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Use of #14 in newer house.


Mark P
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I never see #14 except in older homes. I only know of one township with adopted standards that allows #14 in upgrades, additions, etc. This town is out in the sticks and I do not know if they have a AHJ or not.

Yesterdays house was built in 1994. Sometime later the basement was finished and a detached garage were built and wired with #14. I was told the seller is an electrician.

I am thinking of putting something like the following in the report... opinions...

"Some of the electrical circuits (basement & detached garage) are run with 14 gage wire protected by 15 amp breakers. #12 & #14 were commonly used for lighting / wall circuits; however most jurisdictions no longer allow #14 to be used. Every township adopts their own standards and some have no adopted standards. Probably the original construction was wired w/ #12 (as is common practice) and when the basement and detached garage were completed #14 was used. I recommend you check with the appropriate township / AHJ (Authority Housing Jurisdiction) to see if permits were required / obtained for the garage and basement and if the have a problem with #14, being used. If the AHJ has no problem with it, then it is a non-issue. "

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I never see #14 except in older homes. I only know of one township with adopted standards that allows #14 in upgrades, additions, etc. This town is out in the sticks and I do not know if they have a AHJ or not.

Yesterdays house was built in 1994. Sometime later the basement was finished and a detached garage were built and wired with #14. I was told the seller is an electrician.

I am thinking of putting something like the following in the report... opinions...

"Some of the electrical circuits (basement & detached garage) are run with 14 gage wire protected by 15 amp breakers. #12 & #14 were commonly used for lighting / wall circuits; however most jurisdictions no longer allow #14 to be used. Every township adopts their own standards and some have no adopted standards. Probably the original construction was wired w/ #12 (as is common practice) and when the basement and detached garage were completed #14 was used. I recommend you check with the appropriate township / AHJ (Authority Housing Jurisdiction) to see if permits were required / obtained for the garage and basement and if the have a problem with #14, being used. If the AHJ has no problem with it, then it is a non-issue. "

Unless we're talking about using aluminum wire, there's nothing wrong with using #14. As long as it's sized for the load and adequately protected, it's a perfectly acceptable choice.

Are you absolutely sure about the statement, "most jurisdictions no longer allow #14 to be used?" The NEC certainly doesn't have a problem with it.

-Jim Katen, Oregon

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Nothig wrong w/ #14 on a 15 amp. My concern is that #14 was used where the AHJ does not allow it and sometime down the raod the buyers are on the hook for changing it.

I had a situation last years where a older house was rewired with all #14 w/ 15 amp breaks. I thought okay, odd, but what is the problem and said nothing. After the lady bought the house and had to get a occupancy permit the AHJ said she would have to rewire the entire house because no permits were pulled and they do not allow #14 at all. It worked ok in the end, the AHJ let it slide, but I was interviewed by the AHJ on what was there when I did my inspection, etc. The buyer was unhappy, etc. I won't let that happen again.

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After the lady bought the house and had to get a occupancy permit the AHJ said she would have to rewire the entire house because no permits were pulled and they do not allow #14 at all.

Really....That is bizarre. There is absolutely nothing wrong with #14 copper as long as it protected with a 15 amp breaker. I would love to know why your local AHJ has a problem with that.

I understand why they have a problem with electrical work that was performed without a permit. But rewiring the house for something that is accepted by NEC, IRC, and general practice throughout the entire US?

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In the code there are certain requirements for 20Amp circuits: kitchen, bathrooms and laundry come to mind. In these circuits obviously 12AWG would be needed. But anywhere else that a 15Amp circuit is allowed so should 14AWG copper.

Does the AHJ require all 20 Amp circuits in the house or just 12 AWG on 15 Amp breakers?

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I almost think I did recall seeing something about a possible NEC change in the future about no longer permitting 14 AWG in new construction (12 AWG copper would be the smallest permitted), but I think NEC approved any change regarding 12 v. 14 AWG copper. I thought 14 AWG copper was still permitted by NEC.

Did anyone else see this proposed changed for a future NEC?

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Nothig wrong w/ #14 on a 15 amp. My concern is that #14 was used where the AHJ does not allow it and sometime down the raod the buyers are on the hook for changing it.

I had a situation last years where a older house was rewired with all #14 w/ 15 amp breaks. I thought okay, odd, but what is the problem and said nothing. After the lady bought the house and had to get a occupancy permit the AHJ said she would have to rewire the entire house because no permits were pulled and they do not allow #14 at all. It worked ok in the end, the AHJ let it slide, but I was interviewed by the AHJ on what was there when I did my inspection, etc. The buyer was unhappy, etc. I won't let that happen again.

I've never heard of such a thing and honestly it boarders on ridiculous. You may have misunderstood what he was saying... Absolutely, a house with all 15 amp. circuits is not allowed. As Harold said, certain circuits must be 20amp. but lighting and bedroom, living room, etc... receptacles can be 15 amp with #14. Then again, your in IL., don't even get me started.[:-taped]

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What's wrong with 14ga wire for a 15 amp circuit? Why say anything if nothing is wrong?

