switching 15-amp to 20-amp (basic Q's)

Discussion in 'Electrical Forum discussion & Blog' started by BrownShirt228, Sep 26, 2008.

  1. BrownShirt228

    BrownShirt228 New Member

    Messages:
    2
    This concerns switching from a 15-amp circuit to a 20-amp circuit. Does the main power to the house need to be shut off? or just the circuit being replaced?

    I’d prefer to still be able to have power elsewhere in the house, while other circuits are being replaced. Is that possible? I’m having a professional do the work. I just wanted to ask y’all first.

    Thank you
  2. jwelectric

    jwelectric Electrical Contractor/Instructor

    Messages:
    2,534
    Location:
    North Carolina
    That would be up to the professional doing the work.
  3. Speedy Petey

    Speedy Petey Licensed Electrical Contractor

    Messages:
    996
    Location:
    NY State, USA
    Also, you can't just switch from a 15A to a 20A. The circuit is the wiring, and the wiring is sized to the breaker.
    Do not just change the breaker without checking the WHOLE circuit to see what size wire was run.
  4. Billy_Bob

    Billy_Bob In the Trades

    Messages:
    422
    House power can be on while running the new wire, but then the wire needs to go into the breaker panel and a new breaker installed. For this I would turn off the main power to the panel I am working on. But shouldn't take too long to connect the new wire and install the breaker (unless there are other problems which need to be fixed).
  5. jwelectric

    jwelectric Electrical Contractor/Instructor

    Messages:
    2,534
    Location:
    North Carolina
    I am not disagreeing with your post but I can’t help but wonder if this statement would have any bearing on how this installation is done.
    If I am the professional doing the work it will be done the way I see is the safest no matter what someone else tells could be done.
    If this is not acceptable with him he can get someone else to do the work.
  6. hj

    hj Moderator & Master Plumber Staff Member

    Messages:
    26,647
    Location:
    Cave Creek, Arizona
    breaker

    I cannot remember the last time I turned off the entire system to replace a snap in breaker. Boltin breakers are a different story but seldom encountered in residences.
  7. jwelectric

    jwelectric Electrical Contractor/Instructor

    Messages:
    2,534
    Location:
    North Carolina

    I would fire an employee for changing a breaker of any kind in a live panel.

    I would fire an employee for opening a panel that was live.

    It is against any kind of safety codes in place today and it is a VERY UNSAFE thing to attempt.
  8. Alectrician

    Alectrician DIY Senior Member

    Messages:
    689

    Troubleshooting 101 says to check power at the source.


    It's kind of difficult to troubleshoot if the panel is not hot.


    I will agree, especially in some cases, but that's how we earn a living.
  9. drick

    drick In the Trades

    Messages:
    392
    VERY UNSAFE? Really??? Come on. On a new residential panel with neat wiring for a one breaker install I could do it with my eyes closed. In my opinion you can't judge if installing a breaker with the main on is a bad idea or not until you have opened up the panel. Some are good, some marginal, and then there are the downright scary ones - Those I turn the main off for.

    And yes you are correct, it is against all safety codes.
  10. seaneys

    seaneys New Member

    Messages:
    192
    Location:
    Chicago Suburbs
    Seeing part of the goal of this forum is to help DIY'ers and pros, I'm scratching my head at the earlier replies. They could have at least been a little more positive.

    In my area it is completely legal for me to do my own work. If you are really new to this you might want to consider a permit. Our village electrical inspector is quite helpful.

    If you are upgrading a circuit, you need to make sure that the wire, fixtures, etc. are rated for 20Amps. I assume you've already worked through this issue.

    It is really best to throw the main, but it is possible to turn off the breaker, remove the old one, connect the new breaker, and pop it in. I really wouldn't recommend that you leave the power live if you are not experienced. It's just too easy for a hand or a tool to slip into the panel. I've pulled breakers live and it is not something I like to repeat. The piece of mind alone is worth the few minutes of power loss.

    Steve
  11. BrownShirt228

    BrownShirt228 New Member

    Messages:
    2
    Thank you again for your replies, and teaching me a few things to keep in mind :)
  12. jwelectric

    jwelectric Electrical Contractor/Instructor

    Messages:
    2,534
    Location:
    North Carolina
    NFP70E and OSHA says to wear safety glasses, FR clothing, voltage rated gloves and voltage rated tools when doing so. I wonder why? Could it be that they know something?
    I teach Troubleshooting at the college I also teach the safety guide lines above.

