old house wiring issues - new member

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Old 08-14-13, 10:09 AM
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old house wiring issues - new member

First off, I am new here, and truely help you all can help me. I have done various wiring DIY projects growing up with my dad as we had appartments that we would remodel and rewire, but I just bought my first house and the electrical in it has me pulling my hair out... so first off, its a fuse breaker box, which I know very little about and have struggled for a detailed "what you need to know" about these setups online. Im not sure how much power is actually coming into the panel or if the fuses in the panel are the right sizes for where they are. (the guy that owned the house before me was scared to death of home improvements).

so If I could just get a little direction on figuring out how to tell what kind of service I have coming into my house would be awesome. then I guess Ill try to post a picture of the panel and try to figure out if the fuses that in it are correct or not.

lastly, and the main reason I have resorted to asking questions on this forum is because I am in the process of creating a walk-in closet and I want to add a light in it, but I have blown fuses left and right after getting wired how I think it should be hooked up. We can address this situation after I figure the basics of my wiring situation.


Thanks in advance, I know my situation is little overwhelming, that's why i came here.

Twilliamb
 
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Old 08-14-13, 10:32 AM
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first off, its a fuse breaker box
No such residential critter that I know of. Some early high amp breaker boxes for commercial use did have main fuses but I don't think they made residential boxes with fuses and breakers. http://www.doityourself.com/forum/li...-pictures.html
 
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Old 08-14-13, 11:36 AM
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I have blown fuses left and right after getting wired how I think it should be hooked up
By all means, pictures would help. Here's a little tip for you if you have fuses. You can test your wiring by inserting an incandescent light bulb into the fuse soket before you install a fuse. If the bulb lights, you have a short and the fuse will blow instantly. Don't put a fuse in unless the bulb DOES NOT light up. Once you have found and cleared the short, the bulb will go out.
 
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Old 08-14-13, 11:42 AM
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Welcome to the forums!

A picture of your fuse box will help figuring out what you have ahead of you. Take one of the whole box, then one or two close up so we can read the fuses and labels if there are any.

Properly maintained fuse boxes are safe, but the problem that often occurs is that people put larger fuses in than the wiring can support. For the short term, it means they can run those extra lights or space heater or AC, but in the long run, it's an overload and fire waiting to happen.

It sounds like you could use a good book like "Wiring Simplified" or "Wiring a House" by Rex Caldwell (one of my personal favorites). Those books will help you with the details of adding a new light, how to hook it up safely and to-code. Along with some reading, the fine folks here I'm sure will be happy to help too!
 
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Old 08-14-13, 01:26 PM
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sorry for the confusion on the "fuse breaker box" description, I did mean Fuse box. I will try to take a few pictures and upload them shortly. There is also I believe 3 sub panels to the box. do you need pictures of those? I think they run to the AC, Washer/Dryer, and Water heater.
 
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Old 08-14-13, 02:00 PM
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AC, Washer/Dryer, and Water heater
That raises red flags. Most residential fuse boxes back in the day were 60 amp. That is probably too much for a 60 amp breaker box. So definitely pictures of all, any covers removed, so we can see what they did.

Gas or electric dryer? Is it a central A/C? What kind of heat?
 
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Old 08-14-13, 02:12 PM
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There is also I believe 3 sub panels to the box. do you need pictures of those? I think they run to the AC, Washer/Dryer, and Water heater.
Those should be disconnects, not subpanels. For now, no, just pictures of the main panel will be fine. One far enough to show the wiring coming into it id your panel is surface mounted.

There should be a main fuse in your panel. If so, it will be a pull-out block that holds two cartridge fuses, and it will be close to where the power comes in from your meter - probably at the top of the panel. You can shut off critical loads such as electronics, but leave a lot of lights on, go to the panel with a good flashlight in hand, and pull out the top fuse block. If you got the main, everything will go off (that's why you need the flashlight). If any circuit still has power, put that block back in. Make sure it's oriented the same as it was before. Pull another one out.

When you get the one that kills everything, read the amperage printed om labels on the cartridge fuses. Unless someone overfused it, that will tell you the size of your service. Put the block back in, making sure it's turned the same way it was to begin with.
 
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Old 08-14-13, 02:25 PM
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photos to help

Fuse box large:
http://i1318.photobucket.com/albums/...ps1616c526.jpg
Fuse Box close up:
http://i1318.photobucket.com/albums/...ps30b79517.jpg
Sub panel:
http://i1318.photobucket.com/albums/...pseaeefcc3.jpg

this is what fuses are in the box positions:
1-15a
2-30a
3-30a
4-15a
5-20a
6-25a
7-20a
8-30a
9-30a
10-30a
11- 20a
12-25a

each of the sub panels (3 total - Washer/Dryer, AC, Water heater) have 2 30a fuses like the photo shows

The fuse box has some of the positions labeled on the door of the box, but I have found that a majority of the labels are wrong.
 
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Old 08-14-13, 02:30 PM
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electric washer and dryer, central a/c, gas heat.
 
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Old 08-14-13, 02:47 PM
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The spaces with the 20A fuses need to be checked for appropriate wire size. The spaces with 25A and 30A fuses in locations 5-10 need to be checked yesterday.

