Cost to replace breaker box/panel?

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  #1  
Old 11-22-04, 03:54 PM
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Cost to replace breaker box/panel?

I recently had an electrician in to replace a wire that was used to power my electric dryer. The wire runs directly from the dryer to the fuse box. It became split a bit and looked unsafe. Our home was built in 1941 and has 100amp service.

The electrician came in and traced the wire back to the fuse box. Earlier this year, I had water running down into the fuse box from outside. I caluked a slight hole outside and it never came back; however, it had been leaking for a while before I noticed it. Anyway, the electrician said that he won't work on this wire back to the fuse box because it's "unsafe." Apparently, the "neutral" bar is rusted so badly that he can't get it loose in order to replace this wire.

I'll admit there's some rust, but it doesn't look that bad. He wants to replace the entire box, breakers and all. Assuming he's right, what should I expect to pay for this? Obviously I'm having another estimate. Also, this guy tells me I owe him something for his coming out to provide an estimate. Am I missing something----aren't estimate free?

Look forward to your input.
 
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Old 11-22-04, 04:08 PM
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A new breaker box can be just about any price, depending upon what needs to be done. For example, it may be necessary to replace the wire from the meter to the panel. It may be necessary to add a ground to the system. Many factors go into this. Since you have fuses, there will be more work than if you already had breakers.

What do you need? I don't know, and cannot answer without seeing it. I would certainly take this opportunity to consider upgrading to circuit breakers.

As for owing him something for an estimate, I don't think you do. I do however think that you may owe him something for his trip out there. He came out expecting to redo a dryer setup. He found that he couldn't. It wasn't his fault he couldn't.

How much does he want? Is it reasonable? Is he willing to let it go if you have him do the work of installing the circuit breaker panel? What agreement did you make when you spoke with him on the phone to have him come out?

I would get several estimates. Make sure that you don't ask for an estimate of redoing the panel. I would explain that the problem is the dryer, but that you are considering breakers. Ask if they can fix the dryer right there (for a reasonable fee of course), but also ask for an estimate on a new circuit breaker panel.
 
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Old 11-22-04, 04:08 PM
SkyKing
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A 200 amp service panel costs 100 to 200 (and more for some). New breakers and wiring is dependent on your house needs. If you're just replacing with a new box, the box costs 50 to 150 dollars.

Labor is usually like 60/hour.

I would guess:

300 for labor
500 in materials

As far as his fee for comming out, think of it this way.

You call someone up, have them spend their gas to come to your house, have them spend time to come out and diagnose the problem and explain it to you, and then you say "oh well thank you, but I'll pass". He's out money and time.

Most anyone that is not addressing a warranty issue will either give you a trip charge or a service call charge. The HVAC guy I had to come out when the A/C was leaking charged 40 just for comming. I don't think that is unreasonable.

btw: this is just a rough guess since there is absolutely no way to give a very consise answer based on your explaination and without being there. If you rewire your house, upgrade outlets, etc. etc. could cost in the thousands with labor. I am assuming it is a direct swap from fuses to breakers with a new panel and assuming all your wiring is already in place and up to code.
 
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Old 11-22-04, 04:15 PM
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It would be a direct swap---as he explained it. There's no need to route new wires other than the one for my dryer, which is 10ft. from the fuse box. Shouldn't be much work at all.

What else do you need in my description in order to narrow down the estimate?

Thanks,
Curt


Originally Posted by SkyKing
A 200 amp service panel costs 100 to 200 (and more for some). New breakers and wiring is dependent on your house needs. If you're just replacing with a new box, the box costs 50 to 150 dollars.

Labor is usually like 60/hour.

I would guess:

300 for labor
500 in materials

As far as his fee for comming out, think of it this way.

You call someone up, have them spend their gas to come to your house, have them spend time to come out and diagnose the problem and explain it to you, and then you say "oh well thank you, but I'll pass". He's out money and time.

Most anyone that is not addressing a warranty issue will either give you a trip charge or a service call charge. The HVAC guy I had to come out when the A/C was leaking charged 40 just for comming. I don't think that is unreasonable.

btw: this is just a rough guess since there is absolutely no way to give a very consise answer based on your explaination and without being there. If you rewire your house, upgrade outlets, etc. etc. could cost in the thousands with labor. I am assuming it is a direct swap from fuses to breakers with a new panel and assuming all your wiring is already in place and up to code.
 
  #5  
Old 11-22-04, 04:17 PM
SkyKing
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Too many variables to consider. I wouldn't be too worried about it if your estimate was 1500 or less. You could do it yourself if you wanted to. Just check with you local code enforcement office.
 
  #6  
Old 11-22-04, 04:19 PM
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Originally Posted by SkyKing
Too many variables to consider. I wouldn't be too worried about it if your estimate was 1500 or less. You could do it yourself if you wanted to. Just check with you local code enforcement office.
I don't doubt that you're right, but $1,500 couldn't come at a worse time----holidays, etc. I wish I knew enough about it to do it myself. My dad knows a few contractors; might end up talking to him to see if I can find someone else.

Thanks for your input.
 
  #7  
Old 11-24-04, 06:58 AM
s74vette
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Fuses vs. breakers

Can anyone comment on updating to breakers? I am buying a 1954 rancher with the original fuse box/panel in the basement. (Sorry if I'm not using the correct terminology!)
The box passed inspection, except that one of the fuses was double-tapped. That's being corrected. The previous owners have left plenty of packages of fuses in case one goes up, but I've never lived in a house with fuses. The unfamiliar obviously is making me a little nervous. Is it worth updating? Are fuses still pretty common?
Thanks!
 
  #8  
Old 11-24-04, 07:14 AM
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Fuses work fine and there is no reason to replace them just for the sake of replacing them.

When I bought my house there were fuses in place. I did have them replaced with a circuit breaker panel, but did so because I needed the capacity. Since then I have more or less doubled the number of circuits in place, due to remodeling and new circuits.

The problem with fuses is that there is nothing to stop someone from using a larger fuse. This is done because the circuit is overloaded and fuses keep blowing. Rather than correcting the problem, a larger fuse is used. This creates a fire hazard.

The same people would never consider this with circuit breakers because replacing a circuit breaker involves more work and greater risk (removing the cover of the panel).

My advice is to leave the fuses in place until you need to add additional circuits. When/if that time comes, then consider replacing the panel with breakers.

Do keep spare fuses around. You may also need to buy slow blow fuses, which are more expensive. These fuses are sometimes needed for heavy loads, such as for a freezer or sump pump. often the higher current needed to start a motor will blow a regular fuse, which is why slow blow fuses were invented. They can handle a higher current for a short period of time, which allows the motor to start.
 
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