Fuse Box / Breaker box in basement bathroom?

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  #1  
Old 01-07-12, 09:16 AM
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Fuse Box / Breaker box in basement bathroom?

The previous owner of my 1950's era home installed a bathroom in the basement. The toilet ended up being located right under the fuse box. A copper water pipe is next to the fuse box and two copper water pipes were routed right next to the main power cable coming into the house (see second photo below).

I'd like to get rid of the fuse box and replace it with a breaker box.

I'm also in the process of upgrading this bathroom. The shaded lines in the picture show how I'd like to close in this area as a separate room. The bathroom also contains a shower. I will also be adding a powered vent in the ceiling.





Is having these copper water pipes located so close to the electrical components a problem? If yes then do I have an option of replacing the copper with PVC pipes to make it a safer situation? I could also reroute these pipes so they enter the bathroom a few feet farther down. But they would still be a foot or two from the fuse / breaker box if I did that.

Does having a toilet located this close to a fuse / breaker box present an electrical safety hazard ?

Should I be looking into having the breaker box located outside of the bathroom ?

I also have some questions on a general approach to take for rewiring my home once the breaker box is added. But I'll hold off on asking anything until these first questions are answered.

Thank you.
 
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  #2  
Old 01-07-12, 10:43 AM
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A possible arrangement is to install a "Main" circuit-breaker outdoors under the utility meter-socket. This breaker would serve two purposes because it would be the required Service Dis-connects means and it would provide the required over-current protection for a 100 amp "Feeder" that could extend into the interior for any distance.

The "Feeder" would supply a new circuit-breaker panel in a location outside the bathroom from which point new cables would connect to the existing cables in a "splice box" best located in the bathroom ceiling with the box cover "flush" with the ceiling finish.

It's possible that some existing cables could be re-located directly into the new panel , depending upon how they are now routed into the existing panel.

This would require a new Grounding Electrode Conductor between the outdoor Service Dis-connect and point the water-service line enters the basement.

You then have breakers instead of fuses , and space in the new panel for additional circuits.

If you are fortunate , the "run" of ceiling joists would be in the same dirction as the "run" of the new Feeder cable and the new Branch-Circuit cables between the new / old panels.
 
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Old 01-07-12, 11:39 AM
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Relocating the box is your only option to be code compliant. You may not have an electrical panel in a bathroom. Your current location also violates clearance rules. Pattbaa's recommendation of an outside disconnect might be your best option.
 
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Old 01-07-12, 01:53 PM
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You need an updated service badly anyway so use the advice given and install a new service with disconnect at the meter and put the new circuit breaker panel in an appropriate area; an unfinished area in the basement would be good.
 
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Old 01-07-12, 03:31 PM
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A possible arrangement is to install a "Main" circuit-breaker outdoors under the utility meter-socket. This breaker would serve two purposes because it would be the required Service Dis-connects means and it would provide the required over-current protection for a 100 amp "Feeder" that could extend into the interior for any distance.
I hopefully I have part of what is needed in place already -- a 'Main' breaker located outside:

This outside breaker was replaced about two years ago when the original Pacific Electric box suddenly failed. At that time the grounding wires were installed. The two outside wires are connected to metal rods hammered into the soil. The copper wire from the outside was routed inside the house to the water intake pipe. A professional electrician did this work.


The "Feeder" would supply a new circuit-breaker panel in a location outside the bathroom from which point new cables would connect to the existing cables in a "splice box" best located in the bathroom ceiling with the box cover "flush" with the ceiling finish.
Just want to make sure I'm understanding this.
  1. A new 100 Amp cable would be run from the outside breaker to another location in the house.
  2. The new breaker would be connected to this 100 Amp cable
  3. The old fuse boxes would go away.
  4. The circuits that the old fuse box served would be rerouted to the new breaker. This would be accomplished with a "splice box" that will be located in the bathroom ceiling. The old circuits will go into the splice box and new wires will come out of it and they will go to the new circuit breaker.
More or less did I get this right ?


