Grounded conductors

I have always checked all of the branch circuit terminations in panelboards, to be sure that only one grounded (neutral) branch circuit conductor was terminated under each terminal screw.

Out of curiosity how do you write it up when you find more than one under a screw?

[size=3]The reason I ask this question is because as an electrician when I am called in to evaluate the write up if the panel was installed before the adoption of the 2002 code cycle I write in my report:
This installation is in compliance with all codes at the time of installation. I recommend that the problem be addressed as a safety issue for future maintenance of circuits but it poses no hazard as installed.


Could you explain, Mike, what you recommend and how it should be addressed?..pretend I’m the homeowner that called you after the home inspector did “the write up”.


So if a house built before 2002 is noted to have doubled neutrals it’s a safety hazzard and poses no threat but if it was built after 2002 then violates the code and needs to be repaired? Not sure I agree based solely on the year the home was built. If the NEC adopted the rule then I would think there is evidence behind it why it was changed. Personally, if I see doubled neutrals, I write them up.

Upon arriving at the house I always introduce myself and give my credentials. Then I get a background on the house such as when it was built and any known upgrades and additions to the system.

If the electrical system was installed prior to the adoption of the 2002 code cycle I will check for any loose connections on the terminal bar and if none are present I then make the following statement on letter head.

I also point out that the agreed fee was for an evaluation only and any other work that I do will be at a charge plus cost of material.
If this panel has limited space for the termination of conductors on the supplied ground bars as allowed by UL Standard 67, the price of having the doubled neutrals move to single terminations can and has ran into several hundred dollars. Each ground bar is different for different panels so to stock one of each panel would not be an option.

I leave the finial discussion to the person that called me to do the evaluation of the electrical service. Unless there are loose connections and signs of arching I seldom do any changing.

In the short time that I have been a member of this forum I can recall several times that someone has posted a remark about an electrician saying that the doubled neutrals was alright and no problem after being called out by the Home Inspector. There is a reason why so many electricians make this statement as I have pointed out above.

We need to remember that the only danger in the doubled neutrals occurs in the event that one of them is being removed for some type of maintenance to the panel or the circuit being worked on. When one of the circuits is being removed this causes an unwanted effect on the other circuits that are landed with the one being removed.

The doubling of neutrals is in no way a fire hazard as I have read on some reports. This has never been substantiated by any origination that I have read. The only substantiation given during the NEC proposal process was the undesired effect of removing one of the conductors during maintenance of the panel or circuits involved.

And I am not saying not too. What I am trying to point out is that there isn’t the danger that has been so widely spread around about them. As was stated in the proposal for a NEC change the only danger is the unwanted effect when removing one circuit while the others are energized.

The short version:

Safety Issue
Double lugged neutral conductors should be isolated to one conductor per lug.
Individual lugs should have no more than two Neutral Conductors of equal size. Recommend repair by a qualified electrician.

Please feel free to critique … I’m always willing to learn.

Below is the proposal that brought forth the change in the 2002 cycle of the NEC. I have put in bold the only danger that Jim Pauley noted in his proposal.

Notice that he said nothing about neutrals that were burned or the danger of a house being burned down not any of that other melodramatic hog-wash that has been floating around the websit.

9- 113 - (384-21 (New) ): Accept
SUBMITTER: James T. Pauley, Square D Co.
RECOMMENDATION: Add a new 384-21 to read as follows:
384-21. Grounded Conductor Terminations. Each grounded conductor shall terminate within the panelboard in an individual terminal that is not also used for another conductor.
Exception: Grounded conductors of circuits with parallel parallel shall be permitted to terminate in a single terminal if the terminal is identified for connection of more than one conductor.
SUBSTANTIATION: This revision is needed to coordinate the installation requirements with a long standing product standard requirement. Clause 12.3.10 of UL 67 (Panelboards) states “An individual terminal shall be provided for the connection of each branch-circuit neutral conductor.” The requirement has been enforced in the past by a close review of the manufacturers markings and by NEC 110-3(b). However, since it is a rule that specifically effects how the installer can make connections, it is important that it be in the NEC.
Even with the manufacturers markings, inspectors still indicate that they see a number of panelboards installed with two (or more) branch circuit neutrals under one terminal or they see an equipment grounding conductor and neutral under the same terminal.

