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-   -   Multiple Circuits - Same Outlet box (http://www.diychatroom.com/f18/multiple-circuits-same-outlet-box-26277/)

Revnjeff 09-04-2008 03:44 PM

Multiple Circuits - Same Outlet box
 
Boy did I get a surprise last night. I needed to add an outlet box in the basement. Now, first let me tell you, whoever strung the electrical in the basement before me didn't know what he was doing.

I decided that the easiest was to piggy back off the nearest outlet box. There are outlet boxes scattered throughout the basement, but not one where I needed it. So, I plug two lights into the two outlets, kill the circuit breaker, use my circuit tester and determine the circuit is REALLY dead.

I take the cover off, bring the outlet out of the box, and there's three sets of wires connected to the outlet, as well as what appear to be three sets of wires connected to wire nuts. I figure one has to be a jumper to the outlet....WRONG.

I take off the wire nut from the black wires and the thing sparks. :eek: It would appear that this outlet box was not only being used as an outlet box, with wires to 2 other outlets, but as a junction box for wires on a different circuit.

Thank goodness I was suspecting something funny or I could have gotten tossed around the basement like a rag doll.

Now, first the obvious: I need to rewire things in the basement. :censored:

Here's the question: Ideally...how many outlets in the basement (mostly used for 4 foot 2 bulb shop lights) be wired series on a 15 amp circuit.

Crude drawing:

15amp breaker :::::O:::::::O::::::O:::::O:::::O

Second, obviously, I should put a junction box for the other wires. Right?

Next comes figuring out what's WRONG upstairs...because too much of the house is on the same circuit.

Could I just go to a bigger breaker instead of trying to separate things off the one circuit? (Not sure how things are wired)

I really don't want to hire an electrical contractor to rewire the house for me. I can't afford it.

Jeff

junkcollector 09-04-2008 07:17 PM

Quote:

Here's the question: Ideally...how many outlets in the basement (mostly used for 4 foot 2 bulb shop lights) be wired series on a 15 amp circuit.
It depends on the amp draw of the fixture.


Quote:

Second, obviously, I should put a junction box for the other wires. Right?
As long as the receptacle box is large enough, there is no problem having multiple circuits in there. It is to be avoided, however, for reasons of confusion. Another reason is mixing up and crossing the neutrals with another circuit. Depending on how much slack you have in the cables, you could relocate the splices to a larger box or boxes. Remember, J-boxes need to remain accessible.

Quote:

Next comes figuring out what's WRONG upstairs...because too much of the house is on the same circuit.

Could I just go to a bigger breaker instead of trying to separate things off the one circuit? (Not sure how things are wired)
Absolutely not. You cannot, for example, replace a 15 amp breaker protecting a circuit wired with 14 awg with say, a 30 amp breaker. The breakers are chosen to be the correct size to protect the wiring. The wire has to be a heavy enough gauge. You cannot have standard receptacles / lights on any circuit higher than 20 amps.

If you cannot afford to have an electrician rewire some of the circuits and split the load into separate circuits, I suggest that you take a look at where your large power users are, and run separate circuits to them. Example: bathroom (hair dryer), kitchen appliances, washer, office equipment, furnace, power tools, etc.

Silk 09-04-2008 08:17 PM

There is no problem with using a receptacle box as a junction box for other circuits.


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