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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hey Guy's a few questions, and sorry for the long wind !

So I'm used to UK, ring mains and not this new fangled NA stuff LOL :)

So house from new (builders) 2006, -Canada- with a basement upgrade (fuk! up to some extent), I'm not certified, I'm an electronics engineer, from college.

So that said.


I'm recently delving and finding out about NA wiring, I've noticed that in the UK, we separate the lighting from the "ring" mains. Usually all mains sockets (outlets) have 13A sockets. Lighting is usually a lot less, I'm guessing, maybe 10A's.

So it kinda blew my mind that they have a string, of either 15A or 20A, and that can be a mixture of either lights or outlets. When electricians have come in to add a socket, they just TEE in to the closest point, it seems ! I Think there is some kinda formula as to how many outlets you have have chained on one fuse.

Looking at the fuse board the vast majority are all 15A's with a few 20A's , they tend to be in the kitchen, on the counter tops.

SO far we have never had any "trips" downstairs, regardless of what equipment we fire up.

However, the upstairs is a different matter.

It seems that there are 2 circuits up stairs both on 15A, NOW, I don't see a problem, with putting a electric heater in one bathroom and another in the other one. BUT when we do that, the breaker will trip and half the lights and both bathrooms go dark !

Also any combination of hairdryer, Iron, heaters etc, will do it. It wasn't a problem when my wife lived on her own, but now with a kid and me, using 3 rooms. We end up having to yell at the other saying, "let me know when you've finished with the "iron/heater/etc"

We've gone LED the whole house, so that has saved a bit, but still its a problem.

Also the master bathroom has a GFCI, which runs that whole circuit, including my one, which in my bathroom there is NO GFCI, just a standard outlet, (I'm not sure if the main breaker for that circuit IS a GFCI or not)

I've also learned recently about 20A outlets looking different, (they have a T cut into one connector) so that's how you differentiate between them, I found that my electricians actually used 20A outlets on a couple of 20A circuits I wanted in the basement, and also the builders did use 20A outlets on the counter tops.

The Outlets upstairs are all 15A including the GFCI. So here we go

1> Will it be expensive to SPLIT the bathroom circuit into 2, to stop breakers going

2> How much leeway is on a 15A socket ? If the breaker is 15A, does it blow, bang on 15A
2a> Is it dangerous to replace the 15A with a 20A breaker
2b> What is the cabling rated at, is it 15A
2c> I understand the breakers protects the cable from fire

The Outlet in my bathroom:

1> Would changing it to a 20A outlet be of any benefit
2> The existing 15A socket looks like there is some browning near the contacts, but no arcing seen
3> The heater when plugged in on full tilt the actual plug get's damn hot, when I turn it to half or quarter it cools down

I was looking in Rona, all the 20A's outlets I saw were all GFCI, the none GFCI, about 4 different styles were all out of stock. As my original game pla n was to swap it out for a 20A

SORRY for the long tale, but think it's important for the detail.
 

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Discussion Starter · #2 ·
sorry, is it to code for the 2nd bathroom to NOT have a GFCI, but to be protected from the GFCI in the master bathroom

and is it bad or will it cause a problem to put a 20A GFCI outlet in my bathroom
 

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Putting 20 amp receptacles in the circuit will not prevent the breaker from from tripping when overloaded.

Your circuit is protected by a 15 amp breaker. It won't trip at exactly 15 amps and will hold at over 15 amps for a short time. The breaker is matched to the amperage allowed on the gauge of wire in the circuit. A 15 amp breaker is designed to protect 14 awg wire.

Most plug in heaters in this part of the world draw closer to 15 amps on their own, leaving very little amperage for anything else on the circuit.

It is allowed to run the second bathroom off the first bathroom but it's rarely done that way anymore.

In Canada you are allowed 12 receptacles and or light on a 15 amp circuit.
 

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I'm recently delving and finding out about NA wiring, I've noticed that in the UK, we separate the lighting from the "ring" mains. Usually all mains sockets (outlets) have 13A sockets. Lighting is usually a lot less, I'm guessing, maybe 10A's.
Yeah, we don't bother with that. I mean, it's considered *good form* to have dedicated lighting and dedicated recep circuits. But in one office I could only run 3 circuits (conduit limits), so I split receps and lights across all 3, and all lights are split on 2 circuits.

The smallest AC circuit you can run is 14 AWG (~2mm) @ 15A.


