Code?


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Old 01-07-04, 01:24 PM
R
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Code?

A little discussion between me and a friend of mine...yes, we're still friends. This friend was disappointed with the quality of the receptacles installed by the builder in his house, claiming that after a period of use, plugs were not held firmly in place and he had to replace these receptacles. He decided that a 20A receptacle must be built better and replaced the 15A receptacles with 20A's. They are on a 15A circuit served by #14 wire.

Well, although there doesn't seem to be any issue with this, I told him he should check to make sure it is code compliant...he may be selling his house in the near future. No harm in asking.

Any feed back would be appreciated.

Thanks,
 
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Old 01-07-04, 02:14 PM
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I'm sure one of the experts will chime in soon, but in my opinion what you describe is not code compliant.
 
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Old 01-07-04, 02:25 PM
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The NEC specifically prohibits using a 20-amp receptacle on a 15-amp circuit. He can accomplish his goals legally simply by buying a $3 15-amp receptacle, or maybe even a new $1 15-amp receptacle (instead of the 35 cent ones the builder used). A receptacle isn't better just because it is 20-amp vs. 15-amp. You can find good 15-amp receptacles too.
 
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Old 01-07-04, 02:53 PM
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md2lgyk and John,

You confirmed what I suspected. I will not only win this "discussion," but will hopefully prevent him from considerable embarrassment (at best) when he goes to sell his house.

Thanks a bunch,
 
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Old 01-07-04, 05:12 PM
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I'm not sure this issue would cause much embarrassment. Most homebuyers have no clue about such things. Even if they paid for a home inspector, he/she might not notice the discrepancy.
 
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Old 01-07-04, 05:41 PM
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Thing is most all 20 amp receptacles are what is called "Spec Grade". The difference between a 15 amp and 20 amp spec receptacle is the blade configuration, that's it. They are both heavy duty.

John is right on with his post.
 
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Old 01-08-04, 05:23 AM
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Speedy Petey

Thanks for the input. This will explain the difference in quality. 20A receptacles are almost a rarety in the typical home. Since we don't shop for them, price/quality awareness is not all that good. As far as 15A receptacles go, you see an amazing price range in most DIY stores. There has to be a reason for that. Quality!

But, the debate continues, my friend argues that if the circuit is protected by a 15 breaker, what is the problem with putting a 20A receptacle...the breaker still protects the circuit? My argument is that although he has no intention of doing it, having the 20A receptacle would allow someone else to overload a circuit with only one appliance. And one major objective in the "code" is to attempt to prevent overloads as well as overcurrent protection when prevention fails. And, there would be a good possibility of "cooking" the breaker over time with a near 100% load....with that one appliance

Any thoughts?

Thanks,
 
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Old 01-08-04, 08:24 AM
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The facts are simple. If you want to be compliant with the National Electrical Code, do not use the 20-amp receptacles. If you do not care about code compliance, do whatever you want. The issue is one of misleading a future user of that receptacle. That issue, however, is not particularly compelling, so I believe it's better to focus on code compliance. If it is easy to be code compliant, then why not?
 
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Old 01-08-04, 08:57 AM
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The code reference (both 1999 and 2002 versions) is NEC Table 210.21(B)(3). It explicitly states that a branch circuit that is rated at 15 amps cannot power a receptacle that is rated more than 15 amps. The NEC does not state its reasons for any requirement. My belief is that this requirement is intended to prevent a user from seeing a 20 amp receptacle, from (incorrectly) believing the circuit can handle 20 amps, and from (unsafely) plugging in more than 15 amps worth of load.
 
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Old 01-08-04, 12:57 PM
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charlie b, John,

Thanks again. John, I probably gave the wrong impression with my last post. I wasn't trying to be argumentative. The decision to replace the 20A breakers had already been made. No argument with complying with code. The reason for the question was purely academic. Your answer regarding "misleading a future user of that receptacle" was the sort of thing I was looking for. charlie b, your answer seems to agree.

At any rate, sorry for any confusion! Sometimes knowing why a rule exists helps us understand the core subject better, that's all.

Bottom line is that I was able to find the answer regarding the code. That was my original objective and, as usual, this forum came through with flying colors.

Thanks
 
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Old 01-08-04, 01:44 PM
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Code allows receptacles on a 15A circuit? News to me. I thought all receptacles had to be on 20A circuits using 12 ga. wire, and only lighting can be on 15A circuits and use 14 ga wire.
 
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Old 01-08-04, 01:52 PM
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General purpose outlets may be on 15 amp circuits.

Some locations such as kitchen counters and bathrooms may not have 15 amp circuits serving their outlets, but in general circuits for outlets may be 15 amp.
 
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Old 01-08-04, 04:42 PM
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Dave,
It's funny, someone just today asked me the same question. He saw 14 wire run to receptacles and asked why I ran #14, he though all receptacles need 20 amp circuits.

Racraft is correct. Only receptacles in kitchen and similar rooms, laundry & bathrooms are required to be 20 amp.
 
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Old 01-08-04, 06:08 PM
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Randy, no problem with being argumentative. I'm always up for a lively discussion. However, there are many codes that are very hard to defend in any convincing manner. The rule under discussion here is one such rule. So when I can't construct a good argument, I have to fall back on the "because it's code" argument. It's kind of like when your mother said, "because I said so." In many cases, if people put half as much time and energy into following the code as they do trying to get around it, their lives would be so much simpler.
 
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Old 01-08-04, 08:05 PM
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That's the second new thing I've learned this year. I'm getting dizzy.
 
 

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