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  • Bunch of questions:

    My kitchen is in the middle of a re-model that I'm mostly doing myself. After spending a few weekends tearing out the plaster and lathe the current state could be best described as "faux-crack-den". (and BTW, i did buy a "5hp" rigid shop vac to clean it all up)

    One of the many things I'm doing is clearing out all of the rod/tube aluminum wiring from the 20s and replacing everything with modern equipment. The building is a condominium with service in the basement (30amp breakers) and leads up to my unit with its own panel in the kitchen. The panel is 8 feet up in the corner and looks very old. Obviously not safe... or code. My plan was to get an electrician to get a new panel in a new location (about 5 feet away) and do everything after the panel myself. The electricians are telling me that most modern homes have 100 amp service and that I should consider running a new line to the meter in the basement.

    1) The condo is only ~1k square feet and I've not had any issues with the capacity of my current system. (No washer/dryer, heat is by a common boiler, only 2 window A/C units) Furthermore, i'm replacing all of the appliances (fridge, dishwasher, disposal, gas stove, microwave), so all of them should be more efficient thereby further reduce the power needs. Do I really need moe power?

    2) The electricians tell me that the 30amp service line will not reach the location of the new panel and that it is not safe and not code to split the service line to add the needed cable to reach the new location. One suggestion i've heard is to put a 30 amp disconnect in the wall along the service line and then run new cable to the new panel location. Would this disconnect look like a small sub panel? Got an example of this online? One quote for a disconnect in the 30amp line and 20 feet of 100amp capable wire after the disconnect, to a new box was going to be $1150. Seems like a lot of money for that amount of work...

    3) What gauge would a 100 amp line be? 2/3?

    4) I'm thinking of running power out to my porch to a recepticle and a light. Does this need to be on a dedicated circuit or can i tie it into the circuit that I'm putting in to power less than a handfull of gfci recepticles?

    Thanks for your help!

    - PhinMak

  • #2
    I'd go with the 100A. Even though you are getting new appliances, they will be more efficient, but they will draw more. Fridge should be by itself, so should the microwave and dishwasher. In the long run you'd be better off with a 100A.

    Depending on what state, city, or township you live in, there are codes that have to be followed ie.(splicing of feeders, number of general appliance circuits) You have to make sure that your circuits feeding the countertop receptacles are not used for anything else, such as your receptacle and light on the porch. You can put your fridge on them, but its usually a bad idea, coffepot + fridge = too much

    Comment


    • #3
      First let me state that I'm NOT an electrician. But, I do have some experience, some familiarity with the NEC (at least with regard to residential wiring), and some idea of what can and cannot be done; having updated a couple homes myself and working with qualified electricians.

      The first and foremost recommendation that I can make is that you really need to have a certified electrician on the job. They would be familiar with both NEC and local code requirements and thier skills and knowledge would be critical to the safety of your family and the other residents.

      I think with today's typical, fair-size, "stand-alone residence the recommendation is 200 amp service. However, for a condo as you decribe, probably a 100 amp service may be sufficient.

      Areas like kitchens and bathrooms will require proper GFI outlets (Ground Fault Interupts) and circuits for refrigerators, air conditions, etc. must be properly sized to safely handle these loads.

      With regard to cost quotations, all I can recommend is to check around and get bids and also ask for referances. It's really impossible to appriase the validity of a quotation without seeing the conditions first hand.

      I do know that I just had my newly purchase home (a 3,200 sq ft, home built in 1887) upgraded from a 100 amp service to 200 amp. The first company quoted $3 K and the final electrician's quote was $1300. I needed everything from the weatherhead to the load center and the electric company had to be involved.

      The job was done over a two-day period. The electrician reconnected everything to the new box, checked and marked all the circuits and did a complete walkaround inspection and provided a couple of suggestions which he is working up a quote for. He also let me know what I can and/or shouldn't do. While I'm not an expert, I do know enough to have a pretty good idea as to the labor and material requirements.

