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36" refrigerator plugged into 20-amp receptacle fed by #14 AWG trips 15-amp breaker.

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  • 36" refrigerator plugged into 20-amp receptacle fed by #14 AWG trips 15-amp breaker.

    Previous owner enclosed the back porch and installed an indoor gas barbeque and exhaust fan.
    Looks professionally done! All 20-amp wall outlets.
    A nice garage sale-purchased refrigerator was plugged into one of the back porch 20-amp outlets. No problem.

    Looking at the back porch's sub panel in the garage, I discovered that the back porch 20-amp outlets are fed by #14 AWG connected to a 20-amp circuit breaker!
    A few days ago I replaced the 20-amp breaker with a 15-amp breaker.

    Yesterday, the back porch refrigerator tripped the new 15-amp circuit breaker. (I unplugged the other loads plugged into the back porch wall outlets. No tripping since.)

    I have enough (#14-2 with ground) but not enough #12.
    Can new #14 AWG wire be paralleled with existing #14 and both connected to a 20-amp circuit breaker?

    Should that refrigerator be on its own dedicated circuit? If so, would it be acceptable to connect #12 to the bottom outlet isolated (tabs broken off) just for the refrigerator?

    Should the 20-amp outlets be replaced with 15-amp outlets?

    Your solutions?

    Thank you.
    Last edited by Robert Gift; 09-24-2012, 07:05 AM.
    I'd take an educated guess - but I'm unqualified.
    It ain't just soot, it's paydirt.
    "I swear, wherever Gift goes, argument follows." -Youtube comment

  • #2
    Re: 36" refrigerator plugged into 20-amp receptacle fed by #14 AWG trips 15-amp break

    Originally posted by Robert Gift View Post
    Previous owner enclosed the back porch. Looks professionally done!
    Obviously not! lol



    Originally posted by Robert Gift View Post
    I have enough (#14-2 with ground) but not enough #12.
    Can new #14 AWG wire be paralleled with existing #14 and both connected to a 20-amp circuit breaker?
    Absolutely NOT.



    Originally posted by Robert Gift View Post
    Should that refrigerator be on its one dedicated circuit?
    Should, yes.



    Originally posted by Robert Gift View Post
    If so, would it be acceptable to connect #12 to the bottom outlet isolated (tabs broken off) just for the refrigerator?
    WHY? Just run a new line to a new receptacle for the fridge.



    Originally posted by Robert Gift View Post
    Should the 20-amp outlets be replaced with 15-amp outlets?
    Yes,

    Comment


    • #3
      Re: 36" refrigerator plugged into 20-amp receptacle fed by #14 AWG trips 15-amp break

      Robert asks: "If so, would it be acceptable to connect #12 to the bottom outlet isolated (tabs broken off) just for the refrigerator?"
      Originally posted by Speedy Petey View Post
      ... WHY? Just run a new line to a new receptacle for the fridge.
      Is it improper/illegal to have the bottom outlet supplied by a #12 from its 20-amp circuit breaker?

      Wife does not want another outlet. That existing outlet is used just for the refrigerator and covered by the refrigerator.
      That outlet is also the first outlet from the sub panel. Its #14 AWG romex then feeds the the rest of the wall outlets.

      To install an additional outlet, I would have to hole through drywall and TWO layers of plywood of the house's exterior wall.

      But I do see two problems with my idea:
      1. The top outlet is 20-amp supplied by #14 connected to a 15-amp breaker.
      2. If one breaker trips, the other wire to the same outlet box remains energized.


      Thank you, Speedy Petey.
      I shall also replace the 20-amp wall outlets with 15-amp outlets.
      Last edited by Robert Gift; 09-24-2012, 07:52 AM.
      I'd take an educated guess - but I'm unqualified.
      It ain't just soot, it's paydirt.
      "I swear, wherever Gift goes, argument follows." -Youtube comment

      Comment


      • #4
        Re: 36" refrigerator plugged into 20-amp receptacle fed by #14 AWG trips 15-amp break

        See no need to replace 20A outlet with 15A, having an outlet overrated for the current limit is no hazard. You can feed 20A outlet with 14 AWG, as long as tied to a 15A breaker.

