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mattm 11-26-2012 11:39 AM

Use red and black wire as 110 in Canada
Hey folks,

Here's the situation:

I have baseboard heaters in the kitchen which are wired to a double pole breaker in the box. I leave the switch off because I don't ever want them turned on.

The other day I was thinking about how nice it would be to have a 20a plug out in the shed but how do I run the wire without destroying my walls? Then I remembered that the baseboards, which are right by the back door, have a dedicated circuit on 12 gauge wire.

I ran out and grabbed a 20 amp breaker, took the black off the double pole and wired it into the new 20 (in another spot), took the red and wired it to the neutral bus, wired the bare ground to the box with the rest of the bare grounds.

From what I can tell, it's not up to code because there's a wire with red rubber around it going to the neutral bus.

Here's what I'm not sure of: If one has 12 gauge wire already going through the walls, why can't the red wire be colored white (to mark it, on both ends)? Logically, if well marked, the only reason could be that the wire is not good enough (otherwise it seems stupid to force someone to rip walls apart to run a new wire when there are wires in the wall, it's a waste all around).

I can't read the info on the red and black wire but it's definitely solid 12 gauge copper. It's a red sleeve with red and black inner wires as well as a bare ground. Looks like NMD90 to me.

Reading the internet folk say don't do it. Others say do it and re-identify the wire. Others say you can't re-identify the wire.

What I'm trying to figure out is:

If we ignore code and look at just physics, is there something different about the red (with red/black) than the white (with white/black), both 12, solid copper?


-According to my multi-meter on 500vac setting, there was 110v over the red and black wires that use to connect to the baseboard heaters, I didn't look to see if the breaker was on 220 or not but also didn't care, I disconnected the wire and moved it to it's own, brand new 20a breaker connected to 110. The old double pole is still in the box just left off and has nothing connected it it.
-I disconnected the heaters completely from power and connected the wires together where each one used to be (yes, in a box with the nuts) giving me a single straight wire to the new 20a outlet.

haha, I think basically I don't understand why, if perfectly good wire is already in the walls, it would have to be removed and replaced with the same wire but of a different color.

Matt M

joed 11-26-2012 12:13 PM

4-030 (4) For multiconductor cable "The insulated neutral conductor shall be permitted to be permanently marked as the identified conductor by painting or other suitable means at every point where the separate conductor can rendered accessible and visible.....".

mattm 11-26-2012 12:26 PM

Joed, thanks for that. I just verified it and you're right, says right in the code that I can re-identify the wire given that it's a conduit. Ha! I wonder why other sites said you have to replace the red wire. That seems dumb to me if you can just color it white for the next person that comes along...


Matt M

joed 11-26-2012 02:30 PM

OH, Conduit. Thought this was heater cable. Pull a new wire for the white. The conductor needs to be identified for its entire length.
That code I quoted was for multi conductor cable. Doesn't apply to conduit.

rjniles 11-26-2012 03:57 PM

Joed's answer for cable may be correct on Canada but if the poster is in the US it is not per the NEC.

Regardless since you have conduit, pull a new conductor.

Strangely enough you can remark a white wire as a hot but cannot mark a black or red wire white.

mattm 11-26-2012 04:01 PM

Not a conduit, a conductor in a heater cable, you are dead on. Stupid phone autocorrect (which is an excuse for stupid me for not proof reading).

Oso954 11-26-2012 04:05 PM


rjniles 11-26-2012 04:06 PM


Originally Posted by mattm (Post 1060982)
Not a conduit, a conductor in a heater cable, you are dead on. Stupid phone autocorrect (which is an excuse for stupid me for not proof reading).

Are you in the US or Canada? I suspect Canada as that 2 wire Red/ Black cable is rare in the US

mattm 11-26-2012 04:06 PM

Haha, the PVC pipe I use to protect the run of individual wires outside would be the conduit and those use the correct colors (white, black and green for ground).

rjniles 11-26-2012 04:22 PM

Doh, I just reread the title of this threadl

"in Canada"

Beat me with a feather.:no:

Rochsolid 11-26-2012 07:40 PM

12 ga or 10 ga wire? So did you use your baseboard heater as a junction box??

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