Can I drop a wire in a 14/3 and use it as a 14/2?

Ask your electrical related questions here
Post Reply
jeb101
Posts: 156
Joined: Fri Jan 12, 2018 8:13 am
Location: Canada

Can I drop a wire in a 14/3 and use it as a 14/2?

Post by jeb101 » Wed Nov 14, 2018 8:35 am

Half my house is wired with 2x 14/3 wires hooked on a 2p15 (120/240v) breaker, and I'd like to split that up. From what I could tell from the exploration I did in my attic yesterday, one hot goes to lights, the other goes to plugs.

What I would like to do is simply disconnect the red lead from all plugs as well as remove the 2p15 breaker and replace it with a 1p15, ultimately leaving one of the hots capped off in the panel, as well as in the box up in the attic. This would give me 2 more slots in the panel, as well as allow me to put the outlets on their own breaker, and segment those outlets even more.

Would this be doable? As long as they are terminated properly?

Also, this is a big IF, and will do this with an electrician with me... If I simply were to (for testing only) disconnect the red lead and turn the breaker on again, could I still run it to see what works and doesn't? I am not sure if it's segmented evenly, red on lights, black on plugs.

Note: I do not have any 3 way switches in the house, so it would not affect that kind of circuit.

Cheers


User avatar
Aaron
Posts: 2717
Joined: Sat Jan 03, 2015 4:03 pm
Location: St. Paul, MN

Re: Can I drop a wire in a 14/3 and use it as a 14/2?

Post by Aaron » Wed Nov 14, 2018 8:47 am

I think your question just boils down to whether you can cap the ends of wires? The answer is yes, whether they're live or not. As long as they are accessible. You can install new breakers and run new circuits as you wish.

jeb101
Posts: 156
Joined: Fri Jan 12, 2018 8:13 am
Location: Canada

Re: Can I drop a wire in a 14/3 and use it as a 14/2?

Post by jeb101 » Wed Nov 14, 2018 8:58 am

They are "accessible" in the attic, and I will be using drop ceiling in the basement, so technically I believe they are.

So, technically, I could simply take out one of the hots and see what runs, then swap to the other and see what runs also? From what I could tell, it's 14/3's going up to the attic, and it's split with 14/2's to the outlets / lights. But there are no 3 way switches / outlets so that shouldn't be affected with the normal */3 wire usage.

User avatar
Aaron
Posts: 2717
Joined: Sat Jan 03, 2015 4:03 pm
Location: St. Paul, MN

Re: Can I drop a wire in a 14/3 and use it as a 14/2?

Post by Aaron » Wed Nov 14, 2018 9:45 am

jeb101 wrote:
Wed Nov 14, 2018 8:58 am
They are "accessible" in the attic, and I will be using drop ceiling in the basement, so technically I believe they are.
Well "not accessible" means a junction box is hidden behind drywall, and could be forgotten about. If a splice came loose in that box it would be horribly difficult to troubleshoot if the technician had no idea of the box existence or where to find it.

Yep, a drop ceiling should be fine as long as the ceiling are those ceiling tiles that can be easily removed to access utilities above them.

Attics are fine too.
So, technically, I could simply take out one of the hots and see what runs, then swap to the other and see what runs also? From what I could tell, it's 14/3's going up to the attic, and it's split with 14/2's to the outlets / lights. But there are no 3 way switches / outlets so that shouldn't be affected with the normal */3 wire usage.
You’re just talking about consolidating circuits? Sure. Go for it. Just make sure you’re not overloading your consolidated circuit.

If you're up in Canada there is a 12 outlet limit, "outlets" meaning the total of both lights and receptacles.

jeb101
Posts: 156
Joined: Fri Jan 12, 2018 8:13 am
Location: Canada

Re: Can I drop a wire in a 14/3 and use it as a 14/2?

Post by jeb101 » Wed Nov 14, 2018 9:48 am

Aaron wrote:
Wed Nov 14, 2018 9:45 am
So, technically, I could simply take out one of the hots and see what runs, then swap to the other and see what runs also? From what I could tell, it's 14/3's going up to the attic, and it's split with 14/2's to the outlets / lights. But there are no 3 way switches / outlets so that shouldn't be affected with the normal */3 wire usage.
You’re just talking about consolidating circuits? Sure. Go for it. Just make sure you’re not overloading your consolidated circuit.

