Circuit Breaker Upgrade?

I want to make sure I've got this right: I have a 20-year old house with a Cutler-Hammer/Eaton circuit breaker box. All regular circuits are 20 amps. Stove/oven, dryer, and AC are 30 and 40 and 60 amps. I have one 20 amp GFCI breaker on the box that goes to all the bathroom receptacles and all the outdoor receptacles. Each receptacle has two plugs, for a total of 14 plugs on the one breaker. At Christmastime, when my outdoor Christmas lights are plugged into two outdoor receptacles, the circuit trips when my wife runs her hair dryer. The black wire coming out of the circuit box says 600V and 12/2 and other things, but no other numbers are close to 12. The white wire ground coming out of the circuit box says 600V and 14/2 and other things, but no other numbers are close to 14. So I have 12 and 14 gauge wiring, right? I can buy a device at Radio Shack/Lowe's/whatever for maybe $14.95 that I hook up to the wire and get back the gauge size, right? I want to go up to a 30-amp breaker so my Christmas lights don't trip it, but my wiring needs to be upgraded to all the bathrooms and outdoor receptacles to safely do so, right? One of the outdoor receptacles is near the circuit breaker box. I could hire an electrician to add a circuit on the box just for that receptacle, and perhaps have him convert the receptacle into a four-plug or eight-plug one, and he would bill me for approximately $500, right? I'm going to have to cut down on my Christmas lights or have my wife cut her hair short, because $500 is too much to pay just to have as many Christmas lights as I want each year, right?
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Whoa!! Slow down! Let's start with the Christmas light problem. You have a 20A circuit that feeds the hair dryer plug, as well as 13 other plugs on the same circuit. The hair dryer alone ( if its a 1800W model) is using 15 amps. Thats too much to share with other outlets being used ,including your X-mas lights. This is why your breaker is tripping. The right thing to do would be to run a dedicated circuit to the bathroom for the hair dryer. Otherwise, if you are more concerned with your X-mas lights, you could just run a dedicated circuit to your outside outlet, which might be easier since you stated that this outlet is close to the breaker panel. If you hire an electrician for that, it should not cost $500. I do not know how many lights you are hooking up, but a 20A dedicated circuit should be plenty, not 30A as you stated..
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<snip>

I think 30 would work great. I'll have to look for the christmas lights with the 30 amp 115 volt plugs. They could come in strings of 500 lights. :)
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I've never heard of this. What do you mean here? Why do you need to get back the gauge size in this fashion and how will this help

That's one way, though an expensive one to achieve your goals.

I can't tell you what electricians charge in your area. Have you had an electrician look at the problem? I think you should have another GFCI breaker installed in the service panel. Then remove the wire that connects the bathroom circuits from the old breaker and attach it to the new breaker. Viola, you now have 2 different circuits on 2 different breakers. I'm guessing that any new wire if needed can be run in the basement or crawl space without any fishing within walls. No need to change wire gauge either.

If your wife showered in the morning you might not have the problem with the Christmas lights.
Dave M.
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12 gage wire (copper) will safely handle 20 amps. 14 gage wire (copper) will safely handle 15 amps.
Call the electrician.
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snipped-for-privacy@hotmail.com posted for all of us... I don't top post - see either inline or at bottom.

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Check the hair dryer, my wife's is 1400 watt (about 12 amps) so maybe a slightly less powerful one would do the trick. If it doesn't please the wife then maybe she could just use the less powerful one over Christmas.

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The simple safe solution is to get the circuit with the hair dryer as a single outlet 20 amp breaker. I am fairly sure that a 20 amp dedicated circuit to the bath room is required by the current code.
Or add a separate circuit for you Xmas lights.
No matter what you might think you have seen at RS or elsewhere, under no circumstances should you replace a 20 amp breaker with a 30 amp breaker.
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Colbyt
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What does "get back the gauge size" mean? The wires are #12 or #14, as you have said. They are good for 20a and 15a respectively.

Everything would have to be upgraded to 30a, including the cable. A really bad idea, even if you could do it.

Depends on how difficult it is to run a circuit. I can run a new circuit across my basement in an hour. To run one to a second story bedroom would take much much longer. And there must be room in the breaker box for a new circuit, though there almost always is.

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Thanks for the advice. Y'all have answered all my questions.

Whenever I see a preacher wearing an expensive suit and jewelry, I want to ask him to wear cheaper clothes and no jewelry, and, instead, donate his saved money to charity.
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