Junction box questions

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  #1  
Old 04-10-06, 06:22 PM
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Junction box questions

Hi,

The wife finally talked me into remodeling the kitchen. The first thing we did was to remove the upper cabinets over the counter top. In removing them and also removing a drywall "bulkhead" that filled the gap between the top of the cabs and the ceiling, we found that several electrical wires were run inside the old "bulkhead." Since we will be installing cabs that extend all the way up to the ceiling, we need to move the exposed wires back behind the studs so that drywall can be installed which would then "finish" the room. The problem is that the wires were run "as the crow flies" and do not have enough slack in them to allow me to re-run them inside the studs and ceiling joists.

We want to keep everything as is in our kitchen from an electrical point of view. That is we are not looking to add a bunch of new elecrical appliances, lighting etc---maybe a few GFI's and one or two addtional outlets, that't it.

So....here's my question: Is there a way to extend the existing outlet and switch wiring so that it can be run through the studs and joists?

I read up a bit on junction boxes but somewhere it said that juntion boxes can only be installed with access, that is they can't be drywalled over covered up inside a wall or ceiling.

If this is true, then we would have to find a place for 3 or 4 new junciton boxes. Maybe it will have to be inside a cabinet where we cut out the back of the cab so as to provide access to junciton box.

Any thoughts on the above would be great appreciated---maybe there's a way to re-run the existin wires without having to take everything dowstairs into basement. Luckily the basement directly below the kithce is unfinished.

Any ideas, gizmos, are magic bullets would be greatly appeciated.

Thans

BC
 
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  #2  
Old 04-10-06, 07:06 PM
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You need to bring your kitchen up to code. With the type of remodel you are doing you cannot leave it as it is, unless it is already up to code.

Code means two (or more) 20 amp circuits serving the counter top receptacles. No lights can be on these circuits.

I recommend abandoning the existing circuits unless they are already up to code or close to it.

As for the lights, if you have to install junction boxes they must be accessible. Cutting a hole in the back of a cabinet would make them accessible, but do you really want that? Do it right, rerun the cables.
 
  #3  
Old 04-10-06, 07:38 PM
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I agree with Racraft's post and add the following: If you do retain the existing 'home-runs' (the cables running from the electrical panel to the first box in the circuit), determine where these cables are coming from, and see if you can get them to some (perhaps new) countertop receptacles closer to the panel. Then you can use new cable to run to your other receptacles around the countertops of the kitchen.

As you can imagine, junction boxes without an obvious purpose are unattractive, and can also make troubleshooting the circuits difficult down the road, if necessary.

It's much clearer to try to get the existing wiring to a box that's actually serving the same purpose the circuit is: in this case, serving countertops.

If you're ripping drywall down, try not to install a junction box to avoid removing a little more drywall. You've already got drywall repairs to make, another won't hurt. Do the electrical job thoroughly, and you and future owners will be thankful later on.
 
  #4  
Old 04-11-06, 06:50 AM
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Re: Junction Boxes: Thanks

Thanks very much for taking time to read my question and to respond.

Re Racraft's advice, I will get out my tester and try to map out the circuits for the lights and the wall receptacles. Although the house may not be up to present day code, I believe it was up to code for the time when it was built, around 1976 or so. I also don't think that any electrical upgrades were made prior to our purchase, and we didn't have any done.

For the most part I am pretty certain that no lights have been included on the kitchen's (or any) 20 amp circuit(s?) servicing the wall receptacles. I'll find out though. I'll also find out if the kitchen receptacles are on one or two seperate circuits.

The good news on this job is that the entire basement ceiling is accessable (1/2 behind a drop ceiling and the other open) all the way to the panel. I did some checking last night and do now see where I can add a junction box or two in the basement that would allow me to run new wire up to the existing and new receptacles.

Here's another question: Assuming I only have one 20A circuit for the countertop receptacles, could I add a few new kitchen receptacles and meet today's code requirements by branching off the the finished basement's 20A receptacle circuit? There are no lights on this circuit.

Thanks also Rocky, your advice re finding the homerun to the first outlet makes sense to me. Here's a question for you on that:

Let's say I run new wiring to the existing recepts. What do you do with the old wiring that's fastened in to the studs and along the joists behind drywall? I would make sure that any abandonded wires are completely disconnected from any circuits, but portions of them may still remain.

