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Old 10-03-2012, 03:35 PM   #16
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Need URGENT help with question regarding fixing electrical panel in home


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Originally Posted by Oso954 View Post
Zinsco panels have issues like arcing the buss bar and breakers failing to clear. Calling them unsafe can start an argument/debate. It appears that you may have the debate brewing.

I would simply take the position that the panel will be replaced before my family moves in. I would rather contract the replacement myself, and I am looking for a price reduction of $4,000 to do it. I would then have a figure of X dollars which would be my bottom line. If the negotiation doesn't get to my bottom line, I walk. Period, end of story.

I would also bear in mind that you will probably find more issues once the work is in progress. I don't think adding a whole house surge protector is going to fix the dishwasher/light problem. It may be a desirable feature, but it doesn't fix this issue.


When I went to contract the work, I'm not sure I would ask the homeowners electrician to bid. I want one that will look for the issues, not gloss over them.
Oso954 - thanks for the tip! I didn't factor the fact that additional issues could possibly pop up once the work is in progress. I agree about the surge protector. I think the home inspector might have recommended it to me because of the way the existing breakers were setup.

Thanks again!

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Old 10-03-2012, 03:41 PM   #17
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Need URGENT help with question regarding fixing electrical panel in home


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It sounds like the electrician is working for the seller and giving you biased information. On these panels the power busses pit and corrode even when the rest of the panel looks fine. This causes a poor connection and overheating. "cleaning" the busses is not a legal fix. Have the breakers been removed and the busses inspected? The only way to know a house's amperage needs is with a Residential Load Calculation. Most electricians can't do one right. Did this electrician do one at all? Can you read the AWG number on the feed wires? The wires to the 60A breaker look like #6. No way that's 100A. You need #4 copper minimum, probably larger. Two wires in a breaker is a minor problem and an easy fix; the least of these issues.
Glensparky - thank you for your response. To answer your questions -

I am not sure whether breakers have been removed and busses inspected. I can ask the seller's electrician, and ask him to calculate the house's amperage. I don't know if he did calculated it when he looked at the panel.

It's hard to read the AWG number on the feed wires. I can try and find out from seller's electrician, if he remembers. And I will mention to him what you said about the 60a breaker.

I did not completely understand your last statement. Can you point out what is the bigger issue here, just so I know what to tell the electrician?

Thanks!
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Old 10-03-2012, 04:12 PM   #18
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Need URGENT help with question regarding fixing electrical panel in home


Just as a data point.

My house is 2500 sf, all electric except for oil furnace (hot water, AC, range, oven, dryer, etc... no gas lines in my neighborhood). And it has 200A service.

With AC, I think 100A is definitely marginal, but as mentioned, the only way to really tell is to have a proper calculation done.
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Old 10-03-2012, 04:19 PM   #19
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Need URGENT help with question regarding fixing electrical panel in home


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...The wires to the 60A breaker look like #6. No way that's 100A. You need #4 copper minimum, probably larger. Two wires in a breaker is a minor problem and an easy fix; the least of these issues.
Glennsparky - can you explain what you mean by this? I thought that the pictures confirmed that it was a 100amp panel?
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Old 10-03-2012, 04:23 PM   #20
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Need URGENT help with question regarding fixing electrical panel in home


A load calculation at this point is moot. If the house is all original then a 100A service is all that was required at the time and all that is required now. Load calculations are NOT retroactive.

If there is room to add skinny breakers an electrician can simply do that and meet code. If not then if I were the seller I'd have a tiny sub-panel installed just to clear up the dreaded double-taps and be done with it. Better yet I'd splice a pigtail onto the two wires and have one wire going to the breaker. Even simpler and cheaper.
NO WAY I'd provide a 200A service UPGRADE simply to clear up two double-taps.
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Old 10-03-2012, 04:25 PM   #21
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Need URGENT help with question regarding fixing electrical panel in home


From the look of it you have a 100A service with a split-buss panel.
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Old 10-03-2012, 04:26 PM   #22
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Need URGENT help with question regarding fixing electrical panel in home


Quote:
Originally Posted by asledge

Glennsparky - can you explain what you mean by this? I thought that the pictures confirmed that it was a 100amp panel?
Is it a split buss panel? Meaning is the 60 amp dbl pole breaker only controlling the lower breakers? If so this would confirm that you so have a 100 a panel
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Old 10-03-2012, 04:26 PM   #23
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From the look of it you have a 100A service with a split-buss panel.
You just beat me to it
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Old 10-03-2012, 04:36 PM   #24
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Need URGENT help with question regarding fixing electrical panel in home


To fix a double tapped breaker, all you have to do is splice a pigtail on to the double tapped wires and put the single wire to the breaker. You do not have to install a new breaker.

There is no one here that can accurate quote you a price for a job like this. Is there a main outside? How far is the water meter from the panel? Do you have to run extra to hit the ground rods? Does your area require AFCI breakers on a service change? Does either the meter socket or the panel have to move at all?

As you can see, there are a number of items that can influence the price. Anyone here quoting you a price for the service change has no clue what your area requires and what going rates are.
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Old 10-03-2012, 04:58 PM   #25
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Need URGENT help with question regarding fixing electrical panel in home


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Originally Posted by Speedy Petey View Post
A load calculation at this point is moot. If the house is all original then a 100A service is all that was required at the time and all that is required now. Load calculations are NOT retroactive.

