Double Tapping Breakers: What is it and Why is it Dangerous?

August 15, 2016 7:38 am Published by Leave your thoughts

If you’ve taken a glance at the circuit breaker for your home or business recently, you may have seen that all seemed to look as it should, leading you to feel confident that everything is functioning properly and safely. However, is it possible that you missed noticing that one or more of your circuit breakers is double tapped?

Discover more about what double tapping means and why it can be dangerous. Then, if you determine that you have a problem you need to address, contact an electrical contractor in North Scottsdale, AZ, to perform this professional repair.

What Is a double tap?

If your home has a double tapped circuit breaker, this means that two wires (conductors) are connected to one specific circuit breaker or one terminal on the same circuit breaker. You may also hear this condition referred to as a “double lug.”

Regardless of what you call this condition, two wires are connected via the same circuit breaker screw (also known as a lug), or both wires are attached under the same screw via the neutral bar.

However, the existence of this condition does not always mean that you have a problem. Some circuit breakers are designed to hold two wires. If this is the case, your circuit breaker will note this clearly, and the circuit breaker’s terminal will be designed to accommodate both wires.

Only certain manufacturers of circuit breakers—such as Square D and Cutler Hammer—produce circuit breakers that can accommodate two wires. It’s important to note, though, that not all of their circuit breaker products have this function.

How could a double tap be dangerous?

If your circuit breaker is not designed to hold two wires, you have an issue on your hands that could be dangerous and that you should not ignore.

With two wires connected to the same breaker or terminal, the circuit breaker could overheat. If the two wires are not fastened tightly enough, this could result in arcing. (Arcing occurs when two electrodes produce a plasma discharge.) A fire may also occur if your circuit breaker is double tapped.

You may be able to view for yourself whether your circuit breaker is double tapped. This is also a common setup found during home or business inspections performed for commercial purposes. However the double tapped circuit breaker is discovered, you should not try to perform remediation work yourself.

Contact a licensed electrician for repairs immediately. They will use their specialized knowledge and training to adjust the wires and determine which wire belongs in the circuit breaker and which one does not, making the appropriate adjustment.

If you need to request an appointment with an electrical contractor in North Scottsdale, AZ for a double tapped circuit breaker or if you are in need of any other electrical repairs, the expert team at Eavenson Electric can get the job done.

In addition to performing circuit breaker adjustments, we also install smoke and carbon monoxide detectors, conduct electrical safety inspections and install ceiling fans, among our many other services. Contact us today!

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