There is very good rationale for the requirement in the product standards. Doubling up on the neutrals creates a significant problem when the circuit needs to be isolated. In order to isolate the circuit, the branch breaker is turned off and the neutral is disconnected by removing it from the terminal. If the terminal is shared with another circuit, the connection on the other (still energized) circuit will be loosened as well. This can wreak havoc, particularly if the neutral is part of a 120/240V multi-wire branch circuit. Also, the neutral assemblies are not evaluated with doubled-up neutrals in the terminals.

The connection of a neutral and equipment grounding conductor creates a similar issue. One of the objectives of the particular arrangement of bonding jumpers, neutrals and equipment grounds is to allow circuit isolation while keeping the equipment grounding conductor still connected to the grounding electrode (see UL 896A - Reference standard for Service Equipment). When the neutral is disconnected, the objective is to still have the equipment ground solidly connected to the grounding electrode. If both the neutral and grounded conductor are under the same terminal, this cannot be accomplished.
This addition to the NEC does not change any product or permitted wiring arrangement from what it is today. It will however, it will help installers to avoid wiring the panel in violation of 110-3(b) and then have to contend with a red-tag from the inspector.
The code language is proposed in a fashion to allow consistent enforcement of the provision the AHJ. Although the UL wording is adequate for the product standard, it is important that the NEC language is as clear an unambiguous as possible. This is the reason for specifically noting that the terminal cannot be used for another conductor. Furthermore, the code requirement has been worded to make sure that both branch circuit and feeder neutrals are covered since it is not uncommon to have feeder breakers as well as branch breakers in the panelboard (the issue for the neutral is the same regardless of branch or feeder). Also, the term “grounded conductor” is used to be consistent with the code terminology and to recognize that not all grounded conductors are neutrals.
An exception has been proposed to avoid any confusion relative to parallel circuit arrangements. In these instances, multiple neutrals could be in a single terminal if the terminal has been identified as acceptable for multiple conductors.
In the proposed exception, change the second instance of the word “parallel” to “conductors”.
PANEL STATEMENT: The correction of the typographical error meets the intent of the submitter.

Edited to add;

A reading of this likk will help to have a better understanding of just what a “neutral conductor” is all about. It is easy to see that all white conductors connect to a ground bar are not neutrals.

I have a panelboard installed in my home that was installed in 1980 with information on the cabinet front that says that only: “one neutral wire grounded conductor is permitted to be secured to each neutral lug.”

I have also discovered a “FORMAL INTERPRETATION” from around 1942 that covers this subject in part, and will continue my research into UL 67 for the first date of the requirement.

Using this thread to solicit business is a tacky approach to something that is a real problem. You are not in the majority, and before its all over will have to concede to defeat.

You put in your report that the installation is within code??

I write in my report:
This installation is in compliance with all codes at the time of installation. I recommend that the problem be addressed as a safety issue for future maintenance of circuits but it poses no hazard as installed.

Just wondering…:open_mouth:

Code compliance home inspections?

Joe is it the same information that you already posted from the panel in your home?

If you had a “FORMAL INTERPRETATION” you would have already posted it so why not post it now. Even the NEC itself makes the statement in two different places that UL Standards are for informational purposes only and are not part of the installation requirements.
See the brown that you posted and also look at the red here.

Even you are posting that the standards outlined in the NEC does not form a mandatory part of the requirements of this Code but is intended only to provide Code users with informational guidance about the product characteristics about which Code requirements have been based.

Joe that is just not a true statement at all. I have never done any work for anyone in this forum or for a client of theirs. I do not use this forum to advertise the dates that I do seminars or even dates that the NC IAEI has them for which I am an instructor.
As to the “real problem” that you seem to think this is, the only proposal ever submitted to NFPA concerning this is the one that Jim submitted in 1999. The only problem he stated is outlined in his proposal above. He did not make any mention of wires being burned or any mention to houses being burned down or even one mention of people being electrocuted.
The only problem that he mentioned was the undesired affects that occurred when removing one of the conductors.

