Kevin Standlee (kevin_standlee) wrote,
Kevin Standlee

Plan C is for Conduit

As I wrote recently, Lisa concluded that the 1-inch conduit from the main electrical box (which contained the 50A circuit for the RV power pedestal) was too crowded to run a new 30A line for a proposed hot water heater connection. Therefore, we need to replace the 1-inch conduit with 1 1/4-inch conduit. We started working on that on Sunday.

Electrical Box Oct 19 2014
We once again turned off all appliances and powered down the master circuit breaker. This is what it looks like with the face plate removed. There's room for one more circuit breaker on the bus (the two vertical bars), which is where we'll install the 30A breaker.

Electrical Box Oct 19 2014
The lower hole here is the 1-inch connection to the existing conduit, where four wires come in to run the 50A RV circuit. A constraint of this project is that we don't have any easy way to enlarge that hole to 1 1/4 inches, so while we'll replace the conduit, we'll have to make everything fit through the 1-inch hole here. Lisa feels confident that we can do that because we already did so as a test.

Electrical Box Oct 19 2014
The ground and return wires for the existing circuit attach to the connections at the bottom of the box.

Electrical Box Oct 19 2014
This is the actual 50A breaker, with two large black wires feeding from it.

Lisa carefully labeled each of the four wires and disconnected them, then pulled them out of the box. We then put the face plate back in place (difficult because there is a traffic jam of wires in that box) and re-energized the main breaker.

This takes the 50A circuit offline; however, the property originally had a standard power outlet as a branch off the garage to feed the trailer area, and Lisa turned it back on. Although it's a standard North American three-prong outlet, Lisa says there is a 30A circuit breaker on it, and with an adapter plug she was able to connect the travel trailer to this auxiliary circuit. (Also, she says she's not running full power on the trailer anyway, so she's not too concerned about this.)

The advantage of this approach is that it allows Lisa to work on the new conduit line more or less at her leisure without having intense time pressure to get the whole house back online. Not being under that sort of pressure means Lisa can do a better job rather than just a fast one.

Plan B Stage 1 Complete
Using a reducing bushing (we got this from Ace Hardware in Fallon because Lowe's doesn't carry a 1 1/4-to-1-inch reducing bushing), Lisa connected the larger "corner box" where the EMT conduit will connect below. This box is much larger than the one it replaced, and will have to sit at an angle due to the location relative to the stone-work; however, this isn't too much of a problem; the old conduit had to be slightly bent as well. The main problem with bending the conduit is that Lisa's conduit-bending tool is only good up to 1-inch pipe.

Removing the 1 Inch Conduit
With the old 1-inch EMT conduit disconnected, Lisa also disconnected it from the PVC conduit leading under the house. (you can see the EMT conduit at a right angle at the top of this photo as we laid it on the ground). When we're ready to proceed, we'll pull the old wires from the old conduit and run them through the new conduit along with the new line.

Conduit Dive-Under
Lisa dug out the PVC conduit as far as where it turns to go under the house. Later she'll go back into the crawl space and dig out the other side where it comes up over there. (We bought a new small shovel from Ace Hardware on our trip to Fallon that Lisa says is ideal for this work.) She says the wires lead to a small junction box, where they connect to wires leading to a much longer conduit that leads to the RV pedestal.

The junction box is another problem; it's too small for more wires. We need a larger box, and once again Lowe's doesn't carry the kind of metal junction box Lisa wanted. We went into Reno/Sparks last night to Home Depot, which does carry that kind of box. While we were at it, she got some PVC cement for when she assembles the conduit. The largest "knock out" hole on the junction box was only 1 inch, but Lisa bought a new drill bit and says enlarging the hole to 1 1/4 inches should not be difficult.

(A difficulty with enlarging the hole in the existing electric box is that it generates a whole bunch of little metal filings — not the sort of thing you want blowing around inside of your main electric panel. The work on the junction box she can do far away from the panel and clean up before she installs it under the house.)

The EMT and PVC conduit itself and most of the various connectors (except the reducing bushing) we were able to get from Lowe's. This means we've been to three separate stores in three cities in order to get all of the parts we need. This afternoon Lisa has started working on bending and cutting the EMT and preparing the junction box. It's a lot of work, but Lisa is confident that it will all come together.
Tags: house, lisa

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