So what’s the deal with double tapped breakers? Are they really that bad as everyone has made them out to be? Can it cause your house to burn down? Well, although double tapped breakers are technically wrong and theoretically could burn your house down depending on the conditions, it is not likely. A double tapped breaker is a very common write-up in the inspection community, but it is also a very easy fix.
What is wrong with a double tapped breaker?
A double tapped breaker is basically two wires under one circuit breaker that is designed for one wire. You can see what this looks like in the picture above.
The issue with double tapping is you could technically have a loose connection or an overloaded breaker since the breaker is not designed for two wires. A loose connection can potentially spark or arc. Furthermore, an overloaded breaker could continuously trip or overheat.
So although it is very common and not super likely a house will burn down, it is wrong and it should be fixed.
By the way, the same above is true for triple tapped breakers where three wires connect to one circuit breaker.
How do you fix double tapped breakers?
There are many ways to fix a double tapped breaker. But let’s start with the easiest:
For this, all you need to do is pig-tail the two wires with a third (extra wire). Then, connect the opposite end of the third wire to the circuit breaker. Easy!
It should look like the image below, but with that third extra wire…
The Second Option is Using a Tandem Breaker
This is a Square D Tandem Breaker from Home Depot. Basically, this breaker has two connection points for two wires!
The Third Option is to Use A Breaker Designed for Two Wires
Square D is most notable for having a breaker designed for two conductors, but Cutler Hammer makes them too. This is what it looks like:
You can tell this breaker is designed for two conductors by the red circle on the image. This breaker has spots for two copper wires.
Fourth and Final Option is to Just Add Another Breaker
If all else fails, you can just add another breaker or another panel so everything fits properly, but this would be last resort.
Watch a video on how to fix double tapped breakers yourself from StructureTech
Have more questions? Comment below!
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