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Old 12-10-2009, 04:41 PM   #1
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Spaghetti Mess


I have a fews questions regarding the way my electric was done in my house. A quick background... Only been here about 3 yrs, the house was built in 1940 and is 1400 sq\ft. Most of it has been updated as you can see by the links below, but it is an absolute mess. It is a 100 amp service and the 20 breaker Siemens panel is almost full. There are two breakers in there not being used. As far as electric goes, I only feel comfortable running wire, hooking up plugs and lights. My ?'s are:

I have read I can go to a larger GE panel (30 breakers) on my current 100 amp service. Is this correct? I have also read another option would be adding a sub panel. Considering the mess I currently have, which would be the better option and how is the sub panel added?

Does anyone have a good electricity calculator to find out if I should have my service upgraded?

In the first picture you can see where my main line comes in to a large circuit box and then they have two smaller boxes branching off of that as well as a line over to the main panel. This just doesn't look right to me. Is this OK to do?

Also, I still have a few lines that are aluminum. How critical is it that these be updated.

I am planning on hiring a professional to do any service or panel upgrades I might need. I am just looking for the right info to get me headed in the right direction. I don't want someone selling me something I don't need and I want this done the right way. Any help you could give would be greatly appreciated.

Main plus more mess
http://www.scottmuth.com/main.jpg

Mess of a panel
http://www.scottmuth.com/panel.jpg

Thanks, Scott...

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Old 12-10-2009, 06:05 PM   #2
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Spaghetti Mess


You've got a bit of a mess.

Your equipment (panel) inside looks OK but the wiring is very sloppy.

I'm sure that the disconnects have issues but I cant see thru the covers

Call 2 or 3 local contractors and have them look deeper into the system.

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Old 12-10-2009, 07:55 PM   #3
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Thank you, but I was hoping to maybe gather a little more info than that. Can you answer any of my questions for me?
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Old 12-10-2009, 08:15 PM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by smuth10 View Post
I have read I can go to a larger GE panel (30 breakers) on my current 100 amp service. Is this correct? I have also read another option would be adding a sub panel. Considering the mess I currently have, which would be the better option and how is the sub panel added?
I think you would be better off installing a brand new service. There are more than one reason. The first is that it looks like the original cable and service disconnect are quite old. They have lived their useful life. I don't know how they tapped the other disconnects off the main, but more than a couple different ways can cause a hazardous condition. (Loose connections, mainly, due to more than one wire and different sizes under one terminal lug.) It looks to me like the main disconnect is in a different area of the basement as the panel. Depending on the layout of the house, it might be a better idea to put the service outside in a different area so that it is more of a direct path from the meter to the main panel. This would illuminate the need for the 100A disconnect upstream from the main panel. The circuits feed from the disconnect and panel near the main could be rerouted to the main panel. Also, by code the old three wire cable between the old main disconnect and panel is improper, it should be 4 wire, with the main panel set up as a subpanel. The previous upgrade should have included this. If you are installing a new service you might as well bump up to 200A it really isn't much more than 100A.
Quote:
Originally Posted by smuth10 View Post
Does anyone have a good electricity calculator to find out if I should have my service upgraded?
See above, but you can do a service load calculation. Do an internet search on that and you will find some good info. Here is one site:
http://www.selfhelpandmore.com/home-...ation-2002.php

Quote:
In the first picture you can see where my main line comes in to a large circuit box and then they have two smaller boxes branching off of that as well as a line over to the main panel. This just doesn't look right to me. Is this OK to do?
Read above, but generally it is done incorrectly. What does the inside of the disconnect look like?
Quote:
Also, I still have a few lines that are aluminum. How critical is it that these be updated.
I would replace any small guage aluminum wiring if I could. At the very least, thoughly check the circuits over for dangerous overheating. Most commonly at receptacles and switches. Make repairs as nesessary.
Any larger aluminum cables such as for ranges, etc. is fine if it is terminated properly.

