Adding receptacles, determining cable type


Old 02-02-05, 11:14 AM
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Adding receptacles, determining cable type

Hello. I have a basic understanding of how circuits work, how to change and ground ungrounded receptacles and switches, wire in new light fixtures and add GFCI's. I have a house built in 1968. There is nothing on the service panel to indicate service rating/amps and I don't think there have been any upgrades. I have room for three new circuits and ideally I would have an electrician add circuits for a dishwasher, garbage disposal and fridge or microwave. But I would like to avoid adding circuits for a while if I can and am not comfortable doing it on my own. The circuit breakers (other than those for range, dryer, heat, etc.) are all 20 amp. The cable I see in the attic and the switch and receptacle boxes is black and appears to be NM, but it has a tiny ground wire unlike the ground I see in new #12 and #14. Does anyone know if this is old 20-amp cable? I'm hoping it's not the old illegal stuff.

Now for the actual changes: I have two circuits to my kitchen besides the one to the range. The circuit on the fridge side controls two receptacles, one of which my fridge is plugged into. The circuit on the sink side controls one receptacle and the garbage disposal on a switch. Providing I have wire I can work with safely and can determine the size of the wire, I would like to add one receptacle to the fridge side of my kitchen and one or two receptacles to the sink side of the kitchen, on the opposite side of the garbage disposal from the old receptacle. If I'm able to add two receptacles on the sink side, they would be back to back to give me another receptacle in the room next to the kitchen because the circuit in that room is pretty crowded.

I find my old receptacles utilize all four posts for two cables. I understand how to pigtail to the upper posts to free up the bottom posts for another receptacle. My understanding is I need to run two cables to the new receptacle if I want the option of adding yet another later on, but I can also choose to add only one cable, and this will create the end of a series. Is my understanding correct so far? Further, while I understand the pigtailing of the existing wires in the existing receptacle, I am drawing a total blank on what to do with the ground wires of the cables I am adding for the new receptacles. It doesn't seem logical to ground these in the old box by wrapping them around the ground wires in the old receptacle box. The alternative seems to be to "ignore" them until I pull the cables into the new box and simply ground them to the new box. So there is a gap in my understanding....

As for the sink side of the kitchen, can I get away with leaving the disposal on the old circuit and adding one or two receptacles to that circuit? If I can safely get away with it I'd like to wire the cable that now runs to the disposal (which has only a cable running to the bottom) into a receptacle to allow for a new plug-in disposal, then break out the side tab to allow me to add the receptacle(s) on the other side of the disposal. Alternatively, if the circuit on the fridge side could handle two or three new receptacles instead of one, I could run cable from my new receptacle over the kitchen ceiling and bring it down on the sink side.

Sorry this has been so long. My thanks for any help you can give me.
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Old 02-02-05, 02:04 PM
Join Date: Sep 2003
Location: Central New York State
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Early versions of NM cable with grounds did have a smaller ground wire. This was allowed then. It is not now. There is nothing illegal about old wiring, as long as it was installed when allowed by code. You do not need to worry about existing wiring, unless you are doing a remodel. If the wire was allowed when it was installed, it is allowed now.

Unless the room that is back to back with the kitchen is a dining room, then it cannot be on the same circuit as the kitchen.

I don't follow your logic on the wiring of receptacles. If the circuit terminates at a receptacle, then there will be on cable in the box. If it continues on from the receptacle there will be one or more additional cables that go to the other portions of the circuit.

Ground wires must be connected together, to the box (if it is metal) and to the device(s) in the box. Since you can only have one wire under a screw, you must wrap the ground wires together. You can run pigtails to the devices, or just leave one wire long and use a special type of wire nut.

I would separate out the refrigerator and the garbage disposal to new circuits. Doing it now id the way to go.
Old 02-02-05, 03:13 PM
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Thank you for taking the time to read all that and answer my questions. You've cleared up several points for me. I know some of it sounded silly but we beginners often do. I finally found a length of wire I could examine more closely and it is 14 guage NM. Again, my thanks.

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