Author Topic: any electricians in the house?  (Read 1215 times)

Offline JT

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any electricians in the house?
« on: December 04, 2014, 06:07:48 PM »
I recently had an electrician out to hook up 240 v outlets for basement brewing.  The manual for my Electric Tower of Power stresses a 30 amp GFCI breaker is used.  My electrician stated this would not work and was not needed with the 3 prong L6-30 Receptacle used (the plug attached to the electric tower of power is L6-30P).  The wiring from my panel to the outlet has 3 wires inside: white, black and bare.  The install is done, but GFI breakers were not used. 
1) Is he correct?
2) Am I in danger?
3) I would love to see a simple diagram/parts list of how this should have been done if the electrician was incorrect.

« Last Edit: December 04, 2014, 08:13:54 PM by JT »

Offline blatz

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Re: any electricians in the house?
« Reply #1 on: December 04, 2014, 06:12:24 PM »
i paid a guy to install mine, so i'm not much help, but he did install a 30 amp GFCI breaker.  it was expensive - around $100 or so, and he had to hit 3 different supply stores before he found one, but it can be done.

i prefer the additional safety.
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Offline JT

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Re: any electricians in the house?
« Reply #2 on: December 04, 2014, 06:19:01 PM »
Yeah, I have the breakers too, they just weren't used.  Do you know how many wires are running to your breaker?  3 or 4?

Offline blatz

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Re: any electricians in the house?
« Reply #3 on: December 04, 2014, 06:22:58 PM »
Yeah, I have the breakers too, they just weren't used.  Do you know how many wires are running to your breaker?  3 or 4?

i don't - I want to say 4, but it was installed over 2 years ago and i can't say for sure.
The happiest people don’t necessarily have the best of everything; they just make the best of everything they have.

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S. cerevisiae

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Re: any electricians in the house?
« Reply #4 on: December 04, 2014, 08:54:31 PM »
A 4-wire 240VAC install usually has the following color codes:

Red - Hot leg 1
Black - Hot leg 2
White - Neutral
Bare - Earth ground

The type of power that is fed to a normal residential home in the United States is known as split-phase power.  While normally tied to ground (earth) at the breaker box, neutral is not ground.  Neutral is the center-tap from the step-down transformer secondary winding; hence, the term split-phase (in my neighborhood, the step-down transformers transform 7,200 VAC power into 240 VAC power).   The voltage potential difference between the white and the red or black whites is 120 VAC.   The voltage potential difference between the red and black wires, which are the ends of the transformer secondary winding, is 240 VAC.   Some appliances require a 4-wire hook-up because of secondary circuits that operate at 120 VAC (e.g., light bulbs).

If one opens one's distribution panel (a.k.a. breaker box), one will usually see two rows of breakers.  The breakers on the left-hand side of the breaker box are on one end of the secondary winding (hot leg 1) with the breakers on the right-hand side of the box being on the other end of the secondary winding (hot leg 2).  One hundred and twenty volt breakers connect a hot leg to a 15 or 20 amp 120 VAC circuit.  Two hundred and forty volt breakers connect both hot legs to a circuit, which is why they usually require two breaker slots in a box.

In the OP's case, it looks like the electrician used regular 3-wire romex.  An L6-30R outlet does not have a neutral connection (i.e., it does not support 120VAC operation in addition to 240VAC operation).  In that case, code usually requires the electrician to paint or mark the white conducter with red (or another color) at the receptacle or at the breaker box.   In either case, the electrician should have installed a GFCI breaker because the circuit is being used in a wet environment.  Most jurisdictions require the use of GFCI breakers on kitchen, bathroom, and outdoor circuits.




« Last Edit: December 04, 2014, 09:34:14 PM by S. cerevisiae »

Offline JT

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Re: any electricians in the house?
« Reply #5 on: December 04, 2014, 09:19:29 PM »
The current installed wiring looks like this: 
Breaker: White wire has been covered with black tape and run to the breaker.  Black wire runs to the breaker.  Bare wire runs to a bar on the side. 
Outlet: White wire has again been covered with black tape and run to a gold terminal, black wire to the other gold.  Bare wire to the green. 
Could the GFCI breaker have been used with the 3-wire romex and L6-30R?  What should it have looked like?  Blichmann ToP comes with a L6-30P. 
« Last Edit: December 04, 2014, 09:39:32 PM by JT »

S. cerevisiae

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Re: any electricians in the house?
« Reply #6 on: December 04, 2014, 10:00:30 PM »
The white wire has been marked black to indicate that it carries a hot leg.  As I mentioned above, by code, the white wire has to be marked a different color when used to carry a hot voltage from the distribution panel to a receptacle.   The bar on the side is the ground (earth) bus.  It should be tied to a fairly thick wire that is buried beneath your basement floor (if you have one ) or connects to a ground rod outside of your home (sometimes, it will be tied to the public water feed pipe that supplies one's home).