The 15/30/30/15A pattern for spaces 1-4 makes no sense without seeing the wiring.

What size cartridge fuses are in the two blocks at the top, above 1-2 and 3-4? What does the panel schedule say for those?

One more pisture, of the panel schedule, would probably help.
 
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Old 08-14-13, 02:54 PM
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I pulled the block and it says 50,000 amps int. rat. which i am assuming means 60 amp service to the box?
 
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Old 08-14-13, 03:24 PM
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close up of the schedule :
http://i1318.photobucket.com/albums/...psfef23e09.jpg

1-n. kitchen
2-washer
3-s. kitchen
4-refridgerator
5-light
6-receptacles
7-light
8-receptacles
9-front room recep.
10-washer (wrong)
11-basement lights
12-basement lights
 
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Old 08-14-13, 03:35 PM
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A 60 amp fuse should say 60 amps.
[ATTACH=CONFIG]16347[/ATTACH]
 
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Old 08-14-13, 03:42 PM
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Old 08-14-13, 03:59 PM
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I pulled the block and it says 50,000 amps int. rat. which i am assuming means 60 amp service to the box?
50,000 is the interrupting capacity. Pull a cartridge fuse and look on the other side. Those could be 30, 45 or 60 amp fuses.

Your panel is 51 years old (judging by date written in red inside the door; 8/10/62). That isn't terribly old as fuse boxes go. The picture you provided looks to me like that box rating may be as high as 200 amps, it appears to be fed through a 2 inch conduit.

It would be extremely helpful if we could see some pictures with the cover and door removed, if you feel comfortable removing it. Also, pictures of the meter socket and all service entrance wiring from the weatherhead to where the conduit/wiring enters the house.

Just curious, where in MO are you located?
 
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Old 08-14-13, 04:04 PM
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took a second look at the fuse and it is a 60 AMP fuse in the block.
 

Last edited by twilliamb; 08-14-13 at 04:25 PM.
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Old 08-14-13, 04:31 PM
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None of the loads protected by fuses 1-12 should be fused at more than 20A. 15A if using 14 AWG wire. You need to pull the cover off the panel, check the wire sizes, and install the proper size fuses. Are you comfortable doing that?

The oversize fuses create the potential for a fire.
 
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Old 08-14-13, 04:32 PM
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Good. You have a 60A service. What does the second block have in it and what does it protect - the A/C?
 
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Old 08-14-13, 04:33 PM
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I can get some pictures of the the box with the door off, and when you say meter socket, where specifically is that? as for the service from the weatherhead, I will also get pictures of that.
 
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Old 08-14-13, 04:38 PM
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The meter socket is the box that the meter is mounted on, or in.
 
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Old 08-14-13, 04:44 PM
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I can get some pictures of the the box with the door off, and when you say meter socket, where specifically is that? as for the service from the weatherhead, I will also get pictures of that.
The meter socket is the metal box the electric meter plugs into, probably outside. You'll probably find it under the weatherhead.

Nashkat1

Good. You have a 60A service. What does the second block have in it and what does it protect - the A/C?
We need more information and/or pictures to know for sure, but I don't think the 60 amp fuse is the main. I'd rather think that's either a subpanel fuse, A-C fuse or a fuse in a range pullout. I am leaning toward the service being somewhere near 150 to 200 amps judging from the picture of the service panel.
 
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Old 08-14-13, 05:00 PM
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House Photos Photos by twilliamb | Photobucket

uploaded pictures of the panel with the cover off, as well as pictures of the weatherhead, service entry, and meter socket.
 
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Old 08-14-13, 05:11 PM
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That isn't the fuse amp rating. You need to pull the fuse and look elsewhere.

I want to add a light in it, but I have blown fuses left and right after getting wired how I think it should be hooked up.
If power comes to the switch first then the whites of the power in cable and the power out cable are wire nutted together and the blacks go to the switch.

Or did you run power to the light first?
 
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Old 08-14-13, 05:19 PM
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I had an existing outlet in the closet, which i removed and added a closed box and extended the wiring from that box to the switch, then from the switch to the light. It would come on, but if I turned on all the lights on that particular fuse the fuse would blow. to the best of my knowledge the fuse only had 3 lights on it.
 
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Old 08-14-13, 06:17 PM
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I had an existing outlet in the closet, which i removed and added a closed box and extended the wiring from that box to the switch, then from the switch to the light.
I'm assuming you mean that you removed a receptacle. If so, did you connect color to color at the receptacle location and at the light, and did you splice the neutrals together and put the two hot wires on the switch at that location?

if I turned on all the lights on that particular fuse the fuse would blow. to the best of my knowledge the fuse only had 3 lights on it.
There's either a lot more on that circuit or there's a short somewhere. Since you extended from a receptacle box, are there other receptacles on it?

See Troubleshooting a dead receptacle or light... I know yours isn't dead, but troubleshooting is troubleshooting.
 
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Old 08-14-13, 07:24 PM
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Yes, I did all that, I am assuming that there is more on that circuit because every thing working that I know of on that circuit prior to adding the switch. to the best of my knowledge there was only 3 lights on that circuit (not sure what the limit is, thought it would be more) if i turned on 2 lights they would work, but if i turned on the third, it would blow the fuse.
 