You are in the St. Louis area, every place is different. Here in Springfield, a home owner can rewire their whole home a few circuits at a time, but it is recommended to follow current NEC standards. As for #14 no longer being allowed, that is news to me & others. Since as already stated, as long as protected by a 15 amp circuit, #14 is fine. Only diff is that it can only be used for lighting, and #12 used for outlets.
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I almost think I did recall seeing something about a possible NEC change in the future about no longer permitting 14 AWG in new construction (12 AWG copper would be the smallest permitted), but I think NEC approved any change regarding 12 v. 14 AWG copper. I thought 14 AWG copper was still permitted by NEC.

Did anyone else see this proposed changed for a future NEC?

I have a PDF draft copy of the proposed 2011 NEC. There is nothing new in there about the use, or non-use, of 14-AWG wires. #14 remains OK for 15-amp circuits.

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Looks like I raised a bunch of eyebrows and questions.

As I explained earlier in this thread there was a situation last years where the AHJ of Cahokia, IL told a lady that her house would have to be rewired because they do not allow #14.

The AHJ held a meeting to discuss the house. I was called and put on speaker phone during the meeting. They wanted to know what was there, when I did my inspection, etc.

It was during this phone conference that someone in the meeting said that they no longer allow #14 to be used and as far as they knew only one township, Fairview Heights, still allows it.

Yesterday, I spoke with an electrician friend of mine that works in this area and he said everyone uses #12, but he was not aware of anything prohibiting the use of #14.

I plan on making some phone calls to a few of the townships around here and get it from the horses mouth. I'll report back what I find out.

In this area the “Merto Eastâ€

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All electrical, plumbing has to be done by a contractor preapproved by the city.

Let me get this right: You can deny your own child professional medical services and heal them with yohimbe root. You can change the brakes on your car even if you own only an adjustable wrench. You can operate a motor vehicle, lawn mower, power saw, chainsaw, and get married but you can't work on your own house?

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. . . I plan on making some phone calls to a few of the townships around here and get it from the horses mouth. I report back what I find out.

. . .

I'm very interested to hear the result. If they tell you that #14 is prohibited, please get them to send you the chapter & verse from whatever authority they're citing.

- Jim Katen, Oregon

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. . . I plan on making some phone calls to a few of the townships around here and get it from the horses mouth. I report back what I find out.

. . .

I'm very interested to hear the result. If they tell you that #14 is prohibited, please get them to send you the chapter & verse from whatever authority they're citing.

- Jim Katen, Oregon

I'll bet the authority is somebody named either Larry or Daryll.

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. . . I plan on making some phone calls to a few of the townships around here and get it from the horses mouth. I report back what I find out.

. . .

I'm very interested to hear the result. If they tell you that #14 is prohibited, please get them to send you the chapter & verse from whatever authority they're citing.

- Jim Katen, Oregon

I'll bet the authority is somebody named either Larry or Daryll.

Or Cliff from Cheers.

(Anyone else miss Mr. Jowers?)

- Jim Katen, Oregon

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All electrical, plumbing has to be done by a contractor preapproved by the city.

Let me get this right: You can deny your own child professional medical services and heal them with yohimbe root. You can change the brakes on your car even if you own only an adjustable wrench. You can operate a motor vehicle, lawn mower, power saw, chainsaw, and get married but you can't work on your own house?

I believe you can work on a house you are living in (maybe I'm not sure), but if your are "flipping" a house you have to contract out certain things. Also, everyone on the city's preapproved list is union - or so I was told.

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. . . Since as already stated, as long as protected by a 15 amp circuit, #14 is fine. Only diff is that it can only be used for lighting, and #12 used for outlets.

Do you have any documentation to back up that assertion?

- Jim Katen, Oregon

Yes, the NEC allows for only, and only #14 to be protected by no greater then a 15 amp breaker.
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Don't ever be surprised by anything that's politically (meaning there's a constituency somewhere) motivated in the Land of Lincoln.

Technically speaking, one can't even change out a lampholder in the wonderful City of Chicago without hiring someone from IBEW Local 134. Of course, it happens all the time, but.....

Put another way, we've had more governors indicted and convicted than any other state I can think of. Louisiana ain't got nothing on us.

I better stop now before I crank it up to full tilt rant.

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. . . Since as already stated, as long as protected by a 15 amp circuit, #14 is fine. Only diff is that it can only be used for lighting, and #12 used for outlets.

Do you have any documentation to back up that assertion?

- Jim Katen, Oregon

Yes, the NEC allows for only, and only #14 to be protected by no greater then a 15 amp breaker.

Um, not that part, the part about how #14 can only be used for lighting and not for outlets.

- Jim Katen, Oregon

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