Double Tapped Breakers: Why is it Bad & Simple Fix!

By April 13, 2020Electrical
Double Tapped Circuit Breakers

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?

Double Tapped Breaker

A double tapped breaker is basically two wires under one circuit breaker that is designed for one wire. You can see wha 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.

Triple Taps

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:

Pig-Tailing

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…

Pigtailing

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!

Square D Tandem Breaker from Home Depot
Square D Tandem Breaker from Home Depot

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:

Square D Breaker from Home Depot
From Home Depot

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!

You can also read more on electrical.

Aaron Shishilla

Author Aaron Shishilla

Aaron Shishilla is the youngest registered professional inspector in Florida. Coming from a family-owned home inspection company and now the marketing manager at Waypoint.

More posts by Aaron Shishilla

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