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AssuredElectrical
AssuredElectrical, Master Electrician
Category: Electrical
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Experience:  Contractor-42+ Years in the ElectricalTrade
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Hi. I take care of some apartments in an older building (probabably

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Hi. I take care of some apartments in an older building (probabably 100 yrs. old). The circuit protection is all fuses. There are no circuit breakers. The outlets and lights are on various fuses. In some cases all of the outlets (as many as 10) are on one fuse. Given the age of the building is there any way to determine the gauge of the wiring and/or what load in can take? All the fuses are either 15 and 20 amp. My thinking is to go throught the panels with an amprobe to see what the average loads are. I'd appreciate your thoughts.

AssuredElectrical :

Welcome. My name is XXXXX XXXXX would be glad to assist.

AssuredElectrical :

First, your idea of the amprobe is good if you can turn on everything on that circuit to maximize the load. That will give some information on the existing loads.

AssuredElectrical :

1. I would first, make a good panel directory for each panel. This will allow you to see the actual areas and layout for each fuse.

AssuredElectrical :

2. After the directory is made, then you can pinpoint what areas may be vulnerable, such as any kitchen areas where appliances are used and whether any additional circuit may be needed.

AssuredElectrical :

3. Check each wire on the fuses. 15 amp is a #14 wire and 20 amp is a #12 wire. Wire sizes have been the same, the big difference is the age of the cable/wire. They used to use a lower temperature wire that when exposed to a higher heat cannot carry the same amount of current as a higher rating. Ex: 60 degree C was older cables and now we have 90 degree wiring which is more sustainable and resistant to heat factors, like wires in attic spaces etc.

AssuredElectrical :

Here is a way to make the directory:

Full Size Image

AssuredElectrical :

That is my standard for mapping circuits, it allows you actually see where the circuit goes and controls. Many have vague descriptions and do not give the entire picture.

AssuredElectrical :

If you find circuits that share an appliance with general lighting or receptacles, those are the circuits prone to overloading. May be a situation where a new circuit could be added strictly for the appliance and eliminate the future problem of overloading.

AssuredElectrical :

Any switches or receptacles that are 20 years old or older are most likely worn out if ever used. The slots that you plug into become weak and the plug will wiggle. That itself causes heating and overloading along with arcing.

AssuredElectrical :

Get a 3 prong plug tester, you plug into the receptacles, and you can feel the strength of the receptacle of holding the cord and making contact. Lets you know which ones to replace immediately and which ones can wait till a later time.

AssuredElectrical :

Those are the most common items to address, just click reply and post any other questions on the issue

AssuredElectrical :

If you wish to invest in a tension tester. This is the type I use for testing the pressure in the receptacle prongs. CLICK HERE

AssuredElectrical :

Not everyone has one, but they are useful to say the least.

Customer:

Sorry, I had to run out the door for something. Thanks for your advice. Over the years a number of receptacles have been replaced with grounded (three prong) without checking to see if the cicuit is grounded. When there is no ground, I've been replacing them with the two-prong type. So most all of them will be replaced.

AssuredElectrical :

Understand. Keep in mind, if there is no ground you can install a GFCI receptacle at the first stop from the fuse, then all the other receptacles downstream are allowed to be 3 prong even without a ground wire.

Customer:

I've done that in kitchens and bathrooms. The trouble is for the other ones it's difficult to figure out which is the first on the line.

AssuredElectrical :

Yes, it takes some time, removing them and disconnecting the wires to work back towards the panel to find that first one. Older homes didnt always follow a straight line route from the panel like today and circle around sometimes.

AssuredElectrical :

In your case more time, because its apartments

Customer:

I just had a thought. Each aparment has it's own separate fuse panel fed by the panel in the basement. Is there such a thing as a GFCI than could be installed in the panel apartment panel?

AssuredElectrical :

Not that is fused based. Only GFCI breakers

Customer:

Sorry, I meant to say "apartment panel."

Customer:

Oh well. Thanks for the great advice!

AssuredElectrical :

You are quite welcome, glad to assist. Keep me in mind in the future

Customer:

Sure will.

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