Re-wiring 40+ year old house

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Old 04-23-03, 07:54 AM
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Re-wiring 40+ year old house

I have recently bought a house that was built in 1958, and have discovered that the wiring isn't all that great (in the outlet and light/fan fixture boxes, the insulation is cracked and brittle, and the sheathing on the wire is messy and sometimes simply falls apart (I feels like the old cloth type sheeth).), and also has no ground. We've had a new panel put in, and it's been grounded to the cold water pipe (is this still allowed under the code?).

I'm an amature electrician and can handle most of the re-wiring, but I don't have time to go through the house and completely re-wire it from start to finish in one shot. I will have to do it a little at a time, as I have time to do it.

I've noticed that they seemed to use a wide variety of gauged wire (from 14/2 to 10/2), and I plan to rewire using 12/2 on most light and outlet lines. I have heard that you should not run 12/2 wire from a 20 amp circuit in the panel to a junction or gang box, and then have 14/2 (i.e. old wire that hasn't been replaced, yet) branching off from this to other outlets/lights.

Is this true? If so, it would seem that I need to work my way from the fixture/outlets back to the junction boxes, and then back to panel, rather than from the panel out to each junction box/fixture/outlet. (Did that make sense?)

Also, if I'm working my way backwords to the panel, and I replace the wiring from a junction box to a string of outlets (but haven't had time to replace the wire from the junction box to the panel), what do I do with the ground wire in the new romex? All of the original gang and junction boxes are metal, so do I simply connect to the box, temporarily, until I can run the new wire back to the panel so I can properly ground it?

THanks for any replies!
 
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Old 04-23-03, 08:32 AM
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I have heard that you should not run 12/2 wire from a 20 amp circuit in the panel to a junction or gang box, and then have 14/2 (i.e. old wire that hasn't been replaced, yet) branching off from this to other outlets/lights.

This is true.
breaker rating for wire size are as follows.
#14 = 15 amp breaker
#12 = 20 amp breaker
#10 = 30 amp breaker.
You can use a smaller size breaker but not a larger size. Breaker must be sized for the smallest size wire on the circuit.
 
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Old 04-23-03, 11:50 AM
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it's been grounded to the cold water pipe (is this still allowed under the code?)
Not only allowed, but required (as long as the water pipe is metal, and the connection is made within 5 feet of where the pipe enters your house).

I have heard that you should not run 12/2 wire from a 20 amp circuit in the panel to a junction or gang box, and then have 14/2.
Go ahead and use the 12-gauge wire, but keep the 15-amp breaker. Some time in the future when you manage to replace the rest of the old 14-gauge with new 12-gauge, you will have the option of changing the breaker up to 20-amps. It is often recommended that you add a note to the panel warning people that there is 14-gauge wire downstream from this breaker.

what do I do with the ground wire in the new romex?
Do not connect a ground wire to any of the fixtures until it is connected all the way back to the panel.
 
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Old 04-23-03, 12:33 PM
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Thanks for your help!

As far as the grounding of the panel goes, the water pipe is metal, but enters the house on the opposite side of the house, so it is currently NOT grounded within 5 feet of where the pipe enters the house. In this case, do I need to drive a grounding rod in outside the house, where the panel is? (I've heard that this is tricky enough that it should only be done by a professional).
 
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Old 04-23-03, 02:44 PM
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Until the panel is replaced, you are probably not required to bring the service grounding up to modern code. But at some point, you should ground the panel to the proper point on the cold water pipe and to two grounding rods. There are a few things you need to know to do it correctly, but it isn't rocket science.
 
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Old 04-24-03, 08:13 AM
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The current panel is new (about a month old), and is currently grounded to the cold water pipe, but as I said, it doesn't look to me like it's grounded at the right point (The water line (which is metal) enters on the other side of the house). Do I need to run a long grounding wire to that point to connect to the pipe, or would it be better to simply install grounding rods outside the wall that the panel is on?
 
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Old 04-24-03, 08:38 AM
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Do I need to run a long grounding wire to that point to connect to the pipe, or would it be better to simply install grounding rods outside the wall that the panel is on?
You need to do both.
 
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Old 04-24-03, 10:54 AM
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You need to do both and since the panel is only 1 month old it should have been done by whoever installed the panel. Was this a DIY project or did you hire someone to do the work?
 
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Old 04-24-03, 11:19 AM
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Wink

My father-in-law, who apparently THINKS he knows more about electrical work than he actually does, installed the panel and ground one day while I was at work (so at least I have an alibi ). Seems maybe I need to keep him away from any more electrical jobs in the house!
 
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Old 04-24-03, 04:45 PM
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You should have an inspection. They would have caught this and any other problem you may have. This will be to your advantage when you go to sell the house.
 
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Old 04-28-03, 02:29 PM
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Unhappy

While we're on the subject of my "electrician extraordinaire" father-in-law, he also replaced a couple of outlets in the kitchen that are not yet on a grounded circuit (the old wire doesn't even have a ground wire in it). He installed regular grounding outlets, and routed a small pigtail from the ground screw on the outlet into the neutral line quick wire insert on the outlet.

Is this temporarily safe until I can re-wire that wall with new romex?
 
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Old 04-28-03, 03:05 PM
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That is called a "bootleg ground". It is not safe, even temporarily. A failure of the neutral between that receptacle and the panel (an extremely common failure) can put a full 120 volts on the chassis of any grounded appliance plugged into that receptacle.

A bootleg ground is far, far more dangerous than no ground at all. Remove that wire between the grounding screw and the neutral immediately. Then post back and we'll tell you how to fix the code violation that will still exist.

Do not, under any circumstances, let your father-in-law do any more work on the electrical system of your house. The safety of your family is at risk.
 
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Old 05-05-03, 11:28 AM
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Bootleg grounds on outlets are now gone, and I've run new Romex back to the panel for this line, so all recepticles are now properly grounded.

Thanks for all your help!
 
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