Your Resident Electrician for all your electrical questions!

Discussion in 'Do It Yourself (DIY)' started by Young Frankenstein, May 12, 2012.

  1. Brew12

    Brew12 Electrical Gru R2R Supporter R2R Excellence Award Reef Squad Build Thread Contributor Article Contributor Partner Member 2018

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    All you should need are 2 screwdrivers (one of each type) and the receptacle itself which you can get from Home Depot, Lowes, or even Walmart. You can go with GFCI or normal.

    If you aren't absolutely positive you know which breaker feeds your outlet this is my recommendation on how to check you have the correct one. Plug in a lamp with the light on into the working outlet. Open the breaker and make sure the light turns off. Close the breaker and make sure the light turns back on. Open the breaker again and then you are ready to begin work.

    Doing the work is easy. Remove the cover plate. The outlet should be held in place by 2 screws, so remove those. At that point you should be able to pull it out a few inches so you can remove the wiring. Remember which wires went where (take a picture if you need to) and match them to the new receptacle. Connect the wires, secure it with the 2 screws, install the cover plate, and you are done.
     
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  2. Floyd R Turbo

    Floyd R Turbo Super Duper Member R2R Supporter Gold Sponsor Toys For Kids 2016 Article Contributor Partner Member 2018

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    JMO but retrofitting that fixture with a T5HO might not be wise. T5HO is a lot hotter so there might be an issue with the heat rating and ventilation capability of that enclosure (i.ie it might melt the white reflector), ballast placement (these get hotter too), basically you would have to spend as much as you would to just buy a new fixture, plus a fixture made for the lamp is generally UL rated and warrantied.
    It's likely just a bad outlet on the receptacle, just replace it
    Get a heavy duty GFCI (a 20A version, not a 15A version)...as long as you have a ground wire at the location, some older homes do not have this
     
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  3. Be102

    Be102 Well-Known Member

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    Great thanks. Any recommendations on the voltage? 125 sufficient? I assume my outlet runs on the same breaker (both plugs one outlet that is) so it shouldn't be too hard to figure it out. Does the fancier outlets including USB ports and whatnot detract from the total amount of electricity? Should I just go basic?
     
  4. Be102

    Be102 Well-Known Member

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    Seems really simple enough. I'll keep you guys updated. I might even attempt to fix it before even moving the tank.
     
  5. Floyd R Turbo

    Floyd R Turbo Super Duper Member R2R Supporter Gold Sponsor Toys For Kids 2016 Article Contributor Partner Member 2018

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    All US household receptacles are 120 - you don't get into 240 unless you're dealing with a range or a dryer or some other piece of hard-wired equipment (like an air conditioner condensing unit)
     
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  6. Be102

    Be102 Well-Known Member

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    Guess I was referring to the number "125" not sure if that would be for me or not. Are they expsensive because of the gfci?

    IMG_0723.PNG
     
  7. Floyd R Turbo

    Floyd R Turbo Super Duper Member R2R Supporter Gold Sponsor Toys For Kids 2016 Article Contributor Partner Member 2018

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    125, 120, same difference... :p:D

    Yes, GFCI's are more $, and generally the higher quality ones are more $$, but you do get what you pay for when it comes to these. Leviton or GE are solid brands. Just don't go for the super cheap ones or the 15A ones, cheap GFCIs are more likely to cause nuisance failures or not operate properly

    Also it might be worth double-checking to make sure the outlet isn't already GFCI protected. It works like this: if you have a circuit that has 6 outlets on it, and the 4th outlet is GFCI, everything that is "further away" from the panel (down the line) might be protected by that GFCI (it depends on how things were wired). You can check this easily, plug a lamp into the receptacle in question and turn it on. Now go around the house and push the "test" button on each GFCI receptacle and then check if the lamp is still on. If it is, it is not protected. If it turns off, one of the GFCI receptacles is "upstream" from your receptacle.

    It's not likely that this is the case, but it never hurts to check. Could save you a trip to the store.
     
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  8. Be102

    Be102 Well-Known Member

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    Come to think about it, I don't think I have any outlets around my house with the little "test" button.. I wonder why :rolleyes:

    My outlet is really basic. (Not that many are too exciting :p) 2x 3-pronged connections. It's probabaly been a bad idea to be running all my equipment off of one outlet.. how does an outlet manage power ? So will I be able to plug the equivalent amount of power in both top and bottom? Or does it work as a total of say "125 amps" divided by the two outlets? Hopefully this isn't confusing. Will I need to buy any wire or anything or will the receptacle have it?
     
