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Old 12-04-2008, 12:42 PM   #1
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Temporarily remove basement support post


Hi,

I've just recently bought a house and we need to get the main fuse box/electrics replaced in the basement.
The electrician came round and said he could do it apart from one main problem - there is main vertical wooden support post right in front of the fuse box on the wall and he said he can't do anything with the electrics with this in the way.
So basically does anyone know what my options could be as it's got me pretty nervous that this could turn into a VERY expensive job with money that I don't have.
I'm guessing he's saying that we would have to just temporarily move the support beam while he replaced the fuse box and then we'd need to put it back again. It sounds like a very extreme thing to do just to replace the main fuse box!
If we did have to temporarliy move it, whats the best thing to do? Would you put some kind of jack or temporary support in next to it, remove the support beam, fix the electrics and put the support beam back?
Would this be a very expensive job?
He says he couldn't just add a new fuse box to the side of it as he said he'd have to get the electrics company involved and they'd have to cut the power off to loads of other houses while they did the work.
Any help much appreciated as this is causing a few sleepless nights!

Many thanks!

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Old 12-04-2008, 01:04 PM   #2
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Temporarily remove basement support post


He should be wrong about turning any power to another house off unless there are other apartments on the same meter.
Support; use 3 each 2X8's laid flat and span the joists on each side of the post and support with 4X4 of pipe what ever to carry the load.
If this is not a jack post you will have to rig a jack to pick the load.
Do your work and then put back like it was. I would try and refit the whole thing and get the post from in front of the box.
Something does not sound right.
Can you post pictures then it woul be easier to advise.

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Old 12-04-2008, 01:12 PM   #3
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Temporarily remove basement support post


I think the point is that you might be "assuming" too much.

There are code requirements for easy and safe access to a breaker box.

With the post removed, he can do the work and get it inspected and approved before a post is replaced. You mught want to ask what the reason for his requirement is.

If you replace the post and limit the access it could be your liability and responsibility. If you go to sell, a home inspector would certainly make a notation or comment on the report to the purchaser. Access to boxes is very high on an inspectors search list.

The post is there for a reason, so you have to find some other support for the beams in any case because of the possible settling and cracking if everything holds up, but sags for a few days.
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Old 12-04-2008, 01:25 PM   #4
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Temporarily remove basement support post


Thanks for the reply guys. I'll stick a picture below. Unfortunately the building inspector didn't pick up on this when we bought the house a month ago, apart from advising we should replace the electrics. There was in fact a lot of things he didn't pick up on, like saying the furnace and boiler were all fine and within a week of moving in we are having to replace both).
Let me know what you think with seeing the picture. Is there NO WAY anyone could get to the electrics without having to remove this support post?
Many thanks
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Old 12-04-2008, 02:05 PM   #5
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Temporarily remove basement support post


You could get in there. But, it appears it would be a code violation as far as access goes. If it were me, I would move the box. All that normally needs done is to have the meter pulled for a day. Then the electrician can move the box. I don't know why any of your neighbors would be affected.
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Old 12-04-2008, 02:40 PM   #6
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Temporarily remove basement support post


Thanks for your reply. Yeah, I think it looks do-able too but I'm not an electrician so aren't really qulaified to say. The electrician made it sound like moving the the box would be a huge deal with the amount of hassle involved with the electrics company and therefore thinks the "easier" way would be to remove the post which sounds very costly!
If last resort we did have to temporarily move the post, does anybody have any idea of the sort of costs involved??

Many thanks!
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Old 12-04-2008, 03:26 PM   #7
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Temporarily remove basement support post


He would need to shut off the power to put in a new box so I don't understand his problem. The point of moving the post is that you should have 36" clearance in front of the box so you cant remove it and put it back when he's done. Rather than moving it I'd suggest puuting the new box in the same place but rotated so you have your clearance in front (hard to tell from the pic but it looks like that would work). Hopefully all the existing wires will reach that way too.

So why exactly are you replacing the panel? Did the inspector just like new wiring and boxes or was there an actual problem that couldn't be fixed without a panel replacement?
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Old 12-04-2008, 03:39 PM   #8
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Moving the post is not a good option. That affects the stucture!

Moving the electric a foot or two to either side is easy, and generally inexpensive. A new panel could be installed.

If the electrician won't replace the panel in its current location, good for him...He's being responsible and consciensious. If he won't work on the old one without making you remove the post, he's being a primadonna. Kill the power to the house and there's no hazard in working on the panel.

