Are Double Tapped Breakers Against Code? Expert Opinion

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Why do double-tapped breakers exist? Or Are Double Tapped Breakers Against Code? Do you have to worry about your house burning down? Inspection reports frequently mention a double-tapped breaker, but fixing one is a snap.

A double-tapped breaker is essentially a circuit breaker with two wires tapped into it instead of just one. Above, you can see an example of what this might look like. Double-tapping can lead to a loose connection or an overloaded breaker due to the breaker’s inability to handle two wires simultaneously.

A faulty connection can generate a spark or arc. In addition, a breaker that is overloaded may trip or overheat repeatedly. Even though this is a highly typical occurrence, it is wrong and should be corrected.

Are Double Tapped Breakers Against Code?

While it is technically incorrect to utilize double-tapped breakers, which may conceivably result in a fire in your home, it is unlikely.

Double Tapped Breakers Against Code

For most circuit breakers, double-tapped breakers are not permitted. Some lower-amperage rated breakers manufactured by Square D and Cutler-Hammer are exempt from this rule (now Eaton). When two wires are attached to a single breaker, it is known as a “double-tap,” a common issue during a house inspection.

NEC 110.3(B) specifies that “listed or labeled equipment shall be installed and utilized in compliance with any instructions included in the listing or labeling.” This means that double taps are not permitted if a breaker is only rated as “single-pole,” which means one wire connection.

What Is A Double Tapped Breaker?

If more than one wire is plugged into the same breaker (or busbar, but we’ll stick with breakers for the time being) on an electric panel, it’s known as a double-tapped breaker. But there are breakers on the market that can accommodate numerous wires, so this isn’t an issue. They are meant to protect the circuit and not the devices attached to it.

To put it another way, we want to be certain that the wires don’t overheat and catch fire. We’ll start by learning how to identify how many wires a breaker can handle before moving on to troubleshooting a breaker with too many connections. This is known as a “double-tap,” and if you have a third idiot working in your electrical panel, it’s a “triple tap.”

What Is The Issue With Double-Tapped Breakers?

It all comes down to the wire-to-breaker connection. It is far more likely that a connection will be too loose if more than one wire is hooked up to the circuit breaker because those circuit breakers were not meant to handle two wires.

This can lead to overheating, or even worse, arcing between the gaps between the breaker and the wire. A fire in an electrical panel is ignited by arcing, which occurs when electricity is interrupted. It is critical for the safety of your home that all of your circuit breakers are connected tightly and correctly.

Is It OK To Use Double-Tapped Breakers?

It’s safe to presume that when someone inquires about the legality of a double-tapped breaker, they’re referring to electrical codes. Unless the circuit breaker is certified for two poles, double-tapped breakers are against national electrical codes and manufacturer instructions.

At the modification, all electrical updates must adhere to the NEC codes. Manufacturer specifications are followed when the electrical code is not written. There is no mention of this regarding the National Electrical Code (NEC) and doubles tapped breakers. On the other hand, manufacturers assign ratings to their breakers based on the number of poles they support.

Single-wire and double-wire circuit breakers are readily identifiable by their labeling. Only the instructions for installing and using equipment labels should be followed, according to NEC 110.3(B). Double-tapped breakers are not permitted since the manufacturer specifies how to connect the breaker.

A Double-Tapped Breaker Repair Guide

Now that you know what a double-tapped breaker is, here are some possibilities for correcting the problem. It’s preferable to call a professional if you have no previous expertise or knowledge working within an electric panel. Even if you switch off the main breaker, there are locations inside these panels that can vanish you in no time.

Tie The Wires Up By Their Tails

Honestly, I don’t know why you’d bother with any other repair when you’re dealing with a double-tapped breaker. This is the simplest remedy. Only a tiny segment of copper wire and a wire nut is needed.

All three wires should be twisted together, and only one wire should be connected to the circuit breaker. That’s it. As long as you pre-twist the wires together before you secure them with a wire-nut cap on this breaker, you’ll be safe from overheating and short-circuiting.

Tandem Breaker Installation

You may acquire tandem breakers for most current electric panels if you need control over each line linked via a breaker handle. When installed in a single-width slot in the electrical panel, these breakers allow the installation of two single-pole arms.

All you have to do is ensure they can be installed where you want them. Diagrams of each panel door should indicate which breaker is permitted in each location. Some older panels do not allow tandems, while others allow them throughout. To be sure, you’ll have to check your brand to find out.

Introduce A Breaker

Installing a new single pole breaker in an open slot on your panel is an option if space permits. This is the quickest and less expensive way to fix the problem regarding technical skills. Installing a breaker is as simple as turning a screwdriver.

Replace The Old Electric Panel

When dealing with double-tapped breaker issues, one of the techniques above is likely to do the trick. If this doesn’t work, you may require a larger panelboard, but this is an extremely rare occurrence. The only person who can inform you whether or not you need a new panel is your electrician.

Feel free to use the language I use in my reports to describe double-tapped breakers for aspiring home inspectors out there. Don’t be the guy who calls his nonsense an “explanation,” as I did at the start of this essay.

How To Fix Double Tapped Breaker?

All you need is a wire nut and a short piece of wire. Simply twist the three wires together, then only attach one wire back to the circuit breaker. I’m done.

How Much To Fix Double-Tapped Circuit Breakers?

Repairing a double-tapped breaker costs between $150 and $250. Double-taps are a frequent inspection report flaw, but they are simple to fix.


So, this is all about Are Double Tapped Breakers Against Code? More than one copper wire can rarely be connected to a circuit breaker. An example of double-tapping can be found when two electrical wires are linked to the same breaker. A frequently arcing or tripping breaker can be caused by a double-tapped device overheating and becoming loosely connected wires. A house fire can occur at any time.

Frequently Asked Questions

The legality of double-pole breakers?

Tandem breakers can only be used in specified slots in certain panels, and only if they are placed correctly can they be used legally and safely. Before installing the toggles, the panel needs to be configured to accept tandem breakers.

What about using two breakers in tandem?

This approach is fine if the panelboard is intended for tandem circuit breakers and the tandem breakers are installed where they can be safely fitted in the panelboard.

The maximum number of double breaks permitted is how many?

It is possible to employ up to 10 tandem circuit breakers. G3030BL1150 denotes a maximum of 30 available circuits in a certain number of spaces.

Is it legal to ride on the backs of others?

Only tandem breakers can be safely and legally used in tandem breakers-equipped panels and tandem breakers-equipped slots. On the inside of the panel door, look for the manufacturer’s label.

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