LESLIE: Now we’ve got Elba from Idaho who’s got a question about a dishwasher.
ELBA: We bought a dishwasher and we realized that – I mean the electrical system wouldn’t take one more appliance.
TOM: Oh, boy.
ELBA: And my husband, well, he says that we have to redo the whole electrical system and that will be very expensive to do that run (ph) your dishwasher for so many years.
TOM: Oh, it’s just been sitting there because you couldn’t get it wired? Well listen, I think there’s another solution. Elba, how old is your house right now?
ELBA: I will say probably, gosh, maybe 50 years now.
TOM: Fifty years. Well, believe it or not that’s not terribly old. I’m going to guess that you have at least 100-amp electrical system in your house.
LESLIE: Isn’t that the minimum that the towns usually have to provide?
TOM: Well, sometimes. But I mean even if you had 60, are you heated by gas?
LESLIE: Actually, we have a system that is more like a (INAUDIBLE).
TOM: OK, that’s a hot water system but do you pay a gas bill or an oil bill?
ELBA: Yeah, we pay a gas bill.
TOM: OK, so you have a gas heating system. You don’t have a lot of heavy electric-consuming appliances in that house. So what I think has happened here, Elba, is that your total electrical system, in terms of its amperage, is plenty big enough for that dishwasher. What you might need is an additional circuit.
Now, in the electrical panel, if you have a standard electrical panel and every single circuit breaker space is taken up, there’s a type of breaker that can basically put two circuits in the same space as one circuit breaker. And this is available at most electrical supply stores. I’m certain an electrician can find one for you. You need to find a way to get another circuit in that panel. If it turns out that you can’t add another circuit to that panel then you simply add a subpanel. But there’s a simple way; a simple electrical upgrade that you can make to add an additional circuit to your kitchen.
The problem with a 50-year-old house is that the outlets on the walls in the kitchens and the outlets for the refrigerator and what you would ultimately hook the dishwasher into are all on the same circuit and that’s why you can’t put more on there because you’re going to trip the circuit breaker all the time.
LESLIE: You’re going to max it out.
TOM: Yeah, but you can add another circuit. So this is something that’s completely doable. I would recommend you contact an electrician – it shouldn’t be very complicated or expensive – and ask him specifically about adding a circuit to your kitchen. OK, Elba?
ELBA: Yes, that would be wonderful.
TOM: Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.