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howardfine

join:2002-08-09
Saint Louis, MO
Reviews:
·AT&T Southwest

One electric outlet on different breaker

In this 1956 built house, I shockingly found out that one of the four outlets in one of the bedrooms is not on the same circuit breaker as the other three. My wife said her #&%! brother didn't touch any of the wiring so I just want to make sure and ask.

Is that allowed? Shouldn't all the outlets in one bedroom be on the same breaker?


jack b
Gone Fishing
Premium,MVM
join:2000-09-08
Cape Cod
kudos:1

2 recommendations

I read this to mean you didn't use a voltage tester on an outlet before working on it.

Tsk tsk.

If all you got was a shock, consider yourself lucky.

Actually it's a good idea to split the circuits in any room onto multiple breakers. If a breaker trips, every outlet in the room will not be killed.

With this in mind, what did we learn today?
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howardfine

join:2002-08-09
Saint Louis, MO
Yeah I always do but I wasn't aware of the fourth outlet till I pulled some furniture back. I left to go to the hardware store to get another one and, when I returned, forgot I hadn't tested it.


alkizmo

join:2007-06-25
Pierrefonds, QC
kudos:1
reply to howardfine
said by howardfine:

Is that allowed? Shouldn't all the outlets in one bedroom be on the same breaker?

My 1964 house is 2 stories. The top floor has all the bedrooms and the main bathroom. That top floor is supplied by a single MBCW (basically 3-wire romex). So out of the 4 bedrooms, 2 of them work on opposite legs, while 2 other bedrooms sort of have half&half (probably their adjoining walls is where the MBCW wire splits).

Since they were on fuses, it was annoying, but I moved them to a breaker panel on a tandem 2-pole breaker, so if I gotta work on something electrical upstairs, I cut power to ALL of upstairs (just to be sure).


psafux
Premium,VIP
join:2005-11-10
kudos:2
I have a double outlet in my bathroom that is on two separate circuits. Top outlet is on one and the bottom outlet is on the other. All in all the bathroom is on three circuits. The wiring in our house is really bizarre though in general.


howardfine

join:2002-08-09
Saint Louis, MO
OK but what is normal? What would a new install do?


alkizmo

join:2007-06-25
Pierrefonds, QC
kudos:1
said by howardfine:

OK but what is normal? What would a new install do?

I am guessing it is normal for an old house. I don't see an issue except for those who assume that power cut off in a room's receptacle = all room receptacles are off.


fifty nine

join:2002-09-25
Sussex, NJ
kudos:2
reply to howardfine
said by howardfine:

In this 1956 built house, I shockingly found out that one of the four outlets in one of the bedrooms is not on the same circuit breaker as the other three. My wife said her #&%! brother didn't touch any of the wiring so I just want to make sure and ask.

Is that allowed? Shouldn't all the outlets in one bedroom be on the same breaker?

My house built in 1998 has different outlets on different breakers shared among different bedrooms.


howardfine

join:2002-08-09
Saint Louis, MO
Reviews:
·AT&T Southwest
reply to alkizmo
I did quite a bit of studying to make sure all the electric work would be code compliant before my brother-in-law took over. Unfortunately, I've forgotten nearly everything after two years and I'm having trouble getting motivated to start over.

I can't care less what is normal in an old house. I want to know if a new house gets wired that way.

The idea of having different outlets on different breakers should one of them trip is a good reason.


alkizmo

join:2007-06-25
Pierrefonds, QC
kudos:1
said by howardfine:

I can't care less what is normal in an old house. I want to know if a new house gets wired that way.

A 1991 house I lived in had two circuits going to my bedroom, one of them was shared with the bathroom. Is that new enough?


mattmag
Premium,ExMod 2000-03
join:2000-04-09
NW Illinois
kudos:3

1 recommendation

reply to howardfine


There is no code requirement as to which receptacles need to be on what breaker. You could install 8 separate receptacles on 8 separate breakers if you wanted to, or all on one, or any combination in between. I don't see what the concern would be on this.

