Remodeling Duplex

bob_cvilleApril 9, 2013

We recently purchased an older duplex that has been rented out for some time. The resident of one half moved out and we were starting the process of fixing it up to rent again, and decided to remove the ugly sheet flooring and replace it with something new.

Upon pulling it up we discovered massive water damage to the floor and sub-floor and consequently needed to remove the cabinets to be able to access all of the damaged sub-floor, and the leaking drain pipe in the wall.

So my Electrical questions:
These are probably questions I can/should ask of the electrical inspector and/or the electrician who will be doing the work, I just want to have some idea of the answers before I ask them so I know whether they are steering me wrong.

1) Given the amount of work that has been done to find and fix the leak and the damage from the leak, has this passed the point where everything electrical in the kitchen will need to be be brought up to current code?

2) If all of the kitchen wiring needs to be brought up to current code
which seems to say 7 circuits are required: 2 for countertop outlets, 1 for range, 1 for fridge, 1 for dishwasher, 1 for disposal, 1 for microwave. However given that the fuse box only has 10 total circuits (the range, the water heater, plus 8 edison-based fuses) adding even some of the additional circuits, would require a larger panel, (or perhaps an additional panel)

3) If a larger panel is installed does that mean that all circuits going into this panel need to be redone? Or can circuits not involved in the kitchen mess be connected to the new panel?

4) If a larger panel is installed, does that mean a larger service drop is required?

The wiring is almost all cloth-wrapped 2 conductor, with no ground.
There are already two sub-panels next to the the above mentioned fusebox, one has two fuses and a disconnect handle that seems top go to a 240v receptacle for a window air conditioner, the other sub panel I wasn't able to open.
Some of the wiring is routed through a nearly inaccessible attic space with a low ceiling, no floor and a web of various trusses, but most of the wiring is in the crawl space which is dark and dirty but more accessible than the attic, (especially now that parts of the sub-floor are removed.)

Thanks in advance for any help.

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Ron Natalie

1. Fixing the leak shouldn't mandate any electrical code work. You can upgrade if you want.

2. Well, not quite if we're talking the US. All wall and countertop receptacles must be split across at least two dedicated 20A small appliance circuits. Dedicated circuits might be advisable for the smaller appliances (microwave, dishwasher, disposal, fridge) but NOT strictly required.

3. You're into the can of worms. If you have a fuse panel, yes you'd want to upgrade if you're going to do this other stuff. You'd just connect the older circuits to the new panel. You may find it advantageous to retain the old panel enclosure and make your connections there or you can put the new panel in exactly the same location.

4. Not strictly required, but again your'e in the might as wells. If you have electric hw, electric stove, electric dryer, and A/C, you're probably pushing the 60A or whatever service you have.

    Bookmark   April 9, 2013 at 8:42PM
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Thanks for the information. It'll be useful to have that when I talk to the inspector.

I did five minutes research on the internet and found the info about the seven "required" circuits and it was so different from what I had learned a few years back when I was remodeling my kitchen, that I felt I had to come to a more trustworthy site.

The existing panel says 125 amps the service wire from the pole has no label but the clips that hold it to the wall say 2/0, but that feeds both meters for the duplex. So I'm not sure what the existing service actually is.

    Bookmark   April 10, 2013 at 10:34PM
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My current thinking is that with an electric range, the water heater, the new dryer hookup, the new washer circuit, and new AC/Heatpump it would likely need a 200 amp service for the half I'm working on. Since it seems to be a single service that is split to two meters, is is possible to upgrade the service, and only upgrade the panel for one side, leaving the other fuse panel as-is for now. This is probably a question for the power company or the electrician, again I just want to get an idea of the scope of what I'm facing.


    Bookmark   April 11, 2013 at 7:42PM
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Ron Natalie

Everything from the meter outward is a power company issue and varies WIDELY with the local companies. Often they will have information on service upgrades available for you readily, or as you have surmised an electrician familiar with the local utility will know.

I see no reason why they will not be able to upgrade your service on one side only. You may end up paying all of the costs of doing so (not split with the other unit if it is a different owner).

The only way to tell what service is really required is to do a load calculation with the current (and anticiapted additional) appliances, etc... Any competent electrician can do so, but frankly 200A is by and large becoming standard on small houses and some like mine even have 400A service how (though oddly enough it is silly because my G/S heat pumps etc... I only draw about 6KVA in the steady state).

    Bookmark   April 12, 2013 at 8:58AM
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