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Old 01-20-2010, 07:27 PM   #1
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Basement Wiring


After exposing most of the electrical in my basement, I'm a little puzzled. There are 2 rooms in question. Room A contains 2 junction boxes which supply several lights and outlets. There are no junction boxes in Room B, just a string of lights and switches. Each room is on it's own 15a breaker, however I can trace a wire from one of the junction boxes in Room A to the first light in Room B. Why would that be? I can kill each room's power at the breaker individually which renders its outlets/devices useless, but they still draw small amounts of voltage unless I trip both breakers at the same time.

I'm trying to make sense of this because I was hoping to replace 2 existing light fixtures in Room A with 6 recessed lights.

Thanks in advance for any advice.

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Old 01-20-2010, 08:18 PM   #2
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Out of your panel do you have two separate runs for each circuit. Dependending on who did the work, there could be "3 wire out of the panel" to the first jbox. Then from that jbox it splits and goes to room b. If that is the case it would also be sharing a neutral. What color wires are landed under each breaker for the rooms? Are they both black or is one of them red?

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Last edited by ElectGangBox; 01-20-2010 at 08:19 PM. Reason: spelling
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Old 01-21-2010, 06:42 AM   #3
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Regardless of how all is wired, there is nothing hindering you in replacing those lights as you indicated.
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Old 01-21-2010, 11:16 AM   #4
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Thanks for the responses.
ElectGangBox - Each room has one set of 14/2 wires running to its own breaker on the panel. One black wire into each breaker. No red.

oilseal - My concern now, is trying to determine how many loads are on each breaker. If I replace 2 existing light fixtures with 6 recessed lights, I'm adding 4 new loads to the circuit. Correct?
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Old 01-21-2010, 04:14 PM   #5
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Correct....you would be adding additional load... 4 lights at what wattage 75 a piece? You should be able to trace the circuit visually and see what it is serving if most of it is exposed. A 15A circuit is good for up to 1440 watts continuous load. If this circuit is only running some light fixtures, you should be fine. You mention that it also serves some outlets. What do you plan on using these outlets for...
A 1200 watt space heater in the basement - not a good idea! Without fully knowing what your plans are, it is hard to give a recommendation. If you have access to a circuit tracer, that would help you locate all the loads on each circuit if you cannot visually trace the circuit completely. If not, the old fashioned way of turning the circuit off will work, but it'll take some time. Turn the circuit off and check every outlet and light. Don't forget to check the other floors in your home also...because you never know what someone may have done.
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Old 01-21-2010, 05:12 PM   #6
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Thanks again. I've already checked the circuit and I'm as close to capacity as I'd like to be for one 15a breaker. I've already started running wire to put the lights and dimmers on a new circuit. So this is now more for educational purposes, as I'm trying to make sense what's going on with the existing wiring between the two rooms. What's causing me some confusion is since Room A and Room B seem to be connected but on separate breakers, do I have the ability to draw 2880 watts continuous load? Or do I still need to treat each breaker as independent circuits. I've yet to determine why they would be connected but on separate breakers.
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Old 01-21-2010, 07:40 PM   #7
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They ARE two seperate circuits and need to be treated as such. You are probably over looking something because two seperate 120v circuits can not and should not ever be tied together. If you really believe that two seperate circuits are connected in some way, call an electrician, who can solve the problem. It's better to be safe than sorry.
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Old 01-22-2010, 10:53 AM   #8
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Looks to me you are okay.

It is possible that one receptacle (outlet) or light in Room B is being properly fed by the circuit that serves Room A.

If you actually had a cross feed between the two circuits then turning one breaker off will leave both circuits fully live.

You measured a slight voltage in the dead circuit while the other circuit was live due to induced, or phantom, current flow given that the cables were probably juxtaposed (somewhat bundled if not actually bundled) and your meter was sensitive enough to pick that up. If an incandescent light on the dead circuit was still switched on, it would not be on and you would not measure the induced voltage or current.

Neutrals of two circuits (coming into the same junction box or whatever) may not be connected together (cross connected) either. The neutrals of lights, receptacles, etc. must be connected only to the neutral that accompanies the hot feed, and in other words there must be only one neutral path as well as only one hot path from the light or receptacle back to the panel.
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Last edited by AllanJ; 01-22-2010 at 11:00 AM.
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Old 01-22-2010, 10:38 PM   #9
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All advice much appreciated. Thanks

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