When Replacing A Breaker Panel, Would You Do this?

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On Jan 16, 3:45pm, snipped-for-privacy@aol.com wrote:

I think you'd be impressed with my directory.
I created an Excel spreadsheet that not only details what each breaker controls, but also, where appropriate, what it *doesn't* control.
As a simple example, I have a circuit for the garage lights & receptacles. In the garage I also have a single receptacle for the freezer, on it's own circuit.
Breaker 16 is labeled as "Garage, except as noted by Breaker 17."
Breaker 17 is labeled as "Single garage outlet, south wall, for freezer."
Since it's an older house that only had a few circuits when I moved in, the breaker for the original first floor circuit now reads something like:
"First Floor except as noted by Breakers 5, 7, 12, 14, 22, 27, and 29. 2nd floor landing light but not 1st floor landing light."
Each of those breakers control circuits that have since been added to the first floor or split off from the original one. They are labeled in as much detail as required to make it clear what they do and do not control.
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You're an engineer?
Christopher A. Young Learn more about Jesus www.lds.org .
I think you'd be impressed with my directory.
I created an Excel spreadsheet that not only details what each breaker controls, but also, where appropriate, what it *doesn't* control.
As a simple example, I have a circuit for the garage lights & receptacles. In the garage I also have a single receptacle for the freezer, on it's own circuit.
Breaker 16 is labeled as "Garage, except as noted by Breaker 17."
Breaker 17 is labeled as "Single garage outlet, south wall, for freezer."
Since it's an older house that only had a few circuits when I moved in, the breaker for the original first floor circuit now reads something like:
"First Floor except as noted by Breakers 5, 7, 12, 14, 22, 27, and 29. 2nd floor landing light but not 1st floor landing light."
Each of those breakers control circuits that have since been added to the first floor or split off from the original one. They are labeled in as much detail as required to make it clear what they do and do not control.
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Robert Green wrote:

[skip a bunch of confusing stuff]
I made a floor plan using Google SketchUp. Each outlet, switch, and light has next to it a number. The number corresponds to a breaker with the corresponding number.
This map is glued to the inside of the breaker-box door.
Works for me.
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That works, but it appears to assume that you are the only one concerned with the directory. *You* know that each room has multiple circuits because your wired the house (or so it seems). I labeled the panel not just for me, but also for anyone who might need to work around the panel even when I'm not around.

The reason I have a breaker that says "First Floor, except..." is because there is one circuit that spans all rooms on the first floor. It is one of the few original circuits in the house and happens to also be part of an Edison circuit that includes part of the basement. Instead of trying to split up the Edison circuit, I made sure that any new outlets added to the 1st floor and basement were placed on new circuits. I don't necessarily like the fact that these 2 circuits span most of 2 floors, but I'm not into a complete rewiring.

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wrote:

In fact there are situations when it could be a 40a breaker on 14 ga wire but don't do it without the proper code guidance (a common question on the inspector's test).
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Don't use no double negatives, nohow. I am not going to fail to tell you again, definitely not.
Christopher A. Young Learn more about Jesus www.lds.org .
In fact there are situations when it could be a 40a breaker on 14 ga wire but don't do it without the proper code guidance (a common question on the inspector's test).
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On 1/16/2012 10:40 AM, bud-- wrote:

I agree, which is why I would make a notation of anything unusual while disconnecting the loads.
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In my house, a 12 gauge might feed a 14 gauge circuit. So, whether that is legal, don't know. I do know it exists. That circuit might have been on a 15 amp breaker, and it should have been noted.
Greg
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I also installed 85 foot of 10 gauge wire to my garage. Does not mean to use over 20 amp breaker.
Greg
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When a panel is well marked and distances of a run are known, you can size a breaker based on the designed and intended capacity of the circuit based on the over-sized conductor being used to combat voltage drop...
But on a panel where every circuit except for the 240 volt appliances was double tapped ?
Right, it would cost more than the panel replacement to trace down all of those circuits and examine every junction on each line to assess that situation -- all that has been described was the service upgrade from 100amps to 200amps and the breaker panel replacement...
This is why people who see a shiny new electrical panel in a house shouldn't be taken in an ASSUME the house has been "rewired" when the only work which was done was that the electrical service and panel were replaced...
~~ Evan
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wrote:
<stuff snipped>

In an old house, there's no telling if the circuit's been under semi-permanent overload and has tripped and reset so many times that the breaker itself has or is about to fail. I sure there are at least some tenants or homeowners who, when discovering that a breaker no longer trips the way it used to, assume the problem is fixed and not that the breaker has failed. For me the bottom line is that it's not likely labeling the wire and which breaker it went to is going to rob the job of all its profit.
I've seen electricians do other questionable things on This Old House, etc. I watched one electrician take long wires in the attic and instead of stripping them out where the light was good and she could sit in a comfortable position she chose to lie prone in a dark corner and strip the wires after they had been fed into the box, mounted far into the edge of the attic. I like to strip the wire in the best light possible so I can see any potential problems. Wires nicked during stripping can lead to arc faults and I would say that wires nicked while being stripped is one of the more common issues I've seen, especially from DIY electricians who don't do it every day.
She also couldn't drive a straight staple - it went crooked and looked like the next hammer blow would drive the narrow edge of the staple into the insulation. I also saw her put more than one cable under the stable, which I've read makes some AHJ inspectors unhappy but is probably compliant with the NEC if the right staples are used.
I use separate staples just because it's a few seconds extra time and a few cents of extra cost to make a cleaner looking install that means less chance of damaging the insulation if for any reason you have to replace one of the wires. She did, however, make sure the cables were laying flat on each other. I think the inspectors worry that the staples used to tack down multiple wires might not be long enough to securely anchor them.
-- Bobby G.
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On Sun, 15 Jan 2012 09:13:08 -0800 (PST), DerbyDad03

