14 Wire on 20amp Breaker...

Howdy all. Upon inspecting the electrical system in my home I noticed a couple circuits wired with 14 gauge wire being protected by a 20amp breaker. To me this doesn't seem safe, so I plan on replacing the breakers.
My question: is there a reason the electricain would run wire this way? The 14 wires go to outlets. My family wouldn't draw enough power from these outlets to cause a concern, but who knows what the future owners of the house would plug into these outlets. It seems to me that the possibility of a fire exists with the 20amp breakers protecting a 14 gauge circuit. Am I wrong on this? Also, is this something a home inspector should have caught? We had the home inspected 5 years ago before buying the house. The wiring is easily accessed via drop-down ceiling panels in the basement.
-Felder
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snipped-for-privacy@yahoo.com wrote:

Yes, replace the breakers with 15A ones.
No, there isn't any reason an electrician would wire 14ga on a 20A breaker.
Yes, it should have been picked up by a home inspection.
Pete C.
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When I bought my house the "inspector" missed #12 on a 30a breaker and (drumroll) three #12 circuits on a 50a breaker. Obviously he didn't look very hard; but do any of them, or did I just get a dud?
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Toller wrote:

You got a dud.
The wire gauge / breaker mismatch is one of the first and easiest things a home inspector should check.
Pete C.
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says...

Yep, and anything this bad should tip the inspector off to look closer for more code violations. The inspector that the buyers of my MIL's house hired found all sorts of screwy things. The outlets in the garage were all reversed, the grounds and neutrals were tied together in the subpanel in the garage, and the upstairs smoke detector was put in with a running slices and taped up with electrical tape. I'm surprised no one got hurt in the place!
--
Keith

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On 29 Aug 2006 14:10:20 -0700, snipped-for-privacy@yahoo.com wrote:

You should get one of the new high amperage kits to update your wife with.
Also, your children may get better grades and get into a better college if you install one of the high amperage kits in each of them.

You're right.

AIUI, no. I hope you didnt' count on having 20 amps there. Seems not.

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On 29 Aug 2006 14:10:20 -0700, snipped-for-privacy@yahoo.com wrote:

I've seen this in 'older' homes, so how old is this.
The only reason, which is enough, that a 14# wire is protected by a 15a breaker, is there is a paragraph about not using it for greater than 15amps. The NEC clearly states that it is 'safe' for 20 amps, just that in general residental use, you must limit it to 15 amps. This is from memory, please check the codes yourself.
So, when was 14# downgraded for residental use? I don't know, but I can say that I've seen this, and I've instructed home owners that If I "touch" a circuit that has a 14#/20a breaker combination, I will replace them with 15amp breakers, but I've been faught with in the past doing this. Some electricians say the circuit was code when installed, so it is grandfathered.
So in short from my example of 'weirdness' of this situation. Find out if you are 'required' to downgrade older 14# supplied circuits, by your codes.
later,
tom @ www.Japanese-Beetles.com
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wrote:

It used to be a footnote to 310-16 and now it has moved to 240.4(D) The intent is to build the 80% ampacity rule into the circuits that are likely to have multiple receptacles on them because the installer has no control on what the user will plug in.
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On Thu, 31 Aug 2006 10:52:15 -0400, snipped-for-privacy@aol.com wrote:

"footnote" or "fine print note"
The code seems to tell you that FPN's are unenforcible, so that makes sense why I sometimes still find 20amp bkr's on a 14# wire in older homes.
later,
tom @ www.WorkAtHomePlans.com
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wrote:

enforceable. They moved it to article 240.4(D) to make it easier to understand not to make it more legal. NFPA has been rewriting lots of articles over the past few cycles to make them conform to the style manual.
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