Main panel replaced in old house

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Old 09-05-15, 08:48 PM
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Main panel replaced in old house

My house was built 1979. I had the main panel replaced when we bought the house around 2011/2012 based on recommendations from the building inspector at the time. I got a licensed electrician, he said that no permits needed to be pulled and not knowing any better I let him proceed. I don't think he did a terrible job.

Anyway, I am adding a few circuits to an unfinished basement and realized that it would be best to have the panel permitted at the same time to cover myself for the future. I called the local office (permit is issued by the state here in WA) and was told I could get it permitted, it would just have to meet NEC 2014 and they'd treat it as if I installed it myself.

That's the background. I tried to get some clarifications from the office, but just got led on a chase around, so hopefully someone can answer my questions:

1) There are several 20-amp and 15-amp multi-wire branch circuits (i.e. shared neutrals) that run to bedrooms, kitchen and living spaces. Are AFCI breakers required on just new construction (i.e. won't apply to me since the branch circuits are existing) or since I replaced the main panel do I need to meet the requirement to get all the permits signed?

If I do need to install AFCI breakers, what is the best approach on the multi-wire branch circuits? A 2-pole breaker might work for the bedrooms but this wouldn't work for the kitchen. At this point in time, I cannot afford to go around the house knocking holes in drywall to pull new wire, so are there any other options if I do need AFCI breakers?

2) Some of the branch circuits from the panel to the first receptacle/light is Aluminium wiring (it is 10/3 solid). The rest of the circuit is then copper (mainly 14/2). The Al/Cu is tied together with regular nuts - did they even have AlumniConn or COPALUM back in 1979? I doubt it. As I remodel the house over the next few years, the plan is to rewire the Aluminium. In the meantime, is the best action to do nothing? Or replace all connections with AlumniConn and pigtail? I already pulled one of them out, so I am planning to use an AlumniConn/Pigtail for this one.

Thanks for any advice
 
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Old 09-05-15, 09:00 PM
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Welcome to the forums.

A lot to digest there and a lot of questions.

When you upgrade the panel you do not have to install AFCI breakers on existing circuits. New circuits will require them. Your basement receptacles will require GFI protection.

#10 Al to #14 Cu is a questionable practice. At the very least that circuit will need to be protected at 15A.

You should look to repairing your Al to Cu connections and removing the aluminum wire altogether.

As far as panel requirements. You will need two ground rods driven 6' apart and connected to the main panel with #6 wire. You'll need to make sure the water supply is bonded to the panel. You'll need a jumper bonding wire across the water meter and the hot water heater. These may have already been done in the recent upgrade.

Others will add more as they stop by.
 
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Old 09-05-15, 11:04 PM
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Thank you PJmax.

I will take a look at the ground rods in the morning - it is too dark and there is a bush in the way. However, eyeballing in the dark, there are two new rods about 6' apart and use #6 wire. The contractor did ground the cold water to the panel and then did a jumper between the cold and hot at the water heater.

The line with #10 Al and #14 Cu has a 15-Amp breaker. If you find that questionable. The gas furnace (heating) is located on the second floor. It has #2/2 Al armored wire (that is correct #2 as in two) that has been pig tailed in the panel with a #12 copper wire and then to a 15-amp breaker. I haven't opened the junction box next to the furnace, but maybe I should tomorrow to see how it is all connected in there. There is also an extra #2 Al wire that is just terminated in the main panel that heads in the same direction as the furnace.
 
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Old 09-05-15, 11:10 PM
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It would appear that the heating system was electric originally and then converted to gas. That would explain the #2 being pigtailed to #12.
 
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Old 09-06-15, 12:08 PM
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You should look to repairing your Al to Cu connections and removing the aluminum wire altogether.
All the switches and receptacles connected to aluminum wire should be marked CO/ALR. If you run into any copper to aluminum OR aluminum to aluminum wire nutted connections replace the wirenuts wih Alumiconn connectors.
 
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Old 09-08-15, 08:10 AM
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One other option for the #2 to the furnace would be to use a 60A non-fused air conditioner disconnect as both the required disconnect and a splice point to the #12 copper. It has screw terminals rated for both copper and aluminum and will set you back about $6.
 
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