Putting in new electrical circuits and outlets

Discussion in 'Shop Talk' started by suburbanite, Dec 3, 2006.

  1. suburbanite

    suburbanite Well-Known Member

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    I'm thinking about adding some electrical outlets to the front of my house as I'm tired of having to spool out 50 feet of extension cord from the garage, then reel it back in, just to run a weed whacker.

    Does anyone here have experience installing a new circuit for outlets?

    So far I'm thinking I'll get a GFI breaker to add to the existing breaker box, run the wire up to the attic in the garage, then put in an electrical box where the line will be split in the attic, then run wire up from the two target locations to the attic box (easier to spool than from the attic down). I plan on using 12/2 grounded romex and a 20 amp breaker.

    I have to get a tyvek suit and booties and a decent N-95 mask before I can do this because there is blown fiberglass insulation in the attic. Crawling around up there is going to be unpleasant.

    I figure that I'll cut little windows in the interior drywall to run the wires up and down to the attic and to drill through any studs, as the exterior walls are stucco. But I'm a bit apprehensive about it because I've never done drywall work before and I'll want to match the patch back to the wall texture (smack-down).

    I also need to see if I need inspections or permits before starting (I do live in city limits where such things are required.) Also will check with my insurance company to see if they have any concerns about a homeowner doing electrical work.

    Anyone done a similar project or a project that looks like a sub-task of what I want to do? Can you share any insights?
     
  2. countrymech

    countrymech Well-Known Member

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    Are there any receptacles in any of the rooms along the front of the house? I have seen and used a technique where you drill a hole right through the back of an existing outlet box through an exterior wall and mount a weather proof box on the outside. The wires are then run through the wall to the new box and tied back into the original box with pigtails. Might save a bunch of trouble if you don't really need a dedicated circuit.
     

  3. spam4einstein

    spam4einstein Well-Known Member

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    Thats the way to do it!
    If you feel confident in your ability to do this kind of basic electrical work safely then I wouldnt pull a permit. In fact you may not have to for a job not much more serious than replacing a light fixture depending on your codes. You may run in to a minor problem. The wire should be secured coming out of the old box. Could be a little tricky if its a metal box. Without removing a metal box, it would be impossible to put a proper clamp conector on it. So you will just have to just drill through the back of the steel box and use some ruberized glue or caulk, that would also prevent any sharp steel edges from nickig the Romex insulation. Some nazi inspector may not like this,................. shouldnt be a problem, but you are in a weird state. Basicaly the same issue with plastic boxes too. NITHER IS A SAFTEY ISSUE, and I dont expect an inspector to be bothered by this especially with a plastic box....but you never know. If its plastic, the only saftey concern is the wire getting pulled on and damageing the conections. Not really an issue if the wire is only going 6" through a wall.


    GFI plug is a must and if its a 20a circut you tap off of make sure that you use 12ga wire and a 20 amp recepticle.
     
  4. tiogacounty

    tiogacounty Well-Known Member

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    Some points to think about here. If there is metal lath on the exterior stocco it can be difficult to cut a hole without damaging the surrounding area. If you are going to head out the back of a box, there is a connector that will do the job. There is a small plastic romex connector that looks like a little dish with a slot cut into it. You put the romex through it, then force it into the knock out hole. They are a little cheezy for everyday use, but I keep a few around, just for this. If you are heading out the back of an outlet, survey the circuit to make sure it's not heavily loaded already. For example, a fifteen amp circuit, serving two bedrooms is pretty common, but would make a poor candidate to "tap" power from. IMHO, there is no reason to get the local code people or your insurance company involved. It sounds like you know what you are doing, and will do a better job than more than a few residential electricians you would find in the phone book, why look for a problem by contacting anybody? Remember there is no need to secure wiring in an unfinished attic. Just get in and out asap. Lay the wire across the ceiling joists, and away from the attic access, and you will be fine. One last question? What about a crawl space or basement. My first thought, if I pulled up to a house with a work order for this, would be going under, instead of over. It is a lot easier, if there is access. Have fun.
     
  5. suburbanite

    suburbanite Well-Known Member

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    I have a slab foundation, so there's no option to go under, just over.

    I talked to my insurance company, they wanted me to get an electrician though it would not affect my insurance if I do not. They also want me to get the inspections and any permits needed, and warn me about the possibility that doing it myself could cause problems if I sell the house, if I don't hit all the necessary code points.

    So now I'm going to call my city to find out what they say.

