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Old 02-12-2009, 08:45 AM   #1
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How difficult is 8 AWG wire to work with?


As I mentioned a few weeks ago in a previous post, we need to run wire to a subpanel that was incorrectly installed in our attic (it is fed with 10/2 NM w/the ground wire serving as a neutral). It's currently fed by a 30 amp breaker on the service panel w/romex that was fished through the walls several decades ago but are now finished.

If we have to run new wire anyways, we're debating running 8 AWG THHN/THWN in EMT that we run through two closets that are situated on top of each other and then into the attic.

I have two questions...

I've (liberally) estimated that it would be necessary to run the wire about 40 or 50 ft. Is this distance within the specification for 8 AWG wire? How difficult is THHN to feed through EMT? Are there any special strategies/tools required for working with stranded wire?

I really appreciate any help in the matter. Thanks!
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Old 02-12-2009, 10:00 AM   #2
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How difficult is 8 AWG wire to work with?


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Originally Posted by PirateKatz View Post
As I mentioned a few weeks ago in a previous post, we need to run wire to a subpanel that was incorrectly installed in our attic (it is fed with 10/2 NM w/the ground wire serving as a neutral). It's currently fed by a 30 amp breaker on the service panel w/romex that was fished through the walls several decades ago but are now finished.

If we have to run new wire anyways, we're debating running 8 AWG THHN/THWN in EMT that we run through two closets that are situated on top of each other and then into the attic.

I have two questions...

I've (liberally) estimated that it would be necessary to run the wire about 40 or 50 ft. Is this distance within the specification for 8 AWG wire? How difficult is THHN to feed through EMT? Are there any special strategies/tools required for working with stranded wire?

I really appreciate any help in the matter. Thanks!
Lenght isnt a problem if your staying with 30 amps, and youll need 3/4 inch EMT at least. Try to straighten the conductors so they will pull easier and use a snake, I like the fiberglass ones for EMT runs. Bunch the conductors together and stagger them so the end looks like a point.
Here is a voltage drop cal if you want to see for different conductors. www.sea.siemens.com/consultant/docs/DA_VD_Calculator_V1.1.xls
good luck.
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Old 02-12-2009, 10:20 AM   #3
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How difficult is 8 AWG wire to work with?


Pulling the wire will be the least of your problems.

Use 8/3 NM.
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Old 02-12-2009, 10:43 AM   #4
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How difficult is 8 AWG wire to work with?


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Lenght isnt a problem if your staying with 30 amps, and youll need 3/4 inch EMT at least. Try to straighten the conductors so they will pull easier and use a snake, I like the fiberglass ones for EMT runs. Bunch the conductors together and stagger them so the end looks like a point.
Here is a voltage drop cal if you want to see for different conductors. www.sea.siemens.com/consultant/docs/DA_VD_Calculator_V1.1.xls
good luck.
Thanks for the info. I was actually considering going to 40 amps; that's why I wanted to go to 8 gauge.

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Pulling the wire will be the least of your problems.

Use 8/3 NM.
Could you elaborate on the potential challenges? I really appreciate any advise I can get from somebody who deals with this on a regular basis. I thought about going with NM but I have concerns about the difficulty of fishing it through the walls. I thought it would be easier to run conduit up the back wall of the two closets for a straight shot (from the crawl space up to the attic) than trying to run such heavy gauge cable through the walls.
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Old 02-12-2009, 10:52 AM   #5
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How difficult is 8 AWG wire to work with?


Emt use in the open is a peice of cake. It must be connected to both ends, main panel and sub. 8/3 mn will be so much easier to work with in this case.
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Old 02-12-2009, 07:12 PM   #6
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How difficult is 8 AWG wire to work with?


If you want to surface mount conduit instead of fishing iy into the walls you can simply sleeve the NM in the exposed areas. Running conduit thru the attic would be much more difficult than simply stringing the wire.

As far as fishing down the walls, it depends mostly on the location and height of the walls. Typical 8' interior walls have a double top plate (two 2x4....3" thick). If you can work comfortably above the wall just drill the top plate and push thge cable down into the awaiting jbox hole.

If you don't have easy access above the wall, it gets more difficult.


Also, you said you wre running thru two closets. Closets are perfect places for a drywall patch. Cut out BIG sections. Big patches are just as easy as small ones once you get bigger than a couple of inches.
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Old 02-12-2009, 07:39 PM   #7
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How difficult is 8 AWG wire to work with?


If you are running the emt you must remember to maintain the mechanical ground from the main panel to the sub panel. in the attic you can change to a flexible raceway like greenfield to make it easier to make your connection to the sub panel. another option is to put a junction box at the end of the emt run in the attic and change to a NM cable and just splice your feeds and neutral wires and connect your ground from the NM wire to the junction box. maintaining the ground is important for safety purposes.
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Old 02-12-2009, 08:35 PM   #8
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How difficult is 8 AWG wire to work with?


