QuestionsCategory: QuestionsHome Electric Rework
Handyman Staff asked 1 year ago

Just bought a new house, first time homeowner. Familiar with electric (studied electrical/computer engineering) which helps but doesn't directly translate to AC stuff. Currently making plans for redoing things and wanted to get another set of eyes on it. I want to be clear that I am not an electrician, but I DO want to do the work myself (learning is half the fun) and I want to go above and beyond code to make inspection and future work easy.

The home was built in '51, and the electric that was in place when we were negotiating the purchase was fused. Part of the purchase agreement had the sellers getting electric re-done with breakers. The breaker box itself looks fine – 100A service, and 14 circuits. That said, the work that was done seems lazy to me: a lot of the original wiring was left in place – and it was only 2-prong stuff, no ground, so I'm not sure if that's even kosher/grandfathered given the panel upgrade – and the labeling is really vauge: 3 separate 15A breakers in a row labeled "lights" while outlets, water heater, and furnace aren't listed anywhere.

Fortunately the basement and attic are open, which should make running new lines pretty straightforward. My tentative plan is something like this:

  1. Flip the main 100A service breaker off to cut power to the house.
  2. Pull all 2-prong-only wires
  3. Reposition good lines (line out to A/C seems good, but I'll try to group it in the MSP in a more logical place next to utilities – line to the range seems good but we're remodeling the kitchen and moving the range to the other side, so I need to relocate the outlet)
  4. Rip out all non-3-prong outlets, including one placed confusingly between the shower and toilet near the ground
  5. Install old work boxes for new switches
  6. Place 3-prong outlets into original work boxes if they're in good shape, otherwise place old work boxes
  7. Add ceiling light fixtures/fans to each room (there are 2 total ceiling light fixtures anywhere in the building)
  8. Add dedicated circuits for each garbage disposal, refrigerator, and to-be-installed dishwasher
  9. Run all necessary new wiring (mostly outlets and lights)
  10. Flip off all breakers
  11. Flip on main 100A breaker
  12. Flip on breakers 1 at a time checking for problems

I've also been planning out what circuits will go to what regions of the house, and derated rather generously, but I'm not sure what qualifies as a "circuit" – for example, I currently have 2 breaker slots occupied for a 30A breaker going to the range: is this 1 circuit or 2? In the text below, I'm calling it 2 – but for permitting if that's only 1 that's great. Unless specifically noted, these are 15A 120V breakers.

  • Living Room: 1 circuit: 5 ceiling light fixtures, half a dozen outlets, entry way and porch lights.

  • Garage: 3 circuits: (2) for 240V socket for future EV charger, (1) 20A for lights, garage door opener, and outlets (particularly for
    tools which might need higher current)

  • Dining Room/Kitchen: 6 circuits: (1) for lights + outlets (GFCI in kitchen), (1) for Fridge, (2) at 240V for range, (1) for dishwasher,
    (1) for garbage disposal.

  • Bathroom/Hall: 1 circuit: GFCI outlets in bathroom, lights in bathroom/hall, hall outlets, bathroom fan

  • Primary Bedroom: 1 circuit, 20A as a future-proof because I have a lot of electronics: lights/ceiling fan, closet lights, outlets

  • Secondary Bedroom: 1 circuit: lights, ceiling fan, outlets

  • Downstairs landing area: 5 circuits: (1) for washer, lights, outlets, and downstairs backdoor light – think I might need to do a dedicated circuit for washer, unsure (2) at 240V for dryer, (2) at 240V for A/C which is physically close to this area in the basement

  • Utility Room: 1 circuit: light, outlets, furnace (natural gas), water heater (natural gas), possibly future on-demand water heater (also natural gas).

  • Guest Room/Bathroom: 1 circuit: lights/outlets/ceiling fan/closet lights, GFCI outlets in bathroom, bathroom lights, bathroom fan

  • Theatre Room: 1 circuit: lights, outlets (TV/sound system will be on outlets here)

  • Primary Downstairs Bedroom: 1 circuit, 20A for future-proofing: lights/ceiling fan, outlets, closet lights, bathroom outlets (GFCI),
    bathroom lights, bathroom fan

I count a total of 22 – or 23 if the washer needs a dedicated circuit – circuits, assuming that the double-wide breakers count as 2 circuits.

Is anything obviously amiss with my plans? Any tips that will help make this a smoother process – particularly inspection? Any problem with nearly filling the 24 breaker slots on my MSP? Will I need to upgrade service to >100A?