Re-wire Entire House?


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Old 07-24-17, 06:32 PM
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Re-wire Entire House?

I've been hesitant to start the first thread on an upcoming project but here it goes.

We are closing on a home this Friday. Its a 1968 single story 3 bed, 1 & half bath, brick home, on a slab, in north Louisiana, in the country, on 5 acres. NOTHING has been updated in this home since its existence. Its still a 1968 home.... very outdated.

Other than a couple of outlets I have noticed during the viewing, all the outlets are the old two prong & not grounded. The 100 amp breaker panel is a mess & only has about 8 or 10 breakers for the entire home.

I want to re-wire the whole house with 12/3 romex & replace all the outlets with three prong outlets, so everything will be grounded.
The laundry room is my first concern but also the places where electronics like TV's, computers/office, etc is going to be.

I'll say that on first appearances, the old couple that lived & raised their kids there since 1968, seems that he was a DIY guy but not very good & everything looks a mess. Plumbing & electrical is a mess, not to mention when he cut out to access the area, he just leaned the paneling back against the wall. Sometimes just breaking it off by hand.

Wires tied together in the attic are not in junction boxes etc. Just cut, spliced, wire nuts & laying there.

I think you see what a mess this is, so again, I would like to just re-wire the whole house including the breaker panel, remove &/or replace the 12/2 romex with 12/3 & replace all the 2 prong outlets with 3 prong outlets & replace all light switches with paddle switches.

Based on the limited info I have before closing & thorough inspection, generally speaking, what would YOU do? I am not even close to 100% on electrical or terminology. I built a shop in 2001 & wired it with instructions from a friend & it has served me well & hasnt burned down. The Energy guy that came out to turn on the electricity etc, said it looked fine. I just know basic stuff but got it done correctly. I plan to have a professional do the wiring & panel... IF that is what we decide to change/update per your advice on projects where a licenced contractor is required.

What would you do? What would you change or not change, etc.. ???
 
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Old 07-24-17, 08:05 PM
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First off, you will not be using 12-3, you will be using 12-2 with ground. 12-3 will only be using for special applications such as 3 ways/4 ways, smoke detectors, etc.

If I was doing the job I would rather use 14 ga cable. I find it easier to work with and easier for box fill. I tend to run more circuits so overloading is not an issue. That is just how I like to do houses.

Your place have obviously been updated if you have breakers instead of fuses and has Romex run through out the house. In my area a 1968 house would have fuses and FMC for a wiring method.

Note: If you rewire the house it will be required to be wired to current code. It appears your location is on the 2011 code. (2014 in process) 120 volt general circuits are required to have AFCI protection. Kitchens & bathrooms are exempt. Also, tamper resistant devices are also required.
 
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Old 07-24-17, 08:08 PM
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What type of cable was used in the house?
If it was wired with metal clad (aka BX cable) cable with bonding wire(a thin bare wire inside cable), then it may actually have a ground.
In this case, you can simply replace outlets with 3 prong and pigtail ground to the junction box, or use self grounding outlets.

It is also possible that you actually have a NM cable with ground, but 2 prong outlets were installed. I saw this in a condo I lived for a year.


If it was wired BX cable without bonding wire, the metal clad still may be providing some ground, but may have too high of resistance to be a good ground.
If you have a cloth sheathing with just 2 wires, then you have absolutely no ground a all.

The best solution in last 2 cases will be rewiring them, but it won't be a easy task and for the age of the house, it may be plaster instead of drywall. Then it will be even harder to cut and repair drywall.

Personally, if it is drywalled house, I'd rewire the whole hose and if it was plaster house, then I'd rewire only the places I absolutely need ground (audio systems, computer equipment, and maybe kitchen outlets.)
The rest, I will just put them on GFCI and change outlets with 3 prong.


Also, you don't need 12-3 or 12-2. Use them only on kitchen outlets are where ever you need 20A circuits.
14-2 is more then enough for most applications as long as you don't put too many outlets or lights on a circuit.

No matter what you choose to do, you have to fix splices made without junction box. They are a fire hazard.
 

