weird wiring and wierd voltages on 3 dual switches...

Discussion in 'Electrical Forum discussion & Blog' started by meweber1000, Dec 17, 2012.

  1. kreemoweet

    kreemoweet New Member

    Messages:
    371
    Location:
    Seattle. WA
    Well, meweber1000, the problem is you keep making assertions about this strange wiring, but you never provide any convincing steps that
    you have taken to base those statements on. Unless we are mistaken in the belief that vertically adjacent breakers in that panel attach
    to opposite phases, the little diagram you posted is complete nonsense.
  2. big2bird

    big2bird IBEW Electrician

    Messages:
    141
    Location:
    Anaheim, Ca.
    You really have to get someone hands on with that mess, as nothing makes sense.
  3. meweber1000

    meweber1000 New Member

    Messages:
    16
    Location:
    Dallas
    JWelectric...ok I spent all this time making a pretty diagram and then I mislabelled it. I don't blame you for just wiping your hands of me. Sheez. It's actually 8 and 12 powering the first switches, and 10 and 14 powering the others. I'm so sorry, and no wonder you all think I'm an idiot. But really...two CBs are simultaneously powering each dual switch...even if I can't make a diagram without typos. I've lost all credibility.

    kreemoweet:
    The steps I took are:
    disconnect the line wires from the switch so that the switch doesn't confound things
    measure voltage on the line wire with the CB on
    flip CB
    measure voltage...and its now zero.

    It's very easy to tell if a line is powered by a CB if it is by itself. I agree that having 2 CBs simultaneously power the switch is very odd. The fact that TWO CBs have to be off to turn off lights is very odd! The fact that it's odd is why I'm posting here with the experts. If only I could make a pretty diagram without typos...
  4. Chad Schloss

    Chad Schloss Member

    Messages:
    329
    Location:
    USA
    " It's actually 8 and 12 powering the first switches, and 10 and 14 powering the others"

    Those are respectively on the same phase. They will not trip the breaker. you have two different breakers supplying one switch, which is a mess in itself. JW was trying to tell you that if it were 8 and 10 (one phase and then another phase) then it would not function because it would create a dead short between both phases. There is no need for the setup you have there and I would label it as dangerous to have two different breakers running the same switch. Hope you figure out that mess with an electrician. I'm just a homeowner with some wiring experience.
  5. meweber1000

    meweber1000 New Member

    Messages:
    16
    Location:
    Dallas
    Thank you, Chad. Yes, I will get an electrician. It seems very deliberate, so I would really like to know what types of applications might this make sense for and try to narrow it down some more before I bring them out here. With all the help everyone here has given me, it'll be a big help already. I'll also crawl around my ridiculously tight attic and see if I can see where the wires lead...one goes underground to those lights, so who knows how far I'll get. Thanks a million.
  6. big2bird

    big2bird IBEW Electrician

    Messages:
    141
    Location:
    Anaheim, Ca.
    I believe you, but that is the trouble with internet diagnosis. I thought they were the same phase. It explains alot. However, there is no logical reason for it. Perhaps the switches were replaced, and no one broke the straps(links).
    You still have a myriad of issues there, among them, multiple circuits in the same box without dividers or handle ties. It's not even close to legal. Liabilty wise, I have to advise you once again. Get a local sparkey out there. If you want to make it safe. Cap all the wires off with wirenuts while all power is off, tuck them in, and install a 3 gang blank cover. My last best advice.
  7. ActionDave

    ActionDave Electrician

    Messages:
    346
    Location:
    Colorado
    meweber1000, from the photo you posted I can tell you that the switches can feed two different loads from two different breakers.

    I can't tell if they are wired properly.

    I can tell you that a device like the switch you have, when fed from two different breakers should be on a breakers that have a common trip.

    The panel you have is obsolete and has a bad reputation. If you do a web search on FPE panels you will find no shortage of negative comments.
  8. hj

    hj Moderator & Master Plumber Staff Member

    Messages:
    26,647
    Location:
    Cave Creek, Arizona
    IF they are adjacent, the #8 and #10 should be on different legs which would create a 240v circuit and blow one or the other, and possibly the main breaker, if they were connected together. The same with #12 and #14. This is a valid assumption since your pool pump is 240v and it uses adjacent breakers. Something is erroneous in your diagnosis. You could safely connect #8 and #12. And #10 and #14.
    Last edited: Dec 19, 2012
  9. meweber1000

    meweber1000 New Member

    Messages:
    16
    Location:
    Dallas
    Thank you very much big2bird for all your help.
  10. jimbo

    jimbo Plumber

    Messages:
    8,997
    Location:
    San Diego
    I see a safety issue as you have it: the load on ONE switch could short, drawing well in excess of 20 amps and the NEITHER breaker might trip until he total current thru the switch and load wiring neared 40 amps
  11. meweber1000

    meweber1000 New Member

    Messages:
    16
    Location:
    Dallas
    Thank you hj. I embarassingly have typos in my very pretty diagram. It's actually 8 and 12 connected and 10 and 14 connected. Do you have any ideas on an application that might have required this? Security systems or cameras perhaps? I would just really like to know why they did this before I bring an electrician out here to make it safe.
  12. meweber1000

    meweber1000 New Member

    Messages:
    16
    Location:
    Dallas
    Jimbo, thanks. That was my first thought when I saw this. I'm going to get it cleaned up by an electrician, but I'm going to do some crawling around in very tight spaces first to try to find why the heck they did this in the first place.
  13. meweber1000

    meweber1000 New Member

    Messages:
    16
    Location:
    Dallas
    Thanks. We are aware of this. We probably should have bulldozed the house...it has a zillion things out of code.
  14. jwelectric

    jwelectric Electrical Contractor/Instructor

    Messages:
    2,534
    Location:
    North Carolina
    Save yourself some time and trouble because that question is simple to answer. They had no idea what they were doing. The sad part about this thread is that when someone else comes along that don’t know what is going on does not help matters one bit.

    The safe solution is very simple and that is to call someone with a lot of experience to investigate what is going on.
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