Can I Change a 15 Amp Breaker to a 20?


Is it possible to change a 15 amp breaker to a 20 to accommodate additional outlets?

William from Pittsburgh, PA


Recent AnswersAnswer this Question

By Susan Sanders-Kinzel 9 2,498 08/26/2006

Dear William
The reason the Code does not allow that, is because
20 Amps traveling through 15 Amp wires will overheat
them and cause a fire in the wall.

You can often get away with adding additional outlets
without messing with the breaker, as long as the total
load does not go higher than the rating of the wires.
For example, adding outlets in more convenient locations
and not using the old ones in the hard to get to spots,
that's perfectly OK. The same goes for adding ten
outlets to a work bench. You won't be using ten
power tools at the same time, but just have more of
them plugged in and ready to use, one at a time.

With outlets for light loads you can usually sneak
around the code and treat them like power bar outlets.
For example, adding outlets for computers and battery
chargers won't significantly increase the load.

Keep in mind that by the time a breaker pops, the
wires in the wall are already quite hot, but still safe.
You are wasting electricity heating up the wall, but
you won't burn it down. A 15 Amp breaker is designed
to pop before 15 Amp wire gets hot enough to set
walls on fire.

If a breaker pops more than once, then that is a sign
that you should run an additional cable with it's own

Have FUN!

ReplyWas this helpful? Yes No

By Dean (Guest Post) 08/26/2006

You should check the wire type.A 14/2 wire means it has 2 service wires,one hot(black)one white(neutral) and a bare copper wire(ground)and is used with a 15 amp breaker max.A 12/2 wire is used up to a 20 amp breaker.Additional outlets on the same circuit may be a problem.The max a 20amp 12/2 wire circuit can carry is 1500 amps.Total watts divided by total watts equal total amps circuit can carry.You may want to have an electrican come in and add another circuit for the additional outlets,

ReplyWas this helpful? Yes No

By ben 1 03/14/2011

Adding outlets for computers would not work because my room has a 15a breaker the psu I'm going to be using for my new pc build when at full load the psu will use a total of 15a and that's just for the pc all my other things would be down and off so no screen for my pc just the pc it's self would be able to be on.

ReplyWas this helpful? Yes No

Answer This Question