Double Tap

Inspected a 12 year old house today with 100 AMP service. The only problem I saw was the door bell relay was double taped to one of the low load circuits. Not a square D panel. I told the client that it is common but did not say it was right. Also told the client that the panel was at full capacity and that if he wanted to expand the circuits he would have to have a qualified insured electrician upgrade the service. Documented it on my report.
Comments please…

All 100 amp services should be called out as undersized or obsolete. 12 years old, that’s a poor design. Even with all gas appliances a 100 amp panel isn’t adequate for modern usage patterns. We’ve got a lot more gadgets and big tv’s and… than they did in the old days.

90 amp was approved for a 1994 3 bedroom 1800 SF townhome with gas stove, gas heat and electric dryer in Charlotte NC.

Does the code differ for a house vs townhome?

I don’t think you can call out 100 amp service as undersized unless it is. Recommending an upgrade would be more appropriate. A 100 amp service is functioning as intended if the circuits are not overloaded.

That’s a pretty strong statement. Do you have any data to back that up?

I see new builds with 90 and/or 100 amp service on a fairly regular basis.

A double tap is a double tap James. Call it out as in need of repair.

i too have seen many doorbell relays double tapped off of a breaker (usualy the bottom one and the relay is screwed to the bottom of the box). so how 'bout the double tap? i know it’s only converted 24vdc (usualy) but still a double tap. right. if it’s not designed for it, i call it out. what say ye?

Why the “insured”?

Here an electrician is required to be licensed. I suspect that the licensing procedure has various requirements associated with it, but I wouldn’t dream of trying to determine the business practices of the electrician.

We home inspectors regularly complain when someone demands to see our various insurance certificates (E&O, GL, bonding, etc.), so why we would then turn around and do the exact same thing to someone else in their chosen profession?

Well all the local builders here (which includes many national builders), San Diego Gas & Electric, and the various insurance companies insuring our San Diego homes would certainly disagree with you on that one, as do I. 100A is the minimum that I recommend though, the minimum that the various jurisdictions accept on new construction, and the minimum that the various insurance companies want in order to provide insurance at a reasonable premium.

Double tap door bells are permitted I believe at least in my neck of the woods. Upgrade 100 amp service? Who says? The minimum these days is 100 amp for upto I believe 2500 sq. foot home. The next upgrade would be 200 amp.

As to no more room for additional breakers a sub panel could be installed and would work just as well.

I do note if there are available expansion slots simply because it costs a couple hundred bucks to install a new circuit. It would cost significantly more here to install a subpanel (Can I say subpanel? Oh, yeah. Jerry Peck left our membership a couple of years ago–that was close).

The only typical 100 Amp service panel that needs to be upgraded, is the panel that contains multiple double taps or Aluminum branch wiring.

"Originally Posted by jclark1
All 100 amp services should be called out as undersized or obsolete. 12 years old, that’s a poor design. Even with all gas appliances a 100 amp panel isn’t adequate for modern usage patterns.
Wow…you must never get into some of the lower income and rental areas. I’ve done some upgrades on places so tiny it was hard to find a piece of wall big enough for the 100 amp panel! I recently did upgrades to a bunch of rental cottages that had only two ckts each!

In my area I see double taps like that often, including new construction. Electricians and municipal inspectors here install and approve this, so here’s the question. If I call out a doorbell double tap and my clients call an electrician to repair or called the city inspector, my clients will most likely be told that I’m crazy and the doorbell double tap is an acceptable practice.

I’m not arguing the the double tap rule, I’m just commenting on what we are up against when we call items out that “the experts” find acceptable. If the experts all agree on this installation and I’m on the other side (not being an expert or a licensed electrician) I’m the one who loses credibility with my clients.

Simply stick with the facts.

110.3 Examination, Identification, Installation, and Use of Equipment.

(B) Installation and Use. Listed or labeled equipment shall be installed and used in accordance with any instructions included in the listing or labeling.

Give your client the information and let them decide on their own. . .

This has helped me educate them too:

110.14(A)…“Terminals for more than one conductor and terminals used to connect aluminum shall be so identified.”

There I go again thinking like a Northwest electrician again. I guess as a home inspector I would reserve my comments about obsolete for 60 amp services only. However, up here we have historically had low electric rates because of all the hydro-electric power generation up here, so there are pronablya lot more electric appliances up here.
I would never install a 100 amp service anywhere today. The cost difference is so minimal it doesn’t make sense, and nowadays with hot tubs, whirlpool baths, air conditioning and all the other household equipment and gadgets that have become the norm, it doesn’t make sense. Up here even when homes do have some gas appliances they also (many times) have electric dryers,ranges, etc. or the wiring for them.

All the electrician needs to do to be compliant is pigtail the connection and splice the doorbell xformer in under a wirenut.
More important, where was the transformer? (the 10/16v terminals)
That needs to be outside the panel.

There ya go! There seems to be this misconception by many that double-tapped breakers are not allowed (unless listed) because it somehow automatically leads to overloaded circuits. It’s the quality of the connection that’s the issue when you stick 2 current carrying conductors in a terminal designed to securely hold one. Adding a very low amperage doorbell transformer is very unlikely to overload any circuit or panel, but the double-tap at the breaker could result in a loose connection and arcing for the original circuit. Someone earlier stated that he believed double taps were permitted in his area for doorbells. I doubt that very much.

As Greg stated…it’s a simple fix, but one that needs to be done.

Lookie See…if its NEW it has to have a minimum 100A service…we all know this…old stuff could have anything but we simply can’t tell them client the 100A service is obsolete…Now…if the panel is double tapped, crammed with wires and simply LOOKS over crowded then make that statement…

But again…I see ALOT of home perfectly sized for a 100A panel…not that I would do one today as it seems like I all am getting are freakin 400A babies…really depends on the house…

I would not want to look the SELLERS AGENT in the eye and tell them why I called out a 100A panel on a house with Gas Heat, Gas Range and heaven forbid a Gas Dryer…100A is enough for a house like that.

The real issue is…on the older homes with only a 100A service or less you usually only have 1-2 receptacles per room anyway…and they CRAM the extention cords in them and so on…LET this be your guide to telling them they should have an upgrade…BUT not at the panel as much as in the house wiring in general…

Ok…In the end the CLIENT has to choose if the 100A is enough for them…because a HI is not going to do the calc. requirements…their is more than enough stuff usually to refer to an Electrician…and PS…we are all insured if TRULY licensed…most states requirement…except West Virginia…ok…sorry had to put that one since I know Gerry lives in West Virginia…no wait…thats Florida…oh dear…Same thing…:slight_smile: