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Old 01-16-2012, 09:54 PM   #1
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Have 20A circuits always required 12g, or did they ever allow 14g?


ARGH! Just found a 20A circuit that has is mostly 12AWG wiring, but has a 14AWG cable tapped into it.

It's all the really old fabric wrapped romex (1958 house).

I'm pretty sure this means the idiot that did work in my attic sometime since the house was built moved an outlet from one circuit to another without replacing the cable or downgrading the breaker. I was really hoping this unknown idiot only did attic work and left everything in the walls alone. Sigh.

But, I wanted to check if back in 1958 if code allowed you to use 14AWG wiring on a 20A circuit. I'm not sure if when the house was built if it was a circuit breaker panel or a fuse box. I'm not sure if some circuits were 15A and 20A like now back then.

Just liking to keep tabs on what was just plain done wrong in my house vs what I'm updating to become more current.

(I'm of course fixing this, just posting out of curiosity.)

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Old 01-16-2012, 10:32 PM   #2
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Have 20A circuits always required 12g, or did they ever allow 14g?


What all is on the circuit?

Is there any reason you couldn't just change the breaker to 15A?

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Old 01-16-2012, 11:01 PM   #3
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Have 20A circuits always required 12g, or did they ever allow 14g?


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What all is on the circuit?

Is there any reason you couldn't just change the breaker to 15A?
Two duplex 15A receptacles. One runs a 4.5A refrigerator. Other runs gas ignitor for stove/range, and sometimes a misc. item, but rarely. We typically use a different receptacle on a dedicated circuit to run things like a toaster, blender, etc.

I know 15A is enough power for what we have one there. I thought the fridge needed to be on a 20A circuit, but I got lost a bit in the kitchen code requirements.

If I'm allowed to, I'll switch it to a 15A breaker. Otherwise, I'll replace the couple feet run of 14AWG with 12AWG. It's 12AWG from panel to fridge receptacle, 14AWG from fridge receptacle to oven receptacle. Wouldn't be too bad of a run to replace that cable if I have to.
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Old 01-16-2012, 11:14 PM   #4
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Have 20A circuits always required 12g, or did they ever allow 14g?


Well technically the counter-top rec.'s have to be on their own circuit. But unless you're remodeling, you aren't obligated to bring the wiring up to code.

The refrigerator needs to be on it's own also, but not sure if it has to be 20A or if 15 is ok.
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Old 01-16-2012, 11:24 PM   #5
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Have 20A circuits always required 12g, or did they ever allow 14g?


Proper thing to do is replace the 14 with 12. The safe thing to do is reduce the branch circuit rating to 15 amps if you don't change the 14. Technically there really isn't much of an issue considering the only amperage on the 14 awg is that of the gas stove. NEC 240.4(D) restricts overcurrnet protection for small conductors 14,12 and 10 awg copper to 15,20 and 30 amps respectively. If you have alumunium wiring this changes. There are exceptions but not in your case.
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Old 01-17-2012, 12:25 AM   #6
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Have 20A circuits always required 12g, or did they ever allow 14g?


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Originally Posted by jproffer
Well technically the counter-top rec.'s have to be on their own circuit. But unless you're remodeling, you aren't obligated to bring the wiring up to code.

The refrigerator needs to be on it's own also, but not sure if it has to be 20A or if 15 is ok.
Just a side point: Code allows a refrigerator to be on the small appliance circuit feeding the countertops, if it is on that circuit than it of course needs 12-2. However when running a dedicated it can be either 14 or 12.
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Old 01-17-2012, 12:36 AM   #7
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Have 20A circuits always required 12g, or did they ever allow 14g?


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Just a side point: Code allows a refrigerator to be on the small appliance circuit feeding the countertops, if it is on that circuit than it of course needs 12-2. However when running a dedicated it can be either 14 or 12.
Ok, I was under the impression that the S/A circuits had to be dedicated for that purpose.

Thanks for the correction.
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Old 01-17-2012, 12:40 AM   #8
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Have 20A circuits always required 12g, or did they ever allow 14g?


OK, I see it now...

Quote:
(3) Kitchen Receptacle Requirements. Receptacles installed
in a kitchen to serve countertop surfaces shall be
supplied by not fewer than two small-appliance branch circuits,
either or both of which shall also be permitted to supply
receptacle outlets in the same kitchen and in other rooms
specified in 210.52(B)(1).
Then you go through the giant circle of "refer to this, refer to that"

And see that pantries, dining rooms, breakfast rooms, etc. can be on those circuits as well...if I'm understanding right.
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Old 01-17-2012, 01:32 AM   #9
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Have 20A circuits always required 12g, or did they ever allow 14g?


Thanks guys! Sounding like the 14g was never allowed in the past, because I'm sure if it was, someone would have said that you see that all the time in semi older houses. Another notch for the just plain wrong column.

jproffer - Yeah, I started trying to read through the kitchen/small appliance requirements a while ago and quickly decided I'd spend my time otherwise.
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Old 01-17-2012, 01:38 AM   #10
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Have 20A circuits always required 12g, or did they ever allow 14g?


Quote:
Originally Posted by darlingm
jproffer - Yeah, I started trying to read through the kitchen/small appliance requirements a while ago and quickly decided I'd spend my time otherwise.
If you don't do electric often it's not worth your time it's just easier to ask on here
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Old 01-17-2012, 08:06 AM   #11
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Have 20A circuits always required 12g, or did they ever allow 14g?


For household wiring 14 gauge wire handles 15 amps max.

There are some non-household situations (the wire is a single conductor hung in free air) that a 14 gauge wire can carry more current. Most of these situations are laboratory type settings, such as in test jigs.
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Old 01-18-2012, 06:42 PM   #12
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Have 20A circuits always required 12g, or did they ever allow 14g?


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Originally Posted by darlingm View Post
If I'm allowed to, I'll switch it to a 15A breaker. Otherwise, I'll replace the couple feet run of 14AWG with 12AWG. It's 12AWG from panel to fridge receptacle, 14AWG from fridge receptacle to oven receptacle. Wouldn't be too bad of a run to replace that cable if I have to.
Be careful of the existing romex if you're going to do that. Sometimes the insulation on that old fabric-covered stuff will fall off if you so much as look at it the wrong way.

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