    I wanted to do a separate circuit because the nearest circuits to the possible outlet locations are 15 amp/14 gauge wire and serve the living room and dining room in one case, and either two bedrooms or a bathroom for the other location (baths usually have their own circuit to cover blow dryers and such high-draw items). That is why I discarded the 'put a box behind the indoor box' approach.
     
  6. tiogacounty

    tiogacounty Well-Known Member

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    No offense, but if you don't snap out of this "Sheeple" mentality you may be in for an empty checkbook and a world of regrets here. You live in CALIFORNIA and you are looking for a reason to let an electrical inspector from the city stick his nose in your affairs? Maybe, after the nice man does a walk through and ends up costing you thousands of dollars of upgrades to your electrical system, you will wonder why you did that? I have been in juristictions where people were dumb enough to go this route because the local authorities wanted a moving permit to allow them to move away. (how's that for big brother?) after several thousand in free upgrades( GFCIs, upgraded electrical panel, additional ground rods, hard-wired smoke detectors, "government approved house numbers etc.........) provided to buyer of the home, they really regret "doing the right thing". You have already done damage to yourself by calling your insurance company, who now has an "inquiry" listed in your file, now you want to give yourself more headaches? Well OK, why not throw an open house and call the building inspector and the fire inspector too. I'm not trying to be nasty, but you are heading down a road that few of us here would endorse, especially in the republic of Kalifornia.. Good luck, you might need it.
     
  7. cfabe

    cfabe Well-Known Member

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    Well in the areas of the country that I am familiar with (ohio, michigan) you are allowed to do your own electrical work if you own and live in the home. You'll need to get a permit and have your work inspected just like a professional electrician would (though for a project like this, many pros would not bother with a permit). So call the city and see what they say... but if you do tackle it make sure you get a good howto book that has code references in it, there are a lot of nuances in the codes that you have to get right to pass the inspection.
     
  8. spam4einstein

    spam4einstein Well-Known Member

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    I have to be honest.

    You plan to call your Ins. company,........... call the inspectors,.............pull a permit............... and wear a tyvek suit with booties to install 2 outlets!

    Sorry brother from another planet, but I dont think anyone can help you.
     
  9. rambler

    rambler Well-Known Member Supporter

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    You've been around enough to know how forums work. Folks get a little train going, & run over the original poster. :) Everyone, hop aboard. :)

    Your plans for the wiring sound fine to me, good way to do it. A new breaker for the outdoor outlets is a real good idea.

    Me, I'da made a whole lot less phone calls.

    --->Paul
     
  10. WisJim

    WisJim Well-Known Member Supporter

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    When I do something like this, I just do it, don't tell anyone, and when it is done there is no way to tell that it wasn't original to the building. What they don't know won't hurt them, speaking of inspectors, etc.
     
  11. Cosmic

    Cosmic Well-Known Member

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    Things like this you just do it, making a mountain out of a molehill.

    Good chance they will use it all as an excuse to increase your insurance and real estate taxes. Getting any permit is a good excuse to tax you more.

    The fewer people that know what you are doing the better. Just do it but make sure it is correctly installed. If anybody asks any dumb question, just mumble. I would have been done with it long ago. Lil wire, snip, clip and Miller Time.

    Never mess around with any Building Dept unless you absolutely have too. Nothing but a paperwork jungle designed to collect the max revenues.
     
  12. tiogacounty

    tiogacounty Well-Known Member

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    To quote Larry the Cable Guy. "I don't care who you are, that there is funny!"
     
  13. suburbanite

    suburbanite Well-Known Member

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    Well, in the Republik of Kalifornia, we have proposition 13 that would prevent increasing my taxes over upgrading the electrical system, especially by such a trivial modification. Getting a building permit here does not cause a reassessment, and any reassessments that are done are done on a basis of the market value in the year the home was purchased, which in my case is about 20 years ago.

    The house is a tract house built in the late 1980's and complaint with code at that time, which means none of "GFCIs, upgraded electrical panel, additional ground rods, hard-wired smoke detectors, "government approved house numbers etc........." " will be an issue--the house was built with GFCI's, breakers instead of fuses, a ground rod, hard-wired smoke detectors, and lit house-numbers.

    I spoke with my insurance company to ask them if it would affect my insurance to do this work at all, or to do it myself. While I didn't ask them if asking them would raise my rate, they said that adding the outlets--whether by me or an electrician--would not affect my insurance. I generally talk to them before proceeding on any major work on my home, such as when I replaced the roof, before deciding how or whether to do the work at all.

