re-wiring

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  #1  
Old 02-22-04, 04:48 PM
hduchsch
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Question re-wiring

We bought an old 1940's farm house and have slowly been working at remodeling it. Recently we have been converting attic space to closets (there were none) and adding the lighting and outlets has been pretty straight forward. Now we are on the last closet and have come across wiring I haven't seen before. The main power comes into the light (a pull chain type) then splits out two different directions - one way to a light in the bathroom (again pull chain) and the other in the opposite direction to a wall outlet. Is this safe? when I took the box off the light all the wires were pigtailed and split out before going into the light- making multiple connections from one. Should we stick with this same wiring scheme or re-do it what I will call "straight line" which is what I am used to?
 
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Old 02-22-04, 04:56 PM
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Is this safe? Sure. Do you have some particular reason for your concern?
 
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Old 02-22-04, 10:26 PM
ltngbolt
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Hi
Not sure if you are referring to a clothes closet. If so a simple porcelin pull chain with an exposed bulb is not code compliant. Any surface mounted incandescent luminaire [light fixture] must also have a closed lens [light fixture globe whether plastic or glass] so that no light bulb is exposed in a clothes closet. These surface mounted incandescent luminaire [light fixtures] must maintain a minimum clearance of 24" from the edge of the luminaire [light fixture] to the back and side walls. The 24 minimum clearance must be maintained whether there is any shelving in that clothes closet or not. Any surface mounted luminaire [light fixture] must also maintain a minimum clearance of 12" from the edge of the shelf in that clothes closet.
 
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Old 02-22-04, 10:33 PM
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Good points ltngbolt.
 
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Old 02-23-04, 07:03 AM
hduchsch
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We will be installing track lighting in the closest. I was more worried about the one power line being split into 3 different directions instead of flowing from one object (outlet/light) to another.
 
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Old 02-23-04, 08:39 AM
phillyguy
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Splitting the feeds to fan out like you describe is how most of my house was originally done. Sometimes it's just not possible to make a "straight line" run. I pull wires where I can and connect them up where I can. For example in my house theres only one place where its possible to pull a wire up to the second floor from the basement so I'm left with little recourse but to fan that circuit out by splicing up in a junction box and then running those in different directions where I need them through the crawlspace.
 
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Old 02-23-04, 08:58 AM
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The "fan-out" topology is actually better in some respects. It reduces voltage drop.
 
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Old 02-23-04, 09:23 AM
hduchsch
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Thanks for all the great reponses! Now that I know that it is ok, it will help us a LOT when we rewire the bathroom upstairs. Our whole upstairs (3 bedrooms and a bath) were on one circuit. Since we want to put a small window air conditioner upstairs, and we have a young daughter who will eventually be a teenage girl and all the accessories that entails in the bathroom, we wanted to add another breaker to the box in the basement and run a second line up. Like phillyguy mentioned, we also have limited space on where we can pull that line up, so putting in a junction box and "fanning-out" a couple of lines will save us tons of trouble. We are also replacing all our outlets with GFCI too since we can't entirely rewire the whole house.

We live in the middle of VERY rural North Dakota, so the houses of that time were built with very little consideration of "code". While there are very few regulations for us, I do research to see what code is because I figure in most cases it is a safety reason they established it. I had read about all the rules for lighting in closets - spacing and all that - so we are good there. We do run into some very interesting things. The old farmer/rancher addage is "if it can't be fixed with duct tape and a wire hanger, it isn't worth fixing". Thanks again for the great responses!
 
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Old 02-23-04, 09:48 AM
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Hold on there.

What you are describing are not necessarily code violations and they are not necessarily unsafe.

They might very well be code violations if they were installed today, but they may have been well within code in the 1940s.

Things were a lot different back then. items we take for granted did not exist. hair dryers, curling irons and other high current home bathroom appliances did not exist.

People had one TV in their house, if that. People had a radio or two. And all those kitchen appliances, forget about ithem.

Code has changed because of safety, but many of the changes have also been driven by changing technology and personal preferences.

For example, the rules regarding bathrooms and a dedicated 20 amp circuit might not be in place if we didn;t have those hair dryers and curling irons.

By all means, split circuits where necessary, rewire where appropriate, but don't think it's absolutely necessary to do so.

Certainly change to GFCI receptacles in the bathroom(s) and kitchen, but I wouldn't put them just anywhere else.

And of course, any remodeling and new circuits must be up to code, but unless something is unsafe or you have nuisance tripping of breakers, you can spread your updating out over time.

My house was built in the late forties. I have plenty of two wire circuits on the first floor (the second floor was finished later, and is all grounded circuits). I've grounded a couple of outlets and added a few circuits on the first floor, but don't have any immediate plans to rewire the entire first floor, because what is left is ijn good shape and works fine.
 
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