Yes, a GFCI breaker could be installed in your distribution panel with a hot-hot-ground circuit running out to the L6-30R outlet.  In that case, the neutral (white) lead on the breaker is still connected to neutral at the the panel, but the neutral (center-tap) is not part of the run out to the receptacle. If you look at the "2-Pole" drawing on page 2 of the PDF linked below, you will see a dashed line.  That line is the optional neutral connection between the neutral terminal on the GFCI breaker and the outlet.   As can seen on the diagram, connecting the white wire on the breaker to the neutral at the distribution panel is not optional. 

http://www.homedepot.com/catalog/pdfImages/c8/c85cf38c-3bd6-4b08-94af-80838e9bc6dc.pdf

« Last Edit: December 05, 2014, 02:21:59 AM by S. cerevisiae »

Offline JT

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Re: any electricians in the house?
« Reply #7 on: December 04, 2014, 11:03:34 PM »
I'm not seeing the linked pdf, but if I'm understanding you correctly:  I could simply remove the breakers installed by the electrician, hook both hot wires up to the GFCI breaker that I own.  I'm assuming it doesn't matter which goes to which side.  The white wire coming out of the breaker would go to the neutral bar but there would be no wire coming into the breaker that connects to the white wire.  The bare wire coming from my receptacle would still go to the ground bar.  Before I ask something else, is this correct?

Offline JT

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Re: any electricians in the house?
« Reply #8 on: December 04, 2014, 11:25:47 PM »
Like this?

S. cerevisiae

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Re: any electricians in the house?
« Reply #9 on: December 05, 2014, 12:52:03 AM »
I'm not seeing the linked pdf,

I fixed the link. 

Quote
but if I'm understanding you correctly:  I could simply remove the breakers installed by the electrician, hook both hot wires up to the GFCI breaker that I own.  I'm assuming it doesn't matter which goes to which side.  The white wire coming out of the breaker would go to the neutral bar but there would be no wire coming into the breaker that connects to the white wire.  The bare wire coming from my receptacle would still go to the ground bar.  Before I ask something else, is this correct?

Yes, you can carefully remove the existing breaker and replace it with a GFCI breaker.  The black wire and the white wire with the black tape are attached to the two poles on the breaker.   The white wire (pigtail) from the breaker attaches to the neutral bus, which should be bonded (connected) to the ground (earth) bus at one point.  No other connection is necessary. 

Offline JT

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Re: any electricians in the house?
« Reply #10 on: December 05, 2014, 01:19:29 AM »
Denny had a thread about homebrew heroes.  You sir, qualify!  Hopefully last question: there is a bus on the left side and a bus on the right.  Both have white AND bare wires running to them... how can I find the neutral bus?  I'm assuming that for certain the bus on the right is ground because of the large copper wire that runs out of it to the ground... but does that make the bus on the left neutral?  Or does it matter (could the neutral wire from the breaker plug into either and work as intended)? 

S. cerevisiae

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Re: any electricians in the house?
« Reply #11 on: December 05, 2014, 01:44:11 AM »
As neutral from the supply coming into your house is bonded to ground at the panel, there is really no need to maintain separate neutral and ground bus bars.

With that said, please be careful. Electricity can kill or maim you if you do not respect its power.
 

Offline JT

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Re: any electricians in the house?
« Reply #12 on: December 05, 2014, 01:55:42 AM »
With that said, please be careful. Electricity can kill or maim you if you do not respect its power.
Exactly why I want to get this right and was suspicious about the "no can do" response from my electrician.  I will shut off the whole house and be cautious around the main line in terminals... I shouldn't really need to go near those. 

Offline realbeerguy

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Re: any electricians in the house?
« Reply #13 on: December 05, 2014, 04:18:56 AM »
GET THE GFI INSTALLED!
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Offline JT

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Re: any electricians in the house?
« Reply #14 on: December 07, 2014, 09:35:59 PM »
This brewer is now protected by GFCI.  Thank you for all your help!  While I was at it, I replaced the 15 amp breaker for my fan, pumps and extra outlet with a 20 amp GFCI (yes I have 12 Guage wiring).  I also found another breaker in the panel that just had the hot wire sitting on the contact screw, it wasn't tightened down at all.  This experience forced me to learn a bit more about electricity and will certainly help me down the road.  Prost!