I have a 20 amp circuit breaker feeding a GFCI outlet that continues on around the dining room connecting 5 other 15 amp receptacles with 12/2 wire. Each of these 15 amp receptacle boxes has (2) 12/2 wires with the receptacles daisy chained. I would like to figure out where the circuit continues on to for my own knowledge because I expected one to have only a single 12/2 wire just like every other room. It's mostly for my own curiosity and I want to make sure its not buried behind a wall or in the ceiling. From what I can tell every other fixture and appliance is accounted for. What is the best way to do this?

  • Some thoughts: outside wall or soffit, in or behind or under a cabinet, up/down a floor from last receptacle
    – P2000
    Mar 29, 2022 at 5:12

2 Answers 2


Nowhere is it written that electrical circuits must serve one room. In fact I consider it to be sloppy installation, as it wastes wire going down each shared wall twice, and limits your access to circuits (can only get to 1 circuit, that's how you get extension cords pushed through the drywall).

However, if the dining room is distinctively a dining room, the Electrical Code says branch circuits in kitchen, dining, pantry, larder, breakfast nook and the like must all be on 20A branch circuits that serve only receptacles, and only in those rooms. Code requires at least two branch circuits to cover those receptacles, and the vast majority of installers do the bare minimum. So expect the two kitchen SABC's to be busy beavers...

Your best bet is to turn the circuit breaker off and leave it off. It will soon become apparent which other outlets are on that circuit.

  • 1
    Or disconnect the wire in the last apparent receptacle. All receptacles remain serviceable, except the unidentified one(s).
    – P2000
    Mar 29, 2022 at 5:09
  • It's an open kitchen / dining room. You are correct there are (2) 20 amp outlet circuits in my kitchen/dining room. It looks like what I thought was the end of the circuit is actually the beginning, with the GFCI being in the middle at the start of the counter and continuing on to protect 2 other outlets on the counter. The remaining counter outlets are on a different circuit. Ugh....I don't know how I missed that. I could have sworn the GFCI reset was killing power in the opposite direction but I was mistaken. Mar 30, 2022 at 14:41

If the last outlet has two cables instead of one, like you expect, then the power might go to a ceiling or wall light.

It is possible that half of that outlet is switched, but should see signs of pigtail/wirenuts in the box.

Another possibly is that one outlet is split and is powered by two breakers, one sign is if the tabs joining both half's(top and bottom) are broken/missing.

  • That crossed my mind, but there are no switches with 12/2 wire and the tabs were never broken on the receptacles. There does appear to be a wire that goes up into the ceiling based on a stud finder signal, but I'm baffled because the high hats and lighted fan are all accounted for on another circuit. Mar 28, 2022 at 22:13
  • Did you check for attic or basement or outdoor outlets/lights? It is possible that it is an abandon cable that past owners just wire nutted at the end(and to drive you batty). It is not to code to have 14 gauge wire on a 20 amp circuit, but you don't know what they did. Shut off breaker and check all lights and outlets(which you already did) for power.
    – crip659
    Mar 28, 2022 at 22:28
  • I have no attic, there's a bedroom above, but that room is all accounted for on a separate circuit w/ different 14 ga wiring. Garage/storage room below are all on separate GFCI circuits as well as are the outdoor lights/receptacles in the back. I'm leaning towards it's abandoned and if so is there a better tool than a stud finder that will allow me to trace out the signal to the end of the wire through double 5/8" ceiling drywall. If I can confirm it's abandoned I'll disconnect it from the receptacle and label it as such. Mar 28, 2022 at 22:38
  • There are cable/wire tracers made for that job, think some use tones. Do not know the cost, but a rental place might have them.
    – crip659
    Mar 28, 2022 at 22:44

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