Wiring mess

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  #1  
Old 08-09-05, 05:26 PM
Nenu
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Wiring mess

Hello all,

I just purchased my first home. Funds are very tight at the moment, and there are many things to repair (the house was listed as 50 years old, but after finding knob and tube wiring and other signs, we know it's older).

Our basement was finished when we purchased the house... only the thing needed severely to be gutted bc it was all wood panel that was old, warped, rotted. We got to work stripping out this and a finished popcorn ceiling.

I was surprised after taking out the ceiling to find a sea of wiring, literally a spider web of wires to junction boxes (these were all covered by the ceiling).

I am not too fond of this whole wiring thing. Firstly, I am younger so my idea of wiring is the newer "grouped" wiring (hot, neutral, ground?) in the plastic looking covering. I have now seen what knob and tube looks like and that is easy enough to identify, but what they have in this basement is green/silver/black covered wire, printed "copper nm" or "copper nm-d". Some is actually listed as ground. It's a crisscross covering that almost looks like it's shiny (coated in something for protection?). The outlets have 2 silvers or 1 silver 1 black running to them, while the pullchord lights have what appears to be 3 wires running to them. The mystery wire (orange and very thick, printed "industrial" with the crisscrossing covering) I think goes to our laundry room for the dryer - but not positive).

Instead of each device having a dedicated wire, it appears they connected to different junction boxes throughout the basement to connect things (with the exception of the orange wire). So it's an eyesore, but the wire looks to be in good condition despite all else.

Having little to no knowledge of this wiring, is there anyone who can identify it with the description provided? I am wondering a few things. How old would you place this wiring, would it be recommended to upgrade it at this time, and if so, with all exposed (the 200 amp breaker box is located in the basement as well and is highly accessible along with this wiring) what would be a rough estimate on having this work done to remove/replace it all if needed? (involves 1 switched light fixture on stairs, 7 pull chord lights which would be better served on switches and 1 outlet that is of a concern to me - as my furnace connects to it).

There are still old reminants of knob and tube that are visible (3 that I have found, 1 that I can positively trace to a box that is not in use beyond that point). A cost may be difficult to estimate on this work I understand, so this question may be best left to a visual inspection by an electrican, but if anyone has come across something similar it would be appreciated .
 
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  #2  
Old 08-09-05, 06:49 PM
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If it says NM-D then you are in Canada. This is just an older version of NM cable. It is not knob and tube. The covering is a tar paper like substance. It was used befor plastic come into being. I have seen in in silver, green orange colours. I think it depended on the manufacturer. Blue stuff is sometimes aluminum. If it has a ground present then you do not need to replace it unless it is damaged.
 
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Old 08-09-05, 08:05 PM
Nenu
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Interesting, I am in Canada.

I know it is not knob and tube, as you say. There are grounding wires running to what I can see of it in the lights. The outlets on the other hand have me wondering, basically because I am not familiar with the inner workings of this wire...

Since there are separate ground wires visible for the lights and I do not see separate ones for the outlets (2 wires running to each outlet), I am wondering if perhaps the outlets were not grounded (would not make much sense if the lights are) or if the 2 wires running to the outlets include all 3 wires combined (like newer wiring)?
 
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Old 08-10-05, 06:57 AM
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Since the lights have grounds it is likely the receptacles do as well. It could be that the ground is attached to the outside of the recepacle box. In the 50s boxes didn't have a screw for the ground wire. In my house there is a machine screw and nut added to each box for the ground wires. The ground could also be attached to cable clamp.
If you open up the electrical panel you should be able to tell if all the circuits have grounds coming out of them. You may not even need to open if it is like mine. All the grounds are on the outside of panel connect witha nut and bolt and clamp to the frame of the panel.
 
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Old 08-11-05, 01:57 AM
Nenu
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Well, going to have my electrician in to disconnect the last of the k&t that's visible (only 3 pieces that I can see) this week coming. I am going to have him take a look at the rest and see what is up.

As far as the boxes for the outlets, there's nothing visible on the outside, other than these 2 silver colored NM cables that run to the top of the metal box encasing the receptical. Another outlet actually only shows 1 of these silver cables running into the top.

Another question about this. Several of the NM cables that run along the ceiling have been laid simply on "prep" pieces of wood for the ceiling that was torn out. I wish to also remove this prep wood to open the bare underside of the floor, however the wiring will just fall without any support. Given the age of the wiring and if it is in good working condition, stapling it seems like a death sentence. I was wondering if it is ok to hang this wiring along the underside of the floor using those small, plastic coated hooks that have a screw end on them?
 
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Old 08-11-05, 08:13 AM
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I'm not sure what a prep piece of wood is, and I'm not quite sure why you want to remove it anyway, and I don't know what kind of ceiling you had before or will have in the future, but you probably cannot use plastic coated hooks to support your wire. What's the matter with leaving it as is?
 
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Old 08-11-05, 07:57 PM
Nenu
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Sorry about the lack of details (I know, I am terrible with these technical terms!) It was a popcorn ceiling previously. Thin slabs of wood were criss-crossed all along the length of the ceiling to hold the ceiling up. These were nailed onto the underside of the first floor - which is beautiful hardwood.

I would like to remove these thin pieces of wood and keep the original boards showing. However, the wiring was never stapled along the underside of the first floor hardwood, it was just draped over these thin wood pieces. If i remove these thin pieces of wood that were holding the ceiling up, the wires will just drape losely... which isn't great.

At this point, I am thinking that my best bet is to scrap all this older NM cable and start fresh. Everything is easily accessible, and I would much prefer to have switches than pullchords .
 
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Old 08-11-05, 08:42 PM
jim97219
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Nenu,

Just keep in mind that all those buried junctions boxes you found above the ceiling will have to be made accessible. That means you won't be able to cover them up with a new ceiling; you'll have to put blank-face covers on them. Go over that part of it with your electrician. He might be able to run some new cable and make it so that you don't have so many of them.

And don't be afraid of this project. It's going to be a great learning experience for you. You'll come out of it with a lot of confidence. Your electrician will be able to give you a lot of help and advice. Ask him/her a lot of questions. Post here any questions you might have, no matter how simple or silly they may seem to you. People here are more than happy to help. I know--they've bailed me out on lots of occasions. Another thing that will help you is a good book on house wiring.

Good luck!

Jim
 
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