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krycek1984October 1, 2010

So, I have a question that maybe you can help me with. This is my first time owning a home so be easy on me. My partner's Dad is a retired electrician so he knows all there is to know about this stuff but I'm trying to be independent. He hooked up our 220's we needed (I guess that's what it's called) for our oven and dryer.

I am thinking about converting our enclosed porch to a sunroom. In order to do so, I will need some sort of outlet to plug a baseboard heater into.

We have 100 amp service. The house was built in 1910 but the PO rewired the house with romex and put the new box in with 100 amp service from the street, thank god.

My partner says we don't have any free breakers, but I don't know what he's talking about. I went down there tonight and saw a breaker that still has a piece of gray over it: From 2010-10-01

Doesn't this mean there's still one free breaker?

We also need at some point to have an electrician come in and make a light fixture or two in our Parlor...all we have right now is an electrical outlet that is connected to the switch on the wall so we have a couple lamps plugged into it. Odd.

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Also, I will add, interestingly enough, even though we only have 100 amp service, I can run the oven/stove, microwave, and two air conditioners all that the same time and not trip anything. I only tripped the breakers once when I first got the house.

    Bookmark   October 1, 2010 at 3:21AM
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Ron Natalie

Using the full size breakers (as you have) you have one position left. You might get a 120V space heater, but most electric baseboards are 220 which will require the double breakers like the two on the bottom (most likely the stove and air conditioner or hot water heater).

Solutions? 120V baseboard, or using tandem breakers (you'll need to check the panel, but that small number of poles QO panel most likely takes them in at least the bottom few positions). Tandems put two breakers in one space. You can move some of the singles up above, down to a tandem to make up another position for a two-pole breaker.

Size of the service is probably OK. You wouldn't likely run the heat and A/C at the same time.

    Bookmark   October 1, 2010 at 8:39AM
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As alluded already, the panel is SquareD QO. Very good equipment in my opinion.

    Bookmark   October 1, 2010 at 6:13PM
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Thank you for the responses! I have no idea what a SquareD QO is but I'm glad that it is perceived to be good equipment. At least I know the PO's did a decent job with the rewire!

Thanks for your responses to a total electric noob!

    Bookmark   October 3, 2010 at 2:55AM
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Use a disconnect box with additional breakers.

    Bookmark   October 3, 2010 at 11:12AM
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use a sqd qo 100a subpanel,withapprox 10 spaces. this should be plenty.

    Bookmark   October 13, 2010 at 10:46PM
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Rather than installing a sub, it's much easier and cheaper to use tandems - as long as the panel accepts them and they give you enough circuits.

Just be careful of some older QO panels that aren't designed for tandems, but can be so fitted if you find the "right" breakers. Check the label inside for how many tandems are OK, and which spaces can accept them.

    Bookmark   October 15, 2010 at 2:24PM
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Just looking at the box, it appears that there are only two 220's. It must have tandems used already. The two added were the stove and dryer according to the OP. However, there are possible other 220 circuits in use: stove, hot water, and ac. I assume that the two existing 220's are for older circuits that already existed.

This leaves no room for tandems or 220 circuits. It seems like there are 15 110 circuits which my guess is that they are not likely to be all 110's.

The blank in the panel box may not be available.

With just the limited amount of information and the increased need, the house should be outfitted with a sub panel for expansion or have that service increased to 200 amps.

Not knowing other details, you need to meet with your partners father and pick his brain, he obviously knows your panel box and can tell you in a second what approach to take in adding a 220 circuit to this old service.

    Bookmark   October 16, 2010 at 12:40AM
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What are you smoking today? Your advice on the other thread was potentially dangerous/destructive, this one is just wrong.

The two DP breakers there are rated 40 and 30, which are quite likely the range and dryer circuits added recently.

It's not an old service. QO panels are current equipment, and this one looks to be in relatively new condition.

Your guess is most likely not correct. A 240V circuit to one "yoke" requires that the handles be tied - ie a DP breaker. It is legally impossible that there is another 240V circuit in the house running off two seperate SP breakers. If we theorize that there is, then we must conclude the OP's partner's father is a very poor electrician indeed, which negates the suggestion that we should further seek his opinion.

The OP references "two air conditioners". I think this implies window units, probably 120V models.

Hot water is probably provided by oil, propane, natural gas, etc.

There are no tandems in place. Do you even know what a tandem breaker IS? It's two breakers that fit in the space of one. Look at the picture. Click on it and it gets bigger. Do you see a single space with two handles? No? Neither do I, so there are no tandems in use.

The blank is available unless the 40A breaker there is a 'shunt-trip' type (which occupies an extra space next to it). I can't imagine why they'd want a button to remotely trip the RANGE breaker, so I'm going to go ahead and assume this is not the case. There remains one slot open.

