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  1. #1
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    Default 50 Amp breaker on a small range.

    50 Amp breaker, #8 Cu, a 24" Westinghouse range unit, 30 years old. I wrote it up as incorrect. Does anyone think it could lead to a fire?

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  2. #2
    Robert Olson's Avatar
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    Default Re: 50 Amp breaker on a small range.

    There are too many variables to simply answer the question. First you have to determine the amps needed. AMPS = Watts / Voltage. Wattage is generally found on the appliance spec plate.
    Then you have to determine the type of conductor and insulation, i.e., RHW, THHW, THW, THWN, XHHW? Then how long the run is from the applaince to the panel.
    General rule of thumb: 240VAC, 1 Phase, 100' max run (one way), 50 AMP load = #6 CU THHN. Lowering the amperage to 40 Amp will allow for #8 CU THHN. The GE 24" electric unit uses a 40AMP breaker.
    The most common causes for residential fires is overloading a circuit, followed by fireplace flames igniting furniture nearby or dirty chimneys, cigarettes and kids playing with matches or lighters.

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  3. #3
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    Default Re: 50 Amp breaker on a small range.

    Let me play the devils advocate .....

    It has been there 30 years, many a meal has been prepared on it. I am assuming that there are no signs of overheating on the visible portions of the wiring?

    It has stood the test of time, it is what it is......

    Just thought I would toss that out there


  4. #4
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    Default Re: 50 Amp breaker on a small range.

    Quote Originally Posted by John Kogel View Post
    50 Amp breaker, #8 Cu, a 24" Westinghouse range unit, 30 years old. I wrote it up as incorrect. Does anyone think it could lead to a fire?
    #8 copper, 30 years old, most likely TW insulation.

    #8 copper TW is rated for 40 amps.

    Overcurrent protection is 50 amps - would you ask that question if you found a 30 amp breaker on a #12 copper circuit?

    Just asking and putting it into perspective.

    Jerry Peck, Construction / Litigation Consultant
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    Default Re: 50 Amp breaker on a small range.

    Quote Originally Posted by Jerry Peck View Post
    #8 copper, 30 years old, most likely TW insulation.

    #8 copper TW is rated for 40 amps.

    Overcurrent protection is 50 amps - would you ask that question if you found a 30 amp breaker on a #12 copper circuit?

    Just asking and putting it into perspective.
    I'm saying I know it's not right and I reported that. The run is short, about 15 feet. There is no sign of overheating of the wire. We believe the breaker would trip in the event of a dead short. I did not mark it as a significant defect.


  6. #6
    Fred Warner's Avatar
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    Default Re: 50 Amp breaker on a small range.

    Quote Originally Posted by John Kogel View Post
    50 Amp breaker, #8 Cu, a 24" Westinghouse range unit, 30 years old. I wrote it up as incorrect. Does anyone think it could lead to a fire?
    I think that a conductor too small to adequately carry the current (load) being imposed on it can have it's insulation degraded by overcurrent. This can lead to iinsulation failure which in turn can lead to arcing and sparking which in turn can create a fire with nearby combustibles.

    Even though there may not be readily visible evidence of this having occured, the fact remains that the circuit is over-fused (conductors under protected) and would fail a bone-fide electrical inspection.

    Seems to me that knowledge of this and considering it 'not significant' (as inferred in a previous post above) is heading in the wrong direction. Just my opinion, however.


  7. #7
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    Default Re: 50 Amp breaker on a small range.

    Quote Originally Posted by John Kogel View Post
    I'm saying I know it's not right and I reported that. The run is short, about 15 feet. There is no sign of overheating of the wire. We believe the breaker would trip in the event of a dead short. I did not mark it as a significant defect.
    John.

    I repeat my question which you did not answer, only this time I will add the same words you added.

    Quote Originally Posted by Jerry Peck View Post
    #8 copper TW is rated for 40 amps.

    Overcurrent protection is 50 amps - would you ask that question if you found a 30 amp breaker on a #12 copper circuit?
    Would you not consider a 30 amp breaker on a 20 amp rated conductor "a significant defect."?

    If so, why would you NOT consider a 50 amp breaker on a 40 amp rated conductor the same?

    Your answer lies within you and as to why you would treat those undersized conductors differently.

    To me, you have already answered your own question ... i.e., the fire will not be 'significant enough' to be a 5 alarm fire versus only being a 2 alarm fire - which is okay?????

    Jerry Peck, Construction / Litigation Consultant
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  8. #8
    Ted Menelly's Avatar
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    Default Re: 50 Amp breaker on a small range.

    All is significant when it comes to to large a breaker for the particular sized wire.

    This is where fires come from along with horible connections and such.

    Any equipment that is listed with a max breaker of x and has a breaker larger than that is significant as well. Many check AC condensers for max breaker and when they find a breaker 10 to 20 amps over I never hear mention about the size of the wire. In many of those cases the wire size is to small for the oversized breaker and not just the breaker over sized for the listed max for the equipment.


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    Default Re: 50 Amp breaker on a small range.

