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Old 10/3/12, 9:51 PM
John Graham, II John Graham, II is offline
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Default 14 gauge on a 20 amp breaker

O.K. Here goes... Whenever I've found a 14 gauge wire on a 20 amp breaker, I've always said it was a safety hazard for reasons we all know. Here's the tricky part. I spoke with an electrician in the area that told me on older systems, it was fine (but not for new construction). Apparently, a 14 gauge wire can carry 20 amps safely but the "powers-that-be" say it can only carry 15 amps just as a built-in safety measure.

My gut feeling is still call it out as a safety hazard but technically, according to this electrician, it's O.K.

Thoughts?



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  #2  
Old 10/3/12, 10:07 PM
Robert Meier's Avatar
Robert Meier Robert Meier is offline
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Default Re: 14 gauge on a 20 amp breaker

Short answer electrician is incorrect. There are some instances where it may be permitted (A/C units, motor, etc.) but in general it is not permitted by the NEC. Here's the relevant NEC section:

Quote:
240.4(D) Small Conductors. Unless specifically permitted in
240.4(E) or (G), the overcurrent protection shall not exceed
that required by (D)(1) through (D)(7) after any correction
factors for ambient temperature and number of conductors
have been applied.
(1) 18 AWG Copper. 7 amperes, provided all the follow-
ing conditions are met:
(1) Continuous loads do not exceed 5.6 amperes.
(2) Overcurrent protection is provided by one of the fol-
lowing:
a. Branch-circuit-rated circuit breakers listed and marked
for use with 18 AWG copper wire
b. Branch-circuit-rated fuses listed and marked for use
with 18 AWG copper wire
c. Class CC, Class J, or Class T fuses
(2) 16 AWG Copper. 10 amperes, provided all the follow-
ing conditions are met:
(1) Continuous loads do not exceed 8 amperes.
(2) Overcurrent protection is provided by one of the fol-
lowing:
a. Branch-circuit-rated circuit breakers listed and
marked for use with 16 AWG copper wire
b. Branch-circuit-rated fuses listed and marked for use
with 16 AWG copper wire
c. Class CC, Class J, or Class T fuses
(3) 14 AWG Copper. 15 amperes
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  #3  
Old 10/3/12, 10:31 PM
Jeffrey R. Pope, CMI's Avatar
Jeffrey R. Pope, CMI Jeffrey R. Pope, CMI is offline
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Default Re: 14 gauge on a 20 amp breaker

Quote:
Originally Posted by jgraham1 View Post
I spoke with an electrician in the area that told me on older systems, it was fine (but not for new construction).
Yep, I hear this kinda "crap" all too often - "It used to be ok like this but they changed the code."

Like Robert said - the electrician is wrong...



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Old 10/4/12, 5:30 AM
Bruce M. Graham Bruce M. Graham is offline
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Default Re: 14 gauge on a 20 amp breaker

You can always ask for the letter that will never come, that is the letter with here opinion on there letter head with there license #.



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  #5  
Old 10/5/12, 12:59 AM
William Blackmon's Avatar
William Blackmon William Blackmon is offline
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Default Re: 14 gauge on a 20 amp breaker

In all honesty, the older code was generally more stringent on conductor ampacity. Like all has said, the electrician was dead wrong. I could not tell you how many misinformed or underinformed electricians I have dealt with over the years. Quick reference books are a major contributor to the problem.
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