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Old 09-13-2008, 09:12 PM   #1
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100 year old house. Rewiring myself.


I'm going to rewire this 100 year old house myself. My problem is, I have to do this while I live here. I don't want to call the city or have the power shut off because if anybody inspects this old spool and knob wiring I may be screwed. This is a small two bedroom house. There's a 200 Amp, later model, breaker box on the outside of the house but it only has about 10 breaker spaces. Here's what I want to do. I want to buy a new 200 Amp, 32 space breaker box and mount it inside the house just on the other side of the wall from the outside box. I could then use some VERY heavy guage cable and connect the new box to the old box. I would turn off the main breaker in the old box then connect the new heavy guage cable straight to the hot rails, ground, and neutral buses in the old box with bolts. So now my new box is ready to go. I could then install the new circuits one at a time until I'm done. Then rip out all the old wiring. Is this completely retarded? Thanks.

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Old 09-13-2008, 10:16 PM   #2
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100 year old house. Rewiring myself.


Let's see... Where do I begin?

1st off, with high amperage connections, they need to be torqued with a torque wrench to the manufacturers specifications of ft. pounds. If you "just connect" these wires, then can get warm or hot. If it is aluminum wiring, you need to use anti-oxidation compound because they will oxidize and stop working in the future. Also grounding is very important when installing a subpanel (which is what you will be doing), improper installation of a subpanel coupled with other problems could be quite dangerous. For these reasons I suggest you get an electrician to at least install the new main panel.

2nd there are a lot of neat new NEC code requirements for 2008 which make electrical wiring quite safe for you, your family, kids, and anyone who might purchase your home in the future. I like these things! Some are an excellent idea. Anyway I suggest you get an NEC code book and wire your house to code.

3rd when you get an electrical permit, you get an expert checking over your work for very little cost. We all make mistakes. I like to have someone double check what I have done. Sometimes I make mistakes. Usually when I do, it is a whopper! So glad I have someone looking over my shoulder. I suggest you get a permit and get your work double checked.

4th insurance companies do not have to pay for damage if it is a result of wiring which was not installed to code. Might want to call your insurance company and see if they would cover your home if a fire resulted from wiring which was not installed to code.

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Old 09-13-2008, 11:36 PM   #3
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100 year old house. Rewiring myself.


Billy Bob gives very good advice.

The service entrance is not something you just want to piece together. Once that is done, mapping circuits and running wire is fun. =) An inspector is not going to come in and shut down your house simply b/c you have old knob & tube wiring. Obviously, you can't use it anymore for new wiring, but you don't have to immediately rip it out either.

The insurance reason alone is enough to get a permit.
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Old 09-14-2008, 01:01 AM   #4
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100 year old house. Rewiring myself.


You're re-wiring the house, right? Why not pull a permit? Even with a permit, there's no law that requires you to remove old electrical systems and update them because they don't meet current code. If you have knob and tube wiring, you can leave it all and upgrade only the portions of the home you wish. The new portions would probably not be allowed to incorporate into the old wiring system, that's all.

I'm not a fan of leaving the existing 200 amp panel and then installing what is essentially a 200 amp subpanel. Not a great plan.

Here's what I'd do. Did this on my own home.

Leave your house hot, and don't touch the existing system. Install a new 200 amp panelboard and main, ready to hook up to the meter, but don't heat it up. Run all your new circuits to everything that you're wanting to re-wire, leave the wire hanging at all the switches, fixtures, receptacles, etc. This way, when you have the POCO pull your meter to allow you to hook up the new panel, you have everything basically pre-wired in the panel and in the walls, and all you have to do is terminate the various wires in fixtures and such throughout the house. As you get things finished, you can turn them on a breaker at a time. It might take two days, but you can focus on the critical circuits first and deal with the ancillary ones as time allows.

Remember that getting a permit and an inspection is going to be to your benefit in a number of ways. The permit will be cheap, and it is cheap insurance to make sure you're doing a correct and safe job. As an inspector in a town full of old estate homes full of knob and tube wiring, I deal with this on a regular basis. Just because I see it in there and just because it is old, potentially unsafe, and non-compliant with modern code doesn't mean that I can make you take it out. I suggest you call the local building official and chat about this. You might be pleasantly surprised.
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Old 09-14-2008, 08:31 AM   #5
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100 year old house. Rewiring myself.


Also it is not much more expensive for a panel with more slots. Frequently there are not enough slots for future needs as is your case. So might as well go for it and install a 40 slot panel.

Note that a kitchen wired to code will have many individual circuits for this and that. A new kitchen can use 10 breaker slots!

Better to have too many slots in your new panel than not enough.
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Old 09-14-2008, 09:15 AM   #6
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100 year old house. Rewiring myself.


DVL, I must say your idea of "bolting on" the "VERY heavy guage cable" right to the "panel rails" is an EXTREMELY flawed plan. YOU CANNOT DO THIS, unless of course the panel is designed for it, as in the case of a feed-through panel.

thekctermite gave you good advice here. Follow it.
I would also run all your new circuits and tie them in once the work is inspected and finished.
An inspector CANNOT "fail" a job because of old wiring that is in place. He is there to inspect the new work you have done.


I have to add. I have it right from the source, that this.........
Quote:
Originally Posted by Billy_Bob View Post
4th insurance companies do not have to pay for damage if it is a result of wiring which was not installed to code. Might want to call your insurance company and see if they would cover your home if a fire resulted from wiring which was not installed to code.
....is NOT true. This is an age old wives tale that is perpetuated by internet message boards and rumor.

Insurance companies must pay claims, even for stupidity or ignorance.
The only time they can deny a claim for this type of thing is if the improper work was done INTENTIONALLY to cause harm or damage.

