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Mike G.
Mike G., Master Electrician
Category: Electrical
Satisfied Customers: 7090
Experience:  Proven Professional 46 years Experience
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I am interested in finding out what the process is for

Customer Question

Hello,
I am interested in finding out what the process is for stress testing a circuit. We bought a fixer upper upstate new York, a raised ranch built in 1978.
The three bedroom outlets are on one breaker. We were using an inferred heater which takes 12.5 amps. The wire is a 14 gauge. We had the heater running for about 4 hours. All of the plugs in all the rooms on the breaker became very hot.
Is this common? Is it likely to cause a fire?
Is there some way to stress test the 14 gauge wire?
Would it be helpful at all to replace the original outlets?
Thanks
Submitted: 22 days ago.
Category: Electrical
Expert:  Mike G. replied 22 days ago.

Hi, I'm Mike and I'll be assisting you. Please stand by while I review your question.

Expert:  Mike G. replied 22 days ago.

The protection for the circuit is the breaker. For a #14 wire a 15A breaker is required. The current in a circuit will produce heat and that is expected. If you detect a high temp at receptacles I suggest checking the way they are terminated. All wires should individually terminate under a screw, never in the push back. The push back make for poor connections which arc and cause the temp of the device to be hot. I suggest making a circuit map for the house. A sheet of paper per floor showing the rooms and having the receptacles and lights indicated. Wirh assistance flip breakers and mark the outlets with the circuit number. All troubleshooting will be much easier having a map.

Customer: replied 22 days ago.

The back of the outlets are all push ins. I have no problem replacing them with newer 15 amp outlets and putting the wire under the screw. Do you think that will solve the problem?

As a raised ranch, the ceiling is open downstairs. I am able to visually track, all of the 14 gauge romex as they enter up to the outlet in the bedrooms. In this house all outlet cables seem to run under the floor.

Is there a way? To verify all cable wires are healthy? Some sort of an electrical stress test? Thanks

Expert:  Mike G. replied 22 days ago.

To verify the amperage is not over the rating of the wire you'll need a clamp meter. When put on a wire it shows the amperage. As long as it is not over wire rating the wiring is fine. Most failures are at outlets not on the circuit wires unless they are damaged by something such as a nail penatration hanging a picture.

Customer: replied 22 days ago.

Is there a system to rule out damaged wires or nail penatrations?

Expert:  Mike G. replied 22 days ago.

The best protection available is an AFCI breaker. Arc Fault Breaker. When installed it protects circuit wiring and outlets from arcs. Don't be overly concerned as to what is a normal condition. Wires get warmer when currents is present. The breaker prevents too much current and limits the heat in the wiring.

Customer: replied 22 days ago.

I turned on the heater and was able to pull the black wire away from the breaker in the breaker box. I put my clamp meter on it and got a reading of .25 amps ac? I have an led light on and the heater? Am I doing something incorrectly? Thanks.

Expert:  Mike G. replied 22 days ago.

That is correct.

Customer: replied 22 days ago.

So even though the max of the heater is 12.5 amps and I have an LED light on. Everything is only drawing .25 amps?

Expert:  Mike G. replied 22 days ago.

The method employed is correct as long as the setting on the meter is correct. The .25 reading tells me the heater element isn't drawing current. The reading being that small probably is the light only.

Customer: replied 22 days ago.

I got a reading of 10.91 with the light and heater working. The outlets have now started to heat up.

I will replace the outlets with new outlets and put in a AFCI.

Do you think new outlets will solve the issue?

Expert:  Mike G. replied 22 days ago.

The installation should have had the heater on a separate circuit. The heater load is more than 50% of the circuit. It should have a circuit installed.

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