As families acquire an ever-increasing number of electrical appliances, the strain on existing electrical circuits also increases. This leads to lines becoming overloaded and circuit breakers tripping, cutting power to everything that is plugged into the circuit.
One common culprit for overloads is the blow dryer, which is especially a challenge on a fifteen amp line. You can help to minimize circuit overloads by adding a dedicated twenty amp line for the blow dryer.
What you will need for your twenty amp line
Twenty amp circuit breaker
Check your breaker box to see the manufacturer of the box, then buy a breaker from the same manufacturer. All breakers and boxes are not compatible.
Twelve gauge wire
You'll need a sheath of twelve gauge wire with three wires, which will be marked "12-2" on the packaging. The length required will be determined by the distance from your breaker box to the intended location of your new outlet.
However, you can't determine the length needed by the linear distance between the two points. You will be running the wires through walls and ceilings, circumventing obstructions. Allow several additional feet for running wire and also for connection purposes.
Outlet, gang box, and outlet cover
Buy a standard outlet, rather than a twenty amp outlet for this project. Your blow dryer itself will not use over fifteen amps. The twenty amp line provides more power than needed, in case you need to power additional small appliances as well as the blow dryer. Twenty amp outlets have differently aligned slots for special plugs.
Wire cutter/stripper tool
You'll need this tool to cut the wire sheath to length and to strip the insulation from the ends of the individual wires in the sheath.
Utility knife or hole saw
A hole will need to be cut in the wall for your new outlet. A utility knife will suffice for drywall, but a hole saw will be needed for solid surfaces such as wood.
Both a flat head and philips head screwdriver will be needed for connecting wires and for various other uses.
Drill with 1/2 inch SDS bit
A 1/2" SDS bit can be used to drill holes through walls and ceilings composed of various types of materials, and you will need to create openings through walls and/or ceilings through which you will run your wire sheath.
Begin at the breaker box
If you are running wire to the breaker box from an upper floor, you will need to drill a hole in the ceiling as close as possible to a point directly below the outlet location. You will be feeding the wire sheath to this opening, so you want as straight a path as possible.
Installing the gang box
Trace the open end of the gang box on the wall at the intended location of your new outlet, then cut a hole for the box with a utility knife for drywall or a hole saw for wood.
Punch out a knock out tab on the bottom of the gang box and place it inside the wall, tightening the diagonally placed screws to hold it in place.
You will then begin to feed the wire sheath through the knock out tab hole in the gang box. An assistant would be helpful at this point, to watch for the wire at the hole in the ceiling near the breaker box.
Feeding wire through existing walls and ceilings is the most difficult part of the job, and will cause many amateur electricians to give up and call in a professional. However, with patience and manipulation of the wire sheath, it will reach its destination.
When the wire sheath reaches the hole in the ceiling, pull it until it reaches the breaker box, allowing at least one additional foot for connection inside the box.
Back at the outlet location
Cut the wire sheath at the gang box, allowing at least six inches to remain for connection purposes. Strip one inch of insulation from each of the three wires in the sheath.
Loop the black wire under the top gold terminal screw of the outlet, the white wire under the top silver terminal, and the green or copper wire under the green grounding terminal, and tighten the terminal screws securely.
Push the outlet into the gang box and tighten the upper and lower screws to secure it, then install the cover plate by tightening the center screw.
Back at the breaker box
Strip the three wires in the sheath as before, then you will need to turn off the main breakers to the home. When all of the power is off, remove the front panel from the breaker box and punch out a tab in an available breaker slot. You will then punch out a tab in the side of the breaker box and pull the wire sheath through.
Connect the white and green wires to the white grounding bar inside the box by inserting them into available slots and tightening the screws.
Insert the black wire into the terminal on the breaker and tighten the terminal screw, then push the breaker into the slot.
Replace the breaker panel, turn on the breaker, and experience a brief respite from family disputes.