Electircal Panel breakers all over the place

Discussion in 'Off-Topic' started by spinnaker, May 29, 2017.

  1. spinnaker

    Thread Starter AAC Fanatic!

    Oct 29, 2009
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    I finally took on the project of mapping out the electrical panel on my new home.

    The home was built in the 50s but since had a new service installed.

    One thing I noticed was the panel is all over the place on what breaker services what circuit. I would think that the breakers would be logically grouped together. Basement circuits in one group, 1st floor circuits in another group etc. Instead they are all mixed all over the place.

    In addition there are things on the same breaker that don't make sense. There is a breaker for the basement bathroom GFCI on that same breaker is my rear exterior receptacles that one makes a bit of sense since the exterior receptacle is just on the other side of the wall of the basement bathroom.

    The one that makes no sense at all is the basement lights are on the same circuit as the living room. That one makes no sense to me since if I want to work on the living room circuit, if I shut the breaker down then I loose lights over my tools.

    Is this mess normal in an older home? Is it done for reasons of load?

    They remodeled the kitchen some time back. They put the refrigerator , garbage disposal and under cabinet nights, kitchen outlets each on their own breaker. Still not sure why they did that and not sort out the mess that was already there.
     
  2. MaxHeadRoom

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    Jul 18, 2013
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    Sounds like the electrical contractor was working on the economy version!
    Max.
     
  3. spinnaker

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    So this is not normal for an old house? Hard to believe they have this mess when you see how the garage is wires. I have 120v and 240V outlets all over the garage and the garage has its own sub panel.
     
  4. tcmtech

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    Unfortunately it's way too normal.

    Very few electricians when wiring a home ever put anything in with any degree of logic or order. Rather as one circuit gets pulled its related breaker just gets snapped in next to whatever one was ahead of it.

    As for older houses that have had countless unknown rewire and additions done to their systems as with what you are seeing very few people ever put any effort into ever laying things out correctly.

    My grandpa had a wiring method very similar to what you have. Just daisy chain each additional circuit to whatever source point was closest and call it good. It saved time and wire that way and it was totally irrelevant that one 15 amp line feed half the house while a 20 amp line fed one unused outlet on one wall in a closet of a room that used to be for something else.

    Now as with you when I do a job, either new or a rework, I try to make the locations of breakers and their loads follow a somewhat rational pattern and distribution method plus actually try to label them too. ;)
     
  5. spinnaker

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    Here is the map

    upload_2017-5-29_15-56-34.png
     
  6. strantor

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    Oct 3, 2010
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    Normal? I don't know. I suspect it is common, unfortunately. It is the case with my home, built in the 80s. Previous owners thought they were handy. I have several electrical deficiencies I need to remedy. Serious ones, actually; I shouldn't have procrastinated this long.
    • 14ga wire ran to my well pump (through a concrete slab) on a 30A breaker.
    • Main ground wire to ground rod is cut and twisted back together
    • Coming out of the top of my breaker panel where the incoming power from pole transformer goes, There are two branches to two separate breaker panels (one in master closet, one in garage). So I have unfused wires run thru my attic.
    • Not sure where the problem is with my A/C in the attic but once I touched it an it gave me a good shock.
    Those are the major things, then I have the same issues as you, with the completely random breaker assignments. It's even more complicated by the fact I have 3 breaker panels. The one in the master closet turns off the lights in the garage. The one in the garage has a breaker labeled "well" that does not power the well; I have no idea where it goes. I have given serious thought to starting over from scratch. Ugh... This is why I have done nothing.
     
  7. tcmtech

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    Usually the contractor was working on a bid fixed price job where the faster they got done and less material used the more profitable it was. :mad:

    A new school that was built recently is experiencing that problem and its unwanted effects big time and the overlay construction project is not even completely done. Every sub contractor cheated and cut corners everywhere hoping that the job would have been signed off and done and with their payments in place before any of it was found. Nope. The primary company who oversaw the project is facing a million plus, and rising, bill they may not get paid for due to so many blatant screw ups and shoddy workmanship that's showed up already. :mad:

    Stuff thats clearly defined in blueprints and contract has not been done or was done wrongly and way too much of what has been done is already failing or never worked right to begin with and all of it has been backed up with lies and misdirection to try and draw attention from who is really at fault and why. :mad:
     
