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IowaCowboy
Iowa native
Premium
join:2010-10-16
Springfield, MA
kudos:1
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Best way to add outlets

I am looking to add more outlets behind the entertainment center. Currently the outlet behind it has a maxed out power strip and another gadget occupying the the top plug (power strip is in the bottom). The circuit it is on is the least loaded of my three household circuits (lighting c, the other two lighting a and b both have air conditioners on them). Load center is a Crouse-Hinds with Challenger type C circuit breakers. I could easily add another outlet as I could just cut a hole in the drywall and pull Romex up from the basement. Problem is finding a source to connect this to. My load center is maxed out in terms of circuit breaker slots (although there is a double pole breaker feeding a broken 240 volt through the wall A/C, which I'd like to take out because it lets heat out in the winter). I was thinking of replacing one of the 15 amp breakers with a duplex breaker, but I am not sure if I can do this since I am dealing with an obsolete panel. The reason I want to do this is I want to add some new gadgets to the entertainment center but if I add anything, I can guarantee an electrical fire due to overload. And I am NOT going to use an extension cord to another outlet as those are a fire hazard themselves. I am thinking of adding a three gang box with three outlets in it.

I am competent when it comes to electrical work. I am in the process of installing a transfer switch (switch itself is in and just need to install the power inlet box). I have also upgraded lighting in the basement (hardwired two 4' T12 fluorescent strips in the basement), installed a security light, replaced a few outlets/switches, and replaced a bath fan.

The only sticking point is finding a source for the new outlets. The issue is the breaker panel. I could possibly tap the GFCI circuit (GFCI outlet next to the panel feeds the outdoor and bathroom outlets).

There are a few new gaming systems coming out in the upcoming months and I would like to power them (and not with the power up mushrooms from the Mario games)
--
I wish I still lived in Iowa; Everything there from rent and groceries to Cable TV is much cheaper in Iowa (especially with an overbuilder in town).

garys_2k
Premium
join:2004-05-07
Farmington, MI
Do you just need more outlet physical capacity, or are you worried about overloads? If you just need outlets and the circuit has plenty of reserve capacity, just daisy-chain the new outlets off of the existing one.


IowaCowboy
Iowa native
Premium
join:2010-10-16
Springfield, MA
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Reviews:
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These are the loads on the circuit
Lighting C Circuit 11:
Hall Light
Kitchen ceiling fan/light/security light
Living Room TV
Basement Lighting
Smoke Detectors
Possibly the garage lighting and outlets (have not determined during circuit mapping process).
--
I wish I still lived in Iowa; Everything there from rent and groceries to Cable TV is much cheaper in Iowa (especially with an overbuilder in town).

garys_2k
Premium
join:2004-05-07
Farmington, MI
Hang a clamp-on ammeter onto the wire from the breaker and see how loaded it is.

TheMG
Premium
join:2007-09-04
Canada
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Reviews:
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reply to IowaCowboy
Before you do ANYTHING else, I'd measure how much load you have on the circuit with everything turned on. You might be surprised at how little load you actually have on there, especially if all that lighting is fluorescent lamps.

Oh, and to resolve your entertainment center receptacle needs, get something like this and just mount it to the back of the entertainment center:

»www.tripplite.com/en/products/mo···lID=1948

Many manufacturers make these and they come in all sizes.

iknow
Premium
join:2012-03-25
reply to IowaCowboy
using the existing circuit is not a good idea if the garage outlets are also on that circuit. if you plug a heavy load in the garage, and the circuit breaker trips, all the lighting in the basement will go out. as far as the AC, you can put a winter cover on it from the outside, it'll save a lot of work closing the hole.


IowaCowboy
Iowa native
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join:2010-10-16
Springfield, MA
kudos:1
Reviews:
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There is only one unused outlet in the garage plus another unused outlet on the ceiling if a garage door opener is ever installed in the future (which I don't plan on doing) in addition to the light in the garage. The garage is mostly used for storage of lawn equipment (lawn mower, snowblower, generator, etc).
--
I wish I still lived in Iowa; Everything there from rent and groceries to Cable TV is much cheaper in Iowa (especially with an overbuilder in town).


whizkid3
Premium,MVM
join:2002-02-21
Queens, NY
kudos:9
reply to IowaCowboy
Just from the list you posted, I can tell you first hand not to add any more receptacles to that existing circuit. In fact, you should be looking to find ways to reduce the loads on it. Adding receptacles in the living room to a bathroom receptacle circuit is not code-compliant; so don't bother with that.

