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        20 amp circuit has 14 gauge wire Sign In/Join 
        posted
        I have owned this house since last april was checking out electric panel. The basement lights and outlets to it are on 20 amp circuit. What wire I see coming from that breaker is yellow 12 awg romex which goes to a 15 amp outlet the wire out from there to the other outlets is white 14 awg wire. This is not ok is it? There has not been a problem but am thinking I should replace 20 amp breaker with 15 amp breaker correct? The guy finished basement with his brother have they been living in danger all that time and now am I?
         
        Posts: 6 | Registered: Feb 03, 2014Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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        I'm thinking you should replace it too. But are you sure that white wire is size 14 wire? Older, not much older, but older Romex wire was white sleeved for size 12 and size 14 wire. You had to look close at the embossed letters to see the size.
         
        Posts: 944 | Location: No. California | Registered: Mar 24, 2004Reply With QuoteReport This Post
        posted Hide Post
        I think they changed breaker to 20 amp when they finished part of basement Why would they knowing the wire is 14 gauge. I checked that it was 14 gauge .They ran 12gauge wire to the first outlet then continued from outlet to outlet using 14 gauge wire, outlets are all 15 amp. I don't have a lot of stuff running at the same time. Only a small fridge going all the time. If not right think I will change circuit any way.
         
        Posts: 6 | Registered: Feb 03, 2014Reply With QuoteReport This Post
        posted Hide Post
        it's not right. you are undersized by 5-8 amps on that 14 gauge, depending on whether the circuit is loaded over 80 percent or not. size down the breaker or repull the 14 gauge with 12 gauge. your insurance guy and fire marshal would sweat little fuzzy kittens over this.

        This message has been edited. Last edited by: swschrad,


        sig: if this is a new economy, how come they still want my old-fashioned money?
         
        Posts: 5714 | Location: North Burbs, MN | Registered: Mar 14, 2007Reply With QuoteReport This Post
        Picture of Jaybee
        posted Hide Post
        At least it's easy enough to fix - just change out the 20a breakers to 15a. Don't worry about the outlets - even though they are 15a outlets they are actually safe on the 20a circuit. But here too, once you switch the breakers back that becomes even less of a problem. The important thing is to make sure that the circuit breaker is the weak link in the circuit.

        This message has been edited. Last edited by: Jaybee,


        Jaybee
         
        Posts: 10289 | Location: Knoxville, Tennessee | Registered: Sep 27, 2003Reply With QuoteReport This Post
        posted Hide Post
        And consider swapping it out with an Arc Fault Breaker
         
        Posts: 944 | Location: No. California | Registered: Mar 24, 2004Reply With QuoteReport This Post
        posted Hide Post
        Could you clarify what make sure circuit breaker is the weak link in the circuit means?
         
        Posts: 6 | Registered: Feb 03, 2014Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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        that's easy. everything in the circuit has to be capable of standing off more current short-term... EXCEPT the fuse or circuit breaker. ratings for wire and devices for a safe continuous drain on the short term encompass (at room temperature) enough margin so there won't be a catastrophic failure.

        that's because the protection device (fuse or circuit breaker) typically is designed and rated to fail before the wire and devices do.

        for 15 amp wiring, a breaker has to meet code standards of blowing within a certain time at a certain overcurrent. I am not an engineer or licensed electrician by any means, but believe it's a 200% overcurrent maximum within several minutes. Google if you really need to know. the spec probably requires paying membership in one or another outfit, but the data is out there without being a UL member or subscription to the NEC.

        for the rest of us, "15 amp means 15 amp, only." standards ensure that you don't need to be an engineer or a licensed electrician.


        sig: if this is a new economy, how come they still want my old-fashioned money?
         
        Posts: 5714 | Location: North Burbs, MN | Registered: Mar 14, 2007Reply With QuoteReport This Post
        Picture of Jaybee
        posted Hide Post
        Yup, what he said.

        In a proper and safe circuit, if the circuit is overloaded then the circuit breaker will trip before anything else bad happens.


        Jaybee
         
        Posts: 10289 | Location: Knoxville, Tennessee | Registered: Sep 27, 2003Reply With QuoteReport This Post
        posted Hide Post
        Replaced 20a circuit with 15a. Will sleep good tonight thanks guys
         
        Posts: 6 | Registered: Feb 03, 2014Reply With QuoteReport This Post
        Picture of CommonwealthSparky
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        Not to disturb your sleep patterns but you may want to check other electrical work performed by those guys. If they did that once they may have done it elsewhere. Just a heads up. Wink


        Popeye only reached for the Spinach can as a last resort...
         
        Posts: 1430 | Location: Central Pennsylvania | Registered: Jun 02, 2010Reply With QuoteReport This Post
        Picture of CommonwealthSparky
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        [QUOTE]Originally posted by Jaybee:
        At least it's easy enough to fix - just change out the 20a breakers to 15a. Don't worry about the outlets - even though they are 15a outlets they are actually safe on the 20a circuit. But here too, once you switch the breakers back that becomes even less of a problem. The important thing is to make sure that the circuit breaker is the weak link in the circuit.
        ----------------------------------------------------
        I could never find anyone that could explain that one. Eek

        This message has been edited. Last edited by: CommonwealthSparky,


        Popeye only reached for the Spinach can as a last resort...
         
