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Old 09-01-2010, 11:11 PM  
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Location: Portland, Portland, OR
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Default Rewiring old house question

Hi there- new to the thread and have a question or two before I go to the Permit office next week.

I am rewiring the attic in my 90 year old home (read K&T with blown in insulation on top!). It is a 1 1/2 story with knee attics on either side of the livable attic space. I would like to add 2 circuits (to the new panel my electrician is installing in the next couple of weeks) for the attic living space. This space consists of 2 bedrooms, each with a ceiling fan/light, a closet light, and 4 receptacles, and a 23 foot long hallway with a 3 way light/ ceiling fan/light combo, and 4 receptacles in the hallway. This hallway also has a Jack and Jill sink between the bedrooms, so I'd like to add a GFCI receptacle here to bring it up to code. I'd also like to add wired in smoke/CO detectors. The new circuits will be run from the new panel in the basement, up through a closet wall on the main floor up to the knee attic off the master bedroom in the attic. Most of the ceilings are drywall, with some plaster work, and yes, I will be doing all the work myself. UGH! A bit about me, I am an experienced DIY'er now working on my 2nd old house. I am trying to do as much of the rewire as possible to save on costs, and hey, I like the challenge!

Question: Can I run the wire from the knee attic, loosely over the finished ceiling where there is attic space above it, to the ceiling fixture, without securing the wire to framing members (I'd like to not tear out all of the plaster in the master bedroom)?

Question: I am planning on 2 circuits for this space. My question is, what should I put on each circuit? I have read to leave the closet lights on a different circuit, so if you need to turn off a breaker, you always have light in the room. So, if I do this, closet lights, hallway 3-way and 1/2 receptacles on the same circuit. Bedroom light/fans and remainder of circuits on the other?
I am planning on 15 amp circuits for both of these.

Question: Can anyone think of something I'm not thinking of that I might need for the future? I figure, while I'm at it I may as well get er done right!

Thanks in advance for any help!

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Old 09-21-2010, 09:30 PM  
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Default My thoughts...

I would do the following:

1. Run a single 14-2 to master bedroom and run the overhead lights for the closet and bedroom on same circuit.

2. Run a single 14-2 to master bedroom and run to the receptacles

3. Run a single 14-2 to second bedroom and run the overhead lights for the closet and bedroom #2 on same circuit

4. Run a single 14-2 to second bedroom and run the receptacles, then extend it to the 4 receptacles in the hallway.

5. Run a single 12-2 to the jack and jill sink. A 12-2 is sufficient to run two hairdryers at the same time on a 20 amp circuit. Add a GFCI at the receptacle (you could add a GFCI circuit breaker, but you don't want to walk downstairs to reset the GFCI when it trips).

6. Run a single 14-2 to the jack and jill bathroom for the bathroom light/fart fan. That way, when you turn the hairdryers on, the lights don't flicker.

7. Run a single 12-3 to the fire alarms and daisy chain them using the red wire as the alarm wire. Down in the panel, the red wire won't be run to anything. Just cap it. I would put one smoke alarm in each bedroom and a CO detector/smoke alarm in the hall. Be sure not to put the detectors near a supply air vent (if you have HVAC). You can't connect this circuit to anything else in house other than smoke alarms. I used 12-3 because 14-3 is hard to find.

You may be saying--gosh that's a lot of wire. But think about it this way--you are saving a TON of money by doing the work yourself, and you'll never to have to worry about overloading your circuits. If you want to do it on the cheap, you could get by with four circuits instead of seven (#1-bedroom #1 and #2 lights; #2-bedroom #1 and bedroom #2 and hallway receptacles; #3-bathroom sink GFCI and lights; #4-Fire alarm). Note: I never put the receptacles and lights on the same circuit--flickering lights from the vacuum drives me batty).

Circuit Breakers - besides the one GFCI near the sink, all the bedroom circuits have to be on AFCIs--fire alarm too (2005 AFCI requirement applies to all 15A and 20A branch circuits in bedroom areas--receptacles and lights.)

If you are getting a new panel, be sure it's a 40 position panel.

As long as you are pulling wire, consider running coaxial and CAT5e/CAT6. A wired house is worth more money, plus wireless speeds suck.

When I re-did my daughters bedroom, I also ran new wires and alarmed all the windows (no sneaking out....of course she's two right now).

As long as you are mucking around in the attic, do you want to run wires for any exterior flood lights?

As to running the wire loosely over the finished ceiling, I recommend you secure it as much as possible. I've been told when running wire into an enclosed cavity that you don't have to secure it like they require when its opened walls and you can do it (they realize you can't staple within the closed wall cavity). But ask your building inspector.

Receptacles - use the new tamper resistant receptacles and secure the wiregoing in/out with a staple 12" from the box, then every a minimum of 4-1/2 feet. Oh, and if you drill the studs, the wire through the hole is considered secured.

Light switches - replace them as long as you are rewiring.

I would also replace all of the receptacle and light switch boxes with new, larger boxes--easier to work with and you'll never have to worry about a fill violation.

Finally, consider adding a fire escape ladder (I got this PEARL one--it tucks in right under a window) Fire Escape Ladder | Permanent Escape & Rescue Ladder | Home Fire Escape Ladders

I'm not an electrician, just a well-read DIYer.

Good luck.
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Old 09-22-2010, 09:20 AM  
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Location: Portland, Portland, OR
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Thanks so much for your thoughts!

The electrician is doing the panel tomorrow, so I am looking forward to getting started on this!I think I will do 4 circuits- not quite sure how many circuits he will be it is not such a huge space, so I don't want to take up too much of the panel. Still have to do the basement remodel next year!

I too, am becoming a well read DIY'er, but it's always good to have someone else look at the plan- I appreciate your response.
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