My house has at least two circuits per bedroom, some shared with the common wall of the adjoining bedroom. I much prefer this over having everything in the room on one breaker.


howardfine

join:2002-08-09
Saint Louis, MO
Reviews:
·AT&T Southwest
said by mattmag:

I don't see what the concern would be on this.

My first concern would be safety for the exact thing that happened to me but I also understand why one would want at least one outlet on another breaker for the reason mentioned earlier.

If nothing else, I want to know why.


alkizmo

join:2007-06-25
Pierrefonds, QC
kudos:1

1 recommendation

said by howardfine:

My first concern would be safety for the exact thing that happened to me but I also understand why one would want at least one outlet on another breaker for the reason mentioned earlier.

If nothing else, I want to know why.

Safety? The safety issue was you assuming you had shut off the right breaker.


tschmidt
Premium,MVM
join:2000-11-12
Milford, NH
kudos:9
Reviews:
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reply to howardfine
said by howardfine:

If nothing else, I want to know why.

As others have posted you can have any number of circuits in a room.

As to why - my guess is it was easier to feed the receptacle from a different circuit.

As far as getting shocked - always test first. I've learned that the hard way "when I knew for sure power was off" to test first. An this even occurs in our present house which we build and wired ourselves. Always test first and be on the lookout for circuits with a common Neutral that are not controlled by a two-pole breaker.

/tom


mattmag
Premium,ExMod 2000-03
join:2000-04-09
NW Illinois
kudos:3
reply to howardfine
said by howardfine:

If nothing else, I want to know why.

You screwed up, and didn't properly test for a live circuit before you stuck your hands in it. That's on you, not the NEC. If you want absolute safety, then disconnect the main before doing any work. But you *still* need to test it to be safe!

A single room can have multiple circuits, and most all do. That's normal. And this may surprise you, but the code has no set limit to the number of receptacles that can be placed on a single circuit. Actual loads and conductor sizes determine the number of circuits required, and ratings for over-current protection devices, not how many receptacles exist.


howardfine

join:2002-08-09
Saint Louis, MO
Reviews:
·AT&T Southwest
I love how people dwell on the shock thing instead of answering the question. It had nothing to do with anything but it's become 80% of the thread. Why do you think I'm blaming the NEC?
quote:
And this may surprise you, but the code has no set limit to the number of receptacles that can be placed on a single circuit.
What does that have to do with how many outlets are in a room? Why do you think I would be surprised? I read the code book in the past. If it WAS in there, 80% of this thread would be about me not asking beforehand about it.


alkizmo

join:2007-06-25
Pierrefonds, QC
kudos:1
Ok so you want to know why a room might have receptacles on different circuits? Because of wiring convenience. Instead of piggy backing from one receptacle to another in the same room, it might be easier for the builder to wire a receptacle by piggy backing on a receptacle that's 1 foot away, but in a different room that share the same wall.


jjoshua
Premium
join:2001-06-01
Scotch Plains, NJ
kudos:3
Reviews:
·Verizon FiOS
reply to howardfine
My outlets are split. The top outlet is always energized while the bottom outlet is controlled by a wall switch. If you check the wrong outlet, you might be in for a surprise when you start poking around at the wiring.

Anyway, to the OP's question, why would outlets in the same room not be allowed to be on different breakers?


howardfine

join:2002-08-09
Saint Louis, MO
Reviews:
·AT&T Southwest
said by jjoshua:

My outlets are split. The top outlet is always energized while the bottom outlet is controlled by a wall switch. If you check the wrong outlet, you might be in for a surprise when you start poking around at the wiring.

As stated, I DID check the outlets when I started the work.

Anyway, to the OP's question, why would outlets in the same room not be allowed to be on different breakers?

This isn't helpful nor answers the question but I already gave a reason.


