Changing a 15 Amp Outlet to 20 Amps

It is important to know the electrical wire and breaker switches requirements for different kinds of outlet needs. This guide is about changing a 15 amp outlet to 20 amps.

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I need to change one of my 15 amp outlets to a 20 amp outlet. I checked my fuse/breaker panel and all the breakers are 20 amp breakers. Can I just switch out the outlets and be OK?

By Jimmy D

AnswerWas this helpful?Helpful? Yes

It depends on what size wire was used.

15 amp breakers and outlets can only be used with 14 gauge wire.

20 amp breakers and outlets can only be used with 12 gauge wire.

http://www.thecircuitdetective.com/basic_house_wiring.htm

20 amp breaker is never allowed to run any circuit whose wires (anywhere on the circuit) are 14 gauge. but a 15 amp breaker's wires out on the circuit may be 14 gauge, 12 gauge, or even a mixture.

Best to get a licensed electrician; much cheaper than an electrical fire.

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I recently replaced an outlet in my kitchen and realized that all my 15 amp outlets etc. seem to be running off of 20 amp breakers. I don't know how to tell what size the wires are. Are the 20 amp breakers something to be concerned about? Should they be 15?

Brian

AnswerWas this helpful?Helpful? Yes

Some local electrical codes permit 15 amp sockets on 20 amp circuits provided that the wiring itself is correctly rated (12 ga. copper). Codes in other areas forbid this. You can verify wire size by comparing what is connected to your outlet with a sample that you can get at your hardware store. Call your local building inspector and ask what the rule is in your area for 15 amp sockets on 20 amp breakers. If you already have 12 ga. copper wiring there is no harm in upgrading the outlets to 20 amp.

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Home and Garden Repair Home ElectricalSeptember 14, 2013
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