If you're up in Canada there is a 12 outlet limit, "outlets" meaning the total of both lights and receptacles.
Basically, right now I'm basically at 12 outlets per pole (little less but it's pretty full), I was going to kill the plugs in the kitchen, remove the old boxes, and drop in retro box, and fish the wires down to the basement and re-run them to a new breaker. Right now I have 6 outlets in the kitchen on the same breaker, on a 15a, including microwave and fridge. I pop a breaker when I sneeze.

User avatar
Aaron
Posts: 2717
Joined: Sat Jan 03, 2015 4:03 pm
Location: St. Paul, MN

Re: Can I drop a wire in a 14/3 and use it as a 14/2?

Post by Aaron » Wed Nov 14, 2018 2:58 pm

I would say as long are you're at 12 outlets or under, you're fine -- also make sure that the outlets (again, receptacles and lights) on the consolidated circuits are in relative close proximity to one another just so it makes sense when you label your panel directory. It's not a requirement per se, but it's annoying when there's this ONE receptacle in some room upstairs that happens to be on the same circuit as the refrigerator in the kitchen.

Since you're adding new circuits, they should be AFCI-breakered. Two 20A kitchen countertop circuits, one or two receptacles each (for a total of two, three, or four countertop receptacles) are required. The receptacles must be GFCI-protected too.

User avatar
A. Spruce
Posts: 4682
Joined: Tue Aug 16, 2016 5:23 pm
Location: California, USA

Re: Can I drop a wire in a 14/3 and use it as a 14/2?

Post by A. Spruce » Wed Nov 14, 2018 4:07 pm

Aaron wrote:
Wed Nov 14, 2018 9:45 am
You’re just talking about consolidating circuits? Sure. Go for it. Just make sure you’re not overloading your consolidated circuit.

If you're up in Canada there is a 12 outlet limit, "outlets" meaning the total of both lights and receptacles.
If splitting a 14/3 across two breakers, that means sharing a neutral, isn't that a no-no?
If the women don't find you handsome, they should at least find you handy.

User avatar
emtnut
Posts: 1492
Joined: Mon Mar 02, 2015 7:21 am
Location: Canada
Contact:

Re: Can I drop a wire in a 14/3 and use it as a 14/2?

Post by emtnut » Wed Nov 14, 2018 7:59 pm

jeb101 wrote:
Wed Nov 14, 2018 9:48 am

Basically, right now I'm basically at 12 outlets per pole (little less but it's pretty full), I was going to kill the plugs in the kitchen, remove the old boxes, and drop in retro box, and fish the wires down to the basement and re-run them to a new breaker. Right now I have 6 outlets in the kitchen on the same breaker, on a 15a, including microwave and fridge. I pop a breaker when I sneeze.
Just stop sneezing ! ... Problem solved :lol:

I can't remember if you're in Canada, let me know if you are and need the kitchen req's for up here.
~~ This space for rent ... apply within :mrgreen: ~~

User avatar
emtnut
Posts: 1492
Joined: Mon Mar 02, 2015 7:21 am
Location: Canada
Contact:

Re: Can I drop a wire in a 14/3 and use it as a 14/2?

Post by emtnut » Wed Nov 14, 2018 8:02 pm

A. Spruce wrote:
Wed Nov 14, 2018 4:07 pm
Aaron wrote:
Wed Nov 14, 2018 9:45 am
You’re just talking about consolidating circuits? Sure. Go for it. Just make sure you’re not overloading your consolidated circuit.

If you're up in Canada there is a 12 outlet limit, "outlets" meaning the total of both lights and receptacles.
If splitting a 14/3 across two breakers, that means sharing a neutral, isn't that a no-no?
In that situation, it is just a MWBC, so sharing the neutral is fine.
Sharing a neutral from different circuits shouldn't happen (although it often does), and usually only a problem when you try to AFCI or GCFI a circuit.

You can still AFCI/GFCI a MWBC if using a DP breaker.

Enough acronyms in this post ?? :mrgreen:
~~ This space for rent ... apply within :mrgreen: ~~

jeb101
Posts: 156
Joined: Fri Jan 12, 2018 8:13 am
Location: Canada

Re: Can I drop a wire in a 14/3 and use it as a 14/2?

