Shawn Tylka

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  1. David Miller 330 Accepted Answer Community Answer

    Hello Shawn!

    I am glad you asked this question. If you are not an electrician, do not mess with the electrical in your home. If you are in an older home there are a few things that a professional will look at.

    1. Do you have appropriate service to your home to meet your needs. Older homes had fewer thing to power so it makes sense that they had less power to the home iteself! For instance, if you only have 60 amp service, you would probably have trouble running an air conditioning system. Luckily this is easily fixed with a service upgrade.
    2. Do you have proper cabling? Very old homes might have what we call "knob and tube" electrical. This is no longer considered to be up to code. Homes that are 50ish years old might have romex cable (the stuff we use now) but might not have a "ground" or third wire. If you have either of these, any new outlets should be added with wiring that is up to code. A professional can help you determine this.
    3. Size of the breaker box. You may need to get a larger breaker box to add additional lines. This would be the cheapest and easiest fix, but still needs to be done by a professional. Each line in your house has to have a dedicated breaker. If your box is full, it can be difficult to add new outlets or fixtures. It is best to have the box upgraded by a professional.

    Good luck with your project!

    UTC 2021-04-20 01:10 PM 1 Comment
  2. The first thing that any homeowner or renter should do is map their electrical circuits. This doesn’t have to be a floor plan with the branch circuits drawn in, it can be a simple list of everything that is connected to each fuse/circuit breaker. Turn on all of the lights in the house. Remove a fuse (or switch off a circuit breaker) and write down every light and outlet that no longer works including the basement and garage. Plug in a lamp or other device and check each electrical outlet. Try the doorbell if is hardwired, run the sink garbage disposal, and all other applianced, manually turn on your furnace, everything. Now you know everything that is on that circuit, probably between 8 and 12 places of power draw on that line. Switches don’t count, they are simply interruptions in power supply.

    Restore power to that circuit and kill the next one, then record everything on that circuit. Repeat until you know what is on each line.

    In the past, people used far fewer things that ran on electricity. In an older house, you may have only a 100 amp service with a screw-in type fuse box that has six or eight fuses inside. If so, your options are extremely limited. You can use your list to figure out how many things that draw power regularly  which are all on the same fuse/breaker. You may need to plug some things into outlets on a different line.

    If you plug a power strip with a surge protector into the wall, you’ll give yourself a bunch of additional outlets. If you then plug in a bunch of devices that are all turned on at the same time and all or most draw a lot of current, either your power strip or the fuse/circuit breaker will kick and kill the power. These devices are protecting you.  Wires that draw too much power will heat up significantly. Without a fuse or breaker (or if the  wiring in the wall is too thin  for the breaker it is connected to) your house will turn into the equivalent of a toaster and you risk have a raging fire burning inside the walls before you realize it.

    If you want to have a lot of things plugged in but only use a few at a time, or these things draw low current (like small LED lights) you will be OK. A 120 volt line rated for 15 amps is a maximum of 1,800 watts, but each line is expected to have 80% maximum continuous load, so the actual working limit for that circuit is 1,440 watts.

    If you are lucky and your service panel just has too few fuses, an electrician may be able to add a sub panel (an extra, smaller branch box) that will give you more lines. Otherwise, you are looking at upgrading to a 200 amp service box with room for plenty of breakers.

    UTC 2021-04-21 01:42 AM 0 Comments

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