What happens when.....

you replace a 15 Amp circuit breaker with a 20 Amp?
I tagged along with my friend for a day at his job. He is a handyman. One of his stops for that day was a house that had an obsolete circuit breaker box with a 15 Amp, GFI circuit breaker that was warm to the touch and kept tripping. This 15 Amp circuit is for a bathroom and at some point, someone added a wire to power a refrigerator in the garage.
The reason he asked me to come along is because he wanted me to help him replace the entire breaker panel. A 15 Amp GFI could be obtained for $240 American. It was decided to buy a sub panel, one 20 Amp, GFI circuit breaker and one 20 Amp circuit breaker to replace the original 15 Amp breaker. The wire used for the circuit is 14/2.
I guess the complaint of the customer was that when someone used a hair dryer it would trip the breaker.
The first thing I noted was no one measured the current while the refrigerator and hair dryer were in use. All they did was install the 20 Amp breaker and check to make sure it didn't trip with the fridge and hair dryer running.
This scares the hell out of me. Any thoughts?
Toast
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wrote:

You break the law (violation of the electrical code) and create a serious risk of fire.

That was a mistake...

That's *way* too high a price for a 15A GFI breaker. Go price them at Lowe's or Home Depot. Example: http://www.lowes.com/lkn?action=productList&catalogId°90255

14-gauge wire *requires* a 15A breaker. Anything larger creates a risk of fire.

Well, no kidding. The circuit doesn't have the capacity to run a hair dryer and a refrigerator. The cure is to install a new circuit, with both wire and breaker properly sized for the intended load.

Your friend is a dangerous hack, not a handyman. He shouldn't be touching anything electrical, ever. You should warn the homeowner that this "handyman" has created a serious fire hazard, and report this guy to whatever licensing and inspection authorities may exist in your location. He's endangering people's lives with this sort of stuff.
-- Regards, Doug Miller (alphageek-at-milmac-dot-com)
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wrote:

risk
of
box
someone
Lowe's
I appologize. I should have written 20 Amp GFI circuit breaker. The circuit breaker wasn't sold by Lowes or Home Depot because the manufacturer was no longer in business.

The
dryer
and
I'm just the messenger here. I agree with everything you say and basically told my friend and his boss. I did my best. Since then I've been accused of being a perfectionist, anal retentive, no common sense etc... . Typical stuff from people that can't get it through there head that *all* electrical components have "Absolute Maximun Ratings." It's a lonely feeling when everyone else (none of which knows a damn thing about electricity) thinks it's okay to repace a 15 Amp breaker with a 20 Amp. His boss told me that he replaced his 20 Amp with 30 Amp breakers in his own home. I fear for his life and told him so. Anyhow, thanks for the response, I needed it.

Amp
dryer
"handyman"
licensing
Thanks again for the confirmation.
Toast

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wrote:

he
His boss should hire BinaryBill from the "Spa wiring question" thread. They sound a lot alike.
Sad thing is there's always this kind of stuff going on. Some people just think that codes are meant to be bent.... or broken. I helped a co-worker rewire his vacation home because the previous owner had wired the whole place with 22ga LVT! There were burn and char marks all over, a pure miracle the structure was still standing.
--



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On Mon, 20 Oct 2003 10:44:07 -0400, "Steve Smith"

It might help if you at least knew the codes, Stevie. Then you would know that your nonsense in that "spa" thread were nothing less than nonsense.

Not surprising...

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he
Better to be lonely and alive than be in agreement and die when your house burns down. I don't agree with a lot of permitting issues and think it is often just a way to make money for the town. I do, hover, agree with the codes and the reasons for them. They come about from data collected in testing and also from real life happenings when buildings are destroyed and lives lost.
In this case, the inspector would have caught the "error", but since they know it is wrong, they would not get a permit, nor would they have an inspection.
Fact is, you can get away with larger breakers than called for IF the load does not go beyond the capacity of the wire, but when you start plugging in more stuff and the load get up there, trouble can start. Next owner or tenant may plug in a couple of space heaters. Not worth the risk. Ed
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Edwin Pawlowski wrote:

Even that's not a sure thing. Given that scenario, will the resistance of the wire be enough to limit short-circuit current to less than the rating of the oversized breaker? Do YOU want to be the one running short-circuit current through that wire, and whatever fault caused the short, for a long period of time to find out?
--
It is possible to distinguish between a referral and a NXDOMAIN
response by the presense of NXDOMAIN in the RCODE regardless of the
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Small error, Edwin - Circuit breakers are there to protect the WIRE not the load. If you put a 20A breaker on 14 ga wire there is nothing preventing the user to plug in a 20A load. You should NEVER oversize the breaker past the rated capacity of the wire.
Now, the exceptions ~ Depending on the type of wire, it's temperature rating and how it's installed, 14ga wire can actually go up to almost 60A. This is based on single conductor, type PFAH & TFE wire rated at 250'C. Not your typical house wiring by any stretch of the imagination.
To further confound matters ~ The NEC actually states 14ga wire, type TW, RH, RHW . . . , rated at 75'C is good for 20A. However it also states that unless specifically permited by instance the overcurrent protection for 14ga is 15A, 12ga is 20A, etc.
Hope this helps,
Erik Ahrens
wrote in message

thinks
that
and
in
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Q - What happens when electricity is introduced into a faulty circuit?
A - Fire.
HTH
Steve
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[snip]
OK, fine, that's *way* too high a price for a 20A GFI breaker. Really. About six to eight times what they really cost. If they're not available at HD or Lowe's, try an electrical supply house. A 20A GFI breaker shouldn't cost near that much, even *including* the labor to install it.
[snip]

Your buddy's boss is as big a dope as your buddy. :-( You're on the right page, anyway, and they're out to lunch. Don't *ever* let these clowns work on the electricity in your house.
-- Regards, Doug Miller (alphageek-at-milmac-dot-com)
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I gotta stand by Mr. Miller on this one. Risk of over heat.
--

Christopher A. Young
Learn more about Jesus
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of
box
breaker
Amp
dryer
Yeah, your friend must have missed fire prevention week (October 5-11, 2003): http://firesafety.buffnet.net /
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toasted wrote:

Yeah. To protect the customer, I'd call the city inspector pronto about this hack job. Otherwise if the worst happens you're culpable too, for knowing about this and letting it go. Your buddy might think it's okay to bend the code, but he took you along and got you involved. He did what he felt like doing, and you have that right, too: follow your conscience (and better knowledge) here and do the right thing, even if it ends the friendship and gets him in trouble.
HellT
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A very unsafe and illegal job.
--
Joseph E. Meehan

26 + 6 = 1 It's Irish Math
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Hi, Since when handy man is allowed to do wiring. Sooner or later he'll burn down a house or kill some one. Your friend is no good! Tony
Joseph Meehan wrote:

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On Mon, 20 Oct 2003 08:21:06 -0400, "toasted"

Your signature pretty much sums it up!
Have a nice week...
Trent
Certified breast self-exam subcontractor.
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Wait 10, 20 ,50 yrs. You will be the ASS that experimented, and HD now wont warranty your PUSS,,,,, Wake UP It lasts thousands of years done right ,, Bozo, YOU a BOZO , BOZO
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