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Old 01-27-2009, 08:37 AM   #1
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Entire Rewire or New Branch Circuits?


I am a new, first time, homeowner and am please to find these forums where I might get some solid advice about things that are plaguing me along the way.

The house is about sixty years old. The guy who built it was Mr. fixit apparently and many things have that made with love stamp of approval on them around here--which might mean they are dysfunctional. I believe my wiring has no ground which is normal for this age home. I also believe some of the wiring is a bit half assed. So what I'm looking for here is a strategy so I can start doing some work to correct the problem of not having grounded outlets.

First of all, I have a lot of electronic equipment and would like to get a big screen TV. I'm looking to figure out if I'm going to rewire this whole place or just run some new branch circuits to handle my electronics. This second option seems best to me. I'd like to run those circuits after a transfer switch actually because these are things I'd like to keep working during a power outage.

Please advise about safety (very important I have a toddler and infant) and home value. I believe I can replace all the ungrounded outlets with GFCI and they will be safe. But what will the relationship of that investment be with my home value and also related to rewiring the whole place.

I have attached some pictures of the panel box. It's 100 amp service. I also plan to convert the electric stove, hot water heater & dryer to gas so that will open up more room in the box for circuits. Down the road there may be central air installed so at that point at the latest I assume the 100 amp service would be obsolete. It seems to handle our needs right now.
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Old 01-27-2009, 09:17 AM   #2
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Entire Rewire or New Branch Circuits?


You can easily run central air on 100A service.

I would replace that panel if possible. Or at least I would clean it up alot and fix all the violations.

Jamie

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Old 01-27-2009, 09:23 AM   #3
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Entire Rewire or New Branch Circuits?


100 amp panel is plenty big enough for your needs.
Add proper grounding rods and water line bonding and rewire you branch circuits with grounded cables.
Adding GFCI is only going to allow you to plug in three prong devices. There is still no ground present and many surge supressors will not funciton properly without grounds.
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Old 01-27-2009, 11:14 AM   #4
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100 amp panel is plenty big enough for your needs.
Add proper grounding rods and water line bonding and rewire you branch circuits with grounded cables.
Adding GFCI is only going to allow you to plug in three prong devices. There is still no ground present and many surge supressors will not funciton properly without grounds.

are you suggesting that I rewire the entire home or just the circuits that have equipment that requires a ground? I suggested the GFCI just to protect, for example, against something becomming hot and my kid touching it and getting killed. Or even sticking something in there and getting zapped. Doesn't not having a ground make this much more possible and the GFCI protect my family? the problem is the expense of adding GFCI to all my outlets. If I'm going to have to rewire anyway why not just put the $$ into that?

But most equipment run in the home doesn't require a ground.
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Old 01-27-2009, 11:16 AM   #5
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Entire Rewire or New Branch Circuits?


also, if you look at the picture in the upper left, the black cable has something that looks like a phone cable coming out of it. What the heck is that?

Thanks for the info folks. I'm going to have a certified electrician help me with this work but I can run cable and wire recepticals and want to get this plan together and start doing the work.
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Old 01-27-2009, 11:18 AM   #6
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You can easily run central air on 100A service.

I would replace that panel if possible. Or at least I would clean it up alot and fix all the violations.

Jamie
can you see a lot of violations in the pictures? How much work for an electrician is this going to be? I would like to get it corrected right and don't want to be half assed...but have to watch out for the pocket book too :D.
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Old 01-27-2009, 03:03 PM   #7
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Entire Rewire or New Branch Circuits?


Quote:
Originally Posted by Typ0 View Post
can you see a lot of violations in the pictures? How much work for an electrician is this going to be? I would like to get it corrected right and don't want to be half assed...but have to watch out for the pocket book too :D.
It's hard to say what your look at, as there are many outlets, junction boxes and wiring in the house that we can't see. Those items may or may not need attention as well.

That split bolt connection at the bottom is likely a violation, I can't really see where the wires are going though.

I can't see the service neutral connection very clearly, at the top where the power comes in or the neutral bars very well in your photos.

Can you take some more photos closer up around the main. Also take some photos of the area around the panel, and the top and bottom of the panel where the wires enter.

Overall my first impression is the panel is really a mess and likely the best option at a minimum is going to be to get a new panel in there. They are not that expensive. However this old panel may be able to be clean up and saved, but replacement is likely cheaper.