  8. tcmtech

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    I'm working on building a new house and my plan for the new wiring is to have one main 200 map primary panel and 2 - 3 sub panels spread out over the house, basement and garage areas just to save wire and make things simpler.
    Figuring the kitchen/dinning room area will have one centrally located easy access panel just for convenience since kitchen related breakers seem to get tripped the most. Then a similar sub panel system for the garage for similar reasons.
    Just by doing that given where the main panel power comes in I can save a few hundred feet of 12 ga wire pulling to each location. I'd rather pull one 2 - 3 or 4 - 3 line 50 feet to a subpanel then a dozen plus 12 ga lines each that far all ending in a single over stuffed 40 circuit main panel.
     
  9. GopherT

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    Nov 23, 2012
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    When they run all of these, they normally shut down the power to the house, run a bunch of "home runs" from the circuit panel to the first box. Then from each receptical throu the rest of the circuit. And slap a label on the Romex near the breaker box.

    Once that rough-in is compete, they need an inspection.

    After the inspection, they go back to the circuit panel and just start grabbing wires, stripping them, clamping and copy what was on the masking tap to label (hopefully). They slap a 20amp fuse to each yellow Romex (12 ga) and 15 amp on the 14 gauge Romex. And whatever is needed for your 220 circuits. No rhyme or reason as to how they are grouped. The guy filling the panel may have never been in the house before and he really doesn't care to wast time grouping anything. They usually try to balance the number of 20 amp breakers on each side (left right) depending on the type of box you have.

    Most kitchen appliances need their own circuit (disposal, fridge, microwave, stove) and the outlets above the counter should be evenly split on two more circuits - with GFI. Fridge is not "required" but you don't want spoiled meat because of a countertop gfi tripping.
     
  10. MaxHeadRoom

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    Jul 18, 2013
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    I have been out of the contracting industry for many years now, but I just wonder what or how things transpire now?
    On a bit of a grander scale, we had two major building projects here in recent years, one was a very grand brand new football stadium, within 18mths things started falling apart with Very expensive fixes to correct them and bring it up to standard.
    Now who is responsible for this? Number one the architect and/or builder have to have some responsibility IMO.
    But of course the taxpayer is on the hook for the costs for the remedy.
    Likewise for a new Police Headquarters!
    In my day, on jobs of significance there was an overseer called a Clerk of the Works, (not sure what the N.A. equivalent is), he would inspect all trades work as it progressed to ensure than no corners were cut and every thing according to code.
    If there were any deficiencies or errors show up after a certain period of completion, someone was held accountable.
    Now it seems it is a license to print money.:rolleyes:
    Max.
     
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  11. #12

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    Nov 30, 2010
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    The electricians' POV:
    I have never seen a breaker box with any kind of organization. I couldn't please anybody that OCD, anyway. I'm sure not going to re-organize yours so I can run 2 wires for new appliances. If a breaker pops, it shows because the handle moves. You want a map of all the breakers you don't have any problems with? You label them. It's not my house.
     
  12. GopherT

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    Nov 23, 2012
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    I investigated this several years ago when you mentioned it. I discovered it is the same name in the US but rarely used. Most often used by public construction projects and I recommended it at a recent townhall meeting. It raised the price of the project less than 5% and everyone thought it was a great idea (except the subcontractors). The subcontracts complaints made everyone else even happier to have a clerk.
     
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  13. tcmtech

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    Unfortunately the days where doing a public works job was some sort of honor and way to showcase your quality of work are long gone. As with you I don't deal with that work directly myself but I am around many who do and it sad what sort of crap passes now. Especially so when the head project manager by the first few weeks on a project becomes well known by everyone to be both way under qualified in actual skills plus is a huge liar in general.

    That school project has been a showcase of failure, lies, cheating and worse. Sure it looks great at a distance but up close it obvious that where ver anyone could cheat and cut corners they did. :(

    The main baseball field is 3 - 5 feet off in elevation from home plate to the required by code outfield boundary lines and the head project manager insists it's to code yet he can't come up with a single sport field codebook (or has design blueprints) to back himself up where as the school, who has such codebooks plus the local community athletics department people backing them up, does.

