A very strange wire in the control panel (NEED HELP PLEASE)

Discussion in 'Electrical Forum discussion & Blog' started by greenbaypackersfan, Apr 19, 2010.

  1. greenbaypackersfan

    greenbaypackersfan New Member

    Messages:
    27
    Location:
    New Jersey
    Hi All,
    Ok, quick question for you all and please educate me.

    My "GE" control panel, it's pretty up to code. The house is about 7 years old and each circuit breaker (all GE breakers) has one wire and not double tapped EXCEPT ONE. The one that is double tapped contains a 15A circuit breaker from GE and has 1 wire coming into the breaker from the transformer of the doorbell (a very standard hardwired doorbell you see at home depot for $9.99.) The other wire that is also doubled tapped is a guest room closet containing 1 60watt bulb.

    I noticed the breaker was buzzing, so I separated the wires (both 14 gauges wires.) I first put just the wire from the bedroom closet and it doesn't buzz. I then switch to the doorbell wire coming from the transformer and it buzzes slightly. I noticed something and could this possibly produce the buzzing sound? The Wire coming off the doorbell transformer is a 18 gauge doorbell wire that is meshed to a 14 gauge wire by itself and screwed cap together. Then the other end (14 gauge wire connects to a 15A circuit breaker.) < I believe this was done since the builder did not have a 5AMP circuit breaker for the 18 gauge wire handy?

    Here is my question:

    I CAN'T find a GE or any brand of 5 AMP breaker locally. Is it safe/okay for me to leave the way it is and just buy a 15A circuit breaker and connects the doorbell wire that has a 14 gauge? Or should I disconnect the screw cap and try to find a 5AMP breaker? (does it matter either way?) Please educate me on this.

    In short,
    * I plan to add an additional circuit breaker (since I have room for it.) Moving the doorbell wire to this new breaker location(15A). and keep the bedroom closet wire in the original breaker location.
    * I can't find a 5AMP GE brand circuit breaker or any other brand. Whoever loved here a year before me had the doorbell wire coming from the transformer (18 gauge meshed and screw capped to a 14 gauge wire.)
    Please educate me if I buy a separate 15A breaker for just the doorbell is okay?


    I plan on doing this tomorrow morning, your insight would be greatly appreciated.

    thank you very much
    Last edited: Apr 19, 2010
  2. Lightwave

    Lightwave New Member

    Messages:
    98
    Location:
    Vancouver, BC
    If you have 18GA wire between the circuit breaker and the doorbell transformer, then you have a fire hazard. Replace the 18GA wire with standard 14 gauge wire attached to a 15A breaker.

    18GA wire on the low voltage side of the doorbell transformer isn't a problem as long as the transformer is fused.

    Your wire gauge issue probably isn't related to the buzzing breaker. You can rule this out by attaching the doorbell wire to another 15A breaker in the panel. If the other breaker doesn't buzz, then the wiring has nothing to do with the buzzing breaker.

    The buzzing breaker may be defective or loose. Try reseating the breaker in the panel. If that doesn't help, replace the breaker. If replacing the breaker doesn't help, your panel may be damaged. If the panel is damaged, call an electrician.
  3. greenbaypackersfan

    greenbaypackersfan New Member

    Messages:
    27
    Location:
    New Jersey
    Can you explain why it is a fire hazard if I have 18GA wire between the circuit breaker and doorbell transformer? I'm a bit confused when right after that sentence, you tell me to "Replace the 18GA wire with standard 14 gauge wire attachd to a 15A breaker." That's exactly what the situation is, it's a 16V doorbell transformer that's coming in, and has a 18Guauge wire screw capped with a 14 gauge wire, then the other end of the wire goes to the circuit breaker.

    The buzzing breaker went away when I disconnected the 14 gauge wire that came from the doorbell transformer. That buzzing wire currently has the bedroom closet wire connected and does not buzz. I am on my way to purchase a 15A breaker for the doorbell wire.... I'm merely asking if that is a safe thing to do.


    picture this please

    {}-------------(18 guage wire)------------------____________________(14 gauge wire)________________________{{{{{}}}}}}} <-- 15A breaker
    ^ transformer has 3 wires, 2 are attached normally as it should and the black wire goes to the 14 gauge wire


    is that an okay thing to do?
  4. greenbaypackersfan

    greenbaypackersfan New Member

    Messages:
    27
    Location:
    New Jersey
    also I realized the buzzing is coming from the transformer.....
  5. jadnashua

    jadnashua Retired Defense Industry Engineer xxx

    Messages:
    21,820
    Location:
    New England
    If the 14g wire went all the way to the breaker, it wouldn't be a problem. Because it doesn't, if there were an overload on that leg, the 18g wire might overheat before the CB tripped, acting like a fuse - the 14g wire is big enough to dissipate the heat caused by exceeding the power capability of the 18g wire and the CB.
  6. Furd