    Every day there is one that has the same attitude that ends up collecting insurance. It is also these type of “what is wrong with it†people that these rules are mandated and set in place to protect.

    So is it the goal of the forum to help people to get hurt?
    One of the things I love most about these DIY forums is the “wantna-a-bees†that is all the time posting their ignorance (meaning lack of knowledge) trying to show just how smart they think they are.

    Joe wouldn’t put up with this type of advice.
  13. Billy_Bob

    Billy_Bob In the Trades

    Messages:
    422
    I'm a bit perplexed. The original poster said...

    "I’m having a professional do the work."
  14. jimbo

    jimbo Plumber

    Messages:
    8,997
    Location:
    San Diego
    Interesting discussion.

    I have personally watched electricians pull out a breaker, wire in a new one, and pop it back in....with the panel live. Didn't seem like a big deal, but that's not my call to say what is right. My point is.... is the world just full of hacks, and the few do-it-by-the-book guys just hang out at the forums? I could make the same analogy in the plumbing arena, or any trade. Are any of us not guilty of "fudging" some rule at some time?


    I will say that I remember that in the world of Navy shipboard electricity, they DO do it by the book...every time. A cover is not taken off a panel unless there is a rubber mat on the deck, gloves on, and two man rule observed. Once any actual work beyond taking meter readings is necessary, that panel is tagged out before work starts. The Navy of course is not driven by any cost considerations, so these rules are easy to be strict about. When $$$$ rears its ugly head, stuff happens!
  15. Billy_Bob

    Billy_Bob In the Trades

    Messages:
    422
    I look at safety as a probability thing...

    If I always use a power saw with no eye protection, then over time I am going to get something which flies up into my eye. Do I sometimes saw without eye protection? Sure! But overall I try to always use eye protection when sawing.

    Same thing with working with electricity. I sometimes drop tools or a wrench slips and touches something. If I make a habit of turning off power before doing any work, then on that rare occasion when a tool slips and touches something, I will not be zapped.

    I feel it is a good thing to wear PPE (personal protective equipment) and follow safety rules as much as possible.

    Now there are many others in my area who think safety rules are silly and not to be followed. Over time Darwin tends to catch up with these people.
  16. jwelectric

    jwelectric Electrical Contractor/Instructor

    Messages:
    2,534
    Location:
    North Carolina
    As an employer I am required to make sure that all safety rules and standards are adhered to in every way by each of my employees. Should someone get hurt on the job and the investigation find that I hadn’t fulfilled each and every standard in detail then I can be held liable.

    As an employee you have the responsibility of ensuring that all safety rules are followed to the letter. Failure to do so would lead to your discharge from the company. Being discharged for not complying with safety rules would disqualify the employee from any unemployment benefits.

    Most employees do not understand the need for protective equipment simply because they don’t understand the dangers involved. Most that have been shocked simply dismiss it as being something that can be tolerated and no harm was done.

    Most of these tingles are due to the current flow across the epidermis of the skin and for a short duration. They have not experienced the effects of current flowing through other parts of the body such as the nerves or blood vessels. The resistance through these paths is a lot less than the epidermis. All that is needed for current to follow one of these is the tiniest of punchers of the epidermis.

    Most people without the proper safety training just don’t understand that the little tingle they felt could have let enough heat energy pass through the body to stop the heart. Now this stoppage might be in the form of a clot that was caused by this heat through the body and the person might not know that it is there until it hits either the heart of the lung. This might even take a day or two.

    I can’t help but wonder just how many people have died from electrical shock that was pronounced as a heart attack or drowning. I know of at least one who was shocked while in the pool but officially it was pronounced a drowning as his lungs was full of water.

    We all must realize that the ultimate responsibility for our safety lies in our own hands. It is up to us to ensure that every measure of safety precaution is taken in every thing we set forth to achieve.
    Remember
    Safety First
    Safety Last
    Safety Always
Similar Threads: switching 15-amp
Forum Title Date
Electrical Forum discussion & Blog 3-way switching, outside damp location, off of a GFCI Dec 5, 2013
Electrical Forum discussion & Blog Newbie electrical switching question Dec 5, 2010
Electrical Forum discussion & Blog 3 way switching & fluorescent lights Sep 5, 2010
Electrical Forum discussion & Blog Stumped by 3 way switching Jul 10, 2009

Share This Page