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Old 08-31-2011, 11:17 PM   #1
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Questions about a service upgrade. Just don't want house to burn down.


I am planning to upgrade from 100A service to 150A or 200A. I had an electrician come over to evaluate the job. He said some things that I am confused by. Usually I wouldn't care. But this is lots of amps and lots of dollars, and I want it done right.

1) My current service cable was pulled from the meter up into the attic then down the middle of the house to a panel in the basement. He said it was a waste of cable and effort. Was there a reason for this? Why didn't they just pull the cable through the joists on the main floor? Does it even matter?

Extra Info: The electrician said that he doesn't see why they did that - that they wasted cable and effort going through the attic, and if he adds new service he'll just straight shot it through the floor joists in the main floor, and just cut and leave the old cable - I thought they might have had a reason for going through the attic and dropping down - does it matter? Except the floor joists have a lot more "stuff" in them than the attic (ductwork, pipes, cables, etc.)

2) The electrician said he had to hammer drill through the foundation, and that was a big part of the cost. Really? Why would he have to do that? If he did, it would come in below the basement ceiling and he'd have to go up into the ceiling, why not come in through the rim joist or side of the house? I talked to a few guys at work that upgraded and none of their electricians went through the foundation.

3) Service upgrade is around $2000. What makes up the bulk of this cost? Can things happen that will make the price go up significantly more?

Thanks!!!

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Old 09-01-2011, 12:04 AM   #2
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Questions about a service upgrade. Just don't want house to burn down.


Put the service in yourself. It is not that hard.

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Old 09-01-2011, 12:36 AM   #3
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Questions about a service upgrade. Just don't want house to burn down.


Quote:
Originally Posted by danielrg View Post
I am planning to upgrade from 100A service to 150A or 200A. I had an electrician come over to evaluate the job. He said some things that I am confused by. Usually I wouldn't care. But this is lots of amps and lots of dollars, and I want it done right.

1) My current service cable was pulled from the meter up into the attic then down the middle of the house to a panel in the basement. He said it was a waste of cable and effort. Was there a reason for this? Why didn't they just pull the cable through the joists on the main floor? Does it even matter?

Extra Info: The electrician said that he doesn't see why they did that - that they wasted cable and effort going through the attic, and if he adds new service he'll just straight shot it through the floor joists in the main floor, and just cut and leave the old cable - I thought they might have had a reason for going through the attic and dropping down - does it matter? Except the floor joists have a lot more "stuff" in them than the attic (ductwork, pipes, cables, etc.)

2) The electrician said he had to hammer drill through the foundation, and that was a big part of the cost. Really? Why would he have to do that? If he did, it would come in below the basement ceiling and he'd have to go up into the ceiling, why not come in through the rim joist or side of the house? I talked to a few guys at work that upgraded and none of their electricians went through the foundation.

3) Service upgrade is around $2000. What makes up the bulk of this cost? Can things happen that will make the price go up significantly more?

Thanks!!!
That might explain why they went through the attic. The labor and wire was cheaper than going through the foundation.

It would help if we knew what part of the country you lived in....

Above ground feed? Below ground feed?

Where is the meter? Where is your load center?

Why do you need to go to 200A?

BTW...$2000 is not that bad of a price....assuming a few things....

For reference....

I upgraded my house from 60a to 200a 10 years ago. New load center on the side of the house...my total hardware cost was around $600...but I most likely have about 24 hours of work into it.....

How much would you charge for 24 hours of work? What is your time really worth to you?
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Old 09-01-2011, 04:03 AM   #4
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Questions about a service upgrade. Just don't want house to burn down.


Get more bids.
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Old 09-01-2011, 05:38 AM   #5
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Put the service in yourself. It is not that hard.
Did you stay at Holiday Inn Express last night?
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Old 09-01-2011, 06:06 AM   #6
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2000.00 cost to not out of line for a 200 amp service upgrade. Also I agree to go thru rim joist.
Is the basement finshed ie sheetrock or dropped ceiling.
If it is sheetrocked than the cost might be a little more.
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Old 09-01-2011, 11:47 AM   #7
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Questions about a service upgrade. Just don't want house to burn down.


There were something that caught my attetion due the OP mention oringal cable that ran from outdoor meter up to the attic and go down middle of the house to basement did that set up have outside disconnect switch ? if not that will not meet the current code at all.