Well my friend you may think that I stand in a minority but all one would have to do is post a poll asking how many HI members have called out double neutrals under one screw only to have an electrician shoot it down to see just how alone I am in this matter.

As to conceding defeat, I am not sure just what you are talking about. I don’t see this as some type of competition but instead see it as educational. When trying to do something educational I always use documents that concern the topic that I am covering and use documents that come from the NFPA. What I don’t ever do is get melodramatic with pictures that are totally unfounded and stories that do not pertain to the subject matter.

Once again I ask some simple questions;

With all the double neutrals that are in panels from border to border and coast to coast that have been installed for the past several decades is it your contention that all those electricians and electrical code enforcement officials that made these installations and inspected them was wrong?

If the danger in the double neutrals posed such a danger as some educators have drummed it up to be wouldn’t something have been done long before the 2002 Edition of the NEC?

If the danger was so great wouldn’t Jim have used some of this evidence to support his proposal?

I am not competing with you Joe but only trying to let the Home Inspectors of this site know why when they call out double neutrals the electrician will shoot down the call out.
Until the verbiage was added to the 2002 cycle of the NEC it was a compliant installation.


I just found my information on the FI and will scan it soon. The subject about the use of this board was really this thread you can post those dates in the proper location here which is even allowed for non members. The time we have spent discussing this is much to long for my workload but yes educational it is, we have covered a lot of ground and pictures you too have spread a few that were not necessary. The cabinet front here is the same label I posted.

Why don’t you post a poll asking the question for the HI. I will wait until I see the results before I answer your question about electricians, and will do that in my articles as well!

Why, some so called electricians have only recently become licensed in areas where there were none, and let me tell you it shows for sure.

Mike I have been traveling in almost every state for a long time, and I bet that the electricians you mention didn’t even know what Nonmetallic Sheated Cable was, Mike Listen you are still doing a good job and although you say that’s “not like the old Joe I know” and so forth, I don’t even know what you look like, and if you do post a picture take off that Cowboy hat before sitting at my table.

When will your classes start and when will the big show in NC be held?

There is no language in the past code cycles that can be used to enforce one grounded conductor under one screw until the adoption of the 2002 code cycle.
The reference to UL Standard 67 in the annex of the NEC although not enforceable can not be found in any NEC cycle until the adoption to the 2002 code cycle.

Below is the commentary as it appears in the 2005 Edition of the NEC Handbook;

A key element to a safe and Code-compliant electrical installation is adherence to product installation requirements imposed by product-testing organizations as part of their evaluation of an electrical product. Section 110.3(B) requires compliance with the installation and use instructions that are included with listed and labeled products. Numerous requirements in the Code specify the use of listed products. For those Code requirements where product listing is mandatory, Annex A is a compilation of applicable product safety standards. It is important to understand that the product safety standards included in Annex A are only those for which there is a mandatory listing requirement in the Code. There are many other safety standards associated with products that do not have a mandatory listing or labeling requirement in the Code. For more information on product standards, consult the product directories available from testing organizations.
Product safety standards, installation codes such as the NEC, and qualified electrical inspection are separate but not mutually exclusive components of the North American electrical safety system. The effectiveness of this system strongly depends on a close working relationship among the organizations responsible for the development of product standards and installation codes and the electrical inspection community. All three components must be in place for the electrical safety system to be effective.
Annex A first appeared in the 2002 Code and was updated for the 2005 edition to include references to product standards for which new requirements for listed products were added in the 2005 Code. The function of Annex A is to provide users of the Code with the name, number, and developing organization for all product standards related to mandatory Code requirements that require the use of listed products. For more information on listing and labeling, see the commentary following 110.3(B).

