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Old 02-14-2012, 09:58 PM   #1
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Foreclosure: All circuit breakers were removed


The background is that its a foreclosed home, previous owner decided it was a good idea to take all of the circuit breakers.

Its a two story house with a sub panel on the 2nd floor, main panel outside and another sub panel near the main panel for the AC condenser.

The wires are not really labeled but its all there still. Do I just go by the wire gauge and use single pole 15-amp and 2 pole 100-amp. Anything else I have to be aware of or do?

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Old 02-14-2012, 10:12 PM   #2
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Foreclosure: All circuit breakers were removed


safest way would be to hire an electrician. if they took all the breakers you don't know what else they might have done. better safe then a burnt house.

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Old 02-14-2012, 10:24 PM   #3
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Foreclosure: All circuit breakers were removed


Agreed! Hire an electrician; they'll easily be able to tell you the number and sizes of circuits you require, and even install them safely for you. (Technically speaking, you should obtain a permit before installing new breakers.) But if you're not sure, don't guess! Hire an electrician to at least come and take a look.
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Old 02-14-2012, 10:36 PM   #4
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Foreclosure: All circuit breakers were removed


Hopefully your forclosure deal saved you a bundle. Now that savings is going to help pay for authorized, licensed professionals to straighten things out. You took a chance on the property, why take a chance on your safety?
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Old 02-14-2012, 11:22 PM   #5
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Foreclosure: All circuit breakers were removed


Foreclosure's are always full of gremlins ready to bite you in the butt. Best to have someone give it a really good look over. Even if it's at least paying an electrician to go through and mention everything that needs to be fixed.
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Old 02-15-2012, 07:02 AM   #6
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Foreclosure: All circuit breakers were removed


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Foreclosure's are always full of gremlins ready to bite you in the butt.
While mine was an exception, that's about 99% true.

People will do some crazy things when they have nothing to lose.
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Old 02-15-2012, 07:27 AM   #7
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Foreclosure: All circuit breakers were removed


Note that breakers must be compatible with the panel. Having to file down a breaker to fit definitely reveals an incompatible breaker.

You can safely put 15 ampere breakers in the breaker positions. For obviously fatter wires for stove, dryer, etc. circuits you can guess the proper breaker size if you have both the wire size and the the kind of receptacle(s) used to go by; choose the lower ampere value if you come up with different values.

Inserting 20 amp breakers can be a little iffy because you are not sure that a 12 gauge (max 20 amp) cable entering the panel feeds 14 gauge (max 15 amp) wiring up in the house.
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Last edited by AllanJ; 02-15-2012 at 07:30 AM.
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Old 02-15-2012, 07:45 AM   #8
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Foreclosure: All circuit breakers were removed


Of course you can hire an electrician, however it may not be necessary. When I moved into my house, it was full of bizarre electrical work that had been done in pieces over the past 40 years, some by the previous owner, some by others. For example, some of the wire was spliced by twisting together with tape, no wire nut, no box. Hopefully I found all of them, but realistically, unless you tear your house apart, you are not going to know if some fool spliced a wire in your wall, and neither is your electrician.

So here is a possible alternative procedure. Start by numbering every set of wires (each cable) that come out of the panel. You can trace wires using relatively inexpensive "tone" devices that can be purchased at an electrical supply shop. Trace the wires upstream to all the devices they attach to, which may include outlets, lights, and switches. Verify that all the connections are tight by opening every outlet, check for burned wires, burned contacts, loose contacts etc. Replace any defective outlet, switch or light fixture. In complex boxes, take a digital photo BEFORE you unscrew any wires, else you may never figure out how the setup went together.

Make sure the house did not have any undersized wire spliced to larger wire, example 14 gage used downstream of 12 gage. If it did, you will need to downsize the breaker, or replace the undersized wire. Check any exposed cable for sheathing damage that may have occurred when the wire was pulled. Install insulated staples where necessary. Replace damaged boxes, and check for splices outside of boxes, especially in the basement and attic. Install boxes as necessary (every splice requires a junction box). Use UL listed wirenuts or other UL listed connection device.

This is about the most you can do short of tearing the walls apart, which I can tell you from personal experience is time consuming. By the way, you probably need an electrical permit for this, get one. Hopefully your town allows you to do your own electrical, mine does. There are going to be inspections, make sure you get them.

At the end of the process, you may need to replace the panel if it was damaged. The POCO can check the outside wiring to make sure it is OK, especially the masthead, the drop, and the meter, which if the owner took the breakers, he might have been crazy enough to mess with the outside devices too.

Good luck.
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Old 02-15-2012, 08:02 AM   #9
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Foreclosure: All circuit breakers were removed


Not only homeowner but people that see the house empty and decide they want some breakers or just want to mess stuff up.
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Old 02-15-2012, 11:15 AM   #10
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Foreclosure: All circuit breakers were removed


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Originally Posted by amdspitfire View Post
The background is that its a foreclosed home, f or do?