    Furd Engineer

    Messages:
    446
    Location:
    Wet side of Washington State
    I am assuming the doorbell transformer is physically attached to the circuit breaker panel. If that is correct then take the #18 wire from the transformer, the #14 wire from the closet and a short piece of #14 wire and wire nut them together. Connect the other end of the third piece of #14 wire to the circuit breaker.

    It is not necessary for the transformer to have its own circuit breaker.
  7. Alectrician

    Alectrician DIY Senior Member

    Messages:
    689
    Put your panel cover back on and leave it alone.

    Transformers buzz sometimes. If it bothers you, simply replacing it will probably do the trick.
  8. Lightwave

    Lightwave New Member

    Messages:
    98
    Location:
    Vancouver, BC
    This is very dangerous advice. 18ga wire cannot be connected to a 15A circuit. The 18ga wire should be replaced with 14ga.

    Greenbaypackersfan: call an electrician.
  9. Jim Port

    Jim Port Electrical Contractor

    Messages:
    156
    Location:
    Maryland
    The Op is probably talking about the 18 gauge leads that are installed at the factory. The transformer was UL listed with that size lead.
  10. greenbaypackersfan

    greenbaypackersfan New Member

    Messages:
    27
    Location:
    New Jersey
    yes thanks jadnashua
    Furd, thanks for the post. Yes, the #18g wire from the transformer is wire nut together with a #14g wire and the end of the #14 wire to the circuit breaker. Originally, it doesn't have it's own circuit breaker, it's put together with a 15A breaker with another 14g wire that leads to somewhere else. I read that having 2 wire or double tapping is a no~no even tho it's just for a doorbell. I wanted to be safe and went with a separate circuit breaker by itself.

    Lightwave, I'm not sure if you understand the diagram I've been trying to explain.

    the 18g wire isn't connected to a 15A circuit. The 18ga wire is replaced with a 14ga by tying with a 14g wire then ran to the 15A C. Breaker. The 18g wire is the factory wire that came with the transformer. I don't believe I can change it without taking apart the transformer inside. Jim Port is correct, the 18 gauge leads is installed at the factory. I just couldn't find a 5A C.Breaker, so the 15A CBreaker was replaced and a 14g wire was ran from the breaker and meet with 18g wire and nutted together.

    I know I'm repeating myself, but I wish you could picture what I'm saying (see diagram below, it's very simple)
    diagram below, I won't bother draw out the white and ground wires because they are connected in obvious places.

    (2 wires that goes to the door bell)
    -----------
    ----------- [transformer]------(factory 18g wire)-------------------(nut screw together)__________"14g"__________________{15A C.Braker}
    --------(factory ground)------------
    ---------(factory white wire)-------
  11. Furd

    Furd Engineer

    Messages:
    446
    Location:
    Wet side of Washington State
    double tapping

    The term "double tapping" refers to having two (or more) wires under a single terminal screw. It is perfectly acceptable to have more than one circuit supplied by a single circuit breaker as long as there is only one wire connected to the circuit breaker. (Note, some manufacturers do list their CBs for two wires but this is uncommon.) The approved method is just as I detailed and the short wire from the wire nut to the circuit breaker is known as a pigtail.

    The doorbell transformer, even when ringing the bell, has such a low current draw it makes no sense at all to give it a circuit all to itself, less than a half an ampere.

    Just make sure that you don't connect to the few circuits that are required for specific purposes such as the bathroom receptacle circuits or the two (minimum) "small appliance branch circuits" feeding receptacles for the kitchen counter and pantry and dining areas.
    Last edited: Apr 21, 2010
Similar Threads: very strange
Forum Title Date
Electrical Forum discussion & Blog everyone Dec 25, 2013
Electrical Forum discussion & Blog Circuit Breaker trips same time every day Aug 25, 2013
Electrical Forum discussion & Blog Fuses getting very hot in Fusebox Jan 23, 2013
Electrical Forum discussion & Blog VERY annoying electrical problem - cannot figure out - Pro advice needed Sep 3, 2010
Electrical Forum discussion & Blog Any reason not to ground every light switch Dec 28, 2009

Share This Page