Frequently Asked Questions about How to Wire a Kitchen
Kitchen Counter Outlets and Back Splashes
Counter Top Back Splash Outlets
Question from Dan:
I have installed the rough wiring for a kitchen, and at the back of what will be the counter top.
- I estimate will be approximately 2-3 inches clearance I'll have at the base of the outlet box to the top of the counter top.
- Does code allow for a In back splash outlet? What should I do to extend the wall up more or what?
Dan, the back splash could be treated the same as if it were tile, so installing outlets there should be ok. It would not be ideal because it would require cutting into the back splash, but it would work.
- You will need to be very careful to plan the location of the outlets and keeping in mind the height of the counter top and the depth of the back splash.
- A box extension may be required after the back splash is in place. Also make sure the wires will extend 6 inches past the finished opening for the outlet. GFI protection will be required.
- Planning kitchen electrical wiring with respect to cabinets and the counter tops is essential.
Small Kitchen Counter Top Outlets
Wiring Connections for Kitchen Outlets
Question from Robert:
THANKS VERY MUCH FOR YOUR HELP
- I ONLY NEED 2 (20 AMP) GFI PLUGS ON MY KITCHEN COUNTER.
- ONE ON EACH SIDE OF SINK.
- I WANT TO RUN 12/3 (20 AMP BREAKERS TIED) FROM MY PANEL BOX TO 1ST OUTLET AND THEN 12/2 TO THE OTHER OUTLET.
- I NEED A DIAGRAM TO SHOW ME HOW TO CONNECT THE WIRES TO EACH 20 AMP T-SLOT OUTLET.
Robert, what you are referring to is a multi-wire circuit where there are two circuits that share the same neutral being fed from a two pole circuit breaker.
- So Robert, the wiring is standard except that the neutral is pigtailed for sharing.
- Good to see that GFCI outlets will be installed as required for then kitchen.
Caution When Replacing Kitchen Outlets
Walt from New York asks:
So I'm changing all the outlets in my house. I'm stuck on the kitchen. I copied the wire configuration from old to new, but when I turn the power back on it keeps tripping the circuit breaker. I didn't use GFCI's, but I will purchase some since reading some posts on this site saying that it is the electrical code, even so I don't understand why the breaker keeps tripping. I live in a old house and the previous outlets weren't GFCI's either but they worked fine. What is it that i'm missing?
The most common problem that causes tripping circuit breakers after replacing kitchen outlets is due to either the screws on the side of the outlet which may be coming in contact with the metal outlet box or the bare ground wire is coming into contact with an area of the outlet that is energized. Turn off the circuit breaker for the kitchen outlet circuit and remove and inspect each outlet. If the outlet boxes are metal then wrap electrical tape around the sides of the outlet and cover the screws to prevent them from coming into contact with the box.
Electrical Terminal Block for a Kitchen Cook top
My electric 4 burner kitchen cook top just fried due to careless installation causing stripped wiring and has melted the terminal block. The existing terminal block is 40 amp. After 3 days I still cant locate a 40 amp replacement connector. Can I use a 30 amp connector in its place?
Karin, to prevent any problems in the future it is best to stay with the original size of 40 amps for the terminal block. You should be able to locate one from an appliance replacement parts supplier or you may try Grainger.
Replacing Multi-Wire Kitchen Outlets
Chris, from Winnipeg, Canada asks:
I have 4 standard 120V 15A outlet plugs in my kitchen that I recently wanted to replace. So I went to Home Depot and bought some new plugs and installed them. When I turned on the breaker switch, I saw a spark behind the breaker and it flipped back to the off position.
I consulted with an electrician and he asked me if I had broken off the tabs on the hot side of the outlets. I didn't. So I went back and sure enough the old plugs were missing the tabs. I removed the tabs on the new outlets and now everything works fine.
My question is why did this happen and have I done any damage to the breaker or new outlets that I should be concerned about?
From what you have described, the kitchen outlets that you replaced are wired as multi-wire circuits, which means that there are two circuits that supply power to these outlets, one for the top outlet and one for the bottom outlet, and they both share the neutral. When this method is used the tab cannot be in place otherwise there will be a direct short between the two circuits. Removing the tabs isolated the two circuits as they should be. The circuit breaker should not be damaged because they are designed to trip off and protect the circuit. When a short circuit condition occurs a flash may be seen as you have observed and in most cases this will not damage the circuit breaker.
Question from Ginnie, a Homeowner from Unity, SK, Canada:
Can I use a circuit for an outlet and switch for some kitchen island light fixtures?
I am renovating my kitchen and I have an outlet in the wall that is part of a run. I was wondering if it is possibly to move the outlet above the new cabinets, put a switch on the outlet because it will control a couple lamps over the new island. I know that part is possible but I want to continue the run of power back down to the basement like the original outlet it has. Can I do that by wiring through the switch back down to the basement or will the switch connected to the outlet at the top interfere with the run? Hope that makes sense. Thanks a lot.
Kitchen Lighting and Circuit Wiring
It would be best if he circuit that runs down to the basement is not used for the kitchen lights unless it is a general purpose branch circuit that serves lighting in the kitchen area as well. Once a lighting circuit is determined the wiring connections may be made to control the island light fixture from a wall switch that is part of an existing branch circuit.
Question from Robert in Cleveland, Ohio:
Why am I getting shocked from the kitchen outlet?
I recently installed a new back splash in the kitchen. I shut off the breaker for that side, and removed the plastic face plate over the outlet. I pulled the outlet out keeping the wiring intact , and when finished with the back splash, I put the outlet back in it’s place and replaced the old face plate with a stainless one. Now when I touch the face plate I get a shock, but it works okay. What could be wrong?
Kitchen Receptacles and GFCI Protection
The outlet circuit should be turned off so the outlet can be removed to see if the side terminals or wire connections are coming into contact with the cover plate or the side of the outlet box.
A shock from an outlet should be prevented if the kitchen outlet circuits have GFCI protection. If it is discovered that the kitchen outlet circuits are not GFCI protected then protection should be provided.
Citation Reference: NEC Electrical Code
NEC Article 210.8a(6)
All kitchen countertop receptacles are required to have GFCI Protection.
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