Old Home - scary wriring

Old 10-17-03, 12:50 PM
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Exclamation Old Home - scary wriring

Hello experts!

I recently purchased an aging family member's house. I got a great price for a nice house, but I inherited 53 years of problems as well

Specifically, the wiring in this house scares me. The things I'm seeing are truly keeping me awake at night.

Basically, I'm looking at totally rewiring the house. I'm handy enough to do the majority of the grunt work myself (such as pulling wire throughout the house). However, I want to make sure I do it right - because pulling all that cable back out would SUCK

SO, to the questions:

I can make clean vertical runs from the attic/dormers (cape style house) to the basement. The wire would be running through that old blown type insulation.

1) Does this wire need to be in conduit? Or can I just snake it down and forget about it?
2) What type of conduit is acceptable if the answer is yes? Plastic flex conduit or do I have to hassle with real metal conduit?
3) When I go to BLowes, what type of cable should I be asking for ?
4) Should I have concerns about any pipes that may be in the walls? I'm 99% sure there's no water pipes nearby, but there's no way to be 100% sure.
5) can I pull, say 5 cables vertically in the same space, and then distribute horizontally? Obviously I'm not talking about mixing voltages.

Horizontal runs upstairs:
1) I have access to the studs via the dormers. Should I drill and run through the studs ala a new installation?
2) again the conduit question - I'm not clear on when conduit is necessary.
3) how do you get the cable to the ceiling lighting? Right now it's just thrown up over the ceiling (think dormer style cape house where this is possible) Right now its simply lying on top of the insulation! I'm thinking it should be at least stapled to the studs in the ceiling...

Horizontal runs on the first floor:
1) For the parts of the first floor that are above the UNfinished basement - I'm thinking stapled to the bottom of the 2X6s like everything else. Or is this a no - no?
2) For the parts above the FINISHED basement - I'm stuck. I read on this forum about pulling out the baseboards and getting access to studs there. I don't think this is the case in my home. The plaster almost certainly goes to the floor. Safe/legal suggestions and tricks would be appreciated. I've heard of installations where the wire runs right behind the baseboard but I figure this can't possibly be legal to just run cable around the perimiter of the room and cover it up with molding...

Sorry for the long post with a million questions. I'm just at work and bored... lol

Old 10-17-03, 01:20 PM
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(1) In almost all places, no conduit is required, but it depends on local code. Conduit is only required in a few really big cities (e.g., Chicago, NYC, ...) and some weird places like parts of California. A one-minute call to the building department will clear that up. Or look around at new residential construction -- are they using conduit or cable?
(2) N/A
(3) If cable is allowed, NM-B will be fine.
(4) The only thing you have to worry about is trying not to drill a hole through a pipe. There's no problem with the cable being near the pipe.
(5) Yes, but it's better to provide at least some spacing between the cables to avoid derating problems. Don't run them all through the same hole.

(1) Don't see why not.
(2) N/A
(3) Should be stapled to a framing member at least every 4.5 feet when running parallel to it. When running across framing members, staple it to the side of a 2x4 that is nailed to the framing member -- this will protect the cable from somebody stepping on it.

(1) Like everything else??? Cable may not be generally stapled to the bottom of the joists. When running parallel to joists, staple it to the side of the joists at least every 4.5 feet. When running across the joists, either drill holes in the center of the joists, or attach a 1x2 to the bottom of the joists and staple the cable to the 1x2.
(2) If you run cable behind the baseboards, you generally must carve a channel behind the baseboard to run it in. However, this is a big enough job that I'd consider tearing out the basement ceilings and putting them back when you're done. It may be less overall work that way.
Old 10-17-03, 01:32 PM
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Thanks for the quick reply John!

Yes, almost all of my wiring in the house is stapled to the bottom of the Joists. They run perpendicular to the joists. I guess I'm adding this to my list of reasons to rewire my house. (Like the 200 feet of wire buried in a ditch with an outlet poking out of the ground for the pool filter to plug into) =\ Let's not forget how the ground plug out there is wired to a piece of rebar that is shoved into the ground lol. It's so funny, yet so dangerous... I laugh then cringe when I see this stuff...

So let me get this straight. It's ok to remove the baseboard, cut away the plaster down to the drywall, run electrical wire around the perimeter of the room, pop in and out of the wall to pick up outlets, and then cover it back up with the baseboard? That's MUCH easier than going up and down into and out of the basement 20 times like I thought I'd have to...

