Old houses don't use multi outlet circuits?

Every outlet I have ever seen in older homes (1910-1930) has only two wirea in the box, they can't all be 'end of run'. Was this common
practice back then? It doesn't seem like an efficient use of wiring. So what's going on within the walls? Are there main wires to which all these single lines connect? I am interested in upgrading my outlets and rewiring the whole system is not a option, I would instal a GFCI as the first outlet from the panel to serve as the next best thing to a true ground on each circuit, the problem is as I said each outlet seems to be alone on its circuit.
Any help is really appreciated.
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I bet you are seeing the ends of a Knob and Tube circuit. God only knows what is behind that plaster but be careful poking around in there. I'm sure some of the the loom is a pile of dust on the floor.
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Gfretwell wrote:

No, some of us know, too. Knob and Tube was run along the studs inside the walls (and ceilings) with branches coming off a knob point to the receptacles, switches, and lights through wires which had extra insulation (loom?) around them. So the answer is, no, they were not end of runs. In fact there were often only two or four circuits for the whole house. --Phil
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I am faced with that problem now. I am purchasing a 1919 Sears house. All knob and tube wiring. The run is along the floor joists. They just tap the main runs, twisted, soldered, and taped. The tap runs to the outlet in the room above. The lights are run through the attic. The taps drop down into interior walls to the switches. I see no splice boxes. Only taped solder joints. There are 2 circuits in the entire house. #1 lighting #2 outlets. 30 amp main fuse.
What a job I have to tackle. John
Phil Munro wrote:

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John Jacob wrote:

Yup - but at least the decision is simple. Put in a new service. Add a bunch of new circuits. Replace all the K&T that doesn't get "obsoleted" by the new circuits. Its a lot of work and $$$.
But it doesn't take a large increment in work or $$$ to do more than the minimum. For example, a 200 amp service is not that much more expensive than a 100 amp service. Where you have to pull a run of romex up to a new box, you might want to pull two or more through the hole at the same time. For example, you'll need to run at least 2 20 amp circuits for countertop receptacles in the kitchen. You might want to pull up a couple of extra runs up for future use, such as a dishwasher, trash compactor, garbage disposer, that kind of thing. Apply that kind of thinking when you are planning the job. It'll be cheaper to do all the wiring now than to do some now and some later. Time and budget may not allow you to do the extras. I'd plan it in three categories: "minimum requirements", "nice to have", and "luxury". An example of "luxury" - I had to run a 20 amp dedicated circuit to my garage. I ran 2 instead of one, and if I ever need the other it's there. I did it because I knew the job of running the romex would be very difficult (it was) and I didn't want to have to do it ever again. Pulling 2 runs vs 1 isn't hard - crawling around 50' on your belly across ceiling joists through fiberglass with your butt scraping the roof rafters above you is!
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Good advice. I plan to do this work myself, with the help of an electrician friend. I subscribe to your ideas of pulling extra wire. So it is there in the future. It may cost more going in, but it saves time in the long run. This house has a completely open basement. My plan is to do most of the wiring from there. I will start with a new 200 amp panel. Plenty of extra for my welder, compressor etc. Run several circuits to the kitchen. The house uses baseboard outlets turned sideways. I may keep that look. Add new in the baseboard. Disconnect, and cap old outlets. Plaster walls are a bitch to add outlets into. Each room has a ceilling light, so I need to crawl in the attic. Yuch. Fish new wire to switches. 2 circuits for bathrooms, light-outlets. I want to install corner spotlights with several 3 way switches. They will be hard to run. The house has a very cramped attic. Low slope. The basement I will just run surface outlets, using BX. One thing I am not sure of. I would rather not drill holes through the floor joists. When spanning them, I need to find out if code allows wires to be attached to the surface of a board that runs across the joists. I am also building a work out building. I will need to install several conduits underground to that. Wow, I am worn out just talking about all this.
John
snipped-for-privacy@bellatlantic.net wrote:

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John

<< Run several circuits to the kitchen. The house uses baseboard outlets turned sideways. I may keep that look. Add new in the baseboard. Disconnect, and cap old outlets.>>
It would take some shopping but I am sure you can locate enough modern things to keep the old look.
"Disconnect, and cap old outlets." No way. Put the new in here. My Leviton catalaog has everything you will need. I am sure there are others. Bob AZ
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snipped-for-privacy@bellatlantic.net wrote in message

Ye Ghods, what sort of plug-in kitchen appliances could possibly justify such an overkill when a single 15 amp circuit is more than adequate for normal household kitchens? Arc welders?
You must be an electrician! :-)
Harry C.
p.s. Your other advice is excellent.
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Harry Conover wrote:

