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I bought this 100 yr old house last yr and just found out that the electricity for entire house is on 2 breakers. :eek: Then there is another breaker for the stove and dryer. There is about 2 electrical outlets per room and they are WAY over loaded. The main breaker box has old fuses.......they measure about 2" in length. I've tried to locate someone here, but his fees was more than I could ever afford. Is there any one on HT that is an electricial that lives near SC or is willing to travel and barter the work?? I have some wire and a 200 amp breaker box all ready....just need to find some one that could run the wiring......
If anyone knows a reliable electrician, PLEASE let me know!!
Thanks,
Karen
 
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The 2" fuses you describe are 'cartridge' fuses, which are still available at most hardware stores and home centers.

Wiring installed in the era you describe carried less wattage than is common today. The guage of wire in your walls is probably insufficient for modern wiring. Installing a 200 amp load center and modern wiring throughout the house will be a major job by anyone's standards.

Since it does not sound like you are prepared to do any of the work yourself you will have to hire an electrician licensed to do work inyour area. It will not be inexpensive to have someone else do it.

If you do it yourself (and make sure you can!), you might go with the attitude that you are simply replacing the load center and existing wiring. It normally will not require a permit or contractor to REPLACE existing wiring with new larger guage romex, but you will have to ask someone in your area to make sure. An electrical contractor may not like to openate with with the replacement attitude since it sounds like you don't have adequate outlets, but you might ask.

I understand your wish to upgrade your electrical system, but you should consider trying to live with what you already have. A complete upgrade by a contractor will be expensive, as you have already learned.
 

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Overloaded circuits are just asking for a fire! I expect you will have to pull an electrical permit and bring it up to code. Most places in the country insist that if you do anything to the electric, it must be to code. The homeowner can learn to run all the wires (which is the nit pickest part), but to do a new service requires a professional.
 

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The other thing to watch for is just how difficult it can be to run wires in an old house. We have knob and tube. The walls are plaster and lathe. The house was built before "standardization" and there are odd spacings on some of the studs and there are horizontal 2x4's in some spots where you wouldn't expect them.

This kind of job always seems to end up being a lot bigger than you expect.

Mike
 

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I was in a similar situation (except my house wasn't quite so old). Electricity is something I don't fool around with - faulty wiring can KILL you!!!

Having said that - wiring it yourself *might* be possible. I live in SC too (Upstate SC - Greenville county). If you are doing the work on your *own* house, you do *not* have to have a licensed electrician. But if you *pay* someone, they have to be licensed. I did check this with the electrical inspectors. The work you do has to meet code. (I didn't check on simply replacing wire since I knew I wanted completely new wiring throughout the entire house - I would recommend you do the same.)

My house is relatively simple - small, single-story with a full basement and an attic that you can walk around in (no stupid trusses to get in the way :) ) My ex-husband came over to figure out what needed to be done (he is no longer a licensed electrician but he used to wire factories - I wouldn't trust anyone else to wire a house for me). Then he told me where holes needed to be drilled, etc. etc. and I did that part of it. Then he came and showed our sons how to actually pull the wire, etc. etc. (In other words, they did the actual work while he supervised - which was good for them.)

What I'm trying to get to is - do you know anyone who knows enough about wiring to do the same thing with you?? It would be tough finding someone out of the phone book - electricians always seem to have plenty of work and they're usually not interested in 'little' stuff like this. But check around with people you know - someone might not be willing to actually wire the house but might be willing to work with you to show you what has to be done.

Also, you might try talking to the county electrical inspectors. Maybe you can replace the breaker box and then upgrade slowly. The ones I've talked to have been very easy to work with.

Oops, have to run - I'll check back in later...
 

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I upgraded the electrical system this spring in my 1908 farmhouse. As I recall, the electrician replaced the maze of fuse boxes with a single breaker box; tested all the outlets, switches, appliances, etc.; added several outlets (which entailed running new wire & crawling under the house--very low clearance); installed a new light fixture; and fixed a ceiling fan. I may have forgotten something, but the total price was $1,300. DH and brother say I got burned, but I had tried unsuccessfully to get several electricians out there, and this one did come quickly and as scheduled, and did everything in a professional manner. I didn't ask just ANYbody to give me an estimate--I was sort of picky. This guy was recommended by my insurance agent, so I figured it was in his best interest to recommend someone good.
 