  9. Brew12

    Brew12 Electrical Gru R2R Supporter R2R Excellence Award Reef Squad Build Thread Contributor Article Contributor Partner Member 2018

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    Unfortunately, this is both great advice, and bad advice. It would be fantastic to install a 20A receptacle from a quality and performance aspect. In many parts of the country, it is also a code violation. Different wiring and circuit breakers are used in a residential circuit designed for 20A receptacles than are used for 15A ones. By installing a 20A receptacle (identified by the horizontal slot on the neutral plug) you are implying an installation that you don't have. If you never plan on moving, this really isn't a problem. If you ever want to sell your place a good home inspector would make you replace this prior to the sale.

    Power isn't really "managed" in an outlet. All of the outlets are just paralleled together. There is a maximum number of outlet pairs allowed on each circuit, which are protected by a circuit breaker. The outlet chain is designed so that the circuit breaker will trip before any part of the system is overloaded.
     
  10. Floyd R Turbo

    Floyd R Turbo Super Duper Member R2R Supporter Gold Sponsor Toys For Kids 2016 Article Contributor Partner Member 2018

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    Maybe this is my "common sense" over ignorance talking, but I don't quite understand this...if you have a 20A receptacle on a circuit with #14 wires (tied to a 15A breaker) the protection point of the system is the breaker, the breaker protects the wire, and thus it really doesn't matter if you have a 20A receptacle or a 15A receptacle on the circuit because if you plug somethings 20A into the receptacle, it's going to trip the breaker (the breaker protects the wire)

    Now if you replace the 15A breaker with a 20A one and leave the #14 wire alone, that's a code violation.

    You could put a 40A receptacle on #14 wire and 15A breaker and it's going to trip the breaker. But I guess, you have to figure in the worst case and other things and thus if you have #14 wire instead of #12 then technically you should only put a 15A receptacle (of any kind in there) just so that someone doesn't plug in something like a dehumifier or window air conditioner (that typically come with one plug 90 degrees from the other = 20A) into a 15A circuit, which should cause a trip, but if for some reason it doesn't, the wire could heat up and start a fire....so I convinced myself that you are correct.....

    So the answer here is:

    1) figure out what circuit the receptacle is on
    2) check that breaker to see if it is a 15A or 20A rated breaker
    3) if the electrician that wired your home wasn't a moron or cheapskate or paid off the inspector, then you should have the appropriate wiring for that size receptacle

    note: the receptacle might be on the same circuit as some lighting. If you find this to be the case, it's likely it's on a 15A circuit (this is allowable and common in residential wiring)
     
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  11. Floyd R Turbo

    Floyd R Turbo Super Duper Member R2R Supporter Gold Sponsor Toys For Kids 2016 Article Contributor Partner Member 2018

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    It's 120 volts, which generally stays constant, and then the breaker limits the maximum current to 15 amps, 20 amps, etc.

    Think of it like water and a pipe. The pipe is like voltage, it stays constant. The water flowing through it is like current (amps), and it flows where needed. Each receptacle is like a faucet. So each receptacle has 2 plug ins, but each one of those is like it's own faucet. You can open one faucet up 100% and run all 20A of "current flow" through it and the breaker won't trip. You can open one faucet 50% and another one anywhere else on the same circuit 50%, and everything will be fine. But if you open another one and now you're "asking" for more than 20A of current/flow, that's where the breaker is supposed to trip and stop all flow (and voltage).

    That's the short version for non-sparky types, hopefully that helps!
     
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  12. Brew12

    Brew12 Electrical Gru R2R Supporter R2R Excellence Award Reef Squad Build Thread Contributor Article Contributor Partner Member 2018

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    This concept is why I said it was great advice. From a purely operation standpoint there is no downside to using a 20A receptacle in a circuit designed for 15A receptacles.
    From a code perspective, a 20A receptacle must be wired using 12AWG or larger wire with a 20A breaker. The 2014 NEC Table 210.21(B)(3) dictates the circuit breaker size and Table 210.24 dictates the wire size. Article 406.4(A) also reinforces that the rating of the receptacle must match the installation.
    As long as he doesn't want to sell his house any time soon, I think using the 20A receptacles is great advice. Just want to make him aware that it will not be per code and a good electrical inspector should catch it during a walk through.
     
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  13. Ramasule

    Ramasule Well-Known Member

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    All i know is that almost every rule built into code is the result of blood and tears.

    You can argue that some of the rules are bubble wrap (overboard) but the fact is they are a result of a death(s) and then incedent learning prevention panels.

    On a side not I think arc fault breakers are a waste of money but thats just me. Side side note, I was required to change all my outlets in my detached garage to tamper proof(code requirement)
    My outlets are in a detached garage all located 4.5 feet off the ground. My 60A welding outlet 16 inch off the ground required no change. Explain that.
     
