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I am going to be moving soon into a house with an unfinished basement. A portion of this gets to be designed as a HT :yay:. I will have no problem with the drywall, etc, and thanks to these forums I should have no problems with dimensions, materials and that kind of junk. The only thing I really don't know much about is doing electrical work. My question is should I hire out to do this or is this something I could learn myself. I have hired out in the past when I need to do something like put an outlet behind my plasma but I would love to be able to do this on my own. If its going to be too complicated or risky thats fine but if you guys have any suggestions on books or reading I can do to learn I would be very grateful :hail:.
 

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As big as I am on DIY - I didn't mess with the electrical......much....I had a commercial electrician friend come and perform the install (and was teaching me as we both went along together). Maybe I'm paranoid, but when it comes to safety, I didn't want to run the risk of not wiring proper or to code. I was fortunate to find a great guy that was interested in teaching, and I'm at least more comfortable now doing basic electrical - but I still hire him back to validate my work just to be sure!

I leave anything in the way of big electrical, plumbing, HVAC and gas to the pros, and consider it money well spent for peace of mind. I do however follow them around to soak up as much knowledge as they are willing to pass along to me, so at least I can understand the basics of what's in my walls and be able to deal with minor repairs or installs :reading:

If you can befriend a licensed pro that is willing to help pass on knowledge, I would encourage you to take on some of the work with their guidance - then you have the joy of learning new skills coupled with the safety net of a professional's eye and experience!

Cheers,
 

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A good compromise is for you to mount the ligthing cans, outlet boxes, switch boxes, etc. If you want to save a little more, you can run the romex but not connect it. Just be sure you understand what needs to happen, gage of wiring required (14ga for 15A, 12 ga for 20A, etc.). Stay away from things like 3 way switches, etc. as they'll likely have their own way of doing things.

Bryan
 

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I did ALL electric work myself and I did a lot (kitchen - bathroom - basement) ! For insurance, you must ask to an electrician to check your work, if not you will not be covered if a fire starts from the new wires. That does not means that your insurance is void if you change a wire yourself without an electrician, that means that if the fire start from that wire, you are in trouble...

Personaly, I can say that my electric work is a way better than what was done before I bought my house...
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
As big as I am on DIY - I didn't mess with the electrical.

If you can befriend a licensed pro that is willing to help pass on knowledge, I would encourage you to take on some of the work with their guidance - then you have the joy of learning new skills coupled with the safety net of a professional's eye and experience!
Thats me too, all diy but no electrical. That is what made me wonder if I could learn. I have soldered xovers, built my own boxes, etc, but have always stayed away from anything behind the outlet.

I am going to stick with everyone's advice though and leave it to the pros. This is annoying because many hours away where I grew up I had a buddy who was an electrician. Arg... Looks like its time for me to make some new friends :wave:
 

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Thats me too, all diy but no electrical. That is what made me wonder if I could learn. I have soldered xovers, built my own boxes, etc, but have always stayed away from anything behind the outlet.

I am going to stick with everyone's advice though and leave it to the pros. This is annoying because many hours away where I grew up I had a buddy who was an electrician. Arg... Looks like its time for me to make some new friends :wave:
You can ask the electrician to work with him. He could tell you what kind of wire to use and you can install thoses wires and plugs alone. After that, he will come back to verify your work.

JP
 

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I've done a ton of wiring in my house, and I agree with the previous poster: much of my work was better than the "pro" who did it originally.

Two things:
Don't fear, respect. Respect how dangerous electricity is and pay attention to every detail, no matter how small.

Research, research, research. Get a good reference book (my favorite is Wiring A House, by Rex Cauldwell) and a code reference. Also make sure you pull any permits required. The inspector will verify your work and that will go a long way to making sure you are compliant with your insurance and locality.

Because I'm an amateur, I overdid everything. If I thought a circuit was even close to an overload condition (too many outlets), I split it in two. Even though I was fine by all codes. Box fill is another area: you can only have so many wires of a given gauge crammed into boxes of certain sizes. My solution: use the biggest boxes for everything. Some are even comically oversized, when there's just a switch and outlet in there.

Here's a quick test to see if you are ready: if you are comfortable knowing which wires you can touch in a live circuit panel and not get fried, you are probably ready. Otherwise, do more research and homework and don't be afraid to ask for help. Many electricians will allow you to help or do some of the grunt work and they'll discount their price.

Finally, worst case, you hire an electrician to run most of the wiring and you do all the low voltage stuff yourself. Short of lightning hitting your house while your'll pulling the cable, that's guaranteed to be safe! :D

Good luck.
Anthony
 

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Electrical is very easy to learn. The basics are very simple. Much easier than plumbing, framing or drywalling. In Ontario you need to call the ESA (Electrical Safety Authority) and get a permit to do you own work (probably the same in Quebec).

First thing is to plan your circuits. For a 15 amp circuit you should have no more than 10-12 receptacles and/or lights and for 20 amps I think you can put 14-16. It's best to run the receptacles (outlets) on a different circuit from lighting. That way your lights don't dim when you amp or other poser hungry device kicks in.

While the walls are bare after the framing is up you can drill holes to feed the wire through. Make sure that you drill though the center of the 2x4 so that there is at least 1 1/2 inches of wood on either side of the hole. That is to prevent someone from putting a finishing nail or drywall screw through the wire. You can get metal guards to prevent that also. Use metal or plastic staples every 4 or 5 feet to keep the wire in place and have only one wire per staple.

Mount your nail on receptacles about a foot to a foot and a half off the floor (go with what the rest of your house used). Make sure you have a receptacle in place so that if you took a 6 foot cord you could reach every spot in the room.

