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Phil
Phil, Mechanical Engineer
Category: Electrical
Satisfied Customers: 5669
Experience:  Retired electrical contractor, 51 years experience.
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Im working on a house with two breaker panels, 200 amp and

Resolved Question:

I'm working on a house with two breaker panels, 200 amp and 110 amp. I put a generator inlet, generator circuit breaker, and interlock on the 200 amp breaker panel. Turns out the furnace is on the 110 breaker panel. I have a photo which hopefully I can attach here.

One solution I thought of is to move the furnace circuit to the 200 amp board. One problem with this - I don't know where the main shutoff is for the 110 board! Maybe it is underneath the cover?

Any other solutions to this issue? I'm looking for at least one other way to do this while keeping the generator inlet the way it is.



Thanks!
Submitted: 11 months ago.
Category: Electrical
Expert:  Phil replied 11 months ago.
Welcome to Just Answer!

The highest amp rated breaker on the 110volt panel is most likely being used in reverse to power the 110v panel... it is probably the breaker on the top left... turn it OFF. if the entire panel goes off, that is the main breaker for that panel.

Let me know what you find, we can go from there until we get it all sorted out.

Phil
Customer: replied 11 months ago.

Interesting. So, the top on the L (position 1-3) and the top 2 on the R (2-4, 6-8) are all 60 amp breakers.


 


Position 16 (bottom R) powers an outlet in the garage. When I flip 6-8, there is no power to the outlet. But there is power to the furnace.


 


When I flip 2-4 there is no power to the furnace. My guess is that 2-4 is in reverse and powers the sub-breaker panel that is next to the furnace. 6-8 powers some of the circuit breakers in the panel. Maybe 1-3 is also in reverse?


 


Not sure why multiple inputs would be needed, but that seems to be the case. There has been some very creative wiring (not in a good way) done to this house in the past. (You'll notice some exposed romex coming out of the breaker boxes if you look carefully)

Expert:  Phil replied 11 months ago.
Hello again,

Thats very creative wiring most likely... The 60 amp breakers should have #6 AWG wire coming from them to be safe... it is very unlikely that is the case, if they have smaller wire it is a fire hazard.

From here it will not be possible for me to safely debug that situation for you....there is too much that I cannot see. it looks like a dangerous situation. I recommend you call in a licensed electrician.

Meantime if you can remove the front of the 110v panel, and find which breaker has its two wires going directly to a breaker in the 220v panel, you have found the main breaker for the 110v panel.

Tell me what amperage that breaker is, and tell me what wire size is attached to each of the other breakers... get me a close up photo of the 110v panel with the cover off.

We can go from there.

Phil
Customer: replied 11 months ago.

Thank you. I will work on this further tomorrow and send you an update.

Expert:  Phil replied 11 months ago.
Thanks, XXXXX XXXXX be looking forward to it.

Phil
Customer: replied 11 months ago.

Hi Phil,


 


Thanks for your excellent advice so far.


 


Here are some images of the breaker panel. 2-4 goes up and out the upper right. Only position 4 has a hot wire coming from it. There is nothing coming from position 2.


 


6-8 has very short wires that loop to the back of the panel.


 


Elliot


 





Expert:  Phil replied 11 months ago.
Hello again, thanks for the pictures.

I can't read all of the wire sizes from here but they look close at least... thats relatively good news.

The system is so messy though and no doubt with code and safety violations that it definitely needs to be seen by a good licensed electrician... you might want to get estimates from several... a few will want to remove all that and start from scratch... that will be unduly expensive .. others will work with you to make what you have safe with as little money spent as possible.

So shop around for that.

If you wish to rate my advice so far positively I will be able to hold the question open for a bit of follow up on the same dime so to speak... the will be useful as you talk to a few electricians and get their estimates.

Thanks

Phil
Customer: replied 11 months ago.

Hi Phil,


I appreciate the advice so far. Talking to an electrician seems like a good idea. However, could you please give me a run-down on what you think is going on in this 110 amp panel?Thanks,


Elliot

Expert:  Phil replied 11 months ago.
Hello again, you should have no problem moving the furnace circuit to the 110v board. you can turn the power off to the 110v board by following the two #4 wires that enter the 110v panel to their breaker in the 220v panel and turning off the breaker.

When I see wiring that sloppy I am expecting serious and often dangerous errors to have been made, but I cannot see the entire system from here to determine that... the panels alone do not tell the whole story.

