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Is 120V breaker OK for all upstairs electrical incl. BB heat?

Is 120V breaker OK for all upstairs electrical incl. BB heat?

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Old 02-01-16, 10:46 AM
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Is 120V breaker OK for all upstairs electrical incl. BB heat?

I'm a frequent DIYer, but I admit I'm a complete novice when it comes to electrical.

That being said, I have no real intent to do any electrical work on my heating system, but I think we've come across a huge problem, and I need to check in with people who would know!

This weekend we were trying to map out the circuit breakers in our 100+ y.o. house. We've lived here for 4 years, and the previous owners (a single family for the entire 100+ years) did not take good notes.

Our intent was to figure out which breakers are no longer being used, because although wires are running out of all spaces in the box, there's no way we're using all of it. We want to add literally two outlets in our first floor kitchen, and realize we can't add them to any of the existing circuits.

There are some newer electric baseboard heaters on our first floor that are on dedicated 240V breakers. We thought this was the case throughout the house.

What we discovered is that ALL of the electrical on our second floor is on a single 120V breaker. That includes the three old Singer thermostats and baseboard heaters in the three rooms up there, plus all of the lights and outlets.

So far we've had no issues with the circuit being tripped. The heat is comfortable. But is this a safety issue?

We're considering our options. When faced with rewiring versus converting to another heating option, I think we would just wait until we finish up a couple of other projects and then convert the whole house.

But is there reason for concern and quick action??????

Thanks!
 
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Old 02-01-16, 10:51 AM
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You've lived there four years and apparently not had an issue so I would say there's no reason for quick action. It's not ideal but it's been good enough thus far.
 
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Old 02-01-16, 11:54 AM
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How did you come to the conclusion that all of those components are on one breaker. I can't imagine that you have never tripped it with all those heaters and everything else that is connected to it.
 
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Old 02-01-16, 12:55 PM
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I have moved this to the Electrical Forum because it isn't a heat problem.

I second Firebird's question. How did you determine this?
 
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Old 02-01-16, 01:15 PM
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As long as the breaker is sized correctly for the wire (15A per #14 wire; 20A per #12 wire) you do not have a significant safety problem on your hands. In older houses it is common for an entire floor of lights and receptacles to be on one circuit. Heaters should be on their own circuits, but...

If the previous owners incorrectly installed 240V baseboard heaters on a 120V circuit, the heaters will only produce 25% of the rated output. For example if the heater is marked 1000W / 240V and it is connected to a 120V circuit, it will actually only use 250W.
 
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Old 02-22-16, 09:43 AM
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We determined they were on the same circuit with one of us standing at the circuit box flipping switches, the other upstairs with a voltage tester. All electrical including heat was dead with a single circuit shut off.

These BB heaters have been in place for a very long time, and the temp output is same if not HIGHER than what the thermostat is set for, very quickly. So no, no issues with output at all. If anything they seem too efficient. In my room, I keep the heat at 55, and even on cold nights the real temp is somewhere around 63. (Which may be more an issue with the mercury thermostat itself, I do realize, but still, there's no lag if I turn up the heat.)

And no, we haven't tripped the circuit yet, either. In winter, nighttime is the biggest draw of electricity; we are running heat, humidifiers, sound machines and nightlights to two kids' rooms, plus low heat to a third room. So far, so good.

The plan is still to put the BB heat on its own circuit, but I'm going to prioritize other things since no one sounds too alarmed yet!

Thanks!
 
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Old 02-22-16, 11:18 AM
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standing at the circuit box flipping switches, the other upstairs with a voltage tester.
Actually it is a breaker box and those are breakers not switches. A non contact tester can not be reliably used to determine if you have power. To determine if you have power you need to use a multimeter, preferably analog (or a neon test light or a solenoid tester).
the temp output is same if not HIGHER than what the thermostat is set for, very quickly.
Actually the heat output is a constant. It doesn't change. It is either off or on. The thermostat just turns on the heater when the room is too cool and off when it is at the set temperature. It doesn't alter the heat output of the heater except to turn it off or on.
The plan is still to put the BB heat on its own circuit
Have you determined if they are intended for use on 240 volts or 120 volts. If they are intended for 240v the thermostat may need to be changed.
 
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