What is a double tapped breaker?

Considering the fact that you rarely look at your circuit breaker box, means you are likely not familiar with it. Breaker boxes are made in a variety of ways and have coding that is required that the electrician follows when installing wiring. Making sure that you do not have wires incorrectly installed is important to avoid fire hazards. What is a double tapped breaker? When two wires are placed in one circuit breaker that otherwise isn’t built to house two wires. 

Let’s take a look below at what the problem would be and how you can fix it. 

Why Are They A Problem

Most circuit breakers are not designed to hold two wires at the same place. If you come across this scenario in your home, you need to call a professionally licensed electrical contractor right away. Leaving two wires in a breaker that is not built to handle the load will result in a fire.

Two wires that are connected to the same breaker or terminal can result in overheating. You could also notice the two wires producing arcing due to not being attached tightly enough. Luckily, there are solutions to fixing this scenario and there are some breaker terminals that are now built to handle two wires at once. Let’s take a look below at the solutions to two wires in one breaker.

Double tapped breaker.
Courtesy of Waypoint Inspections

How Do You Fix a Double Tapped Breaker

Believe it or not, there are a variety of ways that you can fix a double tapped circuit breaker. Keep in mind that some breakers are meant to hold two wires. Let’s review.

  • Pig Tail-this is done when you connect the third wire to the breaker after you have wrapped the other two wires together with a wire nut and have all three wires as one.
  • Tandem circuit breaker-a square d tandem breaker is built to house two wires in the same breaker. There are two connection points for two wires.
  • Breaker designed for wires. Square d and cutler hammer have breakers designed for holding two-wire connections.
  • Just add another breaker-if you have room in the breaker box, you can simply install a single circuit breaker to an open slot on your electric panel. This is cost-effective and relatively easy to do. Single breakers cost less than $5.

Keep in mind that your breaker panel cover will determine what you can and cannot add. Yes, there are breakers available for two-wire connections, however, you must make sure that the breaker is installed in the slow designated on the label of the breaker box. Following the breaker, box rules keep things easy and functional.

How Much Do They Cost

The cost to add a circuit breaker to your breaker box ranges from $40 to $60 plus the labor charge. Typically, you are looking at $150 for the job. It takes most electricians 2 hours to install a new circuit breaker to your breaker box. Anytime you need to get the breaker fixed, you should expect to pay $150 to $250 to fix a double tapped breaker. 

When you are learning about double-tap breakers go ahead and also educate yourself on what the wiring should look like for your electrical system. Bootlegged grounding and bad wiring hookups happen more often than you think. It would be a great idea to make sure that you pay attention to any contractor work being conducted on your electrical system. Make sure you are hiring a professionally licensed electrician. 

Another area to check is the breakers to make sure you don’t have a Challenger GFCI breaker. If your home was built between 1998-2004 there is a chance you have these. Contacting an electrician is the way to go if you find this or need assistance. 

Electrical fire in a home.

Lastly, you want to know what kind of wiring you have in the home. One type you do not want to have is aluminum wiring. This is because it is connected to copper wire and can start an electrical fire

When Do I Call A Professional

Anytime you are dealing with your electrical system and more specifically your circuit breaker box, you need to call a professionally licensed electrician. It is not recommended that you attempt to make any changes to your breaker box, even if you read up and study up on the process of installing a double tapped breaker. You might feel the need to save time and money and complete it as a do-it-yourself project.

However, dealing with electricity is not the easiest or safest project to do on your own. You might want to consider calling on your local home inspection team so that the home inspector can conduct a thorough inspection of your electrical system. Typically, they will look for loose connections, common defects, and go over the electrical work. They can also recommend the most reputable professionally licensed electrician in the area.


Getting a professionally licensed electrical contractor to come out to your home could be a difficult task. The most reputable companies are almost always booked for weeks if not months away. So, planning ahead is an important step here. Getting your double tapped breaker installed is a project that you won’t want to complete on your own. Call your local home inspection team to get a few referrals for the most reputable professionally licensed electrical contractors around. While they are out at your home, they can conduct a full home inspection. This will allow you to add any extra projects to the list while you have the electrical contractor.

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