Double tapped breakers are common defect found in the homes we inspect here in Richmond. Despite what I say, people tend to hear “the electrical panel is a dangerous fire hazard and it needs to be fixed asap.” Although a repair is needed, there is no reason to freak out. After I find it, the next question I get asked is “do the sellers have to fix it?” The answer is no, they don’t have to fix anything. It does not need to be scary though.
A double tapped breaker is when two wires connect to one breaker. The problem is that it can cause loose connections, arcing, and potentially a fire. You can see it the photo below. The blue tape was applied so can you visualize the repair better.
First, lets make sure its an actual defect. Some manufacturers make breakers that are listed and approved to hold two conductors. In the photo below, you see the plate has two grooves, so its listed and approved to have two wires. Some home inspectors write them up anyway.I believe they are wrong for doing so.
Second, there is no need to freak out. This is generally an easy fix. An electrician can usually just pull the two wires out, pigtail them to a third wire, and connect the third wire by itself to the breaker. It’s not that expensive. If you have a friend that is an electrician, he may even do you a favor. This isn’t always an acceptable repair though. The electrician will know.
An electrician can also add another breaker or add a tandem breaker (shown below) if the panel allows tandem breakers to be installed. Tandem breakers are basically two smaller breakers that take up one space. Not all panels allow the installation of tandem breakers, and some panels limit the spaces where tandem breakers can be used. This is also not that expensive.
If you feel confident, you may even be able to do the work yourself. We always advise having qualified tradesman perform repairs though.
The point is, this a defect that comes up often that tends to scare buyers, but generally can be fixed by an electrician in just a few minutes.
If you need a home inspection in Richmond, Chesterfield, Petersburg, Chesterfield, Henrico, or surrounding counties, make sure to give us a call at 804-269-4321