If there is room to add skinny breakers an electrician can simply do that and meet code. If not then if I were the seller I'd have a tiny sub-panel installed just to clear up the dreaded double-taps and be done with it. Better yet I'd splice a pigtail onto the two wires and have one wire going to the breaker. Even simpler and cheaper.
NO WAY I'd provide a 200A service UPGRADE simply to clear up two double-taps.
Speedy Petey - thanks for your response. So far, from what you've mentioned, it seems to me that the existing (and confirmed) 100 amp panel can be brought up to code very easily by adding a sub-panel and may not cost a lot? The seller is agreeing to "fix the breakers" by using their electrician. I just want to have piece of mind that when I move into the home that there is no safety issue relating to electrical panel. Safety is my main concern, especially after hearing things about the Zinsco panels etc.

I understand that we are asking for an upgrade to 200 amp from seller, but I have offered to pay the upgrade difference if the seller will agree to fix the existing 100amp panel.

I guess another question for you is - would upgrading to 200amp require just a change in the electrical panel and breakers or is there more to it than that? You mentioned something about #4 copper minimum. Can you explain what that means? Could other issues potentially pop up when we upgrade to 200 amps?

I guess how should I proceed with this negotiation now that we have cleared up that the electrical issue is really not as big as my home inspector anticipated, who originally quoted $4000 as a low end estimate to fix the electrical panel? Should I have the seller "fix the breakers" and be done with it and then upgrade to 200 amps on my own? Would that mean double work and money if they are fixing one thing and we are upgrading to another?

Like I said, my main concern in the home is safety. This is the only thing keeping us from coming to an agreement. So it would be nice to get more clarification on how big this electrical issue really is. And whether I should just cave in and have seller bring it up to code and upgrade to 200 amp on my own.
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Old 10-03-2012, 05:01 PM   #26
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Need URGENT help with question regarding fixing electrical panel in home


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To fix a double tapped breaker, all you have to do is splice a pigtail on to the double tapped wires and put the single wire to the breaker. You do not have to install a new breaker.

There is no one here that can accurate quote you a price for a job like this. Is there a main outside? How far is the water meter from the panel? Do you have to run extra to hit the ground rods? Does your area require AFCI breakers on a service change? Does either the meter socket or the panel have to move at all?

As you can see, there are a number of items that can influence the price. Anyone here quoting you a price for the service change has no clue what your area requires and what going rates are.
k_buz - thanks for your response. I did not realize how much goes into getting a proper estimate. I will try and find out from the seller's electrician about the estimate to upgrade to 200 amp since he has been to the property and looked at their existing electrical panel etc. Plus my own agent (who is also our family friend) has used this electrician in her own home so I am hoping I will get an honest response from him.

Thanks!
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Old 10-03-2012, 05:03 PM   #27
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Perhaps you simply need to change your negotiating approach. I agree with previous posters who noted that they would rather fix problems themselves, since that gives control over the repair, rather than rely on the homeowner to fix the problem, since that is out of your control. Why not simply make a list of everything you feel you need to fix, which would of course include the panel, but might include a variety of other items from appliance replacement, structural upgrades, door and window repair etc.. Then get bids or hire a professional estimator to assign a dollar value to the repairs.

Then subtract the cost of repairs from your offering price. That becomes your maximum price, if you can't get the house for the price you want, find another house. No arguing with the homeowner about the value of repairs, need for repairs, alternative repairs. You simply treat the house like you would a stock purchase, you make your best offer based on what you are willing to pay assuming you do all repairs.
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Old 10-03-2012, 05:15 PM   #28
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Perhaps you simply need to change your negotiating approach. I agree with previous posters who noted that they would rather fix problems themselves, since that gives control over the repair, rather than rely on the homeowner to fix the problem, since that is out of your control. Why not simply make a list of everything you feel you need to fix, which would of course include the panel, but might include a variety of other items from appliance replacement, structural upgrades, door and window repair etc.. Then get bids or hire a professional estimator to assign a dollar value to the repairs.

Then subtract the cost of repairs from your offering price. That becomes your maximum price, if you can't get the house for the price you want, find another house. No arguing with the homeowner about the value of repairs, need for repairs, alternative repairs. You simply treat the house like you would a stock purchase, you make your best offer based on what you are willing to pay assuming you do all repairs.
Daniel Holzman - thanks for your response. Unfortunately, we have passed that point of negotiation. We have agreed on the price of the house, we have completed the home inspection. And now the only thing remaining is this electrical issue before we close on the deal. Our closing date has been finalized pending home inspection issue resolution. Which is where we are right now. So backing out of this deal for the sake of a couple grand does not sound like a good idea to me especially if we are getting everything else the way we want. And all our issues that we've asked the seller to fix have been relating to safety, structure, and hazards (radon mitigation). We are not asking for any cosmetic changes. That was all factored already into our negotiations in the beginning.
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Old 10-03-2012, 05:36 PM   #29
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Need URGENT help with question regarding fixing electrical panel in home


With your current situation I can only tell you what I would do.

Have the seller or his rep sign a doc stating that you and the seller will find a licensed master electrician that is neutral. Both you and the seller meet with the electrician and have him evaluate the situation based solely on code/safety aspects. The cost of the repairs determined by the electrician will be deducted from the purchase price unless they exceed $XX.XX (a mutualy agreed upon price).

If the seller balks it's up to you do decide if you want the house bad enough to eat the cost of the repairs.

Repairs prior to sale would be my last choice. You want your electrician doing the work.

Regarding the big concerns I'd look into the POCO's price for the transformer upgrade.
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Old 10-03-2012, 06:39 PM   #30
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Offer the seller $4K less than you had planned and upgrade the panel after the closing. Or give the seller the option to upgrade to a 200 amp service and pay the full price.

If he refuses either offer-- Walk.

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