Rewiring an old house

Hey guys. Ive been reading all the great posts and am starting to plan a rewire of a house we just bought (from old knob and tube)
I've helped plan/install a new wire up before so have a pretty good idea of what needs to happen on the electrical side of things.
Questions I havent seen to much of on this group.
Star vs sequential wiring topology... All the new wiring we ran in the other house was sequential so I assume its the cheapest/most efficient way to go for most situations. For an old plaster/lathe house though with only access from above it seems that the star topology is the way to go... anything I should watch out for using this method (Running all the wires to the attic and dropping each switch/receptacle from above)
Running pipe in conduit... Ive got a great 4 inch pvc pipe from the basement to the attic that I can drop the lines down. What is the code as to how much wire per inch you can jam in to PVC... Is PVC as conduit legal? Anything else I should worry about?
Any one who has done this who wants to add their two cents... fire away.
FYI: this house is in Vancouver, Canada. Its a bungalo with a finished basement and good attic access.
Thanks a bunch Gary
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snipped-for-privacy@gmail.com wrote in

Good luck with your project. I've been working on a rewire of my house for a while now and it's quite a job.

I think the only major issue with a star topology would be trying to stuff too many wires in a junction box. They add up quickly. I'm sure it's manageable but just something to keep in mind. There are tables in books and on the web to help figure it out.

If you have a local electrical inspector then this is something you'll definitely need to check with them about. Based on what I know, if it's electrical PVC then it should definitely be OK to use. Plumbing PVC would be questionable. It might be useful as a sleeve for other, smaller electrical conduits.
In the US if you run more than I believe 4 current carrying wires in a conduit then rules come into play that end up reducing the current carrying capacity of the wires. Multiple NM cables in conduit over distances also seems to be a question mark since they're not really designed to be run in conduit in the first place.
There's a link on this excellent site with information on basic conduit fill calculations:
http://www.selfhelpforums.com /
It's for the US NEC but should give you a starting point. They also have message board for the CEC.
If you find you have to limit the number of cables you can run then you might want to read up on Edison or shared neutral circuits if you're not familiar with them. You probably are since I believe they're commonly used for kitchens in Canada. They would allow you to get 2 120V circuits with a single 3 conductor + ground cable. These could be used as the trunk lines to the attic.
Doug
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I've rewired 2 old houses using the 'star' approach. On the last one I split the 2nd floor into 4 zones and used 12 gauge wire (on 20 amp circuits). One zone was 2 bedrooms, one zone was the other 2 bedrooms, one was the bathroon (only one but very large), and one zone was all the stair and hallway lighting and receptacles. I had to use the star approach because it was all lathe and plaster knob/tube. The knob/tube removeal leaves a lot of handy holes to run your wire thru but of course back then there were only 1 or 2 outlets per room.
I created all the runs in one bedroom, brought them to one large workbox, then ran a line from two bedroom workboxes to a central workbox, into which I also brought the hot lead. You don't want to bring any more wires into a box than it can hold and with which you can work. Five 12 gauge wires require a pretty big wire nut.
Anywho the concept I used (code ?) was to create my runs to the lights and outlets, bring them to some connvenient 'collection point', then connect the collection points. One thing to consider, if you're up in the attic and the attic has usable space, is to do all this below the level of the floor. This is much more difficult of course, because you have to drill holes but there will also be a lot of nice, dime-sized holes already there from the knob and tube.
'Star' can also be used in the basement to do the first floor of a 2-story house, for example), the star being in the basement. If your basement weren't finished this IMO woul dbe the way to go, from below.
The only thing I don't have an opinion on is the conduit question. First house I did I had a place I could tack the wires up individually. Last house I got around the conduit problem by finding a place I could run a 6 gauge wire to a branch circuit box in the attic. Had an electrician do that just to make sure it was done correctly, as it required a new breaker in the main box. Having a branch box in the attic makes life much easier than running all those 12 (or 14) gauge wires from the attic to the breaker box in the basement.
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Thanks guys for the quick response. Good site suggestion Doug.
Has anyone seen a box that allows for multiple connections with out wire nuts? Something similar to a bus bar on a breaker panel (but without the fuses)
Gary
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I've not seen anything prebuilt but there are lots of terminal strips/blocks out there:
http://www.idealindustries.com/wt/TerminalBlocks.nsf
I'm not sure how to actually put them to use safely.
I've been using some Wago Wall-Nuts lately and they're helpful in certain situations. They're push-in wire connectors that come in various port configurations allowing up to 8 wires to be connected together on a very small buss bar without twisting:
http://www.wago.us/pdf_us/wall.pdf
Doug
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