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I bought a house built in '69 in northern VA a few months ago. Having mapped out the upstairs circuits, I've discovered that the whole place is a wiring mess. I am remodeling each room and bathroom due to really bad drywall patchwork and insulation suspicions (confirmed now that I've torn down some walls), so I'm figuring this is the best possible time to fix the spaghetti wiring/circuitry.

To give a layout of sorts: Split level home. Upstairs where I am currently remodeling, I am working with 3 bedrooms connected via a hallway and 2 full bathrooms. One bathroom attached to the hallway, the other master bath is attached to the master bedroom. I've found a good spot to run wire from the basement up to the attic, then to each room. I would like to get each room and each bathroom on its own circuit (tell me if this is a dumb idea or not please).

For the bedrooms, I plan on using 15-A breakers with 14/2 romex (14/3 from light switch to fan to operate the overhead light and fan separately). Each smaller bedroom will have at most 6 outlets and one light switch. The master will have at most 8 outlets and one light switch. The number of outlets here is ball-parked based on putting a receptacle every 6' or so.

For the bathrooms, I plan on using 20-A breakers with 12/2 romex since larger wattage items will be used there. The bathrooms are fairly small, so they will have at most 2 outlets (one being GFCI) and an overhead light/fan combo (currently absent from the master bath).

For the hallway, I've read up on the 3-way lighting that I need to meet code, but as that is already in place, I'm not going to do much modification there.

Mainly I am looking for a sanity check that it is OK to wire up that many outlets in a room on 15-A with 14 gauge romex. I see there is quite the debate in wiring with 12 vs 14 and 15- vs 20-A. I am going to be working with an electrician as well in order to make sure I'm meeting local code and to handle anything I'm uncomfortable with.

I'm coming over from stack overflow posting mostly coding questions, so I apologize if I'm posting like a total DIY noob. Thanks in advance.

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    If you're working with a licensed electrician and bulding to code, then ya got nothing functional to worry about. The only possible concern might be wiring to handle future upgrades or branchouts. – Carl Witthoft Aug 8 at 15:54
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    Make sure you understand the new(ish) requirements for AFCI and GFCI breakers. Also, it's good to have outlets and lighting on sperate circuits so you can kill power to outlets and still see. – JPhi1618 Aug 8 at 15:56
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    Are you flipping this house, or will you be the actual victim/beneficiary of this wiring plan? Also we hear "the wiring is a mess" quite a lot. While often true, we sometimes find on further examination that there was nothing wrong with the wiring, and this was simply something the asker was unfamiliar with. Top of that lost are metal conduit as ground, and MWBCs. – Harper - Reinstate Monica Aug 8 at 19:04
  • I will be the victim/beneficiary. There are a ton of things that are not to code already that since we're taking walls down I would like to fix (ungrounded metal boxes, not enough wire in the box to work with, very old receptacles, unsecured wire in the attic, no GFCI where required in some spots). The "mess" I mentioned is mainly in the layout. For example, one circuit controls the entirety of one of the bedrooms; overhead light, light switch, and 2/4 outlets in the other bedroom; overhead light, light switch, and 2/4 outlets in the master bedroom; – mjswartz Aug 9 at 11:06
  • The other 2/4 outlets in the master and other bed are wired on the same circuit as the downstairs office. I would like to get each bedroom on its own circuit, and as one user mentioned elsewhere possibly all the lighting on its own dedicated 15-A circuit. – mjswartz Aug 9 at 11:08
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Your plan as written probably doesn't follow code in a couple of places. If you're working with an electrician, you should have them approve your plan. Then you implement the plan, but they check your work. Don't do the work or buy materials until they have reviewed your plan.

From a usability standpoint, don't put the ceiling lights on the same circuit as the outlets in a room. All of the room ceiling lights can be on the same circuit. This way someone tripping a breaker in a room doesn't leave the room dark.

Along those same lines, you might put the hallway light on a separate circuit from the bedroom lights, but this is strictly a nice-to-have.

Unless you anticipate high loads in the bedrooms, you can put the outlets in the bedrooms all on the same circuit. It is common/customary to have the master outlets on a separate circuit, but not required.

Depending on the code your jurisdiction follows, it's likely that bathroom circuits must be dedicated to a single bathroom. The light in the bathroom can use that circuit, but it should be wired BEFORE the GFCI so that tripping the GFCI doesn't turn off the light. Alternatively, wire the lights to the bedroom lighting circuit.

Another code adoption dependency is AFCI breakers. You will likely need them for all of the circuits you have planned, including lights.

If you're pulling new wire, use 12 gauge everywhere. Using 14 gauge and 15 amp outlets everywhere doesn't save that much money.

And while you're up there, run a dedicated circuit for wired smoke detectors for all bedrooms and the hallway. Besides the fact that it's a good idea, based on the amount of work you're doing they may be required for your permits and inspection.

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    I would also make sure the stairs & landing lights are separated ie different circuits - having the lights go out when you are halfway down is no fun... – Solar Mike Aug 8 at 16:46
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    If OP is doing the work himself, I would stick with 14ga where possible. It's much easier to work with. – JPhi1618 Aug 8 at 17:09
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    But then you neee to buy two spools of wire. And two 100' spools cost more than 50% more that one 200'... – Harper - Reinstate Monica Aug 8 at 19:08
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    Also, smoke detectors generally don't go on a dedicated circuit, but on a lighting circuit (that way, you'll know if there's a breaker trip or other failure that impairs them) – ThreePhaseEel Aug 8 at 22:31

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