2 wire sub-panel corrective action


Hooboy. This may be prohibitive to bring to full code, so let me discuss some options to get the most safety increase for the least buck.

Romex NM-B is not legal for direct-burial or for running in conduit. But what really has me spooked is bootlegging a neutral off that ground wire. If anything breaks in that ground wire, it will energize every ground in your electrical system at 120VAC - touching a conduit, the panel, light switch screws, all the things that are supposed to be safe will be dangerous! Far away from the house you could be dead before they find you! Do not leave this situation to fester merely because bringing it all the way to current code would be hard: Don't let "perfect" be the enemy of the "good". Every option here restores the proper function of the safety ground and separates neutral from it.

Ed Beal discusses an issue with the ground rod.

I am willing to assume some defects may be grandfathered or permitted via local exemption.

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If you're in the US, this is NOT correct.

Enclosure not bonded

The bonding strap on the right side of the panel (when looking at the panel), should be moved to the left side. It should be connected to the enclosure using the green screw, and the tab should be connected to one of the grounding bar's terminals.

Double tapped neutral bar

On the neutral bar, only a single conductor can terminate per screw terminal. You've got two wires per terminal, which is not allowed.

Neutral and grounding conductors not separated

In a secondary panel, the grounding conductors and "neutral" conductors must be kept separate.

You should move the grounding conductors, and terminate them at the grounding bar instead.

Neutral and grounding bars not separated

You should also remove the bonding conductor that is connecting the grounding and neutral bars together. (Thanks @ArchonOSX).


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I know that this question has been asked and answered before however I have a possibly unique twist.

The old question: Does a sub-panel require that the ground and common wires be on separate bars?

The old answer: Yes.

So, looking at the 2 images below, the sub-panel in the second image would need to be corrected because as it is it is potentially dangerous. Correct?

Image 1 is the main panel where you can see common and ground separated. There is a 60 AMP breaker that feeds off to the sub-panel. Image 2 is the sub-panel where the ground and common share the same bar.
Question 1 To correct this, I would need to buy and mount another bar to the panel on the left side of the box directly to the metal without any plastic spacer to complete the ground and run a ground wire from the main panel ground to it that is the same gauge as the line/common wires coming from the panel? And then reroute all of the ground wires to it?

Now the twist...please...

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Since you have a 2" PVC (assuming schedule 80) conduit here, providing 742 mm2 of room for wire fill, and your 3 2AWG wires (assuming THHN/THWN or XHHW here) only take up 66*3 = 198 mm2 of that space, you have plenty of room to stuff a bare wire down the conduit to bond the subpanel and main panel grounding bars together. A 6AWG bare copper wire will do the job, and should be fishable through the conduit with the power to the main panel turned off. Connect it to the ground bar in the main and sub panels, turn the main panel back on, and you're in business. (Of course, if you don't want to play "fishtape wrestler" for a day, you can pay the nearest friendly electrician for that service instead.)

P.S. no, you do not need to remove the ground rod once you install the bonding wire between the two buildings -- in fact, current Code requires outbuildings to have their own earth ground, in addition to the bond back to the main panel's ground. (This is done to keep all the wires to...

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Thanks Ron.

More photos below.

The Gould/ITE EQ-P breakers have no information on them as to multiple wires being ok.

The screws on the 40A range breaker were not tightened enough. Got that corrected.

Spent most of the last 3 hours trying to make a sheet properly listing the circuits. Turning breakers off and on and going around the house with my testers.

Got most of it figured out save for the one tandem on the left. The lower circuit on it is a mystery at this point. I am just leaving it switched off for now.

The GFCI breaker on the top left doesn't test correctly. Pushing the test button when the circuit is live does nothing. It's for the master bath receptacle by the sink.

I had called the electric company to mention that the transformer on the ground behind my bushes is sinking into the ground, sort of like quicksand. They sent a guy out with a bucket truck. I talked to him for a bit. He said it was ok. Probably been like that...

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Home Inspection Education Curriculum - Electrical

3.0 ELECTRICAL System Inspection Requirements & Defects...

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Concurring mostly with Some Guy's answer here -- the reason why I take an aggressive tone in my other answers regarding FPE is because many of the OPs are coming to us because they want to do something to the breaker box, such as adding a new circuit or replacing a breaker that "died".

Trouble Brews in the Panel

I will start by linking my main source here, the latest revision of J. Aronstein's paper on the topic. In short, there are three main problems with the FPE Stab-Lok system:

Stab-Lok breakers made prior to 1982, and possibly some substitute types, are often miscalibrated (high). The FPE Stab-Lok common trip mechanism is a common no-trip mechanism that can jam the breaker closed if only one pole trips -- this also renders Stab-Lok GFCIs highly failure-prone. Some Stab-Lok busbars use an undersized screw and post to connect the clip to the actual busbar, leading to overheating of the busbar system with its attendant fire dangers. Stab-Lok breakers have...
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