mapping circuits... and beyond!!

Old 09-03-03, 08:14 AM
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mapping circuits... and beyond!!

Our "new" house (1924 construction) hosts a hodge-podge of electrical history. I'm starting the process of rectifying it. Not sure how far I'll go on my own, as an electrical novice, but I'm moderately handy, and I can read, and I care about doing it right. I'll get help when it's over my head, but I also want to save money and learn how to do it myself, where I'm able.

For starters, as part of our closing agreement, we had a new breaker box installed. Now I'm trying to map the existing circuits and assess the state of all the sockets, switches, wires, etc. We've got some of everything--from knob and tube to modern wiring. We've got ungrounded three prong outlets (ACK!!--code violation!!!), reversed polarity outlets, open sockets, unused/connected/disconnected fuse boxes... you name it!

My questions is this: when mapping circuits, how can I test when open wire ends (yep!) and sockets and fuses are hot? (I do have a circuit tester and three-prong tester for the outlets. And I also happen to have a multimeter.)

Also, short of throwing in the towel and shelling out the big bucks for an electrician to do the whole job, how much of this--with time and patience--could I sanely think of tackling on my own? Can jobs like updating wiring and running ground wires be done--with time, patience, and some research--as DIY projects?
Old 09-03-03, 11:58 AM
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Projects to a great extent can be done by someone using patence and common sense. My first advise to you is get some good books on the subject. Personally I find the Black and Decker Home Wiring book very usefull. There are many ways to test and check circuitry and many gadgets on the market to make it easier. One such device you connect a unit to the socket or wires and walk back to the panel with a second device this one then will beep (or light up) when you shine it directly on the breaker controlling that circuit. This is a fast method of checking and mapping out where each thing is fed by but it costs and for that reason it is not always possible to have it. Another method that does work good is have someone go around plugging a radio into each area and then simply turning the breakers off and on. If all breakers are in the off position you should know very quickly when you start turning them on what breaker controls the device. To do this I used to use a receptacle insert to connect the radio into light sockets and I put a receptacle on a box with a 12 inch whip that I could connect into open loose wires.
I hope this helps and I do hope I explained this right.
Old 09-03-03, 05:08 PM
Join Date: Nov 2001
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There is a device called a sniffer that can detect power in a conductor. This would enable you to track a line that was energized to locate which outlet or switch or whatever it connected to.

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