Quote:
I don't want someone selling me something I don't need and I want this done the right way.
The best place to start would be a good electrician to replace the service. Believe me, it is money well spent. You can install a new 100 A service and a 30 space panel, but I would definately go with a 200A and 40 spaces. Then you have room to grow.
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Old 12-10-2009, 08:52 PM   #5
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Quote:
Thank you, but I was hoping to maybe gather a little more info than that. Can you answer any of my questions for me?
Wow.

Ok but you are really better off having someone look closely at your system. I'll give you five minutes ( which is $7.08 )




Quote:
I have read I can go to a larger GE panel (30 breakers) on my current 100 amp service. Is this correct?
You can put as many breakers in as you want.


Quote:
. Considering the mess I currently have, which would be the better option and how is the sub panel added?
Bigger panel.




Quote:
Does anyone have a good electricity calculator to find out if I should have my service upgraded?
Google residential load calculator.


Quote:
In the first picture you can see where my main line comes in to a large circuit box and then they have two smaller boxes branching off of that as well as a line over to the main panel. This just doesn't look right to me. Is this OK to do?
It's a mess and needs attention.




Quote:
Also, I still have a few lines that are aluminum. How critical is it that these be updated.
240 volt circuits for ac, range etc are not much of an issue. The 120V branch circuit stuff is where the problems aride.
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Old 12-10-2009, 09:53 PM   #6
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I liike on the tub where it says front, if it didn't say that someone for sure would have installed it with the breakers faceing the wall.
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Old 12-11-2009, 02:38 PM   #7
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Thanks for everyone's input. The inside of the disconnect just has one pull out breaker and some rust. I am having someone come out to look at it tonight. I am going to upgrade the service to at least 150amp and have the panel replaced. The sub panels off of the main and the way the wiring was done freaks me out. This way I can have all of my issues taken care of with an upgrade of service. I only have three runs that are still aluminum and I feel confident replacing that wire once the new panel is finished.

I was told I can alleviate the main disconnect if the panel is closer to the meter. Is this correct? If so, I would probably just move the panel to where the main is at. In doing so I will have to junction a lot of the wire to move it over there. Is this ok?

Thanks again!
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Old 12-11-2009, 04:03 PM   #8
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Looks like the bonding jumper is in place (incorrect) at that load-side panel in the second picture.
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Old 12-11-2009, 04:15 PM   #9
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Man, I wish I knew what that meant. Hopefully the electrician can let me know tonight. Thank you for the heads up
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Old 12-11-2009, 07:49 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by smuth10 View Post
I was told I can alleviate the main disconnect if the panel is closer to the meter. Is this correct? If so, I would probably just move the panel to where the main is at. In doing so I will have to junction a lot of the wire to move it over there. Is this ok?
Yes. If any circuits are ran nearby where the main disconnect is they could be rerouted to the main panel in the new location. If it is all carefully planned out you probably won't need to splice on to very many circuits.
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Old 12-13-2009, 02:05 PM   #11
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The electrician said he wanted $1200 to run a new line from the poll and the new 150amp panel. He said the code for the disconnect has changed and as long as "it is a reasonable distance from the meter", I do not need the disconnect. $1200 seems like a lot. Is this about right? the panel will be about 10-12' from the meter outside
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Old 12-14-2009, 01:51 PM   #12
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...because there are some many variables that can affect them. Consider calling someone else for an estimate, that will give you a better idea. Also check references, BBB records, etc and ask if the appropriate permits will be pulled. Consider speaking to your local government and/or utility to see what permits are required. This is serious work. I would be more concerned about shoddy workmanship than the cost.

(FWIW, your estimate does not strike me as unreasonable, but again there are so many unknown (to me) variables involved a huge range of numbers would be reasonable.)

One comment -- I'd recommend 200A... unless your house is small or your service load very low. Cost should not be much different.

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