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tmtrebor 04-30-2010 01:14 PM

Add more power to the house? (kinda long)
hey guys, new to the board and the entire reno thing... so here we go.

I'm in no way inept when it comes to DIY, but most of my experience comes from cars, computers, and electronics. However, we have purchased our first "rent/flip" house, and I need some advice.

First off, the house is 68 years old. It's in great shape, except for the heavy coat of nicotine on everything, plumbing issues, and a bit of a drainage issue on the outside. Luckily my gf is a civil engineer so she will take care of the grade reversal and whatever else is needed to reverse the water's tendency to flow towards the house. Plumbing isnt a huge issue since we got the house for a steal (30k in an area with a median price range of 70k) due to the nicotine layer, plumbing issues, and minor asbestos problem (which isnt a problem, father tore out asbestos in our old home and we're all fine), so we will have a plumber taking care of that.

Now, the real problem. Since we are going to be living in this home in 2 months, our estimated time to clean everything up / get in "move-in" condition, we need more power. The guy who owned the house previously is 90 years old, had no TV, no electric appliances other than a fridge, and around 5 lights in the house. He smoked.... and smoked.... and smoked....

Anyway, the inspector who gave us a rundown on what would need to be changed before it was ready for section 8 (aka our move in condition prior to asthetic changes) told us we would not be able to run most of our stuff. I think he said we probably wouldnt have enough power for an electric stove even. Since we are pretty much techies, have a ton of stuff, and require computers for school we need more power. I'm not too sure on how to gauge how much power is coming in / how much power we need, but I am confident I can run wires through the house without killing myself.

So now that I have written my book, I have these questions:
1) How can I gauge how much power I will need?
2) How can I gauge how much power I have coming to the house?
3) How can I add more power if I need it?
4) About how much will this cost?
5) If I could do it myself, how easy is it / what would I need?

As I said, I'm not electrically challenged. I have brought many a stereo, game systems, and speakers back to life. I have re-wired my entire computer power supply and wiring harnesses in a car.

Also, Cost isnt a huge factor since we're getting it so cheap. Right now, after reno, we are guessing total cost of around 42k. I am an accountant, so this is a pretty conservative guess. The inspector told us we would be looking at around 7k, but I just adjusted it up to 12 to be safe.

Thanks for the info guys, and sorry for the long post.

darren 04-30-2010 01:58 PM

You would have to do a house calculation to determine what size of service you need. I beleive you can search google and find one. This will take into account the sqaure feet, certain appliances, and tell you the minum service needed for the house.

If you look at your present elecrical panel there should be two fuses or a breaker will a rateing on it. New homes are commonly 100A or 200A. Older homes can be 60A or lower.

If the house is as old as it sounds you may have to upgrade the service, which i don't recommend to a do it yourselfer but can be done. Chances are if it is old you will have to rewire a bunch of stuff and run a whole bunch of new stuff. This alone can be wuite a tast for an electrican let alone a DIYer.

You mentioned abestos, i'm not an expert but to what I hear you don't want to be touching that stuff. Once it gets airborne it gets into your longs and it takes years before it will cause any health effects. I would pay someone the money and get it done right and safe.

secutanudu 04-30-2010 01:59 PM

Take a look at the main breaker/fuse and see the amperage listing on it. You might see 60, 100, or 200 amps.

HooKooDooKu 04-30-2010 02:13 PM

Google terms like "power calculation" "residential electrical load calculation" and similar.

Basically, to determine how much power you need for the house, you add up the power requirements for known individual pieces of equipment (stove, frig, computers, oven, microwave, A/C, Furnance, dishwasher, dryer, washing machine, other), then add allowances for lighting and general outlets based on the square footage of the house, then do a few things to massage the numbers to get the required service size you need.

tmtrebor 04-30-2010 02:29 PM

awesome. thanks for the quick responses guys!

the asbestos is mainly tape around some pipes. I ordered the respirators, gloves, and 1 pieces my dad said we needed. He and the inspector we had are going to help me do this. They said all we needed to do was tape up plastic around the area, get everything wet, and saws-all the pipes off. From what I understand it's not that bad if you do it this way. I will look into the costs of professional removal though.

So I will check this electrical info in the next few days and post up a response.

Since I shouldnt do this myself, any idea on the cost, or should I just call an electrcian? Also, do I need to call the electrical company to come out and pull more power from the line?

HooKooDooKu 04-30-2010 03:19 PM


Originally Posted by tmtrebor (Post 435830)
do I need to call the electrical company to come out and pull more power from the line?

The 1st step is to determine how much power you need using the load calculations, then round up at least to the next standard level of power (100A, 150A, or 200A). THEN contact the power company and let them do what ever they need to do to let you know if existing equipment can handle the required load, or if they will have to run new power wires to your home.

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