Does anyone see an issue with this?

Inspected a new home, (less than 5 years) the other day and ran across this. Power in the entire home was pulled in 12-2 w/ground, all general use circuits set on 20A breakers. Coming from an electrical background, I like that since everyone has so many electronics today. What I didn’t like is that on the lighting circuits that were visable, (unfinished rooms) the electrician pulled 12-2 w/ground for the power and 14-2 w/ground for the switchlegs to the lighting fixtures. Code states (in the year this house was built) that you can not run a 20A circuit on a 14-2 which is what is pulled to every light. When you put recessed cans on a circuit it makes that 14-2 run very long.

How would you write this up on a report? Or would you even mention it? Or am I letting my electrical background get in the way?

Are you saying that the lighting circuits have 14-2 w/g on 20A breakers? If so, It needs to be mentioned on your report. I would list it as a major defect.

It sounds like what you are saying is that the branch wires are undersized for the installed breaker which is a safety hazard and I would report it as that.

I think what he is saying that they ran #12 to the light switch and #14 from the switch to the light fixture. Therefore if there was a high load downstream from the switch you would have a 20 amp breaker with #14 wiring involved.

The problem that I had in writting this up is two-fold.

  1. This wiring was done by a qualified electrical contractor while the home was being built. I have yet to see an electrical contractor do something like this. I don’t understand how this company would be allowed to continue with wiring homes if this was against code.

  2. If the entire home is wired in this fashion, how could the county inspector not note this on this house or any other houses that this contractor wired.

With my background, I had to write this up in the report. However, i wanted to get multiple views on this issue from other inspectors on how everyone would write this up. Like Dawes said, it will put one hell of a load on the wire if there is say 10 recessed cans on one switch because all those cans are pulled in 14-2. I felt this was an issue and wrote that up in the report in that fashion.

Write it up as 14 AWG wire protected by 20 Amp breaker which is in excess of it’s rating and may cause overheating of wiring under certain load conditions.

Simple fix is to replace the circuit breakers that has the 14 AWG on them with 15A breakers.

I must question this statement but understand why you made it.

This goes to show that inspectors are human also.
The inspector probably didn’t know any better. As an instructor for electrical inspectors I can say without a doubt that some wouldn’t know the deference and some would be afraid to question about something that they have doubt about.

A very good call on your part.

I have heard that wiring lighting circuits this way was/is common in some areas, and is accepted by inspectors.

For the life of me I can’t understand why. :mad:

It was actually a very good catch. This happens more times than we can see. Once the sheetrock is up, you cant see it in a normal inspection.

The reason why an inspector might not get very concerned is you are serving a fixed load (similar to “fixture wires” that can be #18. As long as you don’t have 1440w worth of lights on a switch leg, there is no particular hazard.
It is still against code. 240.4(D)