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TheHomeDummy 08-07-2006 11:36 PM

need to know before I call a pro
I donít know a whole lot about breaker panels. I do know that the lights dim when the A/C unit outside starts, or the washing machine, or when I use my miter saw. My panel was supposedly replaced from fuses to circuits with 200 amp main service. The pole on the outside of the house, meter box, and wire runs from the overhead lines to the main was also replaced. The main appears to be two 100s connected with one of those caps across the switch ends on the breaker. Is that 100 amp service or 200?

Also, it appears that I have something that uses 2 40 amp breakers with one of those caps across the switch ends on the breaker. What could that be (not labeled)? My a/c unit is a 2 ton carrier unit from a quite a few years ago, and I have a regular range. There is also a similar setup with 2 30 amp breakers. All in all, if I simply add the breakers (I know, doesnít equate, but still), I have over 400 amps worth of individual breakers in a 7 room house with partially finished bsmt and attached 1 car garage.

I was really hoping that I wouldnít have to have all the wires replaced, as the walls canít really be repaired (i.e. old tile in bathroom no longer made, walls hand finished when house was built, etc, already had the plumbers through). Most of the wiring is 12 (with a few 14 lines added by the previous owner, mostly in the basement, as well as some of those creative fixes homeowners just love to find, arrgh). I was hoping some selective work would be ok. (Iím really annoyed at the weird things they did). I realize I will probably need a professional to do much of the work. I am just confused, and people around here donít seem to know what theyíre doing (one of my family members now has electrical lines running to nothing but no one knows where from).

jwhite 08-08-2006 04:21 AM

Those are not caps, they are handle ties. The purpose is so that if you turn one half of that two pole breaker off, the other half will turn off with it.

You have a 100 amp service from what you discribe. You are right that you cannot add up the breakers. Throw that entire concept out. It is a waste of time and not at all relyable for telling what a circuit is using.

I bit of lights dimming when large loads start is not a terrible thing of itself. It may just be from voltage drop. Even if you upgrade to a 200 amp panel, the utility is not likely to increase the size of the wires from the transformer to your house. You will still have the vd problem.

You do want to go through the house. and make sure that all of your circuits have a ground wire in them. I would replace any wiring that does not. At the same time look for damage to wire insulation. It should be obvioius if there is any. Naturally this will also have to be replaced.

Last check out the layout of your wiring. The kitchen should have two circuits that feed nothing but counter tops. The bath sould have a gfi on its own circuit for a blow dryer. The washing machine should have its own circuit. etc.

There is not limit to the number of outlets that you can put on one circuit in a home. I use seven to nine as a rule of thumb.

For lights add up the wattage of the bulbs or ballasts for flourcent lights, then divide by 120 to get amps. Even though these are not continous loads I would still not load a circuit beyond 80 percent of the breaker rating.

Make sure that all no 14 wire circuits are on a 15 amp breaker and no 12 wires are on a 20 amp breaker.

Hope this is a start.

RobertWilber 08-11-2006 02:37 PM

Got an electric water heater or clothes dryer?
There is your 2-pole 30
The 2-pole 40 is probably for your A/C unit
You don't have much load, from the sounds of it.
There shouldn't be much dimming.
Go to my website and follow the link to my blog.
There is info there about "lights acting funny"

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