        Posts: 1430 | Location: Central Pennsylvania | Registered: Jun 02, 2010Reply With QuoteReport This Post
        posted Hide Post
        A 20 amp outlet has a T for one of the slots. If you had a device that needed a 20 amp circuit it would have one blade perpendicular to the other. So putting 15 amp outlets on a 20 amp circuit isn't a problem, but you shouldn't put a 20 amp outlet on a 15 amp circuit. Though very few things actually use 20 amps and have 20 amp plugs. A large window AC unit might.


        General Disclaimer

        Any advice given here is general in nature and is not necessarily valid for your given area. If in doubt check with your local codes enforcement department for what is required when doing electrical, plumbing or structural work on your house. Permits may or may not be required in your area and home owners may not be able to DIY some tasks. I have no way of knowing if you have the skills needed to complete the tasks you are asking about, when in doubt seek professional assistance.

        My advice may be worth exactly what you pay me for it. :-) For the record I did not stay in a Holiday Inn Express last night.
         
        Posts: 714 | Location: Cary, NC | Registered: Aug 17, 2006Reply With QuoteReport This Post
        Picture of CommonwealthSparky
        posted Hide Post
        Yes, that part I understand. 15 amp outlets are actually 20 amp outlets without the 90° blade slot.
        But the NEC requires 2 20 amp kitchen counter circuits. But installing those 20 amp GFCIs and or outlets with that blade set up always includes homeowner grief. As in "Why is that type of ugly outlet installed in my new kitchen. It is not the husbands workshop, it is my kitchen".
        Usually we just install 15 amp devices and inspectors never bat an eye. Wink But then they all understand that 15 amp outlets can safely handle 20 amps, so it becomes a moot point.
        .

        This message has been edited. Last edited by: CommonwealthSparky,


        Popeye only reached for the Spinach can as a last resort...
         
        Posts: 1430 | Location: Central Pennsylvania | Registered: Jun 02, 2010Reply With QuoteReport This Post
        posted Hide Post
        thanks I know you are supposed to have 20 amp circuits for kitchen and bath. Mine are on 20 amp breakers what if I see the same thing, they running 12 gauge to kitchen and bath then going outlet to outlet with 14 gauge? i really shouldnt be changing those breakers down to 15 amp should I ?
         
        Posts: 6 | Registered: Feb 03, 2014Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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        No you should not change the breakers then -- so you'd have to make sure all the wires are 12 gauge. And code requires at least two circuits in the kitchen. And the bathroom circuits should be on a different circuit than the kitchen outlets.

        This message has been edited. Last edited by: Re-mdlr,
         
        Posts: 944 | Location: No. California | Registered: Mar 24, 2004Reply With QuoteReport This Post
        Picture of Frodo
        posted Hide Post
        my bro inlaw, bless his little wire pullen heart..said never pull 14 gauge wire for anything, except to tie your ladder on the rack


        https://www.youtube.com/*****?v=vn7bkncf1_E
         
        Posts: 3843 | Location: I live in southern mississippi | Registered: Jun 01, 2008Reply With QuoteReport This Post
        Picture of CommonwealthSparky
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        quote:
        Originally posted by tommyd78:
        thanks I know you are supposed to have 20 amp circuits for kitchen and bath. Mine are on 20 amp breakers what if I see the same thing, they running 12 gauge to kitchen and bath then going outlet to outlet with 14 gauge? i really shouldnt be changing those breakers down to 15 amp should I ?


        If you do find 14 AWG copper you should make sure the breaker protecting that circuit is a 15 amp breaker. Even if this means say that a kitchen counter circuit that per code is called to be a 20 amp circuit becomes a safe 15 amp breaker protected circuit. Safety is paramount in this case. Unless you can rewire the entire circuit up to current specs. And in most cases this entails a lot of work.

        14 AWG copper really never has much use with us either. The odd oil burner feed, smoke detectors, the first feed, then of course it would be 14/3 Romex. And a few other applications, but not many.


        Popeye only reached for the Spinach can as a last resort...
         
        Posts: 1430 | Location: Central Pennsylvania | Registered: Jun 02, 2010Reply With QuoteReport This Post
        posted Hide Post
        This house is 14 years old I can't believe that the whole house is wired wrong. It could be more I don't know what I‘m talking about. Things have been running very smooth here I have not had any issues with anything other then a skylight that leaked. This town has building codes like any other town. If I think something is wrong I should call an expert
         
        Posts: 6 | Registered: Feb 03, 2014Reply With QuoteReport This Post
        Picture of CommonwealthSparky
        posted Hide Post
        Yes that could be the best option. When you find someone you have confidence in describe the possible problems. And do a walk through with that tradesman, like Mike Holmes does, only minus the TV drama. And get it all in writing.
        I personally have little faith in Home Inspection services. Hard pressed to know how one person is completely knowledgeable in all trades. But that is just me.


        Popeye only reached for the Spinach can as a last resort...
         
        Posts: 1430 | Location: Central Pennsylvania | Registered: Jun 02, 2010Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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