Refrigerator circuit breaker tied to circuit breaker for nearby kitchen outlets. Why?

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Robert Gift

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2020 LG refrigerator stopped cooling.
Before pulling out of its alcove to unplug it, turned off its dedicated 20-amp circuit breaker.
(After OFF a few hours, turned it back on. Nice try but still no cooling.)

Why is the refrigerator circuit breaker tied to the circuit breaker for 20-amp kitchen outlets?
Wanted to use another outlet for a light and vacuum cleaner to clean coil, whichad little dust accumulation.

Thank you.
 

wwhitney

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Without comment as to why the NEC so requires it, the refrigerator must either be (a) on one of the 20A circuits that are dedicated to kitchen counter receptacles and kitchen wall receptacles (called Small Appliance Branch Circuits, or SABCs) or (b) on an individual branch circuit (no other loads), in which case the circuits is allowed to be 15A.

So if your situation is (a) above, there are supposed to be at least two SABCs, meaning you could kill power to the refrigerator while still having power at at least some of the other kitchen receptacles.

Cheers, Wayne
 

wwhitney

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Why is the refrigerator circuit breaker tied to the circuit breaker for 20-amp kitchen outlets?
Wanted to use another outlet for a light and vacuum cleaner to clean coil, whichad little dust accumulation.
Ah, Reach4's understanding of what you mean is presumably correct, two separate breakers with a handle-tie.

Typically there are at least two separate 20A breakers for kitchen receptacles, so even with one breaker off at least some of the receptacles would have power. But since dining room and pantry receptacles are also required to be on an SABC, while not best practice, it would be permissible for all the receptacles in the kitchen proper to be on one 20A circuit, with the other circuit going just to the dining room or pantry.

Cheers, Wayne
 

Robert Gift

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Two breakers with the levers tied together? multi-wire branch circuit (MWBC). https://inspectapedia.com/electric/Circuit-Breaker-Handle-Ties.php

It's to protect the electrician.
Thank you, both.
Thought an electrician would know better. I would.

I know about electricity:
- Electricity runs down hill.
- Don't chew your nails.
- Payday is Friday


I removed the handle tie so that I could use thearby outlets and vacuum the refrigerator.
Refrigerator doors are open to air it out. Can'turn it off. Must be unplugged.
LG technician is due Monday morning.
My guess: Compressor failure even though I hear/feel it running.
Or loss of refrigerant but I cannot see anywhere it would escape. Inside coils look clean and intact..

Does R134a have an odor?
Before the refrigerator stopped cooling, we smelled something kind of spoiled buthought it was wife's food.
(Being Chinese, her native foodshould be kept in BIOHAZARD bags.)
 

Afjes

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...I removed the handle tie...

You just created a code violation if you removed the handle tie of a MWBC (m.ulti w.ire b.ranch c.ircuit).
If your circuit/s breakers are tied together and:
There is a red, black, neutral and ground wire on this one circuit you can not remove the tie handle as this is a code violation. <<--- this is if conductors are encased in one cable. If conduit is being used wire colors may be different but should still be set up the same way. You are in Denver and I don't know if conduit is required even in residential homes. Some areas of the country do require conduit.

You are in Colorado/USA and usually a MWBC is not required for the counter tops receptacle of a kitchen as I believe they still are in Canada by code, you can not remove the tie to the two breakers. Utilizing a MWBC to meet code in a kitchen for two 20amp SABCs will still meet code, however is not used that often but is still safe. Again, most areas of the US do not require conduit but some do. If conduit is required even for residential you AHJ (Authority Having Jurisdictgion) will be able to tell you.

If it is a MWBC with two separate single pole breakers the tie handle must remain in place so if one leg of the circuit trips the other legs also trips thus the reason for the tie handle. A two pole breaker may also be used.

Please do some research on a MWBC ---> https://twielectric.com/national-electrical-code-multiwire-branch-circuit/
You can't remove the tie handle for convenience. There are safety factors to be considered.
 
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wwhitney

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If it is a MWBC with two separate single pole breakers the tie handle must remain in place so if one leg of the circuit trips the other legs also trips thus the reason for the tie handle.
This is not correct. A handle tie imposes "common disconnect", meaning if you manually turn off one breaker, both turn off. It does not impose "common trip," meaning that both breakers would trip whenever one breaker trips. But common trip is not required for MWBCs that serve only 120V loads.