And it's ok for the vertical wire pulls to not be stapled? That's handy as well...

Old 10-17-03, 01:35 PM
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Posted at the same time ^^^^
Re: the baseboards
Even if the plaser is behind them, there is a plaster ground at the very bottom of the wall that you can remove (it is a board that the plasterers used to make the wall smooth and the right thickness). The other thing is that holes in plaster behind a baseboard do not show.

Pull the baseboard, drill through the studs on a shallow diagonal, Install nail plates no matter what. A 10d finish nail will hit the wire, and is longer than a drywall screw. You have the idea.
Old 10-17-03, 01:41 PM
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I have nothing useful to add to this post, but when I read:

"3) When I go to BLowes, what type of cable should I be asking for ?"

I nearly laughed my head off.
Old 10-17-03, 01:56 PM
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We are Here to Help!!!!!

Don't worry about "conduit"--- Non-metallic cable (Romex) is all you need.

I'll guess that there are 2nd.-floors "crawl-spaces" in which you will pull vertical "runs" basemen-to-2nd.-floor. 5 cables inside a 4" x 12" "void" is not a problem.

No need to drill holes thru the joists in a crawl-space if you place the cables close to the roof-rafters, or you can fit in a covering-board vertically against the rafters that will conceal the cables.

For cables stapled to the bottom of the 1st.-floor floor-joists, you can protect them with sections of plywood fixed to 2 x 4's nailed "flat" to the joists.

"No Problem" in fishing cables along the roof-rafters from the crawl-space to the attic void above the 2nd.-floor ceilings.

Bedroom receptacle-circuits are now required to have "Arc-Fault" protection, so don't use 3-wire cables for the circuits from the BR's to the breaker-panel--2-wire only.

A 20-amp circuit is required for each bathroom.

One the floor above the finished-basement section,expose the wall-studs by cutting a groove in the wall-finish approx. 2 ft. above the floor and along the entire perimeter of the room. You can fix "deep" plastic "gem" boxes to sides of the studs and then wire "box-to-box" , setting the cable in the grooves in the walls, and then patching the walls.If you cut neat openings in the walls for the outlet-boxs, little patching will be needed for them.

Consider communication-cables and circuits for window A.C. units.

What have you for power hand-tools?

Good Luck & Enjoy the Experience!!!!!!!!!
Old 10-17-03, 05:30 PM
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I had never heard of these devices so I read up on them. They appear to be very good for electrical safety. However, increased safety often comes along with it's big brother - increased nuisance.

Some thoughts and questions:

Why pull only two wire cable to the bedroom? I see how they protect against small repeating arcs between hot and neutral, but what about the ground? Ground pin now floats? It just seems like a step backwards...

The code says it's required for bedroom circuits delivering 15 to 20 amps, blah blah blah. But not if the lighting is on the same circuit? Is there an issue with the AFCIs picking up arcing in a light switch?

Does this mean that I need to pull a separate, normal circuit for the light fixtures and then another AFCI circuit for the outlets?

The documentation on the Siemens webpage says the devices are smart enough to know the difference between the two types of arcs.

If AFCIs are so great - why not install them on every single circuit? They aren't THAT much more expensive than a normal breaker...

Great forum - lots of good information here and in other sections. Thanks for listening to my abundance of questions

Old 10-17-03, 05:41 PM
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I'm not sure what you've been reading, but you may have drawn a few erroneous conclusions.

You seem to be under the false impression that AFCI circuits are wired without a ground.

According to the 2002 NEC, AFCI is required on all bedroom outlets. That includes receptacles, lighting and smoke detectors. The 1999 NEC only required AFCI on bedroom receptacles installed after January 1, 2002.

The NEC is a compromise between cost and safety. You may install AFCI everywhere in your house if you want to. And someday that may be required. It is my opinion that the 2002 NEC only required them in the bedrooms as a way of gradually introducing them, and as a way of testing their effectiveness.
Old 10-17-03, 06:03 PM
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You are correct that AFCI's would be good for increased safety. However, when a regular breaker is between$3-6 and an arc fault at approx $30 it is easy to see why they are only used where required. To most builders it's all about cost, not safety.

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