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This is a project you should save for and do it right. You really do not need to do it yourself. Just get you some bids first, that will not cost you anything. Let them know you are getting several bids this will bring the price down some. When you say SC I assume you mean South Carolina, most counties there have electrical codes, you need to find that out first because you will need a permit as well. You can find some good electricians who do it for extra income on the side just ask at your local hardware store.
 

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It's not a very attractive way to wire a house, but you could run wires through conduit and have junction and outlet boxes placed strategically. This would alleviate the need to fish wires through walls. Material wise, it is more expensive.
 

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By or check out a wiring book or 2 or 3 for ideas and make a plan.Wire thru the basement and attic. 50$ for a fishing drill bit 250$ for wire and probably 150$ for boxes outlets switches an covers. In the kitchen run the wire in cabnets and put the outlets in tall backsplashes or just under the upper cabnets. each job is a different challange. Do you have 6" baseboards that can be removed?? You can fish wires behind them 2 rooms at a time. poke holes in the plaster/ drywall and the baseboard will cover them up. Go slow and make a plan. Mark all the wires as you run them. You can do it.



Where will the new breaker box go?? Basement? Laundry room? main floor?
mikell
 

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Rule #1 Make sure you have the correct size fuses for the wire size.

As long as you follow rule #1 you are OK fuses are just as safe as breakers when installed and maintained properly. The problem is when homeowners blow a 20 they think well I'll put a 30 in so it will not blow and then you have a fire hazard. 12 ga wire is rated for 20 amps so theory is if you put 25 amps on the wire it could burn in two and cause a fire therefore always use a 20 amp fuse on 12 ga wire and the worst thing that could happen is a blown fuse. There is not limit in the NEC as to how many outlets there can be on one circuit you could legally put 50 plugs on one circuit if it is properly fused. However there are certain "dedicated" outlets required such as Kitchen,refrigerator etc.
 

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Nette said:
I upgraded the electrical system this spring in my 1908 farmhouse. , but the total price was $1,300. DH and brother say I got burned, .
Thats just what I need done and would pay 1300 in a heartbeat.Nothing beats a new service panal,I have 1930 vintage,and its downright scarey looking stuff.So dont feel bad,you got major safety for 1300 bucks,thats a fine deal.At least it is in my neck of the woods.
BooBoo
 
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nec 220.3B9 number of receptacles on branch circuit.
15 amp circuit = 10
20 amp circuit =13

the code see each recept @1.5 amps x 10 = 15 amps
x 13 = 19.5 amps
remember use the code as a miniumn requirement
nothing says you can't put more circuits so you have less overloading
and more capacity built into your home.

kurt
 

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Some old houses have 9' ceilings... and you'll often see dropped ceilings down to 8' and things like ventillation and electrical run in the ceiling. Another option is half walls with wainscotting, running the electric through there. It all depends on the house (size, layout, solid brick, basement, crawl, attic, etc.) and the wiring which is already in there.

If you could get an estimate on the required repairs, at least you'll know the work that has to be done... even if you have to pay for the estimate.

Either way, two breakers for an entire house is extremely overloaded... so be safe.

cheers,
 

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If the attic is easy to work in you can put a branch panel upstairs and wire from the attic. Every house is different.

Where is your meter(outside what room)?

The main box where is it?

mikell
 

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Unregistered said:
nec 220.3B9 number of receptacles on branch circuit.
15 amp circuit = 10
20 amp circuit =13

the code see each recept @1.5 amps x 10 = 15 amps
x 13 = 19.5 amps
remember use the code as a miniumn requirement
nothing says you can't put more circuits so you have less overloading
and more capacity built into your home.

kurt
The 180 va is for commercial buildings only in dwellings outlets are included in the general lighting load calculation NEC 220-3b10
 