Hypothetical story:
What if you hired someone, and they did shoddy work and caused a fire, yet they told you that everything as fine and they had it inspected by "their inspector". You believed him and thought all was well. Did I mention he had no liability insurance.
You did not hire this hack handyman on purpose knowing he would burn your house down, did you. The insurance company cannot deny your claim because you were ignorant to the competence of this handyman.
Same goes if you did the work yourself.


Bottom line: Know what you are doing BEFORE you do it. Get the work inspected.
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Old 09-14-2008, 09:23 AM   #7
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100 year old house. Rewiring myself.


Quote:
Originally Posted by Billy_Bob View Post
Also it is not much more expensive for a panel with more slots. Frequently there are not enough slots for future needs as is your case. So might as well go for it and install a 40 slot panel.

Note that a kitchen wired to code will have many individual circuits for this and that. A new kitchen can use 10 breaker slots!

Better to have too many slots in your new panel than not enough.
Billy Bob, I guess it's right that great minds think alike!!

I just replaced my old 100 amp service and 10 slot breaker panel with 200 amp service and a 40 slot breaker panel for exactly the reason you mentioned--not enough room for expansion in the old panel when I needed it. The new panel looks so forelorn, hanging there on the wall with less than half the slots filled in, but when future needs demand a new circuit for this or that, I'm ready, Freddy!

I see what you mean about kitchens, a dedicated circuit for the reefer, who knows how many for high power stoves/ovens/countertop units/vent units, dedicated circuits for built in appliances, dedicated circuits for GFCI outlets, in the end I really do think my kitchen will take more than 10 slots in that 40 slot panel--it seems like everything in the kitchen is screaming "FEED ME, Seymour!!".

I'm starting to worry that 40 slots might not be enough--time to start thinking about a sub-panel?????

Dugly
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Old 09-14-2008, 09:46 AM   #8
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100 year old house. Rewiring myself.


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...Insurance companies must pay claims, even for stupidity or ignorance...
Well as I said, call your insurance company and ask if they will cover you.

Note that it has been my experience that insurance companies like to receive money, but not pay it out and will find any excuse to deny a claim. Just search google.com for...
insurance claim denied
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Old 09-14-2008, 09:49 AM   #9
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100 year old house. Rewiring myself.


I understand this, but I have read what you wrote for ten years now on these boards. So I decided to check for myself with some real insurance folks and that is what I was told.
I know they love to find ways not to pay claims. I was just told by folks in the know that this is not a valid reason not to pay.

This was not a flame on you. It was a flame on the myth about insurance companies.
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Old 09-14-2008, 09:52 AM   #10
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100 year old house. Rewiring myself.


Quote:
Originally Posted by YerDugliness View Post
...I'm starting to worry that 40 slots might not be enough--time to start thinking about a sub-panel?????

Actually for new construction, I think a subpanel for the kitchen area is the way to go.
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Old 09-14-2008, 09:56 AM   #11
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100 year old house. Rewiring myself.


It is getting harder and harder to have just a 200A main panel in a new home.

Sub-panels and 320A services are becoming mandatory.
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Old 09-14-2008, 10:23 AM   #12
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100 year old house. Rewiring myself.


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Originally Posted by DVLCHLD View Post
call the city or have the power shut off because if anybody inspects this old spool and knob wiring I may be screwed. This is a Is this completely retarded? Thanks.
We own a 3,000+ sqft house, as a rental property that was build in 1883. It is setup as a 5 unit rooming house. It is licensed and inspected due to it's use as a rooming house.

Slowly over the past 3 years we have had the house we have been replacing the know and tube wiring, but it is a slow process. They have no problems with the old stuff being there while we are upgrading to NM.

Jamie
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Old 09-14-2008, 10:28 AM   #13
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100 year old house. Rewiring myself.


Wow, thanks for all the replies. I guess I'm screwed. I can't afford to pay an electrician to wire a new breaker box. I don't know what to do. The wiring is a freaking mess. I won't go into all the detail but trust me this house is wired like a blind, drunk monkey wired it. The town I live in is notorious for being a real pain in the butt about home mods. Especially electrical. I'll keep working on it and let you know what I come up with. Thanks again.
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Old 09-14-2008, 10:40 AM   #14
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100 year old house. Rewiring myself.


Quote:
Originally Posted by DVLCHLD View Post
Wow, thanks for all the replies. I guess I'm screwed. I can't afford to pay an electrician to wire a new breaker box. I don't know what to do. The wiring is a freaking mess. I won't go into all the detail but trust me this house is wired like a blind, drunk monkey wired it. The town I live in is notorious for being a real pain in the butt about home mods. Especially electrical. I'll keep working on it and let you know what I come up with. Thanks again.
I'm confused, why your screwed, whats wrong with the plan thekctermite proposed? Why not install a main panel inside, and wire it all up yourself, then pay an electrician a few hundred bucks to change the meter box and mast head and run the service cable to your panel (the main connections and the grounds are the most difficult to do properly)? 12 and 14 gage connections are pretty simple. You could even put up a new meter box and mast head yourself side by side with the old one, then have the powerco swap it over. Your situation is far easier than most, since your running all new wires. most people don't have the luxury of being able to just setup a new panel and run all new wires to it. They have to deal with the panel space they have and the wires they have that often have little to no slack in them.

If you get a permit and put in the new panel yourself, I bet you will save $1000 or more based on my recent research.

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Old 09-14-2008, 11:15 AM   #15
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100 year old house. Rewiring myself.


Quote:
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The town I live in is notorious for being a real pain in the butt about home mods. Especially electrical.
I'm notorious for being a real pain in the butt inspector...Right up until someone places a proactive phonecall and asks me some questions. They often find that I'm very easy to work with, despite the rumors on the street.

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