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  • Writer's pictureCid Herlein

Electrical Wiring

We all use electricity every day, but rarely see the wiring that lets the coffee pot brew, refrigerator run, and the cell phones charge. Wiring defects are quite common. And while some of them are more of a nuisance, such as a breaker that trips every time the vacuum cleaner is plugged in, some are serious hazards.

Wire gauge is noticeably heavier for a kitchen range, electric clothes dryer and a heat pump. But subtler differences exist between circuits, depending on the job. Wire gauge tells you whether the wiring is appropriate for the circuit. If it’s too small for the job, there’s a fire hazard.

The AWG or American Wire Gauge index indicates the diameter or heaviness of residential wiring. The smaller the number, the heavier the wire and the more current it can carry safely. If the wire is too small for the electrical load, electricity meets resistance in the wire, which creates intense heat.

Here’s how different gauge wires are usually installed in homes.

14-Gauge: 15 amps, found throughout the home. Commonly used for receptacles and light fixtures in areas such as living rooms and hallways.

12-Gauge: 20 amps, also used for receptacles and light fixtures but for a heavier load. Often required for bathrooms and kitchens.

10-Gauge: 30 amps, used for household appliances such as electric clothes dryers and window-mount air conditioners.

8-Gauge: 40 amps, used for large appliances such as the AC system and electric kitchen range.

6-Gauge: 55 amps, used for air conditioners and electric furnaces.

There is also another problem with this electrical inspection as the breaker has multiple wires connected.

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