Rewiring my house

Old 05-31-04, 08:59 AM
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Rewiring my house

I bought a house last year that was built around 1950. The house (1300 sq ft., gas heat, gas hot water heater) currently has 60 AMP service (fuse box) which I am planning on upgrading to 125 AMP service (Breaker panel).

So far in my exploration, I have discovered no grounding anywhere in the home. Obviously the main service is not grounded at all, but no ground wire is present on any wiring for light fixtures/outlets that I have been able to detect. (The faceplates and receptacles themselves are a hodgepodge of colors and sytles within the same room, but that's a different matter entirely)

I would like to begin slowly rewiring my home. The home is one ground floor (1300 sq ft) sitting on a full unfinished basement (1300 sq ft). The 'ceiling' in the basement consists of the exposed floor joists and subfloor above. Panel is located in the basement.

My questions regard codes more than anything. What would be the proper way to run wiring throughout the basement (drill small holes in floor joists, staple across joists, etc.)? Should I do the majority of the work in the basement? The ceiling is quite low and will likely never be finished so I could concievably get away with junctions there in the basement. Would I be better off to make connections for outlets on the same circuit within each receptacle box? Any recommendations?

Sorry for the long post but I'd appreciate any help or tips that might be provided.
Old 05-31-04, 11:18 AM
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Your service probably is grounded; look for a bare copper wire that runs from the panel to a water pipe and/or ground rod. When you install the larger service, this wire will likely need to be run to within 5' of where the water service enters the house. You'll likely need to install a ground rod as well. Check with your local inspector because these requirements vary. Also, I would install a 100A service because the materials will be cheaper, and unless you are adding a large load like a hot tub, then 100A will serve you fine.

The cables in the basement will need to run through bored holes in the floor joists. An exception to this would be a situation where you installed a grid ceiling, or a firred hard ceiling; then you could staple to the bottom of the joists.

If you're going to fish the cables up to the outlets, then you should only attempt to fish a single cable and then make a splice in the basement (provided the splice is in a box and that it wil remain accessible.) Fishing one cable is difficult enough--fishing 2 or 3 to the same box is exponentionally more difficult. (Frankly, I wouldn't bother with any of it. I would just install some new 2-wire receptacles for the majority of the outlets. Ask youself this: Do you have a lot of appliances and such that require a grounded receptacle? Usually the kitchen is the only place where this work is worth the effort.)

The ceiling outlets will obviously have to be worked from the attic, and again, it's questionable whether or not it warrants the effort. I would run some new circuits to supply some new outlet locations for convenience, and also to locations where I would be using grounded (3-wire) plug and cord sets. The rest of would remain.

If you're going to fish cable, then buy some proper drills. Greenlee makes some drills that are up to 6' long and are flexible enough to fish a cable back through the bored hole. They also have a guide and a cable grip that should be used as well.

Good luck.
Old 05-31-04, 01:15 PM
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Thanks for your help

I plan on having a professional do the panel upgrade, but wanted to do any rewiring myself. The gentleman who I will likely go with is a former city worker who retained his licensing and performs electrical work since retiring. He claimed there was no grounding at all and the fuse panel was grossly overloaded. He's quoted me $1280 for the upgrade from 60 AMP to 125 AMP service. This includes all parts and labor. A new roof mounted masthead will need to be installed as well as a meter box outside both of which are included in his quote. I live in Lexington, KY.

To anyone who might have an idea of costs, does that sound reasonable? The one other quote I got was, I felt, a completely asinine $3500.

Admittedly, I may not need grounded receptacles everywhere, but I have a couple computers and a nice television that I would like that extra grounded protection on. In addition, I'd like to do some rewiring in the bathroom. Currently the fart fan switch is next to the sink, no where near either the door or the toilet. The only light comes from above the vanity. I'd like to add a ceiling light/fan combo with a double gang box near the door, one switch for fan one for light. Add a GFCI outlet and switch near the sink. Switch for the current fart fan becomes switch for vanity. Vanity light is currently controlled by the switch at door.....basically a whole rewire of the bathroom is in order.

The kitchen needs a similar sort of rewire. I figured I might as well do the entire house, but perhaps once I start the work, I'll be more selective. The current situation (no pun intended) seems unorganized and sloppy and I'd guess I'd just like things a little more orderly.

Thanks again for your help, and any thing else you can think of would be appreciated.

Last edited by BrewCrew; 05-31-04 at 02:04 PM.
Old 05-31-04, 02:52 PM
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If you are sure that you won't be finishing the basement ceiling, you have the option of either drilling holes in the joists (dead center top to bottom and no larger than necessary and at least 3 inches apart and not too close to either the supported ends or the center), or using running boards. A running board is a one-by nailed to the bottom of the joists, with your cable stapled to it. A one-by-two is good enough for one cable, but you can use a one-by-something-else for multiple cables side by side.

You should know that there are two different grounding systems in your house. The connection of the panel to the water pipe and grounding rod is one form of grounding (the "grounding electrode system"), and the connection of the panel to the outlets is another form of grounding (equipment grounding system). These two grounding systems serve different purposes, and one can do its job without the other. Make sure you know which grounding system you are talking about when you talk to the electrician.

$1280 to upgrade from 60 to 125 is reasonable, but most people who do this upgrade go all the way to 200. It probably won't cost that much more. Chances are the $3500 quote included more. You may not have noticed the difference if you didn't understand the two grounding systems. The first quote only provides one of the systems. Perhaps the second quote provided both.

As X stated, equipment grounding to the kitchen is a good idea for the appliances that require grounding there. Certainly providing equipment grounding for your computer and other electronics is top priority too. Eventually you may want to get around to the whole house (perhaps not just for equipment grounding, but for other reasons), but prioritizing is a good idea.
Old 06-01-04, 09:50 AM
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I have a builder-friend who "wants the best" when he improves his properties. This is the procedure we used in completely re-wiring one of his older houses with lath & plaster wall-finish;

We cut a groove in the wall-finish approx. 2 ft. off the floor along the entire perimeter of each room--- we cut 4" square openings next to each stud where an outlet was located---- we fastened 4" square outlet-boxes to the studs so that when the "rough-cover' was set on the box, the cover was perfectly flush with the wall-finish---we ran 3/8" Flexible Metal Conduit between the outlet-boxes, pulling THHN conductors thru the FMC as we proceeded--- we "looped" the conductors thru each O-B so that there were no "breaks" in the conductors all the wayfrom the circuit-breaker to the last receptacle connection-point.

Much patching was necessary, but this is a skill-- and a very useful one-- that is aquired with patience and practice. The cost of patching-material is minimal, and the result was well worth the effort.

You possibly could follow a similiar procedure using N-M cable instead of FMC,and "deep" plastic "gem" boxes instead of "1900" metal boxes. If you do a neat job of cutting out the wall-openings for the plastic boxes, there's hardly any patching around the boxes.

Good Luck & Enjoy the Experience!!!!!!!!!!!!!

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