As to the rewire, it's hard to say without seeing more stuff in the house.

More photos posted will help us give you a better idea if a rewire is in order. Also getting an eval from someone local that is licensed would be a great idea as well.
Jamie
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Old 01-27-2009, 03:11 PM   #8
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Thanks for the response. I'm going to take some better pictures like you ask when I get home and I'll post them.
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Old 01-27-2009, 06:26 PM   #9
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Old 01-27-2009, 06:27 PM   #10
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Old 01-27-2009, 06:29 PM   #11
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Old 01-27-2009, 06:36 PM   #12
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Entire Rewire or New Branch Circuits?


jamie, I tried to get more detail. It's hard to see down the sides without ripping out the wall there. After reading the thread about your dad I'm afraid to even take off the panel door now! I have/will run cable. I'm learning here and after today I have just a little bit more knowledge and that makes me a little more dangerous I guess. I pulled off a three prong recepticle a few weeks ago to replace it...well it just didn't look wired right to me. That scared me. But my wife just pointed out that the previous owner may have done that not the original owner.

I believe there were only two owners here...the first guy built the house and then there was another who died then me. Maybe #2 was working on goofing some things up...which actually would be encouraging because maybe things that aren't right that I'm looking at don't so much indicate things inside the walls are all screwed up. I don't know how I could tell without tearing out all the walls though.
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Old 01-28-2009, 10:34 AM   #13
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Entire Rewire or New Branch Circuits?


Quote:
Originally Posted by Typ0 View Post
jamie, I tried to get more detail. It's hard to see down the sides without ripping out the wall there. After reading the thread about your dad I'm afraid to even take off the panel door now! I have/will run cable. I'm learning here and after today I have just a little bit more knowledge and that makes me a little more dangerous I guess. I pulled off a three prong recepticle a few weeks ago to replace it...well it just didn't look wired right to me. That scared me. But my wife just pointed out that the previous owner may have done that not the original owner.

I believe there were only two owners here...the first guy built the house and then there was another who died then me. Maybe #2 was working on goofing some things up...which actually would be encouraging because maybe things that aren't right that I'm looking at don't so much indicate things inside the walls are all screwed up. I don't know how I could tell without tearing out all the walls though.
Thanks for taking the time to post the photos. It looks like your house has quite a mix of different kinds of wiring. If you have the time / money I have no doubt rewiring your house would improve safety. However, even just getting that panel cleaned up and making sure the proper size breakers are there for the wire that is used would be a good step in the right direction.

What is your experience like? Do you have the ability to do some of the rewire work yourself? There are a number of ways to approach updating your system / panel and it doesn't necessary all have to be done at once.

It's always hard to know the condition of stuff in the walls. Thats why we ended up doing a complete rewire at my parents.

The GFCI outlets will not hurt anything, and are a good safety measure, but I would like to see other things checked over as well (such as proper wire size for breakers present). If your interested in doing some of this yourself, I can walk you though some more ways to check things out using fairly basic fairly inexpensive tools. If you want to do some more checking, let me know what electrical tools you have. Also do you have a home depot or harbor freight nearby?
Jamie
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Old 01-28-2009, 10:37 AM   #14
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How do you know you have 100A service? Can you snap a quick photo of your meter and service drop outside, but mainly the meter and the box it is mounted in.

Thanks
Jamie
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Old 01-28-2009, 10:42 AM   #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Typ0 View Post
jamie, I tried to get more detail. It's hard to see down the sides without ripping out the wall there. After reading the thread about your dad I'm afraid to even take off the panel door now! I have/will run cable. I'm learning here and after today I have just a little bit more knowledge and that makes me a little more dangerous I guess. I pulled off a three prong recepticle a few weeks ago to replace it...well it just didn't look wired right to me. That scared me. But my wife just pointed out that the previous owner may have done that not the original owner.
If you want to pop out a couple switches / outlets / light fixtures and snap some photos I can give you a pretty good ideas as to what your dealing with. (if it is wired correctly)

If your patient, and highly detail oriented, there is no reason that you can't do this work yourself. However it takes time to learn how to do it all correctly. The important thing to learn from the start is to find out the correct answer when you don't know. Never just do stuff and assume it is correct and safe because it works. There are excellent people here that can answer any question.

Jamie

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