Electricity Circuit Breakers: Single-Pole or Two-Pole?
LESLIE: Gary in Virginia listens to The Money Pit on Free FM – WJFK. What can we do for you?
GARY: I have a 19 early 60s house that I’m – a fixer upper. And in the kitchen I have an electrical question that my TC (ph) ran from 12/3 wire. So, for example, to use … for two circuits. So, say, a circuit for light and a circuit for small appliances.
GARY: And then down to the … down to the main – the breaker – do I have to use two-pole breakers or can I use single-pole breakers and not have a (inaudible) problem?
TOM: No, actually, I think the best thing to do in that situation is use a two-pole. Well, why did he run 12/3? Why didn’t he just run two circuits? If he’s got to run wire; why doesn’t he just the run the wire?
GARY: Well, to be candid with you, I spent a lot of money on the house and I’m trying to get some help that’s not costing me a fortune. And that’s why I’m calling you to make sure that what’s not costing me a fortune still does it.
LESLIE: Is done right.
TOM: Gary, with the kind of remodel that you’re doing, I would recommend that you not use one wire for that. I think you’re better off using two separate circuits. I mean you’re trying to save some money but, really, what you ought to be doing is you can use a 14 gauge, 15 amp wire for the lighting circuit. And then you can use the 12 but just use the wires that you need for the one circuit to run the small appliance circuit. This way you have two completely separate circuits to do completely dedicated circuits to each area of the house. It’s going to be a lot safer and a lot cleaner way to get that job done.
Secondly, make sure that you get an electrical (ph) permit and make sure that you have this area inspected to make sure the electrician is doing it right. It gets pretty complicated when you’re tackling remodeling projects on existing homes. You never quite know where all that wiring is going. We want to make sure it’s done safe.
And the other thing that comes to mind is on that kitchen counter circuit, where you have the small appliances, you also need to add ground fault circuit interrupters to protect yourselves from any shocks that could occur from that electricity getting in contact with water.
GARY: Alright. I’m going to separate them. I really appreciate it.
TOM: You’re welcome. Thanks so much for calling us at 1-888-MONEY-PIT.