Sounds like an idiot to me. It's not that hard to label wires. The guy must have been short on work, so opted to do it where it would consume the most amount of time......
Of course, this is TV. Take it with a grain of salt. Most of these shows seem to find the most costly methods available to do these repairs and use every hi-tech gadget available (to advertise the crap). You have to be very wealthy to do it like they do it on those shows. In fact I've always wondered why they even start with an old building, when they end up destroying or removing most of it. Seems cheaper to begin new..... People buy older homes that need work mostly because they cant afford to build new, and because the older homes are also built sturdier.
I rarely watch those programs anymore. They're just not practical.
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wrote:

I tend to agree. At least take a few digital pictures. It's not an activity that's going to take more than 5 minutes.

Oh, I still learn things from them. I saw them pull cable through a conduit using a mouse on twine that pulled a stronger rope and then finally the cable itself (looked like 10 or 8 gauge feeder) using a winch with two foot pedals. If either the puller or the pusher guy took his foot off their footswitch, the winch stopped. I never thought of using a winch for that, and if I ever have to pull cable like that, I might invest in two foot pedals and a heavy duty relay to make the same sort of treadle switch safety.
But sadly, I agree, much of the stuff they do is fast-forwarded. Especially the "What it it?" segments.
-- Bobby G.
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Well, from my understanding of wiring, wire size is one factor that determines the breaker size. 14 gage, 15 amps. 12 gage, 20 amps, 10 gage, 30 amps.
For aluminum wire, down rate the breaker by one size.
What should they have done instead?
Christopher A. Young Learn more about Jesus www.lds.org .
On this week's episode of Ask This Old House, an electrician was replacing the service wire and panel in a house. There were code problems within the panel (broken breakers, doubled up circuits, etc.) There were at least 3 generations of wiring at the panel: BX cable, cloth cover Romex and modern Romex. There was a rat's nest of wiring in and around the panel.
He noted that he would normally mark all the wires before removing them but since the existing labeling was wrong, he chose to simply cut all of the wires and "figure it out afterwards".
As he was connecting the wires to the new breakers he used this simple method to determine which wires to connect to which breakers:
"There are 3 sizes of wires. The smaller wires go to the 15A breakers, the mid-size wires go to the 20A breakers and the largest wires go to the 30A breaker."
Doesn't this seem to be an oversimplified, possibly dangerous, method?
Since it was obvious that whoever came before him violated codes by doubling up breakers and who knows what else, isn't it dangerous to assume that the correct wire sizes were used as the mess grew over the years?
Maybe they were just saving air time by using that explanation, but it seems to me that a lot more investigation should have been done as opposed to simply letting the wire size determine the breaker size. To even imply that the wire size is the determining factor seems irresponsible on their part.
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On 1/15/2012 11:13 AM, DerbyDad03 wrote:

I finally saw the AskTOH episode. In the limited time I saw it I thought the wiring looked pretty normal.

Almost nothing was labeled.

As I wrote previously, I don't think simply using wire size is a good idea. The original panel would give clues whether #12 should be on a 15A breaker, and some 240V circuits may have a breaker larger than the wire size.

The violation the electrician cited was 2 wires on a breaker. It is not a violation when the breakers are listed for 2 wires. The breakers were SquareD, and they are listed for 2 wires on 15/20/30A breakers. It was not a code violation. As with all the other electricians on TOH, not my favorite tradesman.
One of the stated reasons to go from 100 to 200A was no room for expansion. It may (or may not) have been possible to add tandem breakers. It certainly was possible to add an adjacent subpanel.
The owner talked about expanding. Would be interesting what the service calculation is after the expansion (whether it is near or over 100A).
One of the things the electrician did was put an expansion fitting in the PVC riser above the meter can. One of the dumber ideas I have seen.
--
bud--


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Take a different example. A cement block building has a pull box on the outside back wall. A PVC conduit comes out the side and runs horizontally into the side of another pull box. The conduit is constrained at both ends and is relatively long. The conduit can expand and contract significantly more than the cement block wall, which can cause problems. An expansion fitting is a good idea.
There are 2 factors, constrained at both ends and relatively long length. The service riser is somewhere near 10 ft. More important, it is not constrained at the top. The electrician made a point that the pipe straps allowed expansion. I don't see a problem. And did the electrician install the expansion fitting so it was not bottomed-out?
================ Your post, and a lot of other old ones, just showed up at the news source my isp uses. It has not showed up yet at aioe. Must be a space- time warp.
-- bud--
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