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Old 01-09-2011, 06:00 PM   #1
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odd outlet runs


I have a question about the way a couple circuits were run in my house.

Load center is at the very back of the house.

One circuit runs all the way to the front of my hosue as it picks up a couple of exterior outlets (one side, one front) and my all three bathrooms (one down stairs, two up - all border each other) and then runs all the way to the back of the house where it powers some of the outlets in my sunroom. The sunroom was a remodel that enclosed a patio, so I'm guessing those outlets were probably at one time exterior outlets to the patio. So the grouping makes some sense. The run for this was all 12awg blue-grey romex, so looks to be original wiring or at least very little modification to the original wiring.

Another circuit follows almost an identical path going all the way to the front of my house where it picks up the outlets in my office before running all the way to the back of the house along the same path as the first run. Once it reaches the back of the house, its been modified from original as it enters a ceiling box (metal with no bushings - rest of the house is in plastic) and the romex changes to a white color instead of blue-grey. So i'm not sure of the grouping here, but it passes under dining room and kitchen and past the crawl space door, so I'm not sure why it originally ran all the way to the back of the house.

I dont know why it didnt pick up the outlets at the back of the house as it went forward. Only possibility I can come up with was that the location of the original HVAC equipment was right there and the ducting for that made it very difficult to get around in that area.

My question is the current way its wired a hazard or code violation. Its all 12awg romex and the distance is well over 100' (maybe up to 150') in total as both circuits essentially touch all 4 corners of my house.

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Old 01-09-2011, 06:12 PM   #2
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Old 01-09-2011, 06:15 PM   #3
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Old 01-09-2011, 06:21 PM   #4
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odd outlet runs


The first one sounds like a standard pre 1985 GFCI circuit. Before 1985 is was common to put the bathrooms, outside receptacles and garage on one circuit so one GFCI could be used to protect them all.
The Second circuit is a gues. It could have been some sort of dedicated equipment that was removed and the circuit reused. I don't see any code issues.
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Old 01-09-2011, 06:21 PM   #5
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What I have heard from most electricians is that they don't calc voltage drop on residential runs
For 100' pulling the full 20a you would have a 6.2% drop
Under 10a you would have around a 3.2% drop
I think most of the run in my house are under 75'
At that distance I still get almost 5% drop at 20a
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Old 01-09-2011, 07:10 PM   #6
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There is a GFCI in the downstairs bathroom... that probably protects everything. I'm still a bit confused as to why they went all the way to the end of the house before coming back to pick up the sunroom/old ext. outlets. The bathroom with the GFCI is like 10' from the sunroom outlets. I would have expected the load side of the GCFI to come down and split essentially run direct from there since all the load outlets are essentially in opposite directions from each other.

You know, I didnt verify where the upstairs bath outlets actually splice in. I'm betting they might be on the very end of the run after the sunroom. The wall the sunroom outlets are on is the same wall directly below the upstairs bathroom outlets. That would probably add 15-20' for the master bath and maybe 30' to the other upstairs bath (more if they didnt go through the studs and went into the attic) if that would be the case. The GFCI outlet in the downstairs bath doesnt have but the two wires (line in and load out), and load out goes down into the crawl.


Largest draw I'd have is probably my vaccum now that I actually have HVAC registers in the sunroom (there were none prior to my new HVAC system a few months back). At one point, I had a 10-15A draw in the office with my server/disk arrays. In the bathroom's we dont have much plugged in... hairdryers and an pedestal air filter (essentially a fan). Only thing out of the ordinary I have is two CatGenie automatic litter box's in the upstairs bathroom. These actually connect to both water and elec... not jsut the sweeping scoop ones, so the have a motor and a dryer in them. I saw another guy that measured actual power draw of the dryer and motor in combination was 1200W, so thats a fairly significant 10A draw and it does this for 20 minutes at a time 4-5 times a day.

Is there any fire/overload problem with such a long run if a larger appliance (something like a big elec. heat) was plugged in in the sunroom or upstairs bathrooms at the end of the line?

I've also been seeing noticeable dimming in my lights when large draws kick on (like my HVAC in the other thread I have). Would long runs like this and the voltage drop cause problems in other circuits? I guess I'm asking is the voltage drop isolated to the end of the long circuit or can it affect current/voltage back at the load center and possibly other circuits.
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Old 01-09-2011, 07:38 PM   #7
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Wire was cheap and gfci were expensive in the days when they first appeared.
That could explain the reason.
I have older 3 story homes with the gfci in the garage and the 3 baths tied into it.
They could easily run up to 100 feet.
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Old 01-09-2011, 08:23 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jbfan View Post
Wire was cheap and gfci were expensive in the days when they first appeared.
That could explain the reason.
I have older 3 story homes with the gfci in the garage and the 3 baths tied into it.
They could easily run up to 100 feet.
Can a long run like this with a potentially high draw on the very end of it affect other circuits or is the effect only limited to the end of the long run in the form of a voltage drop.
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Old 01-09-2011, 09:43 PM   #9
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Quote:
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Can a long run like this with a potentially high draw on the very end of it affect other circuits or is the effect only limited to the end of the long run in the form of a voltage drop.
Just that circuit, unless there were soem loose connections.
That may affect other circuits, but I don't think this has anything to do with your problem.
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Old 01-09-2011, 10:16 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jbfan View Post
Just that circuit, unless there were soem loose connections.
That may affect other circuits, but I don't think this has anything to do with your problem.
k... thanks.

I do want to split the sunroom onto its own circuit. If I go ahead and leave both upstairs bathrooms on that same circuit, it would just eliminate both long runs. I was also thinking of using GFCI breakers instead of the outlets, so guess I get one of those for the new circuit to still cover that.

I'd like to remove the old cable to avoid it ever being extended like it was before. Is it sufficient to remove it from the box at the outlet by cutting it flush and pushing it back into the wall cavity and then cutting it flush on the underside of the subfloor and pushing that up into the wall cavity? There would be a couple feet of romex sitting there stapled down, but not connected to anything. I ask because I can almost guarantee there is a staple holding it in place inside the wall that wont let me pull it back down to remove it completely.

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