Cost-Effective Electric Wiring
LESLIE: Tim in Alabama is looking to reclaim some space at his house with an addition. What can we help?
TIM: Well, we are adding an addition to our home and sometime in the past a 220-volt electric line was run through the attic but never hooked up to anything. It was just laying there. And the electrician told me that this can not be (INAUDIBLE) so I thought I would ask you. Can I not take that – somehow take that 220-volt line and use it to run the outlets and lighting in that new addition by hooking it up to a different breaker box or something?
TOM: Well, there’s a couple of things. First of all, it’s not 220; it’s 240. If the wire is thick enough it can be used to feed a subpanel. Depends on the wire size. Do you know what the wire size is on the line that’s laying in the attic not being used right now?
TIM: No, I don’t. I know it’s thick. But other than that I don’t …
TOM: Well, if it’s a thick – if it’s a thick wire – I mean like quarter-inch thick or like eighth-inch thick?
TIM: Right. Quarter-inch.
TOM: Yeah? Well, it may be big enough for like a 60-amp subpanel. You know a number 10 wire – copper wire – is for 30 amps, so anything that’s bigger than that is probably going to be suitable enough for a small subpanel like a 60-amp subpanel. And if that was the case you would use that simply to feed the subpanel and then the wiring in the addition would be connected to the subpanel itself. So that 240-volt line would not be used as the branch line that everything’s connected to because that wouldn’t be proper. But you could use it to feed the subpanel and then all of the outlets and the lights and the switches in the addition would go into the new subpanel.
TIM: OK. That’s sort of what I – what I thought. But like I say, he had said it couldn’t be done, so I …
TOM: Well, I mean there may be another reason that he doesn’t want to use that wire. It’s – you’re not saving a whole lot of money here just because there’s a piece of cable that happens to be running through your house. It might be more cost-effective and safer for him to run a new line. Just because it’s there, you know, may not be the right thing to do. So I would just ask a few more questions as to what the problem is with that wire. Because it’s not going to make a big difference in the price.
TIM: Alright, well I appreciate it.
TOM: You’re very welcome, Tim. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.