15A breaker to 20A?


  #1  
Old 12-17-03, 12:01 PM
fred_flintstone
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Unhappy 15A breaker to 20A?

I have 3 teenage girls who all want to use their hairdryers and/or curling irons on Sunday morning (at the same time). Shortly after the 2nd device on that circuit turns on, the breaker pops. Since this is an infrequent activity, I changed the 15A (slim) breaker on that circuit to a 20A (slim) and all seems to be fine. Am I OK?

Other info: 2 story house; their 3 bedrooms, gameroom and bath are on 2nd floor; the breaker I "upgraded" has the bath, gameroom and one bedroom.
 
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Old 12-17-03, 12:35 PM
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Not an expert, I'm sure they will answer soon.

Maybe but I doubt it. What is the size of the wire? If it is 12ga and no 14ga wire on that circuit you could be ok. If it is 14 ga wire by code you can't use a 20 amp breaker.
 
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Old 12-17-03, 12:48 PM
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Unless the wire is 12 gauge wire you are not okay.

Change the breaker back.

Rewire the appropriate location(s) with new circuits.
 
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Old 12-17-03, 02:09 PM
T
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The bathroom should have its own dedicated 20A circuit. Even though the wire in the panel may be 20A does not meant the whole circuit is 20A. More likely it has some 14 gauge wire in there, especially since it looks such a "shared" circuit. I would replace the breaker immediately to the 15A, and figure out a way to split the circuit so that it is fed by multiple breakers.
 
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Old 12-17-03, 02:26 PM
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Changing the breaker is not only a code violation, which you may or may not care about, but it creates a risk of fire that is too high for most people to accept. It's kind of like crossing the street without looking both ways -- you can usually get away with it, but it will eventually catch up with you.
 
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Old 12-18-03, 09:49 AM
masterjoe
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Talking Split the loads

I had a very,very similar situation w/ 2 boys & 2 girls. I suggest you the following, similar to what I ended up doing:

NOTE: Before anything, replace that 20A breaker with the original 15A

-Map out branch circuits and find a couple with minimal loads.
-Designate one recep in a kid's room to plug in her dryer
-Shut off the breaker, open up the recep and break off the copper jumper
-Find the end of run for a circuit with minimal loads, shut off that breaker, tap into it and run new wires into the recep.
-Connect it to either upper or lower recep that's split from the original circuit
-Now you have one recep that's getting fed from totally different circuit.

You can repeat upper process for other kids' rooms as well.
If you have an attic access, above process won't be that difficult.
 
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Old 12-18-03, 12:03 PM
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-Shut off the breaker, open up the recep and break off the copper jumper
-Find the end of run for a circuit with minimal loads, shut off that breaker, tap into it and run new wires into the recep.
-Connect it to either upper or lower recep that's split from the original circuit
-Now you have one recep that's getting fed from totally different circuit.
Two issues with this:
(1) If you do this, you need to break off both jumpers on the outlet - the brass AND the silver. Otherwise you are shorting the neutrals from two circuits together
(2) The breakers serving these two circuits have to have their handles tied so that they trip (or are turned off) together, since the two circuits are now feeding outlets on the same yoke
 
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Old 12-18-03, 12:06 PM
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Personally I would add a new outlet rather than trying to add a wire into an existing box. This will also be less confusing to the user.
 
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Old 12-19-03, 10:34 AM
masterjoe
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Talking Oops, my bad!!

Yeah, I read back what I wrote and sure enough, I left out that brass jumper. Thanks, Mikewu....

Dual recep on 2 split circuits is perfectly legal. Of course, you need to pay extra attention when you wire them. Racraft's suggestion to install a separate recep may be a better alternative; but the only downside is that you have to cut a new hole, install new box......etc.

In my case, I tapped into a living room brach circuit where load is minimal. It's your choice whether to run a new circuit from the box(gotta make sure you have a spare breaker slot) or tap into a seldom-used circuit with minimal load.
 
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Old 12-19-03, 03:46 PM
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I would HIGHLY recommend you do NOT tap from a different circuit to another existing receptacle. This is an extremely unorthodox procedure and will eventually cause someone some grief (or pain) down the road.
Yes, it is legal and quite safe when the two circuits in question are both part of a multi-wire circuit. As stated in any case the breaker needs a handle tie. Do you really think anyone will bother to find the two breakers, move them to adjacent positions and install a tie? I think not.

You can very well run a new circuit to an existing box and cap off the old wires to make them safe. The new wires will be connected to a receptacle. You do not need to cut in a new box.
 
 

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