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Service Changes #59929 12/19/05 12:47 AM
Joined: Jan 2003
Posts: 1,429
LK Offline OP
When doing a service upgrade, how much of the existing wiring do you check, before you reconnect?

Work Gear for Electricians and the Trades
Re: Service Changes #59930 12/19/05 01:13 AM
Joined: Aug 2003
Posts: 173
Speedy Petey Offline
I do a quick survey of the area. If I see obvious problems or safety concerns I mention them to the customer. I do not check the whole house or internal wiring unless I am requested to do so.
Some folks are under the impression that a "service upgrade" is a wiring upgrade.

Speedy Petey

"Anyone who has never made a mistake has never tried anything new." -Albert Einstein
Re: Service Changes #59931 12/19/05 10:44 AM
Joined: May 2005
Posts: 706
Tiger Offline
I check the wiring in the old panel as I'm disconnecting it. If there's an unusual connection, I'll investigate. I also check visually anytime I'm in a home. Typically services here are in a basement & the wiring is exposed. If there's a problem, I'll bring it to the owners attention.

Other than that, I wouldn't typically go around the house and check polarity and voltage on outlets, if that's what you're asking.


Re: Service Changes #59932 12/19/05 11:27 AM
Joined: Jan 2005
Posts: 5,316
renosteinke Offline
Cat Servant
With older homes, there is often quite a bit of work that has been added to, or changed, over the years. This often shows up as wires spliced in the fuse box, or double wires under the screws.

I do try to find out what the wires are for; besides wanting to identify them on the panel schedule, quite often these wires are for things (like the furnace) that need to have their own circuit.

There's another matter that also needs to be looked into as well....the number of circuits vs. the appliances present. For example, a home with an electric range, water heater, clothes dryer- yet only one 220 circuit. Such an arrangement is clearly dangerous, and some additional circuits will have to be installed.
Likewise, if the box is full of #14 wire with 30 amp fuses, you'll probably need to split up some circuits.

If the house is full of three-prong receptacles, on an ungrounded system, I'll want to get that fixed- usually by using a GFI breaker.

In other words, for me there is much more to a service change than just replacing the fuse box. Simply replacing the box, while leaving the rest alone, assures that the customer will be calling you ("the junk breaker you put in keeps tripping")- and continues an unsafe situation.

If someone objects to my pricing, well, they're free to look around. I really don't want something bad to happen, that I was in a perfect position to prevent.

Re: Service Changes #59933 12/19/05 07:20 PM
Joined: Jan 2003
Posts: 1,429
LK Offline OP
"If someone objects to my pricing, well, they're free to look around. I really don't want something bad to happen, that I was in a perfect position to prevent."

We check the branch wiring, for proper sizing, and any hazards, it takes a bit longer, however we are pricing against some that throw the panel in, and lite the fire.

Re: Service Changes #59934 12/19/05 09:26 PM
Joined: Jan 2005
Posts: 5,316
renosteinke Offline
Cat Servant
There's the rub. When you do a service change, it is common for circuits to be overloaded- something indicated by the over-size fuse. You, being a consciencious type, size your breaker to the wire.

Now, it's quite possible the customer will not believe you when you explain the problem to them. Perhaps they don't think there will be a problem= or, they'll have the work done by some "production shop" that says nothing about it when they quote their lower price.

Of course, their new breaker will start tripping. If you did the work, you get to say "I told you so"...and contract for the additional work. If the other guy did it, he's likely to say "not my problem,"...and the now angry customer calls 'the nice man who seemed to know this would happen'....and you contract for the work.

Naturally, it costs more to fix it in two visits, than had it all been done at the same time.

We can't let our work be treated like a commodity. There are three kinds of work: quick, cheap, and good. You can choose to be any two of the three. The guy who is cheap only will be neither good nor quick.

These are the reasons why I won't quote work "blind;" I want to look the job over first. In my quote, I am careful to specify what I will do. This is not simply is another opportunity to sell the customer on what I'm offering that the other guy isn't.

The "cheap" guy may make a splash at first...but his lack of profit won't cover many call-backs, and unhappy customers are not likely to be repeat customers.

Re: Service Changes #59935 12/20/05 12:35 AM
Joined: Dec 2003
Posts: 524
Attic Rat Offline
... Come to think of it,'s something we encountered on a service upgrade,... after all was said and done,..we popped the meter back in, hit the main, and started flipping the branch circuit breakers on,... then, BAMM, of the breakers kept tripping, as if it were a dead fault,..after a little detective work, and practically pulling all of the circuits off their breakers, we found the problem,.. sometime ago, some yutz spliced into a branch circuit, and re-fed it,..with the same phase, it didn't blow, that the new breakers were installed and relocated in the panel, that backfed circuit now landed on the opposite phase...
... I love old houses,.. [Linked Image] [Linked Image]

.."if it ain't fixed,don't break a Licensed Electrician"
Re: Service Changes #59936 12/20/05 10:20 PM
Joined: Jun 2005
Posts: 821
ShockMe77 Offline
Russ, that has happened to me more than once, for sure.

Whenever I do a service, or a simple panel change, I simply identify all of the existing circuits, and tape together any double pole cb's, before removing any of them from the panel. Other than that, the only branch circuits I will examine are the ones that may or may not be terminated in boxes near the panel that violate the code.

[This message has been edited by ShockMe77 (edited 12-20-2005).]

Re: Service Changes #59937 12/20/05 10:38 PM
Joined: Dec 2002
Posts: 308
Edward Offline
Inspect existing wiring inside the panel. Install new panel and reterminate the existing circuits. If during the process i see any hazard i will notify the owner.

It has been times that after the panel upgrade the breakers overload and open the circuit, and the client tries to blame that on me.

"oh it worked before the panel upgrade, it never did it before. Could it be you did not do the panel right"

"No Sir/mam before the panel upgrade you had a 40Amp circuit feeding your kitchen plugs"

So to make long story longer, I always explain to them before i do the panel upgarde what migth happen and what circuits will break due to overload and have them sign the piece of paper.




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