Thanks again for you advice.
 
  #5  
Old 04-11-06, 07:03 AM
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To add a second 20 amp small appliance circuit (that's what kitchen counter top circuits are called) you will have to go back to the panel. You cannot include basement receptacles.

The specific code indicates that dining room receptacles and pantry receptacles can be on the circuit, but let's not go there.

Existing wiring can be left in the walls. If at all possible remove it, or at least as much as you can, but you are allowed to leave other segments in the wall. Do not leave any abandoned wiring in junction boxes.
 
  #6  
Old 04-12-06, 06:57 PM
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Junction Boxes / Kitchen re-work

Ok, thanks again for to those who responded to my original questions re junction boxes, and wiring for my kitchen upgrade.

Per racraft's advice, I checked out the kitchen light and appliance circuits with my tester. Here is what I found:

Breaker 19 Top = 20AMP Circuit has 5 receptacles, 3 in kitchen and 2 in adjacent dining. room Kitchen recepts are two counter tops and one wall mount for 'fridge.

Breaker 19 Bottom = 20AMP Circuit has 6 receptacles, 3 in kitchen, 3 in dining room. Two of kitchen recepts are counter top, one is a wall mount.

All dining room recepts are wall mounts, dining room receptacles don't get much use.

So it looks like I am up to code, that is I have two seperate 20A circuits for my counter top appliance receptacles. I even have a dedicated 15A receptacle powering only the microwave.

I know that Racraft advises against having dining room receptacles on the kitchen appliance circuits, but I'm only looking to add one or two additional receptacles (one more for counter top and one for the island) in the kitchen.

Still think I need to run a new circuit from the panel?

My panel is a Wadsworth Electric 150, and they no longer are in business. It looks like I can still get used breakers on the net, but it doesn't really appeal to me to go that route.

Next step for me will be to see if I can find the first receptacle in each circuit. Although I assume I'll have to use the "process of elimination" on this, I'll take any advice you guys care to impart on this task.

Thanks again.
 
  #7  
Old 04-12-06, 08:27 PM
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If your 1976 house is like my 1975 house, there is no ground fault protection on those circuits, and you will want to add that. In that case, when you determine which is the first receptical per circuit, you will want to replace it with a GFCI receptical (feeding downstream recepticals from the LOAD side), so that you will have GFCI protection on your countertop recepticals.

GFCI protection is not desirable for a refrigerator, so you may want to simply replace BOTH countertop recepticals on that circuit with GFCI recepticals and use only the LINE connectors (no downstream protection). That way, your fridge doesn't end up with GFCI protection.
 
  #8  
Old 04-12-06, 08:31 PM
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Originally Posted by WiFiGuy
I know that Racraft advises against having dining room receptacles on the kitchen appliance circuits, but I'm only looking to add one or two additional receptacles (one more for counter top and one for the island) in the kitchen.
I'm not sure what I said that made you think this. I have no problem with dining room and kitchen receptacles on the same circuit.

Dining rooms are included in the small appliance circuits because people sometimes use warming plates or electric knives or other kitchen appliances in the dining room.

If you do a lot of entertaining and have a large kitchen and dining room, then two circuits is probably not enough. However, if you have a small kitchen and small dining room and don't entertain much then two circuits may very well be plenty.

To find the first receptacle on the circuit, try following wires in the basement, if you can.
 
  #9  
Old 04-12-06, 11:38 PM
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Originally Posted by WiFiGuy
I even have a dedicated 15A receptacle powering only the microwave.
Do you mean a single receptacle?
I've not seen a dedicated receptacle for a mwo before.
Is this covered under NEC 210.52(B)(1)Exc.2 or where?


>It looks like I can still get used breakers on the net,
> but it doesn't really appeal to me to go that route.

What type breaker does it take?


> to see if I can find the first receptacle in each circuit.
If the wiring is visible from the basement, follow it.

Otherwise, open the prime "suspect" first.
 
  #10  
Old 04-13-06, 05:17 AM
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Bolide, 210.52(B) is covering wall, counter, and refrigeration receptacles. If the receptacle for the microwave is in the cabinet over the microwave, it is not governed by 210.52(B).

Generally, I run a dedicated circuit for the hood or microwave. I place a receptacle over the range, in the cabinet above. Since I use the receptacle method for connecting my hoods/ranges, under the 2005 I am required to supply my hoods on a dedicated circuit.

