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Old 12-28-2008, 09:10 AM   #1
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Correcting 40+ years of screwy wiring


We've been living in our 2 bedroom ranch for about six months now and we've tackled a bunch of minor projects like refinishing the floors, painting, and replacing the interior doors/trim. Now I want to address the wiring. When we bought the house we had the PO upgrade to a 200 amp service with a new breaker box as the old 100 amp service was maxed out and more than a couple of circuits were double tapped. The new 200 amp box gives us room to expand, but I still feel as though some of the circuits are overloaded (two many fixtures/outlets per circuit) and I know for a fact that the garage shares a circuit with the kitchen.

Basically, I want to be sure that each room of the house has a sensible number of circuits dedicated to the outlets and lights. This way I can be sure of how much space I really have once we decide to add on to the house. I decided to look at what I have in terms of electrical load for each room. I included what is presently in the room plus what I intend to add during the re-wiring job (more outlets, light fixtures, etc...)

Living Room/Hallway:
Outlets - 11
Lights - 3 (1 Ceiling fan/light combo, 2 overhead fixtures)

Kitchen:
Outlets - 6 GFCI
Lights - 10 (Recessed can lights)
Other - 4 (Stove (220V), dishwasher, vent hood, garbage disposal)

Bedroom 1:
Light - 1 (Ceiling fan/light combo)
Outlets - 5

Bedroom2/Office:
Light - 1 (Overhead fixture)
Outlets - 6

Bathroom:
Light - 1 (Overhead fixture)
Outlets - 4 GFCI
Other - 1 (Exhaust fan)

Garage:
Lights - 2 (Overhead fluorescent tube units)
Outlets - 10
Other - 3 (Door opener, 2 roof ventilation fans)

Basement:
Lights - 6 (Overhead fixtures)
Outlets - 10
Other - 8 (Oil fired forced air furnace, clothes dryer (220V), 650 CFM blower for woodstove, 2 sump pumps, radon mitigation fan)
NOTE: Also included in "other" is the hot water heater and central air unit, but they are on their own 60 amp sub-panel so I'm not sure how that factors in.

Outdoor:
Lights - 6 (2 incandescent type fixtures, 4 halogen floods)
Outlets - 6 GFCI

Again, this is a list of what is presently in each room, plus what I expect to add (mostly additional outlets/lighting)-so given all of that, how many circuits per room/area should I have? I want to be sure that before we do an addition that I know how much space on the panel we have to work with. We hope to add a second story with two additional bedrooms and an additional full bathroom. Also, we plan to finish half of the basement as a den, construct a pole barn with wiring for overhead lights and outlets, and add a hot tub in the back yard. All in all it would look something like this:

Bedroom 3/Hallway:
Lights - 3 (Overhead fixture)
Outlets - 6

Bedroom 4 (Master):
Lights - 3 (1 Ceiling fan/light combo, 1 Overhead fixture)
Outlets - 8

Bathroom (Master):
Lights - 3 (Overhead fixture)
Outlets - 6 GFCI
Other - 3 (Jacuzzi pump, heat lamp, exhaust fan)

Den:
Lights - 2 (Overhead fixture)
Outlets - 10

Pole Barn:
Lights - 4 (Overhead fluorescent, 2 halogen floods)
Outlets - 8 GFCI

Other Outdoor:
Hot tub
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Old 12-28-2008, 09:58 AM   #2
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Correcting 40+ years of screwy wiring


There are some requirements, notabley,

Kitchen must have two 20 amp circuits serving the counter receptacles, with GFCI protection. Use a different circuit for the lights and other (breakfast table?) receptacles.

Refrigerator should not be on GFCI, so accidental trip doesn't kill its power.

Should have separate circuits for dishwasher and sink disposer.

Laundry room or area must have its own 20 amp circuit, meant for the washing machine. Other receptacles served by other circuits may be present.

Bathroom must have a 20 amp GFCI protected circuit serving receptacles. One circuit can serve more than one bathroom.

Circuits serving receptacles in garage or presently unfinished portions of basement must have GFCI protection.

Furnace must have its own circuit. I'd put the sump pum on its own circuit with provision for backup power.

Of course, separate 240 volt circuits for electric water heater, stove, dryer, as needed. One 240 volt circuit can serve one or more workshop receptacles.

One circuit can reasonably serve two bedrooms including their lights but nothing wrong with separate circuits.

Some electricians recommend 20 amp 12 gauge wiring as a minimum throughout the house. Note that no portion of a 20 amp circuit such a branch to a light may be wired with 14 gauge wire.

Ten receptacles for the den do not require two circuits but if you are going to use large amounts of electricity, e.g. for a home theater, you may want two circuits there.

You might want two 20 amp circuits or a 20 amp 240 volt circuit with single neutral for combined 120 volt usage out at the pole barn depending on what you do out there.
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Last edited by AllanJ; 12-28-2008 at 10:15 AM.
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Old 12-28-2008, 08:53 PM   #3
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Correcting 40+ years of screwy wiring


A few thoughts- You had the panel upgraded which is great but the existing wiring had not changed. You now have the capacity to define the house wiring better. As AllanJ mentioned, there are requirements although per code can be considered minimal. Very safe but minimal. You can always overwire as you see fit as long as you don't go overboard. I prefer seperate circuits for outlets and lighting where I have placed new wiring (such as a new addition), a tripped outlet circuit won't leave you in the dark. I also have my disposer and dishwasher on the same circuit and they have never tripped. All permanent appliances should have their own circuits- heater, refridge, freezer, large window air conditioners. You can have more outlets in a room than code dictates, safer to prevent extension cord use.
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Old 12-28-2008, 09:19 PM   #4
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Correcting 40+ years of screwy wiring


Quote:
Originally Posted by AllanJ View Post
There are some requirements, notabley,

Kitchen must have two 20 amp circuits serving the counter receptacles, with GFCI protection. Use a different circuit for the lights.
Correct

Quote:
Originally Posted by AllanJ View Post
Refrigerator should not be on GFCI, so accidental trip doesn't kill its power.
Maybe, but not sure what an accidental trip is.


Quote:
Originally Posted by AllanJ View Post
Should have separate circuits for dishwasher and sink disposer.
Depends on the load, most likely not required.

Quote:
Originally Posted by AllanJ View Post
Laundry room or area must have its own 20 amp circuit, meant for the washing machine. Other receptacles served by other circuits may be present.
All the receptacles in the laundry room can be on the required 20 amp laundy circuit. and no where does the NEC mention it being for a washing machine.


Quote:
Originally Posted by AllanJ View Post
Bathroom must have a 20 amp GFCI protected circuit serving receptacles. One circuit can serve more than one bathroom.
Correct, as long as your only feeding bathroom receptacles.


Quote:
Originally Posted by AllanJ View Post
Circuits serving receptacles in garage or presently unfinished portions of basement must have GFCI protection.
Correct.

Quote:
Originally Posted by AllanJ View Post
Furnace must have its own circuit.
Not true.
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