Hook up 15 amp breaker

Following is a description of what tandem circuit breakers are and how to add a new circuit using them. How They Do Their Job. An extra large breaker is typically at the top of the panel; this is the main service breaker it shuts off all of the power. In addition, you will probably see a couple of other extra-thick or double breakers that serve big appliances like the water heater and electric range. The remaining average-sized breakers typically serve lighting, receptacle, and small appliance circuits in the house, and usually are either or amp breakers.

If you need more or amp breakers, a simple solution is to install a tandem breaker.


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The overall size of a tandem circuit breaker is the same as that of a standard breaker, but instead of a single breaker, it has two narrow side-by-side breakers. You can buy tandem circuit breakers where both sides are amp breakers, both are amp breakers, or one side is 15 amps and the other side is 20 amps. By removing a standard amp breaker and replacing it with a tandem unit that has two amp breakers, you immediately gain an extra circuit in the electrical panel. The wires from the original breaker are attached to one of the new breakers in the tandem, and the wires feeding your new circuit are attached to the second breaker.

Installing a tandem breaker is a simple job that takes about 10 minutes. Installing a new circuit with boxes, cables, receptacles, switches, and light fixtures, however, takes a lot more time.

How to Add a Breaker Switch (with Pictures) - wikiHow

Following is a step-by-step overview that shows what it takes to add a new circuit and connect it to the new breaker. First, figure out what lights, switches, and receptacles you want, then determine their approximate locations. If you are just adding a new lighting circuit to an unfinished space such as a basement, choosing a location will be much easier. Make a shopping list of what you will need. Go to a home center, and run it by the clerks in the electrical department. These people are usually well informed and can easily explain options you might not have considered.

Mount the electrical boxes in the desired location and install the proper gauge electrical cable between these boxes. Install the new receptacles, light fixtures, switches, and cover plates. Turn off the main breaker at the top of the box, and then remove the panel cover by unscrewing a few large screws. Use a voltage tester to be sure the power to the panel is off—touching electrically charged wires or bus bars inside the panel can be deadly. Then, as long as all your work occurs below the main breaker, you will not be exposed to any charged power in the panel box.

Break the tab off so that the two screws are no longer connected. Normally, only the tab between the brass screws is broken off - the tab between white screws is left alone. Check the original outlet and prepare the new one the same way. Connect the wires to the new outlet. The ground wire bare or insulated with a green color goes to the green screw, usually near the bottom of the outlet. If by chance there is a ground wire in the box but it was never connected to the old outlet it must now be connected.

An additional 6" piece of wire may be necessary to connect between two or more ground wires already in the box and the outlet. If so, add it by removing the wire nut holding the two existing ground wires together, add the new "pigtail" and replace the wire nut. Bend a small hook in the stripped wire and wrap it around the screw in a clockwise direction.

If wrapped in the wrong direction it may tend to come off when tightening the screw. Tighten the screw firmly. The white wires go to the white colored screws, or can be plugged into the back of a 15 amp outlet. Make sure they are plugged into the holes nearest the white screws. Black or other colored wires go to the more brass colored screws or holes on the other side. If you are looking at the front of the outlet, black wires go to to the right side. If the outlet was switched on either the top or bottom the black wires still go to the same side, making sure that the labels previously applied to the wires go to the same place.

If labels have come off, the worst that can happen is the the switched part will reverse from top to bottom or vice versa, so don't worry too much about it. The back side of the GFCI outlet has two sets of screws or holes to use. One set is for the "line" side and one for the "load side". Line side screws are for GFCI outlets that are stand alone outlets; they do not protect any "downstream" outlets.

If you are replacing an old outlet without a ground wire and have more than two white or two black wires in the box, these wires will have to be "pigtailed" to the new GFCI outlet.

To do this both white wires need to be connected together using a wire nut, along with a new 6" piece of white wire. All three white wires will be fastened together with the wire nut. The same thing must be done with the black wires. The new pigtails are now connected to the "line" side of the GFCI outlet with the white wires going to the white screws and the black wires going to the brass colored screws.

Short lengths of wire are usually available to home improvement stores such as Home Depot. Alternatively the new GFCI may be used to protect "downstream" outlets as well as itself - this is the preferred option. To accomplish this a tester, preferably a non contact voltage detector, will be necessary, as will some wire nuts.

Separate all the wires in the box from each other if they aren't already separated and put a wire nut on each individual wire to cover any exposed copper wire. Turn on the power once more and check to see which wire is "hot" - that is, which wire is now powered. Mark that wire, being careful not to dislodge the wire nut; that wire will be the "line" side of the GFCI outlet. Turn the power back off and verify with the tester that it is off.

Trace the marked, black, wire into the box to find which white wire goes with it. Most houses use wiring in cables that have one white and one black wire; you are looking for the white wire that is cabled with the marked black wire. The marked black wire will be attached to the brass screw marked "line" as well. The remaining white and black wires are connected to the "load" end of the GFCI outlet these screws are normally covered with a caution tape from the factory and such tape must be removed, but the outlet is also stamped with the words "line" and "load". Electrical code requires that all outlets now protected by the new GFCI be labeled as such; stickers should have come with the new outlet.

Buying and Installing Electrical Outlets

If there is no ground in the box, all the outlets must also be labeled with a "no ground" sticker. Fold the wires neatly back into the box and push the electrical outlet into the box as well. The outlet is attached with two screws, one each at top and bottom - very occasionally the plastic boxes used in residential wiring will have the threads stripped out of the screw holes.

Not to panic - a 1" long 8 sheet metal screw will work as well, although it cannot be repeatedly removed and put back without again stripping out the hole. Attach the cover plate and turn on the power. It is best to check the new outlet with an outlet tester - these are small inexpensive testers made just for testing to see if an outlet is wired correctly. Another home repair task completed with a minimum of fuss or bother.

What do I pipe or insulate them with? When I use a screwdriver to remove my metal outlet covers I feel a light shock, is this the ground wire doing its job?

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Your Circuit Breaker Box is Full — Now What?

It is the ground wire NOT doing it's job. You should not be able to feel any shock unless you touch the wires on the terminals. Never from a metal cover plate. You will need another short 6" piece of additional wire, preferably black, and a wire nut. Make sure the wire is the proper size; if the outlet is on a 15 amp breaker it must be at least 14 gauge wire or larger; if it is a 20 amp breaker it must be at least a 12 gauge wire.

If in doubt, purchase 12 gauge. That will produce enough to terminate it on the new outlet. I have an old receptacle has no tab. Two black and two white wires. I think the receptacle is in series and I should not remove the tab on the new one. If you are simply replacing the outlet, wire the new one exactly the same, without breaking the tab. Hopefully, there is a ground in the box that can be put on the new outlet, but if not the new one should be a GFCI outlet. If it is, both blacks need to be spliced together with a third, 6" piece added in; that short 6" piece goes to the "load" side of the GFCI.

The white wires are treated the same, with an additional "pigtail" added to terminate on the new GFCI outlet. Do not replace an old, ungrounded outlet with a new one with a grounded outlet without having a ground wire to put on it. This question is about replacing plugs. I saw somewhere that a person said to use a screwdriver 'beside' - where beside?

How To Install A New Circuit Breaker