Essentially, you have two problems - you need to add a receptacle (easy enough to solve), and you panel has not available slots. The solution is to either replace the panel with a larger one, or use tandem breakers if your panel is rated to accept them. You should be able to find tandem breakers for the panel you have.


mackey
Premium
join:2007-08-20
kudos:12

1 recommendation

Or C) Install a subpanel

/M


IowaCowboy
Iowa native
Premium
join:2010-10-16
Springfield, MA
kudos:1
Reviews:
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3 edits
reply to whizkid3
Click for full size
Click for full size
Here is the panel and its associated circuits

20 Amp single pole: 1, 2, 19
20 Amp Double pole, 7-8, 12-13
30 Amp Double Pole 14-15, 16-17
40 Amp Double Pole 9-10
15 Amp Single Pole 5, 6. 11, 18, 20
Feeds a broken A/C (that the absentee landlord won't bother fixing): 3-4 (Double Pole)

The only reason that this house is in good shape is I am capable of fixing basically anything. I am trying to avoid a fire by making sure that the electrical is up to code and I want to do things properly.

If it was not for the circuit being maxed out (like whizkid3 See Profile said), then I would use a small piece of raceway and install a hardwired plugmold behind the entertainment center.

The house was built in 1988 when there were far fewer gadgets around (mostly a TV with about 40 cable channels with music videos on MTV, computers were a rarity, tablets and smartphones were not invented, you had a VCR if you could afford one, the original Nintendo was the hottest gaming system and Super Mario Bros 2 had just been released, an alarm clock in the bedroom, record players were being taken over by cassette tapes, and the electric rates were much more reasonable).

I am sure the loads I have with my gadgets are three times the original load on the panel. Some improvements since 1988 are incandescent light bulbs have been replaced with CFLs (and now being replaced with LED), and the window air conditioners are much more efficient than the one that is through the wall.


ITICharlie1
Premium
join:2003-01-22
St. Louis MO
reply to IowaCowboy
"Best way to add outlets"

Call an electrician!!!
--
Don't let my reality hinder your imagination!

garys_2k
Premium
join:2004-05-07
Farmington, MI
Reviews:
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3 edits
reply to IowaCowboy
It looks like the bottom two positions on each side could accept tandem breakers, that would give you four "new" places to add lines.

Edit:

This means moving the double pole breaker now in 9-10 to another location, say 7-8. Now both 9 and 10, as well as 19 and 20, could have tandem breakers installed. Put a tandem 20A breaker in 9 and move the wires now on 7 and 8 to it. Likewise, put a 15A tandem in 19 and put the wires on on 19 and 20 on that one.

You can now add tandem breakers of whatever size you need onto 10 and 20 to feed your new circuits.

Edit again for mipselling errors!


IowaCowboy
Iowa native
Premium
join:2010-10-16
Springfield, MA
kudos:1
Reviews:
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Click for full size
I am wondering if these breakers will fit my panel. I am thinking of combining the washer (20 amp) and the garbage disposal (15 amp) on a 15/20 tandem breaker that they sell at Lowe's Depot. Or I might remove the air conditioning circuit (3-4 in the panel) as the air conditioner is broken and the landlord wont fix it (heck, I had to repair a broken bathroom sink at my expense and I did it myself).

The reason I want to install more outlets is the outlet behind the entertainment center is already overloaded. However I found out that the garage is on the GFCI circuit and not the circuit in question.

I might check the circuit in question with an clamp meter and if I have capacity left, I'll probably rig up some raceways and a hardwired plugmold strip.
--
I wish I still lived in Iowa; Everything there from rent and groceries to Cable TV is much cheaper in Iowa (especially with an overbuilder in town).

sk1939
Premium
join:2010-10-23
Mclean, VA
kudos:10
You realise that since this is a rental you could have voided your lease by making all these changes right?


LazMan
Premium
join:2003-03-26
canada
reply to IowaCowboy
Not to mention the world of legal hurt you're now open to, should anything happen?

Stop messing with a panel you don't own... It's not going to end well.


IowaCowboy
Iowa native
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join:2010-10-16
Springfield, MA
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Reviews:
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reply to sk1939
said by sk1939:

You realise that since this is a rental you could have voided your lease by making all these changes right?

