can't remove wires from a GFCI breaker

Reply Wed 15 Mar, 2017 11:49 pm
I am trying to replace a 15 amp, single pole, ITE GFCI breaker in a Gould electric panel. ITE is a brand of Gould, and Siemens bought Gould in the past.
The breaker is about 38 years old or less, with a catalog number of OFI-B015. (I'm not sure if the "O" and "I" in"OFI" aren't actually the numbers zero and "1"; or if the number "0" in "B015" isn't actually the letter "O".)

The breaker connects to 4 wires:
1. a purple load line (hot)
2. a white load neutral
3. a black-striped white panel neutral
4. a very short (2"-3") dark grey wire which loops between 2 insertion ports on the breaker, one on the "left" side and one on the "right" side.

The load line is easily released by turning a set-screw.
The "free" end of the wire loop seems to be, by design, intended to NOT be removed. It is held by a set screw with a cover/block over its screwdriver slot. This doesn't matter because I don't need to mess with this wire loop in order to change the breaker; but the other end of the loop relates to the problem at hand.
The panel neutral only needs to be removed from the neutral bus, since the new breaker has an attached pigtail to serve as its own panel neutral. I don't need to remove it from the old breaker. However, this wire also relates to the problem at hand.


The load line has its own port on the breaker. The free end of the wire loop has its own port on the breaker. However, 3 WIRES ARE ALL CONNECTED TO THE BREAKER THROUGH THE SAME PORT:
1. the load neutral (white)
2, the panel neutral (striped white)
3. the other end of the wire loop (dark grey)
There is no set-screw to release these wires. There is no hole in which to insert a small screwdriver or such to push on a spring-type release mechanism. THERE IS NO VISIBLE WAY TO REMOVE THE LOAD NEUTRAL ( OR ALL 3 WIRES).

QUESTION: Is there some way to release the load neutral (or all 3 wires) that I haven't figured out, or do I have to cut the load neutral at the breaker and re-strip the end of it for attachment to the new breaker?
(I'd rather not shorten this wire if I don't have to.)
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Reply Thu 16 Mar, 2017 04:46 am
Can you cut the wires off and have enough wire to work with?
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Reply Thu 16 Mar, 2017 05:36 pm
Steve, with some breakers there's an opening where you insert a pick etc, pushing down then releases the wire

Ed have I missed sumtin'
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Reply Sat 18 Mar, 2017 06:05 pm
It just so happens that I got the answer the day after I signed up on able2know.

After many hours on another Q&A website over a few days, nobody seemed to understand the breaker I was describing. (I was finally able to send pictures, but not before I got my answer.)

On the same day, I was able to speak with 2 trusted Master Electricians, each with over 40 years' experience. The first got my verbal description and said he never heard of such a breaker design. The second, who has worked for this county as both an electrician and an electrical inspector, and who had already also indicated on the phone that he couldn't picture the breaker as I described it, came to the house and, after examining the breaker and the path of its wires, said he had never seen a GFCI breaker like it before.

The answer was exactly what seemed obvious to me, but what I didn't want to act on without confirmation from a trusted source:

There is no set screw to release the load neutral (or the 3-wire bundle). There are no holes in which to insert a tool to press a spring-release mechanism. There is no visible mechanism to release those 3 wires. Therefore, the load neutral must be cut at the breaker.

(Fortunately, there was just enough wire left to reach the seated new GFCI breaker!)

It figures that the first time I tried to do an electrical project more complicated (because it's in the electric panel) than wiring a light fixture to a wall, I had to deal with a breaker design that is a dinosaur that went extinct long ago. That's why my simple question didn't end up being so simple, after all.
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Reply Sat 18 Mar, 2017 07:16 pm
Good to know you got it taken care of.
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