The reason for the common disconnect requirement is that with an MWBC, if you shut off just one breaker, the common neutral conductor may still be carrying current from the other breaker. As such, it is a shock hazard for anyone working on the circuit. The common disconnect requirement ensures that anyone working on the circuit is not exposed to that hazard.

For the situation in the OP, where the issue is using the other circuit while the refrigerator is off (since apparently the refrigerator plug is not accessible), there is no immediate safety issue with temporarily removing the handle tie. However, it is important to replace the handle tie when the current situation is resolved, or before doing any work on the circuit conductors.

Cheers, Wayne
 

WorthFlorida

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The reason for the common disconnect requirement is that with an MWBC, if you shut off just one breaker, the common neutral conductor may still be carrying current from the other breaker. As such, it is a shock hazard for anyone working on the circuit. The common disconnect requirement ensures that anyone working on the circuit is not exposed to that hazard.
Cheers, Wayne
Happen to me at my parents condo in Maui. I was changing out all switches and outlets. 40 years next to the salt air, all were worn out and signs of corrosion. I turned off one breaker and was getting a tickle on the neutral. Condo built around 1977 with conduit. No common trip lever. It took me awhile to figure it out.
 
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Afjes

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This is not correct. A handle tie imposes "common disconnect", meaning if you manually turn off one breaker, both turn off. It does not impose "common trip," meaning that both breakers would trip whenever one breaker trips. But common trip is not required for MWBCs that serve only 120V loads...


Cheers, Wayne

WorthFlorida

Yes, both of you are correct technically.

I emphasized the tie bar trip only for the DIYer (OP) as a safety hazard overall. My concern was that many DIYers (home owners) will do something on a temporary basis to bypass an issue and then not correct the issue and leave the temporary fix in place which may create a hazard in the future. The tie bar ensures that if two single pole breakers are used the DIYer (home owner) will not separate the MWBC and end up placing the two single pole breakers on the same leg elsewhere on the panel which may end up overloading the neutral. Tie bar - over/under - different legs.

I don't like encouraging the DIYer to do temporary fixes instead of correcting the issue.
 

Robert Gift

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Thank you, all.
Because I do not know any better, was planning to puthe tie back in place after the refrigerator is repaired.
The 20-amp circuits are plastic-jacketed 12-AWG 2-conductor with ground. Nothing in conduit.
Built in 2000, I have no idea how the kitchen is wired. Would the building department have that information?
(East island outlets and some wall outlets are on another 20-amp breaker, I believe.)

Displeased that if the island circuit breaker is tripped, it turns off the so-called "dedicated" refrigerator circuit and we may notice thathe refrigerator is off.
Do not want food spoiled because a something not related to the refrigerator.
Wife wants the island circuits working for her rice cooker and other plug-in cookers.
Soon to pull the refrigerator out for the repair person this morning.
 
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Robert Gift

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UPDATE: After repair, I replaced the metal tie pin connecting the refrigerator and island 20-amp circuit breakers.

LG repairman replaced the compressor, theat exchanging coil (because debris from the compressor would collect in that coil), and the cooling coil inside the refrigerator (he suspects that is where the leak has occurred) ALL FREE OF CHARGE!
First he pumped (evacuated?) refrigerant into a large double-layered plastic bag.

Now, as a courtesy, he a trying to gethe ice maker to work. Not covered by warranty.
We had replaced ours with one bought on line. On line unit makes same loud banging sound as original.
His new LG ice maker makes the same banging sound!
I suspect it is a problem in the "computer" section on the back wall of the refrigerator.
(He has offered no explanation.)
 

Jeff H Young

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Thats nice its a lot more interesting than the problem with the fridge. wait a minute wasent all the free work a courtesy and now the ice maker more courtesy ? He might ask for a date soon LOL
 

Robert Gift

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Thats nice its a lot more interesting than the problem with the fridge. wait a minute wasent all the free work a courtesy and now the ice maker more courtesy ? He might ask for a date soon LOL
The refrigeration system apparently is under warranty. A problem withis model?
He appreciated my pulling the 36" refrigerator out of its tight alcove and cleaning everything well and removing the shelveso that he could access the inside coil and fan.

Maybe he knows thathese ice makers also have a problem. Less than a year old when it started malfunctioning.
(Shallook for a wedding band.) Wife and I do not wear any.
 
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