In my panel I found a 2 pole 20amp breaker connected to 12/3. When I trace this circuit, it begins to power outlets in my dining room.
At outlet 1, the 12/3 comes in with the Red leg powering the first outlet. The Black leg enters the box, and then leaves that box to the other 4 outlets in the room. All Neutral and Grounds are connected properly.
So here's the question: It appears that this was the start of some kind of a branch circuit that got removed at some point. But since the red leg is powering exactly 1 outlet, and the black legs are powering 4 outlets and nothing else: Would it make sense to not use the red leg, put that outlet on the black leg for a total of 5, then replace the breaker with a single pole 15amp breaker? Wire nut the red in the panel and only connect the black into the 15amp single pole.
Eventually I want to replace that entire wire with 14/2 but I'd have to remove the basement ceiling.
Just seems pointless to power 1 outlet as a dedicated 20amp leg, and then 4 more on a separate leg of the 2 pole breaker. Thoughts?
EDIT: Sorry, the part I didn't mention is that leaving that first box is all 12/2 to the second outlet, and then the other outlets are wired in 14/2. So: 1 outlet on red leg 12/3. 1 outlet on black leg 12/2. 3 outlets on black 14/2 from previous outlet.
My concern with the 'double toaster' theory (which I hadn't considered, thank you!) would be that if you plugged in a heavy load in one of the 3 other outlets, you could cause an issue because 14ga shouldn't have more than 15 amps, but the breaker would be fine with it.
That's my reasoning for removing the wire and dropping down to 15 amp and 14/2. If copper prices come down I could feed that leg in 12/2, but I'll cross that bridge in the future.