It's possible that some existing cables could be re-located directly into the new panel , depending upon how they are now routed into the existing panel.
If you look at the existing fuse box you'll see four romex cables exiting sub panel on the far right. I'm thinking these could be candidates for routing directly to the new panel?



If you are fortunate , the "run" of ceiling joists would be in the same dirction as the "run" of the new Feeder cable and the new Branch-Circuit cables between the new / old panels.
I think this is referring to how easy it will be to route the wires/cables that will coming out of the splice box that will then need to go to the new breaker panel? There will be a bunch of these cables. One for each circuit served by the old fuse box (except for those circuits that can be rerouted.

If the new panel is located in line with the "run" of the ceiling joists then it will be a relatively simple task to route the cables coming out of the the splitter to the new panel through the ceiling joist cavity. Did I get this right?

If I did get it right then this seems like an important factor in deciding where to locate the new panel (assuming I want to keep this as straight forward a job as possible).
 
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Old 01-07-12, 03:54 PM
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Your outside panel is exactly what you need so you are more than 1/2 way there! I recommend replacing your feeder cable to the new panel rather then splicing it.

If the cables are long enough they can certainly go to the new panel location, or get them as far as you can and add another j-box, in an accessible location of course.
 
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Old 01-08-12, 09:34 PM
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I recommend replacing your feeder cable to the new panel rather then splicing it.
Hopefully I understand the terminology but I think this means throw away the existing 'big' cable that comes in the house, from the outside meter, and then goes to the fuse box. And then use a new 'big' cable that starts at the outside meter and makes a continuous and longer run to the new panel box.
 
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Old 01-09-12, 02:02 AM
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I think this means throw away the existing 'big' cable that comes in the house, from the outside meter, and then goes to the fuse box. And then use a new 'big' cable that starts at the outside meter and makes a continuous and longer run to the new panel box.
Yes, or use conduit with individual conductors.
 
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Old 01-22-12, 10:35 AM
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Thanks for the info!

Lots of electrically smart people out here!
 
  #10  
Old 03-13-12, 07:14 PM
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I had an electrician look this project. To keep costs down he recommending keeping the existing fuse box in place and using it as a box for splicing into the old circuits. He would like to run then run the spliced circuits from the old fusebox to the new breaker through the ceiling joists. I think this also includes running the new longer service entrance cable to the new box along this same route. Unfortunately the joists run above the 'wrong' way in the ceiling and he thinks it may require drilling up to three holes in each joist to get all the circuits (and the new service entrance cable I presume) over to the new box. It looks like there are seven joists in the way. The ceiling would have to be opened up for this of course.



I asked about running the spliced circuits from the old fuse box to the new box using conduit. There is a nice shelf of sorts along the basement wall where the conduit could be routed and I'm planning to cover up the wall anyway so none of this will be visible. The service entrance cable will also have to be run this same way.

From a structural integrity point of view I'm not too comfortable with the idea of having three holes in each of the seven joists above. Even if all the recommendations on drilling holes in joists are followed I'm still not convinced this is a wise and prudent thing to do. Maybe if the ceiling joists were more substantial such as 2" X 10" I'd be more comfortable. But they are 2" X 8"s. Am I being overly concerned about this being a structural issue?

Any reason why running the conduit would not be a better way to go?

Thank you !
 
  #11  
Old 03-13-12, 07:25 PM
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Any reason why running the conduit would not be a better way to go?
With a closed ceiling, that's the only way to go! Even if the ceiling were not closed, the service cable doesn't have to go through drilled holes, it can be fastened to the bottom of the joists.
 
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Old 03-13-12, 07:46 PM
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Am I being overly concerned about this being a structural issue?
Yes, you are. Holes, drilled properly, will not weaken your structure significantly. IF you pull the ceiling down you will be surprised how many holes are already drilled.
That said though, your idea or running conduit along the wall is a good option. It would be easier and faster to do. And will likely get covered at come later date. Remember though, the old fuse box will have to remain accessible, so you can't just cover it up with sheetrock.
 
  #13  
Old 03-13-12, 08:35 PM
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The service cable you talk about running should be fused and it would be a feeder, not a service cable. You would need a disconnect outside. There would be too much unfused service cable without the disconnect.
 
