Circuits Easily tripped

Reply

  #1  
Old 12-01-12, 09:51 PM
Member
Thread Starter
Join Date: Dec 2012
Location: USA
Posts: 4
Circuits Easily tripped

I have a house that was built in the early 80's. As far as I know we are the second owners. I have been fixing several issues with the house as I find them and have now gotten to the Electrical system. Issues that I have found are that some switches to lighting fixtures have juice through both wires. other issues are that I feel there are entirely too many outlets/rooms on the same circuit. Before we got married and I moved in here,in order to take care of issues she hired someone, she had informed me that numerous handyman type folks have had their paws in the cookie jar so to speak.

My one burning question is this:

Is it possible to rewire a house without tearing all the drywall out and starting from scratch?
I would like nothing more than to have this place wired properly so that circuits don't trip if you look at them funny and also to separate each room on its' own circuit.

Another "for instance" is that I shouldn't trip any breaker by running a vacuum with the lights on in that room. did I mention the fact that I think all the house outlets are on 2 circuits (3500 sq ft home!).

Any insight is greatly appreciated.
 
Sponsored Links
  #2  
Old 12-01-12, 09:58 PM
PJmax's Avatar
Group Moderator
Join Date: Oct 2012
Location: NJ - USA
Posts: 43,494
The existing wiring is most likely stapled to the beams and will be almost impossible to remove. Most junction boxes will not have enough room to support any new wiring without removing the old.

Will be very hard, if not impossible, to rewire house without opening the walls. Some may argue that you can do it without removing sheetrock by refeeding exisiting circuitry. Pretty darn iffy.
 
  #3  
Old 12-01-12, 10:03 PM
Member
Thread Starter
Join Date: Dec 2012
Location: USA
Posts: 4
I have already thought about taking it one room at a time and as budget allows. Totally removing sheet rock, rewire to code, replace fixtures as required and install new sheet rock. Figured it was a long road.
 
  #4  
Old 12-01-12, 10:06 PM
Member
Thread Starter
Join Date: Dec 2012
Location: USA
Posts: 4
What about both wires hot going to a light switch? Last I knew only one is hot......the other shouldn't be. The only thing I can figure is in previous supposed "upgrades" (and by upgrades I mean "I like a certain type of dimmer so that is what I'll install" {previous man of the house's mentality}) the outlets or switches were not properly wired.
 
  #5  
Old 12-01-12, 10:12 PM
PJmax's Avatar
Group Moderator
Join Date: Oct 2012
Location: NJ - USA
Posts: 43,494
If you take the switch out of the box and check both wires with the switch on they will both show as hot. If you turn the switch off then only one wire should be hot.

Is that what you were questioning ?
 
  #6  
Old 12-02-12, 06:14 AM
Member
Join Date: Mar 2010
Location: USA
Posts: 2,859
An experienced person can rewire or add circuits to a house with minimal destruction of the walls, namely with a 3x3 inch hole here and there in addition to the new outlet boxes. In a few cases a particular branch circuit might need no holes other than for the new outlet boxes themselves.

Wires strung (fished) behind existing drywall, paneling, etc. do not need to be stapled or cable tied; they may hang loose inside. In other words, if you would need to make another hole to wield a hammer or to insert your hand and a staple gun, then skip that step and go on to the next.
 
  #7  
Old 12-02-12, 06:29 AM
pcboss's Avatar
Forum Topic Moderator
Join Date: Jul 2002
Location: Maryland
Posts: 14,361
It will be easier and therefore less expensive to rewire with more drywall removed than trying to fish cables or cut holes everywhere. A path will need to be made from the farthest room to the panel for the homerun.

Unless someone totally ignored the codes there is no reason that a 30 year old house would only have two circuits for the receptacles. I would start to identify what circuit serves what area. I would also check the panel to see if multiple wires were connected to the same breaker.

If you are using a non-contact voltage detector that may explain why both wires are showing as hot at the switch.
 
  #8  
Old 12-02-12, 06:29 AM
ray2047's Avatar
Group Moderator
Join Date: Mar 2006
Location: USA
Posts: 32,670
Old wires are not in most cases removed. They are abandoned in place by cutting as short as possible on both ends and shoving back into the wall. With no fire stops in the wall and an accessible unfinished attic above in a single story house fishing is usually easy in uninsulated walls. Old boxes can be removed to leave a hole for fishing then then replaced with old-work boxes. No wall patching needed

More cable is used if you daisy chain up and down instead of sideways the way you do with open walls but the extra cost is small in my humble opinion compared to the trouble of repairing walls if you open them.
 
