20-amp outlet, 15-amp circuit, builder BSing me???

The outlet/receptacle in my garage for my sprinkler timer is a single, 20-amp outlet. I went to replace it with a dual 20-amp outlet so I could plug more than one thing at a time in. In doing so, I discovered that this circuit is controlled by a 15-amp breaker (this circuit also contains another 15-amp GFI outlet in my garage).
It's a new home, still under warranty. I reported this to the builder. Two concerns:
1. Maybe it is supposed to be a 20-amp circuit and they tried to make it look like one with the 20-amp outlet. All other add on outlets to the house are 20-amp. The outlet for the sprinkler timer is an add on since the front yard landscaping was an option. I don't think they'll ever tell me for sure if that should have been a 20-amp circuit and they forgot to put it in, so they piggy backed off of the exisiting 15-amp circuit in the garage.
2. Is it legal for them to put a 20-amp outlet on a 15-amp circuit? I asked this question. The builder said "for the sprinkler timer, they are allowed to use a single 20-amp outlet/receptable even though it is a 15-amp circuit." What??? That doesn't make any sense.
Am I being BS'ed? I cannot get access to the NEC code book to research this myself. My county uses the 2002 NEC. Thanks in advance for any input.
Mike
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Should be able to get a copy of the code somplace and look it up. If they claim that it's OK ask them exactly where in the code, buecuas eI bet they can't tell you. What size is the wire used for this curcuit?
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What size is the wire feeding the outlet? See if you can determine it's size (14 or 12 ga), and then an answer can be provided as to whether or not you have any real problem.
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There is a problem, but without knowing the wire size, it is hard to say what. If the wire is #14, the outlet must be 15a. This is potentially dangerous because if you plugged a 20a load in, it could start a fire if the 15a breaker didn't trip; though this is unlikely since the breaker should trip. If the wire is #12 then the breaker should be 20a. This is harmless, but a 20a load (should you ever find one) will trip the breaker.
Possible they intended it as a 20a circuit, but when they added the 15a GFCI, they changed the breaker to a 15a. What is the wire size?
BTW, unless the single receptacle is in a place where it will be permanently used by a refrigerator (or similar) it must be GFCI protected. If you change it, it must be to a GFCI outlet.
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What size is the wiring? If it's 14-2, you've got the correct breaker. If it's 12-2, you can swap the breaker out for a 20A. Just make sure the run is 100% 12-2 from end to end before making such a swap. If this guy was a hack, you'll never know if he made a junction somewhere from 12-2 to 14-2 in the middle for a myriad of reasons. Very unlikely that this was done, but unless you can see it with your eyes, I wouldn't sleep well at night.
Putting a 20A outlet on a 15A circuit isn't going to cause any safety issues. The worst thing that can happen is you keep tripping the breaker if you try to use too much juice. This is a good thing and is protecting you like it should be. Does it introduce all kinds of confusion? Yea, sure. But at least you're still safe and won't burn the house down.
Unless you NEED 20A outlets, just live with the fact that 15A is more than enough for every day use, unless this is for a work shop or other heavy equipment. Look at the paperwork that came with your timer. I'm quite confident it doesn't require a 20A circuit.
Whatever his intentions were is a different story....
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wrote:

My NEC book is old (1984) but it does say in Table 210-21(b)(3) that 15-amp circuits shall have a receptacle rating not over 15-amps. for a 20-amp circuit, you can use 15 or 20 amp receptacles. The real determining factor is the wire gauge they used. If it's 14, you have a 15-amp circuit. If it's 12, it can handle 20-amps. The idiot who wired our garage used one 15-amp circuit with 14-gauge wire to handle the garage outlets, all outside outlets and a utility room off the garage. My air compressor wouldn't even start. Fortunately, he did put in a 20-amp circuit for the built-in vacuum so I can plug the air compressor in there when I need it.
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Fred wrote:

The simple answer to your question is yes the builder is BSing you. The US NEC specifically limits the receptacles on a fifteen ampere circuit to fifteen ampere pattern. The rating of the Over Current Protective Device is what governs the ampacity of the circuit rather than the wire size. The wire size could be increased to ten gage to compensate for voltage drop but that would not make the circuit twenty ampere.
210.21 Outlet Devices. Outlet devices shall have an ampere rating that is not less than the load to be served and shall comply with 210.21(A) and (B). (B) Receptacles. (3) Receptacle Ratings. Where connected to a branch circuit supplying two or more receptacles or outlets, receptacle ratings shall conform to the values listed in Table 210.21(B)(3), or where larger than 50 amperes, the receptacle rating shall not be less than the branch-circuit rating.
Table 210.21(B)(3) Receptacle Ratings for Various Size Circuits Circuit Rating (Amperes) Receptacle Rating (Amperes) 15 Not over 15 20 15 or 20 30 30 40 40 or 50 50 50
I cannot imagine how this could be more clear. A fifteen ampere circuit may not have a receptacle that is more than fifteen ampere pattern.
Since these receptacles were add ons or extras they were probably done without benefit of permit or inspection. You may want to suggest to the builder that if it is not corrected you will call in the electrical inspector. -- Tom Horne
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single outlets in cement floor area's are often exempt from having to be GFI protected. Some AC motors trip GFI outlets when they kick on & off so rather than have you reset the GFI often when the sump pump kicks off, the electricians got the code to permit non-GFI outlet to be used for single outlet plates for use of an appliance that is plugged into it on a relatively permanent basis.
I think the normal single outlet sockets are 20 amp? I would hope the electrician ran thick enough wire for the 20 amp circuit to the outlet and just did not install a 20 amp circuit because the sprinkler did not require one.

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I think the NEC says Garage needs to GFCI. No mentioning of whether the floor is cement or other.

On the other hand, if it was a dedicated receptical, not ment to be used for a cord and plug appliance(I'm guessing his sprinkler might be), then there are exemptions about using a GFCI protected receptacle.

IMHO,
Tom @ www.BookmarkAdmin.com
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Is it possible this is a singlex, 15a receptacle? It may be an innocent mistake that a 15a singlex, non-gfci'd receptacle was supposed to be installed specifically for a sprinkler timer, and a 20a singlex was mistakenly installed as they're more common.

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