Last edited by lambition; 07-24-17 at 08:53 PM.
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Old 07-24-17, 08:31 PM
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Reading Wiring Simplified may give you some basic knowledge of wiring and methods.

I would bet that there is a ground wire available in your wiring. Look at the panel to check.
 
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Old 07-25-17, 05:19 AM
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Thanks for asking questions. I'll do the best I can to answer your questions.

As for ground, I had a home inspection done & he had one of those little tester things that he stuck in several outlets & the red light lit up on his tester which indicated there was no ground. He said the meter (I think) is grounded cause there is a ground wire running into the ground outside.
He also indicated that I could simply run a little piece of wire from the neutral to the green ground screw on each outlet & that would serve as a ground. Honestly, even if its true, I am not sure that's how I want to do it permanently.

Let me back up a second on the wiring. I am using the term "romex" as the wiring in the house. I know Romex is a brand name but, its a general term for home wiring to me. The current wiring in the house has a white plastic cover with only two wires inside.... a white wire & a black wire (I'm pretty sure) from looking in the breaker box. There is no ground (bare copper). It looks like standard 12 ga wire & there is only two wires so that's what I am calling 12/2. Technically, it may not be but its what my limited experience tells me.
I use 12/3 Romex in my shop when I wired it. Again, white plastic covering with 3 wires inside... 1 black, 1 white & 1 bare copper ground. Again, for my limited experience, its 12 ga wire, with 3 wires... 12/3.

Tony, I really dont think it has been updated. Down here, I haven't seen fuses in a panel in a long time. The house I grew up in was built in either 58 or 59 & it had breakers.
Obviously, I can't be certain, but the breaker panel & breakers in this panel appear to be original & aged.

As for walls. The best we can tell at this point, the house has paneling(?) that was turned around & wall paper put on. At this point, we cant tell if there is sheet rock but, we dont believe there is any sheet rock. That's another issue for another thread but were are considering just adding sheet rock over the existing reversed paneling & wall paper. Again, after we close, I will know more Friday.

As for 12 ga wire, I thought that was just standard wiring for homes etc. But you guys are saying 14 ga wiring is appropriate. I do like ample outlets, so if rewiring becomes our final decision, we will be adding more outlets & in some cases, double outlets in the office at minimum. So, if we do rewire, it's likely that we may need 12 ga wire.
 
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Old 07-25-17, 06:08 AM
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...He also indicated that I could simply run a little piece of wire from the neutral to the green ground screw on each outlet & that would serve as a ground...
He said WHAT?!! Please tell me he did not say this to you or hopefully you just misunderstood him. This is called a "boot-leg" ground and is so against code and is SO DANGEROUS to say the least!! Please do not do this nor even consider doing this.
 
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Old 07-25-17, 06:44 AM
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As AFJES said this guy's knowledge is more dangerous than helpful. Wonder how many other wrong things he said.
 
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Old 07-25-17, 06:57 AM
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If your inspector said that he is an idiot and needs to be reported to any licencing agency. He should not be telling you how to fix things, especially when they create a shock hazard that could kill. He should be reporting safety concerns. Leave the correction to a professional.

He also does not understand that grounding a service has nothing to do with grounded devices like a receptacle.
 
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Old 07-25-17, 07:03 AM
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He also indicated that I could simply run a little piece of wire from the neutral to the green ground screw on each outlet & that would serve as a ground.
Fire that guy and don't pay him if you haven't already. Extremely hazardous advice. This guy clearly is not qualified to be doing home inspections. Take any of the rest of his report with a grain of salt.


From '68 your house probably does have some grounding method. It may not be hooked up at the receptacles leading to the bug tester showing no ground. I'd look into that once you get the house before committing to a full rewire project. I would try to reuse wiring in the general rooms like bedrooms and living rooms. I would probably do a full rewire of the kitchen and bath(s). I would add new circuits where there will be high current devices for example window AC units or space heaters. I would add hardwired smoke detectors and a CO detector.

Obviously any hack work you find like flying splices should be repaired correctly, but overall that will be much less work and expense than a full rewire.
 