The entire system and loads just need to be looked at to determine those issues... there can be bonding and grounding issues once a system gets that disjointed especially with a stand-by generator.... your connections to the generator should be inspected as well. That could save you a lot of trouble later.

The electrician that comes out needs to one experienced in generator transfer switch wiring... you should qualify them on that point as well.


Phil
Customer: replied 11 months ago.

Hi Phil,


 


I know- it is extremely sloppy work, but it has been there for years. Not sure exactly when, but at least since we bought the house.


 


The generator was something I installed myself last week. Despite the mess that I inherited, I believe that my own work is up to par.


 


Here's the answer that I think we're coming up with
1) turn off the power to the 110 amp breaker by flipping a circuit in the 220 v panel. I have never opened up this panel, but I'm guessing I'll find large breakers in it.


 


2) pull the wires for the furnace out of the 110 amp breaker panel and run them to the 200 amp breaker


 


3) I will be making space in the 200 amp panel by moving the car charger over to the 110 amp panel


 


A few questions:


 


a) the wires for the furnace will not reach the 200 amp panel. Can I splice them and install a junction box on the wall of the garage?


 


b) why is there a single wire running into a 60 amp/220 volt breaker? Is it acting as a 60 amp/110 volt circuit? Should I keep this configuration when I move it over to the 200 amp box?


 


I am going to ask an electrician to come and give his blessing on all of this, and then I plan to do the work myself.



Thanks,


Elliot


 

Expert:  Phil replied 11 months ago.

 

Hello again, I will respond in context.

 

------------------

 

I know- it is extremely sloppy work, but it has been there for years. Not sure exactly when, but at least since we bought the house.


**the wiring needs to be safe.. unsafe systems can run for decades, that does not mean its OK.. getting it looked at is up to you however.


 


The generator was something I installed myself last week. Despite the mess that I inherited, I believe that my own work is up to par.

 

Your work may very well be up to par... it is just that with grounding and bonding particularly, those have to be up to par... those issues are not confirmed as correct on the rest of your system. When I see a system as messy as that I have to recommend such an inspection.

 


 


Here's the answer that I think we're coming up with
1) turn off the power to the 110 amp breaker by flipping a circuit in the 220 v panel. I have never opened up this panel, but I'm guessing I'll find large breakers in it.

 

Yes you will find large breakers in it, one of them will have the two wires that feed the 110v panel.. turn that breaker off.

 


 


2) pull the wires for the furnace out of the 110 amp breaker panel and run them to the 200 amp breaker

 

Yes


 


3) I will be making space in the 200 amp panel by moving the car charger over to the 110 amp panel

 

Yes


 


A few questions:


 


a) the wires for the furnace will not reach the 200 amp panel. Can I splice them and install a junction box on the wall of the garage?

 

You can splice the wires using wire nuts inside the existing 110v panel


 


b) why is there a single wire running into a 60 amp/220 volt breaker? Is it acting as a 60 amp/110 volt circuit? Should I keep this configuration when I move it over to the 200 amp box?

 

thats one of the great problems with what I see here..it needs to be inspected on site. You should not be moving that 60 amp breaker with only 1 #6? awg wire connected. That sort of arrangement makes no sense regardless if it seems to be working or not. it is not acting as a single 60 amp 110v circuit... that would 99% unlikely... and most likely unsafe if it were powering a bunch of 110v receptacles etc since those will not take wire sizes larger that #12. its a big issue, it needs to be inspected.

 

 



I am going to ask an electrician to come and give his blessing on all of this, and then I plan to do the work myself.

 

Thats a good plan... it will take some shopping to find a cooperative electrician of that type, but they do exist... a smaller one man shop is most likely to accommodate you on this.

 

 

Phil

Phil, Mechanical Engineer
Category: Electrical
Satisfied Customers: 5669
Experience: Retired electrical contractor, 51 years experience.
Phil and 3 other Electrical Specialists are ready to help you
Customer: replied 11 months ago.

I appreciate your help on this. Thank you very much!

Expert:  Phil replied 11 months ago.
You are welcome, good luck with it.

Thanks for the positive rating!

I am in Antiqua Quatemala right now, and will leave for the US Oct 15th... I will be reachable here until the 14th of october... then not very available from the 15th through the 25th of october.

Phil
Customer: replied 11 months ago.

Antigua, site of my most inauspicious do-it-yourself activity..


 


I decided to hike Volcan Pacaya myself. No one else was on the mountain and it turns out there was a good reason! At one point, it felt like I was surrounded by lava and I was just glad to get down from the mountain.


 


The volcano is definitely a sight worth seeing though.


 

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