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Rewiring #1: Subpanel blues

Blog entry by Dan Lyke posted 07-21-2014 08:17 PM 5377 reads 0 times favorited 35 comments Add to Favorites Watch
no previous part Part 1 of Rewiring series Part 2: Drillin', Cuttin' & Dust Everywhere »

When we moved in, I looked at the wiring in the crawlspace, saw the ancient non-metallic sheathed cable downstairs, didn’t get huge warnings from the home inspector, and thought we were all groovy, if a little out-dated.

The house was on a 60 amp fuse box, so we paid someone to put in a few utility circuits in the garage and deal with PG&E to put in a 200 amp breaker panel. He used the old fuse box as a junction box, ran some THHN through some conduit for each of the initial 3 circuits across to the new panel, ran the new receptacles with conduit on the inside of the garage, and life was groovy.

I built my shop, and then one day I was up in the attic for some reason and realized that, buried under that blown-in insulation, all the lighting circuits were knob & tube. Old electricians will tell you that knob & tube is the safest wiring ever, but I’ve never found an insurance adjuster who’ll say that, and every state but California won’t let you blow insulation over it.

A few Christmases ago we opened up light switches, tied strings to the wires, yanked the wires out of the wall and used the strings to feed Romex back up through the wall. And while we were there, put in a new bathroom heat/vent/light combo unit.

We finally got around to pulling the permit to do that work, and to rewire the rest of the house. And in the process of looking at the conduit run across the garage, stuffed with #12 THHN, decided we needed to just run 3 strands of #2 and put a sub panel where the junction box that used to be the fuse box is.

I sent the building department an email saying “hey, what do I need to do with the permit for this subpanel”, and they said “nothing, as long as you keep the firewall between the house and the garage intact”. So… yeah… the “firewall” is 1/4” drywall over board sheathing. Rip that off, replace with 5/8”.

Saturday and Sunday, accompanied by many bloody knuckles, we ran the sub panel. I’ve started drilling cutting holes in the walls for where all the new sockets to bring this house up to code spacing on sockets. We’ve done the research about wired smoke detectors, and think we have the appropriate Kidde products lined up.

The next few weekends will have some time in the crawl space, drilling holes and running wire up to the new boxes. Hopefully that’ll be less painful than I expect, although the areas at the front and back of the house are really tight to get into the wall.

-- Dan Lyke, Petaluma California, http://www.flutterby.net/



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wow! good luck Dan!!

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