Insufficient Electrical Outlets/Potential DIY Electrical Work

4 Replies

Hello, MN renter here,

We’ve been living in this unit for almost a year now and have had a problem with tripping a specific breaker for our unit. The circuit covers at least 10 outlets including the kitchen stove, microwave, dishwasher, (all three of which are plugged into hidden outlets) countertop outlets, outlets in the living room, dining room and bedroom. We have an air conditioning unit plugged into one, but we’re having this problem before we installed that. It seems impossible not to trip the breaker, even when just running a fan and the air conditioner it has tripped on us in the middle of the night. I would have thought is was us plugging too many things in but you can’t even use the microwave at the same time as anything else anymore.

when I first moved in, we had them replace an outlet that wouldn’t hold a plug in it. There was also an outlet in a cabinet above the stove/microwave that was just a loose box with a foot of cord running into the wall that we had them fix and the landlady told us that “she didn’t know it wasn’t up to code” when they were the ones that installed the cabinets. 

Is it out of bounds to be worried that the electrical work in this unit is insufficient for a rental and that the landlord can’t do their own electrical work anymore since it’s a rental? I plan on asking her to take a look at it and consider having an inspector take a look, but I don’t want to be seen as “at fault” since she lived in the unit before we did and didn’t have the same problems? 

@Micah Haworth

The kitchen outlets are suppose to be on a 20 amp breaker by themselves.  They should not be tied to other rooms.  The code requires a minimum of two 20 amp breakers to serve the kitchen.  If it’s an old house it might not meet this.  Other rooms in general can be supplied with 15 amp breakers with a few exceptions.  The breaker should not be tripping as you have described.  The breaker could be bad or there is just to much load on that breaker.  Probably need an electrician to look at it.  You can measure the load on the breaker.  If it keeps tripping the landlord will need to get it repaired by a professional.  

my concern would be a fire. All of those appliances, microwave, dishwasher fridge, a/c should be on code compliant dedicated circuits.

I assume the stove is gas with a 110v outlet for ancillary needs like a clock & oven lights etc. We also need to have that on a dedicated circuit to be code compliant.

Reminds me of my son & 4 roommates renting a POS duplex ($1800/month) next to their college. To use the small microwave, bathroom electric heater, blender etc you had to unplug the fridge. I checked the panel & it was a 60amp with screw-in circuit breakers ALL 30 amp on 15amp ga wiring & that panel was hot & it serviced both units???. The very wet basement floor was littered with burnt out fuses. Imagine screwing a new one in while standing in 2 inches of water.

I assumed most of the wiring was ungrounded & the attic had hot K&T sparking at the junction box. We had him move to safer accommodation as you would be wise to do.

@Micah Haworth you’re obviously living in an older place which was built when people didn’t have the same electrical requirements as you do now. There’s nothing in any state’s rental habitability laws (that I know of) that involves the ability to run multiple appliances at the same time... so there’s not much legality you have to stand on.

I would try to get the landlord to have an electrician come out. Breakers do get old and can become more sensitive as they do. It sounds to me like a breaker needs to be replaced and you need a new circuit for the AC.

If you phrase it as you’re concerned about safety, it may help. Of course, they could say no too... most states don’t require you to be able to run AC (though Florida does and maybe TX?).

Good luck!

Sometimes outlets are not connected to the breaker in obvious ways (eg most of the kitchen outlets on one breaker).  Find out what outlets are all on on breaker and look at what is plugged in to those outlets.  Remember some electronics that are plugged in and charging or are turned off, still use electricity.

Then talk to the landlord and say you are having problems.  I'am also guessing you don't have an electric stove as that would have a dedicated circuit.