admit defeat, too.

Peter

[This message has been edited by CTwireman (edited 02-12-2003).]
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#21936 - 02/12/03 05:32 PM Re: Am I right? Help requested...
Len_B Offline
Member

Registered: 01/19/03
Posts: 56
Loc: New Hampshire
 Quote:
For instance, one swith box contains 3 middle-of-the-run 3-way switches, with one pair of travellers coming in for each switch, and one switched leg up to the lights. Instead of isolating the neutral by switch, the apprentice who wired everything simply took all the neutrals in the box and connected them together.

I assume the travellers come in on 3 conductor, and the switched leg and neutral go to the fixture on a 2 conductor. If so, yes they should be "isolated". The neutral on the 2 cond should only connect to the 3 cond, back to the first switch and cicuit source.

 Quote:
Upon further investigation, I found that all the boxes were wired this way, even the boxes that contained 2 circuits.

This would only be permitted with a multiwire branch circuit. i.e. with a 3 cond home run the neutrals would connect at this point and carry the imbalance back to the neutral bus. Otherwise it would not be allowed --- It would also be a definite hazard to the next electrician who worked on it!

Sounds like you are correct CT...
If I have misinterpreted your post, could you post a circuit diagram of this.

Len

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#21937 - 02/12/03 05:40 PM Re: Am I right? Help requested...
pauluk Offline
Member

Registered: 08/11/01
Posts: 7693
Loc: Norfolk, England
Peter,
I'm no NEC expert as you know, but I would think that 310.4 covers this.

 Quote:
310.4 Conductors in Parallel. Aluminum, copper-clad aluminum, or copper conductors of size 1/0 AWG and larger, comprising each phase, neutral, or grounded circuit conductor, shall be permitted to be connected in parallel (electrically joined at both ends to form a single conductor).


That doesn't actually state explicity that #14 or #12 conductors must not be paralleled, but it sure seems to imply it, and I get the impression that that's how most everybody here interprets it. None of the exceptions to 310.4 would apply here -- at least not that I can see.

Paralleling aside, I know for certain that theree's something in there about not cross-connecting neutrals from different branch circuits (just as there is in British "code"), but I can't quote a reference on that one. I looked in 210 section I (Branch Circuit General Provisions), but I couldn't see anything.

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#21938 - 02/12/03 05:43 PM Re: Am I right? Help requested...
nesparky Offline
Member

Registered: 06/21/01
Posts: 650
Loc: omaha,ne
I agree with you. It's a way to set up some else when they try to trouble shoot a circuit and find power on a neutral when they thought they turned off the correct breaker.
I have had others tell me it does not matter since " all the neutrals go to the same place any way". Most of the time electrically it has no effect except to have current return on parallell paths back to the panel. The equipment and/or lights will still work.
The time when this causes a problem is when you troubleshoot or try to fix a problem and suddenly find hot wires when they "should" have been dead.

[This message has been edited by nesparky (edited 02-12-2003).]
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#21939 - 02/12/03 06:08 PM Re: Am I right? Help requested...
CTwireman Offline
Member

Registered: 02/07/02
Posts: 839
Loc: Connecticut, USA
Len, yes, you assumed correctly, the switches are fed with a 14/3 coming in, and a 14/2 up to the lights.

Paul, that is the exact code section I used to back up my argument.

Like I said, there is nothing more I can do to change their minds. I had to restrain myself after I saw the apprentice doing the same thing after I just explained to him that it was wrong. Sometimes, you just have to give up. If people want be ignorant and ignore the code, so be it.

Sorry for the rant, just blowing off some steam.


Peter
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#21940 - 02/12/03 06:22 PM Re: Am I right? Help requested...
Electricmanscott Offline
Member

Registered: 01/12/02
Posts: 1478
Loc: Holden, MA USA
Right or wrong it's poor practice. (I think it's wrong) It is hard enough explaining to customers that just because something works does not make it right. I imagine it is even harder convincing a "professional".

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#21941 - 02/13/03 09:47 AM Re: Am I right? Help requested...
cubby964 Offline
Member

Registered: 10/18/02
Posts: 69
Loc: USA
These people aren't professionals, they're Hacks.
Doing something wrong is forgivable if that is the way you were taught, and have never been corrected. But once corrected, to go back and continue knowing that it is wrong is plain stupid.
I am with you Peter, the noodles should not be interconnected.

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#21942 - 02/13/03 09:49 AM Re: Am I right? Help requested...
mountainman Offline
Member

Registered: 01/29/02
Posts: 54
Loc: Richmond Va. U.S.A.
Peter
You are right in what you are doing. When your helper and employer combine the grounded conductors together, they are making a multi-wire branch circuit and need to comply to articles 210.4(B) and 300.13(B). If they do not then they are in violation. By the way guys, I am leaving today for my honeymoon in the Caribean. With all this snow and ice in VA. they are predicting, we time this trip perfect. See you in 2 weeks.

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#21943 - 02/13/03 12:03 PM Re: Am I right? Help requested...
sparky Offline
Member

Registered: 10/18/00
Posts: 5545
i think it helps some to have things drawn out, it did for me (still does)

Steve aka(just say no to parrallel noodles) sparky

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#21944 - 02/13/03 01:21 PM Re: Am I right? Help requested...
sparky66wv Offline
Member

Registered: 11/17/00
Posts: 2342
Loc: West Virginia
Also, you could explain to them that the very situation you describe is the number one reason for "phantom" of "floating" voltage in residential.

If they get weird readings on service calls of their work, this would be why.

Assuming the neutral is good at the service...

I've read as much as 30V to ground when the circuit was off in some places they were so bad...

[This message has been edited by sparky66wv (edited 02-13-2003).]
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