Msradell
P.E.
Premium
join:2008-12-25
Louisville, KY

1 recommendation

reply to howardfine
To put it clearly, "It is perfectly allowable under NEC codes to have outlets on multiple circuits in the same room." It is actually good practice, so you still have some power in a room when a breaker trips or is turned off.

H_T_R_N
Premium
join:2011-12-06
Valencia, PA
kudos:1
Reviews:
·voip.ms
reply to howardfine
said by howardfine:

In this 1956 built house, I shockingly found out that one of the four outlets in one of the bedrooms is not on the same circuit breaker as the other three. My wife said her #&%! brother didn't touch any of the wiring so I just want to make sure and ask.

Is that allowed? Shouldn't all the outlets in one bedroom be on the same breaker?

I have server circuits in several rooms in my home and office.
My office was done just a few years ago.
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Body Count

join:2010-09-11
Columbus, OH
reply to howardfine
My house was built in 1967 and my third bedroom (being used as a computer room) is like that. One side of the room is on one breaker while the other side is on another one.

It worked out well for me since I have a mini fridge, printer, and computer that pulls around 450 watts when I'm gaming. I have my computer on one breaker and my mini fridge and printer on the other so I don't blow a fuse if I happen to be gaming and needing to print something while my fridge is pulling its full power.


nunya
LXI 483
Premium,MVM
join:2000-12-23
O Fallon, MO
kudos:13
Reviews:
·Charter
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2 recommendations

reply to howardfine
Perfectly normal and acceptable. Then and now. It would be stupid to run two circuits through a back-to-back wall when it's totally unnecessary.
It comes down to working "smarter, not harder".
--
If someone refers to herself / himself as a "guru", they probably aren't.

TimCampbell
Premium
join:2001-06-02
Chatham, ON
reply to howardfine
Many kitchens in Canada have the top plugs of the outlets on 1 circuit and the bottom plug on another circuit, usually on the other incoming leg so there is the possibility of 230 volts at the outlet pair.


John Galt
Forward, March
Premium
join:2004-09-30
Happy Camp
kudos:8

1 recommendation

reply to howardfine
Barring any instructions to the contrary, houses will be wired in the manner that uses the least amount of wire.

Critsmcgee

join:2011-12-02
Reviews:
·Verizon FiOS

1 edit
reply to howardfine
Click for full size
Here's why I have an outlet on a single circuit in the living room and master bedroom. It's nice if you have something on a different circuit so if you need to work on it you can still plug in a light to see instead of use an extension cord or flashlight.


LazMan
Premium
join:2003-03-26
canada
reply to TimCampbell
said by TimCampbell:

Many kitchens in Canada have the top plugs of the outlets on 1 circuit and the bottom plug on another circuit, usually on the other incoming leg so there is the possibility of 230 volts at the outlet pair.

If there's 15A splits being used in the kitchen, they MUST be on opposing legs, otherwise a dangerous overload can occur on the neutral...

They are grandfathered in, if they exist; but current code requires 20a GFCI outlets instead.


John Galt
Forward, March
Premium
join:2004-09-30
Happy Camp
kudos:8
said by LazMan:

If there's 15A splits being used in the kitchen, they MUST be on opposing legs, otherwise a dangerous overload can occur on the neutral...

The circuit breakers must also be tied together when recps are configured in this manner.

Beezel

join:2008-12-15
Las Vegas, NV
reply to howardfine
Could have been for a a/c unit or space heater. Or some other item that would have overloaded the original circuit. It is hard to tell why it was like that. But it isn't unheard of in older homes.

Critsmcgee

join:2011-12-02
Reviews:
·Verizon FiOS
said by Beezel:

Could have been for a a/c unit or space heater. Or some other item that would have overloaded the original circuit. It is hard to tell why it was like that. But it isn't unheard of in older homes.

Houses built just a few months ago have this so it doesn't have anything to do with the age of the place. It's either need or convenience.