More Blog Posts About Electric Panels and Distribution:

  1. My circuit breaker won’t reset. What’s wrong?

  2. What is the life expectancy of a circuit breaker?

  3. What are the most common homeowner wiring mistakes?

  4. Is the electric panel big enough for this house?

  5. The electric panel is marked “Trilliant” and it’s all grey plastic. Is it alright?

  6. Why does that wall plug have push-buttons in the middle?

  7. How do the new tamper-resistant electric receptacles work?

  8. How come my generator hookup got tagged as defective by the home inspector?

  9. How dangerous is old electrical wiring?

  10. What is a split bus panel?

  11. Does this place have one of those “bad” electric panels I’ve heard about?

  12. I heard that aluminum wiring is bad. Do you check for it?

  13. What is a three-way switch?

  14. Is an ungrounded receptacle/outlet dangerous?

  15. How far apart should the electrical receptacles be placed?

  16. What is reversed polarity at an outlet/receptacle? Why is it dangerous?

  17. Why does the bedroom have a light switch but there is no light in the ceiling?

  18. How far apart should kitchen counter receptacles be placed?

  19. What is the switch on the wall with only two pushbuttons for?

  20. What are those strange looking wall switches in houses from the 1950s and 1960s?

  21. How far apart should electric receptacle outlets be placed in a garage?

  22. What is a lock device on a circuit breaker for?

  23. Why are Zinsco and Sylvania-Zinsco electric panels a problem?

  24. What is the life expectancy of electrical wiring in a house?

  25. How can adding wood paneling or a wainscot create an electrical safety hazard?

  26. What is a false ground, bootleg ground, or cheated ground receptacle?

  27. What are the most common electrical defects found in a home inspection?

  28. What is an open electrical splice?

  29. Why is an old fuse panel dangerous?

  30. What does it mean when a wire is “overstripped” at a circuit breaker?

  31. What is the difference between “grounded” and “grounding” electrical conductors?

  32. What is the difference between a Combination Arc Fault Circuit Interrupter (CAFCI) and an Arc Fault Circuit Interrupter (AFCI) circuit breaker?

  33. How can I tell if a receptacle/outlet is tamper resistant?

  34. What is a Dual Function Circuit Interrupter (DFCI)?

  35. Will a GFCI receptacle that is not grounded still function properly?

  36. Does a home inspector remove the electric panel cover plate and examine the inside of the panel?

  37. Is a house required to have outdoor electric receptacles?

  38. What are the code requirements for NM-cable (nonmetallic-sheathed cable or Romex®) in an attic?

  39. How can I change a 240V circuit to a 120V circuit?

  40. Can old electrical wiring go bad inside a wall?

  41. How do I trace and identify each circuit breaker in my electric panel to make a circuit directory?

  42. Why are extension cords dangerous?

  43. What problems does having too many electrical outlets on a single circuit cause?

  44. How can I find out the size of the electric service to a house?

  45. What happens when you press the “TEST” button on a circuit breaker in an electric panel?

  46. How many electric receptacles (outlets) are required in a hallway?

  47. When were GFCI receptacle outlets first required?

  48. What is the difference between GFCI and AFCI circuit breakers?

  49. Why is bundled wiring in an electric panel a defect?

  50. Why are some electric receptacles/outlets upside down (ground slot up) in a house?

  51. Why is undersize electric wiring in a house dangerous?

  52. Why is a fuse box an insurance problem for homebuyers?

  53. What is a “backstab” receptacle outlet?

  54. What electrical hazards does a Ground Fault Circuit Interrupter (GFCI) not protect against?

  55. What are the right words for talking about a house electrical system?

  56. What does “listed” and “labeled” mean for an electrical component?

  57. What does it mean when I find buried yellow "CAUTION" tape when digging a hole in the yard?

  58. How can I tell if the electrical service is 3 phase or single phase?

  59. Can a bare bulb “lampholder” light fixture be installed outdoors?

  60. Can you add circuit breakers by different manufacturers to an electric panel if they fit?

  61. When did arc fault circuit interrupter (AFCI) breakers first become required?

  62. What is the difference between an electrical receptacle, an outlet, and a plug?

  63. Should I buy a house near a high-voltage power line?

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We want you to be an informed homebuyer, and each blog post is a question that we have answered for our friends and customers over the years. Hope they help you make a good choice for your next home.

   Although double taps are a common defect, they is also easy to fix. There are several alternatives:

  1. 1)Connect the two wires together to a third short piece of wire using a wire nut, then connect the other end of the new wire to the breaker. This is called a “pigtail,” and is by far the easiest remedy.

  2. 2)Add another breaker in the panel, and connect one of the wires to the new breaker.

  3. 3)If there is no space in the panel for an additional breaker, you can exchange the offending breaker for a “tandem,” basically two breakers that fit in the slot for one breaker. There are a number of restrictions on adding tandem breakers to a panel, and some panels are not rated to accept them. A licensed electrician can advise you as to whether your panel can accept tandem breakers—also called “half-high” or “duplex” breakers.

   The two breakers below with the double red switches are examples of tandem breakers but, unfortunately, the top one also an example of two double taps.


   Another type of double tap can occur at the service lugs (connection of the electric utility’s power to the panel, typically at the top). The lugs are not rated for multiple wire connections and there is also a second safety concern because any wiring connected at this point has no circuit breaker for overcurrent protection. The fix for a double tap at service lugs is to add a breaker in the panel. In the photo below, the thin black and red wires at the left and right lugs should be connected a 240-volt breaker rated for the wire size and the white wire at the center lug connected to the neutral bus.



While we hope you find this series of articles about home inspection helpful, they should not be considered an alternative to an actual home inspection by a local inspector. Also, construction standards vary in different parts of the country and it is possible that important issues related to your area may not be covered here.
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