Electical Outlet Replacement Blues

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Hi Group:
I offered to update my g/friend's kitchen electrical outlets to the newer, square white ones, but am having trouble figuring out the wiring. The home is a 1985 vintage greater Toronto Area home.
The problems started when I was trying to find the breakers for the outlets. These are just your standard wall, backsplash outlets. I expected to find them on a single 15-amp breaker, but to my surprise they were on a double breaker, like a heavy-duty appliance.
When I pulled one of the outlets off the wall to have a look I noticed that it was grounded, but also had a red, black and white line feeding them.
I'm assuming that this means the upper and lower sockets are on different circuits and also assuming that this means that I'll need something different than your standard outlet.
The relationship with the g/f's pretty solid, but I think I'd be pushing things a bit if I burnt her place down. Any suggestions on the best way to proceed would be appreciated.
tia
Peter H
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On the new outlets you will need to break off the tab that is between the screws on the hot side. Use pliers to bend it back and forth until it breaks off. This will separate the 2 hots. The neutral (white) is most likely shared between the 2 hots so don't break the tab that side unless the old one was like that (would have had 2 white wires if so). Look carefully at the old outlet and do the new one just like the old outlet was done. Kevin
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A red and black wire on the same outlet does not necessarily mean they are on two separate circuits, possibly the red of the three wire is feeding that outlet and the black continues that circuit to another outlet. He needs to KNOW what he's got and doing before proceeding

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True, but since he's in in Canada (I believe Chris Lewis says it's a CEC requirement) and they're on a double pole breaker it would appear to be the case.
No mention of GFCI, so as the other poster pointed out, just look at the outlet he's replacing....
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I agree with RBM, if you are asking these types of questions, you should probably not be doing the work. Don't take this as a slam, but as a thought!
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To-code kitchen counter outlets in Canada, at until recently, HAVE to be split duplex (two circuits). So, it's virtually guaranteed that the tab has to be broken off and wired identically.
But, you're right, he has to check the existing outlets and replace them _identically_.
--
Chris Lewis, Una confibula non set est
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Peter H wrote:

Often each outlet is attached to TWO 20 AMP circuit breakers This is US I don't know what is usual up there. When you get done, it would be nice to add GFI protection as well if it is not there.
The outlets have a ear that bridges the gap between the upper and lower outlets, you need to remove all of these. If you are not sure, try getting a good book at the DIY store, and if you are still unsure get a pro.
--
Joseph Meehan

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You break off only _one_ of the ears, on the hot side. The neutral is shared.
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Chris Lewis, Una confibula non set est
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Chris Lewis wrote:

Hopefully.
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Joseph Meehan

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Take a look at the outlets-there's a little tab you break off on the hot (brass screw) side to separate the two sockets...
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And maybe the neutrals : )
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I must be missing something: the slimeline square outlets have the same side tabs to break off so you can split the receptacle into 2 circuits. Why not wire it exactly as the old one?

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John F. wrote:

I don't think you are missing anything. It appeared to me that the OP was missing this fact and is not aware that the tabs are there.
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Joseph Meehan

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You have a multiwire circuit, which are (as I understand it) routine in Canada. In the US if you work on a circuit it must be brought up to current code, and current code requires GFCI on kitchen circuits. GFCI is a problem on multiwire circuits. My suggestion is to go to a decent store and ask them how to handle it,
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Split circuits are standard under Ontario wiring code. It also (now, not when this house was built) requires GFI breakers if the outlets are within a metre of the sink. You will need a 240 volt GFI to do it. The code also allows 20 amp circuits in the kitchen but that would require re-wiring it. I would just change out the recepticals, breaking off the tab between the red and black wire, exactly the same as the ones you are replacing.

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EXT wrote:

This is an important point. Please heed this advice. When I made a note about 20 amp circuits I did not caution sufficiently about the need to make sure the wiring was the correct size to support 20 amps.

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With expensive GFCI breakers, and leave the outlets alone.
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First, kudos for stopping and asking questions. It is possible to miswire this setup so that a fire happens many years or decades later when heavy appliance load is applied.
Second, others have properly cautioned you about the unique (and legal) nature of those circuits. Understand the concept - AND confirm what you have wired with a meter. Others have posted important facts. Make sure you comprehend what every posted has warned of. IOW, with those tabs removed, each half of receptacle should measure 120 volts between flat prongs - AND 240 volts between small prongs on both halves. If not, then a potential 'fire inside the walls' condition exists.
Reason for those meter readings should make it obvious why this caution is necessary. Meter should confirm everything properly wired when done. This is an essential human safety issue. But again, kudos for asking so that someone is not killed.
BTW, normally kitchen upgrades require GFCIs. In your case, that means the double breaker would need be a GFCI type. And you thought this would be easy. We call this ... fun.
Peter H wrote:

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Canada is transitioning from the traditional split-receptacle 15A non-GFCI'd kitchen counter outlets, to counter outlets that must be GFCI'd (last code revision). In order to ease the transition, we're only now permitting 20A GFCI receptacles on single circuits. Kitchen counter outlets _only_ IIRC. 20A circuits are still not permitted for general outlet circuits elsewhere.
Thus either a double GFCI breaker supplying a split-receptacle, or a GFCI outlet on a 20A circuit meets code.
When simply replacing existing compliant receptacles, insisting on upgrading to GFCI is up to the inspector.
I highly doubt an inspector would require GFCI while simply replacing the receptacle, because any installation older than a year or two will be split dual, and double GFCIs are expensive, and this is no worse than the previous situation.
But if the person was doing anything more substantial (moving, installing new outlets), they'd definately insist on GFCI.
Switching the circuits over to 20A so GFCI outlets can be used would require the wire be replaced.
--
Chris Lewis, Una confibula non set est
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Thanks to all who replied. I had a good look at the existing set-up and just as suggested the connecting link on one side of the outlet was broken off. I just did the same on the new receptacle and installed them in the same fashion. They are working fine.
I'm not going to bother w/ the gfi breakers at this point.
Peter H
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