Peter McCarthy Electric Co., Inc. - Specializing in Older Buildings in Chicago
Adventures in Old House Wiring....

Service upgrade in Wrigleyville Pt. 2

400 Amp Service 600Amp Service  1200 Amp Service ChicagoWe are in the midst of a new service upgrade in Wrigleyville.

In the previous post, I showed the work we had completed on the inside. We had installed the 7 new GE circuit breaker panels, the new meter-banks, and the main disconnect comprised of the large cabinet and 400Amp 120/240v GE main circuit breaker. Most old vintage buildings in Chicago that have not been rewired in the last 50 years really need this job. The antique, cloth-covered wire in the branch circuits needs to be pulled out and replaced for safety and to meet the present codes. AFCI circuits are mandated by code for the bedrooms, and these vintage circuit breaker panels do not accommodate them. Due to the explosive use of consumer electronics, the grounding requirements have become much more stringent in the past 20 years. Practically no 3-flat or 6-flat in Chicago comes close to meeting those requirements if the 200A 1950s or 1960s service has not been upgraded in the past 10 years. This inadequate grounding can have disastrous consequences.

In this picture, the external piping is shown. I have to give high praise to my crew who did all of this work in the frigid Chicago cold. Notice how nicely the parallel rigid conduits follow the contours of the building, and route the feeders within the very limited space that the exterior walls, windows and porch framing allow. They did all of this last Saturday when it was about 20 degrees!  Believe me, working outside, standing on frozen earth and snow, holding metal parts in your hands all day long is no picnic. MY GUYS RULE!

We are waiting now to transfer the circuitry from the old panels to the new ones. To do this, we have to bring the whole building off line for about an hour to set up the temporary feed to the new equipment. We had planned to do this yesterday, but at -17 degrees it was determined that it was too risky to bring the boiler off line for even an hour. We hope to resume there later in the week.
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