A few Quick Questions I Need Answered


Old 01-23-05, 11:07 AM
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A few Quick Questions I Need Answered

Hello All,

I have my subpanel wired and it works great. My Father-In-Law came up this weekend to give a hand doing some of the other wiring I needed to do. I had to split a circuit of 3way switches... Before, there was a switch at the top of the stairs and one by the basement door. I split that and now there is a swicth at the top of the stairs and one at the bottom of the stairs. I now have to wire a switch at the bottom of the stairs and wire the switch by the basement door. The first set of switches comntrol the stairway lights... The second that I am wiring will control my workshop lights. Now for the questions...

1. The circuit is wired with 14/3. I need to run power to that side now and add another switch... All I have is 12/3 to do the job and am snowed in so I can't really just run to the store. I know that, ideally, you shouldn't mix wire sizes on the same circuit... But can it be done safely running 12/3 and 14/3 or should I wait until I can get to the store to get more wire?

2. (On another subject, but while I am here...) Should the water heater have it's own circuit? The builder here put several things on one circuit... They had the water heater, the sump pump, the smoke detectors and 7 lights all on one circuit. It seems like the water heater should have it's own. (It's a gas fired water heater, not electric)

3. Also... my Father In Law said he thought that the smoke detector should have its own breaker... And that all safety devices should according to code.

I appreciate all replies in advance! Thanks!
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Old 01-23-05, 11:47 AM
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1. You can safely use 12 gauge wire and 14 gauge wire on the same circuit, as long as the breaker is a 15 amp breaker. The danger with mixing wire sizes is that someone may see a larger wire size and assume that the circuit is 20 amp. This really shouldn't happen with 14 gauge wire at the breaker at the breaker and the 12 gauge elsewhere, but it could. Since 14 gauge wire is easier to work with, I would get the 14 gauge wire is at all possible.

2. There is no requirement that a gas fired water heater be on it's own circuit. It is a good idea, but not a requirement. I would be concerned about the sump pump being on the same circuit, based on the size of the sump pump.

3. It is mot a good idea to put smoke detectors on their own breaker. If the breaker should trip you may not know it. Most people recommend that they be on an often used circuit, such as a hall light, so that you will know if the breaker trips for some reason.
Old 01-24-05, 05:32 AM
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Thanks for the info!

I went ahead and ran a seperate circuit for the sump pump and water heater... Just to be safe. I can't really tell the size of the sump pump... It is buried behind everything on that end of the basement. I know they can take a lot of juice, especially upon startup... Just like my air compressor.

I ran 12/3 from the second switch to my shop lights... That 20 foot distance is the only place that has 12/3 in the circuit... All the rest has 14/2 or 14/3. I figured that would be safe and okay to do.

It makes sense to have the smoke detector on a commonly used circuit so you would know if the breaker popped. The smoke detector is on the same circuit as my basement stair lights... So I'll know. But it seems a lot less likely to pop now that the sump and water heater are on a seperate circuit.

I appreciate everyones help in this forum. I figure I am saving $3k - $4k by wiring my own basement... And I'm doing it by the book.

The only thing that my county requires inspections for are for electrical and plumbing. Since I am doing most of both of these projects I don't think I can have the county out to inspect it. There is a licensed electrician that lives around the corner from me and is a friend of a friend. I may offer him a few bucks to check over my connections to make sure I've done everything correctly on the electrical part. I don't really want to face fines by asking the county to come check something that I should have gotten a permit for. I live in the "Peoples Republic of Maryland"... they are very strict about that sort of thing here...
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