Lack of circuits

The main panel was replaced in this 1930 home.

It appears to be lacking the proper amount of circuits.

I was looking at the code check book and is there anything that states the minumum amount of circuits at a main panel.

These 1st time buyers are being led to believe they have an updated service.

The home lacks receptacles in the bedroom. (1 in each room was observed)
Knob & tube was present
The kitchen is outdated and had only 1 receptacle that was installed in the door.
The main panel has only 3or 4 breakers for the entire house. Excluding the air.
No GFCI protection.
Fixtures wear rusted, dated.

Any thoughts on this upgated service?


Wow! I wonder how anyone is not Amish can survive with only one receptacle in the kitchen. Do the owners have a refrigerator or an ice box? How is a receptacle installed in a door?

The porcelain knobs and tubes in the 2nd photo look dark like they have soot on them. Has this house had a fire?

Jim King

Current code probably means nothing since this is an existing house but the general rule is you should be able to reach a receptacle from anywhere in a room at the wall with a 6 foot cord and not string it across a doorway or fireplace. That was not the standard as recently as the early 60s so it is not unusual to see places where this is not true. One receptacle in a room is not uncommon in old houses. The other place where it shows up is a lack of 20a receptacle circuits serving countertops in the kitchen (2) and bath (1).
They would also require GFCI protection. My guess is this old house needs a serious electrical upgrate.

What bothers me is this is a typical type house were the first time buyres are told that this house has been upgraded as they installed a new panel.

I told them that they need an electrician to update the branch circuitry and I opened there eyes as they were misled by the agents.

They have a new born on the way. I don’t want the responsability of a infant being electrocuted due to extension cord wiring and other potential concerns of an older system.

In the UK, 3 or 4 breakers for the entire house is perfectly normal. But then we use fuses in each and every plug, so a device can blow a fuse without tripping the whole circuit. Come on America. Catch up!

Ian, it would not be a case of catching up as much as totally changing our wiring philosophy. You folks have 230v ring circuits and we use radial circuits at half the voltage. You also have fewer transformers serving more homes each. I doubt most of your homes have 48 kva services either but that is pretty much standard here with bigger homes being twice that. The differences go on like this quite a bit.

Sounds like the service was, indeed, updated. You apparently are confused on what the term “service” means. The branch circuits, however, do not appear to have been updated.

That’s how I read it, too.

I truly understand your concern, but how could you EVER be considered “responsible” for such a thing???

You just report the lack of “modern” circuits; quantity and otherwise.
Because the house is old is not your fault. Because previous owners never added circuits is not their fault either. It is simply fact. Obviously the previous owners never needed to add circuits. It is not mandatory that they do.

As Marc stated, the service and branch circuits are totally different things. Many folks are mistaken in their belief that when they are told the “Service has been updated”, they think the house was re-wired.

Most local codes in our area hold that if the ‘service’ (generally taken to mean raising the service amps or replacing the service equipment) is upgraded, then ALL the house’s electrical equipment (breakers, wires, conduit (read: take out knob and tube), receptacles (read: current standards with regards to GFCI and AFCI and receptacle placement, distance and number) must also be upgraded.

In other words, if a licensed electrician changes out the SE panel, everything downstream must also be upgraded to current local code standards.

Must be a union thing :mrgreen: .

William, if that is in fact true, it is an absolutely absurd requirement IMO.
I bet it could also be proven illegal to enforce.

Got a link? Not calling BS, because I can believe anything from the Chicago area. I’d just like to read more about it, is all.

I would, too. That would make some interesting reading.

At those connections to the K&T running into the panel at top center secured to the box in any way, or just routed through the knock-out? Around here (assuming that it was allowed to stay) most AHJs would require that the K&T terminate at junction boxe(s), with modern (NM or wire in conduit) run from the junction box to the panel in an approved manner.

“There are not as many outlets as would be required by current standards, and you may wish to consult an electrician about the possibility of adding more.”

The rule is per my friend, who used to be the Asst. Chief Electrical Inspector for the City of Chicago and who now teaches at the union school.

He said that if you change out the panel, you ghave to upgrade the system to ‘substantually comply’ with the current city code.

Additionally, if you do a non-electrical remodel (like a kitchen or bathroom remodel) you have to bring it up to current code, with regard to GFCI and such, as well as installing AFCI protection.

As to the ‘legality’ of this, you obviously are not aware of the Chicago Building Dept power or that of the unions in this area. What they say, goes.

I can totally agree with the use of this commentary.

This Chicago rule is the type of thing that encourages unlicensed/unpermitted additions and renovations. Unreasonable regulations get ignored.

Sorry you feel that upgrading houses with electrical service that is unsafe, according to the current national standards, is unreasonable.

I assume that you are an electrician. Don’t you want more business?

In any case, no one has said that local governments are reasonable, usually just the opposite.

If people choose to get unprofessional people to do the work, or do it themselves, they are the ones who will suffer from it.

I just love it when people do their own work or hire unqualified workers to do the work, than b**ch to the City when their house burns down or they have other problems. They want to see ‘tyhe nanny state’ take care of a problem by going after these non-quailified contractors, legally, but won’t accept any responsibility for thier own stupidity.

I see it all the time during inspections. The roof has 3 layers and us a real c**p job, but they complain to me, “Hey, I just had that new roof put on!”. I ask if the work was done by a state licensed roofer (required in Illinois), but they tell me that this ‘guy’ did it for 1/2 of what the roofer would charge.

The local AHJs can set rules, and try to enforce the rules, and have the rules reflect what the people want (safety), but then the people do everyting they can to avoid the monitary cost of the rules that they want.

There ain’t no such thing as a free lunch.

Please do not misunderstand me. I am not trying to defend the citys. I am just pointing out the absurdity of the problem.

I did a house, last week. Was selling for about 1.7 Mil. Built in 1915 and totally remodeled and added to (from 1,300 SF to about 3,200 SF) in 1999. Looked good, cosmetically and the inside was beautiful.

But the EIFS siding was water logged, the attic had NO vents and there was mold and 60% moisture readings in the plywood decking and 1/2 the receptacles had reverse polarity. The work was obviously done by non-qualified people and the place was ‘inspected’ by the locak AHJ. Still, the place was a mess (the deal fell through).

Who is responsible?

Not the AHJ (they NEVER accept any liability).

The ‘contractor’? He was just earning a living (and hiring illegals).

Of course, the owner was at fault. But she and her Realtor laid it all at my feet. “The village said it was OK. Who are you to disagree with the Village inspectors?”

I just showed them the results, the readings from my meters and the mold in the attic and hehind the EIFS.

Told them not to argue with me, but with their own eyes.

Please, don’t complain to me about the AHJ rules or codes or your belief that they are ‘unreasonable’. I have a duty to represent my client and,as far as I can, keep them from making the same mistakes that the seller did.


Well I am an electrician, but I am also a homeowner and an American.
Rules and codes like this are un-American.