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slave driver
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82 Posts
Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Only been in our apartment for less than a year, decided to remove the electric baseboard heat to repaint them with high temp paint.
Turn off 20 amp breaker at panel that is marked for heat at that location and find out that not only the heat but ceiling fan and light are now off, all wall outlets in same room now off.
How is this possible? How can the 240 volt heaters and the 110 volt outlet and light circuit be powered by one 20 amp breaker? I'm no electrician but common sense tells me this is wrong and unsafe. Man, I'm worried that what else electrically could be screwed up in here, I've fought fires that were caused by bad/faulty wiring, scares the Hell out of me. What kind of jack leg would wire something like this? MAGNETTICA or any other sparkies I trust your guidance here,should I turn off the main and rent a motel for a week or so?
 

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Fentoozler
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5,623 Posts
It is possible wires were doubled up on that 20A 2P CB.
2 wires for the heat
Another (with neutral) for the lights and recepts.
 

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Registered
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910 Posts
don't worry it's the carbon monoxide that'll kill you, not the wiring. Take a Tylenol PM, get some sleep and put the heater covers back on in the morning.
 

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slave driver
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82 Posts
Discussion Starter · #4 ·
Celtic,this electric stuff is Greek to me,my gut feeling is this is not safe,how can all the fixtures that draw current,not cause a problem with the electric heat when it's turned on?,wouldn't the electric base board heat require the full 20 amps from the breaker? Like I said,I just don't understand, maybe it's safe,maybe not,i'm just nervous as i don't know electric:sad:
 

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Fentoozler
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5,623 Posts
Celtic,this electric stuff is Greek to me,my gut feeling is this is not safe,how can all the fixtures that draw current,not cause a problem with the electric heat when it's turned on?,wouldn't the electric base board heat require the full 20 amps from the breaker? Like I said,I just don't understand, maybe it's safe,maybe not,i'm just nervous as i don't know electric:sad:
I understand Glassman....settle down...I'll hold your hand :thumbsup:

The 240v heat is on a 2-pole breaker, correct?
Probably something like this:


"Normally".....two wires would be connected [to get the 240v for the heat].



"Someone" may have added another circuit by simple putting one wire on that CB. [giving the lights and outlets 120v].

Would it trip?
Maybe...maybe not.
The 20A CB is capable of delivering 2400 watts [20A x 120v].
Typically, an electric heater will be rated between 500 and 2000 watts.
Using max values:
2400 - 2000 = 200 watts


A couple of 60 watt light bulbs [60x2] 120watts
200 - 120 = 60 watts

So what is plugged in?
A clock radio..a lamp with one 60w bulb..nothing?
Is everything turned on at the same time?


Any clearer?


The scenario above is "best case" in a bad situation.
 

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I own stock in FotoMat!
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12,611 Posts
Only been in our apartment for less than a year, decided to remove the electric baseboard heat to repaint them with high temp paint.............
OK, but is this all hunkey-dorey with the landlord?
 

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Head Grunt
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3,270 Posts
Sounds as though someone was too lazy to run a homerun to the panel and tapped into the nearest circuit possible. Is it unsafe??? Thats questionable. Does this sort of thing happen on a daily basis, it seems to. I myself wouldnt wire it that way nor leave it that way. Its always been my opinion that a two pole breaker may not trip as easily as a single pole when overloaded. But as the others have pointed out you dont have enough load on it to trip anyway and if you hadnt stumbled upon this it would have operated for many years or decades with no issues and could still be considered safe. If your landlord choses to have it rewired properly then great, if he doesnt i wouldnt lose sleep over it.
 

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Super Moderator
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11,936 Posts
Celtic & Woodchuck are right.
Some hack, homeowner, fake electrician, or other doofus scabbed on to a 120 branch circuit for their own project and that is common to find. As long as everything is working, don't lose any sleep over it. Circuit breakers are there for a reason. If they have overloaded a branch circuit, it will continually open (trip). In this case, hire your own LICENSED electrician to troubleshoot the problem and hand the bill to the landlord. If he gives you problems, call your local building department for direction. The only concern would be an oveloaded neutral (several phases sharing a a neutral is OK) which would probably burn up and cause outages in other areas. If this were the case, again, call a licensed electrician to trace the wiring.
 

