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-   -   14 gauge wires all over but no 15 amp breakers (

amakarevic 05-15-2007 11:44 PM

14 gauge wires all over but no 15 amp breakers
in my house that i recently bought, i noticed that there are all kinds of 14 gauge wiring in the basement but when i took a look into the breaker box, all the breakers were either 30, 50, or 20 amps - no 15 which would correspond to 14 gauge wires. i did not trace back to where the 14 gauge go to in the box, as there is a mess down there but could this be raising a red flag or is there a positive explanation that would justify this occurence ?


- a

Mike Swearingen 05-16-2007 03:18 AM

I'm not a pro electrician, just a 50-year+ DIYer, but no 14g circuit wiring should be on anything larger than a 15 amp breaker, as you apparently know.
It has to be 12g or larger to be on 20 amp or anything higher. The 30 amp breaker is probably for your electric water heater (which should have at least 10g wiring) and the 50 amp is probably for your range or HVAC unit, etc.
Sounds like you may just need to change out some breakers to 15 amp for any and all 14g wiring, which should be fine for most residential lighting and receptacle circuits.
I have no 14g, but ALL wiring in my house is no smaller than 12g by choice when I built it...some on 15 amp (lighting) circuits, but most on 20 amp (receptacle) circuits.
It's easy to change a circuit breaker IF you're an experienced DIYer with electrical knowledge. (CALL A PRO ELECTRICIAN, IF NOT.)
Turn OFF the MAIN panel breaker to do it of course, but remember that the two legs above the main are still HOT (120V each) even with the main breaker off and either can kill you if you touch them. TEST the panel with a voltage meter before touching anything, because sometimes a main breaker may be faulty. Just exchange the black (hot) wire on the 20 amp breakers to the 15 amp breakers. The 14g white (neutral) and grounds should be O.K. where they're already connected in the panel, but double-check them anyway.
Good luck!

jwhite 05-16-2007 04:26 AM

mike said it all. It would be hard to imporove on that post. :)

Beren 05-16-2007 08:06 AM

Wow. Did you have a home inspection performed prior to buying the home? If so, you may want to have a little talk with the inspector about the costs of fixing a very dangerous issue they missed.

HouseHelper 05-16-2007 08:47 AM

In some parts of the country it is typical in older homes to find switch legs and 3way switch wiring in 14ga and the branch circuit wires in 12ga, all protected by 20A breakers. You may find that all the 20A breakers have 12ga wire attached. If that is the case, then this is not something a typical home inspector would have detected. Find out which circuits have the 14ga wire and, as Mike said, replace the breaker with a 15A.

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