Direct Tap

A direct tap in an electrical panel is where someone has added new wiring to a circuit, say for a dryer, and instead of adding a breaker to protect that wire they insert the wires directly into the lugs that the electricity comes into the panel from the electric utility or another panel upstream from this panel.

This is problematic for of a couple of reasons. First the wires to a dryer are usually capable of carrying only 30 amps. The lugs in the panel that the wires are connected to often are protected by a circuit breaker that is larger than 30 amps, or has no over-current protection (circuit breaker) at all. So if something goes wrong in the dryer there is the possibility that the 30 amp wires serving the dryer will be allowed to carry more than 30 amps. This can cause over-heating and possibly a fire. The bottom line is that all wires in a home should be protected by a circuit breaker that limits the electrical current to the carrying capacity of the conductor.

The second problem that a direct tap usually causes is that of double tapping. This is when two wires are connected to one lug. This can be problematic because one or both of the wires in the lug may not be held tightly enough. This can cause arcing, overheating, and possibly fire.

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