So it kinda blew my mind that they have a string, of either 15A or 20A, and that can be a mixture of either lights or outlets. When electricians have come in to add a socket, they just TEE in to the closest point, it seems ! I Think there is some kinda formula as to how many outlets you have have chained on one fuse.
Well just because it's easiest doesn't mean it's right. I profoundly dislike having the only lights in a room be on the same circuit as the recep loads. Because if you trip a breaker you are usually doing something awkward, like holding a hot hair curler or spinning table saw 3" from your fingers. Light is a finger saver.


It seems that there are 2 circuits up stairs both on 15A, NOW, I don't see a problem, with putting a electric heater in one bathroom and another in the other one. BUT when we do that, the breaker will trip and half the lights and both bathrooms go dark !

Also any combination of hairdryer, Iron, heaters etc, will do it. It wasn't a problem when my wife lived on her own, but now with a kid and me, using 3 rooms. We end up having to yell at the other saying, "let me know when you've finished with the "iron/heater/etc"
OK, here are two things you have to get used to about the USA. #1, circuits are only 1800W or 2400W, *not* 3120W.




#2, plug-in heat appliances are forcibly limited to 1500W (by Underwriter's Laboratories' "White Book" which is the standard appliances are approved to; literally [email protected], 12A being 80% of 15A). Now in Europe, heat appliances run anywhere from 1500-2500 watts depending on what best suits the appliance. That means most of our heat appliances are under-powered, because of the UL arbitrary cap. And, corollary, almost all our heat appliances run right at 1500W. You can simply take for granted any heat appliance is 1500W.

Now if you're doing the math, you realize it is impossible to run 2 heat appliances on the same circuit.

NEC allows all bathroom receps to be on the same 20A circuit (dedicated to bathroom receps), and I'm pretty darn sure that whichever NFPA committee approved that rule doesn't have any daughters among them. Canada largely cribs off NEC, so they adopted the rule too, clearly.

Also the master bathroom has a GFCI, which runs that whole circuit, including my one, which in my bathroom there is NO GFCI, just a standard outlet, (I'm not sure if the main breaker for that circuit IS a GFCI or not)
That's a Code violation. Every receptacle must either be a GFCI receptacle with the TEST and RESET buttons, or must have a marking saying "GFCI Protected". Every GFCI device comes with a dozen little blue stickers that say that, so no excuse.

I've also learned recently about 20A outlets looking different, (they have a T cut into one connector) so that's how you differentiate between them, I found that my electricians actually used 20A outlets on a couple of 20A circuits I wanted in the basement, and also the builders did use 20A outlets on the counter tops.
NEC has two rules: if there is exactly 1 socket, the breaker and socket must exactly match. (except we don't have 40A sockets). The other rule says that if there's more than one socket on a 20A circuit, they may be 15A.

Regardless, it doesn't matter. The chance of you ever encountering a NEMA 5-20 *plug* is fairly remote. Manufacturers don't like using them for obvious reasons.


1> Will it be expensive to SPLIT the bathroom circuit into 2, to stop breakers going
Unknowable. It totally depends on how easy it will be to physically route the wires, given the peculiarities of your home's construction. Also, while you are in there, make sure to throw 2 or even 3 circuits in there. The hard part is achieving the route; once you've obtained it, an extra cable is the price of wires. Nothin' on total project cost. So you could put 2 20A recep circuits in a bathroom. Talk about "popular with the ladies"!


2> How much leeway is on a 15A socket ? If the breaker is 15A, does it blow, bang on 15A
Google "Breaker trip curve", it's pretty forgiving actually.

2a> Is it dangerous to replace the 15A with a 20A breaker
2b> What is the cabling rated at, is it 15A
2c> I understand the breakers protects the cable from fire
Breakers protect wiring and appliances. Obviously due to the socket exception, a 15A appliance could be plugged into a 20A circuit, and UL requires it demonstrate an ability to fail softly/sanely in that condition. But yes, it's all about protecting the cables, and they've done all the hard science to prove out those values as correct. Builders would love to use #14 wires on 20A circuits. Yes, it's dangerous and frankly, insane to "simply up-breaker because you're sick of tripping". The very mentality that idea is born from is disturbing. "Safety device is in my way, I'll just defeat it". What could go wrong?