The one following 110.3(B)

Manufacturers usually supply installation instructions with equipment for use by general contractors, erectors, electrical contractors, electrical inspectors, and others concerned with an installation. It is important to follow the listing or labeling installation instructions. For example, 210.52, second paragraph, permits permanently installed electric baseboard heaters to be equipped with receptacle outlets that meet the requirements for the wall space utilized by such heaters. The installation instructions for such permanent baseboard heaters indicate that the heaters should not be mounted beneath a receptacle. In dwelling units, it is common to use low-density heating units that measure in excess of 12 ft in length. Therefore, to meet the provisions of 210.52(A) and also the installation instructions, a receptacle must either be part of the heating unit or be installed in the floor close to the wall but not above the heating unit. (See 210.52, FPN, and Exhibit 210.23 for more specific details.)
In itself, 110.3 does not require listing or labeling of equipment. It does, however, require considerable evaluation of equipment. Section 110.2 requires that equipment be acceptable only if approved. The term approved is defined in Article 100 as acceptable to the authority having jurisdiction (AHJ). Before issuing approval, the authority having jurisdiction may require evidence of compliance with 110.3(A). The most common form of evidence considered acceptable by authorities having jurisdiction is a listing or labeling by a third party.
Some sections in the Code require listed or labeled equipment. For example, 250.8 includes the phrase ``listed pressure connectors, listed clamps, or other listed means.’’

As can be seen in both of these commentaries the instructions that are INCLUDED with the equipment must be followed. These instructions will come from the standards that are in place for the manufactures of the equipment but the standard is not part of the installation instructions included with the equipment therefore not enforceable.

There are two reasons that I will recommend that a doubled neutral be addressed when I am called to do an evaluation at the request of a Home Inspector.
First and foremost is to try to keep some sort of uniformity between the Home Inspector and the electricians throughout NC. The second is as Jim Pauley pointed out in his proposal, there is an unwanted effect in the event that one grounded conductor needs to be disconnected while the other circuits are still energized.

If in the Home Inspector’s report they start making comments like; this is a fire hazard, this is a life safety issue or this in not incompliance with the codes then I have no other choice but to show documentation that any or all of these statements are false.

This is why I am trying so hard to present the information in a correct manner to the Home Inspectors and make sure that they understand the process that must be followed by both the electrician making the installations and the electrical code enforcement official responsible for inspecting the installation.

I know that for the most part the Home Inspector will not quote codes but it is the codes that the Home Inspector will use as a guide to make their report just like the double neurtal being discussed here.

OK, let me ask a stupid question.

Weren’t all of the AHJ’s approving panels with multiple grounded conductor terminations under one screw in the panels we find the condition in?

It was common practice here until 2000 to terminate one grounded conductor and one grounding conductor under the same terminal screw in the service panel. The approval stickers are still on most of the panel covers.

And yes, I have been and would be rebuked again in writing if I were to write up that condition on panels installed here prior to 2002.

The NC Electrical Institute sponsored by the NC Ellis Cannady Chapter of the IAEI and the Department of Insurance Office of the State Fire Marshall is always the first of April. I haven’t missed one of these in 10 years. This is where I first met Jim Pauley.

The Southern Sectional Meetings of the IAEI are posted on the IAEI website and the seminars sponsored by the NC Chapter of the IAEI can be found at the NC IAEI website.

Classes that I teach for the college can be seen at this link click on Building Trades in the index

I also do one day workshops for Electrical Inspector Continuing Education Credits but have nothing scheduled at this time.

Just for you Joe;

Wow, thanks Mike, now I feel so much better! What do you do with your old clothes?

Do you have any published materials available in the market place that present materials for the home inspector industry?

I wore a beard for many years, but now its all white like Greg’s beard, so I shaved it off!

We seem to have both maintained a head of hair though, and yours is not all gray yet, either, or was it? This picture if that was you could let the cat out of the bag!

Mine is not gray yet, and I don’t use any coloring, I think that when I did, my beard turned purple just before my wedding so I shaved it off leaving the mustache.

OK, let’s keep this friendly “you are and I am correct” until the showdown and just keep going at it, I have a long winded weigh lifters chest so I can handle it!

I will post my pictures soon, so many other are here too on this NACHI server as well, why even some showing some cleavage, oops got to be careful lots of youngsters view what we say and show here.

One more picture of you on that donkey showing his *** would be great.

That is not me taking the picture it is the husband of the lady that won the doll.

This is a picture of me and Pocco. Can you tell who is riding who?

This is me in 1967

One year later I started in the electrical field.