May I ask if it's a home for you or did you buy it as an investment? Foreclosures are a great deal for the handy person to save money on a home for themselves, but I didn't think the market was good enough right now to make money buying forclosures.....just asking.
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Old 02-15-2012, 11:42 AM   #11
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Foreclosure: All circuit breakers were removed


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May I ask if it's a home for you or did you buy it as an investment? Foreclosures are a great deal for the handy person to save money on a home for themselves, but I didn't think the market was good enough right now to make money buying forclosures.....just asking.
Buy low, rent it, sell high.
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Old 02-15-2012, 01:39 PM   #12
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Foreclosure: All circuit breakers were removed


Don't forget about MWBC's, he may have some.

It's a multi-wire branch circuit with shared neutrals. If you see any 3 conductor cables (black, red, white) you need to make sure that the black and red are on a double pole breaker.
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Old 02-15-2012, 02:11 PM   #13
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Foreclosure: All circuit breakers were removed


I helped a friend with a great deal of a foreclosure. He had skipped an inspection and we found all kinds of things missing or just plain vandalized. It was hard to tell if the things done to it were out of frustration, greed or just plain anger, bitterness over losing the home, or spite.

I would definitely call an electrician. If it is just about replacing breakers and figuring out what you need you are not talking about hours and hours on site. And, since you are forced into this, you might want to make some circuit changes anyhow?

And not calling one does put you in an awkward position. If anything goes wrong and you did not get all this properly signed off and inspected you could find yourself out lots more money than an electrician will cost. Sure you don't want to bite the bullet and at least share the liability for the unknown in this?

I personally think foreclosures that have been sitting almost too risky too touch. But you are in this situation now and hopefully a box of circuit breakers is the worst you will encounter. Hope you got a great deal on it and I fault nobody for that. I am surprised you were able to close without a working electrical system though.
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Old 02-15-2012, 07:41 PM   #14
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Foreclosure: All circuit breakers were removed


Thanks for everybodys concern and interest regarding the house being a foreclosure. It was a good deal and they can still be found.

Quote:
Originally Posted by AllanJ View Post
Note that breakers must be compatible with the panel. Having to file down a breaker to fit definitely reveals an incompatible breaker.

You can safely put 15 ampere breakers in the breaker positions. For obviously fatter wires for stove, dryer, etc. circuits you can guess the proper breaker size if you have both the wire size and the the kind of receptacle(s) used to go by; choose the lower ampere value if you come up with different values.

Inserting 20 amp breakers can be a little iffy because you are not sure that a 12 gauge (max 20 amp) cable entering the panel feeds 14 gauge (max 15 amp) wiring up in the house.
Quote:
Originally Posted by Daniel Holzman View Post
Of course you can hire an electrician, however it may not be necessary. When I moved into my house, it was full of bizarre electrical work that had been done in pieces over the past 40 years, some by the previous owner, some by others. For example, some of the wire was spliced by twisting together with tape, no wire nut, no box. Hopefully I found all of them, but realistically, unless you tear your house apart, you are not going to know if some fool spliced a wire in your wall, and neither is your electrician.

So here is a possible alternative procedure. Start by numbering every set of wires (each cable) that come out of the panel. You can trace wires using relatively inexpensive "tone" devices that can be purchased at an electrical supply shop. Trace the wires upstream to all the devices they attach to, which may include outlets, lights, and switches. Verify that all the connections are tight by opening every outlet, check for burned wires, burned contacts, loose contacts etc. Replace any defective outlet, switch or light fixture. In complex boxes, take a digital photo BEFORE you unscrew any wires, else you may never figure out how the setup went together.

Make sure the house did not have any undersized wire spliced to larger wire, example 14 gage used downstream of 12 gage. If it did, you will need to downsize the breaker, or replace the undersized wire. Check any exposed cable for sheathing damage that may have occurred when the wire was pulled. Install insulated staples where necessary. Replace damaged boxes, and check for splices outside of boxes, especially in the basement and attic. Install boxes as necessary (every splice requires a junction box). Use UL listed wirenuts or other UL listed connection device.

This is about the most you can do short of tearing the walls apart, which I can tell you from personal experience is time consuming. By the way, you probably need an electrical permit for this, get one. Hopefully your town allows you to do your own electrical, mine does. There are going to be inspections, make sure you get them.

At the end of the process, you may need to replace the panel if it was damaged. The POCO can check the outside wiring to make sure it is OK, especially the masthead, the drop, and the meter, which if the owner took the breakers, he might have been crazy enough to mess with the outside devices too.

Good luck.
Quote:
Originally Posted by AandPDan View Post
Don't forget about MWBC's, he may have some.

It's a multi-wire branch circuit with shared neutrals. If you see any 3 conductor cables (black, red, white) you need to make sure that the black and red are on a double pole breaker.
Thanks for all your advice, home was built in 2007 and all the wiring is new and intact. I think its something that can be sorted out fairly easily.
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Old 02-15-2012, 08:23 PM   #15
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Foreclosure: All circuit breakers were removed


An electricain is the prefered idea !
But if you cannot afford it ,
Start by putting 20a breakers in,
Then turn them on one by one,
Go look and see what powers up !
If the breaker blows quickly,
then it could be a heavier load,
so leave it for now, and do the others first.
When finished you might have a couple of heavy loads left.
You will have to find there power capacity,
and fit the apropriate breaker size for it.

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