Electrical Circuit Issue


Old 01-07-11, 04:17 AM
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Electrical Circuit Issue

My wife and I inherited her parents house. This house is 50+ years old and has a fuse box for the electrical distribution. We gutted the one bathroom and have hired someone to install the new tub, flooring, etc. for us. We were unable to remove the old cast iron tub and the fellow we hired met me at the house to help remove the tub. He brought in his reciprocating saw and a heavy duty (maybe 15 amp) extension cord to cut the drain/overflow off the bottom of the tub. He had me plug the extension cord into a wall socket in the livingroom of the house. I plugged the cord into the top outlet and it did not provide any power. I proceeded to the lower outlet and this did provide him power. We then removed the tub and he left. Later that day, I realized that the four outlets in the livingroom (two controlled by a switch) and one outlet in the kitchen providing power to the refrigerator, were not on. Since then, I discovered a blown fuse in the fuse box. I replaced this fuse and all the others because they were all 30 amp fuses. I felt this was much too high for outlets and lights and used 20 amp fuses which is still a little high. But, not knowing where everthing went and to what I felt this was a good compromise. Additionally, I have removed switch and outlet covers looking for burnt and/or loose wires and have found none. I still do not have any power at these receptacles. My next step was to remove the fuse panel cover exposing the circuit connections. Any help or guidance from anyone would be greatly appreciated.
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Old 01-07-11, 05:26 AM
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Welcome to the forums! Most likely all those circuits to lighting are rated at 15 amps. Just glad no one was involved in the potential fire that was waiting to happen. Over protecting a circuit makes the wires in the wall the fuse, and if the circuit is overloaded, the only "fuse" you have for protection is in the wall and when it melts it causes a fire.
Depending on what you want to do with the house (and obviously you are fixing it up somewhat) I would consider having an electrician come in and replace the fuse panel with an appropriately sized circuit breaker panel. It may entail increasing the service entrance, but having enough to provide adequate power for today's electronics and loads, it may be the best option.
I would just hate to see you go through an extensive remodel and have to change out the panel in 5 years due to a failure you could have prevented with nekkid walls.
Old 01-07-11, 10:06 AM
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Originally Posted by maw1732 View Post
Additionally, I have removed switch and outlet covers looking for burnt and/or loose wires and have found none.
Usually you can't see the burnt wires right away. It usually burns off at a backstabbed receptacle/switch or inside a wirenut or taped up crimp. Pretty much the only way to confirm no broken wires is to pull the devices out of the box, undo and remake all connections and might as well replace the switch and receptacles too while you're doing the work anyway. Use the screw terminals, not the push-in backstabs.

I also would recommend a non-contact voltage tester before you pull the devices. You don't know what fuses control what so you can't be certain you have de-energized the box you're working on.
Old 01-07-11, 08:02 PM
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As well as updating the panel and service entrance, I would recommend an evaluation by a qualified electrician on possibly rewiring the house to today's codes to include whether or not the existing circuits have a grounding conductor and the amperage of each existing circuit. Maybe all you need is a few new circuits, but you'll never know unless the existing wiring is evaluated properly.

Off the subject, but I would also recommend getting your plumbing updated. If you have galvanized water lines, they are at their end of useful life now. The same goes for cast iron drains. If you have copper water lines, they are assembled with lead bearing solder.
Old 01-08-11, 07:34 AM
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The receptacle could have also been switch controlled on the half that did not work.
Old 01-08-11, 10:53 AM
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Removed suggestion to use 20a receptacles.

Should you ever rewire, you should get 12awg wire with 20A breakers for the receptacles. You could then run more plug more stuff in without tripping the breaker.

Last edited by ray2047; 01-08-11 at 11:18 AM.

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