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Can I install a switch for my dishwasher?

The dishwasher is on a 15 amp circuit. The plan would be to take the existing dishwasher wire run it to a box in the sink cabinet and place it high on the side cabinet wall. Put the switch into this box and run a new 14/2 wire from the box to the dishwasher - switching the hot.

Newer dishwashers might require a 20amp breaker and I wonder if a switch would be rated for 20amps or if I have to get a special switch.

The breaker for the dishwasher is located in a suite that has the house breaker panel so I don't want to have to enter the suite to service the dishwasher. Ideally the suite(s) would have their own sub panels but they don't. The dishwasher is having issues so it will likely need to be serviced more than once.

The idea is I can turn the switch off and disconnect the dishwasher without access the suite and flipping the breaker. The dishwasher has a problem with either the impeller, turbidity sensor, control board or a blockage in the discharge line. The issue is intermittent and there is a workaround. Notifying tenants for access and turning the breaker on and off and testing each thing when I get time makes the job 100% harder also in the future for replacing the dishwasher this makes it easier. The newer or higher end dishwashers have a plug in option - dishwashers and wall ovens seem like the only appliances still hardwired that require breaker access to service. Now that dishwashers are moving to outlet based installation, servicing requiring access to breakers is a thing of the past.

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  • Why do you want a dishwasher on a switch? What problem are trying to solve? If it because "The dishwasher is having issues" then putting it on switch is not really addressing the problem. ?? Please enlighten us.
    – Alaska Man
    Oct 21 '20 at 18:22
  • added more detail on thought process Oct 21 '20 at 18:34
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That's a Code violation.

You have subdivided your house into different dwelling units. Any dwelling unit's breakers must be readily accessible to the occupants of that same dwelling unit. NEC 240.24(B). That means the breakers must be in the dwelling unit, or in commons spaces.

You can call them "suites" if you want to, but that's just mincing words. You've made it perfectly clear that the occupants of "suite" A either cannot access their own breakers, or would have to uncomfortably intrude on the occupants of "suite" B to do so. That's not allowed.

It is allowed for the breakers to be in a commons space (NEC is about safety not security from petty vandals). So maybe you can get lucky and flip the panel to the other side of the wall it's on, or redefine the breaker room to be commons space.

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  • True. By code I need a separate breaker panel. I rent out the suite so I can access the breaker room if I need to it just means I have to give the tenants notice and disturb them. Suite is a basement with separate access. Putting in the sub panel and junctioning all the circuits and then drywall and painting would be more than $5000. The house is newer so breakers just don't trip that often - I can't actually remember tripping one in 20 years - servicing is a different matter but there are few things that really need servicing (OTR, dishwasher). What is the safety aspect? Oct 21 '20 at 18:06
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    The safety aspect is that there are times where you want to shut off something (as opposed to: it tripped the breaker and you want to turn on, which is normally not su urgent) quickly (as opposed to planned maintenance). For example: electrical fire in a hardwired appliance (e.g., oven), damaged wall exposing bare wires, etc. Oct 21 '20 at 20:01
  • @FreshCodemonger -- first, don't blame yourself too hard (NEC 210.25 issues are rampant in the accessory dwelling unit world because of well-meaning but underinformed local ordnance drafting, the nature of existing dwelling unit conversions, and simple unawareness) Oct 21 '20 at 23:23
  • @FreshCodemonger -- but...is the area of the basement the panel is located in finished or not, and what's above it? Oct 21 '20 at 23:28
  • That area is finished - boiler room all walls have been concrete boarded, alky resistant taped and thinset. Above it is a bedroom and maybe offset a little a living room. I might be able to get a panel onto an exterior wall above it but I'd have to rip down the concrete board for sure. Oct 21 '20 at 23:34
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There is no point in using a 20A switch here. Your circuit is a 15A circuit and since it's 14 ga. wire, it cannot ever be used for a 20A circuit. If you later install a new dishwasher and it requires 20A, you will need to run a new 12 ga. wire with a 20A breaker for that load.

As for using a switch to make the dishwasher "safe" to service, NO that is not a good idea. If you need to disconnect for service you need to use something that disconnects both the H and N lines. The reason is that while the N is supposed to be at GROUND potential, there are fault conditions that can allow lethal voltages on it and you or someone else could be killed or injured while servicing the dishwasher.

If you need a safety cutoff in the same area as the dishwasher, then you should install a sub-panel with a circuit breaker or a safety cutoff device that disconnects both legs of the AC mains in order to safely service it.

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  • In the UK you would use a "switched fused spur" like this one for this exact purpose. The switch is double pole so would disconnect hot and neutral. Technically I suppose it's a circuit breaker but it could also be referred to as a switch.
    – Carl
    Oct 21 '20 at 10:14
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    I think you're over reacting to switching the neutral off. Your entire house is wired without switching neutrals off for servicing... just turn off the breaker. Separate disconnects for AC units and hot tubs don't switch off neutrals either.
    – JACK
    Oct 21 '20 at 12:59
  • @JACK That's the problem, he can't get to the breaker easily but needs to service the dishwasher often.
    – jwh20
    Oct 21 '20 at 13:01
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    But the breaker would just cut the hot leg.... a toggle switch would just cut the hot leg... same thing, same level of protection when servicing.
    – JACK
    Oct 21 '20 at 13:19
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    One concern is shutting off a switch is not the same as shutting off a breaker. Real world example: You have 2 (or more) switches side-by-side. You turn off one to work on connected lighting. You step out for a minute. Someone else comes in and the room is dark and turns on all the switches. Zap! The top-of-the-line solution is breakers with lockouts. But practically speaking, most people will think to ask before resetting a breaker if there is any possibility of someone working on stuff elsewhere in the house (unless they use breakers as switches). But regular switches? Not so good... Oct 21 '20 at 20:05

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