New to site, a few questions about wiring


Old 12-01-05, 05:07 PM
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Question New to site, a few questions about wiring

Hello, I just registered today. I have been browsing this site for a few days and find it very useful and interesting. I have a few questions and would greatly appreciate any advice you might have to offer.
We are in the process of buying a home built in 1953. Its a 1.5 story. The electrical is original and still on fuses and it is not grounded. An elderly woman lived there many years and they are selling it "as is" for the estate. My boyfriend works construction but doesnt deal with electric. We want to upgrade the electric to 200amp. We can't afford too much right now since I wont be finished with college for another year. So I guess my questions are:
does anyone have maybe an estimate of how much we might be talking to re-wire? What would be our best options in this situation? Is the electrical safe for the time being? Also I have a computer that I know is probably unsafe to hook-up to the current electrical in the house, any suggestions on this? This is all very new to me and I welcome any suggestions!
I would appreciate ANY comments or advice. Thank you!
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Old 12-01-05, 05:18 PM
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We had our 1100sq/ft ranch house rewired and upgrages to 100AMP last year and iy cost just under $10,000. We did all the wall patching. I can't speak for the safety in your case. Good Luck
Old 12-01-05, 05:22 PM
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Assuming that the correct fuses are in place, there is nothing unsafe about using a computer on an ungrounded circuit. You should install a GFCI receptacle, but other than that the original wiring will power a computer.

Now you may have issues if the computer is older, and any surge suppressors you are likely to have and use won't work, but it's not unsafe.

As for cost, it's too hard to figure without knowing all the facts. It could be as much as 15 to 20 thousand. Or it could be just a little.

I would recommend having several electricians look it over and let you know what they think.
Old 12-01-05, 05:39 PM
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You could put off the complete rewire unitl you can afford it. Some options in the near term could be to just have a larger service put in, without a complete rewire. This would cost much less. Then you could have just one or two new circuits run out to for example the computer area, and maybe one in the kitchen. A second option, depending on available existing service, is to just put in a new circuit for the computer, and if possible one for the kitchen for the microwave or a coffe maker.
Old 12-01-05, 06:04 PM
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Thank you all for you replies. I appreciate it VERY much. This is all very new and very intimidating. I am glad to hear I have less inexpensive options! I will be looking into these, they sound good. Thanks again!
Old 12-01-05, 06:39 PM
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It's pretty routine for the sellers to allow you access for the purpose of getting estimates. That's what you need to do.

As 594 suggested, starting with a new service panel is a good idea. If you want to take the really long view, and since they will probably be involved anyway, ask the utility company for a quote to change from overhead wires to underground between your house and the utility pole.

If it's practical you could have the same electrician add one new 20 amp branch circuit for your media and computer stuff. Isolated ground would be nice for that, too.

If you are thinking about doing some of your own wiring eventually, first check with the municipality to find out which codes apply (Municipal, State, NEC) and who is permitted to do the work (homeowner, electrician only, or employee of licensed contractor). If homeowners can do the work, get copies of the codes and a good textbook such as _Electrical Wiring Residential_ by Ray C. Mullin. The DIY books are just general practice primers but never address local codes, which are critical. If you have to have an electrician or electrical contractor do the work, maybe your BF knows someone he can barter with.
Old 12-02-05, 04:27 AM
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Originally Posted by ArgMeMatey
If it's practical you could have the same electrician add one new 20 amp branch circuit for your media and computer stuff. Isolated ground would be nice for that, too.
While a dedicated circuit for these items is a good idea, an isolated ground in a residence means nothing and is a waste of money. If you have a dedicated circuit then you essentially have an isolated ground anyway.
Old 12-02-05, 08:36 AM
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Re-wiring the entire house is often overkill unless you plan to totally gut out the house and re-model everything. Usually the best course of action to save money and improve safety is to:

1) Upgrade the service panel from fuses to breakers; at this time you would choose between a 100A, 150A or 200A service. The electrician will replace the panel (fuse) box, meter box, and service entrance wiring up to the point where it connects to the power company's lines; he will also ground the service panel and install the required bonding wires to your plumbing. This is not a DIY job and will cost between $1,000 and $2,000. Many insurance companies will require this to be done or will charge you a higher rate if you keep the old fuses.

2) Add GFCI protection to the existing ungrounded circuits in the house and to the kitchen, bathroom, garage, outdoor and basement circuits that now requrie GFCI protection. This is pretty cheap, and provides a huge measure of safety. You could do this work yourself over a weekend with some reading and study for probably $100 in GFCI receptacles.

3) Supplement the existing electrical system in the house by adding new, grounded circuits where you need them. Typically, this would be in the kitchen, for the computer, for the entertainment center, and perhaps in the basement or garage if you use power tools that require ground. This can also be done yourself with some reading and learning. The cost depends on materials, and most electrcians will add circuits for a reasonable price provided you have an accessible basement or attic.

I don't think you should be fearful of a 1950s electrical system unless there is obvious damage or disrepair. Ungrounded circuits are perfectly safe if GFCI protected, and few appliances require grounded circuits anyway.

Last edited by ibpooks; 12-02-05 at 08:48 AM.
Old 12-02-05, 09:49 AM
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IF---repeat, IF ----- the fuse is the correct amp-rating for the circuit, glass-type plug fuses are VERY safe for circuit protection.

It's possible you have"Type S" fuses( fusestats) which can be a nuisance.A "standard" plug-fuse has an "Edison" base, which is similiar to the base of a "standard" lamp. If you can thread a 60 watt lamp into the thread of the fuse-socket, you have "standard" plug fuses; if not, then "Type S". A Type S fuse socket prevents inserting a 20 amp fuse into a 15 amp socket to prevent over-fusing a 15 amp circuit.The wire-gauge of the circuit determines the fuse rating. #14 gauge wire, 15 amp fuse-rating, is used for "general-pupose" circuits, and #12 gauge wire , 20 amp fuse-rating, is used for laundry and small-appliance circuits. An exact determination of the wire-gauges of the individual circuits may require the services of an electrician.

Fuses are "color-coded"-- Blue = 15 amp Red = 20 amp Green = 30 amp. The color Green ( 30 amps )is a danger-signal; a 30 amp plug fuse must ONLY be used with the greatest of caution and absolute certainty.

What appliances will you be operating? A washer may or may not overload a 15 amp fuse, and you MAY have a 20 amp laundry circuit and one or more 20 amp small-appliances circuits.

Good Luck & Learn andEnjoy from the Experience!!!!!!!!1

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