Double-tapped breakers are fairly common but can be dangerous when left unchecked. Here's what you need to know about the defect — including how to fix it.
What Are Double-Tapped Breakers
A double-tapped breaker occurs when two wires, or conductors, are connected to a single circuit breaker terminal. While both conductors may appear to "fit," most breakers are not meant to support multiple connections.
Even a connection that seems to work as intended can loosen over time, leading to even greater issues that may present safety risks. It's essential to fix a double-tapped breaker before it has the chance to cause significant damage to your home.
Identifying A Double Tapped Breaker
The first step in fixing a double-tapped breaker is to identify the condition. In most cases, you can recognize the defect simply by looking at your circuit breaker. If you notice two conductors connected to a single breaker, there's a good chance it's double-tapped.
Some homes use circuit breakers specifically designed to accept multiple conductors. However, these systems typically come with a label that explicitly states this. If you aren't sure if your breaker is double-tapped or not, it's best to reach out to a professional for guidance.
Are Double-Tapped Breakers Dangerous
Double-tapped breakers can work normally for some time before causing any issues. However, over time, the defect could lead to some serious safety hazards.
If the conductors loosen, they could cause faulty connections. This increases the risk of several dangerous effects, including overheating, arcing, and electrical fires, all of which can be dangerous to your home and family.
While these dangers may not be immediate, they are preventable. If your home has double-tapped breakers, it's a good idea to fix them as soon as possible.
How To Fix A Double-Tapped Breaker
There are several ways to fix a double-tapped breaker. One is to replace your current breaker with one that accepts dual connections. However, not all panels can support these types of breakers, so you'll likely need an electrician's guidance before making the switch.
Another option is an additional circuit breaker. This can be a quick fix that allows you to break up the defective breaker into two separate connections. Before doing this, make sure your panel has enough room and capacity for another breaker.
Similarly, you could add a tandem breaker to your panel. Like double-circuit breakers, it's important to make sure your equipment can support this kind of breaker before the installation.
Turn To The Professionals At Fischer Electric
For homeowners in the Seattle area, there's no better partner for your electrical needs than Fischer Electric. With over four decades of experience, the Fischer Electric team is committed to helping the community keep their homes running safely and smoothly.