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Home 'Switch and Outlet Wiring Made Easy'

Electrical Dangers in the Home

Changing the Fuse or Breaker to
Accommodate Higher Circuit Loads

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So you need to be able to handle higher current levels on a particular circuit, and you are thinking of raising that level by replacing the fuse or breaker in the service panel with a higher rated one.

This can only be done if certain conditions are met.

First check what the gage of the wire cables being used on that circuit, not just in sections of it but every single wire anywhere in the circuit; at every outlet, every cable run, at fixture, at switches. If every single cable run / leg of the same circuit is 12 gage (copper) rated for 20 amp max, and all outlets are of the modern day variety (as sometimes the outlet screws are used to continue the circuit onward) then you can change the fuse from 15 amp to 20 amp. If any part of the circuit uses 14 gage wiring or has aluminium wiring you cannot under any circumstances change a 15 amp fuse / breaker to a 20 amp one.

If you home has old wiring in it, because of its age and because wiring standards of today is different and safer then yesterday I would advise against allowing old type wiring carrying higher current loads even if the wire gage meets the requirement of a higher current carrying load.

Allowing 14 gage wiring to handle 20 amps making it undersized for the current carrying load will create a dangerous situation and a fire waiting to happen.

If you need higher current carrying capacity and your current circuit wiring is not rated for that higher capacity then you will need to wire in a new circuit that is wired with the correct wiring cable and in such as way that meets current electrical codes for the purpose and use in which it is being installed for.

By: Donald Kerr

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