Zinsco Panel/House rewire-California code

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Old 05-08-09, 01:43 PM
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Zinsco Panel/House rewire-California code

We have an old 100amp Zinsco panel that we're planning on replacing with a square d 200amp panel. Along with that we want to rewire the home because half the outlets are not grounded, and the kitchen wiring isn't up to code (there aren't dedicated circuits for all the appliances). We've talked to a couple electricians. One electrician feels rewiring the whole home is nearly impossible without ripping out all the walls down to the studs to get wiring in place. The other electrician feels it can be done with strategically cutting sheetrock (mostly on exterior walls (or where there are fire blocks). Is it possible to rewire the house to California electrical codes by wiring through the attic/crawl space,fishing wires, and strategically cutting Sheet rock?

Also, a dumb question, what is the code for fastening wiring in the attic and in the crawl space? do they have be run through metal pipe?

Thanks
 
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Old 05-08-09, 02:16 PM
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Originally Posted by mrshikadance View Post
the kitchen wiring isn't up to code (there aren't dedicated circuits for all the appliances).
Any home older than about a year isn't up to code. The question is how extensive you want your improvements to be.

We've talked to a couple electricians. One electrician feels rewiring the whole home is nearly impossible without ripping out all the walls down to the studs to get wiring in place. The other electrician feels it can be done with strategically cutting sheetrock (mostly on exterior walls (or where there are fire blocks). Is it possible to rewire the house to California electrical codes by wiring through the attic/crawl space,fishing wires, and strategically cutting Sheet rock?
The difference is really in the amount of labor involved. Yes, you can fish most any circuit by strategically using the attic and basement but it can take a lot of time to hit a tough one compared to tearing out some sheetrock and doing it quick but with larger repairs afterward.

If the drywall is mostly open, an electrician can bid the job on a fixed-price contract. If the walls are closed and you want to minimize damage then you will likely get bids based on time and materials which of course is variable once the job gets going and harder for you to budget around.

Also, a dumb question, what is the code for fastening wiring in the attic and in the crawl space? do they have be run through metal pipe?
There are several, but usually metal pipe is not required. In an accessible attic, wiring needs to run along a framing member like a 2x4 for protection. In an inaccessible attic, wiring only needs protection within 6' of the scuttle hole. In a crawlspace, the ideal case is to run wiring through bored holes in the floor joists. If that's not practical, then you can run wiring along a running board which can be smaller than the attic (like a 1x2) because there's no chance of stepping on it.
 
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Old 05-08-09, 02:23 PM
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The following is opinion. The guy who wants to rip out walls is more concerned on making it easy on himself then what is best for you. He may be a bit cheaper but figure what it is going to cost to replace all the walls correctly when he is finished.

If you have both crawl space and attic and especially in a one story house (you didn't say which) not that hard even with fire stops. Switches can be just above the fire stop and wired from the attic. Receptacles (except counter top) can be wire from below. In some cases conduit can be used on the outside of the house to get to other wise inaccessible areas. It just takes planing and more work. The grounded receptacles may not need replacing and retrofitting some ungrounded with GFCIs may be adequate so actual number of circuits not that many.
 
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Old 05-08-09, 02:28 PM
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Originally Posted by mrshikadance View Post
Is it possible to rewire the house to California electrical codes by wiring through the attic/crawl space,fishing wires, and strategically cutting Sheet rock?
Yes, I believe you can. This will take them more time. You may not have as nice of a receptacle layout but they should be able to get the required spacing. Be sure to check what they are going to do. Some cities will allow you to have X amount of receptacles per X amount of room square feet in lue of the 12' spacing

The other electricians suggestion will be faster fro them.
You shouldn't need to tear out all the walls. I would think you should be able to make a 12"-24" channel around the room above the baseboard and they should be able to wire within that space.

Originally Posted by mrshikadance View Post
what is the code for fastening wiring in the attic and in the crawl space? do they have be run through metal pipe?
I do not work in CA, but as far as I know you do not need to use metal or PVC pipe in either locations. In the attic you just need to protect the cable from damage by keeping it 6' away the attic access or use running boards.
 
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Old 05-08-09, 08:31 PM
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Yeah it is possible to rewire the house without tearing the wall board off, but you are talking about an extremely time consuming job and will more than likely double your cost of installation.

I believe it would be cheaper to pay a drywall contractor to replace the drywall then it would be to have an electrician spend weeks in your house trying to fish wires and another contractor patching the hundreds of holes.

I fish wires everyday in existing walls to add lighting, outlets etc.. but I wouldn't want to rewire the ENTIRE house using that method.

My opinion is that you will get a better job if you rip the walls out. You will be able to lay things out the way YOU want them and not by how hard it will be fish something. You could add all sorts of lighting without much of labor increase.

Here is an example :

I can put 4 Recessed lights on the existing drywalled ceiling in a room with a switch in about 2 1/2 hours

I can do those same 4 lights in about 40 minutes if the walls were open
 
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Old 05-11-09, 06:16 AM
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I'd agree with most of the responses - As long as you have an accessible attic/crawlspace/basement, someone experienced should be able to fish wires pretty easily throughout most of the house. There will likely need to be a few holes cut in the drywall, but only for specific reasons. Every receptacle/switch shouldn't need a new hole (other than the hole for the box obviously).

But fishing wire is an art, so you want to go with the electrician who sounds like he is willing to do a good job with minimal mess. Drywall isn't hard to replace, but you don't want 50 holes punched out with a hammer.
 
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Old 05-11-09, 10:17 AM
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Thanks for all the responses. I just received a quote from the electricians who is willing to fish. I wanted to run the quote by everyone to see if you think the pricing is fair.

For a single story home to rewire the whole house (22 switches, 27 receptacles, and 7 fixtures), install 4 interconnected smoke detectors and to upgrade the panel, the total is $6129. I think this is a pretty good price. What do you guys think?

Also, he is willing to install 28 recessed lights for $100 a can (not including the light). What do you think of this price?
 
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