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Changing From a 15 amp to 20 amp Breaker

If a #12 wire is connected to a 15 amp breaker, can I assume that it is safe to replace the 15 amp breaker with a 20 amp breaker?

By Douglas from Sacramento

Recent Answers

By PEDRO E. ALEQUIN [1]01/08/2010

Changing just 5 amps causes more resistance, can double temperature of wire. wires may over heat and cause FIRE! Please get knowledgeable help. Not a DIY Project.

By Dave [1]01/08/2010

No. You need to make sure all wiring connected anywhere in the circuit is also 12 gauge, and all devices, switches and receptacles should be rated 20 amps as that is the current available to them from a 20 amp breaker.

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Archive: Changing From a 15 amp to 20 amp Breaker

I want to change my 15 amp breaker to a 20 amp breaker, please help.

Erica from NY


RE: Changing From a 15 amp to 20 amp Breaker

You must also make sure the wiring for that circuit will also handle 20 amps. On older houses the wiring will not handle that much and the wire will heat up and possibly cause a fire. Main voltage can kill you, you must be very careful. There are several types of breakers. You must buy one that fits your breaker box.

But to do it, you must:

  1. Wear rubber soled shoes and leather gardening or shop gloves (not puffy winter gloves). Wear long sleeves. Remove all jewelry, necklaces, rings, and bracelets.
  2. Turn off the main power switch for all circuits in the house (make sure you have a flashlight). There is one large switch on the breaker box to do this.
  3. Use a multimeter to make sure the power is off in your box, downstream from the main switch.
  4. Open your main panel and find the breaker you want.
  5. Unscrew the panel cover. Save the screws and set the cover aside.
  6. Unscrew each screw to remove the thick wire from the breaker. This wire goes to each outlet or switch on this circuit. The ground wire is usually screwed to a common ground wire, not to the breaker.
  7. Pop up one side of the breaker (usually the outer edge of the breaker). These could be screwed in with one screw, newer ones just pop in and out.
  8. Screw the wire onto the new breaker. Black wire goes onto the brass screw, white wire goes onto the silver screw.
  9. Pop the new breaker into place. This usually means put the "inner" end in first, then press down on the end closest to the outer edge of the breaker box.
  10. Turn on main power and test the circuit at several outlets. Use a plugin radio with no batteries and plug it into several outlets on that circuit. Or use a nightlight to test the outlets.
(01/16/2007)

By bulrush

RE: Changing From a 15 amp to 20 amp Breaker

I just had a new electric power panel added to my electric service.The electricians never turned the power off, but they are professionals.You will have to know what outlets the new 20 amp services, because they are also rated for either 15 or 20 amps.They should be upgraded to 20 amps. Also you do not say why you want to change to 20 amps. 15 should be enough. (01/18/2007)

By foxrun41

RE: Changing From a 15 amp to 20 amp Breaker

Please, get an electrician to do this for you. The fact that you say it is an oven tells me it is 220V. This should be a double breaker. Most ovens run about 60 amps which would be a double 30 amp breaker. You cannot change breakers without first knowing the amperage capacity of the feed wire. This is really not a DIY project if unsure about all the facts. (09/24/2007)

By johnnyg

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