Circut Breaker Removal?

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  #1  
Old 08-25-15, 04:53 PM
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Circut Breaker Removal?

Hello all,

I recently purchased a home in Saginaw, MI. The home was a short sale, but was still inspected after purchase. THe home was built in 1954. I am the third owner.

Today I began my first small project of replacing switches in the house. I went downstairs to turn off the breaker to the room I was working in, and noticed some oddities.

The breaker panel has breakers for things that dont exist in the house (attic fan, 220 for the oven even though its a gas oven ran to a standard 110 outlet, 220 for the dryer that is a gas dryer, an office, etc.)

What am I able to do for this to remove the breakers? or am I better off just turning the breakers off and leaving them in the panel? I would prefer to clean it up in the panel as right now it looks like an octopus den.

Second question, when turning off the garage breaker it turned off the wall mount microwave, to turn off the kitchen lights switch I had to flip the breaker for the basement lighting. Is there a way to repair this myself without fishing new wiring through the walls? or am I better off seeking a trades professional to repair my electrical nightmare. I do have a mechanical engineering background, so don't shy away from too complex of directions or suggestions.
 
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Old 08-25-15, 05:11 PM
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The first thing you need to do is to create an accurate panel directory. It may help to have help to avoid a lot of running g back and forth. A breaker finder for less than $40 will also help.
 
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Old 08-25-15, 05:26 PM
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when turning off the garage breaker it turned off the wall mount microwave,
A fixed in place appliance should be on a dedicated circuit.
to turn off the kitchen lights switch I had to flip the breaker for the basement lighting.
You would need to open up both switch boxes and the light. If you describe the wiring to us we may be able to help you fix it.
Is there a way to repair this myself without fishing new wiring
Fishing new wiring isn't hard if you have an unfinished space above or below.

Tech note: Nominal voltages are 120v and 240v not 110v and 220v.
 
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Old 08-25-15, 05:29 PM
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I redid the labels on the circuts as best I could label them for now.

The attic fan wiring goes to an open junction box at the far end of the house in the attic.

Should I pull the wiring out and remove the breaker? Or just leave the breaker off and ignore it in the panel?

I've ordered a circut breaker finder, should be here in a few days. Most I was able to figure out with the help of a friend telling me what turned off with each breaker (a rough approach, but it was good for relabeling the panel)
 
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Old 08-25-15, 05:37 PM
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Another tool you will need is a cheap ($8-$15) analog (not digital) multimeter.Non contact testers are nice toys with very limited uses so I won't suggest buying one. Others may suggest you should and they do have their uses for determining if a wire may be hot but can often give false positives.
 
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Old 08-25-15, 05:40 PM
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A fixed in place appliance should be on a dedicated circuit.
So I should put each appliance on it's own breaker. That being said, can I remove the 240 breakers that aren't being used along with wiring, and then just run a 120 to the appliances as needed? DIY-Dad said to leave the 240 for any future owners who may put in an electric stove or dryer.

I guess in short, is it okay for me to remove wiring and breakers?


You would need to open up both switch boxes and the light. If you describe the wiring to us we may be able to help you fix it.
The wiring is a mess, I already figured that out once I opened it up and compared to any diagrams I was able to find. There are two black wires in every switch, with a glob of electrical tape tying it to another piece of wiring, some of the tape was fried and melted/burned into a hard chunk.

I'm beginning to think I would be better off fishing new wiring through the walls as I go.
 
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Old 08-25-15, 06:00 PM
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This is how all of the switches look inside, for clarification.

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Old 08-25-15, 06:57 PM
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That wiring looks pretty old. It isn't always easy just fishing wiring in the walls. The wiring that is currently feeding those boxes is stapled in place and won't be easy to eliminate.

If your intentions are to pull the boxes out and then run new wire.... you'd be ok.
 
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Old 08-25-15, 07:08 PM
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So I should put each appliance on it's own breaker
Fixed means bolted to the wall. A counter top microwave can be plugged into a counter top receptacle.

The fixed in place microwave usually refers to one with a built in exhaust hood (which I assumed you meant). The actual rule says if the fixed in place appliance draws more than 50% of the circuit capacity you can have no other outlets on the circuit. Generally a microwave with exhaust hood does. On the other hand dishwasher and garbage disposal can usually be on the same circuit because neither draws 50%.
 
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Old 08-25-15, 11:09 PM
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Hi ray2047,

Non contact testers can give false positives... well, as long they give false positives I am good with them, bad thing is if they give false negatives and you touch the wires.

Obviously the catch with the Non contact testers is that you must and should be able to Test them before each use, to confirm is working properly before each use, this testing can be achieved in most scenarios; but if testing them can't be achieved before use, then I will suggest an Analog Voltimeter as the way to go.
 
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Old 08-25-15, 11:15 PM
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Obviously the catch with the Non contact testers is that you must and should be able to Test them before each use, to confirm is working properly before each use
No such test. They are not failing to work within their design limits when they give a false positive. They only determine there is an electromagnetic field in the rea. They can't determine the cause be it significant power or just induced or capacitive voltage that has no real power.
 
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Old 08-26-15, 07:44 AM
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Thanks for your input everyone. We found out this morning that in two bedrooms the walls have no insulation on top of water damage from a hairline crack in some plumbing in a shared wall with a bathroom.

So the drywall is coming down in half the house, which should hopefully make rewiring those rooms an easier task.

Thank goodness I don't have to live here until it's finished.
 
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Old 08-26-15, 07:50 AM
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It sounds like you want to do it anyway, but some townships or cities will require you update the wiring when the drywall comes down as part of the permit. It will also be a great time to add hardwired smoke detectors in each bedroom and a hardwired CO detector, which also might be conditions of the permit, but you should do it anyway.

In response to one of your original questions, you can disconnect wiring from the breakers of disused major appliances and just leave it capped off and label in the panel. I don't recommend actually pulling it out as some future buyers might have a strong preference for electric appliances.
 
  #14  
Old 08-26-15, 08:21 AM
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Removing Breakers

If breakers are removed from the service panel, you will need to find the correct filler plates to fill in the holes in the cover panel.
 
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Old 08-26-15, 08:41 AM
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The extra breakers could be left in the panel also. Keep them as spares.
 
  #16  
Old 08-26-15, 05:13 PM
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How old is your current panel? If you are re-cabling bedrooms you will need them AFCI protected and it could be difficult with older panels.
 
  #17  
Old 08-26-15, 06:23 PM
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The panel is old enough to have rust on it. The last service date on the old labeling was 1986.

My township office confirmed that if I pull permits I have to meet or exceed current local code (a given). With my planning on this being a 15+ year home, I would like to know that everything is up to code in the house.

There were hardwired smoke alarms tied into the home alarm system, but someone pulled out the entire hardwired land line. I was looking at the alarms that connect via wifi but that seemed to me as pointless if the power was knocked out. I am unsure about re-running phone line through the house, as it is a slightly outdated form of communication, unless I'm using it for business purposes.


I truly appreciate everyones help and input.
 
  #18  
Old 08-26-15, 09:12 PM
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The instructions for most meters and non contacts call for it to be tested against a known working circuit. If the meter is broken you need to know before working on a circuit that could still be live but the broken meter tells you is dead.
 
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Old 08-27-15, 07:11 AM
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Check out the make and line of the panel. Some are still completely compatible with modern breakers, and some are not. An example of one that is now totally obsolete would be Bulldog Pushmatic which were very, very common in lower MI around the age of your home as the Bulldog company was in Detroit and all the local vendors used them.
 
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