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  14. Be102

    Be102 Well-Known Member

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    Okay, so I think I understand it a little better.. @Brew12 is saying that technically homes aren't on the "code" regarding 20 amps, and that the 20 amp would need to be changed if I was actually getting an inspection and whatnot. It's more for a industrial use? This outlet will be tucked behind my 65 gallon tank, out of sight. No intentions of selling the house anytime soon either, so I think it'll be fine? Here's a picture of my breaker box (that's what it's called right?) quite honestly I'm not sure what is for what; despite it being labeled. . But I have a good idea.. so if it says "15" can it not have a 20 amp? Will it just not work? Like will I harm my electical by using it in anyway? What's the reasoning behind having "code" require 15amp?

    IMG_0725.JPG
     
  15. Brew12

    Brew12 Electrical Gru R2R Supporter R2R Excellence Award Reef Squad Build Thread Contributor Article Contributor Partner Member 2018

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    Odds are you have some 20A receptacles in your kitchen. Kitchens have some special requirements for circuits powering small appliances. So no, the 20 amp receptacles aren't really designed for industrial use.

    A 20 amp receptacle will work just fine in place of a 15 amp receptacle. It just doesn't meet code. I believe the reason behind it is that if you see a 20A receptacle it should tell you that the circuit is fed from a 20A breaker and 12AWG or larger wire. If someone were to move into your house, they may try to overload that circuit with a larger than intended device thinking the circuit was actually rated for 20 amps.
     
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  16. Brew12

    Brew12 Electrical Gru R2R Supporter R2R Excellence Award Reef Squad Build Thread Contributor Article Contributor Partner Member 2018

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    And, in the case of the National Electric Code (NEC), many of those tears come from fires. The NEC is also known as the NFPA 70. It is written by the National Fire Prevention Association.
     
  17. Floyd R Turbo

    Floyd R Turbo Super Duper Member R2R Supporter Gold Sponsor Toys For Kids 2016 Article Contributor Partner Member 2018

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    I think we're confusing you a bit...
    duplex_15amp_20amp.jpg

    This is one way to tell. If your existing outlet looks like the one on the right, it's 20A. Which means it can be used for powering anything that has 2 straight (parallel) plugs and also one that has the 2 plugs perpendicular (one turned 90 degrees).

    If it looks like the one on the left, it could be either a 20A or 15A circuit

    Go by the breaker that controls the receptacle, that's the bottom line
     
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  18. Be102

    Be102 Well-Known Member

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    So it appears that my bedrooms could possibly be labeled '15' on the circuit breaker. I guess like I said I have to do a little more testing because some are labeled 20 and others are 15. I just don't want to attempt to hook up a 20amp to something labeled 15 if it will cause problems.. hopefully this makes more sense. Like will I cause any problems to anything for using a '20' amp outlet on a '15' circuit breaker outlet? Or will it all just work out fine and Im overthinking this :rolleyes:
     
  19. Floyd R Turbo

    Floyd R Turbo Super Duper Member R2R Supporter Gold Sponsor Toys For Kids 2016 Article Contributor Partner Member 2018

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    You're overthinking it. If you have 5 15A outlets and 2 20A outlets on a 15A circuit, nothing is going to explode
     
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  20. Brew12

    Brew12 Electrical Gru R2R Supporter R2R Excellence Award Reef Squad Build Thread Contributor Article Contributor Partner Member 2018

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    You are overthinking this. You don't need to worry about functionality in either case. The only concern is if you want to maintain your house up to electrical code. The odds of you trying to plug in an appliance that draws more than 15 amps into that receptacle are very slim. That would be the only safety concern.

    Normally, kitchens and laundry rooms use 20A breakers. Bedrooms and other living areas typically use 15A breakers. If the outlet is fed from a 20A breaker then it would be fine per the code to install either a 15A or 20A receptacle.
    Why the difference? The code limits permanently installed devices to 80% of the outlets rated load. Some refrigerators, microwaves, coffee makers, and clothes dryers pull more current than the 12A limit for fixed devices on a 15A circuit. Using a 20A rated circuit allows up to 16A of fixed load. And yes.. I know... it is just an oddity in the code where you can have portable space heater that draws 14A on a 15A circuit but if the heater were fixed (which should be safer) it is not allowed.
    So why not just use 20A breakers everywhere? A 20A breaker requires at least 12AWG wire. A 15A breaker allows you to use 14AWG wire which is smaller, and therefore cheaper. And that is really the only reason since it is perfectly acceptable to use a 15A receptacle on a 20A breaker as long as there is more than 1 receptacle fed from the breaker. It's strictly a way for electricians to save money when wiring houses.
     
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