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Old 09-16-2009, 12:19 AM   #1
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Just bought a 1946 house, redoing kitchen, what electrical fixes/upgrades needed?


I'm remodeling the kitchen in a 1940's house I just bought. It seems to have been well cared for overall, but I know I'll need a few electrical issues sorted out. Most of those will probably result from the kitchen remodel, but I'm wondering what else I should be looking for and perhaps trying to take care of while I have the services of a licensed electrician doing whatever I can't do on the kitchen.

The house is 2 BR/2 BA, ~ 1200 square feet, and has a small central air conditioner. The electrical service is 100 amp on a breaker panel (not fuses). Some outlets are ungrounded. I haven't looked hard enough to see if there are ground wires hiding in the boxes, though. Some of these same outlets have reversed polarity. I know that's an easy fix...its just one of many things I haven't gotten to yet.

As far as the kitchen, I'll be adding a dishwasher (the only additional appliance on top of the previous load), some outlets will need to be moved and added, the outlets will need GFCI protection, and a switch or two may need to be moved or added.

In the rest of the house, I may add some recessed lighting here or there and plan to add a bathroom fan.

What should I be looking for as I make these upgrades? I'd like to improve safety and provide for future electrical needs as is possible.

Also, I've heard that a person can DIY much of the electrical work and then have the electrician make the "final connections". Is this generally true?

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Old 09-16-2009, 05:13 AM   #2
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Just bought a 1946 house, redoing kitchen, what electrical fixes/upgrades needed?


I would go into the attic if you have one and or the basement and just make sure the wires look safe and not falling apart. Make sure all outlets in the kitchen, bathroom, outside are GFCI protected. But there really isn't much more you can do. Unless you want to rewire the devices that doesn't have grounds.

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Old 09-16-2009, 06:23 AM   #3
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Just bought a 1946 house, redoing kitchen, what electrical fixes/upgrades needed?


Kitchens require two dedicated(nothing else on the circuit) 20A GFCI protected circuits for the countertop. In an older house, probably best to add those brand new. The DW should be on its' own circuit, as should a microwave. If the oven is electric, it will need a new 4 wire circuit. At this point, it may be time to consider a service panel upgrade to 150 or 200A.
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Old 09-16-2009, 06:54 AM   #4
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Just bought a 1946 house, redoing kitchen, what electrical fixes/upgrades needed?


Dittos on the upgraded service. These days a 100A service is marginal considering modern lifestyles. Your DIY idea is legit -- otherwise Home Depot, etc. would be out of the electrical and plumbing supply business.
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Old 09-16-2009, 07:05 AM   #5
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Just bought a 1946 house, redoing kitchen, what electrical fixes/upgrades needed?


My house is from the 50's = all metal boxes & the grounds were wrapped around the wire & under the clamp. Thus holding the ground to the box

Most of the older wiring has been eliminated, only one run was 2 wire without a ground. And that run was causing a small shock - lights in the basement that had to be touched to turn them on (metal switch)

Basement needs GFCI protection, also need an outlet near the panel
Outside outlets front & back of the house GFCI protected
I prefer these on seperate circuits, I actually have 12 outside circuits - Holiday decorations
I've also added lights outside around the house

Kitchen I have (3) dedicated 20a countertop circuits, microwave is a countertop model
Plus there is a 4th circuit in the sunroom - now open to the kitchen
Fridge is on a dedicated 15a circuit
Dishwasher will get a dedicated circuit
My Stove is a 3 wire in metal conduit, I need to upgrade the plug to a 4 wire
I've also added recessed lights in the kitchen - CFL's

I've added & will be adding more general outlets around the house
The vacuum is a 12a

Bathroom(s) need a dedicated 20a GFCI outlet, OR same 20a circuit can supply power to multiple bathrooms
This circuit can supply everything IN the bathroom without leaving the bathroom

Upgrade to 200a (ours already is) - if you plan a 50a hot tub that's a good idea. Otherwise depends upon if you have or will have heavy electric use appliances. IE stove, dryer, HW heater etc

Also check the space in the exisiting panel - is there room to add circuits?
Possible a small sub maybe a good idea for more space

All I can think of now.........
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Old 09-16-2009, 10:15 AM   #6
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Just bought a 1946 house, redoing kitchen, what electrical fixes/upgrades needed?


