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New 20 amp circuit

Our new kitchen was set up with only 1 20 amp circuit. It was passed at rough in inspection but failed final CO. The Inpecter saud we must have 2 20 amp circuits. Is there any suggestions to fix this shy of tearing out new walls and counter tops ? The refridgerator is on a seperate circuit but all the recepticles across the counter top is on 1.
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Posted 2016-10-21T13:47:45+0000  by RobbyM RobbyM
Hello RobbyM.  Welcome to the Community!

If you have a conduit based electrical system, then adding a second circuit will be relatively easy.

If you have a cable, (NMB or Romex® ), based system, then it gets more complicated.

With conduit, you can either create a second circuit by feeding in a second hot of opposite polarity to your original through the system and share the original white neutral wire between the 2 circuits.  This takes some skill to actually wire properly, including making sure that the breaker becomes a double unit that indeed uses opposite polarity in the service panel.  If GFCI outlets are required, you will need to try the following instead, as shared neutrals wreak havoc with ground fault sensors.  Easier to do if your conduit and boxes can handle the extra wire would be to feed both another hot and neutral wire to gain the extra circuit.  In either case you can then split up the existing circuit into two however it makes the most sense based on where you expect the greatest loads to be used.

If you have a cable based system, then you will need to feed a new circuit into your kitchen.  Planning this out to minimize wall damage also will be interesting, but electricians can usually make this happen without fanfare.  There will likely be some minor wall repair needed though.

Did your inspector specify where that second circuit needed to be located?  If not, you will need to find that out before completing the work as you don't want to have to do it over upon the next inspection.

I don't know why you would ever have to tear out counter tops in order to add a circuit.  Even with adding a new cable circuit, electricians can use long drill bits and small wall holes to feed wire up into the walls.

It sounds to me that you could use the services of a professional to fix this.  I highly recommend that you call your inspector to get a clearer picture of exactly what needs to be done, and then hire an electrical contractor to make it happen for you.


Posted 2016-10-21T14:33:00+0000  by Chris_HD_CHI

Hello RobbyM,

Thanks for your question and welcome to the community.

From what the inspector has told you, running a new circuit can be done. 

However, there most likely will be some taking out of small pieces of drywall, if careful planning is done. 

The first thing you'll need to do is to consult with whomever installed your only 20 amp circuit in the kitchen. Or if you've done it, this can make this process easier. 

The biggest thing most electricians and code dictates is to have one circuit for lighting fixtures and one for the outlets in the same room on separate circuits. Before you even buy new Romex wires and breakers, you really need to consult a local electrician who can go over any specific codes that you aren't aware of.

I'm with you with not damaging walls and the countertops should be fine without removing them. But, see where certain connections can be split from the receptacles and lighting, so you can successfully have 2 circuits in the kitchen instead of one.

If it's planned properly and you know where to separate the light and receptacle's wires, then minimum damage will occur to your walls.

Let us know if you have any further questions,


Posted 2016-10-21T15:40:43+0000  by Joseph_HD_ATL
My understanding of kitchen circuit requirements on a national code level is that two, 20 amp circuits would be needed to cover all the outlets in the kitchen, including the refrigerator.  Having the refrigerator on its own 15 amp circuit is actually a very good idea, but would not obviate the two circuit, 20 amp requirement for the rest of the outlets.  Obviously an electric range would have its own 40 or 50 amp circuit, but a gas range would not need that.  Dishwashers should also have a dedicated circuit as well.  Lighting would always be on its own circuit, and typically would not need to ever be 20 amp, as 15 should be more than sufficient.

Local codes can, and often are more stringent than that, which is why finding out from your local inspector what needs correcting is vital. 


Posted 2016-10-21T16:32:05+0000  by Chris_HD_CHI

Unfortunately, you have a little bit of a problem.  Did you not have to provide an electrical drawing or something detailing your plans when you pulled the permit?  Did a licensed electrician do this work?  The requirement for a minimum of two 20 amp circuits for countertop appliances has been around for quite a while and it seems odd that he would have missed it.

If the refrigerator circuit is 20 amps and it doesn't serve anything else, you might be able to use that.  How difficult it would be pick up power there vs. just pulling a new circuit is something that needs to be determined on site.

Unfortunately you're probably going to have to cut some holes in your new drywall.  An experience electrician should be able to keep them to a minimum.

Posted 2016-10-22T01:00:11+0000  by Adam444
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