Rewiring entire house. How?


Old 04-22-07, 06:27 PM
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Join Date: Dec 2006
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Rewiring entire house. How?

I bought a pretty old home and I am remodeling it one room at a time. I want to run new wire and outlets, switches and fixtures from each room before I put the new drywall up in each room.

I am finally ready to drywall my living room and I want to run my wire and install my boxes, but I am stuck as to the recommended running of wires from breakers.

Do I use 1 breaker per room, including the lights? I am going from an old breaker box that has 6 breakers to a new one which can hold 24 breakers. The old box would run two rooms with one breaker and I am constantly overloading breakers.

I am going to install my new breaker box in a different location then my old one and T off the main power so I can slowly update the old box to my new box without any interuption in power. Once all the circuits have been updated over the next couple of years I can remove the old breaker box.

I just need to know, should I run one circuit to my lighting in my living room, and a seperate circuit to my outlets for a total of two breakers per room? Or just run one wire from one breaker an entire room, outlets and lighting and all? Two breakers might be overkill, but it would be nice to be able to plug in a lamp for light if I am working on the light fixture, and it would also be nice if I am replacing an outlet to be able to flip a breaker for the outlets but still have functioning lights within the same room.

Anyone have any insight?

FIY, I plan on having an electrician do all the pre breaker box wiring.
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Old 04-22-07, 06:39 PM
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I suggest you get many electrical books and start reading . Big time.
Old 04-22-07, 07:10 PM
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Google "N.E.C. 2005" or similiar. There are a lot of things that you need to take into account before any of this.

You cannot just tap power of your main breaker to feed a subpanel. You need to install a douple pole breaker in your main box, then wire the sub from there. That is just for starters.

Take burkes advice and read up.
Old 04-23-07, 03:41 AM
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How old is old?? To add, it is rare to find one room on one breaker, each circuit is usually distributed thru several rooms, except bathroom and kitchen, which require separate circuits.
The NEC can be difficult to navigate, I would recommend 'Electrical Wiring, Residential" by Mullin. Very useful but may be dated.
Old 04-23-07, 09:02 AM
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Agreed. The investment in a few good books will pay off in the long run.

To answer your question, every house is different. Usually a 15A breaker (with 14ga wire) is used for lighting across a few rooms since a fixture in the middle of the room is only using a few light bulbs. Outlets in rooms can again be spread across a room or two, with some extra thought given to dedicated circuits for computers, home theaters, etc. Kitchens, bathrooms, and laundry rooms have their own rules and will need special consideration.

I'd highly recommend Wiring a House (For Pros by Pros) by Rex Cauldwell. He talks about minimum requirements for each room - and his "above code" rooms.

Good luck!

Old 04-23-07, 10:07 AM
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Thanks for your replies. My house is very small, two bedrooms, living room, kitchen and bathroom.

I am a computer geek so I always have lots of computers running. At the moment I have 3 computers in my house and as soon as my brother moves out, the number will be just two. (personal computer and media center computer). So, at times I can have a pretty big load on a circuits, especially right now since my bedroom and the living share the same circuit, and on top of that there is only one outlet in my room, on the wrong side of the room so I have an extension cord -> surge protector -> computer, monitor, alarm clock, stereo -> surge protector -> ac/heater, guitar amp, ect... Just so many things plugged into a single outlet off an extension cord. I can't even run a heater in my living while heater is running in my room, it will trip the breaker. It was a cold winter let me tell you.

I am going to get a furnace and central ac this summer hopefully, which is also why I want to get this new breaker box broke in so I can give it a dedicated circuit.

None of the outlets currently installed in the house are grounded, and I remember when I was shopping around for insurance they asked me what kind of insulation the wiring had. Since mine had the older style insulation I ended up having to pay like a 6.00 a month premium.

Thanks again, I will get a book.
Old 04-23-07, 12:35 PM
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What brand/model # electrical panel do you have now? Are all the stabs full, meaning, do you have room to add a double pole breaker to feed the new sub?
Old 04-26-07, 03:39 PM
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I'd do it:

One 20A receptacle circuit per bedroom, two for the master.
One or two lighting circuits plus hall recepticles dedicated to the sleeping area. All AFCI. Don't forget the smoke detectors, and if need be, a CO detector.

For Living/Foyer (depending on house layout), one lighting circuit, two 20A recepticle circuits.
Maybe a third for an HT system.

Kitchen/bath/dining/laundry, per code.
Old 04-26-07, 06:18 PM
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Rewiring a house requires a permit and inspection by the electrical inspector. Local wiring codes can vary from area to area. Check with your local building code office.
Old 04-26-07, 06:41 PM
Join Date: Apr 2007
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You have to abide by electrical code as well as map out the needs for each room. Circuit design is not just 1 breaker = 1 room, you have to take into account the loads that will be drawn by the devices.

For example, in my kitchen that I am remodeling I have about 8 circuits planned (one is a double for the stove).

It has taken me a few weeks to decide on just this one room (although the kitchen is the most power hungry of the rooms) not only because I was deciding what I needed, but also researching NEC codes is not that easy.

You mentioned computers which are not that heavy draw in themselves, but printers and monitors can be. If you have them located in one room you may want to run multiple circuits for them.

As sugguested above, pick up some books on the subject. I would start with Wiring 1-2-3 from the Home Depot (great book) and then look on for some others. I have never read the electric book, but check out the one "For Pros, By Pros". They have a whole series and I got the one for windows and doors and it is a fantastic book.

Read, research, plan, THEN install.
Old 04-29-07, 03:35 PM
Join Date: Mar 2007
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Hmmm... 6 breakers? Are you upgrading the service to the house? I bought Cauldwell's book, it's very good.
Old 04-30-07, 06:48 PM
Join Date: Feb 2007
Location: Janesville, WI, south of Madison
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I picked up 'Wiring a House (For Pros by Pros)' by Rex Cauldwell, prior to rewiring my kitchen. This book was incredibly helpful; especially the Ďabove code recommendationsí. I'd highly recommend picking up this book, as well looking through a few others before you go any further. Your undertaking a massive task, think about the future. Making some smart decision now about future needs will save you time and money down the road. Not to mention the impact your current decisions will have when you sell your home. Poorly thought out decision could hurt you, both physically and financially.
Old 04-30-07, 11:05 PM
Join Date: Jan 2004
Location: Baltimore
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I am in similar situation. Some of the circuits in my 107 year old home have older wire with brittle insulation. so I am going to replace it. One thought I had about how to plan the wiring deals with planning for emergency generator use. Since the switches only let you wire in a limited number of circuits that can be fed by generator, should I run one circuit for all (or most)overhead lights and one circuit that has one outlet in a lot of rooms so that those circuits could be powered by a generator in emergencyand get me power to a lot of rooms. I was without power for several days when Hurricane Isabel hit and bought generator but had to run extension cords everwhere. Hoping to avoid that if lose power again.
thanks, bill

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