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We are in process of renovating my Great Uncles 1800's farm house, never had electric or indoor plumbing. In some ways a blessing, no old wires to worry about.Or old lead pipes. We have started to gut the house, one room at a time, about every three months with help from our families and as I have the $. As the rooms are gutted and all lathe and plaster removed it is easier to run wires and get insulation in. For now, somewalls just have heavy plastic over the insulation, waiting for sheetrock. Functional for now.
As I don't plan to move there for two years ( when I retire) I was able to get some friends to live there rent free in exchange for doing a lot of demo work and work with an electrician and plumber as their helpers. Its saved me $, helped my friends get great hands on training in plumbing, electric, construction, etc. And as its in a remote area, I have the security of caretakers there. I guess it all falls under the barter system. Kate
 

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Tractorman said:
The 180 va is for commercial buildings only in dwellings outlets are included in the general lighting load calculation NEC 220-3b10

yes thats where its located in the book, exceeding those numbers does a disservice to the customer or yourself if your doing it on your own. common sense and good workmenship dictates that you limit the number so that your not overloading your circuits. inspectors where i live will rip you a new----- for short changing the customer that way. remember the nec in a minimum, giving yourself the most versatile system is the goal. the more circuits you have the less likely the lights will dim when you vac the carpet, etc.
kurt
 

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The config you described is not all that uncommon in old houses. Actually what you cant see is the real scarry part.
Now the questions. 2 breakers may be enough for the house load. depending on how the house is wired. Next, How do you know the breakers are overloaded?
What is the breaker AMP rating? How many wires connect into it? What do you really have plugged in and where?

While code is way out of spec and the wire does need replaced ASAP, however you may not be overloaded. Unless you have some high power stereo, most home electronics draw minimal power. Computers dont draw that much. A 350 watt power supply is only about 3.5 amps. Big current draws is anything with a motor or heating element, fan's, heaters (not much of an issue right now), pumps,fridges and AC.

Try to trace down the wires and see what way they are run through the house.


My house is also an old 105 year old home and it had a mix of cottle knob/tube and 50's vintage wires. I updated all the wire myself, It takes time and some creative work. If you have a basement or craw space the first floor is usually pretty easy to fish wire from the basement to outlets on the wall. What you can do is find a wall out of the way that you can dig into. Then run all the wires from the basement up to the attic then down into the second floor this can minmize the damage to all the walls.

Of course check your local codes and laws regarding who can install wires. SOme states require licensed electrical contractors some dont. Some only require a license to replace a breaker some dont.

southernchick said:
I bought this 100 yr old house last yr and just found out that the electricity for entire house is on 2 breakers. :eek: Then there is another breaker for the stove and dryer. There is about 2 electrical outlets per room and they are WAY over loaded. The main breaker box has old fuses.......they measure about 2" in length. I've tried to locate someone here, but his fees was more than I could ever afford. Is there any one on HT that is an electricial that lives near SC or is willing to travel and barter the work?? I have some wire and a 200 amp breaker box all ready....just need to find some one that could run the wiring......
If anyone knows a reliable electrician, PLEASE let me know!!
Thanks,
Karen
 

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aaatraker said:
yes thats where its located in the book, exceeding those numbers does a disservice to the customer or yourself if your doing it on your own. common sense and good workmenship dictates that you limit the number so that your not overloading your circuits. inspectors where i live will rip you a new----- for short changing the customer that way. remember the nec in a minimum, giving yourself the most versatile system is the goal. the more circuits you have the less likely the lights will dim when you vac the carpet, etc.
kurt
Absolutely, I was just trying to point out that just because the outlets are currently all on the same circuit does not mean it is overloded or a fire hazard it really just depends on the actual load attached and as long as the overcurrent devices are sized correctly all it will become is a nuisance. I personally never put more than 8 drops per circuit and 2 or 3 kitchen recepts per circuit. Also wire each bathroom with a dedicated circuit. I apologize if I came across wrong before the house will definitely need rewiring and updating but if she will correct the fuse sizes it would not be an emergency situation.
 

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you will need a 200 amp service for that 200 amp breaker box... you ahve to investigate what amp service is running to the meter. you may still have an older 60 amp feed or worse.

at any rate, your whole house needs rewired. if you upgrade to a 200 amp service youll be burned to a crisp before you can whistle dixie.
fortunately rewire job isnt as hard as it sounds.
If Iwas closer I'd take the job, cheap. Dont fart around with salvaging that wireing, its all obsolete and dangerous, moreso if you start pumping more current thru it.
 
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