I'm hoping to get some new audio/video equipment soon. The circuit where
it's going to plug in is an old one in that occasionally overloads, and also
has no ground connection. Last year, we added on to the house and put in
brand new electrical service (new 200 amp box). There are 3 or 4 breakers
in the new box that are not hooked up to anything - it appears they are
unused. I would like to use one of these unused circuits to hook up to a
new outlet for my audio/video equipment. I assume that it's just a matter
of stringing the appropriate guage wire from the circuit breaker to the
outlet. Is there anything else that I should be concerned about?
Thanks in advance.
Good question. Modern electrical is extremely overdesigned and can suffer a
lot of abuse before there is a problem. There are many code requirements as
to spacing of supports, how the cable must be run, grounded, and on and on
and on and on. You can ignore many of them and get away with it 99 times
out of a 100. It is that 100th time that is the killer.
But there are somethings that done wrong can be catastrophic. A previous
owner of my house put in a new circuit. For some reason he moved a breaker
when he did it. Most of the time that doesn't matter, but the breaker just
happened to be one of two on a multiwire circuit. He could easily have
burnt the house down. Obviously he didn't, but it was just a matter of
luck. If I hadn't actually seen it done, I never would have thought of it
as something to be concerned about; cause it's just so damned stupid that it
could never happen. But, it you have never heard of a multi-wire circuit
you wouldn't think twice about doing it. I am sure there are hundreds of
things like that, but no way I can point them out.
Another consideration is that running a new circuit in existing construction
may not be easy. Your situation might be pretty simple, but in many it is
nearly impossible unless you know the little tricks. Sometimes it actually
is impossible unless you are willing to rip open walls.
If you still feel confident, then good luck!
Such as putting a staple into the cable. Seriously, you
need to get a book of simple electrical repairs and
practices, such as available from Lowes, HD, or a book
store, and study it for a bit. If you system is correct
now, adding a wire for a new circuit as you propose is
simple. The only real concern is to is that the wire size
and breaker size match, the wire is secured well, any
connection are within a box, and the connection are
correctly made. Most of the work is simply cosmetic in
getting the wire strung between two points.
Tim Wentworth wrote:
Yes, the electricity.. and the new equipment you plan on buying.. why
not get an electrician??? if you have to come here to ask questions then
you dont know how to do it, why take a chance and burn up your new
This is the correct place to ask such a question.
But you really need to narrow down your question. I would bet that
the system you have now is more dangerous than whatever you might come
up with if you do it yourself. So visit your home depot and go for
No offense intended... but if you knew how to do it right, you would not be
asking questions here. Hence the presumption that you may wind up making some
mistakes. Rather than sniping, though, I'm going to offer you some
First, this is *not* rocket science. Any reasonably handy person with the
right tools and the right knowledge can install a simple residential circuit
Second, the right knowledge isn't that hard to obtain. Home Depot, Lowes, your
local library, and most bookstores have books that explain how residential
electrical systems work, and how to do simple tasks safely. You can also get
courses at most community colleges or vo-tech institutes.
Third, check with your local electrical inspection authority. You may need to
get a building permit, in order to be strictly legal.
Doug Miller (alphageek at milmac dot com)
How come we choose from just two people to run for president and 50 for Miss
On Thu, 11 Dec 2003 21:29:02 GMT, email@example.com (Doug Miller)
I agree with Tim on his three points--and would suggest an easily
read, well-illustrated book published by Sunset, "Complete Home
Wiring." It will give you an idea of whether you're up this and other
electrical wiring projects.
That book, a couple questions here, and a call to the local planning
department (electrical inspector) gave me the wherewithal to wire my
2-story, 1400 sq. ft. workshop, including 240v for a kiln, 120v
receptacles everywhere, and 3-way switched lights. No previous
--John W. Wells
I don't know what you do, I'll bet you could spend a Saturday at your job,
instead of the whole Saturday you'll spend doing this job the first time,
and pay me what I would charge to do it right and fast, and you would still
If you handled the inspection and fee, if necc., I would estimate $100 (2
hours) and start to feel guilty at $150, if it took that long.
I have the long bits you would need, the million dollar insurance, and the
skills to sleep that night after I know I did your house right (just like my
I instinctivly work 'one handed', when necc., so I get to go home every
I cut the drywall right, re-tighten the copper, curl the wires the correct
way, don't 'ring' my strips, and a 100 other skills per hour that took 20
years to and 3 serious shocks to learn.
When I go in your panel, I will know if things are right.
"There are 3 or 4 breakers in the new box that are not hooked up to
anything - it appears they are unused."
I lease these skills for $50 an hour residential.
The place to learn electricity is with a master, or on low voltage (car,
24V), not in the house you sleep in.
Don't mean to rant, but people will spend $2800 on a TV and skimp on a pro
The skills are not hard to learn, but MUST be learned.
Under your house is not the place.
To be on the safe side do us all a favour and hook up the new outlet first
and then power down the whole house (Before the box if possible) and then
hook-up the new circuit breaker. If you haven't done this before it might be
smart to buy a six pack of beer and invite a electrically sound friend over
(Beer later though)
You know, I'm getting a little sick and tired of you and others who send
perfect strangers to my local watering hole, (where I'm trying to RELAX)
attempting to buy me off with an offer of cheap domestic beer.
If you need legal help - you go see (and pay for) a lawyer.
Need medical help - you go to see (and pay for) a doctor.
Car won't start, call a mechanic and a tow truck.
But for some reason, the solution to an electrical, plumbing or HVAC problem is
to go down to the local gin joint and find the appropriate drunk, and con him
into "helping you out" for next to, or absolutely nothing, save for the cost of
Well I got news for ya pal - I make more than my doctor, and dentist, and
sometimes my lawyer. (Unless he, or I, had a *really* good year,) and that
wouldn't be possible if my modis operendi was: "Will work / advise/ consult for
From the tone of your question I suggest getting some local help. There
are many things to consider and possible problems to overcome on this kind
of project. Experience and knowledge are very helpful. Errors can result
in fire and death. Sure must of the time it works. Most of the time.
From here it is difficult to know what problems you may come up against.
Do you know the requirement of running wire in an attic? Do you know the
tricks of getting a wire through a wall? And about a hundred others.
Like the 101 things that you can do wrong once you take the
cover off of the load center. Some will just scream "A HACK DID
THIS", some could kill you or the next innocent person to touch
the wrong combination of your wires.
This is a "look over somebody's shoulder a couple times" type of
job. Call an electrician or "Home Handyman" and watch while they
work but don't annoy them.
Baisez-les s'ils ne peuvent pas prendre une plaisanterie
Here is what I'd do.
I'd tape off the wires and run a new 14/2 with ground from the
service and connect it to a new grounded receptacle on one end and one
of those unused breakers at the service panel.
Now what's hard about that?
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