I will always find the shortest route and few case I have to bore thru the cement wall but I refer to go thur the rim joist much I can due it quicker and easier to hide it someway.

2000 USD is not too far off for 200 amp service however it depending on the area and the materals it used for upgrading the service.

A well versed electrician can change from 100 to 200 amp in 8 hours but for DIY { only if your area do allow it that part you will have to check with inspector office for this info } will take a full jour { day } or duex so plan it ahead when you do this.

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Old 09-01-2011, 08:55 PM   #8
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Questions about a service upgrade. Just don't want house to burn down.


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Did you stay at Holiday Inn Express last night?

No, I stayed in one after I passed the electrical PSIE exam for a JW for the VA DPOR in Richmond.

Any other questions?
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Old 09-01-2011, 09:20 PM   #9
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Questions about a service upgrade. Just don't want house to burn down.


I'll answer all your questions:

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That might explain why they went through the attic. The labor and wire was cheaper than going through the foundation.
I have a standard below grade basement, no walkout or anything - is unfinished - I am doing upgrade for the basement and garage and future shed. The main floor sits on rim joists all around the house. I see no reason why he'd have to go through the foundation. I'm getting another bid or two and I'll see what they say.

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Originally Posted by ddawg16 View Post
It would help if we knew what part of the country you lived in....
Salt Lake City, Utah

Quote:
Originally Posted by ddawg16 View Post
Above ground feed? Below ground feed?
Feed is from underground. 100A Main breaker in outside panel. House originally built in 2001. About 75 feet from my meter to the utility company green box. Local electrician says they have 3" conduit in our neighborhood from supply to homes.

Quote:
Originally Posted by ddawg16 View Post
Where is the meter? Where is your load center?
Meter is on SE corner of house. Foundation sticks up about 2 ft above ground all around, level lot. Don't know what a load center is, but if it's my panel inside, it's about 20 feet from the meter in the middle of the house on a basement wall. It's a straight shot through rim joist and floor joists over to the existing panel.

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Originally Posted by ddawg16 View Post
Why do you need to go to 200A?
He said 150 Amp is around $1900, 200 Amp only a few hundred more ($2200 or so - I put about $2000 in my original post). I figured, why not? He said he'd put a new 100Amp panel next to my existing 100Amp. He discouraged changing out the orig panel for a 200A panel, said it would cost more. Would it cost that much more?

Quote:
Originally Posted by ddawg16 View Post
How much would you charge for 24 hours of work? What is your time really worth to you?
I don't know if I could do a service upgrade myself. Is it really just:
a) Get permit
b) Put in new 200A panel in house, hook circuits back in
c) Run 200A cable to box outside main breaker box
d) Put in new main breaker box? New main breaker? I have a 30Amp A/C breaker hanging off of outside main breaker box too. Just leave it?
e) Call power company to hook up and install meter.
f) Hook cable to new breaker box.

If I really need to know more, and I suspect I do - I've read some of the other threads and am wary of the prospect. I'll probably just work a little overtime to help make up for the cost.
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Old 09-01-2011, 09:34 PM   #10
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Questions about a service upgrade. Just don't want house to burn down.


It sounds like you have the basics. You missed a few things.

This not a hard project, if you plan it right.

Since you have an outside panel, you could swap it for a 200 amp and finish the rest as time allows. Easy as pie.
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Old 09-02-2011, 05:33 AM   #11
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No, I stayed in one after I passed the electrical PSIE exam for a JW for the VA DPOR in Richmond.

Any other questions?
Yeah, actually. The point of my comment is that the OP made no mention of their skills with electrical wiring and you suggest that they should just do it themselves - it's easy. The question is: Why would you be so proud of passing the VA Journeyman's test (obviously you think this is an achievement because wiring and Code are difficult to master) and at the same time you suggest that someone who has provided no indication of their qualifications perform a service upgrade on their own.

BTW, the VA Journeyman's test is a cake walk. Pass the VA Master's test, then you'll have something to brag about. Almost everyone passes the VA Journeyman on the first try. I know multiple guys with 20+ years in the business and many tries who still haven't passed the Master.

Mark
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Old 09-02-2011, 03:45 PM   #12
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Busman, you have a point. I am an electrical engineer by trade. But knowing ohms law is a really far cry from knowing this stuff. Just FYI, lots of people when they find out that I am an electrical engineer ask questions about this stuff, electrician stuff of me. I tell them I work on microchips and designing the boards inside their electronics. Night and day. I have to admit that knowing the fundamentals of how electricity flows does help, but I spend my job in CAD programs and writing code - I don't think about these things that much.

