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Old 04-27-2009, 08:56 PM   #1
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Greetings from sunny "it's a dry heat" Phoenix, AZ.

Now, on to business. I recently bought an older house (1973) and I am looking to add some wall sconces in the kitchen. The wall I'm working on has the rock removed for easy access to the wiring. I've discovered that the only things on the circuit I want to add the sconces onto are two outlets (I've checked the breakers and traced the wires in the attic). I also discovered that they were run with 10/2 nm wire and attached to a 20 amp breaker. My thought was to replace the entire circuit with 12/2, which is more appropriate for the load and for the breaker.

When I went to check out the electrical panel, though, I noticed that all the grounds from all the cables entering the box seem to be twisted together and grounded under two lugs. It also looks like the box was designed this way, but there's not mention of this set-up in any DIY wiring book I've read. Due to the age of the panel, the wiring diagrams and other info have mostly faded or have fallen off the panel, and I can't get any clear info from the panel itself (GE model, 150 amp).

So if changed out the 10/3 with 12/2, would I have to take all the neutrals out from under the appropriate lug, remove the one wire from the 10/3 and bundle the 12/2 with the rest and reattach? I've never heard of it done this way but seems like the most likely scenario to me. But I could be way off...hence my plea for advice before I touch anything.

I'm trying to attach an image of the panel, if it helps.

Thanks!

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Old 04-27-2009, 09:14 PM   #2
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A couple of things.

1. Legally, you can't add lights to your kitche counter top recep circuit.

2. Your wiring must be aluminum huh? AL wiring is upsized one to compensate.

3. You went from describing grounds all twisted together to neutrals and 10/2 to 10/3

4. What part of town are you in? I'm in Central Phx


There has been a lot of "handywork" added to that panel. You have a few issues.


Last edited by 220/221; 04-27-2009 at 09:16 PM.
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Old 04-27-2009, 09:37 PM   #3
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Hi 220, thanks for taking the time to respond.

The outlets I'm taking about are not the kitchen countertop outlets. Those are on a different circuit. There is a dining nook across from the kichen and the outlets are there. They are the only things on this circuit. The nook is part of a remodel done before I bought the house, chances are this was added then.

I have a combination of aluminum and copper wiring (again, most likely due to the addition). The 10/2 i want to replace is copper. It just seemed foolish to continue the oversized wire going forward, and I can't splice the 12/2 to it.

Sorry, I mis-typed; I meant grounds. All the bare copper grounds are bundled (you can see where these attach to the left of the main breaker).

I've got lots of issues, the electrical is just one of them!

I'm in the west valley.
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Old 04-27-2009, 09:40 PM   #4
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I gotta go play softball. I'll be back around 11 PM and will address your concerns if I am not too drunk. Maybe tomorrow
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Old 04-27-2009, 09:44 PM   #5
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Old 04-27-2009, 09:48 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by 220/221 View Post
I gotta go play softball. I'll be back around 11 PM and will address your concerns if I am not too drunk. Maybe tomorrow
__________________
"Life is hard. Life is harder when you're stupid." John Wayne
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Old 04-28-2009, 07:27 AM   #7
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Its ok to splice 12/2 into 10/2. At least you wont need to worry about VD, not like its going to happen. Make sure your not splicing co to AL
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Old 04-28-2009, 09:28 AM   #8
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Thanks for the reply, rg.

I didn't think you could splice a smaller gauge wire onto a larger one (something about the smaller wire heating up)? Also, I thought the entire circuit had to be made of the same gauge wire.

If I could just splice into the 10/2 my life would be easier, which is exactly why I thought it wouldn't work
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Old 04-28-2009, 10:57 AM   #9
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You can do it as long as the breaker is properly rated for the smallest conductor in the circuit.

I would not recommend any CO to AL splices without the right stuff.
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Old 04-28-2009, 11:16 AM   #10
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Thanks, rg.

It's a 20 amp breaker, so the 12 gauge should be fine in that regard. The 10/2 is on a newer circuit so it is copper wire. An addition was added to the house before I bought it, and the wiring added then is copper.

My eventual goal is to replace the circuits that are aluminum with copper, so I need to get a grip on how the panel is put togther.

Thanks again.
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Old 04-28-2009, 08:52 PM   #11
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I was beat down tired last night so.......

Yes, leaving the 10/2 won't be an issue. It is more difficult to work with/splice but it can be done.

Stay out of the panel for now. That's a whole nother post.
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Old 04-28-2009, 09:11 PM   #12
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I'm going to splice the 10/2 in the attic with a junction box so that there is only 12/2 in the walls and recepticals. Should make the 10/2 easier to remove at another date. I'm just annoyed that I can't make the whole circuit one gauge. I'm trying to do everything right, but perhaps becoming unnecessarily anal in the process. That happens to me sometimes.

Give it to me straight, 220: I need to update the panel and get it cleaned up, yes?

Anyway, I'm moving forward with the splice. I'll be attempting two sets of three way switches and moving a light fixture from another circuit onto the new one, so I'm sure you haven't heard the last from me. Thanks to everyone who took the time to offer advice or comments, it is much appreciated.

I'll be back.
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Old 04-28-2009, 09:30 PM   #13
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Please don't splice in the attic.

Attic splice = bad

You should replace and clean up that panel. It's not rocket science but may require a few special tools to cut holes in the enclosure.
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Old 04-28-2009, 10:15 PM   #14
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Well that confused me...

I thought splice in an accessible, covered junction box was a good thing?

All the wires come into the house through the attic. It's an inaccessible attic; i.e., not used for storage or living space and without a fixed ladder or door. So it'd be an accessible box in an inaccesible attic, which I thought was ideal. Everything in the house is wired from up there, so it seemed like the best place to start. Actually, it kind of seemed like the only place to start. I'm not trying to convince you to agree with me, I'm just explaining my thought process.

The first thing on the circuit is an outlet. Should I start the new wiring from there instead?

I was gung-ho on working from the panel until I saw that mine wasn't like everybody else's with recognizable (to me) bus bar. I like being special, I just wish my panel wasn't. I'm guessing about a grand at least to have a professional install a newer panel without upgrading the service.

Thanks again for your input. I appreciate it.
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Old 04-28-2009, 10:20 PM   #15
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It's OK to put it in the attic, he was stating a personal preference.

Your panel does have some issues with some... "custom" work that surely voids any UL listings. If I were you I'd plan on replacing it at some point.

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