Either way it has to move or it'll never pass inspection. 36" out and 30" wide clear space is required in the panel.
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Old 12-04-2008, 03:40 PM   #9
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Temporarily remove basement support post


It would be great if he could just rotate the box without having to move the post but he says he can't actually get to it with this post in the way which is a nightmare!
I wonder how it was put up in the first place seeing as I'd imagine the post would've probably been put up before the panel?

The panel is only a 100amp at the moment and the inspector thought it should be upgraded to 200amp.
Does anyone else think it's possible to do it without moving the post?
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Old 12-04-2008, 04:20 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ColinD View Post
It would be great if he could just rotate the box without having to move the post but he says he can't actually get to it with this post in the way which is a nightmare!
I wonder how it was put up in the first place seeing as I'd imagine the post would've probably been put up before the panel?

The panel is only a 100amp at the moment and the inspector thought it should be upgraded to 200amp.
Does anyone else think it's possible to do it without moving the post?
The post was no doubt added later to address a structural issue of some sort. The steel beam above it should have been a few inches longer to reach the concrete and then you wouldn't need the post at all.

Why does the inspector think you need 200 amps? 100 amps is plenty if you have gas heat. I have a 100 amp service with a well pump, electric stove, electric hot water and A/C and have plenty of power. Just because he likes 200 amps doesn't mean you need it.


And how was this whiz bang electrician going to get you 200 amp service without shutting off the power???? You would likely need a new weatherhead, conduit and se cable, new meterbox etc.

I think you need a different inspector and a different electrician.

If I was you I wouldn't do anything to it unless there is some real defect that needs fixing. Spend your money on something else. The only thing we know of that is not to code is the 36" clearance in front and that is for the convenience/safety of the electrician when he's working on it. No work needs to be done and you can easily reach the main breaker to shut off power. When the time comes that work actually needs to be done you can address that then. And at that time a good electrician could easily mount a new panel next to the old one without moving the post.

Last edited by jogr; 12-04-2008 at 04:28 PM.
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Old 12-04-2008, 04:24 PM   #11
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Temporarily remove basement support post


I might be coming across as a bit of an idiot here but does shutting off the power to move the electrics definitely mean that other houses would have to be without electricity while he does it? Is there no way of just isolating the electricity shut off just to our house?
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Old 12-04-2008, 04:37 PM   #12
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Temporarily remove basement support post


Get another electrician out to the house. Sounds like this guys is doing his job by not wanting to put you in a bad situation with just installing a new panel in the same place but as far as all the other information he is giving you, (i.e. shutting off multiple houses, not being able to move box, etc.) he may just be difficult. I would get one or two more electricians out to the house. It is always a good idea to get at least 3 estimates on a job anyways so you do not get ripped off or talked into something you do not need. Good luck and breathe, this is home-ownership.
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Old 12-04-2008, 04:42 PM   #13
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Temporarily remove basement support post


If you stopped paying your power bill do you think they'd shut off the whole neighborhoods power or just yours?

Colin, it would be almost a miracle if you had everything you need for 200 Amp service except the panel. To get 200 amp you will need a complete upgrade of everything before your panel too. The power is going to have to be shut off to your house. It could be done so this outage is a very short period of time but it will have to be off. Did your electrician mention a permit?

BTW New homeowners often spend a lot of money having things done to their house that aren't really needed but that some "expert" says they should do. I really doubt you need any more than 100 amp service. If you really want to spend the $ to get 200 amp then go for it. But I doubt you'll notice any difference after dropping the cash except for a lighter wallet. Nothing wrong with taking a wait and see approach if there are no actual defects noted. How many times has that main breaker flipped since you moved in?
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Old 12-04-2008, 04:51 PM   #14
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Temporarily remove basement support post


Thanks for all your replies guys, that's interesting to hear I'd have to get a lot of other work done if I went to 200amp.
It's funny you should mention about it flipping because it actually went today in the first week since we moved in! Our boiler/furnace has decided to pack up too (not having the best of luck at the moment) and it's -14 so we put to electrical heaters on in the living room. After about half hour it flipped. I suspect this could be more down to how the living room is wired up though?
I think I'll definitely get another couple of people to look at it and get some other opinions.
Thanks so much for all your posts so far everyone, it's really appreciated!
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Old 12-04-2008, 05:07 PM   #15
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Electric heat will be a problem for 100 Amp service. I hope your boiler gets fixed quickly. Was it just your LR circuit breaker that flipped or the main 100 amp? A typical 1500 watt portable electric heater really will take up almost every bit of a 15 amp circuits capacity so if they were on the same ciruit it will flip for sure. Try to get those two heaters plugged into different circuits that don't have anything else on them (you can get by with a lightbulb on those circuits with the heater but not much more).

If your 100 amp main breaker flipped then you are using a lot of juice for something else too.

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