How ? If the water heater is not an overload in and of itself, how would an
unused outlet create one?
Not that I'm aware of. However, I think you said the water heater draws 13
amps. A water heater of 120 gallons or less is considered a "continuous load"
by the Code, which means that the circuit supplying it is limited to 80% of
its rated capacity, or 12 amps for a 15A circuit -- which means that a 13A
water heater requires a 20A circuit.
From the 2002 NEC:
210.23(A)(2) "Utilization Equipment Fastened in Place." The total
rating of utilization equipment fastened in place, other than
luminaires (lighting fixtures), shall not exceed 50 percent of the
branch-circuit ampere rating where lighting units, cord-and-plug-
connected utilization equipment not fastened in place, or both, are
So if you have a 13 amp water heater on a 20 amp branch circuit, this
section prohibits you from having a general-purpose receptacle on that
Just add a new circuit for your water heater.
Your reluctance to make a simple hole for a new circuit is puzzling.
Punches for this purpose can be had at Lowes, HD, and the other box
stores at little cost. Tradesmen do this often and don't break into a
rash about it. It is quick, neat, precise, and your friends would all
be impressed. And of then there's all the time saved.
I wouldn't want my water heater on a switch as forgetful as I am. I
also wouldn't want anything else on the circuit that could put me with
no hot water.
If a bolt on breaker makes you nervous, kill the main before working
It wouldn't be "like" a 3-way switch, you can use a 3-way switch for
this application. feed goes to the black terminal and the two
traveler terminals can go to your two loads. I'd probably go for a
20A switch just for insurance, it only costs a couple bucks extra.
HomeOwnersHub.com is a website for homeowners and building and maintenance pros. It is not affiliated with any of the manufacturers or service providers discussed here.
All logos and trade names are the property of their respective owners.