        14 AWG should not be tied to a 20A breaker, forget the two 14 AWG in parallel.

        The two halves of an outlet can be separately energized, that's what breaking the tabs on the outlet is for, but if outlet is hidden by fridge why bother?

        Comment


        • #5
          Re: 36" refrigerator plugged into 20-amp receptacle fed by #14 AWG trips 15-amp break

          Originally posted by hochwald View Post
          ...The two halves of an outlet can be separately energized, that's what breaking the tabs on the outlet is for, but if outlet is hidden by fridge why bother?
          Thank you.

          I would run 12 AWG to the bottom receptacle for the refrigerator. The top outlet would continue to supply the other wall outlets through its 14 AWG line.

          Is there an issue of two different circuit breakers supplying the same outlet?
          I installed a [D] HOMT 15|20 amp dual circuit breaker. Can the two breaker knobs be tied together?
          Otherwise, if one circuit in the receptacle box is turned off, the other could remain energized.
          I'd take an educated guess - but I'm unqualified.
          It ain't just soot, it's paydirt.
          "I swear, wherever Gift goes, argument follows." -Youtube comment

          Comment


          • #6
            Re: 36" refrigerator plugged into 20-amp receptacle fed by #14 AWG trips 15-amp break

            Originally posted by Robert Gift View Post
            Thank you.

            I would run 12 AWG to the bottom receptacle for the refrigerator. The top outlet would continue to supply the other wall outlets through its 14 AWG line.

            Is there an issue of two different circuit breakers supplying the same outlet?
            I installed a [D] HOMT 15|20 amp dual circuit breaker. Can the two breaker knobs be tied together?
            Otherwise, if one circuit in the receptacle box is turned off, the other could remain energized.
            Not unusual to find a "split outlet", where energy source comes separately, for example one side on a switch, but code says you need tied breakers to disconnect both outlets simultanously. 2011 NEC Sec 210.4 deals with simultaneous disconnect.

            Comment


            • #7
              Re: 36" refrigerator plugged into 20-amp receptacle fed by #14 AWG trips 15-amp break

              Obviously Not..
              Hampton Bay
              Hampton Bay Fan Company

              Comment


              • #8
                Re: 36" refrigerator plugged into 20-amp receptacle fed by #14 AWG trips 15-amp break

                Originally posted by hochwald View Post
                See no need to replace 20A outlet with 15A, having an outlet overrated for the current limit is no hazard. You can feed 20A outlet with 14 AWG, as long as tied to a 15A breaker.
                This is not true. It is a code violation to have a 20 amp receptacle on a 15 amp circuit.
                It is compliant to have 15 amp receptacles on a 20 amp circuit (15 amp receptacles are rated for 20 amp pass through).

                Comment


                • #9
                  Re: 20-amp plug?

                  Originally posted by rjniles View Post
                  This is not true. It is a code violation to have a 20 amp receptacle on a 15 amp circuit.
                  It is compliant to have 15 amp receptacles on a 20 amp circuit (15 amp receptacles are rated for 20 amp pass through).
                  Perhaps that explains why I have never seen a 20-amp plug. (It would have a "T"-shaped (-| | ) Neutral prong which prevents it from being plugged into a 15-amp outlet.)
                  I'd take an educated guess - but I'm unqualified.
                  It ain't just soot, it's paydirt.
                  "I swear, wherever Gift goes, argument follows." -Youtube comment

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Re: 36" refrigerator plugged into 20-amp receptacle fed by #14 AWG trips 15-amp break

                    Originally posted by rjniles View Post
                    This is not true. It is a code violation to have a 20 amp receptacle on a 15 amp circuit.
                    It is compliant to have 15 amp receptacles on a 20 amp circuit (15 amp receptacles are rated for 20 amp pass through).
                    My bad, had it backwards, thanks for the correction.

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Re: 36" refrigerator plugged into 20-amp receptacle fed by #14 AWG trips 15-amp break

                      Originally posted by Robert Gift View Post
                      Thank you.

                      I would run 12 AWG to the bottom receptacle for the refrigerator. The top outlet would continue to supply the other wall outlets through its 14 AWG line.