  #9  
Old 12-02-12, 09:03 AM
Nashkat1's Avatar
Member
Join Date: Mar 2012
Location: USA
Posts: 8,470
Is it possible to rewire a house without tearing all the drywall out and starting from scratch?
Yes. Not only is it possible, it is less work. I totally rewired the house we owned in the 1980s without removing any wall finish for that work. It was a 2-story 3,500 ft.[SUP]2[/SUP] Queen Anne built in 1908. When we bought it, it had a tiny 60A load center for its only panel, the entire system was fed through one run of 14-2, there was often only one receptacle per room, there were only a half-dozen switches, and all of the original knob-and-tube wiring was still in use. When finished, there were 3-wire receptacles everywhere they were needed, a new 200A load center plus two subpanels, dedicated GFCI-protected circuits for the small appliances and each bathroom, and a new 5-ton A/C condenser, among other improvements.

Allen already pointed out that new wiring can be fished in without being secured, and Ray noted that it will only cost a bit more for materials to drop wire from the attic (or push it up from the basement or crawl space) than to run it horizontally through the framing. I don't see a mention of the way your house is constructed. Do you have accessible space above and/or below the living space?

I would like nothing more than to have this place wired properly so that circuits don't trip if you look at them funny and also to separate each room on its' own circuit.
Not only is it not necessary to have each room on its own circuit, it is usually not desirable. If you do that, then killing that circuit will leave that room totally dark. One common practice is to run 20A circuits for the receptacles and a separate 15A circuit for overhead lights and fans. The lighting circuits can serve more than one room, and you can also arrange to have the receptacle circuits do that. That way you will have a better chance of having power in a room if one circuit trips or you want to turn one off to do some work.

There are some preliminary steps I would suggest. One is mapping the existing system.
Originally Posted by pcboss
I would start to identify what circuit serves what area.
Draw a floor plan with a symbol for each receptacle, switch and light, and draw a panel schedule form. Turn all the lights on and turn breakers off, one at a time, and note which breaker controls each light. Write the circuit number next to the switch symbol and/or ceiling outlet symbol on your floor plan. For the receptacles, you can use a circuit breaker finder to make your search easier. Again, just note the circuit number next to each receptacle symbol.

Once you have the floor plan fully annotated, you can do two things. One is to summarize the circuit information on the panel schedule you drew. Note the breaker sizes as you do this. The other is to note where you want to add something. Any section of wall that is more than 2' wide needs a receptacle, and receptacles on longer walls should be within 12' of each other, maximum. Exceptions are hallways and rooms with special wiring requirements, including kitchens, bathrooms and garages. You may want to have more circuits available in high-use areas, or add a dedicated circuit or two for computers or entertainment centers, for example.

A third step at this point is to note how many outlets are on each circuit. As noted earlier,
Originally Posted by pcboss
Unless someone totally ignored the codes there is no reason that a 30 year old house would only have two circuits for the receptacles.
You should have no more than 8 general-purpose receptacles on one circuit, IMO, and I often stop at 6. Then, as pcboss suggested,
I would also check the panel to see if multiple wires were connected to the same breaker.
You can also look for junction boxes where wiring may be combined.

One quick note:
Issues that I have found are that some switches to lighting fixtures have juice through both wires.
If that were true with the switch off, as PJ noted, the switch and light wouldn't work. In addition to the circuit breaker finder, you should also have an analog multimeter for testing power and continuity.
 
  #10  
Old 12-02-12, 09:07 AM
pcboss's Avatar
Forum Topic Moderator
Join Date: Jul 2002
Location: Maryland
Posts: 14,361
Since the wiring will be new you will now need AFCI protection with a panel that can accept the AFCI breakers.
 
  #11  
Old 12-02-12, 12:24 PM
Member
Thread Starter
Join Date: Dec 2012
Location: USA
Posts: 4
Lots of good info folks. I appreciate the knowledge. I do have access to the ends of all wiring from the basement in the laundry room where the breaker box is located. I had noticed that almost all breakers are only 15amp and the only exceptions being high load appliances.

I have started mapping out the circuits to better understand what goes where since the existing explanations of what the breaker controls is a bit on the nondescript side.

Once again, ty for the info.
 
  #12  
Old 12-02-12, 01:46 PM
Nashkat1's Avatar
Member
Join Date: Mar 2012
Location: USA
Posts: 8,470
I have started mapping out the circuits to better understand what goes where since the existing explanations of what the breaker controls is a bit on the nondescript side.
Why should your panel be different? Sounds like you're on the right track.
 
  #13  
Old 12-02-12, 02:31 PM
Member
Join Date: Oct 2012
Location: USA
Posts: 614
I drew up a very basic floor plan of each floor in my house on the computer. All outlets and fixtures are represented by a symbol and breaker number and any special notes. They are updated and printed out as any changes are made. The sheets are in plastic sleeves and stuck inside the hinged panel covers with a magnet. Makes it much easier than trying to write in an outlet's location in the small space next to the breaker.
 
Reply

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off
Trackbacks are Off
Pingbacks are Off
Refbacks are Off


Thread Tools
Search this Thread
Display Modes
'