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Fentoozler
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5,623 Posts
... hire your own LICENSED electrician to troubleshoot the problem and hand the bill to the landlord. If he gives you problems, call your local building department for direction.

Would anyone in their right mind enter into a contract with a tenant ?
 

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I own stock in FotoMat!
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Valid thought, the tenant would need to pay the electrician directly.
A tenant does not have the legal ability to enter into a contract to do work on the property. Only the owner can do that.
 
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Super Moderator
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Hey Sparky,
You and I know that, but in the interest of safety let's just "assume" that there was an electrician that could verify, troubleshoot, offer a solution to the problem. I have actually done this with the scenario of possibly not being paid as a possibility. In one instance, the landlord had me straighten out out all the "shared" services and ended up saving more than he spent on me. (I was willing to chalk this off to a hands-on estimate)
I am definitely on the same page as you and you obviously have your legal agenda in perfect order. (Me too) However, sometimes you have to do some "potential pro-bono" work to stay busy.
Tenancy is a dicey subject at best, but since there are so many negligent landlords out there, the tenants need some avenue of recourse. I try to help when I am available.
I must reemphasize that you are absolutely right, but as long as you just troubleshoot and evaluate the issue, you are not interfering with the landlord's rights. If the tenant agrees to pay up-front for this service, then there is nothing wrong.
 

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slave driver
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82 Posts
Discussion Starter · #15 ·
Thanks for the info guys, my land lord is really a great person,has never questioned anything from me no matter how small, he agreed that an electrician should/will be called and he will have him check everything.
This building is new for him, he purchased it for investment only.
Every service company(electrician,heating,plumbing,roofing,etc) has been a reputable and local company, i know a few of them from previous commercial jobs in my area.
As he is a snow bird and is now in Florida , he has given me the position of tenant,property manager for this building, I can't beat the rent. He has expressed many times that I can handle the small maintenance items,but he wants any plumbing,heating,electric,roofing,etc. handled by licensed pros, I agree 100%:thumbsup: I just have to pick up the phone and make the calls.
A little back ground info, I fell into this place to rent as he had a local glass contractor really give him bad service on his daughter's Insurance company building. Make a long story short,I would drive by his daughters building commuting everyday home from work and being in the glass business noticed the boarded up window for over 6 months, stopped in to see what was up(being nosy) and after hearing the horror story of no show,price gouging,bad install,etc. I offered my services. fixed problem in two days,she's happy,her dad was happy,wanted to meet me,conversation led to my long commute,he offered me this apartment. The trust between us is incredible,due to me giving his daughter a fair price, and fixing the problem. All this done on the up and up by my company.
Again thanks to all who responded,tomorrow I will call a reputable electricain from my list of prefered contacts. You pros are the best:clap:
 

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slave driver
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82 Posts
Discussion Starter · #16 ·
Sorry for the long winded post,just to put some of you at ease, I have ability to write checks for payment from the maintenance fund and petty cash as needed, I for one fully believe that full payment should be paid upon receipt of invoice and would not ever do anything to hurt my land lords or my good name. Again a big thanks to Celtic for holding my hand:thumbsup: 480sparky,rselectric1,txelectrician,woodchuck2 and davitk for the co2 chuckle. May your companies always prosper:clap:
 

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Super Moderator
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11,936 Posts
Glad we could help. You obviously have a good landlord. Disregard what us pro's were infighting about. Sparky was legally 100% right about landlord law, but alot of them just want their problems to go away. Sometimes you have to bend the law to get things done when you have a cooperative landlord.
Sparky was responding as a truly reputable contractor would, in addressing the legal issues involved in tenancy work. The fact that any of us are even on this website proves that we are truly interested in our work and are seeking solutions and doing our part to restore the poor image that building contractors have earned over the years.
Good luck, and if your electrician is licensed and of good character, he will find the issue and make appropriate reccomendations to your landlord.
 
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