14g wiring currently on 20A breaker

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  #1  
Old 05-23-11, 06:32 AM
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14g wiring currently on 20A breaker

Hi everyone,

I am doing a partial re-wire of my home and after tracing all my circuits I have discovered that about half of them are all 14g wiring and all the circuits in the house are on 20A breakers(50-60's pushmatic service panel.). These circuits contain both lighting and outlets.

My question is...Instead of fishing new 12g wire through the walls, can I just break up the circuits into smaller sections and use 15A breakers(I'm having a new service panel installed so I will go from 12 breaker spaces to 26 or 28)? Some of the wiring has to be replaced because it is the old hot and neutral with no ground, but for existing 14g, with a ground, I am thinking I could just reduce the size of the circuit and use a 15A breaker to avoid over heating the wire.

I will make sure to replace the 14g with 12g in the kitchen because that requires two seperate 20A GFCI circuits I beleive, but for living and bedrooms is my idea viable?

P.s. I have no indication that I have any overload of the circuits now, e.g. no dimming or trips, so I'm assuming that the circuits are not overloading the 20A breaker. However, my biggest concern is that in some instances if I was running enough amps to overload a 15A breaker but it is not tripping, because there is a 20A breaker in the box, and the 14g would be overheating and possible cause burn/fire.

Thanks in advance
 
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Old 05-23-11, 06:45 AM
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Yes. Changing the circuit breakers to 15 amp would be the easiest and most cost effective way to correct this. Most homes are wired with 14 Ga wire and 15 amp circuits and have no issues. Splitting up the existing circuits would be an easy way to be sure you will not have any trouble in the future.
 
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Old 05-23-11, 06:46 AM
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Your concerns are valid. A potentially overloaded #14 could overheat and cause problems before the 20 amp breaker would trip. Your solution of downgrading the breaker size to 15 amps and sub-dividing the circuits is even better than just changing the breaker.

Along with the kitchen countertop circuits that need to be 20 amp and #12 wire, you can add the dining receptacles, bathroom receptacles and the laundry circuit.

Your area may require the new wiring to be AFCI protected.
 
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Old 05-23-11, 07:29 AM
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Thanks guys,

I talked to my inspector and he said they would not require AFCI protection for what I am doing, but I might install them anyway for my own piece of mind. Does the 2011 code require them in all rooms, other than the bathroom and kitchen outlets, or just living rooms?
 
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Old 05-23-11, 07:38 AM
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Under the 2011 pretty much any area without GFI protection requires AFCIs.
 
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Old 05-23-11, 08:33 AM
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Thanks PCboss and Ironhand.
 
  #7  
Old 05-23-11, 05:13 PM
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Save the pushmatic breakers and panel!!!
The pushmatic panels are extreme quality bolt-on breakers. Make sure you save the panel and don't let the ec run off with it, either.
 
  #8  
Old 05-24-11, 09:39 AM
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Save the panel?

Justin,

What would I do with the old panel? Unless you wanna buy it or something haha.
 
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Old 05-24-11, 09:47 AM
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You could part it out and eBay it, some of the breaker sizes are getting pretty scarce as they haven't been made for a few years now. The panel I would throw in my metal scrap box.
 
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Old 05-24-11, 09:53 AM
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Well this pushmatic is full of 20A breakers, and has one that goes over two of the 20A breakers, it's not in use currently, but I'm thinking it was some sort of double pole scenario or something like that.

New panel is going in tomorrow, maybe ill take a pic and let you guess "dissect" the old panel on here. Anything that can counter the cost of this re-wire is good in my book haha.

Thanks again guys
 
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Old 05-24-11, 10:02 AM
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Do an Internet search for used circuit breakers and call a few of the places. Tell them what you have and see what they offer.
 
  #12  
Old 05-24-11, 07:08 PM
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The panel might work for someone with a medium sized garage or something of that nature. Ebay might be a good place to sell it, as a whole or in parts.

Could you please post some pictures as the only thing we have around here is FPE and QO. An occasional GE or something.
 
  #13  
Old 05-25-11, 10:07 AM
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Originally Posted by Justin Smith View Post
The panel might work for someone with a medium sized garage or something of that nature.
...so would a panel that isn't 50 years old.

Could you please post some pictures as the only thing we have around here is FPE and QO. An occasional GE or something.
Google already has millions of bulldog pushmatic pictures:

bulldog pushmatic - Google Search
 
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