Electrical – Is too much of the home connected to one circuit breaker

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I recently purchased my house and I have a few questions.

  1. The breaker trips each time the vacuum is used. It looks like the previous owner has most of the house wired on to a 15 amp breaker (AC/ Furnace, living room, bathroom, and half the basement). Is that correct?

  2. Should I put any of those on a dedicated circuit?

I included a few pictures for reference. I tried to label as much as I could figure out but there are a few mystery breakers.

Updated with another picture
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After looking at it more carefully:

  1. So it looks like the 30 amp breaker with the 14 gauge wire is to the garbage disposal.

  2. The AC is wired the a double pole 20 amp with 14 gauge wire.

  3. The two single pole 15 amp on the bottom right (red and black) are spliced together (wire nuts) to two wires coming from the same metal conduit.

  4. Ground and neutral wires are connected to the same bus bar in the same slot.

These things seem odd to me…

Best Answer

There's really no substitute for painstakingly mapping your house, going to every outlet (by which I mean "point of use", including hardwired loads) and figuring out which breaker serves it. I have done this A LOT. It helps to own a bunch of dollar store nightlights, strings of Christmas lights, whatever you can plug into a receptacle. If I were king, it would be required to be marked on the outside or inside of every outlet.

If you're exceptionally clever, you can put a card with each breaker number on it, at each outlet. Turn off half the breakers, go through and if it has lost power, cross off the still-on breakers, and vice versa. Turn off a different half and repeat. Soon you narrow it down to 1 possibility.

After you've done the mapping, you can think about the likely route of the wires, and ways to access that wiring to add "home runs" back to the box. For instance if your wiring goes Panel-A-B-C-D-E-F-G-H-I-J-K-L, and you can route from point I to the panel, then you run two 12/2 cables there, feed I-L with one cable, E-H with the other cable, and in box D and E, disconnect the cable that interconnects them. So now your segments are Panel-A-B-C-D E-F-G-H-Panel Panel-I-J-K-L.

But this will only be the result of your particular mapping, and the logistics of pulling cable in your particular home. As such we cannot begin to advise you.

** Using the formal definition of "outlet", anyplace a load connects, including hardwired loads like lamps and fans.