Microwave causes overload

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  #1  
Old 01-03-06, 07:19 AM
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Microwave causes overload

I have an older house that was remodled before we bought it. An above the stove microwave / vent hood was installed and connected to an outlet on a 15 amp / #14 wire circuit. The microwave is 1800 watts. Thus, when it is turned on, it overloads the circuit after on a very short time and it causes lights to flicker. Too compound things, the plug outlet is on an outside wall and the roof line is such that I cannot get to the wall in the attic. If I could get #12 wire through the wall and into the attic, I have access to an available 20 amp circuit. Can anyone suggest an effective way to run the wire or some other alternative to correct the problem?
 
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  #2  
Old 01-03-06, 07:39 AM
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Do you have a crawl space or unfinished basement below the kitchen?

Once you figure out how to get #12 wire to this microwave, put it on a DEDICATED 20 amp breaker...no other loads.
 
  #3  
Old 01-03-06, 07:41 AM
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An 1800 watt appliance should work okay on a 15 amp circuit. Perhaps the breaker is getting old and needs to be replaced, or perhaps there are other items on this circuit that are causing the overload. Did this just start happening, or has it been happening since installation?

As for adding a new circuit, have you considered adding the wire from the basement up the wall instead of from the attic down the wall? Also, what about removing the cabinet above the microwave and then making a hole in the wall? Your repair won’t have to be perfect (since you will be putting the cabinet back in place) and you should be able to route the wire once the cabinet is removed.
 
  #4  
Old 01-03-06, 07:46 AM
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I can't really say the best way to get the new cable in there, but for heavens sake, if you run a new cable into the attic, don't tie it into an existing circuit. Run a new circuit.
 
  #5  
Old 01-03-06, 09:23 AM
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Thank you for your comments and suggestions. While there is crawl space under the house, it is only inches above ground in this area. I suspect that the microwave has been a problem since it was installed, although our inspector did not indicate any problems when we bought the house. Since the lights flicker when the microwave is used, apparently, lights have been included on this plug circuit. While I can't remove the cabinets here, I might be able to use your suggestion and just run the wire through the ceiling into the cabinet and then just drill a hole in the box to push the wire through for connecting with a new plug. It certainly would not be seen back in this cabinet. Is this ok per code? I will have to check to see if there is space in the panel to add an addition circuit. Thanks again for your help.
 
  #6  
Old 01-03-06, 09:51 AM
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Well now it makes sense. An 1800 watt microwave and just one 75 watt bulb and you hit the maximum for a 15 amp circuit. Do your microwaving in the dark and you will be fine.

Yes, you can run the cable inside the cabinet. In fact, many above the stove microwaves use a receptacle installed in the cabinet as their source of power, with the cord from the microwave entering the cabinet. What is important is that the cable not be exposed inside the cabinet. Run the cable down a corner of the cabinet and install a piece of wood protecting the cable, or use a piece of conduit to protect the cable or something like that.

While on the subject of what is on the circuit with the microwave… if you haven’t already done this (and it doesn't sound like you have), take an afternoon some weekend and completely map out your electrical. You need to find out what is on each and every circuit breaker and which circuit breaker controls each and every receptacle, light or appliance in your house. This information will help you in the event of a problem, it will help you avoid a problem (it m ay even help you microwave without tripping the breaker), but more importantly it could save your life some day. This is something that everyone should do shortly after moving into a new house or apartment. When you are done, make a chart indicating all of the information and keep it near or attached your breaker panel.
 
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