The trip figures are conservative by Euro standards, but then, our houses are made of wood lol. Seriously it probably has more to do with our permissive breaker trip curves. The thermal trip curves in the breaker are synchronised with normal/expected wire heat-up in the walls.


1> Would changing it to a 20A outlet be of any benefit
2> The existing 15A socket looks like there is some browning near the contacts, but no arcing seen
3> The heater when plugged in on full tilt the actual plug get's damn hot, when I turn it to half or quarter it cools down
Kill it with fire! Before it kills you with fire.

That is a bad connection either at a socket wire, or a weak spring in the socket failing to contact the plug blade adequately. The arc fault is in series with the load, so that limits current, but it's still plenty to start a fire. This should be put out of service instantly until the recep can be replaced.

As long as the breaker is 20A and the wire is 12 AWG (3.3mm2), it won't hurt to change the recep to 20A. But definitely change it ASAP!
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
Hey Dave, harper,

Guy's THANKS !!!! fantastic information, it's a bit late now, so I will re-read in the morning.

A lot of great and indepth and to the point. thank you so much.

* Going up 20a breaker, I wanted to just ask the question. And sure, it's a safety device which I won't disable.

* I'm not sure of cost to split it, but I'm guessing that the benefit would not balance the cost, I'm thinking 500-1k, for somone certified, dunno , just guessing

* I'll not use the recep, there are 2 the top one I generally use for the heater, the bottom one has a night light or the electric toothbrush, as it's getting hotter, I'll not use it. I might try a test and put my heater on another receptacle in my room to see if the plug heats up.

* So for code I should change it for a GFCI recep - or at least a 20A GFCI, there are an abundance at Rona, for modern looking 15 & 20 Amp GFCI'rs

thank you thank you again,

I'm glad I didn't get the usual "well if you have to ask the question you shouldnt be doing it" reply, which I've never got on this forum, but have done on a "car forum" I'm on.

you guys ROCK !
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
Builder did this in 2006, perhaps it was code then.. OR... they just did it and hope it passed the home inspection ? LOL :surprise:

It is allowed to run the second bathroom off the first bathroom but it's rarely done that way anymore.

In Canada you are allowed 12 receptacles and or light on a 15 amp circuit.
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
last year , when I was pondering what the problem was, I had thought that it was maybe a "lazy" or "fast" breaker that needed replacing, as for me I could not understand why you couldnt do this, didnt make sense.

when I checked the breaker was 15a's I did some rough Ohms law on the wattage rating on the heaters, and came across the same conclusion.. MIND blown ! LOL

Most plug in heaters in this part of the world draw closer to 15 amps on their own, leaving very little amperage for anything else on the circuit.
 

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It's a good idea to stop using the outlet that is getting hot. You could certainly try replacing it, especially since it is showing signs of scorching.

Turn off the breaker and remove the culprit receptacle from the wall. I'm betting you'll find the wires are stabbed into the back of the receptacle. This is a very fast and very inefficient way to connect them. Replace the outlet with a new one and wrap the stripped wire ends around the screws, black wire to brass screw and white wire to silver screw and bare wire to green screw.

I am wondering why you need electric heaters. What style of house and heating system do you have? Are the heat vents in the rooms covered with furniture? Are the cold rooms situated over top of an attached garage?
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
Well it's a number of things I'm guessing,

Master Bedroom/ washroom is always cold 2nd is coldish as well
(generally in winter/spring)

Wife insists house is too hot at 72deg's and we play mess with the thermostat. I think that's the primary issue. I can't tell you the arguments, I think it went , "well upstairs is far too hot by the end of the day and we can't sleep - so why don't you just use an electric heater in the rooms you feel cold in" LOL

The vents are not covered and all work. The 72degress is usally ok, but the thermostat when on 72, goes up to about 74-75, then down to 71, and it's in this cycling mode, when it gets to "it's too hot I cant sleep when it's 75" LOL

All the house has good windows and the HVAC seems to work, I seem to remember my old house in the UK, with wet radiators were more efficient than these air blowers.

Women GRRRRRRR :devil3::devil3::devil3::vs_mad:




I am wondering why you need electric heaters. What style of house and heating system do you have? Are the heat vents in the rooms covered with furniture? Are the cold rooms situated over top of an attached garage?
 

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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
The HVAC is in the basement on the ground floor there is a thermostat and no the furnace fan only kicks in when it's either pumping out heat or cold

The thermo is digital and is programmable it's set on "HOLD" which means that it keeps the temperature at "say" 72, if too cold switches on, too hot switches off. Depending if the thermo is set to COOL or HEAT.