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Old 07-25-17, 07:06 AM
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As I stated, even if that were to be an alternative, I wont be doing that. I am more interested in your opinions on the question at hand. Would you rewire the whole house in this case? I want it done right. In my limited experience, I'd rewire it but there maybe a more reasonable approach. That's what I am asking. What would you do? What is your advice on the situation over all?

I mean, it obviously needs to be a grounded system. The only way I know to do that is to remove or replace all the "2 wire" system & replace it with a 3 wire system & change out all the outlets. But, with my limited knowledge, I dont know what other options I have. What would you do if it were your house &/or what would you advise me over all?

Ask questions if needed & I'll attempt to answer as best as I can.
 
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Old 07-25-17, 07:15 AM
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You may have a 3 wire method already installed but not terminated on the devices.
 
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Old 07-25-17, 07:20 AM
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It could be but as previously stated:
The current wiring in the house has a white plastic cover with only two wires inside.... a white wire & a black wire (I'm pretty sure) from looking in the breaker box. There is no ground (bare copper). It looks like standard 12 ga wire & there is only two wires so that's what I am calling 12/2.
 
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Old 07-25-17, 07:27 AM
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If you're considering ripping out all the old paneling and doing a proper sheetrock interior then I would certainly re-wire with grounded cable (14-2wG & 12-2wG as needed) all the way back to the panel.
If I misunderstand your posts & you actually have paneling over sheetrock then it's a much tougher choice.
 
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Old 07-25-17, 08:38 AM
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Open your breaker box. If you see a bunch of #16 bare wires connected to the neutral bar your receptacle boxes may be grounded.
 
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Old 07-25-17, 08:55 AM
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Cables with a braided fabric sheath had grounding conductors which pre-date the plastic sheathed cables.
 
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Old 07-25-17, 09:07 AM
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Guy....

This is one of our options. I am pretty sure there is no sheet rock behind the paneling but not absolutely certain.
One of our options is to take the paneling out & put up sheet rock simply to create a fire break / fire rating etc. However, another option is just to remove the wall paper & paint the paneling.

If we find that re-wiring the house is a reasonable option (work/price/increasing safety), then we will weigh the option & expense of removing the paneling & adding sheet rock.

BUT, if it's reasonable to remove & replace the existing wiring throughout the house without removing the paneling for the above reasons, that is an option.

I just am not experienced enough to know how costly or how much work will be involved with removing &/or replacing the existing wiring without removing the paneling. Is it a reasonable task just to replace the 2 wire / 2 prong outlets etc? Especially in places like the laundry room & or for electronics?
 
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Old 07-25-17, 12:32 PM
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For most of the house just refresh the receptacles with new 2-prong. That will satisfy most of your use. For laundry/kitchen a GFCI marked "no equipment ground" will work and be safe. Only those places where you need a true ground (surge protectors) should you consider a re-wire now.

With an older house you will be busy enough with other things to waste time upgrading what doesn't need upgraded.
 
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Old 07-25-17, 01:26 PM
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You would be better off to selectively add new circuits like for laundry and bathrooms and kitchens.
 
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Old 07-25-17, 05:23 PM
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He said the meter (I think) is grounded cause there is a ground wire running into the ground outside.
The meter is always grounded through the grounded conductor, AKA the Neutral wire. Most cases so is the panel.

Romex is kind of like Kleenex, or Band-Aid, it has become synonymous with Non-metallic Sheath cable, or NM-b. However, as mentioned in my earlier post you do not count the ground wire, it is assumed to be in the cable. You only count the current carrying conductors.

electronics
Electronics do not have any more protection on an ungrounded circuit then a grounded circuit. In fact many electronics are double insulated and only have a two prong plug. The ground is only there for safety. TVSS do use a ground to dissipate surges (I think).
 
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Old 07-25-17, 07:09 PM
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Toney:

And this was kinda my whole point to the whole idea of changing all the wiring....

The ground is only there for safety.
There are no grounds in the house. I THINK the lady who lived there said she had been shocked a time or two by the washer.

I mean, I can replace a lot of wiring etc, for the price of a TV, Comcast equipment or my computer equipment etc.

But, in the end, I am dumb as a brick when it comes to electricity so I am relying on you experts for your opinions & in reality... what YOU would do if it was yours.
 