(I write all this assuming there's not some cleverness hidden up your sleeve I overlooked... )
 
  #11  
Old 04-13-06, 05:41 AM
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>Do you mean a single receptacle?
>I've not seen a dedicated receptacle for a mwo before.
>Is this covered under NEC 210.52(B)(1)Exc.2 or where?

Evidently you don't get around much. A dedicated circuit for a microwave is not only common but mandated by the instructions for many microwaves. The type of receptacle used on a dedicated circuit is pretty much common sense - if it's dedicated to one device then a single receptacle is installed.

>What type breaker does it take?

Wadsworth panels use Wadsworth breakers

Check one of the non-E-Bay circuit breaker sites for new old stock Wadsworth breakers (just enter Wadsworth Circuit Breaker in a search engine - several places with new breakers will show up), They are, however, a bit pricey. There is an adapter available to use a Cutler Hammer type breaker (really, REALLY pricey), but frankly if you need to add more than a breaker or two it starts becoming cost effective to change out your panel. Not a bad idea anyway as you are now blessed with a several day wait should a breaker fail and you now have 30 year old equipment anyway.

I also agree a fridge shouldn't be on a GFCI. I typically install a dedicated circuit for one and would suggest you consider this as well. I also like to limit my kitchen counter/small appliance circuits to 2 receptacles each and put the dining room on a seperate circuit. Actually, the dining room issue is a life style thing and most folks don't run more than a coffee pot and/or toaster in the dining room any more - but I see them frequently used for computers and other "office uses" due to lack of other space in the house and wire accordingly.
 
  #12  
Old 04-13-06, 06:54 AM
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Originally Posted by itsunclebill
A dedicated circuit for a microwave is not only common but mandated by the instructions for many microwaves.
Are these 1500W or more? Maybe I don't get around enough, but I still haven't seen an appliance for general home use (criterion: sold at large chain store which now makes 5% of all retail sales in the USA) with a 20A plug. What amperage circuit do the instructions specify?
 
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Old 04-13-06, 07:17 AM
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Pretty simple really. If the manufacturer says the microwave needs a dedicated circuit, the NEC says it's not legal to install anything contrary to the manufacturer's instructions. Doesn't matter WHAT the rating of the appliance is. As to the 20 AMP simplex, it would be required in a 20 AMP dedicated circuit by code no matter what kind of cord cap the microwave has - 'nother code issue.

Enough manufacturers require a dedicated circuit for microwaves it is commonplace to have them.
 
  #14  
Old 04-13-06, 09:11 AM
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Originally Posted by itsunclebill
If the manufacturer says the microwave needs a dedicated circuit,
You didn't say what amperage.

> As to the 20 AMP simplex, it would be required in a 20 AMP dedicated circuit by code
> no matter what kind of cord cap the microwave has - 'nother code issue.

I find it strange that the manufacturer would require a dedicated 20A circuit and then put a 15A plug on the appliance.


> Enough manufacturers require a dedicated circuit for microwaves it is commonplace to have them.

Perhaps so. I've never had someone call me to ask for a dedicated circuit for a mwo. I would be surprised that anyone understands such instructions even on the slim chance that they read them.

By the time anyone calls because the breaker keeps popping, they have long since tossed the directions. It never even crossed my mind to ask to see the manufacturer's instructions.
To me it is always a simple matter: a 20A circuit with a 15A duplex receptacle.

So yes, I do want to know about this. However, I do not "install" cord-and-plug connected consumer appliances.

Manufacturers' directions can be wrong. The famous example is for equipment requiring an isolated ground rod. As for the NEC, it needs to reasonably anticipate manufacturers' requirements.

Mwo ovens aren't nearly as fixed in place or provided with dedicated space as a refrigerator, stove, or most dishwashers.

So a simplex outlet at one place could be fine - for a while. But then the consumer moves it. So a simplex outlet and dedicated circuit is needed at the new location. Somehow this does not sound practical; nor is it realistic to assume that a particular space will be dedicated to a mwo which is easily moved to another place. Consumers will not remember to call an electrician every time they rearrange their small appliances.

More sensible is that the mwo must be plugged into a 20A small appliance branch circuit; perhaps the NEC should limit the number of outlets served, or at least the number of adjacent outlets served by any one circuit.
 
