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How long will it take an overloaded circuit to cause a fire?

How long will it take an overloaded circuit to cause a fire?


Old 11-01-15, 01:40 AM
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How long will it take an overloaded circuit to cause a fire?

So, long story short, a friend of mine got some new kitchen appliances that were tripping his circuit breakers, so he simply went to home depot and picked up some 40 amp circuit breakers (because hey, bigger is better right?) and stuck them in place where the 15 amp breakers used to be. He didn't bother changing any of the wiring though, so now he has a few outlets that are connected with 14 gauge wire and a 40 amp breaker (at this point he might as well have connected the wires straight to the main, since a 40 amp breaker isn't going to provide any kind of protection to a 14 gauge wire). I told him this was a retarded thing to do but he doesn't want to hire a electrician to rewire his kitchen, and he thinks it's fine because "he tested it and it seems fine."

So I'm wondering how long he's got before he burns his house down.
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Old 11-01-15, 01:02 AM
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No telling how long .

Sounds like he is trying for a Darwin Award .

You can not fix stupid ! :-(

God bless
Old 11-01-15, 03:16 AM
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It could be a very long time depending on a few unknown conditions. To start, some 14 wire under certain conditions is actually rated as high as 59 amperes although I am quite certain that your friend's kitchen is NOT wired with this type of wire.

Also, it depends upon how long the overload (any load exceeding 15 amperes) is being drawn.

BUT, your friend IS asking for serious trouble with his foolhardy actions.

Is this in a single-family house or is it an apartment or condominium? If it is in any kind of shared housing building he has placed not only himself (and his family, if any) in serious jeopardy he has also subjected his neighbors to that same jeopardy. This is why almost universally any and all electrical work in a multi-family building MUST be done by a licensed electrician.

Further, even if it a a single-family residence if he rents the building he is prohibited from doing any electrical work without the express permission of the owner.
Old 11-01-15, 05:34 AM
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And if it does catch fire, god forbid, good luck trying to collect any money from the insurance company.
Old 11-01-15, 07:44 AM
Join Date: Oct 2015
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What kind of kitchen appliances is he using, a 3 HP motor? I am not an electrician but I have read there are 3 types (determined by some industry standards) of breakers used in home power distribution boxes. They are types B, C and D. Type D trips at a higher overcurrent and hence would trip later if the overcurrent is due to a motor starting versus a short circuit which your friend is experiencing. Have him check this out.
Old 11-01-15, 10:13 AM
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Join Date: Nov 2015
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He has a new microwave, toaster oven, and blender all on the same circuit (originally it was just a microwave on this circuit). And there's no way his #14 wire is rated for anything higher than 15 amps, otherwise they would've put a higher rated circuit breaker in to begin with. And it's a single family house but it is a rental. I'm seeing an angry landlord in the future.

This guy does not understand electricity and the concept that fuses/circuit breakers are there for your protection and not just as a hassle. He had a blown fuse in his car and there's a paper clip in that spot now because he doesn't want to make a trip to the auto parts store to get a new fuse.
Old 11-01-15, 11:03 AM
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There really isn't much more to discuss here.

You can lead a horse to water but you can't make him drink.
You advised your friend, he has chosen not to listen. Case closed.
Old 11-01-15, 11:23 AM
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He could also be criminally liable if there was a fire and someone was injured.
Old 11-01-15, 07:50 PM
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And it's a single family house but it is a rental. I'm seeing an angry landlord in the future.
I am seeing a major lawsuit if there is a fire and it is proven the high amperage circuit breaker in combination with the #14 wire caused the fire.
Old 11-01-15, 08:01 PM
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Join Date: Nov 2015
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Welp, I don't see this ending well if he's not going to call an electrician to do this right. And yeah.. this is pretty much criminal negligence for doing something to stupid. I got him a new smoke detector as an early christmas gift so he'll at least have a chance to get outta there before the place goes up in flames.
Old 11-02-15, 08:25 AM
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If my tenants did that I would write up the eviction order on the spot, modification of electrical systems is in the lease as a cause for immediate termination of residency. Hope the landlord does regular inspections.

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