      I hope this helps,

      CWS

      Comment


      • #4
        wow what a bunch of questions well here we go as for splicing the old 30 amp wire that you are talking about if it is a "fused" wire meaning that it has a breaker or fuse on it after the meter and it sounds like it should you can splice it but it has to be in an accessible junction box but by saying that it can be done does not mean thats the way i would go in my opinion the 100 amp service wire which is # 2 aluminum and should be a 4 wire system should be installed

        if the kitchen is easily gotten to without tearing out a lot more walls and plaster i would definetly rewire the kitchen which would be a seperate circuit for the fridge (2) small appliance circuits for the countertop receptacles a seperate circuit for the microwave and a circuit for the dishwasher all in 12 gauge wire on a 20 amp breaker

        as for your disconnect and splicing the 3o amp wire if i read correct they are going to splice the 100 amp wire to the 30 amp wire and run it 20 feet to your new panel that is for sure not something i would do and its not something anybody should do if your are going to splice the 30 amp wire it needs to be spliced to the same size wire because it still would have to be on the 30 amp breaker

        as for the porch it doesn't need to be on any of the kitchen wiring that you are talking about doing just run a new circuit out there or if its only a light and one or two receptacles you could probably catch it off something else on a joining wall

        all this being said i still agree that you need to let the electricians do the work it sounds like its way too big of a project for someone with little or no experience

        hope i was of some help

        Comment


        • #5
          Phinmak, I am quite curious as to what "rod and tube aluminum wiring from the 20's" is. I thought aluminum residential installations were done only for a few years in the '60s. Thanks.

          Comment


          • #6
            Aluminum and 100a

            Originally posted by thiggy
            I thought aluminum residential installations were done only for a few years in the '60s.
            Thiggy -- The building was built in the twenties, of that much I'm sure. Aparently, back then they were using gas to light the place because each room has a capped gas line that extends from the ceiling. Sometime after the original build-date, these gas lights were replaced by ungrounded aluminum wiring. My assumption was that the aluminum wiring (complete with porcelain insulated tubes etc) was placed in the building from the beginning because it would have taken a complete tear down of the wall surfaces and some very careful drilling through studs and structural walls/brick. Having removed the plaster/lathe wall surfaces, I haven't noticed any change in consistancy from one area where the wall would have to have been torn down and replaced to another area where it wouldn't. The gas lines are still live, BTW, in most of the entire building, which was completely unknown to anyone before I bought in and started poking around. The trustees are still trying to decide the best course of action, but for my part I have a plumber coming in in conjuntion with the remodel to depresurize as much of it as he can reach. Also, my father built the house I grew up in back in 1981 and he tells me that he used aluminum wiring. I asked him why he would do that and he shrugged and said, "it was cheaper". So aparently you could do it even through the early 80s.


            Originally posted by NDMaster
            I'd go with the 100A.
            Going 100amp seems to be the consensus. The problem with running new service to the meter is going to be snaking the line down past the apartment below me and then into the basement. The builders weren't too concerned with creating shafts or voids when they built the place. I asked about the gauge size because if it was going to be 3 strands of #4 it might be easier than trying to snake 4 strands of #2, as suggested by sparkync1. I was hoping to get 100 amp capable wire from the new panel to a disconnect/junction box near to where I lose the service line down through the floor, so that I could go ahead and finish the kitchen now but still have the ability to upgrade to 100a in the future without going into the walls again. I'll have to think about what I want to do.

            Finally, I've attached a photo taken during memorial day that shows the old location of the panel way up in the corner. The new location for the box is going to be on the right side of the picture where the ceiling light switch is just hanging there. Shortly after the picture was snapped, I depowered the whole apartment, removed the breakers for all circuits in the kitchen, and removed all the wiring all the way back into the panel. Now there are only 3 circuits running the rest (850 sq foot?) of the apartment. (bathroom, bedrooms, and entrance)

            I appreciate any advice I get and thanks again. -- Phinmak
            Attached Files

            Comment


            • #7
              1) Do I really need moe power?
              I agree with the above, you should go with the 100A feeder.

              2) ...One quote for a disconnect in the 30amp line and 20 feet of 100amp capable wire after the disconnect, to a new box was going to be $1150. Seems like a lot of money for that amount of work...
              Without seeing it, I'd say that the price could be reasonable. But I don't agree with this course of action. If you're upgrading the service, then upgrade the service. The only way to get a 100A service is to get rid of the 30A conductors, and have 100A conductors exiting the meter to your service disconnect, and on to your panel.

