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Old 12-24-2012, 06:56 AM   #1
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15A to 20A breaker and adding ground wire


I have an old 1965 house I'm working on renovating. I've recently found a few issues to deal with.

1) One room is destined to be my office / studio where I'll be running all my computers and guitar amps. It's hooked up with a 15A breaker currently. I'd like to up that to a 20A just to make sure I've got enough draw in case all my equipment is running at once. I have the walls apart and everything is run with 12AWG two conductor wire. Is there any reason I can't just swap the 15A breaker for a 20A considering I have the proper wire gauge to support it?

2) In the same room and a few other parts of the house I have some bootleg grounds I need to fix. Since I have the walls apart, can I add an independent conductor (12AWG solid core with green sheathing) from each of the bootlegged outlets back to the junction box where proper grounds for that circuit are present? Two out of 5 outlets in the room are properly grounded but two wire conductor is run to the other side of the room from the original hookups. The two that are grounded properly have bundles of ground wire connected in one of the junction boxes before heading back to the panel.

Thanks for any input.

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Old 12-24-2012, 07:24 AM   #2
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15A to 20A breaker and adding ground wire


If the walls are open, it would be in your best interest to replace the older 2 wire with newer #12 2 with a ground..
As long as all wire in the circuit is #12 copper, then you can replace with a 20 amp breaker.

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Old 12-24-2012, 08:36 AM   #3
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15A to 20A breaker and adding ground wire


Two wire circuits may be retrofitted with ground wires (equipment grounding conductors) but the latter must go all the way to the breaker panel, or to a fat ground wire (grounding electrode conductor) between panel and ground rod/water pipe (your choice of routing path). The National Electric Code seems to say that each receptacle or other device needs its own EGC back to the panel for this retrofit but I interpret that as multiple devices on the same branch circuit can use the same retrofit EGC via pigtails, taps, or daisy chaining.

You may not add on to (extend) such a circuit; new wiring must have EGC in the same cable as the circuit conductors, all the way to the panel. I.e. string new Romex, 12-2 with ground.
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Last edited by AllanJ; 12-24-2012 at 08:40 AM.
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Old 12-24-2012, 02:08 PM   #4
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15A to 20A breaker and adding ground wire


Your wiring is over 50 years old. Do yourself a favor and run new cables instead of closing up the walls on stuff approaching the end of its lifespan.
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Old 12-24-2012, 04:15 PM   #5
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15A to 20A breaker and adding ground wire


Thanks for all the replies. I can run the separate ground to the junction on the other side of the room and tie it into the grounds for the other outlets on the same circuit. They have a lead running back to the panel.

I just can't see sinking a bunch of money in new wire where it isn't needed. The current 12-2 without ground is in like new condition. It's not discolored of brittle in any way. The insulation is fine and the casing is fine on it. The copper wire itself certainly isn't going to go bad if it hasn't been overloaded and abused. I don't think this wire is over 50 years old either. This part of the house looks like it was finished after the upstairs portion. Other cable in the house looks like it has a fair bit more age on it than the cable I'm dealing with here, at least judging by discoloration of the casing. This stuff is bright white with clear red writing on it. I think I'll be dead and gone before this cable reaches the end of it's lifespan.
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Old 12-24-2012, 04:21 PM   #6
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15A to 20A breaker and adding ground wire


If the place is that old then I doubt you have adequate receptacles anyway.

IMO it is extremely hack to add a ground to 2-wire cable when your walls are wide open. I don't care how nice the old cable is, it is still hack to not replace it.
A) You can re-wire adding receptacles wherever you want. This is an office for goodness sakes.
B) If the cost of a bit of romex is a concern then maybe this whole job is outside your financial scope. I'd HARDLY call it a "bunch" of money.
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Old 12-24-2012, 11:34 PM   #7
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15A to 20A breaker and adding ground wire


If you want to you can carefully remove the old 12-2 cables without ground and use them for speaker wire at a later date, for example if you are building a home theater.

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