Kitchens have a lot of power hogs. Some new kitchens can have 8 separate 20 amp circuits or more!

Good to put these on their own circuits...
Refrigerator
Microwave
Dishwasher

Then for countertop outlets, it depends on what appliances you will be using at the same time. Things which heat use a lot of watts. And if you place two or three of these on the same circuit and are using them at the same time, the breaker will trip.

So deep fryer, bread maker, hot plate, toaster oven, etc. can use a lot of wattage. The following is a watts to amps calculator. Add up the watts - use single phase calculator...
http://www.jobsite-generators.com/po...lculators.html

Then just add more separate circuits in the areas where you will be using these things if you will have them all on at the same time. (So as to not overload a single circuit.)

So if I had a refrigerator, then microwave, then deep fryer, then hot plate. All right next to each other, I would install 4 separate 20 amp outlets/circuits - one for each. And then there would be extra amperage available on each outlet for something else.

As to adding all these extra circuits, a good idea is to add a subpanel near the kitchen. Then you would only need to add one double breaker to your existing panel to power the subpanel. And you would not need to run the wires from the kitchen very far if the subpanel was close.

A good way to think of this is Thanksgiving. Big meal, everything on. What all might you ever have on at the same time?

Then another thing to consider for a kitchen is small appliances which don't use a lot of watts, but need to be plugged in. Can opener, radio, mixer, blender, etc. Never enough outlets for these gadgets! So instead of duplex outlets in these areas (2 outlets), install fourplex outlets (4 outlets).
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Old 09-16-2009, 07:21 PM   #7
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Just bought a 1946 house, redoing kitchen, what electrical fixes/upgrades needed?


Quote:
Kitchens require at least two dedicated(nothing else on the circuit) 20A GFCI protected circuits for the countertop receptacles. In an older house, probably best to add those brand new. The DW/disposal should be on its' own circuit, as should a microwave. If the oven is electric, it will need a new 4 wire circuit.
What he said ^....with minor editing.
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Old 09-16-2009, 07:54 PM   #8
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Just bought a 1946 house, redoing kitchen, what electrical fixes/upgrades needed?


Our 12/24 panel is completely filled from updating our house to more modern standards. When the Fuse panel was replaced to a new breaker panel, it only had 6 circuits (Dryer, 4 general (lights & outlets tied together), receptacle for Washing machine).
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Old 09-17-2009, 03:21 AM   #9
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Just bought a 1946 house, redoing kitchen, what electrical fixes/upgrades needed?


Thanks for all the replies/suggestions. I'd say that upgrading to 200A service is not in the cards for this round of updates.

I just took another look at my panel and I think I may be in better shape than I had assumed. It looks like I already have the two 20A dedicated outlet circuits to the kitchen. I knew I had dedicated circuits for the range and disposal, so for all the work I'm doing in the kitchen, I may only need to add the dishwasher circuit.

For these two 20A kitchen outlet circuits...obviously I need to go GFCI. I'm not sure whether I ought to do this with breakers or outlets. Can anyone give me an idea of the pros/cons other than the obvious difference in installation?

I also have a 40A double breaker labeled "spare". I have no idea where this goes, if anywhere. It doesn't seem to make much sense to drop in a breaker for a circuit that doesn't exist, though.
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Old 09-17-2009, 07:58 AM   #10
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Just bought a 1946 house, redoing kitchen, what electrical fixes/upgrades needed?


I prefer GFCI at the counter
If the circuit kicks off I can reset it from the kitchen

The 40a probably was connected for something, then the circuit removed
Electric heat, water heater, old stove...?
If you remove the breaker then you need to buy the little metal insert that blocks the opening (in the panel cover)
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Old 09-18-2009, 01:52 PM   #11
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Just bought a 1946 house, redoing kitchen, what electrical fixes/upgrades needed?


Quote:
Originally Posted by Scuba_Dave View Post
I prefer GFCI at the counter
If the circuit kicks off I can reset it from the kitchen
Makes sense. Right now I believe each of those 20A circuits is wired to one duplex outlet.

