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Need to solve a problem with 3 outlets that are on the wrong circuit

Need to solve a problem with 3 outlets that are on the wrong circuit

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  #1  
Old 04-20-16, 06:45 PM
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Need to solve a problem with 3 outlets that are on the wrong circuit

I'm attaching a picture of two outlets (receptacles) in a small den. The one on the left, along with 2 other outlets that you can't see in the picture, are what I'll call the "bad outlets". All 3 are in the same general area; they have 15-amp wire between them, but at some time in the past they were 'tacked on' to a line that had a 20-amp breaker and 20-amp wire. This 20-amp line includes a gfci outlet at the end of a kitchen sink countertop, and an outlet for front loader washer and gas dryer in the next room.

The outlet on the right in the picture has 15-amp wire and it is part of a line that has a 15-amp breaker and 15-amp wire throughout, for the rest of the small den.

An electrician came recently to fix some outlets with reversed polarity and to map the house's wiring. He downgraded the 20-amp breaker to a 15-amp breaker, because of the 3 tacked-on "bad outlets" that have 15-amp wire. His recommendation now is to blank off the outlet on the kitchen sink counter and the washer/dryer outlet, and run two new 20-amp lines: one to a new gfci outlet at the end of the kitchen sink counter, and one to a new outlet for the front loader washer and the gas dryer.

I think it would be better if he could just disconnect those 3 "bad outlets" from the 20-amp line, and attach them instead to the 15-amp line that powers the rest of the den. The new 15-amp line, to attach the "bad outlets" to the rest of the den's wiring, would go from the outlet on the right in the picture, to the outlet on the left in the picture. I think that a section of drywall about 9" high will have to be removed, between the two outlets in the picture, in order to run a new 15-amp line between them. There is no way to run wire above or below the den; the only way is through the studs behind the drywall between the two outlets in the picture.

Although this would be a real pain, I think that it would be a better solution than tearing up the kitchen and washroom walls to put in new outlets, and also being left with blanks in kitchen and washroom where the current outlets are.

I'm also not sure why he wants to put in two separate 20-amp lines, instead of one, and haven't been able to get a clear answer for this yet. (His office manager relays because he's so busy.) There weren't really any problems using these outlets before the electrician came.

Do you see anything wrong with my idea? Could you improve on my idea? Would you hazard a guess why he wants to put in two 20-amp lines, where 1 was sufficient before?

If you think my idea could work, would you have any suggestions for the best way to remove and then re-attach the drywall, or should I go to drywall part of the forum for that?

Thanks.
 
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Old 04-20-16, 06:53 PM
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I could see running 2 new 20 amp circuits if they were easier to run without damaging the walls.

Are you sure your walls are drywall and not plaster? What is the age of the home?

That window between the two outlets could cause a challenge even with removing the wall surface. Most cases it is better to cut above, or below, the boxes and enter then from the top or bottom.

What is above or below that room? You might be able to fish that walls.
 
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Old 04-20-16, 08:01 PM
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The washer should be on its own 20 amp circuit. The kitchen receptacles should be on one of the two required 20 amp small appliance circuits?
 
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Old 04-27-16, 03:36 AM
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Thanks

Thanks for the replies. Right now I plan to do nothing and hope that the electrician's downgrade of the 20 amp line to 15 amp will be alright. So far everything seems to be running fine.

To answer / explain, in case interested --

The den and the area where the 3 bad outlets are, are drywall; they are in an addition that was put onto the house probably about 30 years ago. This addition has no attic, and no real crawlspace. The addition is supported by very short 4x4 posts set on concrete piers. To get to the area from underneath you'd have to remove some foam insulation and dig out dirt below and between the 2 outlets in the picture. Then you would have the problem of routing wire a few inches above dirt. I myself would rather cut out drywall, than to do that.

The wall for the kitchen and laundry area is in the original house which was built mid 1950s. I don't think those walls were ever plaster on lathe; I think they were mostly a hardboard attached to studs. Presently it's a mix of hardboard and drywall, due to changes over the years. In my few projects I've discovered a few horizontal 'studs' between the vertical ones, so it may not be quick and neat to drop wire from the attic, which is very low anyway where this kitchen / laundry room wall is.

This is a very small house, with energy efficient appliances that can run on 15 amp lines. I am wondering if code requirements are a little too high for the circumstances I have. They seem to me to be set for mcmansion type houses built before more energy efficient appliances became the norm.
 
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Old 04-27-16, 06:05 AM
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No harm in leaving things as-is including leaving the 15 amp breaker in place where a 20 amp breaker used to be.

For a long time now, code has required receptacles every 12 feet along walls (some areas will need closer spacing). So you are better off leaving the 3 receptacles in question in place until you can add or find another circuit to tack them onto.
 
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Old 04-27-16, 07:11 PM
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They seem to me to be set for mcmansion type houses built before more energy efficient appliances became the norm.
It doesn't take a McMansion type house to find both a coffee maker and microwave on the same circuit tripping a 20 amp breaker.
 
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Old 04-27-16, 07:31 PM
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I am wondering if code requirements are a little too high for the circumstances I have. They seem to me to be set for mcmansion type houses built before more energy efficient appliances became the norm.
While your way of thinking is understandable it's really not the truth because most of the appliances involved in the kitchen have heating elements. Is the way to get energy efficiency in a heating element since they are by design 100% efficient. A toaster, coffee maker, etc. still needs the same amount of current to operate today as it did in the 1950s.
 
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