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Old 09-30-2012, 07:23 PM   #1
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14/2 vs 12/2 question


Hi all,

I am redoing my basement and the previous owners did a lot of shoddy work and I don't want to follow in their footsteps so I need some clarification here...

The area I am working on has a junction box which splits off to power our electric clothes dryer and a local outlet, from the outlet the circuit continues up into the joists with a fabric sheathed wire run (I haven't traced this line yet). This circuit is controlled by a double switch breaker which I am assuming is 20 amp. I have two questions concerning this; 1. I've read and understand that I shouldn't use 14/2 on a 20 amp circuit but as this is a branch off a junction box and I will be drawing less than 20 amps on this run from the junction box do I still need to use 12/2? as this is the only run in the area, I don't have a choice in using another circuit without doing a long run from another part of the house. And question 2, since I plan on using this circuit for powering a media center (tv, home theater, Xbox, etc.) will putting a power strip with a surge protector be sufficient to protect the components on this 20 amp run.

Any help here would be great, I am just leaning about wiring and I've done some basic stuff but this is more a safety issue so I want make sure before I sheet rock everything in and have to rip it all out again..

Thanks in advance

Ken

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Old 09-30-2012, 08:26 PM   #2
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14/2 vs 12/2 question


If you have a 20 amp circuit you have to use a minimum 12 gauge wire. You can change the breaker to a 15 amp butfor the cost just put in 12 gauge wire. Even a decent home inspector would catch that one once in a while.

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Old 09-30-2012, 08:26 PM   #3
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14/2 vs 12/2 question


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Originally Posted by StoneKobra View Post
I've read and understand that I shouldn't use 14/2 on a 20 amp circuit but as this is a branch off a junction box and I will be drawing less than 20 amps on this run from the junction box do I still need to use 12/2?
The code is not written with your intentions in mind, it is written for worst case scenarios. In this case, you have to use 12-2.
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Old 09-30-2012, 09:06 PM   #4
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14/2 vs 12/2 question


Thanks to both of you, it is as I assumed. My confusion was more directed at the fact that even though it is a 20 amp circuit, the branch I was wiring was not going to pull 20 amps as it was a different branch than the dryer is on. But as far as my second question, do I have to worry about these "sensitive" electronic devices on the same circuit with the dryer? I'm basically weighing the pros and cons of just running a longer wire from a 15 amp circuit on the other side of the house or wiring into the 20 amp. Any opinions?
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Old 09-30-2012, 09:20 PM   #5
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14/2 vs 12/2 question


If you are even a little bit concerned,
then having a spike filter would be a good idea,
Yes its possible that there could be spikes from the dryer.
However I would think that designers of these appliances
would try there best to minimise any spikes.
Or it wouldn't get passed.
Do you have "C TICK" ?
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Old 09-30-2012, 10:10 PM   #6
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14/2 vs 12/2 question


Something doesn't sound right. You said "electric dryer." Most dryers are 30 amp 240 volt, not 20 amp. Yes, it should have a double pole breaker.

Where is the breaker for the other outlet? Or, does it share the breaker for the dryer? If so, you really should be looking at this junction box. Depending upon the age of your house you may only have a 3 wire plug (2 hots and a ground) at your dryer. If the previous owners tapped off of it and put in that junction box to feed the other outlet, they may be using the ground as a neutral.
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Old 09-30-2012, 10:29 PM   #7
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14/2 vs 12/2 question


Quote:
Originally Posted by StoneKobra View Post
1. I've read and understand that I shouldn't use 14/2 on a 20 amp circuit but as this is a branch off a junction box and I will be drawing less than 20 amps on this run from the junction box do I still need to use 12/2? as this is the only run in the area, I don't have a choice in using another circuit without doing a long run from another part of the house.
I hope I'm reading this correctly. I don't believe it's legal, or safe, to add #14 to a circuit providing a 20 amp overcurrent device. Whenever I see #14 connected to #12, I either replace the wiring, or replace the 20 amp breaker with a 15. The problem with the latter is that someone in the future may see #12 in the panel, and put a 20 back in, so I'm not sure if this is even advisable.

