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Old 10-15-2008, 03:41 PM   #1
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20A GFCI on 15A circuit


My bathroom has a 20A GFCI on a 15A circuit. I understand that code says I need 20A and nothing else can share the circuit but that's not the case. I have several bedrooms on this same 15A circuit. Running a 20A circuit to the bathroom is in the planning stages but it's not going to happen immediately. In the meantime should I replace the 20A GFCI with a 15A GFCI? Does it really matter? I understand there's a lot of evil, what's the lesser of the evils here?

Please don't just recite code to me. I've got thousands of dollars worth of electrical problems that need fixed and unfortunately, some of this is going to be code unfriendly for a bit. I've already told my wife she's not allowed to plug a blow dryer into the GFCI. What are the ramications of having a GFCI rated higher than the circuit?

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Old 10-15-2008, 03:47 PM   #2
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20A GFCI on 15A circuit


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What are the ramications of having a GFCI rated higher than the circuit?
AFAIK it can't hurt, and will still provide protection.

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I've already told my wife she's not allowed to plug a blow dryer into the GFCI.
Ugh. I grew up in a house like that.. if my mom & sister used blow dryers @ the same time, half the 2nd floor would go out.

(And the bathroom receptacles were integrated into the light fixtures.. double ugh.)

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Old 10-15-2008, 03:54 PM   #3
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20A GFCI on 15A circuit


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Originally Posted by jheavner View Post
My bathroom has a 20A GFCI on a 15A circuit. I understand that code says I need 20A and nothing else can share the circuit but that's not the case. I have several bedrooms on this same 15A circuit. Running a 20A circuit to the bathroom is in the planning stages but it's not going to happen immediately. In the meantime should I replace the 20A GFCI with a 15A GFCI? Does it really matter? I understand there's a lot of evil, what's the lesser of the evils here?

Please don't just recite code to me. I've got thousands of dollars worth of electrical problems that need fixed and unfortunately, some of this is going to be code unfriendly for a bit. I've already told my wife she's not allowed to plug a blow dryer into the GFCI. What are the ramications of having a GFCI rated higher than the circuit?
Why wouldn't she be allowed to use the blow dryer on the GFCI?
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Old 10-15-2008, 03:57 PM   #4
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20A GFCI on 15A circuit


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Originally Posted by jheavner
I've already told my wife she's not allowed to plug a blow dryer into the GFCI.
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Originally Posted by jerryh3
Why wouldn't she be allowed to use the blow dryer on the GFCI?
Ah, I think I misunderstood the reason for telling her not to plug it in there..

It would be safe for her to use the dryer on the 20A receptacle / 15A circuit.. I thought the concern was that because many things are on that circuit, she'd be tripping the breaker..
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Old 10-15-2008, 03:59 PM   #5
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20A GFCI on 15A circuit


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Why wouldn't she be allowed to use the blow dryer on the GFCI?
I think some of the leaf blowers disguised as blow dryers can pull more than 15A. My thinking is that the circuit trips at 15A and I have to run to the basement to restore power to our upstairs. I don't want to have to set the times on all our various clocks after a reset.
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Old 10-15-2008, 04:01 PM   #6
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20A GFCI on 15A circuit


A 20amp receptacle can be installed and used on a 15amp circuit with no hazard and no need to correct. It isn't a problem. The receptacle is rated for 20amps, and the breaker on this particular circuit will not supply more than 15amps.
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Old 10-15-2008, 04:02 PM   #7
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20A GFCI on 15A circuit


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I understand that code says I need 20A and nothing else can share the circuit but that's not the case. I have several bedrooms on this same 15A circuit.
That may be the current code but many homes (including mine) are wired that way and will stay that way unless renovated. Is it out of code? Sure by today's standards but if that were the case every home having knob and tube or aluminum wiring might need to be fully rewired. A good idea but not unless major construction is involved.
Safe vs current code becomes the issue.
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Old 10-15-2008, 04:04 PM   #8
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20A GFCI on 15A circuit


The hair dryer alone won't trip it, but combined with the lighting, fart fan, and miscellaneous use load in the other rooms...Well, you know.

I've been where you are for sure! I've had to shower or go #2 in the dark a number of times after our overloaded circuit would trip. Now that I have a dedicated receptacle circuit for my wife's bathroom, the hairdryer is no problem.
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Old 10-15-2008, 04:06 PM   #9
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20A GFCI on 15A circuit


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That may be the current code but many homes (including mine) are wired that way and will stay that way unless renovated. Is it out of code? Sure by today's standards but if that were the case every home having knob and tube or aluminum wiring might need to be fully rewired. A good idea but not unless major construction is involved.
Safe vs current code becomes the issue.
Yeah, but unfortunately for me, this bathroom was renovated and therefore needed to be brought up to code at that time and that didn't happen. I'm assuming that puts me on the hook to correct if I ever plan to sell the house.
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Old 10-15-2008, 04:08 PM   #10
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20A GFCI on 15A circuit


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A 20amp receptacle can be installed and used on a 15amp circuit with no hazard and no need to correct. It isn't a problem. The receptacle is rated for 20amps, and the breaker on this particular circuit will not supply more than 15amps.
Excellent, that was the answer I was searching for. Out of curiosity, what happens if I plug something in with the "T" that only fits in a 20A receptacle? Will it work? I don't have any plans to do so but I wonder about things like that.
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Old 10-15-2008, 04:34 PM   #11
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20A GFCI on 15A circuit


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Originally Posted by jheavner View Post
Excellent, that was the answer I was searching for. Out of curiosity, what happens if I plug something in with the "T" that only fits in a 20A receptacle? Will it work? I don't have any plans to do so but I wonder about things like that.
If it pulls more than 15 amps, then you trip a breaker.
You will find very fews things to be used in a home with a 20 amp plug.
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Old 10-15-2008, 05:34 PM   #12
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20A GFCI on 15A circuit


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You will find very fews things to be used in a home with a 20 amp plug.
Defiantly, the only thing ive ever used that has a t plug (i guess nema 5-20p is more accurate) is my computer, and it will never use that many amps anyways.
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Old 10-15-2008, 06:24 PM   #13
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20A GFCI on 15A circuit


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Originally Posted by thekctermite View Post
A 20amp receptacle can be installed and used on a 15amp circuit with no hazard and no need to correct. It isn't a problem. The receptacle is rated for 20amps, and the breaker on this particular circuit will not supply more than 15amps.
Actually is IS a violation to install a 20A receptacle on a 15A circuit.

That said, the other replies here are true. Even thought it is a technical violation there is no danger in this situation.
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Old 10-15-2008, 06:25 PM   #14
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20A GFCI on 15A circuit


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Originally Posted by Speedy Petey View Post
Actually is IS a violation to install a 20A receptacle on a 15A circuit.

That said, the other replies here are true. Even thought it is a technical violation there is no danger in this situation.
This is only true if it is two or more receptacles.
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Old 10-15-2008, 07:18 PM   #15
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20A GFCI on 15A circuit


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This is only true if it is two or more receptacles.
I believe you are confused. You can put a 15A receptacle on a 20A circuit if you have two or more, but you cannot put a 20A receptacle on a 15A circuit, no matter how many you have.

But as others have said, in this case, you can live with it until the correction is made.

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