The electrician came to house today. This is what he said.
We have BX - armored cable thoughout the house.
He said the fuse panel has three 30 amp fuses that are all oversized. There
is no 10 guage wiring.
Three of the wires leaving the panel were 12 gauge. I think he said they
can support the 20 amp fuses.
Two of the wires were rated at 14 gauge which I believe he said only
supports 15 amps. None of the fuses in the box were 15 amp fuses.
There are a total of 8 circuits running off the panel. None of them are 10
The fuse panel brand name is General. They don't sell that brand anymore.
The black double pull unit at the bottom didn't have any 30 amp fuses in it.
He would replace with a100 amp 'Murry' brand breaker (?). He said we don't
need 200 amp service and doubts we are using more than 50 amps as things
stand now. We don't have an electric stove, jacuzzi, electric dryer,
central air or a disposal unit.
There are at least 5 junction boxes down cellar. He would break them up and
put each outgoing wire on a separate circuit going back to the panel.
He gave me an estimate of $1600 for installation and materials.
1. 100 amp breaker panel. He wasn't sure how many circuits. Perhaps 24.
2. 100 meter socket
3. PVC mast (for outside the house going to the electric company's system)
4. 2 ground rods
5. main ground to water pipe.
He told me to get a couple estimates from a couple other electricians and to
verify what he said about the system. I gather it's a good price.
Anyone care to offer an opinion or feedback... I'd appreciate it. Thanks!
His plan sounds good! But you also need to unload some of those 30 amp
improperly fused circuits so breakers dont trip constantly, put some
proper 15 amp fuses in them and see how long they last:(
Heavy loads are washer, gas dryer, furnace, any A/C or window units?
Use hair dryers or curling irons in bathroom? how about kitchen?
Countertop appliances like microwaves, toaster ovens etc can draw lots
I would install dedicated GFCI circuits to bathroom, kitchen, seperate
circuits for washer dryer, furnace, etc.
This way the remaining circuits can carry the load. I dont know how
much extra 200 amps would cost but do know I am sorry I didnt do that.
Long term the BX supports upgrading to all grounded outlets
I would go for the 200A panel even if you don't think you need it now.
It leaves many more options available for the future if you ever change
your electric use. Plus, if you ever decide to sell, a 200A service
will be standard, a 100A service will seem limited.
firstname.lastname@example.org is Joshua Putnam
Although a 100 amp panel may suit your current needs, you should consider
the future. Do you have any plans to enlarge the house? How much longer do
you plan to live there? Do you think that you might install central air
conditioning at some point? Maybe in a few years you might get a hot tub.
You don't want to pay for another service upgrade later when you find that
you will need more juice. Just for the heck of it, ask this electrician for
a price on a 200 amp service with a 40 circuit panel. Let us know what he
Do get other estimates. Sounds like he is mainly updating to breakers
from fuses and getting rid of basement junction boxes. Is he running
any more wires/outlets? adding any grounded of gfci circuits?
sounds too expensive to me for what sounds like is being done.
If an electrican suggested grounding anything to a water pipe, FIRE
HIM...or at least don't hire him. It is a violation of the National
Electrical Code to use a water pipe as a ground.
You are putting your plumber's life at risk!!!
Charlie S. wrote:
Would you be kind enough to read Article 250 of NEC 2005, which seems to be
at variance with your opinion.
The electrician in question seems to be a belt-and-suspenders type, who is
going to install three grounds, two to driven electrodes and one to a water
pipe, which is not only in compliance with NEC 2005 but exceeds the
I don't know what bizarre notion leads you to believe that grounding to a
metal water pipe in contact with the earth endangers anyone, in fact it is
quite the opposite--by grounding to a water pipe all possibility of a
differential between electrical ground and the potential in the water pipe
is eliminated and the risk of shock is reduced, however slightly.
The real risk in grounding to a water pipe is that at some point the metal
pipe will be replaced with plastic without providing a separate grounding
electrode, thus removing all grounding from the system.