              I asked about the gauge size because if it was going to be 3 strands of #4 it might be easier than trying to snake 4 strands of #2, as suggested by sparkync1. I was hoping to get 100 amp capable wire from the new panel to a disconnect/junction box near to where I lose the service line down through the floor, so that I could go ahead and finish the kitchen now but still have the ability to upgrade to 100a in the future without going into the walls again. I'll have to think about what I want to do
              I'm confused by what you're describing. Let's make sure we're "speaking the same language."
              • Service Conductors are unfused conductors that start at the Power Company (POCO) transformer outside, run either underground or overhead to the building served, and end when they come to a disconnect, called the "Service Disconnect." These service conductors are highly dangerous, because they're unfused, and will literally start a fire before blowing any POCO fuse.
              • The Service Disconnect is the first effectively fused/breakered point in the premises wiring system. It's required by NEC 230.70(A)(1) to be "installed at a readily accessible location either outside of a building or structure or inside nearest the point of entrance of the service conductors." This is intended to keep dangerous service conductors outside the structure, where they will do less damage and perhaps spare the structure completely if there is a problem. If your building currently has service conductors running through the building to meters in the basement, you have a grave situation on your hands. If this is the case, it would behoove you and your neighbors to get this resolved before something bad happens.
              • The service disconnect is also where your Equipment Grounding System begins. The service neutral is connected to the premises "grounds" at this point, so that the bare copper conductor inside the romex (or whatever method you use) can kick breakers if there is a ground fault on the premises system. The service disconnect is also where your Grounding Electrode System is connected to the service neutral.
              • After the service disconnect, you have feeders and branch circuits. Feeders feed panels, panels beget branch circuits, and branch circuits feed outlets.
              So, after all that (sorry for it being so long), do you really have 30A "service conductors" running to the floor?

              4) I'm thinking of running power out to my porch to a recepticle and a light. Does this need to be on a dedicated circuit or can i tie it into the circuit that I'm putting in to power less than a handfull of gfci recepticles?
              There are certain circuits required to serve their specific purposes:
              • Counters, walls and the fridge in kitchen, dining, and similar areas are to be on two or more Small Appliance Branch Circuits, which do not serve lighting or rooms other than kitchen, dining and similar areas. (20A circuits)
              • Bathroom receptacles are required to be fed from a 20A circuit dedicated to them (with an exception you don't want to use anyway. )
              • If you have a common washer/dryer area elsewhere on the premises, the usual 20A Laundry circuit can be forgotten.
              • If you install a hood over your range, and cord-and-plug-connect it, then it's required to be on a dedicated circuit in case someone behind you swaps it out for a microwave.
              I'd put the porch light and receptacle on the kitchen lighting circuit, if you believe your cord-and-plug connected demands will be sparse on the porch.

              I can't express to you how important it is to have your work inspected, especially with neighbors sharing common walls with you in an ancient structure. I recommend you get an electrician for the service change, be sure they get it inspected, and have your remodeling inspected (under a seperate permit, if necessary). A simple mistake on your part could not only imperil you, but the other people in the building as well. Be safe!

              Comment


              • #8
                you don't need to fish any strands of anything down the wall it needs to be what is called "SER" cable which is service entrance cable and has 4 wires in it wrapped with insulation nothing that is individual wires need to be fished inside a wall

                Comment


                • #9
                  Language...

                  Originally posted by Rocky Mountain Sparky
                  Let's make sure we're "speaking the same language."
                  Attached to my meter in the basement is a 30amp breaker that shuts off power up to my apartment. Each of the 8 apartments in the basement has it's own breaker attached to their meter. From your description, it sounds like the "Service Disconnect" would have to be easily identified and flipped into an off position, turning off power for the whole building, by anyone in an emergency. Tonight after work I can visually inspect the area for any breaker boxes inside or outside my building where the POCO line could have a disconnect that would shut off power before the meters, but I dont recollect one.

                  If there is no disconnect before my meter, from what you are describing it sounds like my "service line" goes about 12 inches (from the meter to the 30 amp breaker) and then I have a 150' "feeder line" that goes up two floors to my panel. There is no main breaker in the panel in my apartment.