    Much of the flooring is commercial tile which looks great! except that whatever flooring contactor who put it it never cleaned the debris off or prepared the concrete base before laying down the tile so now almost every tile has punchthrough pimples showing up from all the grit and whatever else that's trapped underneath it because someone was to lazy to broom and prep the floor off before laying down the tile.

    No outside wall has a water hydrant or electrical outlet of any sort. Blueprints call for them every 100 - 150 feet.

    The parking lot layout is way too small for a standard school bus to maneuver in unless certain end parking spaces are coned off so they can make the turns to get in a and out.

    The bus barn has a parking lot island so close to where the main doors are no two buses can come in or go out at the same time. Getting every bus in or out is one at a time 2 - 3 point turn process depending on what stall they are using.

    The back parking lot and delivery roadway routes are too small for any large delivery trucks beyond a single axle type getting or out of to drop off food or anything else at the designated dock so everything that comes in a semi (most stuff a large school orders comes that way) has to be dropped off at the front door and carted through whole school to get to the lunch room or storage rooms that are right off the rear dock.

    Al of the main lighting and communication systems are all programed systems and the nearest company that can program anything is located states away and only come through 1 -2 times a year so all of their high efficiency eco friendly energy saving smart control lighting and whatnot ran 24/7 for the first year because no light which actually shuts off anything. Also all of that lighting gear has shown itself to have a extremely high fail rate after being ran at 100% power nonstop for a year.

    The roof was built dead flat despite all codes saying for a building that size it either had to have a certain rise to run ratio for drainage or actual drains for every so many square feet of area. Plus given the large areas above places like the commons and gymnasiums the under sized roof structural framing is too light and bends so with a high snow load the roof actually sags 2 - 6"'s in places causing a actual ponds to form which of course leaks into the building because the roof was never sealed correctly.

    I could name a dozen other things I have heard and or seen that are wrong by any code first hand with that project.

    That's what I have learned about present public works projects and given what I hear from others who have been around other assorted public and business works projects of similar scope in the last few years it's standard operating procedure. :mad:
     
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  14. MaxHeadRoom

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    I definitely believe that some responsibility must lie with the Architect, or at least should be verified, if so.
    Max.
     
  15. spinnaker

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    Oct 29, 2009
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    Anyone that knows me can tell you I am a bit of a slob. But when it comes to this type of thing, it can drive me nuts. Other examples are, all my shirts need to be facing in the same direction when hung in the closet. And bills in my wallet must all face in the same direction sorted by the value of the bill.

    But I am going to try and forget about the panel. I really don't have the skills to work on it and I am guessing it would be a real mess to organize. Likely the runs aren't going to be long enough for me to put them to where I want them to go.
     
  16. MaxHeadRoom

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    Isn't that known as OCD?:D
    Max.
     
  17. tcmtech

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    Unfortunately that's what things are coming to in every construction project. :(

    I don't think it will be too long before everyone will be wanting some outside independent agency overseeing things who has been given the authority to hire and fire at will on a job site being in control will be standard procedure just to get anything done right and legally being it already clear way too many contractors and the like are quite content to lie and cheat at all levels if they think they can get away with it.

    I already see with that school project that if all it took to get the project done right was a 5% fee to have someone independently overseeing things who would review everything as it was being done and knock heads together when it was being done wrong was in control they would have been money ahead. :(
     
  18. RichardO

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    May 4, 2013
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    My house is just short of 100 years old. It has many wiring additions and changes over the decades. The biggest one I see is that there used to be a fuse box about 7 feet high near the back door. The circuit breaker box is now on the outside wall a full room away. I really don't want to know how that change was made. :eek: .... even thouhg I may regret it some day. :(

    The latest oddity is the clothes dryer operation. It has quit drying with heat but the motor still runs. It appears that one phase is missing. My best guess is that the circuit breaker on that phase has failed but have not had a chance to verify my hteory.
     
  19. GopherT

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    Make a spreadsheet with the order you want.
    Add a colored dot next to each cell in the spreadsheet

    Use a set of colored pencils to put similarly-colored dots to the corresponding breaker. Now you have a decoder kit and it is all sorted out - and no spy will figure out your secret code.
     
  20. spinnaker

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    Yes that is what I mean. I am the extreme at both ends. But a true OCD has to have EVERYTHING organized and put away. There are only a few things that bother me when not organized. My desk is usually a mess and my drawers are a mess. A true OCD would never allow that.
     
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