The keyword that describes the landlord is absentee and she does nothing more than collect the rent at the beginning of each month. And sometimes she sits on the rent checks (meaning I mail the rent on the 3rd of each month and she does not cash it until the third week of the month). But her husband did call us to inquire about a high water bill, that was the result of the neighbors in the other unit continually filling and draining an inflatable kiddie pool (that is a good three feet deep and in violation of building code as it lacks an enclosure). And our neighbor complained that the landlord throws a fit about fixing anything (which is why I fix things myself). She does not do a good job when selecting tenants, we've lived here for a good ten years and she inherited us when she bought the building from the previous landlord (who was somewhat better at fixing things but you had to throw the cat in the closet when he came to the door). The new landlord is absentee but does allow cats (prefers not to have dogs in the unit, but Grandma does bring her Alaskan Malamute when she stays with us, but he is crated when left alone because he gets into things). My cat is clean but he does tear up the drywall next to the litter box and that is an easy fix (just throw some drywall mud over it and sand it smooth and I always fix it if the landlord may come over which is very rare).

As for our household, we pay the rent on time each month and have never missed a rent payment (although one check got lost in the mail but showed up three weeks later with the previous owner).

Water bill thanks to the losers (who deserve to have their kids taken by the state child protective services and runs up the water bill and probably owes back rent) in the other unit (costly and a nightmare), Having our family as tenants that can fix things, improves the unit, and pays the rent on time (priceless). If I owned this building, I would evict the other tenants in a heartbeat but evicting tenants in Massachusetts (due to the court systems here) is like pulling teeth. This neighbor is always asking me for tools and other household items and uses my picnic table (which they all but trashed) without asking. The reason I don't move is this is the better part of town and the unit is in good shape and the rent is reasonable compared to the other rental housing stock in this city (other units have higher rents, are in dismal condition, lack the amenities such as a garage and yard, and includes rats and roaches are included in the rent).

I would consider buying this building if I could (and using rental income to pay the mortgage) but I just don't want to deal with tenants (as they are a nightmare and they wake you up at 2:30 in the morning because their unruly 4 year old threw something in the toilet or don't pay rent and take you to court over various nonsense). And how do you make the mortgage payment when they are past due on rent (and you can't garnish their income to collect for past due rent or damage to the unit because they are on welfare) and in Massachusetts, you cannot discriminate against tenants who receive public assistance.

My mother has lived in rentals all of her adult like (which means I've lived in rentals all my life) and she has many horror stories about various rental units (including a neighbor in a duplex that we lived in that was always engaged in domestic violence with his girlfriend and my mother was afraid to call the police because this guy would break into our unit and harm my mother and I when I was about 3 years old). She also sued a landlord for a deposit back and never got it because he declared bankruptcy and the building got foreclosed. She also remembers the days when landlords could legally refuse families with children (and landlords did big time because they did not want to de-lead their apartments or deal with issues caused by children). Another apartment complex that my mother lived (when I was a newborn) in had a tenant that would check into the psych unit in a local hospital when she was running out of food stamps and would carry a 12 pack of beer around the complex. Considering these types of tenants, we are a landlord's dream come true.

The rental housing stories I can tell go on and on. I could start another thread with all of my (and my mother's) rental housing stories.
--
I wish I still lived in Iowa; Everything there from rent and groceries to Cable TV is much cheaper in Iowa (especially with an overbuilder in town).

AVonGauss
Premium
join:2007-11-01
Boynton Beach, FL
Absentee or not, I would imagine that replacing / reconfiguring breakers without the landlord's permission is probably beyond the scope of a normal lease in almost all parts of the country. Not to be a nanny, but as a tenant (and not owner) I would also be curious how that would affect inspection requirements / liability.

TheMG
Premium
join:2007-09-04
Canada
kudos:3
Reviews:
·NorthWest Tel
reply to IowaCowboy
said by IowaCowboy:

I am wondering if these breakers will fit my panel.

It's not just a question of whether or not it physically fits. The breaker has to be approved for use with the type of panel you have.


IowaCowboy
Iowa native
Premium
join:2010-10-16
Springfield, MA
kudos:1
Reviews:
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reply to AVonGauss
Now that I remember, back in 2008 (when the landlord first bought the building off of the original landlord), I did some electrical work for the landlord in the other unit (replacing a ceiling fan and a basement light fixture) and I did not charge the landlord for labor as I cannot legally charge for electrical work since I am not a licensed electrician (just like you can give your friend/boss/significant other a haircut for free but you have to become a licensed barber/hairdresser to charge money).

As for electrical work, codes vary, the codes here are rarely enforced (the code enforcement here is almost non-existent with the large number of distressed properties that are structurally unsafe and only the worst of the worst buildings get attention such as buildings infested with rats, illegal rooming houses, buildings lacking heat/water and sewer, and housing five families in a studio apartment, etc). And the code enforcement has been cut back due to budget cuts. My mom works for the city (school system) and she had her hours cut due to budget cuts. Basically to sum it up, the code enforcement here cannot keep up with all the code violations and unsafe housing let alone inspect a new transfer panel installation or a ceiling fan installation.