Perhaps you can explain to the group what is going to happen to the
plumber that has to cut the copper pipe that you are using for a
If there is any current leakage through that ground, then the plumber
is going to have 120V across his body when he grabs the two ends of the
J. Clarke wrote:
Don't get excited John,
I was just commenting on your statement .."..what bizarre notion leads
you to believe that grounding to a metal water pipe in contact with the
earth endangers anyone, in fact it is
quite the opposite--.."
That clearly is not true!!!
And maybe you are right about the NEC, it is probably our local code
here that prohibits grounding to water pipes. Grounding to a water
pipe in a dangerous thing to do!!!
J. Clarke wrote:
The NEC method addresses that. You are required to have _two_ grounds, one
of which can be a water pipe and the other of which can be the structure of
a metal building, provided specific conditions are met.
The electrician in question proposed _three_, two electrodes driven into the
ground and one to the water pipe.
Floating the water pipes is just as dangerous you know.
Your kill the plumber scenario by the way requires that several things have
gone wrong. Do you know of it actually happening anywhere?
I don't agree that the "Your kill the plumber scenario by the way
requires that several things have gone wrong." It only requires ONE
thing to go wrong---that being that the plumber opens the pipe which
has a current on it from some grounding issue.
If the water pipe is used as a ground, and there is medal pipe all the
way to the bottom of your well or to the water utility, then the water
pipe will be a better ground than the rods you may have driven in the
ground,...ie. fewer "ohms" to the earth..and thus the best path to
ground. So, most of the current from any ground leakage will be going
through that water pipe and NOT to the grounds driven into the earth.
and..like I stated before, when the plumber opens the pipe he could
easily have the voltage potential across his body.
I didn't just make this up----
Check out page 19, Scenario 4, of this OSHA report
http://www.cdc.gov/niosh/pdfs/98-131.pdf which states " For example,
many electrical systems are installed in a manner that allows a
structure's water pipes or other conductive conduit to serve as a
continuous path to ground in compliance with the NEC. However FACE
investigations have identified cases of electrocution or fire as a
result of an interruption in a continuous path to ground."
J. Clarke wrote:
In my house when I bought it, there was no electrical outlet in the
bathroom except for an outlet in the light fixture over the sink. The
house was wired with 12-2 Romex with no ground. So they ran a ground
wire from the fixture to a nearby copper water pipe. That was allowable
back then. So what happens if something is plugged in and has a leak to
ground? Current travels in that pipe back to where the water pipe
system is bonded to the electrical ground. Some if the electricity
travel to the earth thru the water meter and out, and most of it travels
up the grounding electrode conductor to the panel. Notice that only one
fault has occurred and there is current flowing through the pipe with no
alternate path until it gets near the water meter. If that pipe is cut,
a couple of bad things happen. All the plumbing fixtures connected to
that pipe that are downstream of the cut are energized. Any additional
outlet grounds that are grounded to that pipe are energized. The
plumber who cut that pipe can be electrocuted when the pipe separates
and he's holding onto both sides.
One ground fault and it causes lots of dangerous situations.
What kind of appliances are you talking about? Do you consider a water
faucet to be an appliance?
It didn't violate the code. I found the electrical inspection tag
stapled to one of the bathroom studs in when I tore out the plaster. It
was wired in 1950, I think. (the inspection tag wasn't dated, just
signed and it said they could the wires now.) They didn't have access
to the 2005 electrical code.
I brought the kitchen and bathroom up to 1993 code when I bought the
house, although I was under no obligation to do so. I don't know or
care whether it meets 2005 code. I have ungrounded outlets all over the
house, no AFCI breakers to the bedrooms, and not even my /insurance
Do you tear out the wiring in your house and redo it every 3 years when
a new code book comes out?
My example showed perfectly (to anyone who tried to understand it rather
than just argue points that they don't understand) how one undetected
fault set up a dangerous situation if you use the nearest accessible
cold water pipe as a ground electrode, and shows why there's a rule that
the water pipes must be grounded within a few feet of the water meter.
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