I'm a big proponent of doing what's easier. Is there any advantage in terms of ease/time in going the breaker route, given that I plan to add outlets on one or [likely] both of these circuits? I'm thinking in terms of running wire, mostly. I believe these circuits go to the attic and then down to the kitchen. It seems like it might be easier to do a single junction box for each circuit in the attic and then wiring from those to each of the outlets? The breaker would facilitate that route, but with the daisy chained outlets I'd have to go down and back up.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Scuba_Dave View Post
The 40a probably was connected for something, then the circuit removed
Electric heat, water heater, old stove...?
If you remove the breaker then you need to buy the little metal insert that blocks the opening (in the panel cover)
Yeah, I could see that happening.

BTW, I just received a quote from an electrician to do the electrical updates in the kitchen (basically, more outlets off existing circuits and a new circuit for the dishwasher) plus 6-8 can lights.

$3800.00!



Needless to say I won't be availing myself of his services. Just for a good laugh I asked for a itemized proposal. Are his can lights made out of platinum or does he just take me for a total rube? I'd sooner put a generator in each room than pay this guy almost $4k.
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Old 09-18-2009, 04:45 PM   #12
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Just bought a 1946 house, redoing kitchen, what electrical fixes/upgrades needed?


You want to minimize junction boxes & splices
It's best to plan out the outlets you need & then wire them all up at once
Looping up thru the attic & down to the next outlet without a splice is best
No basement/crawl space?

Ah....I see ....A junction box for each circuit them you only have to loop down to each box
So only one place for the splices per circuit
So far I've always been gutting a kitchen when I rewire
So I just drill thru the joists
I prefer to keep stuff out of attics & in plain site

I think a GFCI outlet is better long term
It's a long walk to get to my panel in my house in the basement
I basically have to walk all the way around in a big circle to get there
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Old 09-18-2009, 10:15 PM   #13
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Just bought a 1946 house, redoing kitchen, what electrical fixes/upgrades needed?


Quote:
Originally Posted by Scuba_Dave View Post
You want to minimize junction boxes & splices
It's best to plan out the outlets you need & then wire them all up at once
Looping up thru the attic & down to the next outlet without a splice is best
No basement/crawl space?
Yeah, there is a full basement with access to the joists/subfloor above through dropped ceiling tiles. I guess that's the way to go even though most of the existing wiring seems to go through the attic for whatever reason. I could be exaggerating this, it could be just the switches/lighting wiring, but it seems like an awful lot of wiring up there. More than I expected, for sure. Some of it is just laying across joists, too. I assume I should support it somehow?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Scuba_Dave View Post
Ah....I see ....A junction box for each circuit them you only have to loop down to each box
So only one place for the splices per circuit
So far I've always been gutting a kitchen when I rewire
So I just drill thru the joists
I prefer to keep stuff out of attics & in plain site
I would call it "gutting," but then I am actually keeping most of the existing framing/wallboard.

Whether I go attic or basement, I plan to do one junction box per circuit. (I haven't identified whether these circuits go up from the basement or down from the attic.) This setup seems to suggest the GFCI breaker, though. The other option would be to use all GFCI outlets, which may still be cheaper than the breakers.

Thanks for all the advice, Scuba_Dave. I'll definitely report back on how this goes.
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Old 09-19-2009, 01:39 AM   #14
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Just bought a 1946 house, redoing kitchen, what electrical fixes/upgrades needed?


Quote:
Originally Posted by Scuba_Dave View Post
....Bathroom(s) need a dedicated 20a GFCI outlet, OR same 20a circuit can supply power to multiple bathrooms
This circuit can supply everything IN the bathroom without leaving the bathroom.....
One clarification here: IF you power multiple bathrooms from the same 20 Amp circuit, THEN you are ONLY allowed to connect this circuit to the receptacle outlets.

You can power the lights and other items in a bathroom (such as exhaust fan) from that 20 Amp circuit in a SINGLE BATHROOM ONLY.

See 210.11(C)(3)Exception.
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Old 09-19-2009, 07:47 AM   #15
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Just bought a 1946 house, redoing kitchen, what electrical fixes/upgrades needed?


If you are replacing the cabinets I would cut out some sheetrock behind the cabinets & drill thru the studs
Just a thought

My house is also top wired for almost everything

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