60 year old home Whacked wiring Help!!


Old 08-02-05, 01:45 AM
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60 year old home Whacked wiring Help!!

Hi all , Here is my situation, This house is 60 years old , it is a capecod with 9 rooms of living space.
The large appliances the stove, water heater, furnace , clothes washer and dryer, refrigorator have there own circuit breakers.
There are 4 circuit breakers left over 3 of which are 15 amp and one 20 amp.
My problem is , is that the diningroom , livingroom , hallway , back porch outlet and one of the 3 bedrooms are all on one 15 amp breaker. We trip the breaker if we don't turn off things before we turn on other things. All these rooms draw their electricity from this one 15 amp breaker.
Of course the current chart that lists what breakers are responsible for what rooms is wrong.
So I just shut off the remaining breakers one by one to determine what breaker supplied electricity to remaining rooms.
It seems that one 15 amp breaker controls the 2 other bedrooms outlets along with the bathroom outlet & light fixture (bathroom outlet and fixture are connected)
The other 15 amp controls the above mentioned bedrooms light fixtures along with a light fixture in garage, porch as well as a cellar light.
As for the remaining 20 amp breaker there is really nothing left except for an outside outlet which I haven't been able to check . But does this really need 20 amps to operate?
What all is involved to redistribute power among these breakers ?
I know that I may be asking a very complex question and that you may need more information. This I will try and provide if I can .
What I mainly want to know is how extensive cost wise is it to fix this ?
I also want to add that the gadgets that are running on the 15 amp breaker are 2 computers , airconditioner , one lamp, a phone cordless , clock, TV (30 inch) , diningroom cieling fan with 2 60 watt bulbs and a 75 watt light fixture in hallway. Can this cause a fire? If anything else is added or not turned off this is when it trips the circuit.
Thanks for any help .

Last edited by see7towers; 08-02-05 at 02:17 AM.
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Old 08-02-05, 03:08 AM
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Unfortunately houses weren't wired 60 years ago for the way we use electricity today.

The breakers are doing what they are supposed to do, trip when too much current flows and prevent the wiring from overheating.

Your biggest problem is the AC load on the circuit. You could try to have a new dedicated circuit installed just for it. Do NOT use an extension cord to power the AC from another circuit.

You may want to consider having a 20 amp circuit installed just to serve the bathroom receptacle also.

As far a cost only a site visit would provide a more accurate estimate.
Old 08-02-05, 04:12 AM
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But I can't help but notice they must have done some updating to accomadate an electrical water heater , electric stove , electric dryer.
Can all these operate on the old system ?
I have a clear picture of the diagram on the panel door of the breaker box.
Does this help any ?
Why would a bathroom need 20 amp all to itself ? This makes no sense to me because of the large draw being pulled on a 15 amp . Why would a bathroom with just 2 60 watt lights need 20 amp space.
I realize that the breaker cutting the power is a good thing but I would like to udate so my electric can do the right job.
But I would like to know what I am looking at in regards to redistributing the load that is currently on that one breaker .
I see some of the slots are joined and used as one . 2 15 amps clamped together. 2 50 amps clamed together as well as 2 30's .
Will that chart on the door panel tell me anything ?
Thanks for your time ,
Old 08-02-05, 04:18 AM
Join Date: Sep 2003
Location: Central New York State
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The easiest and most cost effective way to correct your problem is to have new circuits run, while the leaving the existing circuit alone. With the possible exception of the bathroom, there are probably fewer receptacles than you would like anyway, so adding more won;t make it seem like there are too many. In the bathroom it is usually possible to add a new circuit while disabling the existing circuit.

The other, more costly, solution is to completely rewire the house. This would mean all new circuits, removing the existing circuits (usually just disconnecting the wires rather than removing them).

Prices vary from region to region and will depend on the amount of work that is done. Make certain that a permit is pulled and that the work is inspected by the town, county or whoever it is that is supposed to do so. Obtain at least three estimates and base your decision on those estimates. Make certain that the estimates are for the same work (within reason), so that you are comparing apples to apples.

As for the labels on the panel, well it's quite common that they don't accurately represent the layout.

Everyone should completely and thoroughly map out their electrical system when they move into a new house or apartment. You should know which circuit breaker controls each and every receptacle, light or appliance. Unfortunately many people do not figure this out. Then when they have a problem they have no clue what breaker or fuse they need to shut off or reset. The information could save your life some day. Please take the time to figure this out.
Old 08-02-05, 04:33 AM
Join Date: Nov 2004
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Pcboss' suggestion to add a circuit dedicated to the AC that is on your 15A circuit would go a long way toward solving your current problem.

As far as "redistributing the load" to other breakers, that is probably not practical. It may be easier to simply add circuits to the areas that are overloaded and move part of the load to the new circuits.

The "tied together" breakers supply 220V to a circuit (needed by the stove, dryer, water heater, etc). Single breakers supply 110V for everything else.

The suggestion to give the bathroom its own 20A circuit is due to the fact that electrical useage in bathrooms is high. My wifes hair dryer is rated 1875W, which is about 16A, and is typical of the type of loads used in bathrooms today. Todays code requires at least one, 20A, GFCI protected, bathroom recepticals circuit for that reason (this circuit can serve nothing but bathroom recepticals, unless it serves only one bathroom, in which case it can serve other loads in the bathroom, such as a light, exhaust fan, etc).

Of course, a 60 year old house is not subject to todays code except for where electrical changes are made...any changes must meet todays code. Thus, if you modify an existing circuit, you must bring it to todays code. This is a good reason to leave the existing circuits alone and simply add additional circuits.

Does your breaker box have unused spaces (look for "blanks" that look like they can be removed for additional breakers)?
Old 08-02-05, 05:45 AM
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Thank you for the clarification, That 20 amp must be for the bathroom.
There are 7 slots that are empty. to add is better I think than to rewire this whole house.
My husband is friends with an electrician at his work and he will ask him if he will come over to take a peak. In turn my husband fixes computers as well as builds them . I know this is not easy work with electric and my hat is off to you all.
I find it very interesting though .
I was getting concerned reading through the many posts thinking I had not enough power coming into my house . But I realize I could'nt have these heavy duty appliances without it .
Thank you once again for all your help. I really appreciate it .

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