220 breakers on 120 circuits?

I need an opinion from an electrician. I inspected a condo today and it had several 120 volt circuits that were attached to breakers designed for 220 circuits. For instance, one 220 breaker had the dishwasher on one leg and the disposal on the other.

I have not encountered this before and wondered if the breaker will trip properly if there is a problem on one of the circuits but the other is Okay.

Rob are you sure those were on 240v breakers not on “mini twins” if you are correct then the use of a duel pole (tied handle) breaker would be wrong.



Sounds like a multiwire circuit. . .

Depends Gerry…could be a multiwire branch circuit with a dishwasher and disposal on a single duplex receptacle and the NEC would allow individual breakers with identified handle ties or a (2) pole breaker with common trip.

Really need more info to be sure what he is saying.


Around here, many electricians use a three wire with ground to power two separately protected circuits, via shared or common neutral. So, in these instances, the handles are tied also.

Yeah, you know guys when I’m wrong I’m wrong, it could be correct …

… but I bet it isn’t, pics would be real helpfull :wink:



Noo…Nooooo my friend…You are MOSTLY 100% right so chances are their is more to the eye then what is posted. It is easy for US to pick what if’s…but you could be so correct and just think if it was a multiwire circuit for a dishwasher and a disposal actually on a tandom breaker on a single 120V buss…then he might have some REAL problems…

Sometimes Electricians are only ONE minded ( i know I am sometimes )…HI’s think outside the box so keep it up brother…

Article 210.4(B) NEC. Where a multiwire branch circuit supplies more than one device or equipment (example: dishwasher/disposal) on the same yoke (duplex receptacale), a means shall be provided to disconnect simultaneously all ungrounded conductors (hot wires) supplying those devices or equipment at the point where the branch circuit originates(panel).
This protects anyone working on the circuit. If it was 2 single pole breakers ,the dishwasher circuit could be turned off, but the disposal on the same receptacle would still be energized which could cause injury to the worker.

I may not have described the breakers properly. The panel is a Square D panel and had several breakers that have a single handle (not the type that have two handles that are tied together). A few were 220 circuits (Water heater, A/C etc) but 3 or 4 were for normal household circuits (bedroom receptacles, dishwasher, disposal etc.) and had two different circuits connected to the same breaker. The ratings on the breakers were in line with the wire sizes attached. The question is, is this acceptable ans will the breakers used this way trip properly in the event of an overload on one of the circuits.

I am attaching a photo of the type of breaker that was used (this is a different panel but the same type breaker. I am not used to seeing 110 circuits connected to breakers that are usually installed on 220 circuits.

The breakers in question are the larger ones on the left in the photo.

Yes it will trip.

The code previously did not talk about disconnects for multi-wire ckts unless the two legs went to the same receptacle. You had to have the two breakers tied together or have a double pole breaker. Now, the 2008 code states that you need the origin breakers of the multi-wire ckt tied together(or two-pole) even if it’s not on the same receptacle.

Judging by the dust and debris on the breakers, the ckts were probably tied in before the 2008 code came into effect. At that time it wasn’t required to be on a two-pole breaker. Don’t know why the person did that, maybe lack of single-pole breakers at the time.

If the two-pole breaker has its conductors sharing a neutral, it’s fine. If they aren’t sharing neutrals…it’ll be fine, just an inconvenience if the breaker trips due to something in the bedroom and it takes out the fridge leg, also. Hope you follow.

Thanks for the information. As I mentioned, this is the first time I encountered this and at first couldn’t figure out why they had so many 220 circuits and so few 110 circuits. I then noticed the labeling of the panel door and opened the panel again for a second look. I knew that this would provide 110 if wired correctly but was not sure if the single trip would work this way.

Thanks again.

Providing that double breaker is rated correctly, probably should be 15A in this case?

John Kogel

If there is more than one receptacle on a 20 amp breaker, the receptacles may be rated at 15 amp or 20 amp.