Confusing Circuit

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Old 09-10-19, 08:57 AM
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Confusing Circuit

OK. So I bought my current house in 2016 and have been a little annoyed in that when I run a microwave and kettle from the same receptacle in my kitchen, I blow a breaker. On my panel board, the breaker is a double pole (breaker switches connected by a handle). I assumed it was a 3 way circuit on a split circuit outlet and that a separate circuit would power the top plug and another the bottom, and therefore I should not be tripping breakers like I do.

When I take the outlet out of the box, I notice that the black is on one side, the white is on another and the red wire is alone NOT CONNECTED to anything with a wire nut on the end of it. The outlet is not split.

Would anyone know why someone would do this. I am thinking that someone changed the outlet in the past and figured that they only needed to connect the black and white power wires, when setting up a receptacle, but did not know that this one was a split circuit. Definitely the outlets are not original to my 1984 built house.

I would like to split it back up and it appears all I have to do is wrap the red wire around the brass outlet screw and snap off the little connector on that receptacle on the side that connects the two brass terminals connecting the black and red wires (let me know if there is more to it then that. I have never set up a split circuit before). I checked and the red wire is powered.
 

Last edited by OptsyEagle; 09-10-19 at 10:19 AM.
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Old 09-10-19, 10:44 AM
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Somewhere along the daisy chain from the receptacle in question back to the panel there is (there should be) a ground fault circuit interrupter. If the GFCI unit is in an outlet box along the way, it might not be possible to use both the red and black wires to have both subcircuits in the red/white/black feed (a multiwire branch circuit) active all the way to the receptacle in question.

If thje GFCI unit is the breaker in the panel then it is possible to use both the red and the black in the outlet box in question.
 
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Old 09-10-19, 11:05 AM
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Well, the only thing that turns off when I kill the breaker for this receptacle is the receptacle. The outlet was not GFCI and the breaker for it is not GFCI, so I doubt that is it.

If I went ahead and split the recepticle and connected the red wire to give the two outlet separate power AND it was on some GFCI thing I did not know about, what would happen. Would the breaker just trip when I try to activate it?
 
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Old 09-10-19, 11:08 AM
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You're telling us that you have a three wire cable in the box and currently only the black wire is connected. You know what breakers control this. Are there any other receptacles affected by that two pole breaker ?
 
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Old 09-10-19, 11:11 AM
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If there was a GFCI unit protecting the receptacle in question and you hooked up the red wire (and broke off the tab) as you described, then the GFCI would trip when you started to use things plugged into both sides of the circuit at the same time.
 
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Old 09-10-19, 12:11 PM
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OK. Sounds good. I will give it a try.

Pete, nothing else is on this circuit that I know of. When I moved in I did an exhaustive review of every single outlet and switch, in the house, and what panel breaker was powering them and this one was powered on its own by a two pole breaker. When I saw that I assumed a split circuit but every time my wife turned on her kettle, when I had the microwave going, it tripped. That didn't make sense to me, but I simply said, note to self: someday take a closer look at that receptacle. Today I did and this is what I have found.
 
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Old 09-10-19, 12:36 PM
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Sounds like a standard split wired receptacle for a Canadian kitchen. Someone probably changed the receptacle not knowing what they were doing. They didn't cut the tab and the breaker tipped when they turned it back on, so they left the red off.

Cut the tab and connect the red wire to the other gold screw.
 
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Last edited by joed; 09-10-19 at 02:58 PM.
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Old 09-10-19, 01:03 PM
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Done. I now have a nice new split circuit outlet. No tripping, no smoke, no fires. I just ran my kettle and microwave together, without incident.

Thank you all for your help. Before I make assumptions, I always remind myself that I don't know what I don't know, so it just seems a better idea to learn from you guys...then from the fire inspector, if you know what I mean.

Have a great day.
 
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