When old work needs to be replaced?


Old 01-18-07, 09:52 AM
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When old work needs to be replaced?

I am remodelling an older home wch has a variety of issues (grounding, two-prong outlets, number of fixtures per circuit, GFCI, etc.).

I have a bit of confusion over the definition of old work.

What defines a subjob as old work?

If you upgrade a fixture in a room w/older fixtures, are you required to upgrade all fixtures in the room?

What are the rules of engagement, to mix metaphors?
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Old 01-18-07, 10:04 AM
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You are getting into a grey area when you remodel a room. Things like painting and other cosmetic work that do not involve any electrical work impose no requirements to upgrade the electrical. However, if you get into demolishing walls and reconstructing them, it is usually required to bring the entire room up to code and not just the walls worked on, although different jurisdictions have different requirements and different inspectors want different things.

The ultimate authority is the AHJ (authority having jurisdiction), which means the inspector for your town, village or city. You can always ask them.

Why donít you tell us what you are planning on doing and we can be more specific.
Old 01-18-07, 02:19 PM
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> What defines a subjob as old work?

There are a few triggers that require modernization. The first is you are not allowed to extend any ungrounded circuit without bringing the entire circuit (which may encompass multiple rooms) up to code. Second, in most jurisdictions, if the wall covering (drywall/plaster/paneling) comes down, then the electrical for that wall, and sometimes the whole room) needs to come up to code. This would include receptacle spacing, grounding, and many more requirements if the room is a kitchen or bathroom.

Ultimately, it's the call of the local building and/or electrical inspector. Local rules vary widely on the application of remodel vs. new construction code.

> If you upgrade a fixture in a room w/older fixtures, are you required to
> upgrade all fixtures in the room?

If you mean light fixtures, then changing them counts as cosmetic work. Take care to observe the temperature requirements of new light fixtures; many new fixtures require 90 degree supply wiring, and your house has 60 degree supply wiring. If you want to use 90 degree light fixtures, you'll need to replace the existing wiring to the light with modern NM-B.

Changing receptacles and light switches to a new color also counts as cosmetic work IF you replace 2-prong receptacles with 2-prong receptacles. Article 406 of NEC allows upgrading 2-prong receptacles to 3-prong GFCI receptacles if you attach a "NO EQUIPMENT GROUND" sticker to the receptacle; however you may not extend the circuit -- only replace what is there.
Old 01-18-07, 04:57 PM
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Thanks for the responses!

Mostly, the question was a general one, mostly trying to find out where the mines were, so that I didn't open up a larger can of worms than I could deal with.

I was concerned about three-prong outlets. Knowing that I can affix a sticker makes life _much_ easier, since many electric devices these days have three prongs (or at least require a polarised plug (if I have the term right). 'course, said three prong plug probably presupposes a grounded circuit.

When I come up against specific situations, I'll post a new question.
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