That said, I must admit I'm afraid of trying to do this myself. I'm not really worried about how to pull a cable, or size it right for the amps, or putting in the right breakers. But I am scared of the inspection, of code, of how to find/choose panels, etc. I'm worried about messing up and costing myself lots of time and maybe money. I'd certainly love to do it, and learn it - but I'd probably want someone giving me pretty specific guidance - answering questions - and that knows local amendments. I love the forum, but you guys have lives, live in other jurisdictions, and can only get me so far.

However, you have sparked my interest and I think I'll look into doing it myself (while still getting bids) before I hire.
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Old 09-02-2011, 07:07 PM   #13
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Yeah, actually. The point of my comment is that the OP made no mention of their skills with electrical wiring and you suggest that they should just do it themselves - it's easy. The question is: Why would you be so proud of passing the VA Journeyman's test (obviously you think this is an achievement because wiring and Code are difficult to master) and at the same time you suggest that someone who has provided no indication of their qualifications perform a service upgrade on their own.
The OP is already rewiring a basement and a bathroom. I believe he knows what he can do or not do. My comments were directed at him, not every Tom, Dick and Harry DIYER.

Attacking my JW status shows a real pitiful attempt to try and validate your belittling comments. Are you really so petty? If so, I feel sorry for you.

Quote:
BTW, the VA Journeyman's test is a cake walk. Pass the VA Master's test, then you'll have something to brag about. Almost everyone passes the VA Journeyman on the first try. I know multiple guys with 20+ years in the business and many tries who still haven't passed the Master.

Mark
A masters in VA is useless over a JW, unless you want to be an EC or a qualifier, neither which appealed to me.

BTW, I am taking the MD masters.

Now, we can continue to snipe at each other or just drop it. I am in favor of the latter.
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Old 09-03-2011, 08:18 AM   #14
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The OP is already rewiring a basement and a bathroom. I believe he knows what he can do or not do. My comments were directed at him, not every Tom, Dick and Harry DIYER.
.
Did I miss something from the OP that says he is rewiring a basement and a bathroom? If I did, please point it out to me. This wasn't about sniping at you. It was about what I considered to be an irresponsible comment from you that suggested that replacing a service is an "easy" thing to do.

If you knew as much about the code as you claim to, you'd know that it is ALMOST impossible for a homeowner to install a service to code. Do you know ANY DIYers that own a torque wrench that is calibrated to tighten service connections as required by code?

Mark
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Old 09-03-2011, 08:16 PM   #15
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Originally Posted by danielrg View Post
I am planning to upgrade from 100A service to 150A or 200A. I had an electrician come over to evaluate the job. He said some things that I am confused by. Usually I wouldn't care. But this is lots of amps and lots of dollars, and I want it done right.

1) My current service cable was pulled from the meter up into the attic then down the middle of the house to a panel in the basement. He said it was a waste of cable and effort. Was there a reason for this? Why didn't they just pull the cable through the joists on the main floor? Does it even matter?

Extra Info: The electrician said that he doesn't see why they did that - that they wasted cable and effort going through the attic, and if he adds new service he'll just straight shot it through the floor joists in the main floor, and just cut and leave the old cable - I thought they might have had a reason for going through the attic and dropping down - does it matter? Except the floor joists have a lot more "stuff" in them than the attic (ductwork, pipes, cables, etc.)

2) The electrician said he had to hammer drill through the foundation, and that was a big part of the cost. Really? Why would he have to do that? If he did, it would come in below the basement ceiling and he'd have to go up into the ceiling, why not come in through the rim joist or side of the house? I talked to a few guys at work that upgraded and none of their electricians went through the foundation.

3) Service upgrade is around $2000. What makes up the bulk of this cost? Can things happen that will make the price go up significantly more?

Thanks!!!
To answer the OP's questions. It may have run thru the attic to avoid structural weakening of drilling large holes thru the floor joists. As far as drilling the foundation, any electrician worth his pay owns a large rotary hammer and bits up to 2 inches. The drilling should take 10 minutes tops. The worst I ever had was a 1-3/4 inch hole thru 16 inch thick granite stone foundation. I almost ran out of bit and it took about 20 minutes to drill.

Mark

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