Thanks for all the advice; I think I'm going to let it soak in...

FYI, the main reason I'm thinking of running conduit is due to the structure of the house. I probably need to show pictures to help explain it but here it goes... The two closets are on top of each other but they're located next to the staircases. Each staircase is shaped like an 'L' with a landing in the middle, so there are actually 4 flights of stairs (if this makes any sense). I wasn't sure how this would impact the interior of the wall between the closets and the stairs, ie if there is a floor cavity or what not for each landing inside of the wall or just for the floor of the closet. I can't run NM in the exterior wall because there is a window in the downstairs closet.

If it means anything, the house is a textbook American Foursquare from the early 20th century (from Sears) if that helps--Brick, two stories (each story has 4 rooms, one in each corner), square layout, with a walk in attic.

I do have a couple of questions (I'll definitely have more): Can you strip the sheath off of Romex and use the individual conductors instead of THHN? How do you splice the stranded wire when it's that heavy of a gauge? Are there wirenuts or is some other mechanical method required? It seems like it would take hands of steel to use wirenuts...? :-)
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Old 02-12-2009, 08:54 PM   #9
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How difficult is 8 AWG wire to work with?


No. You can not strip the jacket off the romex and use the individual conductors.

Big blues to make the connections.(wire nuts, that is)
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Old 02-12-2009, 09:09 PM   #10
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How difficult is 8 AWG wire to work with?


that seems like a lot of work to strip off the romex covering just to use the wire.
you can splice wire a few different ways;
spliceing two stranded #8 wires can be done by twisting the two wires in a clockwise direction useing a linemans pliers(prefered) or similar tool. once they are twisted firmly you can use a large blue wirenut. after making the splice make sure the wirenut does not come off by pulling on it to test how secure it is.
another method is useing a splitbolt connector or bug nut, place the wires side by side and tighten the bug nut down on the wires. now you have to insulate the splice by using a rubber mastic pad or rubber tape. cover it compleately don't be cheap with it then go over it with electrical tape until it is completely covered with out making it to big. remember you have to shape these wires and fit them into the box comfortably.
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Old 02-12-2009, 09:17 PM   #11
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How difficult is 8 AWG wire to work with?


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Originally Posted by PirateKatz View Post
I do have a couple of questions (I'll definitely have more): Can you strip the sheath off of Romex and use the individual conductors instead of THHN? How do you splice the stranded wire when it's that heavy of a gauge? Are there wirenuts or is some other mechanical method required? It seems like it would take hands of steel to use wirenuts...? :-)
NM cable is only rated for use inside its sheath, its UL listed that way. (you could get away with using it for jumpers on outlets and things like that) To splice if you cant get a wirenut to work use a bug connection. Here is an example http://www.foxelectricsupply.com/con...tegoryId=24629
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Old 02-13-2009, 09:50 AM   #12
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How difficult is 8 AWG wire to work with?


Interesting.

The more I think about it, the more I'm leaning towards running NM inside the wall. The biggest reason I was initially considering conduit was simply because I'm somewhat apprehensive about cutting into the plaster & lathe more than I absolutely need to. It's only in marginal condition inside of the closets and I suspect it will fall apart once I cut access holes.

FYI, this is what I was trying to describe... The first photo is the middle landing for the stairs between the ground and 2nd floor. The walk in closet, where I'd either run the conduit or access the wall is behind what we're looking at, below the landing is a walk in kitchen pantry. The second photo is the middle landing for the stairs between the 2nd floor and attic. The top half of the 2nd floor walk in closet is located behind the plaster and under the subpanel.

Can anyone explain how these landings are constructed? Are there typical cavities located inside of the adjacent wall that will need to be drilled through?

I love my house but it would be so much easier to have a 1 story ranch, with a drop ceiling basement and an attic, that was built in 1990...

Thanks again
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Old 02-13-2009, 04:52 PM   #13
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How difficult is 8 AWG wire to work with?


Typically the framing of the landing will be nailed on to the side of the wall. There will be some sort of blocking somewhere that you will have to drill thru, certainly at floor level.

Patching the plaster in a closet isn't rocket science. If it was in your entry I'd suggest hiring a professional. If you cut out large pieces between studs you can simply slip in some backing and screw them back into place to avoid shimming a drywall patch (plaster is thicker).

We use pieces of 1/4 flat steel fish tape to probe/fish into wall cavities.

I'd start with a 12" wide x 24" high hole at floor level in the closet between studs. You should be able to see all the way up. Then drill down in the center of the wall. You may need a long bit to get thru all the framing, you may only need to go a few inches. This should give you access from the pantry floor to the attic.

Last edited by 220/221; 02-13-2009 at 05:00 PM.
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Old 02-16-2009, 12:05 PM   #14
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How difficult is 8 AWG wire to work with?


Thanks for the heads up. I didn't realize it was possible to reattach plaster. It's definitely worth a shot, the worst that would happen is we'd have to put up drywall on one wall.
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