  #15  
Old 04-13-06, 02:54 PM
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Re: Junction Box and Kitchen Upgrade Questions

Thanks to all who responded to my last post.

The GFCI info sounds good and will be something I'll do--thanks Chirk and UncleBill

Re dining room and kitchen sizes: The DR is small and does not get used very much. Kitchen is not gigantic, but is bigger than most---thanks Racraft,

Re the MWO--It is currently being powered by a 15A receptacle that was installed in the cabinet above it--just as Rocky described. This circuit appears to be dedicated to just the MWO. Note that the MWO sits over the kitchen's current electric burners and oven. The MWO does the venting for the burners. It vents outside via a stack leading to the outside wall of the kitchen.

For the new kitchen, we will be going with a range hood over a gas cooktop AND will still have a wall mounted MWO. Of course, neither of these two items will be installed where the old MWO currently is. I'll check re what the manufacturers. say about the MWO and the hood's power sources.

Since we're still only in rip out mode, I figured I'd start asking questions now so as to try to come up with a realistic "project scope", especially with regard to power. Originally, I anticipated a relatively minor upgrade to electric, but it is starting to look like bigger and bigger the more I dig.

Here's a new one, uncovered during last night's circuit mapping expedition:

I currently have a 15A lighting circuit supporting the following:

Kitchen: two ceiling lights and one resessed sink light
Screen porch: one wall mount light
Garage: two overhead lights, one garage door opener, two double wall receptacles. One of the recepts for both is a GFCI.
Family room: Six recessed lights
Front porch: One overhead light
Foyer: One ceiling light

I'm no expert but based on what I have been reading in this forum, I'm amazed that the breaker isn't popping--in fact it has never gone in the 10+ years we've been in the house.

As always, I greatly appreciate your insights on all of this.
 
  #16  
Old 04-13-06, 05:00 PM
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It's interesting seeing how things work in different parts of the country. Around here, it's almost a standard to have a Microwave/Hood combo installed over the range. If the kitchen has a seperate wall-oven/cooktop setup, then a microwave is built-in to a cabinet next to or above the wall-oven.

Originally Posted by bolide
Somehow this does not sound practical; nor is it realistic to assume that a particular space will be dedicated to a mwo which is easily moved to another place.
You were assuming a microwave that is easily moved, we weren't. I don't believe the original poster was, either.

Originally Posted by WiFiGuy
Re dining room and kitchen sizes: The DR is small and does not get used very much. Kitchen is not gigantic, but is bigger than most---thanks Racraft,
I would put the dining room and the fridge on the same circuit, assuming a conventional fridge. Or you can follow the options mentioned above, they are as good or better a design.

Originally Posted by WiFiGuy
For the new kitchen, we will be going with a range hood over a gas cooktop AND will still have a wall mounted MWO. Of course, neither of these two items will be installed where the old MWO currently is. I'll check re what the manufacturers. say about the MWO and the hood's power sources.
You should install a dedicated 20 amp circuit for the microwave, IMO. Takes out the guesswork and allows for future expansion.

If you cord-and-plug-connect the new range hood, you need to supply it from a dedicated circuit if you are under the 2005 NEC. Given the presence of a microwave in the kitchen already, I would be tempted to run a mere 15A circuit unless you're wildly infatuated with microwaves, and might install a second someday. I doubt that will happen, but you know yourself better than I do.

I currently have a 15A lighting circuit supporting the following...
That's not the worst I've seen, but it's not great. If you don't add to it, and leave it alone, you probably are all right. If you want a better system, I'd get the garage GFI's and the garage door openers off that circuit, IMO.
 
  #17  
Old 04-17-06, 06:46 AM
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Re: Junction Box and Kitchen Upgrade Questions

Rocky,

Thanks for the words of wisdom, I'll take a look at the Fridge / DR set up that you recommended.

The makers of the range hood and MWO both want dedicated 15A power sources and are fine with the cord-and-plug method.

Since we've already got a dedicated 15A for the present MWO, I was thinking of moving it for the hood, then running a new dedicated 20A circuit for the MWO.

Re the lighting circuit, now that we know what is on it, we won't be adding anything new. As you recommended, we'll simply leave it alone for now.

Thanks again for all your advice, I appreaciate you taking the time to write.
 
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