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Old 08-15-13, 08:04 AM
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I am leaning toward the service being somewhere near 150 to 200 amps judging from the picture of the service panel.
After looking at your pictures, I now think you have about 100 to 125 amp panel and service. The top left pullout is probably protecting the screw in edison base fuses below and the right pullout is protecting something else (range or subpanel). The 60 amp fuse you gave us a picture of, where did it come from? Was it from a separate disconnect or was it from a pullout in the main panel. I am interested in the amp rating of the fuses in the two pullouts at the top of the panel now.
 
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Old 08-15-13, 08:35 AM
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The top left pullout what what I took a picture of, it had 2 60amp fuses in it and everything shutof when I pulled it. The top right says "Range" on it and when I pulled it it also had 2 60 amp fuses located in it.
 
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Old 08-15-13, 08:50 AM
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What you have is a split bus design, there is no single main disconnect, both pullouts have to be removed to disconnect all power. The left pullout is a 60 amp disconnect for the lighting section (screw-in fuses below) and the right pullout was commonly used for an electric rage or subpanel (probably marked "Range". Where are the other subpanels and/or disconnects fed from? Sometimes fuse panels would also have bus taps that could supply a subpanel near the main panel, but commonly found is feeders to other loads like A-C and water heaters double lugged. I think it's safe to say you have a 100 amp service. The label inside the door probably gives the manufacturer's name and amperage rating of the entire panel (like 100A).
 
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Old 08-15-13, 11:30 AM
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after reading Nashkat's Post, I double checked all my wiring and decided to move where I spliced the wires together from the old receptacle location in the wall to the basement so if i needed to after drywalling i would be able to access it. I rewired it in the basement up to the switch splicing the nuetrals together in the switch box and putting the 2 hot wires on the switch. did the light bulb trick in the fuse box that someone had mentioned earlier in the thread (it didnt light up). Threw a fuse in the box (20a) and all the lights on that circuit work now. so I officially have my light in my closet working now. I would still like to know more about my electrical system, so as CasualJoe requested, the disconnects/subpanels (not sure what they are yet) are all located with in 20 feet of the main panel in the basement and the one that leads to the dryer comes back to the main panel and connects just below (in between/slightly recessed) the 3-4 fuses. from the best that I can tell the box that goes to the fridge (not to the a/c like i originally expected) comes back to the main panel and connects to a screw that is located between (slightly recessed) the 10 and 12 fuses. the third sub panel/disconnect that leads to the hot water heater, i cannot locate where the wire goes in to the box at this time, it might take me a little more digging to figure out where it goes.
 
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Old 08-15-13, 11:42 AM
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Good you got it but switch that 20 amp fuse to 15 amps as quick as you can unless you have #12 on the whole circuit.
 
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Old 08-15-13, 12:02 PM
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so i need to have 15a fuses throughout positions 1-12? ill have to go buy them.
 
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Old 08-15-13, 12:31 PM
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http://i1318.photobucket.com/albums/...ps09f12ae1.jpg

is this wired correctly? the 2 black wires are spliced together in the box. im pretty sure this is the culprit responsible for another receptacle not working as well.
 
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Old 08-15-13, 03:42 PM
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bought 7 15a fuses (all the store had), and replaced all but 3 20a fuses in the panel. which i will replace asap as well. the receptacle in the post below is wired the way it was on the original receptacle, I just replaced it with a new 20a receptacle. i am not sure if it worked before replacing it. but I am thinking that the 2 black wires that are spliced in the box need to be on the 2 hot terminals on the receptacle, thus leaving me the red wire, which i am not really sure what its for, there isn't a red wire on any of the other receptacles in the room.
 
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Old 08-15-13, 10:29 PM
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The red wire should be coming from a switch that controls that receptacle. I would splice the two white wires together and add a white pigtail to go to the receptacle, but you don't absolutely have to.
 
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Old 08-16-13, 06:24 AM
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If I didn't want the switch to control the receptacle, would I unsolicited the black and put them on the hot connections? Like this?

Black1. White 1


Black2 White 2

Ground


This is the way the room is set up.
 
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Old 08-16-13, 08:11 AM
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so i need to have 15a fuses throughout positions 1-12?
Only if those circuits are 14 AWG. If they are 12 AWG, 20 amp is the proper fuse. It might be helpful to pick up a short length of both 12 and 14 AWG wire to compare the conductors to in determining the size.
 
  #38  
Old 08-16-13, 08:57 AM
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I'm almost 100% sure it 14 gauge throughout the house.
 
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Old 08-17-13, 09:12 PM
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I'm almost 100% sure it 14 gauge throughout the house.
Then you need to be fusing those circuits at 15A. But how are you determining the size of the wire?
 
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Old 08-18-13, 06:35 AM
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First thing I did when I bought the house was replace all the old 15a receptacles with new 20a receptacles, and all the old switches with new 15a switches. And I compared the wire in the panel to a 14gauge scrap piece I have so I have seen a majority of the wiring throughout the house.
 
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