All of the other advice given thus far in this thread is good.

My suggestion is to obtain one QOT120 tandem breaker, install it in slot 15 (assuming that slot accepts tandems on this model), move circuits 14 and 16 to it, then install a QO220 into slots 14/16 to power the suggested baseboard heater.

The reason I am suggesting 14 and 16 is because the ratings on their handles are clearly visible in the photo and I can be sure they are 20A circuits. If #12 is 20A also, you could just as well install the QOT in slot 11, keeping circuit 11 there and moving circuit 13 to it also, making 13/15 available.

    Bookmark   October 16, 2010 at 10:22AM
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i have just noticed rust on the panel. is it in a wet location? if it is, it needs to be replaced

    Bookmark   October 16, 2010 at 9:58PM
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Thanks for the advice everyone. I will present it to my partner and his father when the time comes to install the new wiring.

As far as I know, his Dad does excellent work. He worked primarily (although not exclusively) on commercial and industrial projects. He does things at and/or above code. When he put the 220v lines in for the stove and the dryer, he put it in metal conduit.

That is correct - the AC's are window AC's. The hot water is provided by natural gas, same as the furnace. I believe that the range and the dryer are the only 220's in the house but who knows.

Now there's another problem...we have to get an HVAC person in eventually to analyze our HVAC system...the previous owners did a poor job in the design of the ductwork, so it has been surmised that we may need a fan in the attic in the ductwork to help pull the warm air up and down (they ran the ductwork ALL THE WAY to the top of the peak which is 35 ft high and then back down to the second floor). So, I am going to need to keep that breaker open so that if we need it for a fan in the attic we can use it.

Hopefully it won't come to that though and they can just tweak the ductwork.

I hate fixing previous messes!

There is some rust on the panel. Not sure how it happened - I do know that a few months before we bought the house, there was a huge flood in the basement (vandals broke in and left water on). I'm guessing that the rust resulted from the highly humid conditions that were present during that time. There is no current water intrusion any where in the house. Every time we went down to the washr/dryer we'd check to make sure and we haven't seen any.

    Bookmark   October 17, 2010 at 1:35AM
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was the panel underwater?

    Bookmark   October 17, 2010 at 11:56PM
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krycek1984, I'd recommend ignoring smithy's current thread. He'll, no doubt, wind up telling you to buy a new panel. If your electrician has seen the inside of it since the 'water incident' and sees no need to replace it, then there IS no need to replace it.

Regarding the duct fan, you can certainly have multiple tandem breakers, so even if you move forward as we've discussed so far, moving two current circuits to a tandem breaker then installing a new double-pole breaker for your heater (thus occupying the spare space), whoever installs your duct fan can still convert one more circuit to a tandem, using the other side for the fan.

You asked if you could do it, we told you that you can, now you're coming up with reasons you can't.

You can, if you want to, it's entirely up to you - there is no science stopping you.

    Bookmark   October 18, 2010 at 2:00PM
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you can do that.

    Bookmark   October 18, 2010 at 11:17PM
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pharkus, now that I know we will be able to do what I want to do, I feel much better. I just didn't know what could or couldn't be done. But now I can plan accordingly, and I can rest assured knowing that there will be room for an outlet in the sunroom and maybe one for the attic.

The water definitely didn't reach the outlet box. I thought about it a little and the issue is that there is no subfloor on the main level. The house was built in 1910 and they laid the hardwood floor over the joists. Therefore, when there is any sort of spill or doggie accident on the floor, it drips down into the basement in between the hardwood (gross). I would assume that's where that rust line came from - someone spilled something at some point and it dripped onto there. There's not much we can do to prevent that in the future. There is a couch over where it is now though so I can't foresee there being any accidents or spills.

His Dad wasn't concerned about it, nor was the home inspector or separate electrician that we called in when we bought the house, so it's not a worry of mine.

The issue of drippage when there is a spill or accident is actually a rather irritating issue because the urine gets on the joists and crystallizes...but that is a post for another time on another thread LOL.

    Bookmark   October 19, 2010 at 12:11AM
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Ron Natalie

Home inspectors are by and large idiots. NEVER rely on them other than to use their reports as leverage against home sellers in real estate transactions. If it weren't for this, these clowns would not exist.

Your electrician is definitely a better person to make a determination. Even without flooding, a damp basement will tend to show some rust on things especially the outsides that may have had damage to the paint over the years. You can clean them up and spray them with some rustoleum if you're concerned about further deterioration.

    Bookmark   October 19, 2010 at 9:09AM
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i have been in a basement so damp that there was mold on the k&t. the stickeron the fpe fuse panel was also moldy and the glue wasnt sticking. oh, well. the peoplewho bought the house replaced it anyway. i hope they used sqd.

    Bookmark   October 19, 2010 at 9:49PM
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