I could hope you are kidding, Harry. But I guess not. A toaster is about 10 amps. Any kind of crock pot or other such cooking appliance would be another 10 A or so. A refrig is probably 3 to 6 A. Notice I am already at or above 20 A without even trying. Blender, several amps, etc. ALSO, I think code requires at least two 20 A circuits in new construction, maybe more.
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wrote:

Really, I don't run all that stuff simultaneously, do you? I think that each socket is rated at 7.5 amps. So a 20 amp sevice for each gives you some leeway. But, I don't have enough hands nor concentration to run everything in my kitchen at once.
BTW, my entire second floor is on one 20 amp circuit. Never have blown a fuse in over 25 years. I even have two ACs connected in the summer. But, I tricked the circuit. I time shared the two ACs, when one was on in one room, the other one could not come on and visa-versa.
How did I do it?
Let's hear some speculation.
Al
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There's never enough time to do it right the first time.......

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Al wrote:

Doesn't matter what you or I would/will/can run. The code requires at least 2 20 amp small appliance branch circuits to serve countertop outlets in the kitchen.
And code aside, plenty of people DO use a LOT of power simultaneously in the kitchen. Considering just the counter top receptacles - it is not unusual to have the toaster, electric frying pan and coffee maker all running at the same time - throw in the waffle maker, microwave, toaster oven, whatever. Sometimes 2 20 amp circuits for the countertop receptacles is not enough, particularly in a large family with a couple of people cooking.

Power feed to 3 way switch. Neutral and hot to AC in room 1 from switch location. Neutral and hot to AC in room 2 from switch location. 3 way switch switches hot to room 1 or to room 2.
Room1AC========3wayswitch========room2AC
(Actually, power feed can come in at any location, and the switch can be on the left, middle or right. Just easier to draw in the middle.)

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Youngstown State University

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Bob Peterson wrote: > Phil Munro wrote:

Of course you are right. It would be, what, maybe 4 A on the high setting? I should have included an electric roaster or frying pan as others suggested. But again, I need to check those items to see what they really draw. --Phil
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Ye Ghods, what sort of plug-in kitchen appliances could possibly

Microwave, toaster oven, coffee maker, electric waffle maker, George Foreman grill, etc. Add them up. The code requires a minimum of two 20A small appliance circuits on a kitchen counter.
Ben Miller
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Benjamin D. Miller, PE
B. MILLER ENGINEERING
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My point is only this: How many of these appliances would a normal household be likely to concurrently operate? It sort of a statistical thing, like the load capacity designed into the power distribution grid.

I stand corrected on this point, and thanks.

Harry C.
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I suspect this could be called the "electric frying pan" rule. Think of your normal breakfast, (eggs, toast and coffee). A frying pan, toaster and coffee maker. You won't get all of them on a 20.
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your
coffee
True, but only 2 devices will be plugged into one receptacle, with the third on another 20A cct. And besides, the breaker won't trip right away anyhow. I still think a 15A split is better than the 20A rec's though.
Romy
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Romy Singh wrote:

You seem to think that the 20A circuit feeds only 1 counter top receptacle. Not necessarily true. You could have a toaster and a frying pan on one receptacle, and a coffee maker on another receptacle, with both receptacles on the same 20A circuit.
The rule requires at least 2 20A circuits for counter top receptacles, but does not require that the circuits serve only 1 receptacle. You can wire 3 or more countertop duplex receptacles on the two required 20A circuits.

Perhaps. But that would force you to install 2 GFI breakers, unless code does not require that. In the US, we're not allowed 15 A circuits for kitchen countertop receptacles, and those receptacles must be GFI protected. In addition, a single split 15 A doesn't give as many plug positions as 2 20A not splits - 2 positions vs 4. And if you install a second 15 A split on the same circuits to get 4 plug positions, you greatly increase the possibility of tripping breakers. If you add add 2 15 A circuits to feed the second 15A split receptacle, your cost is greater. Now you've got 4 GFI breakers at about $100 instead of 2 GFCI receptacles at about $16.00, plus 4 runs of Romex back to the panel instead of 2.
For my money, the 20A circuits are preferable.

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Romy Singh wrote:
<snip>

It is not limited that way. For example, receptacles in a bathroom must be on a 20 A circuit. That circuit can not supply any other outlets. That does not limit to a specific number of receptacles, but it does end up limiting the number of receptacles in practice. Unless you have a really large bathroom it is one or 2 receptacles in practice. We are required to run a 20 amp branch circuit to the laundry. It can serve an unlimited number of receptacles in the laundry, but it also can not have any other outlets, which essentially limits the number of receptacles on that branch to one or two.
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It's strange how the NEC and CEC differ so much, I don't think we require a 20A cct anywhere in a house. Sure, we use alot of dedicated 15A cct's, but nothing 20A. (until recently to cheaply satisfy kitchen GFI protection).
Romy
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