I am a DIYer and love to learn new things. Therefore I am seriously considering doing some basic electrical work myself. I took some basic electrical classes a very long time ago in HS so I understand some principles.
To get to the point: I have a decent size closet that I'd like to convert to a small home office. The bad news is that there is no power outlets in that room so I'd like to add a couple. I'm considering one of the following two options:
a) Tap into the nearest existing outlet (which is just across the hall) and run electrical cable up to the attic and then down again into the office. This candidate outlet is running off a 15 amp breaker but it already is powering the 3 hall wall outlets, 4 hall lights and the closet light itself.
b) Install a new breaker at the breaker box and run a new circuit for the new desired outlets.
From what I've gathered during my research, it seems to me that it's not a good idea to tap into that nearby hall outlet since it is already running a lot of outlets and lights. Not to mention that this is where the vacuum cleaner is normally plugged in (which itself is rated at 10 amps!)
If my assumption of going with option (b) above is correct, can someone please tell me what gauge wire I should use and what amperage should the proposed new breaker be?
In case it matters, I live in Houston and am not sure what the electrical codes are.
BTW: I promise I will kill the MAIN switch when installing that new breaker
Also promise to pick up a copy of a basic household wiring book - available at any home store. This will tell you a lot more than what you might remember from your old HS courses. Get one with pictures and drawings (most do)
You are right that it would be better to run a new circuit vs taping into the existing one. Circuit breaker and wire size will depend on what load you are going to carry. 15a circuits will run 14ga wire while 20a circuits will run 12ga.
Figure your full load at about 80% of capacity.
1. Get a multi-piece wire fish with a loop end.
2. Plan your wire run so that you are fishing the wire from a smaller hole (like what you would drill in the top plate of a wall) to a larger hole (like the hole in a wall sized for a remodel box.
3. Double check everything. If there is anyone else in the house make sure that they know you are working on the electric (very unpleasant to be working on a circuit you have turned off only to have someone else turn it back on)
almost all breakers have a little hole that runs through the handle. almost as if it was designed to hold an S-hook fastened to a "service underway" card availiable in the same general area of Big Orange as the books and tools for electrical stuff.
I think the basic reference they have is called Gimp's, has a white cover. that's a good basic reference on electricity. the black and decker books might also be useful (once upon a time they were the time-life home series.)
first basic rule is... if you aren't sure what you are doing, don't do it study up first.
sig: if this is a new economy, how come they still want my old-fashioned money?
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