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

  1. #1

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

    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?

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

    Thank you

  2. #2
    Electrical Contractor/Instructor jwelectric's Avatar
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    That would be up to the professional doing the work.

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    Licensed Electrical Contractor Speedy Petey's Avatar
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    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. #4

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    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).

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    Electrical Contractor/Instructor jwelectric's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Billy_Bob View Post
    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).
    I am not disagreeing with your post but I cant help but wonder if this statement would have any bearing on how this installation is done.
    Quote Originally Posted by BrownShirt228 View Post
    Im having a professional do the work.
    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.

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    Moderator & Master Plumber hj's Avatar
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    Default 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.

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    Electrical Contractor/Instructor jwelectric's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by hj View Post
    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.

    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. #8

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

    Troubleshooting 101 says to check power at the source.


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


    it is a VERY UNSAFE thing to attempt.
    I will agree, especially in some cases, but that's how we earn a living.

  9. #9

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    Quote Originally Posted by jwelectric View Post

    It is against any kind of safety codes in place today and it is a VERY UNSAFE thing to attempt.
    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. #10
    DIY Senior Member seaneys's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by BrownShirt228 View Post

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

    Thank you
    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. #11

    Thumbs up

    Thank you again for your replies, and teaching me a few things to keep in mind

  12. #12
    Electrical Contractor/Instructor jwelectric's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by 220/221 View Post
    Troubleshooting 101 says to check power at the source.
    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.

    Quote Originally Posted by drick View Post
    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.
    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.

    Quote Originally Posted by seaneys View Post
    Seeing part of the goal of this forum is to help DIY'ers
    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.
    Steve
    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 wouldnt put up with this type of advice.

  13. #13

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    I'm a bit perplexed. The original poster said...

    "Im having a professional do the work."

  14. #14
    Plumber jimbo's Avatar
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    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. #15

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    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.

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