                      Is there an issue of two different circuit breakers supplying the same outlet?
                      I installed a [D] HOMT 15|20 amp dual circuit breaker. Can the two breaker knobs be tied together?
                      Otherwise, if one circuit in the receptacle box is turned off, the other could remain energized.
                      Yes, it should have a 2pole breaker with handle ties (2 breakers tied together) so the outlet can be shut off with one breaker. This stops people from shutting off one breaker (thinking its dead) and then get electricuted working on the outlet.

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Re: 36" refrigerator plugged into 20-amp receptacle fed by #14 AWG trips 15-amp break

                        Originally posted by Robert Gift View Post
                        I installed a [D] HOMT 15|20 amp dual circuit breaker. Can the two breaker knobs be tied together?
                        I just noticed that you used a HOMT 15/20. That is not a 2 pole breaker, it is a tandem that provides 2 circuits in a single panel space. This will not work as a MWBC. This breaker takes both circuits off the same phase in the panel and will cause an overloaded neutral. You need a 2 pole breaker or 2 single pole breakers installed side by side with a handle tie. The MWBC needs to take be connected to both phases in the panel so that the neutral current is the difference between the 2 phases and not the sum of the 2 currents.

                        What you have is dangerous and should not be used.


                        If you do not have space in the panel for a full size 2 pole circuit, move 2 other circuits onto your HOMT 15/20 to free up space for a 2 pole breaker.

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          GOOD CATCH! Re: plugged into 20-amp receptacle fed by #14 AWG trips 15-amp CB

                          Originally posted by rjniles View Post
                          I just noticed that you used a HOMT 15/20. That is not a 2 pole breaker, it is a tandem that provides 2 circuits in a single panel space. This will not work as a MWBC. This breaker takes both circuits off the same phase in the panel and will cause an overloaded neutral. You need a 2 pole breaker or 2 single pole breakers installed side by side with a handle tie. The MWBC needs to take be connected to both phases in the panel so that the neutral current is the difference between the 2 phases and not the sum of the 2 currents.

                          What you have is dangerous and should not be used.

                          If you do not have space in the panel for a full size 2 pole circuit, move 2 other circuits onto your HOMT 15/20 to free up space for a 2 pole breaker.
                          GOOD CATCH!
                          Thank you.
                          Since this post, I used the abandoned 240-Volt #6 copper stove cable and spliced 12-2 to it. I removed a 2-pole Molded Case SWITCH 60 A 240V~
                          and installed two 20-amp circuit breakers in the service entrance. Now must tie their handles or buy a 2-pole 20-amp circuit breaker.
                          Last edited by Robert Gift; 10-02-2012, 07:51 PM.
                          I'd take an educated guess - but I'm unqualified.
                          It ain't just soot, it's paydirt.
                          "I swear, wherever Gift goes, argument follows." -Youtube comment

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            Re: 36" refrigerator plugged into 20-amp receptacle fed by #14 AWG trips 15-amp break

                            sounds a little scary to me. Best to have a listed 2p breaker with an approved handle tie (code) and pull a #12 cable all the way to the outlet. All your splices must be done properly and if the "stove cable" your using is aluminum, you have to use a special terminal because of the different metals.

                            Another option is just to pull a single 20a branch circuit. (which is what I'd probably do)
                            installing a mwbc might not be something your comfortable with.

                            I'm always onboard with saving a few buck, but I would not cheap out on something like house wiring.

                            BTW; Tear out the stove cable and take it to the nearest recycling place and they will probably give you enough cash to pay for about half your materials.

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              Re: 36" refrigerator plugged into 20-amp receptacle fed by #14 AWG trips 15-amp break

                              Thank you.
                              The copper cable is in walls with only 10 inches visible where it entered a junction box beneath what was the electric stove top.
                              The cable ends close to where the refrigerator and freezer are located in the garage.
                              (Now I'm told I'll have to use a larger box than the receptacle box I am using.)

                              Also will have to find approved handle tie or purchase a 2-pole 20-amp circuit breaker.
                              I'd take an educated guess - but I'm unqualified.
                              It ain't just soot, it's paydirt.
                              "I swear, wherever Gift goes, argument follows." -Youtube comment

                              Comment

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