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Old 07-25-17, 07:47 PM
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It is Tolyn, not Toney or Tony. :P

My point of the ground wire is it doesn't offer any protection to electronic equipment. Only surge suppressors do that.

I wouldn't rewire the whole house unless you are going to tear off the paneling and open the walls. Then it makes sense to to rewire as it will be much easier. I would add circuits to the kitchen (2 or more small appliance) bathrooms (outlets), and laundry. I would also put things like the dishwasher/garbage disposal, fixed microwave, and any other heavy loads on their own circuit. That will lighten the load on the other circuits. I would also take the time and repair any wiring that is wrong (missing junction boxes, incorrectly fused wires, etc.
 
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Old 07-26-17, 10:35 AM
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I had a home inspection done & he had one of those little tester things that he stuck in several outlets & the red light lit up on his tester which indicated there was no ground.
I was wondering how the inspector was able to use a receptacle tester on 2-wire receptacles? The information you have received from this inspector is indicative of the many problems with some home inspectors, lack of knowledge and training. There are some pretty good inspectors out there, but you haven't found one yet. It might be worth the cost to hire a good electrician to do an inspection of the electrical system.
 
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Old 07-26-17, 10:53 AM
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I'd agree with some of the others who suggest a slow-but-steady approach. Rewiring a whole home is a huge project, but much more manageable if you go room by room or circuit by circuit.

Start with whatever your heaviest electrical-use room is (living room, office, etc), or where you want to do other work with painting, etc. Run new circuits and set up new receptacles. Then move to the next.

At some point, you'll probably need to bring in an electrician to do a panel replacement (or service upgrade). Panel replacements aren't usually DIY projects. If you find someone good, they will probably be happy to look over your work and provide feedback.
 
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Old 07-27-17, 07:50 PM
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Hidden Problems

I appreciate the suggestion that slow and steady may be needed, but, the indicated problems, specifically that "Wires tied together in the attic are not in junction boxes etc. Just cut, spliced, wire nuts & laying there. ", suggest that there may be other hidden problems. As a result, I suggest he should plan on a relatively compete rewiring, over, whatever course of time is feasible. This way he can be sure there aren't any other hidden splices, or perhaps other even more significant deficiencies.

Obviously, sound cabling can continue in use, but in some cases it may be appropriate to fully expose and examine the cable (behind drywall and/or paneling) before being comfortable in continuing to use it. In some cases, it might be easier to abandon a circuit and running in new cable, rather than fully exposing an existing circuit in order to continue to use it.
 
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Old 07-28-17, 08:21 PM
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"Wires tied together in the attic are not in junction boxes etc. Just cut, spliced, wire nuts & laying there. ", suggest that there may be other hidden problems.
I definitely agree with other hidden problems that have yet to be discovered. Most likely there are other splices hidden inside the walls without a junction box. Some of the problems could be from original construction.
 
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Old 07-29-17, 07:22 AM
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A new panel and service entrance often require a separage permit and can usually be done as a separate job or project. It helps if there is a suitable space to put the new panel that is not the same space occupied by the old panel.

It is quite common to install a new panel, decommission the power feed to the old panel, and run a new feed cable from a branch circuit breaker in the new panel to the top of the old pahel.

Then you can add new circuits and decommission old circuits at your leisure.

To meet code, the placement of wall receptacles has to meet certain spacing requirements. (Short guide: within 6' of any doorway and at most 12' to the next not measured diagonally across the floor.) You may be able to keep some of the original receptacle locations. You might prefer to decommission and plaster over some of the old locations if they come close to but not quite meet the spacing requirements when combined with newly designated receptacle locations.

Because of the likelihood of improper wiring such as connections buried in the wall, you should not consider the rewiring complete until all old receptacle, switch, etc. locations you choose to keep have been equipped with all new wiring. Old wiring, not reusable even for low voltage purposes or speaker wires, after being de-energized and decommissioned, may be snipped off as far as you can see or reach with the rest left buried in the wall.
 

Last edited by AllanJ; 07-29-17 at 08:07 AM.
 

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