20 amp breakers with 15 amp wire


Old 02-03-05, 11:33 AM
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20 amp breakers with 15 amp wire

I've figured out that I have 20 amp breakers with 15 amp wire. This must mean a previous owner was having problems so swapped out the 15 amp breakers to 20. So I need to change the breakers back to 15 amp. If I add dedicated circuits for new appliances is there any reason to make them 20 amp circuits when the appliances only need 15 amps? Thank you!
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Old 02-03-05, 11:49 AM
Join Date: Sep 2000
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Posts: 18,497
I assume by "15 amp wire" you must mean 14-gauge copper wire. If so, then definitely change the breaker back to 15 amps. But you'll probably run into the same problem that led to the increase in breaker size in the past, so you'll need new circuits. It's a personal preference, but I always run a 20-amp circuit on #12 wire when running new circuits. The cost difference is trivial, and you get 33% more available power for the same effort.
Old 02-03-05, 12:19 PM
Join Date: Nov 2004
Location: USA
Posts: 973
Adding to what John said...

...and, since you will soon have a bunch of 20AMP breakers, using 12 guage wire lets you put them to good use.
Old 02-03-05, 01:04 PM
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Yes, the wire is 14-guage NM and I will make my new circuits 20 amps per your advice. Nice to utilize those spare parts I'm hoping giving my appliances dedicated circuits will solve the problem the other guy had but if not I'll need to call an electrician as I'll need a sub-panel. This is interesting stuff now that I'm starting to understand it, but gets more involved the more I know......thank you for your help!

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