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#13181 08/27/02 08:50 PM
Joined: Jan 2002
Posts: 1,457
From the This Old House forum. "Newhomeowners" second post I find particularly interesting. Also on the initial question the guy thanks "Bob" and "Steve" for the advice. First does he really think they are reading this stuff? And second, Bob has not been on the show for about 12 years.

Board Guide > Home Renovators' Forum > Electrical

Topic: Rewiring Circuit Box
newhomeowner - created 10:28pm Aug 19, 2002 EST

I recently bought a home that was built in the late 60's and has a somewhat outdated fuse box. I do believe it has 200 amp service, fortunately. When I purchased the property, I was told numerous times to upgrade that box. Cheaper insurance, easier resale, etc...
My question is how do I go about replacing such a thing? I've run outlets before and feel comfortable around electricity (if one can be) and am pretty sure I know what's involved. Plus, I have relatives who've done this before. Being in Minnesota, do I need to have a licensed electrician perform the work? How much would it cost to have the power company come out and kill the power for a few hours? How much beer would it cost me to hire my uncle to help? (no drinking while working, obviously)

Thanks in advance! I'm just thrilled to be able to put Bob and Steve's advice to work!


JohnNelson - 10:50pm Aug 19, 2002 EST (#1 of 3)
You need to ask some hard questions about exactly why an upgrade has been suggested. An electrician typically charges about $1000 (more or less) for a job like this, so you know it's not a trivial thing that you and your uncle can knock off in a few hours. Just make very sure you know exactly what the benefits are going to be. From what you've said so far, it's not clear that there are any.

newhomeowner - 05:40pm Aug 21, 2002 EST (#2 of 3)
$1000 doesn't necessarily imply that it is a difficult job. Look at the costs: 1 circuit box - $100 2 doz breakers ($5 ea average) - $120 Power Disconnect - ??? Couple hundred left over for the electricians time....

The way I see it is that there are three wires for every circuit. You just match them up to the screws in the box, mount the box, snap in the breakers, and re-connect the main power.

Or am I missing something?

Benefits of this: Better circuit isolation? - Right now, when anything turns on, all the lights in the house flicker. More amperage in each line - One of the fuses to a utility room blows periodically. (I guess it would be safer just to install more ciruits to that room, though...)

Do I think it's worth $1000? No - I need a new car. Do I think it's worth a couple hundred in parts and an afternoon of work (if I can do it myself)? Yes.

Electrician Jim - 10:18pm Aug 21, 2002 EST (#3 of 3)
A service is something that once it is started, you can't stop, it has to be completed. You also need a permit to install one in most parts of the country and some areas require a license. Most places the power company comes out later to permanently tie in the service and you work on the connections live. A simple service can be worked out by two electricians in about four hours but the more complicated the more time. If you do it yourself, good luck, but a service is not a do it yourself project, there is alot to know. I remember my first service I did, I spent about twelve hours on it and I knew what I was doing. It gets hard when you are working on something and you find out you forgot a locknut and it is Saturday afternoon and all the supply houses are closed (this was before all the depots and the such.) It's more than a panel and some breakers, you need the pipe and cable for the outside of the house, a new meter socket and all the fittings and supports you need. Do you need a couple of LB's? Add on more money!$1000.00 might buy a simple 100 amp service, but won't touch anything higher. Now do you want quality breakers or do you care if they trip or not? There are some DIY's capable of a service, but for the most part, I reccommend a pro for a service. Good Luck.


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[This message has been edited by Electricmanscott (edited 08-27-2002).]

[This message has been edited by Electricmanscott (edited 08-27-2002).]

#13182 08/27/02 09:03 PM
Joined: Aug 2001
Posts: 599
The way I see it is that there are three wires for every circuit. You just match them up to the screws in the box, mount the box, snap in the breakers, and re-connect the main power.
[Linked Image] [Linked Image] [Linked Image]

And I work so hard to be a good electrician! Man, I wish someone told me along time ago thats all there is to it. To think, I wasted 5 years of my life as an apprentice! [Linked Image]

[This message has been edited by Nick (edited 08-27-2002).]

#13183 08/27/02 10:05 PM
Joined: Apr 2002
Posts: 914
#1 - I don't think Steve from T.O.H. could even start to give advice on electric or any other aspect of construction, except for decorating, maybe.

#2 - Bob Villa knows more than Steve, but not much, except how to sell paint and tools.

#3 - This job will cost "Newhomeowners" somewhere between $3000 - $7000, depending on how much he screws up on his try and can't get the power company to turn him back on, thus forcing him to be at the mercy of a pro.

How much you want to bet he doesn't replace the SE cable or install a disconnect outside? Depending on local rules, as long as he doesn't upgade the service he might be able to just change the box.

#13184 08/27/02 10:48 PM
Joined: May 2001
Posts: 717
Personally, I think we oughta find out if he's gonna do it, we find out when... and meet there. Here's a plan:

Sparky - Chairs
Sparky66wv - beer
Addiss - Ice
Tedesco - Cameras - digital and video
Redsy - chips
Electricmanscott - dip
Many hands make light work, this oughta be reasonably inexpensive, and VERY entertaining, not to mention the kibitzing value. [Linked Image]

#13185 08/28/02 05:53 AM
Joined: Aug 2001
Posts: 7,520
I could use a vacation. Put me down for fish & chips, so long as he's doing it before the Minnesota winter sets in. [Linked Image]

#13186 08/28/02 06:39 AM
Joined: Mar 2001
Posts: 2,056
Plain, BBQ, Sour Cream & Onion, Cool Ranch?
Ridges, or Smooth? AHHH....

Could I please just get the ice?! (Cubes, or block?) [Linked Image]

#13187 08/28/02 07:27 AM
Joined: Oct 2000
Posts: 5,392
<IMG SRC=\"\">

[This message has been edited by sparky (edited 08-28-2002).]

#13188 08/28/02 08:11 AM
Joined: Dec 2000
Posts: 4,294
As well as "Bob & Steve", this fella should also contact Norm Abrams for some advice.
Chances are he'll need to replace some charred woodwork around the place if he goes ahead with his plan.
(look at the facial expressions of the tradesmen on TOH when Vila (as always) puts his mitts on everything in sight.)
"Bob, you touch my work again, I'm gonna break your hands".

#13189 08/28/02 03:02 PM
Joined: Apr 2002
Posts: 7,381
Likes: 7
Hey Guys:
Since everyone who "goes to watch" isn't working, how about I show up with a few "cold ones". Haven't had a good laugh in a few days

#13190 08/28/02 04:43 PM
Joined: Nov 2001
Posts: 328
Gee, I feel so left out.

Maybe I can bring the laptop and we'll use Joe's pics to develop a project package or a presentation.

We could make the presentation & other services available for the insurance offices (home & life) when they need expert witnesses.

Maybe it'd just be easier to bring the salsa.

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