The landlord's husband (who is a not an electrician) replaced the porch lights. The previous tenants in the other unit replaced the deck light with a security light.

As for the transfer panel, I have a medical condition where a power outage could be life threatening. As for the landlord and reasonable modifications, that is covered by ADA (which allows tenants to make accessibility related modifications to the unit at the tenants expense, however the landlord can require the modifications to be undone upon vacating the premises). The transfer switch was an easy install. I even watched a YouTube video of a 14 year old non-electrician installing the exact same switch.
--
I wish I still lived in Iowa; Everything there from rent and groceries to Cable TV is much cheaper in Iowa (especially with an overbuilder in town).

hoyleysox
Premium
join:2003-11-07
Long Beach, CA
What youtube video do you recommend for installing transfer switches?


whizkid3
Premium,MVM
join:2002-02-21
Queens, NY
kudos:9
reply to TheMG
said by TheMG:

It's not just a question of whether or not it physically fits. The breaker has to be approved for use with the type of panel you have.

The panel label, which the OP posted a photo of above, states which breakers can be used. Note that the two lower breaker slots accept tandem breakers (it can be seen on the label).

The type BR (Bryant) breaker is available from Eaton Cutler Hammer. The type MP (Crouse-Hinds) breaker is available from Murray and possibly Siemens (ITE).

The photo the OP posted showing the rear of the breakers shows a 'CTL' and 'non-CTL' breaker. The CTL breaker should fit the two lower breaker slots. Problem is you didn't show us the front of the breaker. It needs to be a type 'BR' or 'MP' breaker as per the panel label. Just because it fits, does not mean its an acceptable, code-compliant replacement. I have seen quite a few situations where the home owner (in this case you are a renter, even worse) decided 'the breaker fits', replaced it, and in short order had a fire in the panel. Pay attention. Get the right breaker.

Speedy Petey

join:2008-01-19
reply to IowaCowboy
said by IowaCowboy:

Now that I remember, back in 2008 (when the landlord first bought the building off of the original landlord), I did some electrical work for the landlord in the other unit (replacing a ceiling fan and a basement light fixture) and I did not charge the landlord for labor as I cannot legally charge for electrical work since I am not a licensed electrician (just like you can give your friend/boss/significant other a haircut for free but you have to become a licensed barber/hairdresser to charge money).

Yup, comparing a barber to an electrician. That makes sense.

said by IowaCowboy:

As for electrical work, codes vary, the codes here are rarely enforced (the code enforcement here is almost non-existent with the large number of distressed properties that are structurally unsafe and only the worst of the worst buildings get attention such as buildings infested with rats, illegal rooming houses, buildings lacking heat/water and sewer, and housing five families in a studio apartment, etc). And the code enforcement has been cut back due to budget cuts. My mom works for the city (school system) and she had her hours cut due to budget cuts. Basically to sum it up, the code enforcement here cannot keep up with all the code violations and unsafe housing let alone inspect a new transfer panel installation or a ceiling fan installation.

The landlord's husband (who is a not an electrician) replaced the porch lights. The previous tenants in the other unit replaced the deck light with a security light.

As for the transfer panel, I have a medical condition where a power outage could be life threatening. As for the landlord and reasonable modifications, that is covered by ADA (which allows tenants to make accessibility related modifications to the unit at the tenants expense, however the landlord can require the modifications to be undone upon vacating the premises). The transfer switch was an easy install. I even watched a YouTube video of a 14 year old non-electrician installing the exact same switch.

I'm sorry, but you're delusional.
YOU CANNOT DO ELECTRICAL WORK IN THIS PLACE!!!! PERIOD!!

Mass is one of the most regulated states out there, and for you to be doing work in a rental is anywhere from wrong, to borderline criminal. That goes for her husband too. If this lady is so absentee that you cannot get basic maintenance done then report here to the renters bureau or something. Or better yet, move out.


IowaCowboy
Iowa native
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join:2010-10-16
Springfield, MA
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reply to IowaCowboy
As for the transfer switch, I should get credit for doing it right. Most renters that have the priviledge of owning a generator would use a so-called "suicide cord" (a cord with a generator plug on one end and a dryer/range plug on the other) and back feed the power in a dangerous way (possibly starting a fire or electrocuting a line worker). I am farmiliar with some of the Massachusetts codes (particularly the fact that interlocks are not allowed and you must use a transfer switch).

I bought the generator during the October snowstorm and waited in a huge line at Lowe's. The guy ahead of me had some plugs in his hand while waiting in line and I suspected he was going to make a suicide cord and back feed the generator he was about to buy the dangerous way.

