My contractor just completed our bedroom/bath remodel, which included
adding an additional light in the bathroom, plus an exhaust fan (didn't
have one before), four electric wall sconces, four recessed lights in
the vanity area, 3 recessed lights in the closet. This is in addition
to everything (outlets, etc.) that was already on the bedroom circuit.
Now, whenever my wife uses her hair dryer, the 15 amp breaker trips.
My question is - do I need to add an additional circuit, or can I just
replace the existing 15 amp circuit breaker with a 20 amp breaker? My
house is in Southern California, built in 1978, all wiring is copper...
If the wiring is 12 gauge, yes. But be sure to go thru each fixture
(they're likely wired in series) and outlet and make damn sure
each connection is tight. Wired to the screws on the switches/
outlets, etc. Do not use the 'push-in' connection on the fixtures,
they are lousy connection and can cause voltage drop, thus
higher current for the breaker. be sure to open the circuit
breaker before this 'rewiring' of outlets/etc. light fixtures
should have good solid wire nuts.
Also, try turning off some of the load- lights, fans, etc before using
the hair dryer. And don't use the top heat on the high dryer,
it can draw MANY amps. If a bathroom fan/heater is on the
circuit, it'll draw a shitload of current.
you may be able to use the 15 amp breaker after following
these steps. It might be wise to check exactly everywhere
this circuit goes, it may even power other outlets/lights.
If so seriously consider running another circuit to split the
remember 15 A X 120 volts = 1.8 KW per hour and 24 hours
equals 43.2 KWH per day X .15 X 30= $64.30 per month. ouch.
Overall, this sounds like too much load for a single circuit.
do the bedroom lights/tv dim when the above stuff kicks in?
Remember when lights dim, the voltage drops and the current
(amps) goes up! Any chance of banishing the hair dryer to
The first question is, of all the stuff listed above, what exactly is
on the outlet with the hair dryer and what will the typical load be?
You can only upgrade the existing breaker if the wiring is 12 gauge or
better, which is not likely if it's a 15 circuit.
Sounds like no planning was done during the renovation.
When my fiance moved in new never before seen electrical troubles
started. the curling iron hairdryer combo was a killer:(
I did wjat most codes require!
Bath has its OWN 20 amp GFCI protected outlets, never saw that problem
when your bath got redone the contractor should of done the same
If you're pulling wire into the bathroom and have the panel space, might not
be a bad idea to run _two_ 20 amp circuits--two people drying hair on high
power at the same time will trip a 20 amp breaker.
By your description, the contractor clearly did not follow NEC codes in the
remodel, much less any local codes. At this point the most sensible thing to
do is run a 20 amp dedicated line for the bathroom GFCI outlets
I agree. Your contractor did not do a proper job.
I also agree that the only good answer is to run a new 20 amp circuit to
the bath (GFCI) for that hair dryer. Not doing so is likely to just bring
you back here again.
If you must try replacing that breaker, do start checking each and every
device on the circuit to make sure each and every wire attached to the
circuit is 12 gauge. With what your contractor did, I would not be
surprised if he used 14 gauge and that would limit the entire circuit to 15
given the contractors stupidity.
The OP should buy one of those outlewt testers and check EVERY outlet
in the home for miss wiring. Even outlets that work may have a open
Better safe than sorry!@
Watts = Volts X Amps, 120X1500 Watts Take a look at the hair dryer.
I suspect that you will find that it is at least 1500 Watts. That
leaves you five sixty watt light bulbs worth of power left before the
breakers overload sensor starts to heat up. Some hair dryers are 1800
Watts which means that they need the entire ampacity of a fifteen ampere
circuit for the hair dryer alone.
Well we aren\'t no thin blue heroes and yet we aren\'t no blackguards to.
Cheapest solution would be to see if the wife could find a lower wattage
hair dryer that she likes, try it out and return if she doesn't like it, or
it still trips the breaker.
Maybe lower wattage bulbs could help, if they are not too dark
Finally as others have said run a dedicated 12 gauge line to the plug and
use a 20 A breaker
One other possiblity is if that breaker is old or tripped much in the
past it may be tripping easier than it should be.
best to check with a clamp on ampmeter at the panel.
Cheap work arounds are at best like a ugly pothole patch. they kinda
get the road back in service but a constant nuisance.
run a new dedicated line with 12 gauge wire and 20 amp breaker....
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