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Old 03-11-2010, 04:35 PM   #1
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Rewiring - adding receptacles, paths to use

Hi, I am planning to rewire receptacles in my bedroom, dining room, and living room this summer. The older portion of my house dates from 1950. Nothing is grounded, the cloth insulation is failing, some receptacles are loose or fail to hold plugs, and the wires in the crawlspace are unsupported. A few questions.

1. The bedrooms are typically 13 x 11 with a receptacle on each wall, often in the center but not always. Sometimes the receptacles are more than 12 feet apart. Short wall segments (e.g., between the main door and closet door) may not have receptacles at all. Should I go to the trouble of adding more receptacles to meet the letter of the code or not? Or should I just add them in critical areas, like my hallway (which has none) or when the gaps is really large (e.g., >14 feet)? How have other people dealt with this question? Generally there are enough receptacles in a given room, it's a matter of them being inconvenient and use of extension cords.

2. In the crawlspace the wires often take the shortest path between receptacles. This means they often cut across the joists diagonally. (Example: a room where there is one outlet on the center or each wall, they form a diamond pattern.) When running new cable, I will drill holes, add staples, etc. My question: is it OK to follow the same diagonal paths as before, or must the cables always be parallel or perpendicular to the joists (e.g., all 90 degree turns)? It would certainly be more efficient to follow the preexisting routes, just wasn't sure if that was allowed.

The work will not be inspected. My AHJ only allows licensed contractors to pull permits. Too bad, because I'd like the reassurance.


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Old 03-11-2010, 04:55 PM   #2
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Rewiring - adding receptacles, paths to use

A new install like you are planning would need to meet todays installation requirements for proper spacing intervals, AFCI protection, circuit ampacities etc.

You can follow the current paths of the wires in the crawlspace. However, under the 08 Code the cables need to go thru bored holes or be on running boards. Stapled to the bottom of the joists is no longer allowed.

In regards to the spacing you can install more than required, or vary the spacing, as long as it is not more than the 12' max, so that the receptacles are usable and not behind the furniture.

Answers based on the National Electrical Code. Local amendments may apply. Check with your local building officials.
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Old 03-14-2010, 02:29 PM   #3
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Rewiring - adding receptacles, paths to use

Thanks Jim. I took a closer look at my house. I estimated that I would need to add about 10 new receptacles. Many of these would be on exterior walls. That would take more time and money than I have right now.

Would this approach solve my problems in the short term?
> Replace the first receptacle on each circuit with a GFCI (that way I could replace downstream receptacles as needed, and I could add three prong receptacles)
> Replace the breakers with AFCI breakers (these would detect any shorts in the wiring)

Then as I have time I could gradually add more receptacles and replace the old wiring.

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