Nail the switch boxes 4 feet or so up the wall. Ensure pot lights are I/C rated if you are putting insulation around them and be sure to leave an inch or more space between the can and any wood. Plan out your lighting before hand. Check out http://www.forteelectric.com/Howtolayoutcans.html for a little more info on recessed light spacing. It's a good time to plan whether you want multi-zone lighting. I have my sconces and recessed lights on two different zones. I'm using Lutron Grafik Eye, bu two or more separate dimmers does the trick. I'd recommend good quality dimmers for a HT room.

3 way switches are a little more challenging. I found this site very helpful: http://www.homeimprovementweb.com/information/how-to/three-way-switch.htm. You would need a 3 way switch at the top and bottom of stairs to meet code in most places.

If getting electrocuted is your worry about doing your own wiring you can have an electrician inspect your work and tie it into the electrical panel. In Canada the ESA permit only allows you the home owner to do the electrical work. An electrician has a different "contractor" permit that they get to do work on your home. I have to emphasize that you need to get a permit. Your insurance company would like that, and it could save your life. Through the inspection process the ESA might find something that you overlooked.

Just my 2 cents.
 

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There is some cities/counties that require any electrical, plumbing, HVAC and some special work done by a licensed contractor (at least here in California is); even if you have the kwnoledge they will ask for a license when obtaining the required permit :yes: :yes:

I've changed outlets, switchs, lights, etc. and a couple of times added/extended an outlet ... but for a big job I wouldn't hesitate to hire a contractor to be safe :bigsmile:
 

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As with all electrical work there are some strange codes that must be followed to the letter and all electrical work must be inspected before you close up the walls and ceiling.
Here are some simple rules to be followed:
All electrical connections must be done inside approved boxes and the cover on the boxes must be accessible (you can not cover the box with drywall).
Electrical connections must be done with Marrets (the colored twist on connectors) and should be wrapped in electrical tape.
All new electrical work must have a ground wire that runs all the way back to the panel.
Aluminum wiring can not be connected directly to a plugin or switch You must use a pig-tail connection using copper wire.
its always better to use thicker gauge wire 14/2 rather than 16/2 for 15 amp circuits.
 

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Heh - wow, that is different. If an inspector around here caught you tying aluminum to copper in a box, he'd have your head.

He'd also fail you on the spot for using 16/2 OR 12/2 for a 15A circuit. It MUST be 14/2 or 14/3 only.

Merrets are required - but tape is not (it IS a good idea though and something I always do personally).

Bryan
 

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Thats the biggest problem. Electrical codes vary from place to place so thats why you should leave the work to a certified electrition and never close up the walls before it has been inspected.
Aluminum is a big problem in residential as far as working on it. The proper rated aluminum plugs and switches are getting hard to find and the only other option is to do what I mentioned above. Its a bit of fear mongering with regards to the safe use of aluminum as if the connections are good they is little to worry about. Its when they become loose that its a big fire risk. Most problems happen at the panel or at plugins where there is a high draw device like a Heater, stove or dryer.
 

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Aluminum wire can't be used in new construction any more. If you had an existing outlet that was connect via aluminum you would do what TonyVDB stated.

14/2 or better is for 15amp and 12/2 is for 20 amp. Anything less is a fire hazard and against code. If you have an old house existing wires can be grandfathered in but not acceptable in new construction or repairing old construction. If you could afford it, running 12/2 wire even for 15 amp circuits is nice. It's just almost twice the price here for 12/2 vs 14/2.

Tape must be used to mark the third hot wire in a three-way switch. If the mar is on correctly and the wires are twisted nicely the connection will be rock solid. Tape is not required. What I hate is using marrettes with solid and stranded wire mixed. I find that all the lighting fixtures use stranded wire. Tape might help there.

It's true there are a lot of code differences between regions. It's best to obtain a copy of the code, if you're unsure, from your local state/province. When you get the permit you can ask for a code book. I think it's about $100 here.

An electrician would charge a pretty penny to do you whole basement, but could do it all in less than a day and do it properly. If you do go with a professional make sure they get a permit and you see it and the inspector come out.
 

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Now here, you CAN'T by code run 12 ga for a 15A circuit. They'll fail you. The thinking is that if someone comes in later and sees a 12ga wire, they ASSUME that it's a 20A circuit and tie in more than should be on it.

It's not that 12ga on a 15A is unsafe (now), it's the possiblity of someone doing something later without doing the proper tracing to see what's really happening.

Bryan
 

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i'd ask your building official but i think its the other way around - running thinner wire for higher current applications - like induction motor or heating/cooling elements - is where you get into problems with code and real safety concerns.
 

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Agreed. That's definitely a safety hazard. However, in the last 2 places I've lived, (Philly area and St. Louis), you also cannot go oversize for the reasons I mentioned above. 15A must be 14ga and only 14ga. 12ga will fail, 16ga will fail (inspection).

Bryan
 

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i understand - even so, you should check with your local building official as technically the 14AWG is the minimum for 15A but it depends on installation usage, distance, copper vs aluminum (which is 12AWG) etc...

NEC NFPA 70, National Electrical Code

For reference, the ampacity of copper wire at 30°C for common wire sizes
14 AWG may carry a maximum of 20 Amps in free air, or 15 Amps as part of a 3 conductor cable.
12 AWG may carry a maximum of 25 Amps in free air, or 20 Amps as part of a 3 conductor cable.
10 AWG may carry a maximum of 40 Amps in free air, or 30 Amps as part of a 3 conductor cable.
8 AWG may carry a maximum of 70 Amps in free air, or 50 Amps as part of a 3 conductor cable.
 
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