                  If my use of "service line" was incorrect above and the cable from the basement to the is actually a feeder line, how does that change things?

                  Maybe like this: (?)

                  Originally posted by sparkync1
                  if it is a "fused" wire meaning that it has a breaker or fuse on it after the meter and it sounds like it should you can splice it but it has to be in an accessible junction box...
                  While running, as sparkync1 suggests, an unspliced 100amp cable from the panel in the kitchen to the breaker in the basement is the preferred method, it seems that I am hearing that, since the "service disconnect" exists in the line down in the basement, it would not be against code to splice the existing line in order to reach the new box location.

                  With this new information, would a 100a feeder line directly from the panel to the breakers on the meter still need to be 4 strands of #2? If so, that the question of going 100a may be moot as I don't believe anything short of major work will get cable that thick down through the walls.

                  Thanks again -- PhinMak

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    The meter bases must go back to a distribution panel where they connect to the main service. There may or may not be a disconnect on the distribution panel depending on how old it is and the code at that time, there should be a main disconnect somewhere and if you go playing with the service the inspector will require that the entire building service be upgraded to meet current code. If there is only 8 AWG wire from the distribution panel to the meter base and from the meter base to your 30A breaker (or fuses) and from there up to your apartment then it would be a waste to run 100A wire anywhere in your apartment.
                    From the picture I gather that the old panel was high on the wall, since the service comes from the basement can't you just put a distribution panel on the wall below the current location and and pull the current service right into the new panel without the need of a splice?
                    If you really need to move the panel farther that the original service will reach put in a disconnect box and feed the original service to that then run new AWG 8 wire (all that is required for the max 30 A that you are capable of feeding from the basement) from it to the new distribution panel. If there is no chance of ever getting a 100A feed up to your apartment don't waste your money putting 100A wire in your apartment.
                    Carefully plan how you hook up the apartment to the distribution panel. You have 60A @ 120 V to play with (2 30A feeds). Make sure the A/C units are on different sides of the panel. Likewise split the fridge and microwave, dishwasher and disposal should go on the same side because you will not likely use both at the same time. Also plan which side the bathroom blow dryer circuit is on and make sure it is opposite to the plug that the cloths iron goes in (my wife tends to plug in the iron and then go blow her hair). Careful planing following the above logic and you should get away with the current feed

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      "..Thiggy -- The building was built in the twenties, of that much I'm sure. Apparently, back then they were using gas to light the place because each room has a capped gas line that extends from the ceiling. Sometime after the original build-date, these gas lights were replaced by ungrounded aluminum wiring. My assumption was that the aluminum wiring (complete with porcelain insulated tubes etc) was placed in the building from the beginning because it would have taken a complete tear down of the wall surfaces and some very careful drilling through studs and structural walls/brick. .."

                      This may not be AL wire. I had a home that was built in 1905 and was wired with knob & tube as well as illuminating gas. The gas lines are all brass 1/2" and under. When I moved into the house (second owner) in 1982 they too were still live. Heck there were still combination gas/electric fixtures on the second and third floors that were still connected to both the gas and electric!! I shut down the gas and disconnected all the gas lighting lines the day we closed on the house. The remainder of the gas line (1-1/2") remained in service. The line into the house was 1-1/2" because the old illuminating gas companies ran very low pressure, so a larger pipe was needed to get the required volume. When those companies got bought up and consolidated into our present day gas companies, those lines never got replaced (at least in that house).

                      On the wire, mine was #12 tinned copper, and I suspect that yours is too. Try scraping a piece of the wire and see if its copper underneath. Some portions were run in a wooden wire mold which had two groves in it, one for each conductor. They was about 3/4" of separation between the two wires. A thin (roughly 1/4") piece of wood was used to cover the wires in the molding. I had saved a piece of this stuff, but have no idea where its packed away at today :-(
                      "When we build let us think we build forever. Let it not be for present delight nor for present use alone. Let it be such work that our descendants will thank us for, and let us think, as we lay stone upon stone, that a time is to come when these stones will be held sacred because our hands have touched them, and that men will say, as they look upon the labor and wrought substance of them, "See! This our fathers did for us."
                      John Ruskin (1819 - 1900)

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