Why can't you just use #12 if you're tapping a JB? You can still use 15a receptacles.

Also, consider the future of the home when wiring. Perhaps you will not overload a circuit because you know what you've done, but what happens when you sell the home, and the next family plugs in a bunch of stuff NOT knowing. Could spell trouble for someone.
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Old 09-30-2012, 11:29 PM   #8
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14/2 vs 12/2 question


DMXTOTHEMAX- I am not sure what a "C TICK" is... Yes I would assume there would be some sort of spike resistor in the dryer, but i still don't know what would happen on the circuit hence my question.

AandPDan- I am a total electrical newbie, it is a double pole breaker, but when I saw that it was 12/2 wiring I assumed it was 20 amp. I just took a closer look at the panel and it IS 30 amp. The JB is fed from the panel and splits down to the dedicated dryer line and sideways to an outlet, that then feeds another outlet and goes up to the joists to someplace I haven't been able to trace (yet). The house is from the 50's and had 100 amp service when we bought it. We since upgraded to 200 amp, but the wiring is terrible.

SirSparksalot - That was my concern about using 12/2... again I am a noob but I understand the basics. When I started this project I assumed the JB was a standard 14/2 15 amp which I could handle confidently, it was only after traced the line to the breaker that I found out what circuit I was dealing with and found it feeding the dryer. I have no problem using 12/2 as long as I can use 15 amp receptacles. That is a good point about futures as well.


To summarize... I have a 30 amp (not 20 amp) line running to a JB that splits to my dryer, a local outlet (with 12/2) and an unknown third location (also 12/2) and I can't see what the line for the dryer is because it is in metal conduit with only the wires showing, but there are three wires (yellow, black, white) but only black and whit run to the outlet and beyond.

I appreciate everyone's help with this, but I think my safest and least stressful route on my part would be to get an extra 100 ft of 14/2 and run off a 15 amp further away from where I am working. better safe than sorry, I was trying to avoid this as snaking the wire is going to be tricky, but what's life without a challenge?

Thanks again everyone for the great advice and insight!
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Old 10-01-2012, 12:26 AM   #9
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14/2 vs 12/2 question


Duplex receptacles cannot be fed from a circuit of greater than 20 amps. You need to remove those from the dryer circuit.
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Answers based on the National Electrical Code. Local amendments may apply. Check with your local building officials.
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Old 10-01-2012, 01:44 AM   #10
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14/2 vs 12/2 question


I agree with Jim Port. Also, I don't think it's legal to serve a 120v and 240v circuit from the same double pole breaker. That j-box was a big mistake, so it needs to be checked for more stupidity. Especially, before you rock. After you remove the 120v circuits from the dryer circuit, check that the j-box is properly grounded and is a proper ground path, because new dryers need three #10 insulated wires and a ground. Not all metal conduit is a legal ground and some require ground bushings and jumpers to complete the circuit at the j-box. If you don't have a legal ground, now is the time to pull one in and get that dryer circuit up to code. If the metal conduit is big enough and in good shape you could pull more wires through it and fix your 120v circuits and not have to snake romex to that point. Keep your dryer on a regular DP breaker. The 120v circuits should all probably be on Arc Fault circuit breakers. Extra credit, read up on Multi Wire Branch Circuits.
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Old 10-01-2012, 06:53 PM   #11
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14/2 vs 12/2 question


Buy a 250 ft roll of 12-2 as it's not that much more than a 100 ft roll.
Also if your running 100 ft you have to start being concerned about voltage drop. Depending on the current!
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Old 10-01-2012, 09:13 PM   #12
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14/2 vs 12/2 question


Once again, thank you everyone for the great advice. I've removed the outlet and secondary run off that circuit so it is now dedicated for the dryer. I also found an outlet on a 15 amp circuit within 20 feet of where I am working (2 floors up) so I think I should be good.

This is a great community and I can't thank everyone enough.

Ken

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