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Old House Wiring

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Post by milspec6 on Sun Jan 14, 2018 8:19 pm

I woke up last night to a house that was 48 degrees due to the furnace tripping a breaker over-night. I couldn't find the cause and re-set the breaker...once the blower kicked on, the breaker tripped again.

I spent 20 minutes with my head stuck in the furnace checking the blower and again could not find a problem. Realizing that I was stumped and the outside temperature was -2, I decided to break out the kerosene heaters before I end up with a frozen pipe.

When I set one heater in the kitchen and opened up the below sink cabinets for the heat to reach the pipes sooner, I noticed that the outside temperature sensor in my van was showing only 17 degrees instead of the normal 45 degrees.

So, off to the van to see WTF was going on. The fan was off with no power reaching it. Checked the extension cord and found that the plug was showing signs of over-heating. I replaced the cord and found that the outlet on the house exterior was dead and so I had to run the cord to the garage circuits. When the ceramic came on, the fan was grinding...then it all started to make sense.

Turned out that whichever idiot wired this house in '79, placed the furnace on the same circuit with the home's exterior outlets. When the ceramic heater's fan failed, it drew additional amps on the circuit and tripped the breaker.

I talked to an electrician in town and told me this was not a rare discovery in old houses. So, something to consider if you have an old house or need to do some work in an old house. There might be a lot of things sharing a circuit that you would never suspect when you plug in that air mover, rotary extractor, or Dehu unit.
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Post by Freemind1 on Mon Jan 15, 2018 9:09 am

It's not just old homes. Even the ones built in the 70's have wiring issues if the homeowner at the time, did the wiring.

The average Joe doesn't understand load limits on outlets. The average Joe doesn't know how many circuits should be on a breaker.

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Post by milspec6 on Mon Jan 15, 2018 11:13 am

What is scary is that the wiring was done by the owner before me who was an electrician, yet every electrician that has looked at my wiring shakes their head.

That guy remains a licensed electrician for one of the larger businesses in the city near me and was one of the reasons that I purchased this house as I thought that I was avoiding the "thrown together" wiring that the average DIY is known for.

I think I might have to re-wire and upgrade the service this Spring now that I know the reality.
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Post by Matt; My carpet cleaner on Mon Jan 15, 2018 12:11 pm

I know its been along time; but is there any recourse against the idiot and possible any code infractions???
I have no idea about this stuff, but a hungry lawyer might have something to say??
Just sayin...

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Post by milspec6 on Mon Jan 15, 2018 5:22 pm

They tell me that it was acceptable code-wise when the wiring was done (late-70's), but would not be the case now. I have run a ceramic heater on that circuit before without issue, so it must just barely fall under the circuit's upper limits, but when the heater's fan started to fail it changed all that.

The fact that some of the outlets in the house are installed backwards makes me wonder about the attention to detail of this guy, so the updating really should be done despite the expense.
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