Post by jeb101 » Thu Nov 15, 2018 8:39 am

I had an electrician come in to get an idea on what I had planned, and we are going to be segmenting my kitchen on Saturday.

I believe the plan is going to be to run a 14/3 to 2 outlets, and simply do the old school way of wiring things, top is one, bottom is the other. 2 2p15 in the kitchen (4 outlets), the other option would be a simple 15a to each outlet as it would take the same space.

From what i can tell, since it's a retro / grandfathered in house, I don't need to put 20a plugs in the kitchen, just as long as they are GFI.

The wiring is all sorts of wonky, and a complete waste of wires, most of it is fished from the basement, up the exterior wall to the attic, then ran 35ft down to the kitchen and dropped down the walls from there. I will be going up in the attic, and removing the outlets from that circuit, and ensuring all the lights are on the same hot, and simply disconnect the other hot from the panel and use a 1p15 instead of a 2p15 which is so fatigued it's simply a problem.

emtnut I am in Canada, on the east coast to answer your question.

I can't wait to rewire the house once I get more stuff done in the basement, we are fighting against the spray foam guy doing the rim joists (kitchen rewire was pushed up quick!), and needing to finish the whole basement in the next 2 weeks, wiring is next! Either way, simply removing these from the circuit is going to help greatly, as I get 116v nominal when I have a high draw on the circuit. This affects many many plugs.

User avatar
emtnut
Posts: 1492
Joined: Mon Mar 02, 2015 7:21 am
Location: Canada
Contact:

Re: Can I drop a wire in a 14/3 and use it as a 14/2?

Post by emtnut » Fri Nov 16, 2018 7:33 pm

jeb101 wrote:
Thu Nov 15, 2018 8:39 am
I believe the plan is going to be to run a 14/3 to 2 outlets, and simply do the old school way of wiring things, top is one, bottom is the other. 2 2p15 in the kitchen (4 outlets), the other option would be a simple 15a to each outlet as it would take the same space.

From what i can tell, since it's a retro / grandfathered in house, I don't need to put 20a plugs in the kitchen, just as long as they are GFI.
Under Canadian code, you can have 2 separate 20A circuits OR 2 15A split receptacles.
Either works, the only thing with the split 15A is the cost of the GFCI breaker feeding it. That is panel dependent thou.
In your case, it may have to do with existing wiring as well, so a $150 breaker would be cheaper than rewiring
Let us know how things work out with your project !
~~ This space for rent ... apply within :mrgreen: ~~

jeb101
Posts: 156
Joined: Fri Jan 12, 2018 8:13 am
Location: Canada

Re: Can I drop a wire in a 14/3 and use it as a 14/2?

Post by jeb101 » Mon Nov 19, 2018 1:24 pm

So phase 1 for rewiring was a success, and the kitchen went from a single 2p15 for 6 outlets (having microwave on one side and fridge on the other, + 2 outlets on each side), so now everything is up to snuff, and GFCI is also on all the plugs now, which is a HUGE help, I can now sneeze in the kitchen and my breakers won't pop!

So in the end, this 14/3 was abandonned and disconnected in the panel, and disconnected upstairs in the attic, the rest of the circuit is cut super short and marrettes are attached on them, just to satisfy any inspector.

My green circuit is next (I labeled each plug / fixture with a color), which is my second 2p15 breaker, but this one is little less important as it's not a freaking kitchen..

In that task though, I have loads of work, I segmented out 2 of the 9 outlets on their own circuit as I am spraying those joist ends anyways, and it'll be easier to do before they spray.. The main goal will be to put all the plugs on different circuits (segmentation plan not done yet), and the lights will be on their own, but will be left on a single phase of the 14/3, basically turning it into a fat 14/2 wire. Saving a single breaker slot as I will abandon one lead in the panel (disconnected) and rewire everything to be on the same circuit.

I guess i do have another question on how many lights I can put on a 15a, currently, the fixtures that came with the house are all 4-6 bulb lamps, and there are 7 of those if you count the chandelier in the dining room, plus a small hanging light above the kitchen island. Originally, they were sucking up just shy of 2000w with the 60 to 100w bulbs in each of those track lights, so I know it can technically handle the load, but unsure if it's the right way of doing things.

Should I split the lighting circuit in 2 zones instead of 1? If so, I'd use a space saver breaker (my panel supports 60 breakers in the 40 slot).

Cheers

Post Reply