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Overloaded Circuits in an Older Home

Overloaded circuits in an older home can be an issue and is not uncommon with today’s demands for power.  This article explores options for solving overloaded circuits in an older home.

Older homes were not built to accommodate the demands of today’s modern appliances and other electrical devices.  It can be dangerous to overload circuits.  This is a situation where an electrical upgrade, performed by a professional, is a worthwhile investment.

Q.  Hello, I didn’t see anything on your site that would help.

I live in an old house with seven circuits. Two are 220 for dryer and oven.   Two are for plug-in outlets, one is for lighting, one is for AC/heater and the other I have no clue what it’s for.

I mapped out my house designating the circuits and what I found was one circuit appears to be new and only runs one outlet in the house…in the living room and it’s a standard plug-in receptacle.

My problem is my microwave oven, refrigerator, bathroom dryer outlet and computer are all on the same circuit.  I know it’s overloaded because a professional checked it and said so.

I would like to tap into the newer circuit that is left alone and run my refrigerator and (a future install) dishwasher off of it.

Would you suggest this or tapping into this newer circuit and running my microwave and (future install) dishwasher?

As it is, if I run the microwave while the computer is on as well as the refrigerator I pop a breaker.

I would also like to know how to tap into this line.  It’s a cinder block interior wall type construction so I don’t know how pulling wires would work. It appears the newer circuit was ran underneath the house and up through the floor.

Would you suggest tapping into this circuit from underneath and running my wires up to my dishwasher and possibly the refrigerator as well?

A: In this situation, you definitely need professional help!  Your entire electrical system needs an upgrade so unless you just want to leave things alone (don’t add any loads, and try to distribute the loads you have now more evenly) you should have this work done.  It will increase the value of your home, and if you ever consider selling it, any home inspector or savvy purchaser will make this a condition of sale.

These older homes electrical systems were not designed for the electrical appliances, equipment and loads that we use today.  A dishwasher, a microwave, and dryer outlet all require their own dedicated circuits.  To add on to the least over-loaded circuit is just asking for trouble.

Get a professional in to give you some quotes on a proper upgrade.  It will be money well spent to increase the value of your home, and most importantly your safety and peace of mind!

– Terry Peterman, Internet Electrician

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  • mike

    i`m in the process of moven a few things around in the house such as taken out a couple walls furnace water heater and placeing them in a differant area in the house along with the washer and dryer i am replacing a standard water heater with a tankless one and this is where i got stumped i had to reroute 6 circuits in order to hook up the water heater it takes 3 22o 40 amp breakers to funtion now i am out of circuits on my circuit box can i hook up an added circyit breaker box to my other one to gain the use of the circuits i had to disconnect and find a place to hook them up what i have discovered now is when i turn a light switch on the tv voice will [hic up] causes a variation in drop and pickup of a voice comin through the tv could this be a indication of a overloaded circuit or could this be a problem of a cheap light switch i have 2 light switches causes this hic up If i am allowed to connect another box to mine can i junction 2 ga. wire be connected to where the other 2 ga wires are connected to my old box work or is a special type of master box needed for this. without telling me to call an electrician can you tell me if this can be done and how also tell me what you thinnk this problem could be that causes the voice to hic up on my tv when i turn on a light switch. thank you the wirering and plug ins and switches are about 15 years old

  • Tony

    Hi can you help. My elderly neighbour has asked what is the difference between a circuit breaker and a pluggable trip switch. Can you help.

    Thanks Tony

  • Lawnguy1912

    can i add new circuits,and have a electrician hook them up in the new panel.

  • c c

    what would make my microwave sizzle and my refrigerator light keep flashing


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"If you're looking for a good reference to help you understand simple home wiring, I personally recommend 'The Basics of Household Wiring' DVD".

Terry Peterman, the Internet Electrician
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