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Old 11-26-2010, 06:47 AM   #1
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AFCI required when re-wiring 100 year old house?


I am completely re-wiring my house (brand new cable, junction boxes, switches, ceiling boxes, outlets, load center, etc.) and I am trying to find out if I am required to install AFCI breakers. The old load center just used regular breakers but I am replacing it with a new QO 200 Amp panel. I have left several messages with the town electrical inspector over the last few weeks to pose this question to him but he has not called me back. Does this type of major wiring project that includes a new load center cause me to need to install AFCI breakers (i.e. the $50 breakers as opposed to the $5 breakers) to meet code?

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Old 11-26-2010, 06:58 AM   #2
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AFCI required when re-wiring 100 year old house?


It varies from town to town but generally if you put in a new load center and connect a fat cable from a pair of breakers in the new load center to the top lugs of the old load center still in existence and in place, then you would not need any AFCI's yet.

Once you restring a circuit, say upgrade to grounded receptacles, that circuit has to comply including having an AFCI if applicable.

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Old 11-26-2010, 07:16 AM   #3
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AFCI required when re-wiring 100 year old house?


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Originally Posted by AllanJ View Post
It varies from town to town but generally if you put in a new load center and connect a fat cable from a pair of breakers in the new load center to the top lugs of the old load center still in existence and in place, then you would not need any AFCI's yet.

Once you restring a circuit, say upgrade to grounded receptacles, that circuit has to comply including having an AFCI if applicable.
Well that answers my question. Brand new grounded everything. Interestingly enough, every outlet was a grounded outlet but as I pull out the old wiring I am finding that none of it is actually grounded. I think the old home owner just installed grounded receptacles without actually grounding them.
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Old 11-26-2010, 10:02 AM   #4
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AFCI required when re-wiring 100 year old house?


if you are going through the trouble of restringing your house, put the money into it and put AFCIs where the code states. (as if it is a new construction) If you are getting this inspected im pretty sure you will be required to. (If you arent pulling a permit you might look into doing so as some jurisdictions require a permit for services to sell the house)

The 2011 code states AFCIs required for alterations. (However it is NOT adopted yet.)

It would be good practice and would DEFINATELY make resale of the house easier or more appealing with an upgraded service and AFCIs
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Old 11-26-2010, 10:16 AM   #5
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AFCI required when re-wiring 100 year old house?


Scuba told me in my thread that bedrooms now require AFCI.

I have no clue about the rest of the house though.
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Old 11-26-2010, 10:24 AM   #6
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AFCI required when re-wiring 100 year old house?


Using the 2011 code (as this is the only codebook I have available)

AFCIs are required for:

ALL Lighting and Receptacles (Or "Outlets" as defined in the code)
In any living area including closets, inhabitable basements and attics, bedrooms, living rooms, dining rooms, hallways and attached garages that are inhabitable. Also you MUST have hard wired smoke detectors that are on an AFCI.

Pretty much anywhere a GFCI is NOT required AND is not a Single dedicated receptacle and circuit. (Garbage disposal, Fridge, Washer etc)

You are getting into a whole house remodel. Do it right the first time to save yourself hassle in the future. Treat it as new construction.
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Old 11-26-2010, 11:01 AM   #7
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AFCI required when re-wiring 100 year old house?


The only person that can answer your question is your inspector. You need a permit, so while your at it have a discussion with the AHJ about this question. He and only he can give you the right answer. No one here can. Unless one of the posters here is the inspector assigned to your physical address.
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Old 11-26-2010, 11:22 AM   #8
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AFCI required when re-wiring 100 year old house?


Thanks everyone for the responses. I am going to continue to try to reach the local electrical inspector but I think I am going to just bite the bullet and purchase the expensive AFCI breakers. Better safe than sorry I guess.
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Old 11-26-2010, 12:57 PM   #9
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AFCI required when re-wiring 100 year old house?


Whether you HAVE to or not shouldn't really be the question...the reason they are in the code is not to be a pain, they make things safer....I'd do it too

Also, see this post from scuba's sticky.
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Old 11-26-2010, 01:01 PM   #10
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AFCI required when re-wiring 100 year old house?


With all due respect J.V. the AHJ is a valid answer but I think he was looking for something more. (He already tried to contact him)

Like Secu said, its not whether its required or not, its a matter of safety and as I put a matter of resale. If hes going through the trouble, he might as well do it. It may or may not be NEEDED but if he does it he wont get failed for it....

Price is always an issue as I have even contractors come in a complain about it being expensive, but the reason it exists is for safety........
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Old 12-15-2010, 07:31 AM   #11
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AFCI required when re-wiring 100 year old house?


Just a quick update. I finally got a hold of the electrical inspector and he said that even though I am basically replacing the entire electrical system in my house (wires, load center, outlets, switches, etc.) I am not required to install AFCI. He said that if I were to add an addition to the house, then I would need to install AFCI for the addition. Although I do agree that it should not matter whether or not I have to because it is for safety. I am just not looking forward to spending 10 times as much for breakers but I think I probably will anyway.

On another note, the inspector did say that he would require all outlets to be the tamper proof kind that prevents kids from sticking things like paper clips into the outlet.
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Old 12-15-2010, 09:12 AM   #12
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AFCI required when re-wiring 100 year old house?


It's not a matter of safety, it's a matter of corporate influence creeping into the code.

A lot of states that are adopting the newer codes are specifically rejecting the AFCI changes.

It's not just the cost, it's also the hassle of needing to reset your breakers every time you plug in a vacuum or turn your computer on.
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Old 12-15-2010, 11:09 AM   #13
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AFCI required when re-wiring 100 year old house?


The irony is that new construction probably does not need AFCI protection to the level of older pre-existing buildings where the wires are worn and not up to modern codes. Like my house, with buried splices, undersized boxes, splices outside of boxes, overloaded circuits, etc.

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