I did look into Generlink (which I would have preferred) but those are not available from the poco.
--
I wish I still lived in Iowa; Everything there from rent and groceries to Cable TV is much cheaper in Iowa (especially with an overbuilder in town).


LazMan
Premium
join:2003-03-26
canada
reply to IowaCowboy
Sorry, no credit, because, unless you're a ticketed, registered, and insured Electrician in the state (or in a reciprocal state) - you didn't do it right. It's legally impossible for you to do it "right"...

I'm not trying to beat on you - I'm all for homeowners doing it themselves; and will share every bit of knowledge and asssitance I can - but as a tennant in an MDU, you can't; and shouldn't be doing more then changing a lightbulb. It's not your property at risk, and doubly so, that there's other tennants in the building - the legal liability you're exposed to, if there's ever a fire, is staggering.

The argument that "the LL's husband did it first..." - doesn't fly for me, nor does getting advise from YouTube about how to install the transfer switch.

I'm pulling out of this thread - I wish you well; but can't assist you in your quest here... Sorry.

patcat88

join:2002-04-05
Jamaica, NY
kudos:1
reply to Speedy Petey
said by Speedy Petey:

Mass is one of the most regulated states out there, and for you to be doing work in a rental is anywhere from wrong, to borderline criminal. That goes for her husband too. If this lady is so absentee that you cannot get basic maintenance done then report here to the renters bureau or something. Or better yet, move out.

What useless advice. The OP clearly said he will NOT be moving out.


IowaCowboy
Iowa native
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Springfield, MA
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Reviews:
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said by patcat88:

said by Speedy Petey:

Mass is one of the most regulated states out there, and for you to be doing work in a rental is anywhere from wrong, to borderline criminal. That goes for her husband too. If this lady is so absentee that you cannot get basic maintenance done then report here to the renters bureau or something. Or better yet, move out.

What useless advice. The OP clearly said he will NOT be moving out.

Agreed; if I moved out, I'd probably end up in some rodent infested place in a bad neighborhood with higher rents. In the city I live in (Springfield, MA), there is huge problem with absentee landlords. The reason we live here is my mom works for the school district and there is a residency requirement as a term of her employment.
--
I wish I still lived in Iowa; Everything there from rent and groceries to Cable TV is much cheaper in Iowa (especially with an overbuilder in town).

sk1939
Premium
join:2010-10-23
Mclean, VA
kudos:10
Reviews:
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said by IowaCowboy:

said by patcat88:

said by Speedy Petey:

Mass is one of the most regulated states out there, and for you to be doing work in a rental is anywhere from wrong, to borderline criminal. That goes for her husband too. If this lady is so absentee that you cannot get basic maintenance done then report here to the renters bureau or something. Or better yet, move out.

What useless advice. The OP clearly said he will NOT be moving out.

Agreed; if I moved out, I'd probably end up in some rodent infested place in a bad neighborhood with higher rents. In the city I live in (Springfield, MA), there is huge problem with absentee landlords. The reason we live here is my mom works for the school district and there is a residency requirement as a term of her employment.

Irrelevant frankly. Do not make any further changes, as regardless of your abilities, unless you hold a Journeyman electricians license or higher for your jurisdiction, you are not qualified to make any changes, especially for an multiple-tenant dwelling. If you continue to make changes you are opening yourself up for not only lawsuits but criminal prosecution as well.

jp16

join:2010-05-04
united state
Reviews:
·Charter
reply to IowaCowboy
You are taking a huge risk by touching ANY of the electrical system in your building. Especially it being a multi-family building. In the event of a fire, whether your handy work or not, you will be responsible. Both civil and criminal. You will be on the hook for finding and paying for alternative accommodations should your building become unsuitable to live in due to an incident, for you AND the other tenants. If you are worried about the non-functional AC there are things you can do to resolve it. The local board of health is the first call as, by the sounds of it, could be a health hazard. Also the code enforcement division of the fire department is a resource for you. As other people have said, the only thing you should be touching is a light bulb. And as far as that goes, many of my coworkers that lease properties, they don't even allow their tenants do that. Bottom line is that the property is not yours. You cannot do what you are suggest. If you want more outlets, request permission from the LL, preferably in writing. Then hire a licensed AND insured electrition. You are not only risking the safety of you and your family but also others.

Speedy Petey

join:2008-01-19
reply to patcat88
said by patcat88:

What useless advice. The OP clearly said he will NOT be moving out.

What's useless was you idiotic comment. Do you know anything about Mass? I know some, and I know that electrical work is highly regulated and the penalties of ignoring these regulations are steep.
The last sentence of my post was proving a point. If things are that bad you DO have choices.