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#29389 - 09/16/03 03:19 PM Failed Inspection, need two pole breaker  
straightedge  Offline
Joined: Mar 2002
Posts: 86
Mesa, AZ
I wired an addition for a residential remodel job. We ran two new 20-amp circuits from the main electrical panel to the new addition.

We used one 20-amp circuit for the north side of the addition and the other 20-amp circuit for the south side of the addition.

We ran a 12/3 romex cable from the main electrical panel to feed the addition.

I failed inspection. Inspector wants us to install a double pole 20-amp breaker for these circuits. His reasoning is that if you only turn off one circuit breaker. There is a potential danger because the neutral could still have a load on it.

Is this new? Is he right? I am going to comply. So we can pass inspection and get paid. I have never done this before. When one circuit overloads or short circuits, then both circuits will trip and kill power to the whole addition. This does not seem right to me.

Can any inspectors out there update me?

Thank You,


Work Gear for Electricians and the Trades

#29390 - 09/16/03 03:57 PM Re: Failed Inspection, need two pole breaker  
Ryan_J  Offline
Joined: Aug 2003
Posts: 1,374
West Jordan, Utah, USA
210.4(B) is a very misinterpreted code article, as your inspector has proven. I have never seen a multi-wire branch circuit with each phase on the same yoke (other than a 240 volt outlet), and doubt that I ever will. The only instance I could see this happening on is a switched receptacle where the electrician wants all the lights (including the switched potion of the receptacle) on one circuit, and all of the receptacles (including the unswitched portion) on another circuit, and he/she chooses to do it with a multi-wire branch circuit.

Ryan Jackson,
Salt Lake City

#29391 - 09/16/03 05:30 PM Re: Failed Inspection, need two pole breaker  
Electricmanscott  Offline
Joined: Jan 2002
Posts: 1,457
Holden, MA USA
You are only required to use a two pole breaker where both legs land on a single device on one yoke strap such as a split wired receptacle. (Very common for a dishwasher and disposal circuit) If you ran the 12/3 to a junction box and than ran your two wire from there two single pole breakers will suffice. Be sure to put them on opposite phases.

#29392 - 09/16/03 06:26 PM Re: Failed Inspection, need two pole breaker  
Bill Addiss  Offline
Joined: Oct 2000
Posts: 3,878

I agree with the others, it's not in the NEC.
I think I may have heard where it was a local Amendment somewhere, but am not sure.

BTW, I have heard of it being required in New Jersey, but don't know if that was an Inspector's preference or not.


#29393 - 09/16/03 06:33 PM Re: Failed Inspection, need two pole breaker  
straightedge  Offline
Joined: Mar 2002
Posts: 86
Mesa, AZ
Thanks for your posts,

I knew I was right. I called the inspector personally and asked specifically if he wants me to install a double pole breaker.

I wanted to talk to him to get a feel if he knew what he was talking about. Sometimes the inspectors have to inspect the plumbing, framing and electrical and they usually don't know to much about electrical.

I was suprised by him because he was talking about sharing a neutral and explaining how there could be a potential load on the neutral if both circuits are not turned off. So he sounded like he knew what he was talking about.

I don't like to tick these guys off. I just calmly explained that I didn't think it was right because if there is an overload or a short in one circuit, then both circuits would turn off and cut power off to the whole addition.

He still persisted in the double pole breaker so that is what I did. I can always go back and put the two single pole breakers on after we get the green tag. But I don't want to waste my time and money.

Just some of the obstacles us contractors have to go thru to get a job done.


#29394 - 09/16/03 06:39 PM Re: Failed Inspection, need two pole breaker  
HotLine1  Offline

Joined: Apr 2002
Posts: 6,864
Brick, NJ USA
From the areas of NJ that I am familiar with, the context of this thread is NOT required.

Ocasionally, a mis-interpertation of the NEC is made, sometimes it's "I want"

Things are a changin......the "ol boys club" is becoming a thing of the past. The NEC is "the code" in all areas.

Two circuits (3 wire) to a single yoke (split recept) need a 2-pole cb. Two circuits, not accessable at a single yoke do not. I kind of follow the srgument that the "neutral" could be "hot", but you are supposed to pigtail your neutrals!!



#29395 - 09/16/03 06:41 PM Re: Failed Inspection, need two pole breaker  
iwire  Offline
Joined: Jan 2003
Posts: 4,391
North Attleboro, MA USA
In a "Perfect World" the inspector can not "make up" rules even if he thinks there is a good reason, to fail you he should provide the code article he feels you violated.

But in the "Real World" in the interest of speed and not getting this guy primmed for the next job he inspects for me, I would have done just what you did.


Bob Badger
Construction & Maintenance Electrician

#29396 - 09/16/03 07:34 PM Re: Failed Inspection, need two pole breaker  
Bill Addiss  Offline
Joined: Oct 2000
Posts: 3,878

A cousin-in-law had a dormer put up maybe 5 years ago in Tom's River and I went up to give him a hand. The inspector said the work looked great but wanted a tie-handle put on the breakers controlling multiwire circuits. I told him not to argue as it wasn't really a bad idea. I'm still on the fence with that.


#29397 - 09/16/03 10:29 PM Re: Failed Inspection, need two pole breaker  
LK  Offline
Joined: Jan 2003
Posts: 1,429
New Jersey
Not part of the code but good practice to use tied breakers. My frend of 30 years had his son working with an electrician, he was in the attic working on a multiwire circuit, and they had one of the breakers off. He came in contact with the neutral and they lost him. Since then I use tied breaker on all multiwire circuits. That back feed can get the best of us. The inspectors in this area ask for 2 pole on multiwire.

#29398 - 09/16/03 10:32 PM Re: Failed Inspection, need two pole breaker  
ThinkGood  Offline
Joined: Aug 2002
Posts: 1,081
Milwaukee, WI
Funny you should mention this...

I was just searching here not two weeks ago to see what the opinion was relative to 12/3 multiwire needing tied-in breakers.

Here were some of the results:

(Edit was to put carriage returns after each link. Wheeeee!)

[This message has been edited by ThinkGood (edited 09-16-2003).]

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