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Old 03-13-12, 09:13 PM
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The service cable you talk about running should be fused and it would be a feeder, not a service cable. You would need a disconnect outside. There would be too much unfused service cable without the disconnect.
Hopefully explaining the situation with pictures is making up for my inability to use correct terminology. There is an outside box and an inside box. I posted a picture of the outside box earlier on in the thread. It has a 100 Amp breaker. I'm guessing that the thick cable that goes to fuse box inside the basement originates from this 100 Amp breaker. And that this cable will be removed and replaced with a longer one that is about 10 feet longer so it can go to the new breaker box.
 
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Old 03-14-12, 05:24 PM
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I posted a picture of the outside box earlier on in the thread. It has a 100 Amp breaker.
That breaker is your disconnect for the fuse box. Where do the 30 and 50 amp circuits go?
 
  #16  
Old 03-15-12, 06:11 PM
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For the outside box I didn't feel comfortable removing the plate that would expose the wiring to the breakers. That would have given definitive answer as to what each breaker is doing. The 100 shuts off all the power to the fuse box which makes sense. But the 50 also shuts off all the power to the fuse box! I'm confused. I think the 30 goes to the outside central A/C unit.
 
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Old 03-15-12, 06:20 PM
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When you hire the electrician, have him investigate this.
 
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Old 03-15-12, 07:54 PM
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Since you have an outside disconnect, there is no limit on the cable length inside. This would be a feeder cable, not service cable. Service cables that are unfused need to be as short as practical.
 
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Old 03-15-12, 08:07 PM
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The 100 amp is likely your main breaker for the entire electric service. (Everything from the outside box on) The 50 amp likely feeds the fuse box.
 
  #20  
Old 03-17-12, 07:38 AM
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That makes sense since I do have 100 amp service. Although I'm puzzled that the fuse box getting only 50 amps when the main fuse box has four 15 Amp fuses. I'm thinking the fuse box should be getting 60 amps instead. Not that this has ever caused a problem for me. And it might not really matter going forward as it is all going to be replaced. But still I am curious why the fuse box is being fed less amps than what I'm thinking is the potential maximum load of 60 amps. This maximum could even be a little higher if there are any 12 gauge circuits that could handle 20 amp fuses.

My electrician was quoting me for a 30 circuit 100 amp fuse box. If the central A/C is correctly limited to 30 Amps then would that mean the feeder to the new box should be 100 Amps - 30 Amps?
 
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Old 03-17-12, 08:17 AM
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Although I'm puzzled that the fuse box getting only 50 amps when the main fuse box has four 15 Amp fuses.
Actually that is a subpanel. The outside box is your main panel. Load OCPD is not figured by adding up the branch circuit OCPDs but by the anticipated load.

My electrician was quoting me for a 30 circuit 100 amp fuse box.
I doubt that. Residential fuse boxes normally are no longer used.

If the central A/C is correctly limited to 30 Amps then would that mean the feeder to the new box should be 100 Amps - 30 Amps?
As stated earlier it is common for the total of the branch circuit OCPDs to exceed the main OCPD because actual load will be less.
 
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Old 03-17-12, 09:52 AM
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Ray is being a little nit picky. The new panel will have breakers, not fuses. Also OCPD = over current protection device. IE: circuit breaker or fuse.

You new panel quoted by your electrician would be 100 amps, 30 circuit panel. Meaning the panel itself is rated for 100 amps total current, even if it is not fed with a 100 amp feeder. For example, it is fed with a 60 amp breaker in your outside panel. I would imagine they will feed it with a 100 amp breaker/wire. It can have a total of 30 branch circuits installed in it. This is a good panel for your job.

The reason why your old fuse panel is being fed with a 50 amp breaker is likely because the size of the wires going to the panel could only be protected with a 50 amp breaker max. Not that it really matters since I'm betting you never tripped the 50 amp outside anyway.
 
  #23  
Old 03-24-12, 02:58 PM
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Great information. Thanks everyone!
 
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