When Aluminum Wiring Becomes a Real Fire Hazard
Can you replace a 15 amp circuit breaker with a 20 amp circuit breaker if the wire is 12 gauge and it’s protected by a 15 amp fuse at the load? The Dangers of Aluminum Wiring and an Incorrect Circuit Breaker Size Can Lead to a Fire Hazard.
Overloading Aluminum Wiring Can Lead to a Fire Hazard
[ad#block]Electrical Question: Can you replace a 15 amp circuit breaker with a 20 amp circuit breaker if the wire is 12 gauge and it’s protected by a 15 amp fuse at the load?
My air conditioner went out. The repair guy traced it to a bad Bryant BD 15-20 breaker. He only had 20-20 & used that saying since there was a 15A fuse at the AC unit it was OK. The house was built in 1972 and has aluminum wiring. He used Noalox on the connections.
This home electrical repairs question came from: Bob, from San Ramon, California.
See more about Home Electrical Repairs for California
Thanks for your electrical troubleshooting question Bob.
The Dangers of Aluminum Wiring
Incorrect Circuit Breaker Size Can Lead to a Fire Hazard
- This question asks if a 20 amp circuit breaker may be used with a #12 gauge aluminum wire and the answer is Absolutely Not!
- A #12 gauge aluminum wire is rated for no more than 15 amps, otherwise you risk overheating the electrical wire which may cause a fire hazard.
- The replacement 20 amp circuit breaker should be turned OFF and a new 15 amp circuit breaker should be installed.
- It does not matter if there is a 15 amp fuse at the air conditioner or not, this is still a Dangerous Fire Hazard.
- A circuit breaker should NEVER be up-sized for any reason, especially if the circuit is tripping OFF!
- When a circuit breaker trips OFF this is usually an indication that there is a problem with the circuit or something that is connected onto the circuit.
- Correct the electrical problem, and avoid creating an electrical hazard.
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I just wanted to let you know that there is a typo on the answer above (aluminum wire to air conditioner) that states “A #20 gauge aluminum wire is rated for no more than 15 amps” which should say a #12 gauge aluminum wire. Just don’t want anyone to get confused.
Thank you Stephnie, the article has been updated and your comment is appreciated.