    When I spoke to the city I did not identify myself and actually was calling them from someone else's phone, so there's no way they could track it back to me.

    They said a permit is $100, and that is to cover the cost of inspections. For such a small project they recommended bundling several small projects into one permit to make it worth the cost.

    Failing to get a permit apparently can get you into trouble if you ever sell the property, not only in terms of disclosure requirements to a new buyer, but also in the event that the modification should ever cause damage or a fire for someone who owns the home after you--without the inspection to say you were up to code you could be held liable for the damage.

    The Tyvek suit is because there is free-floating fiberglass 'snow' (not blankets) in the attic as insulation.

    Can we get back to discussing the technical details of how to do the project now?
     
  14. The Paw

    The Paw Well-Known Member

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    Suburbanite, go about the work the way you want. The government horror stories, and the oh-so-gentle ribbing they are giving you are just editorial comment.

    Having said that, if the only regular use you have for it is to weedwhack once a week or so, tying into one of the interior circuits is not a big deal. In fact, if you have a light for the front entry or porch, I would consider tying into that. You could run an outlet that would be controlled by the switch, or you might even be able to buy one of those plug-in converters that screw into the light socket. It all depends how extensive the use is going to be.
     
  15. suburbanite

    suburbanite Well-Known Member

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    There's two minor uses and one which, if it ever occurs, would be more demanding--

    First, Christmas decoration lights. Light use, obviously. I'd like not to have to be running extension cords out of the garage and have to worry about running them over with the car.

    Second, the lawn edger (more hefty than a weed whacker--vertical metal blades rather than strings). When I use it now I have to leave my garage door open. While I'm right there outside working so it would be hard for a theif to snatch and dash, I don't like having all the stuff in my garage out in view for anyone who might want to come back later. Also don't like to embarass myself with mess visible to the neighbors.

    Third is hypothetical and would be a larger user of power. The front entry of the house is L-shaped because of a breezeway (no garage access) and the X is where I'd like to put an outlet:

    door
    ^^^^wall____________________
    |............................................|
    |.....concrete..........................X|garage
    |...........r
    |...walk..o
    |...........s
    |...........e
    |...........s
    etc. (main entry)

    At some point I might want to put a self-contained fountain over by the garage, at the end of the breezeway, which of course would require a power source.
     
  16. suburbanite

    suburbanite Well-Known Member

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    Anyway, my first task later today is going to be to start mapping out where the existing circuits are using the multi-scanner I bought (studs, active AC tracing, pipe tracing, metal plate detection, made by Zircon. Usual cost $70, marked down to $50, used a coupon to get it for $45. Hope that was a good buy?). I'll borrow an Ohm-meter from my father when it comes down to starting the work.

    Next will be trying to identify what niggling little electrical inconveniences there are around the house (if I'm going to bundle things to save on permits), and which, if any, are worth doing myself. I'm thinking "add a light in the washer/dryer closet"...

    Have any of you installed a 3-way switch system before? I have a light in a 'dressing room' you have to walk through to get to the master bedroom, that has a switch by the hall to turn it on but no switch by the bedroom to turn it off. My dad says 3-ways are a pain in the behind (a vaguely remember this from jr. high electronics class that they are a hassle), and haven't read that section in the 'how to' book I bought yet.

    I also have an issue with my front lights flickering on and off all the time, but I think it is the timer-switch I have on the circuit that needs to be replaced rather than an actual wiring fault. Thats no problem I just have to buy a new switch and faceplate (they don't make timer switches for standard faceplates anymore, you need the ones with the 1 x 2 inch rectangle-holes). If the problem persists, then I may have other issues to deal with, but in this case since it wouldn't be 'adding' anything it wouldn't require a permit.
     
  17. logbuilder

    logbuilder Well-Known Member

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  18. tiogacounty

    tiogacounty Well-Known Member

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  19. suburbanite

    suburbanite Well-Known Member

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    Thanks guys. Do you know if 3-way dimmers exist? I have two switches that control the dining room lights and I'd like to put a dimmer on it.
     
  20. logbuilder

    logbuilder Well-Known Member

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    3 way dimmers absolutely exist. No problem. But..... you have to realize that the dimmer will only be on one switch. The other switch will be just an on off as usual. Just take any 3 way diagram that you have in your head and for either of the switches, think dimmer. Home Depot or whatever local place you buy your hardware should have a 3 way dimmer. Simple, just not at both ends.

    Robert