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drw138 12-17-2008 06:18 PM

Trying to wire my own attic
I just baught my house in August and want to finish my huge attic. Looking to put a extra bedroom and a home theatre in the other part. There is already wiring ran up there there is one or 2 outlets and a couple ceiling lights. My question is do i run the outlets off that wire or run wires from the breaker box? To give you an plans are putting a big screen tv with surround sound and recessed lighting with 5 or 6 outlets and the bedroom would have a ceiling light and 3 or 4 outlets. I am trying to things by myself now that i have my own house and any suggestions would be very helpful. Thank You!

farmerde 12-18-2008 01:58 AM

I am not an expert, nor an electrician, however; you are going to hear this a hundred times in this forum, consult an electrician!

I would recommend at a very minumum that you start by charting all of your circuits and know exactly how many amps you are pulling on each circuit if you were running every appliance on every circuit at max capacity. You don't want to over load them. Don't rush this, take the time to do your homework and it will put your mind at ease.

Then you need to figure out how many amps you'll be pulling of what ever additions you'll make. How many amps are the T.V., sound system, lights....? If you have room to play on the circuits that are in there then you may be able to add to the circuit.

Finally, check to see if your locality requires permits for this type of work.

rgsgww 12-18-2008 07:07 AM

I think that a dedicated 20 amp for the tv equipment would be good. The main lighting should be able to be with the bedroom light. 15 amp (20 if you like) for the 5-6 outlets in the entertainment center. Bedroom can probably go off that same circuit, most bedrooms have a small tv, a clock, phone charger, etc.

Is the original circuit going to the attic grounded? Is it straight from the panel?

But before you take on this project, how experienced are you with electrical?
This project is more complex than it may seem.

Ultrarunner2017 12-18-2008 08:31 AM

You definitely do not want to put the receptacles on the same circuit as the lighting. Consider what would happen if the breaker trips. You would be up there in the dark!

You will also need a route for fire escape. Check your local codes.

Billy_Bob 12-18-2008 10:12 AM

At a minimum I would install a 20 amp outlet circuit for each room. Then lights for all rooms on its own separate circuit.

Then air conditioning and heating? Will you want a window air conditioner? Maybe two? Electric heating?

For these it is best to determine what you will need so far as heating or cooling capacity, find out the wattage of what you will be installing, then run the appropriate size wires (separate circuits) to where these units will be located. (If baseboard heating, then wire(s) to a baseboard location/wall thermostat. If window A/C, then wires to under/near the window(s).)

Don't forget vacuuming and hallways/stairs. Need outlets for that vacuum cleaner!

Also 3-way switch for stair lighting. Then you can turn on/off the stair lights from upstairs or downstairs.

Don't forget wiring for phone, TV, computer, etc.

Here are a bunch of books on electrical wiring...

rgsgww 12-18-2008 11:35 AM

Run rg/6 for the cable all the way to the cable enterence.

If you use dsl or dial up use twisted pair phone, otherwise, parallel is fine.

Use compression coax connectors.

Determine your heating, ac etc, then we can see whats required.

drw138 12-18-2008 01:14 PM

Wow so much well needed advice. I have limited experience with electrical but am really motivated to learn how to do everything in a house. I dont know if the wiring is grounded or even which breaker it is connected to that is in the attic now. Does anyone have any site suggestions to famaliarize myself with the electrical basics such as the amps and such. Any more suggestions will be very appreciated.

handyman78 12-18-2008 06:02 PM

If your attic is huge, I would definitely run multiple circuits back to the panel rather than use any existing connections up there. You can't be positive the existing cable isn't wired to something else. Also, if you are determined to do it all yourself, get educated with the many books out there on residential and remodel wiring. Then, find out about permits needed for what you want to do. New house might mean mortgage & homeowners insurance. You want to be sure you are covered (read: electrical inspected & approved) if anything were to go wrong down the road.

Ultrarunner2017 12-19-2008 09:35 AM

This may be overkill, but you may want to consider installing a sub-panel in the attic, run off a 50A double-pole breaker in the main. You run #6/3 cable to the sub.
The nice thing about the sub-panel is that it makes adding a new circuit to the attic or upstairs a lot easier.

rgsgww 12-19-2008 10:32 AM


Originally Posted by KE2KB (Post 200174)
This may be overkill, but you may want to consider installing a sub-panel in the attic, run off a 50A double-pole breaker in the main. You run #6/3 cable to the sub.
The nice thing about the sub-panel is that it makes adding a new circuit to the attic or upstairs a lot easier.

It might be easier than fishing tons of 12/2 (12/3 mwbc might work) up there, I like the sub panel idea. And there would be no more running to the basement to reset breakers.

jogr 12-19-2008 10:38 AM

The very first thing you need to do is make sure your attic was built structurally to be finished into occupied rooms. Is the attic floor built to support 40psf live and 10 psf dead loads?

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