I think I can program it with off's and on's but I tried once and failed abysmally LOL


Maybe post in the forum's HVAC section on balancing your heating system. Do you have an automatic set-back thermostat? Does your furnace fan run constantly or only when the heat is on?
 

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Discussion Starter · #12 ·
ok an update, I've been experimenting with my heater. Now funnily enough, I bought 2 of the same heaters, (they are both 1500w) now, I tried the original heater and the sister heater in tests, and found some interesting stuff, original heater has take a bit of a beating, were as the other one has been more gently handled.

I am STILL going to replace the recep for a GFCI and now I'm going to throw the original heater away; testing below

1 ORIGINAL HEATER (full tilt)
* Original receptacle (top) plug gets very hot to touch, contacts in plug are blistering
* Original receptacle (bottom) plug gets very hot to touch, contacts in plug are blistering
* Another 15a receptacle in same circuit in another room, plug gets very warm to touch
* A 15a receptacle in a different circuit downstairs, plug gets warm to touch
* A 20a dedicated circuit in basement no other appliaces , runs pretty cool

2 Sister HEATER (full tilt)
* Original receptacle (top) plug runs slightly warm to touch
* Original receptacle (bottom) plug runs slightly warm to touch

So thinking the heater is faulty and caused the recep to go bad, the plug terminals on the heater are scorched/arcing seen on the tips.

txs all

oh and not using the recep till I change it out
 

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1 ORIGINAL HEATER (full tilt)
* Original receptacle (top) plug gets very hot to touch, contacts in plug are blistering
* Original receptacle (bottom) plug gets very hot to touch, contacts in plug are blistering
* Another 15a receptacle in same circuit in another room, plug gets very warm to touch
Yeah it's long past the time to stop testing and just get in there and inspect/replace the recep. There's no money to be saved here; receps are $4.

Further, since it also happens when other outlets are used, we know it must be the supply-side hot or neutral. This is much more than we needed to know.

So thinking the heater is faulty and caused the recep to go bad, the plug terminals on the heater are scorched/arcing seen on the tips.
That's interesting. It's definitely failing on the supply-side screws or backstabs also. I suspect one of these was the original problem, and the arcing from that problem either melted the plastic to misposition the socket blades, or annealed the copper to loosen the spring on the backstab.

I think once the recep is in your hand, a postmortem won't be hard.
 

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Discussion Starter · #14 ·
ok so I got a 20a GFCI, but have not been able to fit it, going to try tommorow.

So the recep, I pulled out of the cavity, but not disconnected.
The ran 2 core and earth, (end of line recep) one is white other grey.
Both are plugged into the back as opposed to wrapped around the terminals.
Though the Earth is.

They have a single earth which comes from the cable, is slipped under a screw for the metal backbox and then onto the recep.

The Neutral cable def shows signs of slight browning, I can't see anyother faults as it's all still connected up.

I'm planning on wire wrapping the cables around the screws and using the same earth wiring, unless anyone feels that I should actually re-wire the earth cable so that the incoming cable goes directly to the box and have a separate earth from the recep and use a screw cap to take it to the back box

txs all !
 

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Discussion Starter · #15 ·
OK, so done,
Yesterday I swapped out the recep.

Maybe as I don't do this on a regular basis, it was a total pain trying to wrap the wire around the screws, maybe why they just put them in the holes instead. My observations below noted

* I could not pull the original wires out of the recep and I'm wondering wether they got welded in
* no damage to the recep only scorching on the white plastic
* The Hot wire the copper was scorched
* The Neutral the white insulator was scorched
* The box was a bit tight, so I wrapped insulating tape around the recep and in the boc to stop any shorting, very tight but doable
* "the working heater" plugged in and the plug ran cold
* "the faulty heater" plugged in the plug actually ran very luke warmish, pins were fine not scalding hot as before but warmish, I don't know if heater messed socket or visa versa, but it will need replacing
* "the faulty heater" was plugged into the other recep in same circuit as before, and it ran alot cooler, suggesting that recep I replaced was causing a problem perhaps on the whole circuit
* I ran tests on tripping the GFCI's all good, and I used a plugin cable checker
* The main breaker had been replaced and I remember it was a GFCI, but electricians in recently in the basement build changed it out for an AFCI

txs all !
 
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