    Acknowledged. Beam me down, Scotty.


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    Default Re: 50 Amp breaker on a small range.

    Quote Originally Posted by Jerry Peck View Post
    #8 copper, 30 years old, most likely TW insulation.

    #8 copper TW is rated for 40 amps.

    Overcurrent protection is 50 amps - would you ask that question if you found a 30 amp breaker on a #12 copper circuit?

    Just asking and putting it into perspective.
    Just putting your example into perspective - your solid #12 conductor is "overfused" by 50%, my stranded conductor by only 25% in the event the range decides to draw more than 40 amps but less than 50.


  11. #11
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    Default Re: 50 Amp breaker on a small range.

    Quote Originally Posted by John Kogel View Post
    Just putting your example into perspective - your solid #12 conductor is "overfused" by 50%, my stranded conductor by only 25% in the event the range decides to draw more than 40 amps but less than 50.
    Sooooo ... you are saying the 25% overcurrent is acceptable to you?

    I did not get your question/statement, it seemed you were seeking confirmation that writing it up as "incorrect" was the correct thing to do, and we gave you that confirmation.

    Writing things up as "significant defects" makes all other defects written up as "insignificant" ... and why would anyone want to do that?

    I never have liked the term "significant defect" - to me - anything which was not right was a "defect" plain and simple, and all were written up and included in the report, and all were written up and included in the summary.

    If you are classifying some defects/deficiencies as "significant defects" and only putting those in your summary (which is where I believe the question arose from) then you are short changing your client on all other defects/deficiencies and those not in the summary CAN come back to haunt you for you not putting those items in the summary.

    There are frequently posts here regarding that very thing - with the end result being one of two things: 1) don't make a summary; 2) make a summary and include all defects/deficiencies.

    Jerry Peck, Construction / Litigation Consultant
    Construction Litigation Consultants, LLC ( www.ConstructionLitigationConsultants.com )
    www.AskCodeMan.com

  12. #12
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    Default Re: 50 Amp breaker on a small range.

    Thanks again. I'm just tossing this out for discussion, should have called for a replacement of the breaker in my summary. I report onsite, and I write a summary in longhand so need to be stay alert by discussing stuff like this.

    BTW, I don't use "significant defect" in my report, too many syllables , it's "non-functional, unsafe, repair item, possible fire hazard, trip hazard, shock hazard, etc".

    Jerry would you put a loose cupboard handle in your summary, if you had a summary? Call it a defect? Repair before closing?


  13. #13
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    Default Re: 50 Amp breaker on a small range.

    Quote Originally Posted by John Kogel View Post
    BTW, I don't use "significant defect" in my report, too many syllables , it's "non-functional, unsafe, repair item, possible fire hazard, trip hazard, shock hazard, etc".
    That's too many syllables for me , I just simply said 'fix it' (or something to that effect ) and then listed the items.

    Jerry would you put a loose cupboard handle in your summary, if you had a summary? Call it a defect? Repair before closing?

    What loose cupboard handle? I don't see a loose cupboard handle? What I see are drywall screws used to hole the cabinets to the wall instead of wood screws.

    Loose handle, AT MOST I would simply point that out to my client and say 'See this? (wiggle handle or knob) You'll be finding lots of things like this because you can find them yourself, so I am NOT EVEN LOOKING FOR things like that. BUT ... see those screws, you would never have know that the cabinets were not installed with the proper screws - THOSE are the kinds of things I will be looking for, you loose for loose handles, loose screws in door hinges, loose door knobs, and stuff like that.'

    Jerry Peck, Construction / Litigation Consultant
    Construction Litigation Consultants, LLC ( www.ConstructionLitigationConsultants.com )
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  14. #14
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    Default Re: 50 Amp breaker on a small range.

    "BTW, I don't use "significant defect" in my report, too many syllables , it's "non-functional, unsafe, repair item, possible fire hazard, trip hazard, shock hazard, etc".

    In North Carolina, the licensing board allows 5 possible descriptions, of which only 3 can appear in the mandatory summary section. Safety Item, Repair Item, Further Investigate, Maintenance Item, and Recommendations. Maintenance and recommendations can appear in the body but not the summary section.

    Fire, trip, shock, etc hazards. Why bother naming the kind of hazard? A hazard is caused by an item or condition that needs Repair. If something is unsafe or broken, repair or replace the defective item or condition by a licensed and competent contractor.

    Simplify your classifications and your report writing will become more concise. Certainly you can choose to group all the electrical items together and the plumbing items together, etc. Then when the repair list is submitted, all like items are clumped together and can easily be distributed to the various tradespeople.

    "The Code is not a peak to reach but a foundation to build from."

  15. #15
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    Default Re: 50 Amp breaker on a small range.

    I call for a repair, then add the why - it is a hazard.

    No strict rules on how to report.........yet.
    British Columbia is the first Canadian province to require HI licensing, starting April Fool's day.
    You now need to prove some training, mentorship, peer review, etc. E+O is mandatory. It may not eliminate bad inspecting, but it's an attempt to raise standards, and we expect a rulebook to follow.


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